The Lab 03 mixed by Seth Troxler – NRK
The Detroit DJ and producer may have been around for nigh on a decade, but at a sprightly twenty-five his career’s already enveloped him in electronic music’s rich history, giving him the ear and brain of an artist ten years older. And while recent years have propelled him to a seemingly unhealthy level of hype, strip away the colourful prose and you’re left with one of the scene’s most vibrant and inventive musical thinkers, someone that’s just as likely to drop a CDR from his Visionquest stable as he is an early 00s rave track. Broken down simply, Troxler is never happier when behind the decks, steering a crowd towards his own as-yet-unconfirmed destination. How he finds time between a wall-to-wall DJ schedule that graces everywhere from DC10 and DEMF to Panorama and Fuse and releases on Crosstown Rebels, Wolf+Lamb, Circus Company and DFA to mix a two-disc compilation is admirable, but in NRK’s The Lab series, he finds a perfect home for his idiosyncratic swirl of house, disco and techno.
His ability to press the rave button unchallenged, across the two mixes Troxler enjoys a far more free reign to explore sonic nooks and crannies, edging far more to the deeper and quirkier corners of his record box, and the result is sumptuous and free-flowing. From the opening salvo of Hatikvah’s Big Mind and the Echologist Dub of Bearweasel’s Button Down The Moose, it evokes the dreamy, dubby beginnings of the classics mid-90s Renaissance albums, inexorably shifting lanes into a pair of more standard four-four cuts before an afro-beat twosome, with Tommy Bones’ After The Club drifting into the Balearic Themes Of Yesterday. Done any less subtly, the mix would feel restless, but its so fluidly programmed that it’s a joy to listen to the progressions and key changes, wondering which way the sign will point next. Dinky’s first track (of a trio, she features heavily here) Polvo ignites a slow climb in pace, its looped grooves leading to a comparatively energetic section, culminating in the brilliant, relentless mid-range rasp of David Durango’s Mosaic. It’s a shame that this feels like the only loose part of the mix, the trio of following tracks not quite knitting as seamlessly as the last, but it’s a minor gripe and its finish on the epic Sunsun from Masomenos is as fitting as it is atmospheric.
After the upward curve of the first disc, the second’s opening is almost somnambulant, but far from inducing slumber it’s more of an extended soundscape, and once the weirdness of POD’s Kenny Larkin-lampooning Rozetta Says Bad Shit fades out, Ark’s Arkuarium and Exercise One’s Prowl take the listener into circuitous, melodic wanderings that, even when they’re more firmly underpinned by a four-four base, are smile-inducing oddness that you can almost picture Troxler sniggering as he puts together. But it’s far from a calculated cooler-than-thou trip, and much more the refreshing sound of artistic freedom. Even when Crosson and Merveille’s No Hassle seems about to head to relatively jazzy regions, it ends up running around in circles, ditching melodies, while Dinky’s sublime This Is Your Heart pulls it back from accusations of self-indulgence. This is simply an artist enjoying themselves unashamedly, whilst rifling through the more interesting and less titled records in their box. Even if Weatherall’s mix of Radioactive Man is a little shoe-horned in, it’s not really possible to do much more than shrug, and by the end of the pair, it’s a chance to have both enjoyed over two hours of music from one of the scene’s hottest artists, but also to have learnt a lot about what makes them tick. In Seth Troxler’s case it’s, well, almost everything.
Stolen by Paul Woolford & Psycatron – Hotflush Recordings
It’s hard not to get a little overexcited about a triumvirate of two of techno’s most innovative names and one of electronic music’s most revered labels of recent years, but when Paul Woolford and duo Psycatron come together to collaborate on Hotflush then you’d be hard-pressed not to set yourself up for a fall. But then knowing Woolford’s expansive output over ten years of making records, and sharing similar label pedigree with Psycatron, their reunion after 2010’s Thunder on Cocoon is as close as you could get to a sure thing, and, over three mixes, it doesn’t disappoint.
The original mix is a flurry of handclaps, toms, booming kicks and opposing chords, giving itself a three-minute warm-up before a drop that builds slowly until the low-end commands the orchestra, the vocal’s lament punctuating the track as reverb-laden, metallic sounds throw the mix into a 303-led finale. It’s a track that begs to be listened to extremely loud in a cavernous room. The first of the two Dubs plays on the strengths of the original, subtly shifting the dynamics into a more straight-up techno interpretation. Rides and handclaps to the fore, it lets the chords take centre stage, with classic chord progressions and raw energy. The Dub 2 heads deeper, the percs sitting back in the mix, with chords cascading in reverb and sub-bass pulsing like a heartbeat, a dawn-light companion to the two fiercer partners.