Community Corporation, The Salt Mines

david whittaker 6[4]
Painting by David Whittaker

[Crisis Urbana Recordings]


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Since its founding in early 2013, Crisis Urbana Recordings has held true to its promise of being a “rhythm & noise” label. Based in Detroit, the label’s digital and occasional tape releases from artists like Siobhan, Chaperone, and Sunk, tend to be experimental in nature, hovering between ambient, noise, drone, and demented takes on techno, taking scant reference points from their hometown’s signature sounds. Taylor Hawkins, who produces as Community Corporation, is the exception. His debut full-length arrives on cassette and digital formats with Midwest techno and electro coursing through its veins. Positioned as “a skewed history of events that never transpired,” The Salt Mines builds on and reworks classic templates in unexpectedly compelling ways.

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The swift footwork of electro and ghettotech percussion is the engine plowing through The Salt Mines, although the mood and intensity varies greatly across the ten tracks. Hawkins moves through these sounds with ease, executing the languid funk of “Salt,” the fleetfooted ramble of “Oakland County Hostages,” low-slung, sinister house in “108 Dead At City Hall,” and “Fall Out”‘s triumphant Detroit techno with the same proficiency and clarity of purpose.

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Calling upon so many Detroit influences — whether new or old, native or foreign in nature — gives rise to hybrids as well. The album opener, “Visitor Badge For The Devil,” spears together Chicago house and Detroit techno tropes so tightly their flavors intermingle perfectly. Syncopated drums in “Alien Technology” hit like slabs of concrete, but its synth lines are tender and inviting, like flowers poking through through sidewalk cracks. But the track I most wish would have been released on vinyl is “Grandmont-Rosedale War,” a whipsawing jaunt through pumping chords, nimble ghettotech snarework, and just a few supporting synths necessary to complete the thrill ride. Unfortunately the album’s one noticeable flaw appears on the same track, when the kick’s arrival two minutes in causes the other elements to duck due to sub-optimal sound design. But on a release as broadly appealing and repeat-worthy as The Salt Mines, this small blot is the sign of a talented young producer with room to improve and a solid sound on which to expand.

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