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Three new cd offeringsfrom the Berlin based Basic Channel / Chain Reaction family: Fluxion"Vibrant Forms" and Hallucinator "Landlocked" on Chain Reaction and"Round One to Round Five 1993 - 1999" on Main Street Records, allavailable domestically in the U.S. via EFA/Caroline.CRhave thankfully done away with the frustratingly impractical metal tinsin favor of biodegradable or glossy digipacks which are made to looklike the tins. No more breaking the cds when trying to get them out!The same descriptive words can often be accurately applied to themajority of the CR artists: minimal, techno, dub, washes, texturedsoundscapes, subtle shifting etc. You either love or hate this music... it will either bore you to tears or grab you and not let go.
Two words set the Fluxion and Hallucinator discs apart: tedious andenthralling, respectively. Most of "Vibrant Forms" is missing the "it",the subtle ebb and flow of changing rhythms and textures, that makesthis music so beautiful. Most of these tracks put the beat in theforefront and do little to pull you in thanks to less than exciting andrarely shifted loops. Two of the 10 tracks, which happen to be thelongest at 9:30 +, have "it" while the rest are difficult to sitthrough. "Landlocked" on the other hand has "it" from start to finish.These tracks are ambient journeys, most of which happen to have somesort of beat and/or bass line. Hallucinator use a wider set of styles(ambient, techno, bits of dub, tribal and jazz) and palette of sounds(thick textured washes, water, sampled clankings, bell tones, synthnoises) to create one of the more diverse, yet cohesive, set of tracksof any CR cd to date.
"Round One to Round Five 1993-99" collects all of the Main Street 12"sreleased between 1994 and 1999. The first two rounds are thumpin'upbeat house tracks featuring Andy Caine on vocals. In all honesty, Ihave trouble discerning a good house track from a bad house track ...but these 2 are at least tolerable. I much prefer the "Chicago'sTwisted" and 2 dub mixes which strip out most of the vocals and aremore in the CR style. The next three rounds feature Tikiman's smoothreggae vocals and corresponding dub versions. These tracks are in theexact same spacey-dub vein as the 1998 Rhythm and Sound w/Tikiman"Showcase" cd from Burial Mix. Great stuff, but only if you want more.To recap: thumbs up for the Hallucinator and Round One to Round Five,thumbs down for Fluxion. Bang for your buck: "Vibrant Forms" is the'shortest' of the 3 clocking in at just under 70 minutes while "RoundOne.." comes in just shy of 80 minutes! Next up from Chain Reaction areArovane "Atol Scrap" via Din on January 25th and Vladislav Delay"Militia" on February 8th ...