- Dutch veteran Steve Rachmad's foundational debut album as Sterac, Secret Life of Machines, was re-released to great fanfare earlier this year. Rachmad was instrumental in evangelising and, indeed, defining Detroit techno for a Dutch audience in the mid-'90s, and the album, originally released on 100% Pure in 1995, sees him breathe warm, wistful melodicism into the Detroit techno framework. Thus far, the re-release project has been about overhauling the record as much as simply re-presenting it, with Rachmad tinkering with the tracklist and presenting his own remixes of some tracks. The Remixes takes this approach further, with a double package of reworkings from a range of contemporary techno and house operators.
Part 2 leans slightly more towards house and, appropriately, the vinyl release gives pride of place to Dutch talent. 100% Pure boss 2000 and One tackles the brisk but dubby "Thera," dropping its basic melodic material into a tick-tock tech house framework and replacing the grit and urgency of the original with big room dynamics and a more measured sense of progression. Joris Voorn, meanwhile, reworks album highlight "Astronotes"—a wise choice, you'd think, given the knack for sculpting blissfully smooth atmospherics displayed in parts of his own discography. But where the original is a lesson in cosmic whimsy, Voorn uses those arpeggiating lines as the backbone for a regrettably trite-sounding exploration of tension and release.
Things get more interesting in the digital part of the package. Villalobos is (as usual) the centrepiece here, remodelling the heads-down freneticism of "Sitting on Clouds" into one of his characteristic 19-minute epics. His version is ugly, rough-edged, often furtive in its presentation of ideas—a disorientating negative of the brightly erratic original. Elsewhere, Christian Smith's remix of "Astronotes" more faithfully captures its cosmogonal tendencies, while keeping one eye on the more energetic corners of the dance floor. Rounding off the package, Vince Watson, with his penchant for luscious melody, seems like a fine successor to Rachmad, and his two reworkings of the album's title track tease out its pristine soul: the "Electronica" mix by placing it in a delicate electro framework; the other by subtly ramping up the intensity.
While there are a few fine efforts here, not many of these tracks come close to the elegant lyricism and warmth of the original album; nor do they replace it, convincingly, with some other kind of appeal. Proof, if it was needed, that Secret Life of Machines is a hard act to follow.
01. Thera (2000 And One Remix)
02. Astronotes (Joris Voorn Remix)
03. Sitting On Clouds (Ricardo Villalobos Sittin' On Klaus Remix)
04. Astronotes (Christian Smith Remix)
05. The Secret Life Of Machines (Vince Watson Electronica Mix)
06. The Secret Life Of Machines (Vince Watson Remix)