Saturday, December 26, 2009

Various - Turbo Studio Sessions Vol. 1 (Original TC Review)


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Turbo Recordings: Cat. # MARCD007-2
Released 1999

Track List:
1. Hans Niewswandt - Mental Madness (6:28)
2. Thomas Krome - The Real Jazz (Erot Remix) (7:31)
3. Turner - Multiorgel (Marathon Mix) (3:29)
4. Universal Tongues vs DKMA - Shiver Me (ADNY Remix) (7:33)
5. Swayzak vs Theorem - Bad Hair Day (8:38)
6. Steve Bug and Acid Maria - Down With Us (6:57)
7. Russ Gabriel Pres. Audio Spectrum - At7 (Live In Detroit) (6:01)
8. Isolée - Beau Mot Plage (DJ Q Remix) (7:18)
9. Dietmar Lehner & Thomas Biebel - Bobby R. (7:58)
10. Blaze - Lovelee Dae (Isolée Remix) (6:32)
11. Nytolbooth - Orange (4:09)


(2010 Update:
This was the first of my Random Reviews, where I would just randomly pluck a release from my collection and review it. I figured it would occasionally and unexpectedly spice up what we covered for TranceCritic. Lord knows it did that, considering some of the Randoms I'd go on to do.

Also, this review has somewhat dated, as Turbo Recordings -and specifically Tiga- has gone on to do much more since I wrote this. Perhaps of interesting note, though, is that much of the minimalist style that was featured on this compilation would go on to be quite popular in the years following this review. That's Turbo for you -always well ahead of the curve.)



IN BRIEF: Get to know Turbo a little better.

So you think you know Turbo Recordings, do ya? Tiga. Sunglasses At Night. International Deejay Gigilo outlet to North America. Swedish, Finnish, and Nordic DJs you've never heard of but are able to spin circles around your usual suspects. 80s revivalists and trendsetters by tapping and exploiting the electroclash and disco punk sound before anyone else. Is that the Turbo Recordings you know and love?

If so, then allow me to introduce you to the Turbo you may have never met. Starting out as mostly an outlet for Montreal based DJs and producers, Tiga's label managed to make a name for itself using the tried and tested genre of house. Along with simple yet nifty urban photography on most of their releases, Turbo quickly gained notice from house aficionados for providing quality deep, funky music (with a few token releases showing off other genres on occasion).

The Studio Sessions compilations were started up to offer CD buyers a chance to have rare vinyl releases all on one disc, unmixed so you'd be able to enjoy them in all their full-length glory. It's a wonderful idea, which is often executed by many labels (although not nearly enough these days) but prone to some hiccups. Sometimes there is a reason for tracks to not be released in a more domestic manner: they just aren't as good. However, Turbo's track record of consistent quality even at this early stage of their run was impressive, and I'd be amazed to be let down by them.

Sure enough, things get off on the right foot with the funky, soulful Mental Moments from Hans Niewswandt. Starting off quite mellow with some spoken Rasta words overtop low filtered bass, rhythms are gradually layered as the soulful samples and minute melodies are added. By the time everything builds to a peak over four minutes later, the funk has fully infected us and I deny you to not feel it flow through you. The fun plateau of the track lasts a good two minutes before we are gently brought back down as layers are stripped away, ending on the loops of soulful singing. Mental Moments certainly is a warm, inviting track to get us started on.

Keeping with the upbeat house vibe established by the opener is Erot's soulful remix of Thomas Krome's The Real Jazz. Just like Mental Moments, the rhythm is infectious in its way of moving your body. As the title suggests, the loose melodies of jazz are the name of the game here, letting Hammond organs and flutes alternate in leading the song as they see fit, every so often allowing the percussion to get a little indulgent as well.

So you think you now know the Turbo label sound? Not quite yet, then, as we are taken into slower, chilled tech-house with Multiorgel by Turner. Mind, this track isn't worth getting into. Despite some mellow, loopy vibes to be had, nothing much is really done with it either. It's best served as a transitional track.

Instead, let's focus on ADNY's remix of Shiver Me by Universal Tongues and DKMA. Yeah, gorgeous, those opening strings are, aren't they? Tilt your head back and be swept away in morning-after Ibizan bliss as xylophones and heavenly lyrics sing your troubles away. The follow-up of Swayzak and Theorem's Bad Hair Day keeps things on the chilled out run, doing what Multiorgel failed to in making a loopy track have feeling. These guys are masters at the minimal sound of house and techno, managing to suck you in with dubby sounds gradually building over the course of the song. Chances are you won't even notice the rhythm doesn't change one bit throughout. Sadly, Down With Us from Steve Bug and Acid Maria is a step back, not really amounting to much of anything throughout its murky stretch.

So now you think you know what Turbo's all about? Prepare for a bit of a shock, then, as we leave the mellowy house fronts and engage in straight-up techno, specifically of the old, Detroit kind. Strangely enough, despite the obvious synthetic overtones in the bass and somewhat piercing synth, Russ Gabriel's (as Audio Spectrum) At7 will probably get mistaken for another tech-house track due to the funky nature of it. Somehow, someway, it bears a great deal of semblance to the tracks that came before.

In fact, I may as well mention here that this compilation as a whole up to this point has a feeling of sameness throughout. Yes, there are differences from track to track but the atmosphere, one of funky, loungey vibes, has remained persistent. This wouldn't be so bad if it was a themed compilation or DJ mix, but when it comes to studio samplers, especially from one as eclectic as Turbo, I kind of expect a little more variety from track to track. There's a definite quality to what's been on offer but it doesn't feel like they're given the best chance to stand out from one another. Hopefully this will improve on the last third of this CD.

Isolée's Beau Mot Plage (DJ Q doing the re-rub) doesn't offer much hope, as it's another loopy track, more on a techno trip with sampled guitars strumming a Mediterranean ditty as percussion gets filtered throughout. It's definitely a groover, though, and probably a fine set piece as well. Along with the rest of what's come on here, however, it doesn't stick out as much.

Dietmar Lehner and Thomas Biebel seem to be willing to slap us out of this samey vibe with Bobby R. -quite literally. I'm not certain, but it sounds like this song opens up with some women being slapped! By the tone of their voices, it sounds more like it’s done for slapstick than abuse, but they are speaking French so I'm not certain. The song then starts out on an ominous tone, with sinister sounds and grimy synths. Along with simple 808 breakbeats, this comes close to the style of music Turbo came to embrace a couple years later. Best of all, Bobby R. completely changes the vibe of this compilation without interrupting the flow. All fine and good, but perhaps this comes a might bit late with only two more tracks left.

Isolée's mix of Blaze's Lovelee Dae is another step in the right direction. Rather sparse, the simple breakish rhythm and slight, echoing electro synths compliments Blaze's vintage soulful chorus. This is some smooth dub to be had here as little effects on the percussion and synths keep things unique throughout.

And, just in case you think you've finally figured out the early Turbo sound, final track Orange by Nytolbooth finishes off with a bit of ambient techno reminiscent of many an old morning-after chill room setting. It's a pleasant little thing, making good use of thick bass and warm pads as a synth bubbles about.

That’s a wrap for this compilation, then. It's a fine collection of tracks that you can throw on at any time but I don't think it'll make much of an impact on one's personal collection either. With such a long stretch in the middle of tracks dedicated to the more minimal aspects of tech-house, this just doesn't have enough weight behind it to leap out and grab your attention as it plays. However, while Studio Sessions: Vol. 1 may be one of the weaker releases I've heard from Turbo Recordings, it is still a notch above many contenders.


Score: 6/10

ACE TRACKS:
Universal Tongues vs DKMA - Shiver Me (ADNY Remix)
Blaze - Lovelee Dae (Isolée Remix)


Written by Sykonee. Originally published 2005 for TranceCritic.com.© All rights reserved.

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