REDCELL / B12 / STASIS: B12 Records Archive Vol. 5 / B12: B12 Records Archive Vol. 6 / REDCELL / B12: B12 Records Archive Vol. 7 (B12 Records)


Posted on May 20th 2009 01:13 am

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REDCELL / B12 / STASIS: B12 Records Vol. 5

B12 Records Archive Vol. 5
B12 Records 2009
14 Tracks. 63mins11secs

B12: B12 Records Archive Vol. 6

B12 Records Archive Vol. 6
B12 Records 2009
24 Tracks. 75mins04secs

REDCELL / B12: B12 Records Archive Vol. 7

B12 Records Archive Vol. 7
B12 Records 2009
13 Tracks. 79mins09secs

Icon: arrow Buy: Vol. 5 – CD | MP3 Vol. 6 – CD | MP3

In the last few months, B12 have been busy reissuing the entire catalogue of long-unavailable EPs released on their imprint in the early to mid nineties, throwing in a heft dose of previously unreleased material for good measure, all in sparkling remastered sound quality. This journey, spanning a mere five years, was collected on seven volumes and constitutes a vibrant document of the period.

The last three volumes in the B12 Archive series offer a slightly different view of the pair’s work. While Volume 5, like its predecessor, is still largely representative of Steve Rutter and Mike Golding’s early years, especially on sister tracks Interim and Outerim, or later, Freeflow, Point Of No Return or Questions For Vanmannam, there are clear signs that, by 1993, the band were in search of new paths to explore. That they used a number of aliases to release their work certainly gave them the opportunity to investigate tangent lines, but pieces such as Wasteland, One Thing In Mind, Solar Winds (all released as Redcell), VCF or Funky Purple Hotpants (published under the Stasis banner) denote a move toward more stripped down soundscapes, the latter also showing some surprising funky twists, a shift which, by the end of 1993, had become extremely clear. Volume 7, the last in the series, reveals just how the pair had taken their sound back to its bare essential by getting rid of almost all rich soundwaves of the past, leaving beat and bass exposed, with only skeleton melodies floating over them.

This last volume in this epic series collects the pair’s fifteenth EP, originally due to be released under the Redcell guise in 1996 but eventually published as a very limited run ten years later, plus a host of unreleased material and tracks released on other labels, including Warp, A.R.T. and New Electronica. Right from the onset of Practopia, the tone is more abstract and cold. Solitude, which follows, appears even more desolate and linear, and if the following tracks are marginally lighter, there is very little left of the rich soundscapes of previous releases. The additional tracks are cut very much from the same mould and often demonstrate an element of intensity rarely witnessed previously. The haunting Travellor (Remix) and Moon Over The Moab especially cast strong shadows over the last part of the series.

In between, Volume 6 is something of an oddity. CD two features previously unreleased material recorded between 1993 and 1994, while CD one contains the whole of Prelude Pt. 2, a rare release which only ever appeared on cassette and, for a very limited period, on CD back in 1993. This section features short sequences and remixes woven into snippets of an interview that the pair gave to a Belgian radio station in 1992. This gives an interesting oblique view into the work of B12, spanning some of their early work, some of it eventually appeared, in different forms, on the seminal Electro-Soma album, and allows to look beyond the music as Golding and Rutter talk about their work and how it fitted in the musical landscape of the time.

While it is undoubtedly a strong document of its time, the B12 Archive series serve to extensively demonstrate the impact the band had on the electronic scene, and how they assimilated the ethic of Detroit techno and gave it a resolutely English flavour.

Vol. 5: 3.9/5 | Vol.6: 4.3/5 | Vol.7: 4.6/5

Icon: arrow B12 Records
Icon: arrow Buy: Vol. 5 – CD | MP3 Vol. 6 – CD | MP3

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