….In which the scribe grins stupidly at a bona fide classic, stomps along with a pair of hard steppin’ sparklers, and wonders where all the other represses are hiding….
Biosphere – Patashnik (Biophon Norway)
A long while back I wrote a piece where I discussed in passing my favourite techno albums. For reasons I can’t remember now I failed to mention Biosphere’s Patashnik, a LP I think comes as close to any I’ve heard to being perfect. Born in that weird era when it seemed that anything which wasn’t blistering 4/4 techno was described as ‘ambient’, Patashnik interpreted the basic premise of the genre in the most willful and individual of ways. This wasn’t a record of dull, floaty, wallpaper, nor was it one that regarded lower forms of techno as something to be avoided. Instead it simply, quietly, rewrote the rules on what ambient techno could and should be capable of doing. Famously recorded north of the Artic circle in the depths of winter, it wraps the music in a shroud of intensity which lends even its most gentle and fleeting of moments a strange aura that has rarely been bettered. It’s also a surprisingly hard album and the beats, when they come, serve to further underpin and accent its subtler qualities of dreaminess and disconnection. One of the truly important albums of 90s techno. Buy it now, put on your headphones, and lose yourself in a sonic world like few others.
DJ Deeon – Deeon Does Deeon (Numbers)
Anyone who knows the Numbers lads knows that ghetto house forms one of their genuine loves, and the music of DJ Deeon in particular has long been a hallmark of their parties. Deeon first came to prominence on the (in)famous Dance Mania label way back in the 90s, but seemed to have disappeared from most people’s radars until Numbers made it their duty to help launch his renaissance. The four tracks here come from various, older releases, and while they tend to avoid many of the hallmarks that the Dance Mania – and ghetto house – became known for, they’re some of the strongest tunes to come out of Chicago in the nineites. Raw as hell, but shot through with a sleek and wild funk, they jack in a way that most modern house can only dream of. 2 B Free remains one of the great Chi-town tunes of any era, but it’s Freak Like Me which carries the vibe best here – a pulsing, fiery groove laden monster of scatter-shot drums, crunching bass and loose, plaintive vocals. If you missed it when it fist came out a couple of years back, you have no excuse now. Serious and fun, they don’t do it like this anymore.
Oliver Ho – Awakening The Sentient (Blueprint)
Oliver Ho’s more recent work, either with the more exporatory sounds of Broken English Club or the straight up techy-house sound of Raudive, have tended to draw focus away from the sheer potent energy of much of his earlier work. That’s a shame because in an era in which techno was so heavily defined by sub-Millsian appropriation or looped to the point of inanity stompy bollocks, Ho was one of the very few producers working in the harder edge of the spectrum who seemed to remember that the funk and the fury were not mutually exclusive. Awakening The Sentient, released as part of the celebrations for Blueprints 20th anniversary, may not represent the very best of his work, but it is still a powerful reminder of the sort of hard yet liquid racket he was capable of. As inventive and fierce as anything by Ruskin, Slater or Surgeon, Awakening The Sentient shows Ho more than deserves a place at the top table along side of the rest of the British techno royalty, and is a timely reminder that Brit-techno, at its best, was always about more than simply handing out a peak time pummeling. Hopefully there will be more reissues on the way. It’s about damn time.