Review: Will Azada & Alex Falk – The Illuminati Traqckx (CGI Records)

Atlanta label CGI have, in the space of about three years, gone from being an interesting but hardly vital stable to one of a handful of indispensable US labels currently doing the business. Their first half-bag of records pushed a sound that was occasionally harder and expansive but mostly lighter, bouncier, and bigger than the bulk of the techno and house of the time, favouring as it did a kookier acid fun house energy over anything more serious or contemplative. More recently though, as techno has dug a bigger hole for itself in search of deepness, CGI have again sidestepped the rest of them and began to propagate a sound which mixes grooves and rawness with an experimental veneer. The results, particularly over the last three or four releases, and taking in music from Golden Donna, Twins, and Black Suede, have been some of the most gloriously rude and proper techno 12s of the last couple of years.

Proper Trax boss Azada joins Alex Falk for a double A side, the first music either of them (under their own names at least) has released on CGI for a while. Azada’s side takes his slicker minimal leaning and roughs it up. Flutterbutt opens like a tribal version of Plastikman before tightening itself down into a driving, dirty techno that would be right at home in the peak time sweat-a-thon of a really grimy warehouse. It’s purely functional but climbs relentlessly for its entire length. Illuminati Traqckx delves further into the night and although it starts pretty much where the last track finished, it opens up nicely and swaps the building energy for some hypnotic chords, adding warmth and serenity to the crackling lunacy underneath.

Alex Falk’s last record for CGI, The Justin Beiber sampling funk of GF, unfairly slipped under many radars but seems to have become better known since. Hopefully it won’t take people as long to pick up on his two tracks here. The first, MR1, perhaps represents his best work to date. Deceptively heavy, it pushes itself forward with a potent, ever fluctuating riff that locks down the vibe right away. Frayed by distorted edges, and chewed at by charging, high floating toms, it actually hides a lightness of touch, and disguises a mesmerizing, dreamy quality behind the urgency and froth of static. BLAZEIT takes a lot longer to get going before it delivers some shadowy Millsian voodoo techno. While it at first seems to be riding off to Loopy Banger territory, Falk cleverly centers the track’s potency in the groove rather than in the sound, negating dense frequency with an airiness that lets the funk take control.

While I’m not sure this is as buy-on-sight as CGI’s last handful of records, it’s worth more than a couple of quick glances. For both producers it’s probably their best work so far, and an evolution of their talents, especially in Falk’s case. If you haven’t picked up on their names so far (or the label for that matter) this is a pretty solid place to get involved. Dirty techno with heart, soul, and funk.