Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bogdan Raczynski - Alright! (Original TC Review)

Rephlex: 2007

(2019 Update:
I don't normally include the track list in these old TranceCritic reposts, much less any review beyond some personal burned discs, since it's usually redundant, unimportant information, and takes up ugly space. However, much of the opening paragraph is dependent upon you knowing what the track list looks like, so in this rare case, it's here to see. Funny thing is, despite this album now being over a decade old (!!), I'm still not sure if the track title confusion has cleared up. The Discoggian entry has them all listed as 'Part's, but scope out the Bandcamp option, and they appear as below. I think I added 'Part' to the titles when I uploaded this album to my computer, just so the Last.fm scrobbling data didn't get all wonky too. And since the album's not on Spotify - y'know, where Bogdan can make a couple fractions of a penny via streaming - there's no way to know for sure, is there?

Sadly, this was Mr. Racyznski's last album. He's kept active in other ventures (does he still mod? I feel like he's the kind of guy that'd still mod), and recently released a four-track collection of DJ mixes on his Bandcamp. It just feels wrong that he never followed up this giddy LP. Surely he's got more ideas in his brainpan for the braindancers. Like, a decade's a long period to not release anything official, and far as I know, Rephlex's doors are always open for the quirkier chaps in this scene.)



Track List:
1. Alright! (4:59)
2. Alright! (4:51)
3. Alright! (4:31)
4. Alright! (4:32)
5. Alright! (4:05)
6. Alright! (5:32)
7. Alright! (5:58)
8. Alright! (7:38)

IN BRIEF: Um... alright?

No, your eyes don’t deceive you. That really is the track list to this album. Or is it? There is absolutely nothing to hint at what the titles are, or even if the tunes contained on here do have titles. Sure, Mr. Raczynski has mentioned they should be Alright!, but given his prankster past, how trustworthy can such claims be? For all we know, they could all be called ‘Untitled’, or even ‘...’. Perhaps we the consumers have been granted the good grace to come up with our own names, although I’d imagine that would make finding these on your handy P2P programs ever more difficult. What I do know for certain is they are not titled after record labels, so ignore that fake track list floating around with names like Rough Trade and Forced Exposure: it's completely the bunk. For the sake of sanity, I’ll be referring to them by their track numbers in this review (#2, #4, #7, etc.).

Alright? Good. After reading that, you should have a better idea of what kind of a producer Bogdan Raczynski is (if you didn’t know already, anyway). Taking influence from ‘braindance’ icons of the 90s like Squarepusher and µ-Ziq, his music can be a bit, um, challenging. At the same time though, he treats his craft with the recklessness giddiness of a child, taking delight in throwing curveballs at the self-serious attitudes the IDM crowds are known for. Whether making threats to produce psychedelic trance if fans didn’t legally obtain his music or using bait-and-switch album names like Ibiza Anthems Vol. 4, Bogdan can be one tricksy musician.

On his sixth full-length, it also appears he’s become nostalgic,Alright! a kind of joyful throwback to the hedonistic days of raving, when folks were more concerned with happy-fun times rather than prestigious regard in the eyes of the larger world. Goodness knows seeing the word ‘eurodance’ on the back cover of a Rephlex release is enough to throw such serious plans right out the window.

Fortunately for fans of Bogdan’s drum programming, his scattershot rhythms and frantic pacing is still in full effect, although far less complex than in years past. There’s breakbeats at break-neck pace, proto-gabber beats bobbing about, and plenty of tin-can rim shots for you to gorge on. Er, yeah, a lot of the percussion, while interesting to hear, comes off weak and flat, as do many of the sounds used too. You’d think he cannibalized a bunch of 8-bit video games for samples, which may not be far from the truth. Frankly, aside from moments when the bass suddenly rumbles with authority (especially so in #4), much of Alright! is gleefully under-powered, and will immediately turn away those whose tastes are within the confines of squeaky-clean, pristine, EQ’d-to-the-max production.

Shame for them, then, as they’ll be missing out on some gosh-darned wonderful little songs here. Between rave-tastic riffs - #1 and #3 spring immediately to mind - and mellower melodies (#6 and #7) Alright! is just so endearing, you can’t help but come away with a smile on your face. Heck, the tinny production even helps sell the tone of the album, reveling in childlike exuberance.

Is it silly? Sure. #4 could just as easily be called The Spastic Acid Kitty-Kat Parade, but what a hoot it is! And #8 sums up Alright! perfectly, indulging in both old-school energy and ambient sentimentality for a winner of a track. Perhaps the only stumble to be found is the acid work in #5, lacking the spiffiness the other tunes have but still fun in its own right.

Undoubtedly, fans of Bogdan’s work and dedicated followers of Rephlex have already snagged this one up, but what about the rest of you? Should you commit debit to disc on a silly ‘braindance’ album? Even if your tastes are razor thin, I still say yes, if anything to spice up your collection. But more than that, no matter the circumstance, these tracks are simply fun diversions, very much channeling the care-free spirit of raving’s heyday. And isn’t the whole point of dancing to let go of the world’s formalities anyway?

Clocking in well under an hour, Alright! breezes by quickly and like the rave party that prematurely ends, you can’t help but long for just one more song. End it does though, as does this review.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2008. © All rights reserved

ACE TRACKS:
Alright!
Alright!
Alright!
(alright, I lied)

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