Monday, August 29, 2016
Various - Turbo Studio Sessions (Vol. 2) (Original TC Review)
A reasonable length? Using descriptive events rather than dry detail to cover music within? Actual readable content rather than rambly word salads? I didn't think 2006 Sykonee had it in him, yet here he was, finally getting his act together in providing material of much higher quality than what came before. Erm, and was still ahead, if I'm honest. And yeah, the opening couple paragraphs are woefully redundant now, but that second half, is that ever a fun read.
Definitely felt a strong surge of inspiration with this one, so many good tunes from unexpected names throughout this CD. Shame that its such an obscure release, even by Turbo standards, as the label's DJ mixes continued outshining the scant compilations. With unheralded, overlooked tracks from Adam Beyer, Joel Mull, Shawn Ward, and Jori Hulkkonen on here, its like the ultimate mixtape from Tiga. Not to mention the lone contribution from THE VANDAL! Man, we needed more electroclashy covers of U2, did we ever.)
IN BRIEF: The times, they were changin' (at Turbo).
Turbo’s track record had been practically flawless when this came out, building up a solid reputation for ace DJ mixes of mostly house music (with a little techno and, *gasp*, even a d’n’b one!). There was a sense of change abundant in the little-Canadian-label-that-could though, as Tiga was apparently smitten by a new wave of EDM. Although this change could mostly be felt in the tone of Turbo’s musical manifesto, it also became apparent ambitions were growing as well. No longer content in providing great DJ mixes, the label was showing greater emphasis on pushing original productions.
Not that Turbo didn’t promote such material here and there, but as a fledgling label aiming for recognition based on DJ talent, such releases hardly registered. Despite the quality of the track selection in their first Studio Sessions, it didn’t quite have the diversity needed to break from the pack. It was a safe compilation, going with what worked to earn hip points with the press, mainly soulful house and Detroit techno with touches of funk and minimal to spice it up.
Vol. 2 of this series sees Turbo a little bit wiser, a little more self-assured ...and a whole lot more eclectic. While some of the same styles of music return in this follow-up, there’s plenty of new faces mixing in: dub, trip-hop, acid, micro-house, breaks, swing jazz, ambient, and some (at the time) new-fangled thing called ‘electroclash’. Quite a bold move, that last one, as this new sound was still relegated to ‘super hipster underground’ status at this point. There was no bandwagon to jump on yet, and who knew if the Turbo faithful would buy into it?
Actually, that’s a silly question. A label like Turbo doesn’t build up a winning reputation by taking chances their fanbase won’t buy into. Their fans often gave them the freedom to surprise them with something different, and very rarely would Turbo let that trust fail. In fact, Studio Session 2 comes across as something more than a simple collection of tunes: rather, this sounds like a love-letter to the Turbo faithful. Tiga and co. take their followers on an exquisite night out on the city, allowing the listener to tag along in their zany adventures to find the perfect beat.
With a smile and a twinkle in the eye, the compilation kicks off with Good Life, a fun little romp of jazzy rhythms and effect washes. As we head out into the night, we’re taken on a pre-amble cruise through deep house vibes and dubby delights care of Brommage Dub, Shawn Ward, and Snaporaz. It’s like snacking on fine sushi in a post-modern lounge while sipping on a fancy drink with a few too many curls in the straw (for irony’s sake, of course). You can practically smell the hipster cologne in the air.
But this is merely the warm-up, the initial stretch. Slightly uneasy tones are heard from elsewhere (courtesy of The Whisper by Hijack), hinting at possible sinister shenanigan to be found away from these cosmopolitan surroundings. Fearlessly, we enter the underground where the wicked techno of Jori Hulkkonen’s Wispers greats us with infectiously grooving rhythms and out-of-tune synth strings. OH! AND ACID!! LOVE THE BRIEF SQUIGGLY BITS OF ACID!!!
Jori’s electro romp is about as fun as this underground techno adventure gets though, as these next couple of tracks are serious business. Joel Mull does give us some murky funky flair over shuffling rhythms but Adam Beyer takes no prisoners in his downtempo track Those Funny Moments: thick beats sludge along as unsettling string swells and paranoid droid noises wrap you up in a suffocating mechanical menace. You can practically feel the grime on those cold, concrete warehouse walls.
The underground’s all fine and dandy for a while, but it’s time to head back out and cruise the streets once more, this time with a sense of playfulness as we reflect on the night. The ADNY track is interesting, but not particularly enduring. However, attempting to resist the White Linen remix of Crockett’s Theme is, um, futile. Between fey plucky synths and a bubbly bassline over tinny electro-breaks, this remix is filled to the rim with witty charm.
However, the night runs long, and it’s time to head back home and unwind. Throw on some easy downtempo vibes (Swayzak’s State of Grace); work on that quirky sounding cover of a U2 song that could be the beginnings of a hot new genre called electroclash (New Year’s Day, as done by Tiga and Jori going by The Vandal); finally be swept up in ambient bliss as you lie down to bed with a content smile of a night well spent (Peter Benisch’s Love Theme).
Okay, so maybe you won’t get all that out of Studio Sessions Vol. 2 as I did. For all I know, you may treat this compilation completely on the straight and narrow, as nothing more than a solid collection of rare releases from a Canadian label that got lucky with some choice singles and a breakout star. As that, you really can’t go wrong with this release. It’s got diversity, it’s got class, it’s got head noddin’ bits, catchy bits, and moving bits - all the things you’d expect from Turbo, really. Check it out and see where this music will take you.
Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2006. © All rights reserved
Jori Hulkkonen - Wispers (Extended Dance Version)
Adam Beyer - Those Funny Moments
The Vandal - New Year’s Day
Things I've Talked About
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