A breath of fresh air comes in the form of Marty Bonds aka Reel by Real and his album, Surkit Chamber - The Melding. But this guy is definitely no newbie.
The Detroit veteran's first album of new productions in 20 years is released by the Mojuba sub-label, a.r.t.l.e.s.s. If you buy their vinyl, you would know they come in nondescript white paper sleeves, with just a patch of textured fabric distinguishing one release from the next. 'From Vinyl with Love' is their motto, and you can grab some t-shirts here.
But before we detract too far from the music, there is one more point of note. This album's artwork is done by one Abdul Qadim Haqq of Third Earth Visual Arts. Whether you know him or not, the techno visual artist has worked for labels including Transmat, Planet E and UR and in particular albums for UR, Drexciya, Rhythim is Rhythim (Derrick May), Juan Atkins and Scott Grooves. His black sci-fi visions have helped shape the afro-futuristic narrative either pervasive or now residual in Detroit techno today.
Album artwork for Drexciya's Neptune's Lair by Abdul Qadim Haqq
Abdul Qadim Haqq painting the door of Transmat
Perhaps the most famous Reel by Real track to date is Surkit, released on Juan Atkin's Interface Records in 1990 and used by LTJ Bukem's Atlantis in 1993 (which also features the Amen break sample). Now Reel by Real makes a first comeback after 20 years. What are we to expect?
Surkit Chamber - The Melding fits comfortably with where it belongs but that is not to say that it is boring. In today's context, it has managed to punch through the noise with a capsule of artistic purity that is non-apologetic for what it is or where it comes from. Slightly out of time and with that alienated, unconventional quality, this album makes it a reason to revisit an entire era.
I Won't Follow is the album's first track and seemingly the mantra to follow -- nothing you will hear next is formulaic. What follows however, are uniquely executed visions that vacillate between tracks and songs. I wait in anticipation for remixes. Glass is an intriguing track as it manages to sound both old and new simultaneously while Fate is the track I've been waiting for in this album, bringing together housey elements in arrangement with a Bryan Ferry-like vocal singing 'Let us folk choose our fates'.
The slightly trendy Stow Away reminds me why modern tracks run the risk of being boring these days, which also makes the introduction of the next song, Wrx (Edited by Don Williams) that much sweeter. Its starry tones and chilled stratosphere represents all that we come to love and know of the genre, and how it is able to stand out right now. Tracks such as Switchback and Buckshot offer moments of electro in this album, rounding up a varied yet meaningful showcase of the producer's history and style.
A new slice of Detroit from someone of the past proves that you really haven't heard it all.
A1 I Won't Follow
A2 Look At Me
A3 Freedom From Want
C2 Stow Away