- Kassem Mosse, Mix Mup and Tapes deliver sleepy house jams with a warm glow.
- Only a few labels manage to remain interesting while sticking to a consistent sound. Workshop is one of them. Since 2006, the label, run by Evan Tuell and Lowtec, has released lots of curveball house and techno. But whatever the style, the label's output has been defined by a perpetual state of gloaming. Zigtrax, the trio of Kassem Mosse, Mix Mup and Tapes, is intrinsically linked to this universe but promises something new. Though Mosse and Mup have been making music together for years now—most notably for The Trilogy Tapes—this is Mup's first appearance on Workshop. Tapes, a dubwise wildcard with 12-inches on Sex Tags Amfibia, Jahtari, Porridge Bullet, stuck out like a forlorn Compass Point castaway on Workshop 21 with "Somebodies Baby."
Zigtrax comes to life when the trio are at their most expressive, from the drunken drum clank of "B1" to the snappy bleeps-and-bells beatdown of "B2." The B-side's immediacy and mischief points to Tapes' presence. The sharp steppers' bassline and echo chamber acrobatics on "B4" have his tag sprayed all over them. "B3" sets off like a strident banger, but starts falling apart 16 bars in—the samples get scrambled and the track barely makes it past the one-minute mark, as though Zigtrax sensed the futility in carrying on.
Zigtrax is billed as a live, improvisational affair, which leaves the project open to the risk of meandering. Compared with the punchy B-side, the first four tracks aren't quite as impressive. "A2" is subdued and indifferent, a criticism that can be leveled at Workshop's sleepier tendencies (also heard on Kolorit). "A3" fares better in this downtempo mode, its fuzzy pads binding perfectly for scatty rhythms and spraycan hiss. "A4" also has a slacker charm, with cymbal splashes and noodly chimes outlining a delicate ambience.
Though the album fits the duskiness of past Workshop releases, Tapes's presence seems to enrich Zigtrax. Rather than disturbing Workshop's solemn gloom by, say, flicking on the overhead lights, Tapes's contribution is more akin to him firing up the lava lamp in the corner. It's easy to imagine how its subtle, warm glow might've cast a subtly psychedelic light over the studio session.