A new trio of remixes of Michigan electro-futurists Aux 88, with songs plucked from their excellent Mad Scientist album given a new lease of life. Detroit In Effect take "Annihilating The Rhythm" and give it a juiced-up 303 line as well, while Mr Velcro reinterprets "Interstellar Time Travel Theme" as a fast '80s electro joint in the vein of Egyptian Lover. Similar west coast-isms bleed into the Miami bass hi-hats on DJ Xed's Bladerunner-esque reimagining of "Control Panes"
Keith Tucker's long-running electro project rarely strays into the straighter techno field, so it's interesting to hear how typical 4/4 producers approach Aux 88's original material. The most conventional version is Andrez Bergen's take on "Electronic Underground". Using tribal drums and shards of glitchy percussion, the epic, soaring synths nonetheless remind the listener what city "Underground" originated from. Arne Weinberg's take on "Underground" is more rooted in the Detroit techno narrative with doubled up claps and a wiry groove underpinning more subtle melodic bursts, but the highlight comes from G Man. It's been a long while since Gez Varley worked under this guise, but his symphonic string-led take on "Shadow Dancing" is a reminder of his prowess as a techno producer.
This is one for the heads, quality techno meets progressive bringing the sounds of Detroit and Tokyo together. These tracks are spacey and atmospheric, tailor made for those smoke filled underground floors. Title track 'Blue Love' has a captivating vocal from Erika Tele which floats beautifully above the bubbling beats and bassline while a soaring string glistens through. There is a dub for the vocally shy, and also included is the brilliant Cafe mix of 'Dark Deceptions' for those really deep and twisted moments. A big EP of raw electronic music which will both educate and entertain!
Here we have some recent recordings from veteran Detroit electro heroes Aux 88. Traditional electro is typically the order of the day here which, when produced with such aplomb as is here, not necessarily a bad thing. "Pocket Radio" is clearly indebted to Kraftwerk, with Autobahn-esque rolling bleeps that give way to a lovely and unexpected bassline halfway through. "Electro Slaves" is killer horror electro that could be Heinrich Muller at his finest as could be "If Am Was FM". Lastly, "Lock Groove", updates the sound somewhat with breakbeats and acidic squelches.
Despite one of the central narratives in electro being about exploring the future, there is scant evidence that its leading producers actually practice what they preach. If we leave this contradiction to one side, there is no doubt that producers like Gosub and Mr Velcro Fastener are leaders in their field. Gosub's version of "Extraterrestrial Time Traveller" features a an electro funk bass and pitched down robot vocals talking about 'sterilisation', while his velcro fastening colleague opts for a wiry rhythm and eerie synth melodies. Dynamik Bass System continues with the retro-facing approach on their version of "Electronic Robots", where a Kraftwerkian sense of melancholy prevails. The future is here and it sounds just fine.
The pioneering Detroit electro act Aux 88 continues its reinvention on Magic. The title track starts with glistening, crystalline synths, joined shortly by a raw, buzzing bass that ripples its way through a shuffling techno groove as Ice Truck's angelic vocals play out in the background. It's a far cry from Keith Tucker's origins as an electro artist. The evolution is made all the more apparent on the instrumental version, where the vocals are stripped away and the bass sounds more epic. Aux 88 follows a similar approach with "Astral Projections"; the bass is more streamlined and pile-driving and an eerie hardcore synth plays out over the arrangement. The release also includes an interlude version of "Projections", with Erika Tele in freestyle mode.
Keith Tucker revisits his Optic Nerve alias for the latest excursion into utopian strains of Detroit futurism on the 3 Dimensional EP- returning to the Glaswegian imprint Diametric for the first time since producing the debut drop back in 2009. Slightly erratic rhythms run throughout this release with "Virtual Depth Perception" setting the tone as hurried percussion is matched by a dizzying concoction of liquefied synth textures. A similar aesthetic characterises "Illusionist Theme" which sees a backdrop of pitch shifted melodics laid over crystalline washes, with off kilter drum programming lending proceedings a crisp edge. The experimental tone continues with "Retina Display Scan" drowning a vocal turn from Kelyn McKnight deep beneath a skittering arrangement of percussive textures and vast swathes of synthesised colour. Subsequent to this Tucker works through four interludes which will appeal to the more creative minds out there.
Detroit Commuter (M5 Central Station mix) - (5:24) 145 BPM
The enigmatic Optic Nerve aka Keith Tucker returns with the aptly named Detropolis EP on Anthony "Shake" Shakir's Puzzlebox imprint. Deep sea melodies, stabby chords and ravey basslines litter the EP which floats somewhere between shuffling techno and bubbling electro of the Detroit kind. Optic Nerve's soothing original is a fast-paced slice of electro-techno gold, while Aux 88 up the percussive elements of Tucker's original, escorting a plodding bassline from out back to up front. The "Detroit vocal Mental mix" sheds all but the basics and pumps up the bass, using a vocodered "Detropolis" vocal as its centrepiece. Discreet Drexciyan pads and Model 500 magic flash throughout the "M5 Central Station Mix", closing a quintessential Detroit classic.
In the same week that Puzzlebox reissues some of Keith Tucker's earliest work as Optic Nerve comes Reassimilation. Originally released in 2009 on Diametric, it showcases the coming together of Tucker's love for esoteric electro and clubby Detroit techno. "Origins - Intellectual Vocal Mix" is a sensuous ambient affair which features a sassy vocal sample, while the "Techno Mix" sees the velvety vocal tones unfold over a wiry rhythm. However, it's on "Elements" that Tucker's fusion finds its most articulate expression, with a rolling groove providing the basis for a soaring strings and atmospheric synths. The breathy ambience of "Anomoly" completes the package.
Optic Nerve aka Keith Tucker is a Detroit maestro who has been making techno since 1995 together with the legendary Anthony 'Shake' Shakir on their magnificent Puzzlebox Records. He's back after his usual one-year hiatus and has returned with a solid four-track revision of "Time Lapse" and "One Moment In Time". The former comes with both a "Minimal Detroit Mix", a chord-heavy monster for the small hours, and a "Time Displacement Mix" which is equally synth-centred but considerably more broken in its drum pattern. "One Moment In Time" is a gorgeous Detroit techno landscape, filled with watery synth squeals, funky bass tones and one hell of a percussion layout, whereas the AS1 electro mix featuring Arnold Steiner does what it says on the cover and produces a Drexciya-reminiscent Roland jam for both floor-use and headphone pleasure. Highly recommended.
The Hommage (Detroit Spiritual mix) - (7:22) 136 BPM
Vortex (Nexus mx) - (4:19) 136 BPM
Optaphonik - (6:48) 140 BPM
Vortex (Visionary mix) - (5:14) 136 BPM
Aurora Borealis - (6:00) 129 BPM
Optaphonik (PT.2) - (8:58) 140 BPM
Vortex - (5:32) 136 BPM
Dimensia - (5:59) 140 BPM
Shades Of Gray - (6:12) 140 BPM
Optic Soundtrack - (8:48) 136 BPM
Keith Tucker has gone through the vaults for this collection of 90s tracks. While his Aux 88 project has veered away from electro and is now focused on vocal techno, Children Of The Universe showcases his more esoteric past. "The Hommage (Detroit Spiritual mix)" starts the release in mellow, reflective mode, with robot birds tweeting against a melodic synth backdrop. At the other end of the spectrum there's the high-paced minimal rhythms of "Vortex" and "Optaphonik Part 2". However, it's the middle ground that proves most seductive, with the acid-tinged bass pulses of "Vortex - Visionary Mix", the warm synths and cosmic vocals on "Aurora Borealis" and the bubbling bass and alien blips on "Shades of Gray" standing out.
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