Terrence Dixon: Room 310 (Upperground Orchestra Remixes)

The word ‘artist' gets thrown around so cavalierly, it's not uncommon to hear some teenager who's figured out how to program beats and been producing tracks for half a year to be called as much—even when the individual in question has only the most surface-level grasp of musical history. So it's always an especial pleasure to hear new material from someone for whom the label deservedly applies—Terrence Dixon. Need I say that the man brings years of experience to everything he touches, and that one can hear that experience in everything he releases? Skeptics are herewith directed to Exhibit A, Dixon's latest EP, Room 310 (Upperground Orchestra Remixes), for all the proof needed.

The vinyl version of his Meakusma debut release fittingly splits Dixon's originals onto one side and the Upperground Orchestra mixes onto the other. With a repeating synth melody dancing at its core, “Room 310” pulsates brightly, its insistence offset by a pounding kick drum that gradually appears. Dixon's own murmur then surfaces (“Diamonds in the air, all around us…”), after which the tune rockets off into a semi-acidy sphere, becoming ever more delirious as it swells in cosmic purpose. An interweave of woodsy percussive patterns lends “Who is That” an earthier quality, despite the fact that sci-fi shimmerings suggestive of space shuttles and planetary expanses appear soon after.

The Venetian outfit Upperground Orchestra—a full band consisting of Rabih Beaini (electronics, synths), Tommaso Cappellato (drums), Alvise Seggi (double bass), Max Bustreo (keyboards), and Pasquale Mirra (vibes)—obviously brings a dramatically different slant to its “Room 310” remixes. The nine-minute “Supreme Present Mix” opts for a jazzy and slightly Latinized swing feel in an intricate mix of vibes, swaying drum rhythms, and silken synth stabs that exudes a trippier and looser feel than the original (if it helps, comparisons might be drawn to Carl Craig's Innerzone Orchestra). The spacey synth squeals and robust drumming that power the raucous “Sci Fi Mix,” on the other hand, could pass for a trumpet-less episode from Miles's Agharta , the playing is so free-form and volatile.

July 2010