Various – New Order (Hom-Mega)

Posted in Reviews 2006 by - November 08, 2006


 

Quite a significant album this, and one that’s pretty highly deserving of your attention, money, and respect.

This is the best thing HomHom-Mega have put their label sticker on in years. Ignore the girlfriend-unfriendly coverart; and forget that the album’s title may coax you back into your record collection to album by a certain 80’s Manchester synth band.

New Order is compiled by Ace Ventura, the lad who ditched Psysex at just the right time and made a hell of a name for himself in the global progressive psy circuit. And while Hom-Mega may be noticeably late in jumping onto the progressive bandwagon – for a bandwagon it is, ladies and gents, and this is definitely a prime example of jumpage – New Order stands up remarkably well in its own right, whether considered part of a larger progressive whole, or as a new stage in the label’s back catalogue. 

Be prepared to shake some of your conceptions about who’s good and who’s not; I know I had to, not least when considering that the mastering (some of the best around at the moment, sounding on CD like Tribal Vision do on vinyl) was done by the avoid-like-the-plague-normally Domestic and Sub-6.

Astrix pulls a blinder with Just In Time; there are elements of big progressive names, but I’m happy to report that he’s got enough of his own voice and influence to add something genuinely new to what’s going on. The result is one of the finest moments in progressive music of the year – that Astrix production works wonders on the laidback, cruisy daytime prog sound. I just hope this is a direction he explores more; as someone who used to pitch Eye To Eye down to minus 8 on a comedown, I’d welcome some more laid back material from this particular Avi.

Next up, Freq’s The Moon And The Earth is streets ahead of anything off his last album; and more mature than anything on Strange Attractors. Don’t ask me why: maybe it’s the smoothness-without-force, the breaksy midsection. It just works, which barely none of GOSUB did. Earsugar is one of Liquid Soul’s side-projects, and their Stay is a solid slice of fullon-meets-prog, with a rolling bassline, a few too many stopstarts, not too much in the realm of the cerebral, but still very nice cruisy stuff to float along to with a grin on your face. Vibrasphere’s Thermal Twist is right up there with what they always do, not quite as strong or as tight for my money as the highlights of this year’s staggering Archipelago. Ticon offer a housey, drink-more remix of X-Noize’s Let Yourself Go, and what a stonker — suddenly lame, out of place vocal snips move to the centre and sound bloody staggering, in a pimped-up soupy sort of way.

After the cracking way Astrix opened the album, the next slice of fullon-producer-doing-good-prog comes our way in the shape of Intelabeam, whose The Jhon with Ace Ventura is an utter corker. The vibe is clubby and tight, and the escalation is first class, with vocal snips driving you along with sounds, rhythms and textures all rising and falling in perfect sync. It’s beautiful. Emok & NDSA (New Disco Science Alliance, aka Ticon) straddle sluthouse and dreamy progressive brilliantly with Harbour Candy, one of two tracks (the other being the next one) that have a certain timelessness about them; you could be listening to vintage “proper” trance, or any number of seminal, tearjerking Global Underground albums — except with a very 2006 twist. D-Nox & Beckers manage the same feat, with full-tilt Detroit techno stabs layered over a smooth, cruisy groove that reminds me of Carl Craig’s Paperclip People project. Also good to see the chief troublemakers in the current progressive trend graduating their pumpy, post-Switch comfort zone and go for something more traditional, more classic-sounding.

Finally, Wrecked Machines team up with Marcello Vor, and the result is as surprising as it is loveable: Subtle Flavour does exactly what it says on the tin, cruising along at a very comfortable 127bpm. New Order is significant. It suggests that the psytrance scene does indeed have some very solid producers; and that maybe, like some have said all along, psytrance itself just isn’t the best medium for them.

Progressive may be desperately in fashion at the moment, and HomMega’s late-in-the-day arrival in the subscene may make some turn their noses up. But you’re missing out: this isn’s just one of the albums of the year, it’s one of those albums that feels like it’s marking a turning point. Which is always nice.

 

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