Various Artists Dovercourt EP
In the last year, Montreal's Turbo Recordings, Tiga's long-running stable, has reinvented itself into a purveyor of what it calls "New Jack Techno." It's actually, sadly, just techno, with nary a Keith Sweat reference to be found. But most of its creators are "new jacks," just releasing their first records, or at least their first techno records, having made the move from other genres. Nevertheless, some respected heads have offered their support for this largely Canada-based group of producers. Martyn, for one, has assembled some of the Toronto faction for the Dovercourt EP on his own 3024 imprint, and the results are, predictably, mixed.
Kevin McPhee's early releases were brilliant, finding offbeat territory between sub-led garage and sentimental slow house, but he's been less consistent lately. "Version 5" takes inspiration from the Chicago house of the 1990s, as its constant clap patterns and simple, metallic melody (though this is so processed it could probably also feature on a Mark Fell record) harken back to the era. The track struggles to stand up—it's less rawly powerful than the originals or even some of their modern knockoffs, and far less complex and heart-tugging than McPhee's finest moments. Gingy tends to work with counterpart Bordello, but here, the producer cuts "Swirlie" solo. It's the most noticeably "Berlin" track here, sounding uncannily like a Shed piece in its athletic pummel and sheets of rave chords. It's a well-calculated tribute, but offers little more than tinges—the reverses in between sections are a nice touch—as innovations. Next, Nautiluss (a.k.a. Graham Bertie) offers "Zero Gravity," a comparatively romantic piece, anchored by subdued organ drones, pitched-down vocals, and an acidic bassline. It coasts from somber beginnings into a second half that's both twinkling and upfront percussive. Finally, the digital release features the debut of producer Bruce Trail. "Beatrice" features a similar blend of filtered organ, wispy vocals, and acid, though the acid is given more of an intensely spiraling presence. It doesn't develop in such a dramatic way, however, and the focus is left more on the rhythm. Like the rest of the EP, the track is calculated and functional, and may lose as much as it gains as a result.
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