- For an art form often considered futuristic, techno looks back as much as forward. It becomes a matter not of what you borrow from previous eras but rather how you use it. That idea that comes to life on Jupiter Jax's debut album, Visions, which builds on a foundation of vintage house and techno. Rudi Agius made the record in the wee hours after evenings spent working on his doctorate in computational biology, and there's a bleary-eyed feel to Visions that smears its influences together into one pleasant blur. Though written in London, Visions sounds like it could have floated out of the American Midwest in the late 1980s—except for the parts where it's a '90s electronica record.
One of the most striking things about Visions is how instantly familiar it all feels, even if you can't put your finger on why. The dramatic woodwinds on "The Light" are hackneyed in a prog house sort of way, but Agius's grasp of ethereal atmospherics moves beyond cliché and takes his music out of time completely. No one song has a clear lineage: "The Deepest" mixes mid-'90s breakbeat with classic house, while "Soul Searchin'" pairs mystical techno (à la Legowelt) and a smooth disco refrain.
Agius also has a talent for bringing collaborators into his hazy world. Vocalist Mykle Anthony coos a soulful few lines over closer "End Of Time," which Agius turns into a pitch-perfect house ballad. XOSAR guests, offering her breathy voice over the smoothly rushing title track, while Virgo Four's Merwyn Sanders makes an understated appearance on "The Light." These are prominent guests with recognizable personalities, but on Visions, they're just another facet of Agius's contoured world.
Take a gander at Agius' ongoing Deeper City mix series, now at seven volumes, to see some of the individual elements (from techno bangers to ambient slow jams) that go into making his rich, retro sound. Like a DJ, he's making something new out of ideas that already exist. It's the mixing and blending where the novelty comes in. Even if you've heard your fair share of old Chicago house, Detroit techno and whatever else might go into Jupiter Jax's dreamy mélange, you probably haven't heard it done like this.
01. Armed For Peace
02. The Light
03. The Deepest
04. Soul Searchin'
06. Simple Pleasures
07. Beyond The Walls
08. End Of Time