VA: Context: Unravelled

Sutekh (Seth Horvitz) gives the twenty-seven tracks on Context: Unravelled mix a glitchfest makeover that very much mirrors his own style. Cuts by Twerk, Portable, Kit Clayton, Dave Aju, Wang Inc, Murcof, and Sutekh himself dominate, the latter nicely represented by Horvitz's recent 'classical' forays (“Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini,” “Rhapsody Pathetique in D Minor”) and “Toy Piano,” given a Matmos makeover at the seventy-minute mix's center. The album's sound is dense and detailed, the tracks covered in (sometimes buried under) layers of static noise. Pulling tracks from the San Francisco-based label's sixteen albums and mixing them on the fly using two phonograph players (albeit with digital editing done later), Horvitz situates the disc midway between Trapez's Selection 4 and Richie Hawtin's DE9: Transitions: while the former largely leaves its originals intact, the latter impressively stitches over a hundred tracks' minuscule edits into a kinetic flow but, in doing so, sacrifices much of the originals' identifying character in the process. Translation: while Context: Unravelled commands attention throughout, I wish Horvitz had let the originals stand a little more nakedly. Easy to admire, though, the set's deft maneuvering between Murcof's orchestral gloom (“Mir”), Portable's sleek afro-house (“Portal”), Twerk's scalpel-sharp techno (“Motola”), and the funk-house of Sutekh's side-project Suite K (“Baby I Want”); hard to resist, too, the graceful ambiance of Aju's “Like Love” closer whose themes indirectly reference Aaron Copland.

June 2006