Global Communication, Back In The Box

[NRK Sound Division]

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If your only point of reference for Global Communication is a 76 minute and 14 second long ambient album that is 17 years old, you may not be prepared for this two-CD mix. The duo of Mark Pritchard and Tom Middleton may well be most famous for their sole album as GC, but they wore many hats before and after; coming up with futuristic techno mutations as Reload, electro funk revivalists as The Jedi Knights and deep house under the Secret Ingredients banner. And if you’re coming at electronic music from a current perspective their separate endeavors — Middleton’s big-room remixes and Pritchard’s experimental hip-hop as Harmonic 313 — it may make this release even more bewildering. This installment in the Back In The Box series widens its aperture, offering a look into what was their modus operandi during the early 90’s: melodic, spacey, and insistently funky techno. It’s essentially a look at what they were measuring themselves against and spinning during their burgeoning production years.

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After a quick nod to the aforementioned album, a combination of the “global communication” multi-lingual delivery and the tick-tock pulse of “Ob-Selon Mi-Nos,” the first disc fixes aim on the floor by starting with some classic Detroit techno productions. Trademark sounds aplenty: Kevin Saunderson’s menacing Reese bass line and come-hither whispered vocals on “Just Want Another Chance,” Carl Craig’s emotive chords and tough breakbeats with “Galaxy,” while Derrick May’s team up and remix of System 7’s “Altitude” pairs Steve Hillage’s dreamy guitar work against stomping 909 kicks and crashes. On “Technotropic” Richie Hawtin, under his early F.U.S.E. alter-ego, delivers angular bass notes and staccato drum mechanics before a breakdown of oceans waves, digital seagulls and soaring chords that show a side rarely seen since. They build the intensity with a series of harder hitting techno salvos from Lory D, Neuropolitique and DHS before lightening the air with a pitched up edit by Middleton of Speedy J’s lush breaks and bass track, “De-Orbit.” From there the moody quotient is raised considerably with classic techno complexity in the form of Balil’s “Nort Route” and Florence’s “A Touch Of Heaven,” while the oft overlooked “True Feelings” by Flux makes good use of soaring strings and a rubbery DX100 bass line. The blends are solid but not all that long, often relying on a heavy delay of the outgoing track to create the transition. The first CD concludes with the aquatic-acid and whale samples of Robert Leiner’s “Aqua Viva,” showcasing rather heavily the affinity for organic sounds used in electronic music from this period.

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The second disc opens with a digitized rundown of the influential labels of the era running into the first track, “Flow Charts” by Ismistik. It sets the tone for the mix, as GC focus on more emotional techno and ambient selections. Far too many highlights to shake a stick at as the elegiac synths, crisp drum programming and analog circuitry are in full display on tracks from Stasis, Reel By Real, and Ross 154. The duo don’t spare much time mixing the music, instead segueing between tempos and moods in a way that recalls the side chill out rooms they played at UK parties. It doesn’t always work as evidenced between an awkward transition between As One’s “Amalia” and Aphex Twin’s “Tha,” but with a clever edit sequence added to some it works quite well. It also allows the majority of each track to play through, proving how musically impressive they are. The mix ends somewhat lukewarmly with The Irresistible Force remix of “Barbarella,” an unremarkable ambient track that is too fluffy by comparison to the preceding 32 tracks. The liner notes, written by long-time UK music journalist Kris Needs, and comments by the duo themselves provide a firsthand reference into the background of each selection. Reading through it feels like a trip down memory lane, but if you had any doubts as to the veracity of the gushing recollections, the mix will set you straight. What Pritchard and Middleton have given us is not a history lesson to be schooled on; they’ve shared a mix that feels personal and lives up to the emotional expressionism they originally set out to create.


HARMONIA » music  on July 11, 2011 at 5:25 AM

[…]   こちらは90年代のデトロイト系トラックばかりが収められたGlobal CommunicationのBACK IN THE BOX。 […]

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