Datassette: Datassette
Ai Records

Many electronic labels' artists exploit the errors to which their equipment is prone and inject a more dystopic ambiance into their music-making. Ai Records' artists, by contrast, use their machinery to imagine a more perfect world, a utopia where data errors don't exist and where surfaces are so pristine, their reflections blind. The soulful machine music from one Datassette offers the latest distillation of the label's credo and, though the name may be unfamiliar, this latest fifty-minute missive from the Ai Factory is on par with its past releases. Apparently, Datassette's future focus was established early on when his father introduced him at the age of five to an Acorn Electron computer and he became mesmerized by the bleepy noises that could be extracted from the machine. Subsequent exposure to the Commodore64 and the Amiga600 prompted the creation of hundreds of rave tracks (whose quality he now dismisses) and now this polished ten-track debut.

The Datassette style declares itself immediately in “Vapour Trails” when pistons lock into a tight machine funk groove and an intricate vortex of techno and electro counterpoint emerges alongside snares that crack like pistol fire. A phalanx of electric guitars and lightspeed drumming introduces “Minus Fourteen” but a swarm of agile synth arpeggios re-positions the tune in electro territory. “Running Away” inaugurates its eight-minute journey with a stripped-down 808-styled workout and then slowly builds in intensity as layer upon ascending layer of surging melody joins the fray. The aptly-titled “Pluck” merges the medieval sounds of a classical lyre with the lulling flow of ambient electronics. “Fallblattanzeige” punctuates its Berlinesque flow of Chain Reaction textures with an arcade bleep and jittery electro-funk melodies while “Melting Faces” nicely closes the album in a spirit of gleaming electro tranquility.

An accompanying note characterizing (in part) Datassette's sound as “Drexciya on a dubstep tour of South London meeting Justice on the way” is clever but misleading: there's next to no dubstep here but there is ultra-sleek electro aplenty. What also distinguishes the release is Datassette's deft stylistic expansion of the genre with every track offering a relatively unique spin.

April 2008