Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Scion, "Arrange and Process Basic Channel Tracks"

If we assume that all mixed albums are required to represent what is hot at a particular time (a contentious assumption to be sure, but I think there's something to it), then it should be very rare for a mix to keep getting better with age. In this case, the increase in minimal techno's popularity over the past few years might be responsible for this album feeling more timeless than it does right now (i.e. the style wasn't hot at *its* particular time, but it is hot at *this* particular time). Because in 2006, "Arrange and Process Basic Channel Tracks" is sounding like the greatest mixed CD ever.

You wanna talk about timeless? This mix was released nearly a decade after the original recordings and instantly became the antidote for people who were bored shitless of Basic Channel and couldn't be bothered to sit through all 12 minutes of "Octagon" one more time. Its style fits midway between a couple of extremes. The first are the microassembled mixes by the likes of Ritchie Hawtin and Algorithm, who used familar source material to create something that sounds extremely unfamiliar. The second are the tastemaker comps, exemplified by Michael Mayer whose approach to mixing entails playing individual records from start to finish, with clean but straightforward mixing between tracks. Scion's mix feels like a greatest hits comp (everything on it sounds instantly familiarity) but in fact it takes old tracks and twists bunches of them together into new shapes. Hawtin's work contains hundreds of cleverly hidden details, but the simplicity of the Scion mix is awe-inspiring -- technically speaking, you could perform most of this by yourself using three decks and a mixer. Their new creations are continuously morphing, but the overall piece isn't cluttered (or busy) in the least. There's always just the right amount of "something" going on.

No comments: