This works as a flashback for the E generation
St.John de-Zilva 2008
This timely retrospective charts (whisper it softly) a selection of 'techno' (and progressive house to break beat house) now all rebranded as 'electronica'. The big question is: does it stand the test of time or are they best left as hazy memories in a muddy field or a dusty warehouse?
What unifies these tracks is the do-it-yourself culture of the day. Ghent is not noted for its record labels and, by appropriating a Ferrari-like logo, Renate and Sabine showed verve, gumption and tenacity to sign artists who were obsessed with head nodding hooks, 303 and 808-induced rhythms, characteristic chord inversions and further rhythm upon rhythm, explored with a plethora of the kit du jour: drum machines, samplers and Atari sequencers. It was all crafted with a dose of fun and late night substances. You could argue that these are all key ingredients for a good night out. Whether you choose to rave at home is another thing.
That said, you have to credit the label with pooling together a range of artists from across the Atlantic and the Channel into a strong roster; featuring some pioneers in their own right. Apart from the kudos of Detroits' cult labels (Metroplex , Transmatt and Craig’s Planet E) only Sheffield's Warp records managed to weather the storm after 2 Unlimited's damage to the genre.
Orbital's remix of Kinetic really captures the energy of the time, while the haunting prog house classic, Plastic Dreams with its simple and haunting organ melody, heralded the British obsession with the genre which ended up in the cul de sac of trance and harder house.
Aficionados will be pleased to know that all the 'greats' are there, with some having persevered and developed those relentless beats. Most notably Juan Atkins; often cited as the Godfather of techno and his Model 500 moniker, Aphex Twin with the cyclical, trance-inducing Didgeridoo and CJ Bolland's euphoric Carmargue.
Each generation has its hazy moments and the double LP is maybe best summed up by Joey Beltran's Energy Flash: a pounding beast, an unbridled kick drum with hats and bass polarising the frequency spectrum and a sotto vocal sample pronouncing ''Ecstasy'' (He just liked the word by the way). Played by DJs like Colin Favor and Dale in the darkness of a club like Rage, Lost or Knowledge this would cause delirium (no pun intended) in the early hours of the morning.
Despite the contemporary remixes from Optimo and Tom 'Jedi Knight' Middleton this works as a flashback for the E generation that has maybe traded in their vinyl for MP3s but also helps a new audience discover that 'back in the day vibe'. Though many of the production values sound dated, interested parties should explore R&S' Apollo label for a more experimental journey .