VARIOUS ARTISTS: Boogybytes Vol. 4 (BPitch Control)


Posted on Mar 13th 2008 11:52 pm

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V/A: Boogybytes Vol. 4

Boogybytes Vol. 4 mixed by Ellen Allien
BPitch Control 2008
15 Tracks. 66mins00secs

After the success of her recent Fabric mix, Berlin DJ Ellen Allien here takes over the controls on the Boogybytes series to deliver a tightly scripted disquisition on the micro-techno scene. With most DJ sets, there is a need to balance coherence with variety, and the new with the pleasingly familiar. Here, though, Allien aims for a sound whose consistency of beat and texture varies in slight details from one track to the next. It is a bit like listening to the slow and delicate shifting of tectonic plates – with the calamitous possibility of the quake lingering somewhere in the distance.

Because of the clinical, almost surgical cleanliness of Allien’s style, calamity and event are rarely brought into the mix in any obvious way. Instead, melodies float beneath scattergrams of sonic pulses, allowing rhythm to dictate the album’s intricate soundwaves. The sound that results is effortlessly now – as BPitch, her label, proudly avers – a soundtrack of urban facades and cityscapes. It’s the kind of music 3am DJs are playing in the underground radio of their dreams. But it is hard not to feel at times that, despite the rigour and economy of the mix, somewhere along the line the emotion has gone missing. Tracks like Vera’s In the Nook quiver with tension without ever really breaking into flight. Others, like Sozadams’ Eyes Forlon, offer dissonance and atmosphere, but the chemistry doesn’t quite seem to work. At times you are left wondering whether Allien is in danger of seeking tracks that fit the sound over tracks that actually work. Taken in isolation, it is easy to feel that some efforts here would plausibly go unnoticed.

The album does have its outright successes, such as the ethereal Nitzi (In My Mind, So Fine) by Melon, a track that in only four suppressed minutes of slow-burn intensity manages to allude to strains and ideas that somehow stay out of earshot. Its partner here, Fitzpatrick by Ricardo Villalobos and Patrick Ense, is another that masterfully intimates far more than it ever openly offers.

As the album draws to a close, the hard-edged dancefloor aesthetic of earlier tracks is superseded by the late-night taxi home listlessness of Sascha Funke’s Double Checked and the moody, bass-driven dirge of Kassem Mosse’s A1. And, with the beats down to zero, Allien pulls off her first real surprise of the album by ending her set with the intricate, piano-plodding beauty of Little Dragon’s Twice. It is a moment of unexpected openness that, for whatever reason, Allien too often elsewhere chooses to hold back.


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