Review: There's a reason that Drexciya are considered by many to be the most influential of all Detroit techno and electro acts. Aside from their addictive combination of mysticism and mystery, Gerald Donald and James Stinson made fabulous music - genuinely otherworldly electronic compositions that have stood the test of time. Whether you're a confirmed fan or Drexciyan novice, Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller should be essential listening. The first of four collections of classic material to be released by Clone, it gathers together their brilliant early '90s works in newly remastered form. Bristling with raw analogue funk and far-sighted techno, it's a timely reminder of their immense talents. Simply essential.
Review: Following the first installment of Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller, Clone delves back into Drexciya's archives for the follow-up. Like the first release, the Dutch label has been granted access to tracks from the Detroit duo's earlier releases, including Bubble Metropolis and The Unknown Aquazone, which fetch hundreds of pounds online. Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller 2 is also fascinating for the way that Clone have curated and programmed it. "High Tide", from the ultra-rare, shamelessly expensive Uncharted EP issued on Somewhere in Detroit in 1997 kick-starts the release in abrasive mode as yelping analogue riffs and rolling snares rush in over a malevolent, insistent bass. And despite all the music media's talk and pontificating about Drexciya testing the boundaries of electronic music, invading our subconscious and bringing us to new worlds, it should not be forgotten that they were also entertainers par excellence. Even at their most obtuse, on the dystopian synths of "Unknown Journey", the duo were sneaking in EBM basslines and memorable hooks. It's a similar story on the squelchy P-funk of "Danger Bay" (also from Bubble Metropolis), which features a brilliant but daft 'ha ha ha ha' male vocal sample and "Dead Man's Reef" (from 1997's The Quest), with its mock-horror riffs unfolding over phased hats and murderous bass. The other misconception about Donald and Stinson was that they were merely an electro act. The warped, low-slung minimal techno of "Bang Bang" replete with mock robo vocals dispels this myth - and could be the sleazy counterpoint to DBX's pure minimalism - as does "Davy Jones Locker" (from 1996's True People: The Detroit Techno Album). With its warped bass and mysterious piano lines, the lithe rhythms seem to cruise in a space between Detroit electro and UK jungle. The tendency to inhabit these grey areas is also audible on "Journey Home", taken from the eponymous 1995 EP for Warp. On that occasion however, Drexciya push towards a 4/4 arrangement with their warm low ends and woozy synths making for one of the most nakedly emotive and personal takes on Detroit techno. In case the listener is in any doubt about Stinson and Donald's mastery of many sounds, the beautiful "Neon Falls", with its dreamy synth hooks and innate fragility brings this second installment of Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller to a close. Forget the hype, myths and half-truths surrounding Drexciya; just drop the needle on the record and dive straight in.
Review: Few electronic acts could easily sustain three expansive 'best of' compilations, but then Detroit techno-electro fusionists Drexciya weren't your average electronic artists. In the space of little more than 12 EPs and a handful of albums, released in a ten-year burst between 1992 and 2002, James Stinson and Gerald Donald did more to push electronic music forwards than many of their Motor City peers. This third retrospective in Clone's excellent Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller series expands on the first two volumes, swimming between atmospheric IDM ("Aqua Worm Hole", "Vampire Island"), balls-deep techno workouts ("Nautilus", "Intensified Magnetron") and shimmering future electro (the futuristic Kraftwerk vibes of "Aquabahn").
Review: It's been a while since Clone last mined the undersea vaults of peerless Detroit electro/techno legends Drexciya. You'd expect the quality to dip a little on this fourth and final volume in the series, but Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller IV is every bit as essential as its predecessors. It's packed with far-sighted, next-level moments, from the bleak drum machine rhythms and gnarled electronics of "Hydro Cubes" and intense acid funk of "Aquatic Bata Particles", to the spine-tingling techno futurism of "Black Sea", the pure melodic joy of the rush-inducing "Sighting In The Abyss" and "Unknown Journey VII". A fitting finale to this excellent series from Clone.
Review: Something is stirring deep down beneath; after lying dormant for some time, Clone's Aqualung Series is revived in order to facilitate another round of Drexciya-related goodness. Dedicated solely to the various works of Drexciya man Gerald Donald, the Aqualung label has been used sparingly by Clone since it was established in 2009 so the arrival of a new release is somewhat surprising and, more to the point, most welcome. As the title suggests, Black Sea / Wavejumper (Aqualung Versions) presents alternate takes on the Drexciya favourites and wedged inbetween is a brilliantly grotty unreleased track in "Unknown Journey XI". Another fine Drexciya document from Clone.
Review: What's so striking about the tracklisting for Gold Panda's entry into the DJ Kicks canon is its diversity, erring towards a more stripped-down, experimental kind of techno but ranging across Drexciya, Zomby and Bok Bok. Despite this erraticism, the flow of the mix is relatively smooth to begin with, but around Christopher Rau's "Do Little", the mix drifts off into a strange and sparse minimal hinterland. By the time the wall of chords in Giuseppe Ielasi's "2" hits you, it's hard to remember where it all began. In that sense, Gold Panda has served up one of the most daring DJ Kicks compilations in a long time. Recommended.