B12 - Electro-Soma (Warp, 1993)
I've read the odd unkind word about B12, but one man's 'testcard muzak' is another's 'balm for the soul'. That the DJ played B12 at all was great, the fact that he played my undisputed fave track from "Electro-Soma" was the bonus ball! Okay, maybe B12's take on Detroit purism was a little on the anaemic side (and the album title's reference to the fictional drug used to pacify the proletariate in Huxley's "Brave New World" could be construed as proof of it's mind-wiping blandness) - but still 'Bio Dimension', with it's pensive, fussy snare pattern, somber, reflective atmosphere and bulbous, ungainly bassline hits the spot for me everytime.
I don't think I've ever mentioned Richie Hawtin in this blog before, which is slightly unjust. Admittedly, much of his Plastikman material left me a little cold, but the earlier Fuse output is serious nourishment. 'Theychx' is the centerpiece of "Dimension Intrusion", the Fuse anthology released by Warp (in association with Hawtin's own +8 label) as part of the original Artificial Intelligence series. The full track clocks in at nearly quarter of an hour, so I've slimmed it down a bit for all you impatient downloaders out there. If you like what you hear, track down the full album (or dust off that old, unloved copy lying at the back of your collection and let it back into your life).
That whole Artificial Intelligence period had such a profound effect on me at the time. As I mentioned in my Belgian post, before that I was strictly bangin' hardcore addict. I guess it must've been Aphex Twin's first Selected Ambient Works collection (itself released on the definitive Belgian label R&S in 1992) that first drew me into the more sedate, contemplative aura of the first wave of 'intelligent' artists. Along with "Dimension Intrusion" and "Electro-Soma", Warp's seminal series of albums also included Black Dog's "Bytes", Speedy J's "Ginger", Autechre's "Incunabula" and of course Aphex's Polygon Window album. Maybe it was all coinciding nicely with my own gradual change of lifestyle...I bought my first house around then, got married in '93, started spending a bit more time at home, and these album-length excursions would've fit in nicely with that whole situation. As a consequence I missed out on some of the really interesting things going on in the still developing hardcore/jungle scene - I took my eye off the ball - and I'm still catching-up with a lot of that stuff now. Still, at the time I was perfectly content to drift in the currents of the Ambient/Intelligent axis, and much of it is still very close to my heart. Other formerly hardcore labels like Rising High also went down that route too, throwing up some occasionally brilliant albums. I'm resolved to unearth and reassess more of this era in the next few weeks - undoubtedly resulting in a series of occasional posts on the subject, which'll make a nice contrast to the Belgian ones (which are coming soon, I promise!).