Various Artists (White Material) - Into Tha Shadow

  • White Material gets the gang back together to celebrate ten years of rough-and-ready house and techno.
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  • There's something delightfully contradictory about the New York label White Material. Consider their tagline—"Working Man's Techno"—which stands at odds with the fact that the founders, Young Male and DJ Richard (and, later, Galcher Lustwerk), all met while attending the prestigious Rhode Island School Of Design. This paradox is also at the heart of their music. For some, the label is synonymous with Lustwerk, who made hip-house cool again with his smooth-as-butter beats and woozy rapping. To others, the label conjures up the DIY outsider techno that blossomed in the mid-2010s alongside labels like L.I.E.S (many early fans thought White Material was a L.I.E.S. imprint). On Into Tha Shadow, a ten-year anniversary compilation, the label leans into all their contradictions with five tracks that showcase the full spectrum of their sound, from hazy house to jacking techno. The label's least public-facing figure, Morgan Louis, captures the White Material ethos perfectly on "I Wont 1 (NYC Version)." It's a remix from his sole 12-inch. On the surface it's a loopy disco house track, but hints of distortion blur the sample and sinewy synths snap at the track's edges. Imagine Lena Wilikens editing a Soul Clap track. Lustwerk and DJ Richard's contributions also blur the two poles of the label's sound. "Swampside is empty so" goes from slow and fuzzy deep house into ambient techno, a lá Source Records, when the undulating pads and synths hit. On "Americano," Lustwerk raps: "Right or wrong / I'm going to have to right a wrong / Going out when I'm in a drought / Getting clout / That's what a Black man's life is about." The associative style of his rhyming means that it can be easy to gloss over the political thrust of his lyrics. On "Americano," though, he doubles down with minor key chords and a bassline that means business. The other two tracks on Into Tha Shadow are straight-up techno. Young Male goes full Sonic Groove on the title track, while Alvin Aronson's "Cammed" adds some swing to his otherwise brash techno. In the label's post-Tape 22 years, this sort of blown-out techno is what White Material made their name on. Into Tha Shadow feels like a welcome tour of the label's past and present. White Material's impact on European and American house and techno is undeniably outsized given that they've only released 12 records. From hip-house to noise-inflected techno to ambient house, Into Tha Shadow charts this journey in full.
  • Tracklist
      01. DJ Richard - Swamside is empty so 02. Galcher Lustwerk - Americano 03. Alvin Aronson - Cammed 04. Morgan Louis - I Won't 1 (NYC version) 05. Young Male - Into Tha Shadow