Geoff White: Nevertheless

Background Records and Geoff White have long been textura favourites (White graced the ‘cover' of the inaugural issue in August 2004 on the occasion of his Viscous Solid release under the Aeroc guise) so the appearance of his fourth full-length, Nevertheless, is certainly welcome in these parts, especially when it reportedly hung in limbo until Background stepped in to rescue it from total obscurity (a planned 2003 release on Cytrax never came to pass). The hour-long disc finds White donning techno garb, but techno of a particularly nuanced kind: subtly evocative of dubby Basic Channel-Chain Reaction at one moment, as sleek, fluid, and precision-tooled as the shiniest Motor City cut the next.

Two things in particular stand out, with one good and the other not so good. The good first: White doesn't present the twelve tracks as self-contained pieces with fade-ins, fade-outs, and pauses. Instead, each track seamlessly flows into the next, just like a dance mix—the obvious difference being that all the material is solely by White rather than a broad roster of artists (A Guy Called Gerald recently did the same thing with Proto Acid The Berlin Sessions to equally strong effect). Consequently, the momentum never flags, the material works its hypnotic magic, and the disc glides breezily past—wholly consistent with techno's propulsive essence (note, however, that the double-vinyl version contains eight tracks while the CD version's twelve play straight through). The not-so-good?: the tracks are primarily steely drum-and-bass grooves and—as beautiful and as supple as they may be—the general absence of melody makes the album feel like an hour-long jam that's finally less memorable for being so groove-centric. (Though admittedly every album is an entity unto itself and demands that it be judged as such, it's hard not to think of the marvelous fusion of melodic hooks and dance grooves that graces Booka Shade's Movements—cuts like “Body Language,” “In White Rooms” and “Mandarine Girl”—as a comparative ideal.) Having registered that caveat, there's also no denying that certain Nevertheless tracks (the dub-funk workout “Otto” and rollicking “Student Teacher,” for example) achieve a level of techno refinement that's considerably higher than the norm.

December 2006