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Album review: Various artists, New Jack Techno (Turbo Recordings)

Tiga's label releases a set of tough-as-nails electronics.

By Bruce Tantum

If you think that Tiga—and by extension, his Turbo Recordings label—favors a slightly campy, skin-deep style of glossy, housified electropop…you’re right, up to a point. This is, after all, the man who covered both Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night” (with occasional production partner Jori Hulkkonen) and Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” In truth, however, he’s always kept at least one toe dipped in clubland’s underground, and has managed to juggle his affection for pop with an ardor for what a purist would call real-deal techno. But even those aware of Tiga’s techno inclinations will be knocked off guard by Turbo’s latest release, New Jack Techno; rather than the song-based, prettified form of the genre that one might expect, the compilation’s cuts—tough as nails, with a hint of bass-music bounce—go right for the jugular.

The gauntlet is thrown right from the start: Opening cut “Iron & Water,” from Toronto’s Gingy & Bordello, is intense and unsparing, all pummelling drums, dystopian chords and something that sounds like a rasping mechanical pooch catching its breath. It sets the tone for the rest up the album—stripped-down, unrelenting and as the title implies, very jacking. J Tijn’s “The Anti Mixdown” features a speaker-blasting kick drum, distorted hi-hats and clattering wooden percussion—and that’s about it for the first two minutes, until a ping-ponging, rapid-fire chord, sounding like something off some long-lost Reese classic, enters the picture. “Tie Dye,” a collaboration between Locked Groove (is there anyone hotter right now?) and Gingy, layers a brawny acid pattern over its early-Detroit-techno-inspired groove; Clouds’s “Gang 49” comes off as an echo chamber vibrating with mountain-sized builds and drops; and Sei A’s “Mercy Bass,” one of the more mellow tracks of the bunch (which admittedly isn’t saying much), works an array of deep-frequency bleeps around a syncopated kick and some wicked digital cymbal work. Folks looking for such niceties as melody and harmony should search elsewhere; but if your ready for a piston-pumping, titanium-plated blast of machine-age power, New Jack Techno’s got plenty to spare.


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