Various Artists - Carl Craig Sessions
Fri 28th Mar, 2008 Music Reviewsin
In today’s flooded electronic music market, you can often feel inundated with compilations that all sound the same and lack that special something that made you fall in love with this scene in the first place. It is not until you uncover compilations such as *Carl Craig*’s Sessions that you wake up from this sad reality and are enlightened with the quality music oozing from this album. This is pure and real.
Prolific producer, DJ, label owner, remixer and Grammy-nominated Detroit techno legend Carl Craig; he’s all these and more as he illustrates on this astounding retrospective, showing why he is known as one of the godfather of Detroit Techno. It must have been difficult for him to squeeze all his achievements onto one album but he does so beautifully, inserting original remixes, rare and unreleased edits across the two discs. Something that isn’t done that much today, Sessions is a mixed set recorded in one extended take (the two discs are faded in and out), which gives it a rawness that not many other of the over-produced compilations these days feel like. The construction of the set is therefore vitally important, and the way that Craig weaves his tunes together across the compilation is nothing short of stellar. Craig’s forte is lavish, sweeping epics on a grand scale, music that constantly strives for more rawer, deeper emotion. Surprisingly he takes only two of his own tracks, avoiding other big moments for him like Landcruising, More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art, and also sticks to contemporary tracks, steering clear of the past, only offering six originals by his more popular 90s alias.
Disc one flows with repetitive grooves, heavy thumping beats and melodies that reach you to the core – you feel stripped down, raw and exposed. Easing into it slowly, he wastes no time utilising his skills with his Grammy-nominated rework of Junior Boys’ Like a Child, and you can’t resist floating along the glittering melody. He then moves into Rhythm & Sound’s Poor People Must Work remix that pulls you into the zone. Chez Damier’s Help Myself jolts you back to reality but Paperclip People’s Throw brings back that repetitive groove that he began with, and flows nicely into one of his best moments ever, his genius reworks of Beanfield’s Tides. This vocal, how can I describe it? It’s so subtle yet large, it encompasses all.
Paperclip People’s Clear and Present clears the mood and the way for another winner, Theo Parrish’s Falling Up, which sucks you, deeper and deeper til it’s ready to spit you out (gotta love the key change here too!). Next is Oscillator by Paperclip People yet again, and it’s a wonky journey that leads into the Angola where Cesária Évora dances through chanting voices and loose percussion before being overwhelmed by Craig’s trademark slabs of Detroit synths. Finishing up disc one is the piano keys of Francesco Tristano’s The Melody and Craig’s mindblowing remix of Delia & Gavin’s Revelee, a magical track and lush way to finish.
Continuing the journey, disc two kicks off with 69’s Rushed in its original version, energetic and pulsating, whereas Psychobeat by the same artist is in stark contrast with its minimalist beat. X-Press 2’s Kill 100 is the high point of this disc, and although it’s gone mainstream, is a fantastic track that builds and builds, pounding til it reaches the catchy vocal. Demented (Or Just Crazy) is just that, turning the set into a bleeping techy explosion. However you can’t get past the classic track of Faze Action’s In The Trees and the fact that it’s an unreleased Craig remix makes it all the more better. Tres Demented’s Brainfreeze sneaks in next and leads into Carl Craig’s own stellar track Futurelovetheme, a nice blast from the past. The ending of the set is eclectic, with another Craig track, the smooth and moody Sandstorms followed by Innerzone Orchestra’s jazzy outburst Bug In the Bass Bin. Not entirely how I would have liked it to end but I accept Carl’s choices.
Sessions is a journey through Carl Craig’s career, a delight and discovery for those already a huge fan, as well as a neat taster for those new to his sound. This astounding compilation is a standout amongst the crowd, is quality over quantity, is timeless and is certain to garner Craig even more respect than he has already earned over the past two decades. An absolute must for an true quality techno and electronica fan.