Transllusion: The Opening Of The Cerebral Gate
Tresor Records

Though he passed away on September 3, 2002 due to a heart complication, James Stinson's name is being kept very much alive due in no small part to an ongoing series of Drexciya-related reissues, the latest being The Opening of the Cerebral Gate, which first appeared under the Transllusion name in 2001. Originally released on Supremat, a short-lived sub-label Tresor created as an outlet for more experimental electro material, the album was conceived as the second part in a so-called Drexciyan Storm—seven albums created by the Detroit pair (Stinson, the primary Drexciya member, and Gerald Donald) and issued under various monikers within a single year, with the Drexciya set Harnessed the Storm (Tresor) the first and Lifestyles of the Laptop Café (credited to The Other People Place and issued on Warp Records) the third.

Issuing the album under the Transllusion name might have had a salutary effect on the Detroit duo in allowing them to create music without having to concern themselves with how it fit into the grand Drexciyan narrative; certainly the album plays like a project unencumbered by conceptual baggage. If track titles such as “Cerebral Cortex Malfunction,” “Look Within,” and “Crossing Into the Mental Astroplane” suggest a fixation on mental processes, one such as “Do You Want To Get Down?” obviously implies an earthier concern. It's worth mentioning that The Opening of the Cerebral Gate is being made available for the first time on vinyl in a three-album format, which augments the vinyl version as it was originally released with a bonus twelve-inch featuring three tracks (“Look Within,” “Unordinary Realities,” “Do You Want to Get Down? (Vocal De Void)”).

Sonically speaking, the material offers some kind of nirvana for fans of Drexciya and electro-techno in general. The tone is quickly set when “Transmission of Life” bolts from the gate with a supercharged storm of arpeggios, insistent bleeps, and pounding kick drums, after which the furious pace relaxes slightly for “Negative Flash,” which allows the listener to more comfortably absorb the tune's trippy synthesizer swizzle and electro-funk pulse. Transllusion's sparkling sound is thoroughly accessible and warmer than the electro norm, which makes it easy to be charmed by the melodious swing of material like “Dimensional Glide.” In fact, for the most part (a pounding throwdown such as “War of The Clones” the exception) the tone of the sixty-two-minute set is buoyant and free-spirited, and consequently the choice of album title seems especially apt.

Of course the material can't help on production grounds but reflect the era when it was created, and the drum machine beats that glide through “Walking With Clouds” and “Unordinary Realities,” for example, are very much of their time. But Stinson and Donald transcend such limitations through the force of their imagination and their superior gifts as arrangers and composers. If anything, The Opening of the Cerebral Gate sounds remarkably fresh, considering the technologies they were working with at the time. One can only imagine the kind of advanced music Drexciya would be creating today were Stinson still with us.

October 2014