October 28, 2009

Convextion – s/t (2006/8, Down Low Music)

I have to admit I am very much a late-comer to Detroit techno, and basically never even heard Juan Atkins or Jeff Mills or Underground Resistance or any of the other “masters” of the genre until the last couple of years. In '06, the Echospace Detroit camp of Rod Modell and co. released several double-12”s with a lot of buzz around them: a remix collection and re-issue of Convextion's “Miranda” from '96; a similar remix & re-issue set of Model 500's “Starlight”, a “classic” minimal Detroit techno track from '95; and the fantastic Deepchord release “Vantage Isle”, the latter both featuring remixes by Convextion. Convextion is one of several aliases used by TX-native producer Gerard Hanson, who released a relatively sparse selection of five 12”s over a period of 8 years from '95 to '03, considered very high-quality slices of Detroit/dub techno and commanding high prices on eBay, plus some electro-oriented 12"s as E.R.P.. In '06, Convextion finally released a full-length 2LP collection of tracks composed over the previous 10 years, but I didn't get a chance to hear it until it was released on CD last year. While I was at first slightly put-off by the Detroit sound, which has a very raw, synthetic-sounding quality with a heavy focus on minimal synthesizer patches, bleep-n-blooping arpeggiators and relatively simple, plodding drum machine programming, but I gradually realized that the album was just extremely pleasant to listen to and created a very hypnotic, chilled out atmosphere. The ten tracks are somewhat of an homage to classic Detroit and '90s styles, and even from my own limited listening experience I can recognize elements of early '90s techno blended with a nod towards the Basic Channel sound. The tone of the album is abstract and mysterious, with the steady beats functioning more as a trance-inducing throb than a dance-able groove. The long tracks steadily evolve and change up regularly enough to prevent monotony, and the synth programming is top-notch. Without making use of any trendy DSP FX or vocal samples, the album manages to maintain a timeless quality. Its not exactly innovative or ground-breaking territory being explored, but its relatively rare to find a full-length album of home-listenable techno music that works from beginning to end, which Convextion accomplishes impressively.