Hard. Fast. Uncompromising. This is how VTSS, one of techno's brightest new stars of the past few years, is often described. But there's more to the artist, real name Martyna Maja, than that reputation might suggest. It's true that she's one of dance music's most notorious thrillseekers; Maja's DJ sets the world over, from Berghain to Bossa Nova, are renowned for their blow-the-house-down energy. And her club tracks, from speaker-crumbling early EPs like Self-Will and Identity Process, show the headstrong hedonism that's become her trademark. But Projections, VTSS's first EP for Ninja Tune is, she says, a "new chapter" that simultaneously represents a fresh direction and a return to her experimental roots.
While her tracks were already acquiring fans in Blawan and Rebekah, VTSS was also DJing at mega-raves like London's Junction 2 and Possession in Paris; throughout 2019 she pulled off the difficult wire-balancing act of being a critics' favourite and a big-room destroyer. The track that really took off that year, though, was cult favourite "Atlantyda," which VTSS teased for months in shows (and on her Instagram); it's been streamed on Spotify alone almost a million times. Though it samples a pastoral piece of early '90s Polish synth pop, "Atlantyda" transforms the original's folky lullaby into a mechanised fantasia of humming electrical current and an angle-grinding bassline straight out of a video nasty.
But Projections introduces a new phase of VTSS's catalogue. Its nimble drum architectures and scattered tempos express, on the one hand, a desire to break free of familiar ideas, and on the other, a single-minded pursuit of expressing herself, whatever form it might take.