By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Electric Ladyland: Clickhop Version 1.0
Happy 2b Hardcore Chapter Six: The Final Chapter
Post-rave's enemy may not be itself. In fact, it may be sequelitis. To see the numerals following the titles of compilation CD series is to have one's mind flash, if only subconsciously, to Friday the 13th Part VIII or Where the Boys Aren't Vol. 43--at which point the notion of artistic worth generally goes out the window. Maybe that's why three of the longest-running dance-music compilation series are wrapping things up and/or restarting the count before they reach double digits.
Electric Ladyland: Clickhop Version 1.0 (Mille Plateaux) differs from its seven preceding Ladyland volumes by means of production. Where Electric Ladyland series one was devoted to breakbeat-driven genres (hip hop, dub hop, drum 'n' bass), Clickhop Version 1.0 replaces James Brown loops with the snap-crackle-popping digital detritus of the same label's Clicks & Cuts comps. The new Ladyland title, though, has many of the same glitches as its predecessors--not static accidents, but an aesthetic conservatism that seems fishy in such purportedly "experimental" music.
Even the novelty effects that permeate both discs on the Clickhop double CD--Captain Comatose's video-game noises or Deltidseskapism's flipping sound squiggles--have an air of misbegotten seriousness. And tracks by Frank Bretschneider, Auch, DJ Spooky, and Kerosene distinguish themselves from your average Kruder & Dorfmeister remix by having no low end. If that sounds unimaginative, what does it say about the disc's compilers that they programmed those four tracks in a row?
No great leaps of imagination were expended upon the new editions of Speed Limit 140 BPM Plus or Happy 2b Hardcore, either. But that's less of an issue, since neither series has ever been particularly high-minded. Speed Limit documented
the transformation of U.K. breakbeat hardcore into jungle over eight mid-Nineties volumes; in 1997 Happy 2b Hardcore--mixed by Toronto DJ Anabolic Frolic--replaced Speed Limit on the Moonshine release schedule. Now, their fortunes are being reversed: The subtitles of Happy 2b Hardcore Chapter Six: The Final Chapter and Speed Limit 140 BPM +: The New Era tell the story.
Good thing, too: The subtitle of Happy 2b Hardcore Chapter Six: The Final Chapter (Moonshine) may be its least redundant feature. No techno subgenre has ever deserved the complaint "it all sounds the same" more than this stuff, which in its current state has mutated from jungle's hyperactive cousin to a frighteningly amped-up version of Eurovision--the cheeseball annual song contest that introduced Abba and Celine Dion to the world. Tracks like Kaos & Ethos's "Drift on a Dream," Scott Brown's "Turn up the Music," and Force & Styles' "Look at Me Now" can only make you think of really, really fast B-movie love themes, sung by pod people dressed as Muppet Babies.
The hard-house tracks on Speed Limit 140 BPM +: The New Era (Moonshine), by contrast, bypass the heartstrings and go straight for the adrenal gland. The cold, airy productions of artists like Billy Bunter, Vinylgroover, and Slipmatt (who mixes the CD) recall those of epic-trance producers (Oakenfold, Sasha, Digweed)--except these recordings seem less suited to arena-size superclubs than warehouses. Here old-school rave rushes like the chant "When I pump the bass/Rock this place," from Dil 'n' Doe's "Da Bass," fold into the tracks' clinical mix rather than leading it, happycore-style. And when the Pranksters' "Wassup Baby" repeats a muttered word, underground, the one they're referring to doesn't have anything to do with the Global Underground epic-trance DJ-mix series that just issued its 21st volume. Popcorn, anyone?