VA: Merck Mix 3

Using turntables and Tracktor, Toronto DJ duo Carrier Two (Ben Cormier and Dan Hartrell) generate a seamless brew of hip-hop, IDM, and techno excerpted from Merck's recent catalogue. The disc's forty-six pieces from roster mainstays like Landau, Machine Drum, Proem, Proswell, Deceptikon, and Ilkae comprise an exhaustive, seventy-seven minute label overview. Given the sheer volume of tracks, it can't help but sound episodic in places, especially when some cuts are so fleeting they're more like bridging intervals. Consequently, some tracks vanish prematurely after promising starts (Aphilas's “Collective Memory Loss” and “Blind Matador,” for example) while others form seamless transitions (the intense blurry soundscaping of Blamstrain's “List” leading smoothly into the towering space-funk of Chimerical Child's “Serene”). There's no shortage of highlights, including the clanking hip-hop shuffle and starburst tonal glistens of Landau's “Six Ways to Sunday” and Secede's Trinidadian steel drummed “Bye Bye Gridlock Traffic” whose glimmering synth showers segue sweetly into Proem's lush “When Frailty Fails.” In addition, there's woozy Kraftwerkian synthpop (Lackluster's “030503”) and warped Aphexisms (Ilkae's “Setzer Remix”). Not surprisingly, the tracks become more melodically centered and chilled as the mix nears its end, with the gorgeous piano-based melancholy of Helios's “Clementine” eventually peaking with Proem's deep ambient tones. Of course, one drawback of a mix that's so comprehensive is that you're left reeling, barely able to recall what you've heard, by the time it's over. Still, if the goal is to offer the listener, and perhaps ideally one new to Merck, some overall impression of the label's sound, Merck Mix 3 clearly fulfills its purpose.

November 2004