Compilation Review: ‘minMAX’ (M_nus)



“Minimal aesthetic, maximal techno style” is the banner for a 24-track marathon, set to a universal throb, locking heads in a position facing south. You don’t need any more hints that Richie Hawtin’s M_nus imprint isn’t doing things by halves here. One sitting is probably too much weight to bear; pick and choose your piston-perfect procedurals instead.

Tech-house and deep techno pushing through the pain barrier so it can funk just a little, is of a full, proportioned sound, admonishing the skeletal throughout, but pushing in one direction and for the greater part, one dimension. A lot of accepted traits — particularly winding reverb and duskily filtered chord carousels — show a scientific precision, though it’s not a blanket expo for the robotic and artificial. Of course this makes the roguish inserts easier to trace, and although it doesn’t take much to jump from foundations laid by Theorem and Maxime Leffon, and sonar-powered readings clicked into place by Tripmastaz and 4Yo4u, rough-cut rolling from Gaiser’s bit between the teeth “Trashbend” and Jonni Darko striking out on “Close” become precious queue jumpers, with Joran van Pol’s “Faded” and Pots of Gold’s “Rainbows” skulking in the wings.

Lowered, dubby beats by Valentino, relying on strength and persistence rather than much method, share as much of the same family tree as Barem’s more ambient “Limbus,” underlining how a flick of the wrist divides the reticent and those going flat out.

File under: Heartthrob, Matador, Hobo

Compilation Review: ‘Ambivalent presents ___ ground’ (M_nus)


While Ambivalent (a.k.a. Kevin McHugh) rounds up the cavalry, the underscore is for listeners to fill in for themselves. As there isn’t much making eyes at the overground on this 21-track deep house and techno rummage, it’s underground and background going toe-to-toe. You’re hoping underground wins out as there’s nothing worse than club beats fading into a whisper — probably the worst trait of anything deep, and there are a few here that groove a little too close to inconsequence.

The compilation is far more straightforward than the suggestion of a concept at work. Alexx Wolfe gets proceedings busy, and Saso Recyd is the first to beef up and plug the underground hole with “296 Bolts” before twisting into the discoed “Lidudu.” Michael L Penman’s “Open Day” offers a hardy acid roller and represents the collection’s underground status not mining itself into a blackout – everything is pretty supple regardless of how closely it plays by the rules or slides past the microscope, the control maintained on techno-tunnelled jackers “Born Again” (Penman) and “Neutrino Ridin’” (Rich Jones). A thin line also emerges between these grounds, as Jorge Ciccioli’s acid roller “Owl” inches towards the back of the club. Then again, ROD’s “Moulins Three” and Aemkay’s “Missing Passengers” sound like logarithmic fun, whereas there’s tougher engineering coming to the fore. Solid ground is crossed throughout.
File under: Casah, Schubert, Camea