VA: Check the Water

VA: Futurism Ain't Shit to Me 2

VA: I Love Techno-The Classics
541 Records

On Futurism Ain't Shit to Me 2, dirty beats, clavinets, dusty vinyl, and spacey vibes dominate seventeen bold cuts of abstract hip-hop by Quasimoto, Slum Village, 8-Bit, Stacs Of Stamina, Pedestrian, General Electrics, and others. Issued by Kitty Yo offshoot Kyo, the hour-long disc mixes vocal (MCs spar over a jittery electro-funk groove in Prince Po's “Hold Dat (Club Mix)”) and instrumental pieces (Malcom Kipe's “Common Like Baseball Cards” and Daedelus's predictably weird collage “Missing”). Standouts include supreme head-nod from Forss (“Soulhack,” a nice mix of Rhodes sparkle, stuttering beats, and acoustic bass elasticity), and Jackson And His Computer Band (the old-school electro-funk of “Rock On”). When a less-than-enthralling moment appears (Sole's over-the-top “On Martyrdom”), it's soon forgotten when a more polished piece arrives in its wake (the subtle electronic minimalism of NQ's subtle “Disthant”). Wild headache-inducers by Soul Junk (“Ungst Func Slag Collision”) and The Tape vs Infinite Livez (the electro-grime insanity of “The Return of the Menstruating Man (Data MC RMX)” aren't for the timid, and some cuts do tip the balance too much towards looniness (Otto von Schirach's “Earjuice Synthesis (Jamie Lidell's Hair Does Not Loose About This Hoose Remoox)”), but any collection that makes room for Dabrye's Bus remix (“Keep Life Right”) is definitely worth a listen.

“Wake up,” a deadpan voice commands in Laurent Garnier's track, but chances are no one'll be sleeping much given the chugging boom-boom that relentlessly thunders throughout I Love Techno, a massive three-hour, triple-disc collection of storming goosesteppers celebrating the festival's ten-year reign. Techno-mad denizens haunting sweaty raves in Berlin, Detroit, and everywhere in between (and especially those partial to the minimal school of Richie Hawtin's Plus8 and Minus labels) may regard the set as nothing less than techno nirvana, especially when epics like the wiry Plastikman mix of System 7's “Alphawave” hit. Tracks by Hawtin, Maurizio, surge like chugging locomotives while others groove and swing (Aril Brikha). And, much as the festival itself has expanded to include sub-genres (electro, minimal) in recent years, so too does the release feature cuts tangential to techno proper (Aphex Twin's “Windowlicker,” Alter Ego's squealing goth-groover “Rocker”). Caveats? Only a few: Green Velvet's voiceover in “Flash” loses its minor appeal quickly and a shame, too, the label didn't include dates with the tracks; obviously, it'd be nice to know when exactly Hawtin's “Orange Minus 1” or his Plastikman cut “Spastik” dropped without having to search it out elsewhere.

Leaf celebrates its tenth year too but, in contrast to the techno set, the double-disc Check The Water showcases the stylistic plenitude of twenty-nine tracks encompassing electronica, jazz, classical, rock, folk, pop, even drum & bass (Luger's deeply atmospheric “Pass Agent”). The comp's chronologically sequenced with the first half covering the 1995-2001 period and the second the years since. Consequently, Leaf listeners more familiar with disc two's contents—stellar offerings from Colleen (the unsettling lullaby “Babies”), Four Tet (“Field,” driving soul-funk from Kieran Hebden and in fact his first release under the Four Tet alias), Efterklang (the gloriously epic “Step Aside”), Murcof (the portentous “Mir”), Psapp (the glitchy folk-pop of “Curuncula”), A Hawk And A Hacksaw (the anti-war folk lament “Portlandtown”)—may find themselves more drawn to the first half with its mix of early gems like Boymerang's “The Don (Edit),” Graham Sutton's first post-Bark Psychosis foray, and where placid moments (Richard Thomas's “Pienso Que”) rub shoulders with hallucinatory soundscaping (Eardrum's “Swarm”) and bumping techno (Beige's “The Rhythm! The Message?”). Adding to the release's value are previously unreleased versions (The Sons Of Silence's “A Grain Of Sand”) and teasers of upcoming albums (Sutekh's “Alma Hueco”). With pieces by Caribou, Rob Ellis, Clue To Kalo, Icarus, Triosk, Hanne Hukkelberg, and others also featured, Leaf's inarguably (as its liner note attests) “still suicidally eclectic” and there's nothing wrong with that.

March 2006