Electronic & Dance
A pile of new releases clutters my desk right now, but I'm going to hold off on the holiday-shopping edition of Oscillations to focus on a pair of compilations that highlight two of the leading labels in minimal techno—Kompakt's Immer 2 mixed by Michael Mayer, and Poker Flat's Poker Flat Vol. 5: Bets 'n' Bluffs, which includes a bonus mix CD by Martin Landsky. Kompakt and Poker Flat are both remarkably consistent labels that have several years and countless releases under their belts.
Kompakt has, of course, the higher profile of the two; they've been defining trends in techno for years now, kick-starting schaffel and championing minimal from their Cologne headquarters. Label boss Michael Mayer has long been Kompakt's senior poster boy as a skilled producer, an untouchable DJ, and that rarest thing, a personality in electronic music. On Immer 2 Mayer once again demonstrates his good taste as a selector and his impeccable knack for pacing. The record begins with two atmospheric, Basic Channel—ing dub cuts—Someone Else's "Ploosh" and Ian Simmonds's "The Dog"—before the first solid beat hits 10 minutes in with Brooks's appropriately named "Tell Someone About the Beat." The rhythm creeps up in the mix, but always with melody, ambiance, and variation to avoid monotony. Mayer segues effortlessly through subdued Euro funk (Crowdpleaser & St. Plomb, Justus Köhncke), the Todd Terje remix of Lindstrom's space-disco odyssey "Another Platform," and the icy techno of the Rice Twins, SCSI-9, and Jesse Somfay. After warming things back up with the muted acid and restrained vocals of DK7's "Where's the Fun (Sten Remix)," Mayer concludes with an epic SuperMayer (that's Mayer and labelmate Superpitcher) remix of Geiger's "Good Evening." The track stretches a thumping beat out underneath frail, sustained synth pads, climaxing with a cheeky ode to "The Breaks" before dissolving into the sound of morning rain. Immer 2 is another pleasant mix from Mayer, a DJ who doesn't need to surprise audiences to sway them.
Hamburg's Poker Flat may lack the world-domination stature of Kompakt, but its roster of artists is no less stacked, with Bets 'n' Bluffs boasting tracks from such artists as Argy, John Tejada, Bug & Tanzmann, and current critical darling Trentemoller. Poker Flat's fare tends toward the more robotic end of the electronic spectrum, favoring sparse but funky beats, menacing synths, and occasional bits of subdued melody. The tracks collected here are quality cuts—and Landsky's mix ably navigates Poker Flat's catalog—but this compilation lacks the variety of Mayer's mix. And at well over two hours, it's almost too much of a good thing.
On a completely unrelated note: Saturday, November 25, marks the final edition of Seattle's upstart ghetto tech/b-more club/booty bass night, Booty Lib at Des Amis. For their blowout celebration, resident DJs Recess and Lincolnup will be joined by the inimitable Scratchmaster Joe and Washington, D.C.'s renowned DJ Tittsworth, who has shared decks with the likes of Spankrock and DJ Ayres of the Rub.