Thursday, September 15, 2016

V/A, "Clicks and Cuts" (Mille Plateaux)

I recently dug out a massive booklet with more than a hundred old CD compilations from my parent's house.  I haven't heard a lot of this stuff in over ten years, so it's like a wormhole opened up and dropped a mountain of classic and rare music from a long lost galaxy right on my head.  Expect a good deal of tripping down memory lane over the next little while, including at least one mix (already in the can).

This very famous compilation was released in January 2000, and the symbolism of the date is significant because it was intended to signify a new paradigm for techno in the 21st century.  It's title became synonymous with the entire genre, and the first MUTEK was for all intents and purposes, a "Clicks and Cuts" tribute festival.  I was the target audience for "Clicks and Cuts" without a doubt -- a fan of bedroom techno (e.g. Warp's Artificial Intelligence series), of minimalism, ambient, of Oval, Sub Rosa compilations and similar oddities on the outskirts of techno.  It was one one of my top albums of 2000, and I was very much in favour of the slow continuing takeover of "Clicks and Cuts" style techno. 

Of course it didn't quite happen that way.  "Boring" laptop techno was superseded by less boring laptop techno with a beat, and became minimal techno that you could actually dance to. 

Needless to say, this stuff hasn't aged well.  On the first CD, even the stuff with a semblance of a groove that I really dug back in the day, like Farben, now sounds feeble and almost directionless.  Tracks by Sutekh and SND are nearly unlistenable, with nothing to draw one's attention outside of the frittering pops and whirs that burrow into your ears like sand swept up by a gust of wind.  The stranger tracks have fared better, such as Vladislav Delay's ten minute "Synkopoint", which used to bore me but now presents a more varied and unpredictable palate of sounds than anything else on the disc.

The second CD is a bit better (fifteen years ago I would have said the opposite).  Again the weirder tracks by Ester Brinkmann, Dettinger, and Goem are the highlights.  The Panacea, Ihan, and Kid606 tracks towards the end form the worst three track run on "Clicks and Cuts" by far, with almost nothing to redeem then other than the historical curiosity of being included on this album.  But that's the whole point here -- as a historical document, "Clicks and Cuts" is still essential as an accurate summation of a major trend in techno at the time.  If you try to edit this down to a 40 minute condensed version of "highlights", you're missing some important information.   

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