For all the outstanding three trackers from Workshop regulars like Kassem Mosse and Move D, the best Workshop releases tend to be their various-artist compilations. Workshop 15, coming after a brief respite from the label’s usual sequence of catalogue numbers courtesy of Magic Mountain High, pulls together four artists of assorted notoriety for another sterling installment of outsider house music. Thomas Hammann debuts as 808 Mate (it’s like “Joy Orbison” all over again), hitting the Start/Stop button on his 808 and launching into shuffling, electroid rhythms and sunny two-note melodies. There’s a melancholy twinge to those two notes and the timbres of the three synthesizers making them, but it’s a dance-floor track as Workshop likes to issue them. Another new face crops up in the form of Marcellis, whose earnest singer-songwriter house and strummed guitar might at first seem out of place. The song reveals itself through repetition, though, getting better and better with each passing measure, spiraling into an almost funereal techno-fied dirge.
Schweiz Rec., whom some will remember from his excellent contribution to the remarkable Workshop 10, returns with a similar palette for another bright house workout. And last up is Frak, the group of Scandinavian oddballs who have been around since the 80s and recently decided to tackle today’s techno scene with records for Kontra-Musik, Digitalis, and Sex Tags Mania. Their contribution to Workshop 15 reminds of their rugged analog tracks for those labels, but is even rougher here, working warped, narcotic stabs through coarse percussion. Workshop 15 is another winner for a label famous for issuing nothing but, and sees them throwing a bunch of wildly different, mostly unknown producers into a pot and somehow emerging with something that works. And after a couple good, if not great, releases, it’s a necessary injection of the slightly unexpected. As for the artists themselves, it’s hard to say whom to really keep an eye on. For all the Madteos who go on from the Workshop various artist releases to some sort of prominence, there are two or three who seem to never turn up again (Da Halz? Midnightopera?). Frak aside, who knows where we’ll see this crew turn up next? Wherever it might be, chances are it’ll be well worth checking out.