Clark – Lofthouse

Clark - Lofthouse

When Fact Magazine posted their two part series The greatest techno albums you’ve never heard, that got me thinking. The first thought that came into my mind was Clark‘s seminal record Lofthouse, a record which I think should’ve made it into such a selection. But let’s get two things out of the way first: this particular Clark is Mark Bell (opposed to Warp-signed Chris Clark), one half of LFO and producer involved in several of Björk’s records, among other things. Secondly, the album was anything but unheard of at the time when it came out in 1995 on the Planet E imprint. I remember hearing tracks from the album on Claude Young’s and Carl Craigs DJ-Kicks mixes, an accolade from two Detroit legends that few European artists have received (Maurizio did, too!) However, it seems that Lofthouse has become a record many have forgotten about over the years (or don’t know at all!), so here’s a little reminder.A1. Jak To Basics
A2. Primus
B. Lofthouse
C1. Christo*
C2. Clip*
D1. Dial*
D2. Knowledge*

* just to be sure you don’t miss the links I don’t recall many records that start with their weakest track and in a way I even wonder how Jak To Basics ended up on it, it’s so terrible that I’d almost understand if people didn’t bother to listen any further. From there on there are no fillers on the album, the fact that I have trouble picking a favourite should be a good indication. If you’re old enough, it would be hard to believe that you haven’t heard Clip or the title-track Lofthouse before, they were part of many sets. By today’s standard I’d pitch them both down just a bit, but well, those were the nineties! As for the rest of the record, you’ll mostly hear pleasantly warm machine music, that so-called High Tech Soul people keep reminiscing about. Especially Christo and Knowledge share the qualities of some of Carl Craig’s finest, Elements or Neurotic Behaviour, both taken from a record we incidentally wrote about today.

If you’re after this fine record, which you should, your only way seems to be the second-hand vinyl market, try Discogs or MusicStack. There is no and never has been a digital version of Lofthouse and as far as I can tell it’s not even on Planet E’s own streaming service. Good luck!

Cold Mission – The Remixes

Cold Mission - The Remixes

Label Print

This record is quite an oldie, it came out back in 1996 on 4hero‘s Reinforced label. However, I did not know about its existance since Mr. Beatnick wrote his fantastic article on broken beat music.

Behind Cold Mission itself are Reinforced founders Dego and Marc Mac, just one of the production duo’s many monikers alongside 4hero, Tom and Jerry, Jacob’s Optical Stairway or Waterproof.

The Nu Era remix on this 12-inch is a production by Marc Marc, and it can be argued whether it marks the first attempt at broken beat. Reinforced has long been the breeding ground for artists such as Seiji, Domu, Volcov and further inviduals of West London’s Bugz in the Attic collective.

If you like the track above, you can easily find yourself a copy on sites like Discogs, Gemm or MusicStack. For more of a similar vibe, I strongly suggest checking out Volcov’s Soul in Motion compilation released back in 2002.

Soul in Motion (compiled by Volcov)

Cover Artwork

Cover Artwork

I had this article planned ever since the Deepblak compilation came out, but I only remembered after the Carl Craig special on Stylin. There hasn’t been a classic review in a while, today I want to feature one of my all-time favourite compilations.

Put together by Enrico Crivellaro (aka Volcov), Irma Records released Soul in Motion back in 2002 on both CD and triple vinyl. The artists featured are associated with the two cities Detroit and London, and the sound is a melange of the two, combining soulful techno with broken beats. It got a lots of soul indeed, and buzzwords like High Tech Jazz or Future Soul come to mind.01. Titonton Duvanté – Foreplay
02. Domu – The Long Way Up
03. Art Forest – The Flow
04. Ahab – Held By Love
05. Hanna – Ghost
06. Yellow Magic Orchestra – InDo (4 Hero Mix)
07. Carl Craig – They Were
08. Drexciya – Journey Home
09. Nubian Mindz – Malfunction
10. Nu Era – Breaking In Space
11. Splinterfaction – Ultraism
12. Envoy – Leave This World Behind
Many of the tracks are somewhat exclusive, especially at the time Soul in Motion was released. Domu’s track The Long Way Up is one of his standout tracks, it was later featured on his Discotech album, which was only available in Japan for a long time. Also just available in Japan was 4hero‘s remix of Yellow Magic Orchestra, a classic which  is now easier to get on 2004’s 4hero Remix Album. From the remaining tracks, many were previously only available on vinyl, including those by Nubian Mindz (1999 on Archive), Drexciya (1995 on Warp) and Nu Era (1995 on Ovum). Looking at those dates it is surprising how incredibly fresh these tracks still sound (even today).

Well, they don’t make records like this anymore! If you liked the Detroit Beatdown series or the previously mentioned Blaktropolis, you will need Soul in Motion in your collection! However, the chances of buying a new copy of this compilation are near-zero, especially if you are aiming at the vinyl release. Amazon UK still has the CD on stock, otherwise I recommend Discogs Marketplace for used copies.

Innerzone Orchestra – Programmed

Cover Artwork

Cover Artwork

As second review in classic reviews I picked Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra album. Craig recorded this album alongside Francisco Mora, percussionist for Sun Ra’s Orchestra, Craig Taborn and saxophist Matt Chicoine, better known as the tape-in-sandwich dropping Recloose. The ensemble’s first effort, Bug in the Bassbin was picked up by the early London drum’n’bass scene around Goldie and 4hero. In Europe the record was reissued by James Lavelle’s Mo Wax label and sported remixes from 4hero and Peshay. For the recording of an entire album, Detroit fellows Paul Randolph and Richie Hawtin joined the ensemble.

“Futuristic is something that I always viewed as being 21st century. Now that there are only months left until the new millennium, it’s pretty difficult to invision what will be futuristic. As far as I’m concerned, we will be living in the future very soon.” -Carl Craig

The album resembles a classically performed, electronic sounding piece of work, offering its listeners different interpretations of how future might sound. The experiment begins with an amusing voice-message, that confuses the listener’s ideas of where the journey is going. It by voices blends into passages of voices speaking in different languages and an introduction by Carl Craig himself. Eruption raises the tension with ever-running drum-rolls and dark synthesizer sounds, just to finally erupt with the start of the third track, The Beginning Of The End, a dark mooded electronic hip hop track.

The following tracks drag you into different directions, not yet being sure what the record should sound like. This passage shares the beat-patterns with nineties trip-hop, hip hop, drum’n’bass, even bigbeat. It’s with the tune Blakula, when the more glorious second half of the album starts. Melancholic strings, not sure if I can hear oriental flavours in it, and deep synths playing underwater bells. The huge single People Make The World Go Round (original by The Stylistics) has Detroit’s very own Paul Randolph on vocals and guitar (there’s a J Dilla remix, too). Over the next few tracks, the jazz portion dominates the electrics, paving the way to the grand finale of At Les (this is the live-recording from Paris) and the previously mention Bug In The Bassbin.

In retrospective one can say Innerzone Orchestra had huge influence on many different styles, be it the early drum’n’bass scene, and even more importantly the West London broken beat scene! Carl Craig repeated the concept on Detroit Experiment and is currently working on an album with classic Detroit jazz outfit Tribe.

Domu – Discotech

Cover Artwork

Cover Artwork

While the rest of the world only got the 12″ with four tracks, Discotech was released in Japan (through Psychic Phenomena) as a full album – dispite the EP name. It’s been widely dubbed as Domu-does-Theo-Parrish album, which in my opinion applies to the production technique only. The trademark Domu sound is still there, though most of the tracks are more house oriented.

Of all Domu albums, Discotech feels most harmonius, the general mood of the music blends well from one track into another. I couldn’t repeat this for the Return of the Rogue album, which has good tracks, but felt more like a collection of rather unrelated tracks.

It’s very hard to get the CD four years after its release, but there are still some retailers that have it available (e.g. Tower Records Japan). Only recently a digital release has been put out, but it lacks the standout Nu Era remix of The Long Way Up, otherwise only to get on vinyl.

Earlier this year Discotech EP II was released, though it can hardly match the standard of either the first EP or the album.