HigterFrequency DISK REVIEW


Back For Basics

John Tejada & Arian Leviste / Back For Basics

Label : Palette Recordings / Cat No. : PAL-CD3
Format : CD / Released : 25 Apr 2005
Style : Tech House, Minimal

Palette Recordings promises that Back for Basics, the new album from John Tejada and Arian Leviste, will deliver plenty of "twisted minimal funk". On this occasion the team at Palette Recordings can most definitely not be labeled liars.

Ratio Head is the perfect opening track starting off the album on a down beat and laid back note. It manages to give a delightful sneak peek into the remainder of the CD without going all the way and revealing too much. The next track, Word Problems, toughens up indefinitely and hints at the meaning of the album's title with it's more stripped back blippy sound. This raw sound continues into Patterns with its rolling synth and basic samples. By the time the CD moves into From Empty Words an enjoyable groove has built and the theme of the album has well and truly been set. From Empty Words brings us back down to a more relaxed place however. Sounding like it has been recorded in a cavernous room and intended for the soundtrack of a deep sea exploration documentary, this track is actually perfect for some serious introspection on that long car trip while watching the scenery float by. Triad Jack steers us out of the car and straight onto the dancefloor for some slight head bopping and some serious stomping. Absolute synth madness with a driving bassline to get the heart pumping and the legs moving.

Neurotic Order introduces minimal's trademark clicks, squeaks and bleeps to one of the fattest basslines ever conceived by man. Continuing the dancefloor vibe, Ghetto Platypus provides us with more bounce for our ounce and at times sounds like a Commodore 64 on crack. We start to get deeper as Forgotten Fly Girl bounds along with its throwback clap samples as it also manages to demonstrate the beauty of contrast with darker synths and uplifting sounds taking it in turns at filling the soundscape. Short Wave continues the trend set up by the previous track and plunges us to unfathomable depths. Less than a minute into the track and we are so deep that the bends becomes a serious concern. Thankfully the final track, Psycho Happiness, doesn't jerk us back to the surface and we are able to spend some more time exploring the deep sounds. What Psycho Happiness does do however is go a long way to redefining the word tough. This track is so tough that it's the type of track that would stab you in the eye with a fork only to later drive to the hospital for treatment. A brilliant way to close up an outstanding album.

Back for Basics takes the listener on a journey through the down beat, the spacious, the deep and the tough sides of techno. However, unlike many CDs there is something special that makes this an album and not simply a compilation of various unrelated tracks. The raw elements of this CD are at times so obvious you can almost picture Tejada and Leviste bashing the controls on their Roland 303. Perhaps it will spark a movement similar the analogue recording phase sweeping through the indie world thanks to bands like the White Stripes. If it means more CDs like this, then lets hope so.
(Nick Lawrence)

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