- The first offering from the DFA-affiliated Supersoul Recordings is an omnivorous affair, offering up techno, house, Italo, space disco and krautrock experimentation on a compilation that collects two year's of vinyl and digital releases from the Berlin-based imprint.
The key to fencing in such a potentially schizo undertaking in this case is to undergird it all with a satisfyingly retro-futuristic electro palette. But while most electro-infused music trolls through urban menace and midnight grime, the tracks here, many produced by label owner Xaver Naudascher, are aimed at the stars. "Moon Unit" is 8-bit Lindstrøm: melodic, unobtrusive, its adventurous science-fictional impulses borne from the colors of a dusty arcade. Here most tracks are content to mine the sonic pleasures of minor oscillation, resulting in the kind of persistent rhythmic stasis conducive for both headphone solitude and dance floor mass. This laudable bounty of Supersoul is probably best summed up by "The Odyessy Sound (Mogg & Naudascher Edit)," a joyful, crowd-pleasing italo-housey workout with an ass-shaking groove and synths that burst like an imperial horn section.
The title of the track "Lost in the City," would be a pretty good alternate name for the comp as well, encapsulating a style that ultimately is as much disoriented as it is enthralled by an overload of stimulation. It's not that Supersoul doesn't know how to yank all its interests together, it's that it knows only too well. The strong emphasis on formula here is a defense mechanism against being destroyed by too many artistic possibilities. As a result, though, two discs worth of formula begins to be a tad suffocating. Yeah, the template at play here is for the most part the heady sum of diverse influences, the problem is, it's largely the same sum being tallied up for twenty-odd tracks, which, taken as a whole, are very much wanting for distinguishing characteristics. "Motor City" embodies this predicament in nuce: Over a heart-pounding Moroder pulse, there's a ridiculously epic prog-rock flurry of synth tom fills, which would all be well and good were this kept in its place, but as the arpeggios crest and swell those damn fills are still rocking out everywhere, scurrying like rodents.
Make no mistake, the material here is clever and canny, and it's no surprise that it caught James Murphy's ear during a Berlin jaunt. And the full album listening experience is probably super awesome if you are planning to drive from Texas to New York in one day and feel like staying dead-locked in the beat zone. Supersoul has proven it's got a gift for thoughtful attention to trends in electronic music, but there's also no indication that this has much of a lifespan beyond that. That's, of course, the risk of being so relentlessly retro-chic: There's always the chance of being swallowed by the course of history. Supersoul gets a solid grade for doing its homework and turning it on time, but now it's got to prepare for some bigger tests.
01. Xaver Naudascher - Lost
02. Mogg & Naudascher - Moon Unit Pt. 2
03. Mogg & Naudascher - Moon Unit Pt. 1
04. Walter Jones - Deuteronomy Brown (I-f edit)
05. Plastique de Reve - Resist feat. Radical Cheerleaders
06. Strangelets - Riot On Planet 10
07. Xaver Naudascher - Afterlife
08. Max Brannslokker - Stropharia
09. Walter Jones - The Odyssey Sound (Mogg & Naudascher edit)
01. Skatebård - Marimba
02. Plastique De Reve - Lost In The City feat. Ghostape
03. Xaver Naudascher - Motor City
04. Strangelets - Riot On Planet 10 (Blitz Gramsci rmx)
05. Mogg & Naudascher - Moon Unit Pt. 4 feat. Rosalind
06. Skatebård - Pagans
07. Mogg & Naudascher - Moon Unit Pt. 3 feat. Arthur Hornig
08. Maxx Brannslokker - Solar Trip feat. Katya Tyukova
09. Skatebård - Flexy
10. Walter Jones - A.I.P. (X.L.N.'s Maison Vumbi edit)