Review: TX Connect – Trixxter (Dixon Avenue Basement Jams)

Texan producer Gavin Guthrie has had a pretty good year all things considered. His two EPS, for Bad Mums Club and Adelaide Soundworks, built upon his two tracks for last years DABJ Allstars release on Dixon Avenue, cementing a reputation as a master of a particularly deviant strain of acid house. His eponymous album on Creme expanded his basic sound somewhat, and although the album didn’t quite feel like the finished article there were enough new ideas to suggest that TX Connect was growing in confidence and opening himself up to new influences.

His second release on Glasgow label Dixon Avenue is a mix between the spikier attitude displayed on the EPs and the sonically wider and more polished vibe of the album. As before the sound is sharply acidic; stripped naked and lacking much of the fat, the bounciness, that acid house – especially some of the modern attempts – often carries. It doesn’t have the quite same leanness as his early work, though. It is thicker, more polished perhaps and feels more accomplished. Beyond that the sound is a particular icy one. There is a detached coolness that permeates the record, manifesting itself in certain electro styling and an EBM gruffness, and for all the sunshine of his home state, Trixxter is quite a dark release.

Title track Trixxter itself is a prime 80’s styled hustle; big, booming drums and snaking acid lines and pulses give front to the golden synths and melodies underneath. It’s a huge tune, subtly reminiscent of Willie Burns or Danny Wolfers when he’s off on one, but crucially fusing it with the swagger of earlier TX Connect works. It’s acid by way of a music soundtrack. Wide-screen slow speed rave.

This cinematic feel continues in Intramountain which has the claustrophobic feel of Underground Resistance remixed by John Carpenter. Again the big acid moments aren’t really the focus. In this case it is the slumping, drunken riff that takes centre stage. Molasses thick, and way off kilter it guides the music away from the obvious path and into the dark, overgrown undergrowth. By the time the lush saxophone descends late on, it’s probably going to be too late for you to remember where you are.

Xanadu almost comes as a surprise as the record dips back into a particularly pure vent of acid. It’s creeped out, though; the rigid syncopation of the beats and the scattered toms hold the squawks in place even as the shimmering and spectral riff reverberates through the cold air. A stomp through familiar streets turned strange and different by the lateness of the hour.

Anyone looking for a simple recreation of his earlier work on DABJ is probably not going to find what they are after. Although the DNA is fundamentally unchanged not much else has stayed the same. There is the feel, though, of the artist really beginning to mature and find his feet, and of a newly found desire to explore the space that is now evident in his work. Trixxter is a workout in dark side, exploratory acid; twisted and mean. Never euphoric but somehow the rictus grin makes it just as affirming. It’s looking like he has a natural home on DABJ, and this is the second time they’ve brought out the best of him. Let’s hope there is more to come in 2015.