- Apart from a recent single for Belgian label Curle, General Eclectics is the first new material from Thomas Brinkmann's Soul Center project in the best part of a decade. So is Eclectics a worthy successor to the seminal III, released back in 2001? Is it even worthwhile comparing both works? As is often the case, context and timing are everything: Nine years ago, III predated the minimal explosion, and its influence both in sound and design were readily apparent in the years following its release.
Eclectics finds itself amid radically changed circumstances. Minimalism has become a dirty word, downloading has, in the eyes of many producers, devalued music and there has been a return to sounds from the '90s, and in some cases the late '80s, in the house and techno spheres. It is tempting to posit the theory that, faced with the perceived devaluation of electronic music's cultural capital, the German producer has reacted by using the image of a urinating horse on the cover.
Whatever the reason, the music is as just as playful and provocative. "Marmelade," with its juxtaposing of splurging, distorted bass with dreamy, dubby chords sounds like Brinkmann is taking the piss out of the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction copyists and the serious techno noiseniks in one fell swoop. "Boot Box" appears to do the same for overly "tasteful" house music, with jazz licks and guitar riffs copper-fastened to a slinky funk bassline, while on "Liza U," it sounds like the German producer is ridiculing disco house, as he pitches up filtered loops, pitting them against hardcore bass stabs. "Fu_ky Du_ky" sees Brinkmann take on another trend of recent years, deploying one of his trademark stripped back rhythms to exaggerate the dubious qualities of Kompakt-style trance.
Of course the danger of presenting oneself as a cultural satirist is that the tables can quickly turn. But Brinkmann's talent and imagination allow him to avoid this scenario. Both "Don't Fake the Cake" and "Pig Peg" show the sound explored on III has progressed, their angular, stop-start rhythms populated by grimy acid and searing basslines. Meanwhile "Hal2010" finds Brinkmann in more reflective mode; the track's understated, gradually unfolding groove shows that all joking aside, he appears to be concerned about the state of the world, with a robot vocal sample that sounds like it was lifted from 2001: A Space Odyssey talking about computers causing global economic disruption. In the main however, Brinkmann is content to act as a cheekily astute sonic magpie: As soon as "Schum(ichi)," which fuses vocal samples done in the robotic style of Kraftwerk's "Radioactivity" with distorted Pom Pom-style techno, kicks in, it's obvious that this is the role he was born to play.
03. Boot Box
04. Fu_ky Du_ky
05. Walk With Me
06. Don't Fake The Cake
07. Pig Peg
09. Liza U..
10. Dyr Bul Scyl