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  • Filed under: Review
  • 07/03/2012

Pick

Mike Huckaby The Tresor EP

There is likely no better current interpreter of that power sonic-groove thang shared by Detroit and Berlin than Mike Huckaby. The operative word above being "power." Huckaby's skillful, jazz-inflected house productions and remixes are equally stellar, true enough. But on the three-track Tresor EP, we get treated only to the hard, freaky stuff that, 20 years on from when the transcontinental cultural relationship between the two cities was first forged in sound, still sounds essential.

Side A's "Tresor Track" is a pure dub-techno adrenaline rush, akin to early-'90s dance experiments like Basic Channel's "Phylyps Trak" and Maurizio's M-Series. Those Berlin artists—and their corresponding brethren in Detroit, Rob Hood and Carl Craig—changed the course of beat-driven music by tweaking the rhythms, pulling the bass and drums up slightly in the mix, and adding elegantly nuanced overtones in between. It was like a new language appearing, one that Huckaby is still speaking. Amazingly, his homage to this shape-shifting era has not a whiff of "retro" about it. The production is clean and fresh, the kick never relents, the layers of percussion add density, and deep synth chords and rolling basslines keep your body in motion from start to finish. As a bonus, there is even a vague hint of syncopated disco phrasing in the outro. In short, it's a killer track.

The flipside's "Basement Trax" and "Upstairs Lounge" are only a notch below in quality. On B1, Huckaby comes ready to jack and delivers a scorching Chicago-Berlin hybrid piece, the kind of track that has become a signature moment in the post-4 a.m. window on the dancefloor. "Upstairs Lounge" is similarly acid inspired, but contains more dub elements, crispy drum patterns that recall UK garage and rave, and an ugly backbeat that brings Huckaby full circle back to his Detroit roots.

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