Carl Craig - Masterpiece

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  • Masterpiece is one of Ministry Of Sound's most ambitious projects, giving legendary artists a chance to stretch out over three discs. You could say it's sheer hubris at a time when many question the necessity of mix CDs in the first place. Masterpiece intends to offer something more substantial than your average compilation, but still, how often will you really listen to a three-disc mix? Detroit magnate Carl Craig sidesteps this predicament by tweaking the format a bit—only one disc on his edition of Masterpiece is a conventional DJ set. Another is an unmixed collection of his influences, and the third presents six brand new tracks from Craig, his first original productions in quite some time. The first, subtitled "Aspiration," reflects a current C2 set. If you've seen him play recently (or heard a podcast), you'll know not to expect the Detroit techno sound that's often associated with his name. These days Craig prefers a smooth ride anchored by tech house rather than techno. Kyle Hall's "Zug Island" starts the mix off in strong form, but things quickly descend into mediocrity with tracks from Burnski and Technasia. It's not until SCB's edit of Arkist that the techno comes crashing in, before climaxing beautifully with a string-laden Moodymann edit of Rick Wilhite and a classic cut from Egyptian Lover. Craig spends too much time in the middle of the road on "Aspiration," and the lack of any sort of theme or special material means it never reaches beyond the merely average. Disc two is "Inspiration," an eclectic mixtape of Craig's influences. His selection is great, from Muddy Waters to the deep dub of African Head Charge. And though it looks disparate on paper, there's a noir-ish quality—the same emotive impulses that underline his own productions—that ties it all together. Which leaves us with "Meditation," likely the prime attraction for Craig's fans. Inspired by David Lynch's Transcendental Meditation, the set is made up of all new ambient material. Reflecting the resistance to technology discussed in his recent RA Exchange, the sounds are earthy and tactile, like something he might have made in the late '90s. The first few recall Recondite's eerie nocturnes, capturing a desolate midnight mood and occasionally blowing up into sweeping, cinematic passages, before calming back down into a steady drip. It's a rare opportunity to see something new from Craig at a point his career where it seems like all he does is tour. And really, that's what Masterpiece feels like—a glimpse at Craig at a specific moment in time, not so much a career-defining victory lap as a check-in with one of techno's most beloved stars. But even with an album's worth of new material, there's something missing here; the format might be Herculean in scale, but Craig's efforts don't match up.
  • Tracklist
      Disc 1: Aspiration 01. Kyle Hall & Kero - Zug Island 02. Macromism - News from Barcelona 03. Huxley - Little Things 04. Burnski - Lost in the Zoo (The Martinez Brothers Bronx Zoo Mix) 05. Loco Dice - Detox 06. Sam Ball - Handsome 07. Maan - L1 (ROD Remix) 08. tINI - My Shine (Carl Craig Remix) 09. 69 - Poi Et Pas (ROD Remix) 10. Arkist - Rendezvous (SCB 2013 Dub) 11. Tom Trago - Use Me Again (Carl Craig Rework) 12. Rick Wilhite - Drum Patterns & Memories (Moodymann Mix) 13. The Egyptian Lover - Egypt Egypt 14. Ben Sims - Straight from Bolivia 15. Lance Desardi - The Power of Suggestion Disc 2: Inspiration 01. The Messengers - In the Jungle 02. The Temptations - Cloud Nine 03. Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy 04. Prince Jammy - 256k Ram 05. African Head Charge - Crocodile Hand Luggage 06. David Lynch - Noah's Ark 07. Freeway - All My Life 08. Erykah Badu - Fall in Love (Your Funeral) 09. Moritz Von Oswald - Cocoon Dark Dub 10. E-Dancer - Feel the Mood 11. Derrick May - Icon 12. DeBarge - Stay With Me 13. Melody Gardot - Mira 14. Tribe - Livin' in a New Day Disc 3: Meditation 01. Carl Craig - Meditation 1 02. Carl Craig - Meditation 2 03. Carl Craig - Meditation 3 04. Carl Craig - Meditation 4 05. Carl Craig - Meditation 5 06. Carl Craig - Meditation 6