Jorge Velez has only a handful of releases to his name, but ever since hearing his L.I.E.S-released record as Professor Genius, Hassan, I’ve had the nagging feeling Velez was someone I was supposed to be quite familiar with — a minor 90s icon with a handful of releases on Bunker Records or something. Turns out those tracks I was imagining had indeed been penned in the 90s, they just had not come out yet. Last year saw a handful of stamped releases appear in stores: credited to J Velez, bearing the MMT stamp, and sounding like few contemporary records. It was only with a little internet sleuthing that their back story could be filled in: culled from archival tapes, the contents of the MMT Tape Series, now reassembled and repackaged by Rush Hour, were recorded at Velez’s Jersey City home in the late 90s with various pieces of analog gear.
While analog fetishism and all things archival remain in vogue in house circles, the music across the four (down from eight) sides of the MMT Tape Series doesn’t so much recall Jersey house as it does some of the most venerated operators of 90s electronic music. The record’s pacing, as well as its awkward melodies and tongue-in-cheek antics, recall moments of Aphex Twin’s most loved albums, and surely many will draw parallels between the analog thumps of “Under The Sea” and (of course) Drexciya. But that’s about where the comparisons end for a record this varied, this consistently entertaining and confounding. Veering through myriad timbres and styles over its nearly 80 minutes, the MMT Tapes don’t seem to ever slide into complacency, as there’s always a funny noise or off-kilter synth pattern barging in to recast things in a new, strange light.
Some highlights include the (comparatively) jacking “Untitled 2.1″ and “Some Of Your Friends,” the Casio strings and weirdo percussion rolls of “Seqqex,” and the piano-led send-off of “He Makes Us Smile.” Given the archival nature of these recordings, it’s hard to tell how they were meant to be digested, but Rush Hour have done a very fine job taking the best cuts from the 12″s, as well as grabbing some key tracks exclusive to this release (“As It Is Today,” “Hi Jinks”), and sequencing everything together into a strong whole. It’s what Rush Hour have been excelling at for years now, but for recordings made over a decade ago, the contents of the MMT Tape Series sure sound essential here in 2013.