- I’m sometimes at a loss as to why techno isn’t more popular as a dance genre. As much as I love progressive house and trance, there are times when I need something that has more of an intense feel in sound. When I find myself in that state of mind, I always listen to techno. Hard dance may have captured the attention of the majority of the world’s clubbers but for those of us that want relentless beats with a sense of imagination, techno is the obvious alternative. I have a few friends that purely love techno and I’ve often expressed my disbelief as to its lesser popularity. In some cases, the reply has been that techno is an acquired taste and therefore remains a truly underground sound. As such, I would have thought that dance music as a whole is an acquired taste and not just one genre. Either way, it is a sound that I continue to enjoy and appreciate as I get older.
One man that has been pushing house and techno for some time now is UK’s Carl Cox. If there were legends in dance music, he would have to be one of the very few that can be regarded as such. Raised in a household filled with the sounds of soul music from the 60’s and 70’s, it was a natural progression for Carl Cox to pursue a career in music. His DJing career began in the mid 80’s and by the latter part of that decade, he became instrumental in the development of acid house in the UK. During a performance at a ‘Sunrise’ party in 1989, he was the first to introduce a third deck into a live set and thereby managed to influence 15,000 weary ravers to be up and dancing again that Sunday morning. The early 90’s saw Carl Cox make a dent in the UK charts with his productions ‘I Want You’ and ‘Does It Feel Good To You’. But despite this chart success, commercial popularity was never an aspiration, as he preferred the contact he had as a DJ with people on a dancefloor. Staying close to the underground dance scene, he has become synonymous with quality house and techno, releasing a number of mixed compilations through such labels as React and Moonshine Music. His popularity has seen him play such events as Berlin’s Love Parade and Australia’s Big Day Out and at clubs such as New York’s infamous Twilo. And of course, Sydney’s first Mobile Home, which saw in the new millennium on Bondi Beach. Carl Cox’s love for Australia has seen him return many times and as such, he helped to create an Australian only compilation with the release of F.A.C.T Australia in 2002. With F.A.C.T Australia II, he continues this series showcasing his changing interpretation of the house and techno sound.
The first CD of this compilation opens with Anderson Noise’s ‘Voce Mesmo’, a track that will have you dancing as soon as you hear the funky bass and house influenced melody. It’s already apparent that there will be no slow progression to get you grooving, you’re already tapping your toes and before you know it, you’re hearing the edgier chords of Trevor Rockcliffe’s ‘The Groove Pt 2’. The tone of the mix then slowly moves towards a tribal sound with Muzzaik’s ‘I Feel You’ and is further explored with Dario Nunez and David Vio’s ‘Festen Roose’. While there is an obvious tribal influence, the overlying melody of intricate Gypsy styled violin sampling gives this track a very wild appeal and therefore making it quite memorable. From here we move to a deeper bass sound with the Salco Dub of Kurieh’s ‘Tribal Tech’ and continue this darker feel with Disco Slickers’ ‘Slicky Disko’. This particular track contains acid tinged synths and vocals giving it an almost evil texture in sound. As such, I can only imagine the effect this track would have in a dark, intimate club. I think it would be quite raunchy to hear! The intensity is increased with Wally Lopez’s ‘Tribute To Acid House’ which is all about the dirty bass with various synth loops and squelchy samples. There are so many sounds going on at the same time but together they create a stormer of a track. A funky tribal sound is introduced with Eric Powell’s ‘Angel’ and followed by Carl Cox’s own ‘Space Calling’ with its futuristic bleeps and sampled siren sound. With Alenia’s ‘Salsa Beats’ we have a dramatic swing in tone that completely through me off guard. This track incorporates a heavy Latin house sound and as a result, takes the overall sound of this part of the compilation to another level. Some may not like this but I think it works quite well and in many ways I think it’s a very cheeky inclusion. Honestly, I feel like I should have a rose in my mouth and be playing the castanets. At the same time I feel like I’m back in the early 90s listening to house music from that era. I have a feeling that Carl Cox is having a quiet chuckle with that last track because now with Melvin Resse’s ‘All Night’, we’re back onto a tribal tip with a heavy techno influence. This is definitely a take no prisoners type of track. Some people may not like that distinct transition from ‘Salsa Beats’ to ‘All Night’ because they’re so utterly different but I love the diversity that’s been shown by this legendary DJ. So far CD1 has gone through house and tribal, with Sebbo’s ‘It Hurts So Much’ we now start to feel the techno sound that’s going to be influencing the majority of this compilation. This track still has that rolling drum influence found in tribal but the overlying urgency in the synth samples defines a techno influence. And then we step into the vestibule of techno as a sound with the Eric Powell mix of Carl Cox’s own ‘Morrocan Chant’ with its chunky urgent bass and distinctly percussive sample. The sound just gets more full as the track continues and before you’ve had time to stop and think we’re listening to the warped synths of The Sinners’ ‘Sad Girls’. The break down stretches the track out and then explodes into sea of energetic beats and a mind-bending bass. The warped sounds of Midnight Society featuring Alan T’s ‘Jungle Juice’ increases the intensity levels until we start to hear Steve Angello’s ‘Fresh Coffee’. Simply put, this track bangs and in all the right places. It’s in the energy of the beat, the subdued melody of the bass and the numerous electro tinged samples. An absolute stand out on this first part of FACT Australia II. With Bamboo’s ‘Tribal Funk Vol 3’ the mix is brought to a funked up close. While very danceable in nature, it’s almost a quiet ending to a very diverse CD.
Some may think that a mix containing funk infused house, tribal and techno cannot work but with Carl Cox at the helm, I can’t begin to tell you how well it does work. This was a pleasure to hear and made me wish that there were more DJs who would think in such diverse terms. Personally, I would not have thought that tribal house and techno would sound so appealing but with the right tracks, the transition between the two genres was refreshing at the very least. Even the sneaky inclusion of ‘Salsa Beats’ was something I enjoyed and only proved that this is a DJ who not only knows how to construct an interesting mix but also is not afraid to take chances. As such, I feel this is only the calm before the storm.
The second part of F.A.C.T. Australia II opens with Behrouz’s wickedly percussive ‘Azab’ and flows onto the full blown bass of Electric Mood featuring Melanie’s ‘Sacred Dance’. This particular track is very primal in feel and, for me, conjures images of shamans presiding over a time-honoured ritual. The levels are raised with T Total’s ‘Feel The Rain’ and from here on end, you know that there will be no easing in the beats. The stomping rhythm of Majestic 12’s ‘Wanna Get High’ can be heard next and is quantified by the bleepy samples that can be heard throughout. This is followed by the dirty melodic bass of Sharam Jey presents Shake your’s ‘Day After’ with its confronting intensity that would fit just as well in a current Steve Lawler set as it does in this mix. The Sinners make another appearance with ‘Under Pressure’ and guides the mix into a slightly deeper, more melodic path. Still a wonderfully energetic track yet with a dubby bass. The pace is again increased with the intense beats of Jamie Anderson’s ‘Annihilator’. This track is an aural onslaught but in the best way. On a perfect sound system, I have no doubt it will reduce a whole club to its knees. I’m so impressed I want to scream! We reach a truer techno sound with the Alek Biotic remix of Adam Jay’s ‘Out Of Control’. Very industrial in sound, very basic in feel but still has rather bleepy samples that give it a unique edge. With Jel Ford’s ‘$500 Post and Packaging’, the sound is more textured and the bass is just a tad deeper yet dubby in nature. My favourite part of this mix begins with Christian Varela’s ‘Varela Feeling’. It’s the halting feel of the beat, the richness of the bass which then leads perfectly into the subtle violin sampling of End JY’s ‘Red Alert’ and then climaxes in an overwhelming amount of bass which takes the mix onto a completely different level. Up next is Phil Kieran’s ‘The Bomb’ and while very basic in feel, when the beats hit, they’re unforgivable. The relentless feel continues with Hardcell’s ‘The Costume’, which then hits you with its galloping bass before you even realise what’s going on. ‘Back the f**k up!’ I wish I had time because this is unbelievable to hear. Michel De Hey and Literon’s ‘Keep On Moving’ continues this momentum until you hear the urgent yet funked up bass of Ignition Technician’s ‘Throw Your Hands Up’. A menacing quality can be heard in the rolling beats of D’Wachman & HD Substance’s ‘Bad Promoter’, which turns slightly edgy with the acid like melody. By the time you reach DJ Ze Migl’s ‘Work Dat Butt’, the intense galloping beat assaults your senses in the best way and then it’s onto the full, ballooned bass of Deetron’s ‘Don’t You Know Why (Edit 9000)’. There really is no relief in sight but what you’re faced with is a techno track that would make a club scream. As we near the end of this mix, a dark rumbling quality is explored with Black Codes’ ‘Split Second (Flesh 2003 Remix)’. This is exemplified in the different pitches in the bass and the various octaves in the electro synths. Renato Cohen’s ‘Pontape’ is a solid, bass heavy end to this mix. The breakdown offers time to take stock but not for long because the bass kicks in again and it’s back on the techno merry-go-round. And then, just as quickly, it’s over and you find yourself sitting wide-eyed and gobsmacked, wondering what the hell just happened.
I can’t say it more simply: this baby bangs! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to CD 2 because once the bass took control, there was never any letting go. Each track had such a diverse sound yet sat perfectly in the ‘techno’ style. I have no doubt that this will be enjoyed by the purists as much as I enjoyed it. For those that are looking for harder beats, this is a far superior alternative to the majority of hard dance that’s being currently produced. And for those that sit in their bedrooms listening to ten-year-old progressive compilations, this mix is not for you because you’ll find yourself curled up in a corner, screaming for your mothers. If I were to find fault with this part of the compilation, it would be in the mixing of some tracks, which I found slightly too drawn out. Apart from that, I absolutely relished this mix.
I listened to both CDs of F.A.C.T. Australia II while walking through Darlinghurst one afternoon. In many ways, the terraces, the apartment blocks and the people walking by were the backdrop to a Jackson Pollock canvas. On first sight, confusion prevails and you don’t know where to look but as your eyesight adjusts to the multitude of colours and lines, you start to form an impression of the underlying story behind those swirls and smudges. Much like techno. It may sound strange but there are very few genres of dance music that can provoke these visual comparisons but techno is definitely one of them. While I admit that I’ve listened to more progressive house and trance this year than techno, it doesn’t lessen the fact that this compilation is a pleasure to hear and one that will continue to grab my attention with every play. You don’t need to be an expert in a particular genre in order to appreciate its inherent qualities. I will never profess to be knowledgeable where techno is concerned, I would be kidding myself if I did but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating each of these tracks mixed brilliantly by Carl Cox.
Sometimes living in a major city is like living in a jungle. F.A.C.T. Australia II is the perfect soundtrack for combating that jungle. Much respect!
1. Anderson Noise – Voce Mesmo
2. Trevor Rockcliffe – The Groove Pt 2
3. Muzzaik – I Feel You
4. Dario Nunez & David Vio – Festen Roose
5. Kurieh – Tribal Tech (Salco Dub)
6. Disco Slickers – Slicky Disko
7. Wally Lopez – Tribute To Acid House
8. Eric Powell – Angel
9. Carl Cox – Space Calling
10. Alenia – Salsa Beats
11. Melvin Resse – All Night
12. Sebbo – It Hurts So Much
13. Carl Cox – Morrocan Chant (Eric Powell Mix)
14. The Sinners – Sad Girls
15. Midnight Society featuring Alan T – Jungle Juice
16. Steve Angello – Fresh Coffee
17. Bamboo – Tribal Funk Vol 3
1. Behrouz – Azab
2. Electric Mood featuring Melanie – Sacred Dance
3. T Total – Feel The Rain
4. Majestic 12 – Wanna Get High
5. Sharam Jey presents Shake your… - Day After
6. The Sinners – Under Pressure
7. Jamie Anderson – Annihilator
8. Adam Jay – Out of Contact (Alek Biotic Remix)
9. Jel Ford - $500 Post and Packaging
10. Christian Varela – Varela Feeling
11. End JY – Red Alert
12. Phil Kieran – The Bomb
13. Hardcell – The Costume
14. Michel De Hey & Literon – Keep On Moving
15. Ignition Technician – Throw Your Hands Up
16. D’Wachman & HD Substance – Bad Promoter
17. DJ Ze Migl – Work Dat Butt
18. Deetron – Don’t You Know Why (Edit 9000)
19. Black Codes – Split Second (Flesh 2003 Remix)
20. Renato Cohen - Pontape