Another Bugged Out Mix & Bugged In Selection
Simon Jay Catling
, September 5th, 2012 06:09
Over seven years since Trash night founder and DJ premier leaguer Erol Alkan so expertly captured the electro-house zeitgeist on A Bugged Out Mix, the pace at which club dancefloors have altered, accelerated and broken down fashions and tastes has made it almost impossible for him to be so all-encompassing on this follow-up. That release featured tracks like Roman Flugel's 'Gehts Noch,' a pre Justice-fucked-with 'Never Be Alone' by Simian and a re-worked version of Tiga's 'Move My Body' so fresh it pre-dated the original's full release by well over a year; it was a perfect snapshot of what would become the dominating club sounds of the time.
Even back then, though, when Alkan continued to dabble with remixes for the likes of Justice and Digitalism - most notably an end-days dystopian monster re-edit of the former's 'Waters Of Nazareth' - he was already aware of club culture's unceasing velocity and the perils of continually trying to look round its next corner. Instead, alongside DJing, he opted to pursue his own interests, turning his hand to, among other things, production for bands like Mystery Jets and Late Of The Pier, the founding of his own label, Phantasy, and indulgence in a more psychedelic-infused approach to remixing with The Grid and current Time & Space Machine man Richard Norris, as Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve. As such, any expectations that do abound for this release derive perhaps from the memory of what the now-38 year-old put together under the Bugged Out! banner in 2005, and not so much because of where he's actually at right now.
Yet that works in Alkan's favour when approaching this mix. Besides, the track selection on both Bugged Out and Bugged In (the comedown accompaniment mix) proves that he's still as canny a crate digger as he ever was. How does he attempt to encapsulate the current state of the UK's dancefloors in 2012? The simple answer is that he isn't inexperienced enough to try. With the internet-driven break down of electronic music as a whole into smaller and smaller micro-communities, Alkan completely sidesteps the risk of spreading his choices too thinly and, though the cohesively assembled set does lend itself to the spatial, hollowed-out side of some of the dancefloor's current trends - without being afraid to bang a bit too - it translates far more strongly as a collection of favourites rather than a statement of agenda.
That's not to say that the Bugged Out half hasn't been liberally sprinkled with some of most in-demand talent this side of an Ableton plug-in: Hotflush boss Scuba appears with 'Never Mind', from last year's Adrenalin EP, joined by labelmate Jimmy Edgar, whose 'This One's For The Children's new wave/funk infusion flexes its taut physique. Alkan maintains an interest in DFA Records too, although Factory Floor's foundation-quivering, industrial-flecked 'Two Different Ways' is poles apart from the electroclash that both he and their label were once loosely associated with.
Then there's French techno tour de force Gesaffalstein's remix of Agoria's 'Speechless', featuring Carl Craig & La Scalars. Last year the Parisian stretched and contorted Alkan & Boys Noize's 'Lemonade' on the rack until it could howl no more. This cut is of a more brooding, considered mood, and holds its own well here, following evergreen 80s techno classics from Model 500 and Unovidual & Tara Cross. Alkan allows for only two of his own re-works: a ferocious, roboticised version of Spandex's 'The Bull' and, at the other end of the spectrum, a sprawling take on psychedelic curiosity Connan Mockasin's 'Forever Dolphin Love' that would sit equally comfortably on the Bugged In half of the compilation.
Indulgence of another kind is evident on Bugged In, with the veteran truly mining the depths of his record collection, coming up for air with offerings from artists as diverse as Welsh oddballs Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Soft Machine's Robert Wyatt, to the sultry melancholia of Chromatics and Kompakt's current ambient techno princes Walls. A wandering collection of songs, this second disc is more disjointed than the first, a loosely fitting collage of elements serving as balm for depleted serotonin levels. The most notable curio comes from The Space Lady, a San Francisco street musician whose 'Major Tom (Coming Home)' - a cover of Bowie's 'Space Oddity' - recalls Felt Mountain-era Goldfrapp in its hushed disaffection. Other highlights include 'Voci Giaga's' welcome reminder of Italo-disco duo Margot's underrated 2010 Border Community 12” 'France 2', and perfectly judged coda 'Soaring And Boring', a languid piano ballad by songwriter Liam Hayes that somehow found its way onto High Fidelity back in 2000.
With hindsight it's easy to claim that A Bugged Out Mix provided a catalyst for the several years' worth of nightlife that followed it release. But listening to it at the time, you might've been hard-pressed to believe that a collection created from odds and ends of the fading electroclash scene would define a period. With music's climate even more unpredictable and disparate now, this mix might not end up as such an accurate document. What it does prove, though, is that Erol Alkan's passion for the craft he loves is a long way from flickering out, almost 20 years since he began.