And, lo, God looked upon the scribe and did say “This best of the represses lark is a bit easy, isn’t it?” And God did smite all of the exciting represses from the land, and the scribe was sad, for he had to write his monthly round-up and did not want to do it entirely about Heinrich Muller records, although he did look at all the Der Zyklus reissues, and the Zwischenwelt album (which isn’t Der Zyklus except that it really kind of is), and saw that they were good. And the scribe did throw up his hands and say unto God ‘Does Ancient Light by ERP on Solar One count?” And God did sigh and say “No, not really. Try harder.” And the scribe did weep, for he was lazy.
Here endeth the lesson.
OK, to be fair, there is some alright stuff kicking around just now. Have a peep here at these choice cuts:
Bluespirit – Classic Cuts Volume 1 (Bluespirit)
Represses have moved on a wee bit in terms of format recently. It seems to be increasingly popular to pick choice cuts from various back catalogues for reissue which is certainly a decent way of doing it, even if occasionally you might wish that the original record was just put back out as nature intended (perhaps with a little bit of remastering just to bring the colour out a bit). Steve O’Sullivan’s Bluespririt material has long resided under the ‘bugger to find’ category, often with the usual Discogs’ pound-of-flesh pricing in close attendance, so it’s nice to get at least some of this classic material back into circulation, even if it’s in an archive form like this. Classic Cuts Volume 1 pulls tunes from three of the first four releases – two of them in slightly different forms, but that certainly doesn’t detract from their woozy, hypnotic charms. Deep, minimal in an older sense, and built to rock both the ears and the dancefloor, these tunes sound just as fresh as they did 20 years ago, particularly the stonking Voodoo Woman with its huge, rolling bass and wonderfully skittish percussion. So nice; its like diving into a pool full of wine. There’s also a similar release featuring some of his Blue Train material out just now, for a slightly more techno take on the vibe.
Mike and Rich – Expert Knob Twiddlers (Planet Mu)
Originally released on Rephlex, and now out again on Planet Mu just in time for its 20th anniversary, Expert Knob Twiddlers was perhaps just as famous back then for its insanely excellent cover art as it was for the music it contained. Remastered, re-ordered, and with a whole bunch of new tracks, this is one of those records which really does deserve its reputation as a classic and should be bought by anyone with even the slightest interest in how electronica got to where it is now. What’s even more noticeable now is how fun it is – in many ways Knob Twiddlers is a two-fingered salute to the po-faced attitudes so often displayed in Our Thing. Ranging from impenetrable electronica to borderline Muzak to freaky, broken funk and everywhere in between, it’s a record which I’d love to say provides the missing link between a particular brand of proto-ambient, downtempo experimentalism and a far more expansive take on the genre, but I won’t because it’s really two mates tooling around and coming out with some music that was up there with their best – which is really saying something considering that we’re talking about Richard D James and Mike Paradinas here.
Melvin Meeks – Acid Mode (Chiwax)
Brilliantly timed to arrive only a couple of months after I’d finally shelled out on the original Relief Records release, Chiwax get Melvin Meek’s Chicago banger back into circulation. While the label certainly has its critics, there can’t be anyone who doesn’t have massive respect for their long-term policy of reissuing some indisputably classic wax. While Acid Mode always fit well with the rest of the Relief releases – that blend of stomping house and more techno feeling elements – it still manages to sound as if it was harking back to that slightly earlier time where disco was beginning to blossom into house. What we have here are four genuine Chi-town jackers which burn with a cheeky energy. Acid Mode is the big hitter, and as pure a sample of Relief as is possible to get, but for me the choice cut is the brilliant Peace of Mind – a slamming dose of funk which easily reminds you why all that Second Wave of Chicago stuff was so much fun.