Coming into the debut full-length by an artist working in the tech/house sphere is always an unpredictable experience, especially for someone who does not necessarily have their heads so stuck in that world. Although the artist may have released some well-regarded 12" singles on renowned labels, it’s likely that the album will be the introductory point for the vast majority of people. The question is then whether the LP will unfold as something perfectly pleasant, but lacking in enough diversity or creativity to stop the tracks blending together like a compilation of standard bangers, or whether they will have put together something beguiling, flowing and engrossing.

Before even starting on Theory Of Colours, the debut album from Dauwd, you get the feeling that this is definitely going to sit in the latter, more impressive camp. It maybe has something to do with the fact that he was born Dauwd Al Hilali in the US, raised in Wales and now lives in Berlin – although decamped to Utrecht for the majority of the creation and recording of Theory Of Colours - which makes it already sounds intriguing. Then there’s that album cover, which sits somewhere between Aphex Twin’s ‘Windowlicker’ single cover, and Millie & Andrea’s Drop The Vowels album cover, whilst maintaining a sunny small-town vibe. That’s a lot of interesting signposts before we’ve even got into the music, which, from the first beat, doesn’t disappoint in combining these diverse influences.

‘Macadam Therapy’ opens the 7-track collection with a rigid, sturdy underpinning, much like the material of its title, and then Dauwd washes it clean with gushes of analogue synth. The analogue sounds flow back and forth across the surface, like a layer of Fairy Liquid bubbles with different patches of light reflecting off in a spectrum of shifting and unfreezable colours. He follows that up with ‘Leitmotiv’, a swooning, bouncy minimal tech track that utilises whirring synths and snooker-ball clicks to give you the feeling of a serious come-up; your body feels like it’s expanding beautifully while your head is distracted by all the gorgeous sights and sounds flitting all around. When the subtle vocoded voice and lightly clanging piano chords are expertly woven into the delicate mix, the result is a resounding fist-pumping satisfaction – even though the track is still relatively placid and spacey.

Of the dancefloor-ready numbers, the album’s centrepiece ‘Glass Jelly’ is the peak in an album that’s full of them. Using a skipping, jazzy drum pattern, Dauwd manages to make the song simultaneously rigid and loose, much like its title would suggest. With so many 3-dimensional, almost touchable synths, keys and programmed loops pinging around throughout you’d think it would be hard to focus. However, that resiliently playful percussion gluing it all together really works, allowing you to see your reflection in the glass while also be tickled by the wobbly playfulness of the jelly. It’s not long before the song has you sucked into its atmosphere, and as the bass and drums drop in and out you feel yourself getting pulled and released by its gravity.

Dauwd has also expressed a fascination for analogue synth pioneers like those of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Terry Riley, as well as classic Krautrock artists. These influences certainly show themselves on the previously mentioned dancier tracks, but they really come to the fore on the more cerebral, laid-back tracks. ‘Murmure’ is the prime example of this, using whispered vocal samples and what sounds like chopped-up bird calls to form a rustling base on to which Dauwd throws splashes of cymbals and loops, like an artist flicking paint at a canvas. When the sleepy and sexy synths slink into the mix, you feel ready to lie down and be carried away on an invisible cloud. ‘Analogische Memories’ makes good on its title, transporting the listener on a train of drawling analogue sounds down under the surface of the Earth, where there’s a party going on amongst the creepy crawlies, wriggling around in time with the swishing and rippling percussive and melodic elements.

Penultimate track ‘Unconscious’ straddles these two modes admirably. On the one hand it oozes and sparkles suggestively but surreptitiously, making it a perfect relaxed daydream listen. On the other hand, it also incorporates pestering little percussive elements and utilizes a sneak-attack bass-lurch that gives you the same feeling of going over a bump at high speed, your insides becoming momentarily weightless as you float uncontrollably. All of this makes it ideal for the darkest part of a deep-tech DJ set, giving the dancefloor a breather while also bracing them and geeing them up for the forthcoming hours where they’ll be welcoming in the sunrise.

Theory of Colours ends with the title track, which reverts more back towards the placid, contemplative side of things. It’s like simultaneously watching the oily, bubbly, murky-yet-colourful dishwater spiralling down the drain, while the sun sets on the horizon, those golden tendrils of light deflecting and refracting in all sorts of indescribable and ephemeral ways. It’s a breathtaking way to finish an album that is stacked full of mind-transporting moments, rendered by carefully selected, produced and deployed analogue elements. It’s a lot to pack into 40 minutes, but it ensures that Theory Of Colours is not only a noteworthy debut album, but a statement of beautiful, fascinating intent from Dauwd.