“In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove.” Last August, that iconic line from Rhythm Controll’s oft-sampled 1987 classic “My House” was the opening salvo to Skee Mask’s back-to-back set with Rotterdam DJ Stranger at Amsterdam’s Dekmantel Festival. The echoing proclamation served as the setup for a stuck-in-reverse hardgroove loop that seemed to tear open a hole in space-time, sucking in all those within earshot of the UFO II stage. Inside the rift, Skee Mask and Stranger dished out a barrage of classic techno from the likes of Ben Sims, Jeff Mills, and Joey Beltram.

It was an unexpected stylistic shift from Skee Mask, real name Bryan Müller, who’s best known for cobbling together unpredictable broken rhythms from a number of bass- and breakbeats-heavy genres. On ISS010, the 10th EP from Ilian Tape’s Ilian Skee Series, he makes his most extensive foray yet into techno. From start to finish, the record runs on bouncy, tightly looped four-on-the-floor grooves that pump like greased-up pistons. But don’t mistake their repetition for monotony; if the pounding kicks are Müller’s sturdy chassis, then the peripherals are his hissing hydraulics, warm neon underglow, and spinning rims.

On “Matchpoint,” the repetitive bassline may induce mild tunnel vision, but Müller’s amorphous percussion is the star of the show. He cycles through an unhinged carousel of different hi-hats, switching up patterns and continuously tweaking delays, echoes, filters, and slippery reverse effects. The following track, “Double Standard,” puts similarly dubby synths to more aquatic ends, swirling them around a chugging monolith of a groove. The way that Müller slaps in different percussive elements with an audible thwap brings to mind Jeff Mills, whom Müller has more than once posted about on X (formerly Twitter), trying to ID a long-lost track from a 1995 DJ set at Germany’s Slam Club. Mills is a maestro behind the decks, commanding the gear to do his bidding, and Müller suggests a similar assuredness in the studio, tinkering away in what sounds like an invincible flow state.

“Stomp” is where Müller applies the blissful synth and pad work from Compro to his new techno experiments. Easing off the accelerator a bit, he introduces the first breakbeat of the EP. For a moment, rigid techno and breaks rhythms scrape against each other before Müller welds them together with a synth swell that glows white hot. Just when they feel like they’re going to come apart, he fires off another arc, with melodic sparks flying off into the distance. Before the track ends, Müller indulges in a bit of IDM deconstruction that further bridges the gap between ISS010 and his previous work, if only for a moment. The callback is a welcome reprieve from a hardgroove-leaning onslaught.

ISS010 marks a significant departure from Skee Mask’s massive soundscapes and genre amalgams. With fewer tools at his disposal than usual, Müller seems to be testing himself to do more with less—and inviting listeners to dig deeper into his music’s subtleties. ISS010 may not be the map to “the groove of all grooves” that Body Controll once promised, but it reveals a promising new facet of Müller’s ever-evolving profile.