Matt O’Brien, Remixes From The Periphery

[Off-key Industries]

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U.K. producer Matt O’Brien’s refreshingly sporadic Off-key Industries follows the label owner’s From the Periphery release from 2009 with a series of remixes that bring together some of the past and present leading lights of techno and house, and which in many ways neatly sum up O’Brien’s approach to music-making. When Josh Brent started to make his name during the mid to late-90’s as Schatrax, his atmospheric yet forceful grooves, inspired in equal measures by Detroit techno’s etherealness and the raw garage dubs of N.Y. house, were described as tech-house. Although that term has since been hijacked and now serves to describe either post-mnml mush or the overblown melodrama of C2, Brent rekindles the magic of his golden period with his rework of “Dodaso,” with a jacking rhythm and subsonic blips and bleeps permeating through a grainy bass.

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O’Brien recruited another old schooler, Todd Sines aka .xtrax, to rework the track as well. Remaining true to his sparse ‘n’ squelchy trackiness, the sprinkling of piano keys is a pleasant surprise, but it ends up sounding strangely flat and underwhelming — possibly a consequence of appearing alongside Brent’s resonating timbre rather than a shortcoming on the part of Sines. KiNK is up next and it’s clear that he has spent a lot of time listening to producers like Dan Bell, Sines and even some of Dan Curtin’s early Purveyors of Fine Funk releases on Peacefrog, but somehow, his one-note bleeping paean to these artists sounds muted when it should swagger and slick when it should bristle with raw intent. The final contributor is The Subliminal Kid: if you haven’t checked his To the South release on Off-key Ltd. from last year, then shame on you. In the meantime, this version of “Blackwood Freestyle” provides more of the same breezy, atmospheric techno, with airy, filtered melodies accompanying a rolling, undulating groove. Simple, smart and like the rest of this EP’s highlights, timeless.


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