Strong, ballsy stuff that straddles the middle ground between oldstyle Wizzy Noise and the more recent Boshke Beats kinda sound. In other words, this is tecchy stuff heavy on thunk, but not quite banging enough to scare the cat.
Tecnotica’s Mentalism opens the album, with what sounds like a marked nod to Cyclotron-era Wizzy. There’s a complex warp of sounds that hang in the middle, dripping over a deep and filtered kick, and all the while it has that sort of smoggy-Bladerunner vibe.
I found Black Machine’s Wrong Way a little too minimal by comparison; it sounds like a half-finished version of the opening track, but maybe I’m missing the point completely. More satisfying is Epi Centrum’s Epi Centrum: starting out with a crunchy, peppered rhythm section before bringing in a simple rising/falling acidline that almost makes you think Richie Hawtin released a 12” on Flying Rhino.
Kali Frogz’s Agent Orange is impressive. It takes its time to build into where it’s going, but by christ is it good when it gets there. From diffuse electronic sounds it manages to create an organic, strutting vibe. Meanwhile, Metalogic is welcome round my place anytime before or after Transit Flash 2004, a more compact, paranoid sound than on the Magnetic Influence album. The peak is fantastic, and it drops into a defiantly silly melodic hook that somehow manages to hold itself together.
Le S3b0t3ur’s Sabotage is exquisitely textured; grating sounds are layered onto each other to create an eerie vacuum that hooks you right into the middle, while Trimada’s Underworld strips things back to a more simple, keep-fit-with-X-dream sort of groove.
Gothica’s Beats & Breaks is a corker. With a sound quite unlike anything else, they take a tecchy backbone and breathe so much air and life into it that the sound is emotional, transporting, and bloody fantastic. The final run is one of the best examples of this subgenre of music I can point a finger at. Class.
Finally The Star Shrink Shooters’ L.I.S. is a deep-set track that’s almost progressive in the way it moves; but it won’t set your world on fire and does sort of make the album end a track too early.
All in all Five Tons Of Flax is a decent compilation. The tech side of things has always been under-supported and it’s good to see Mechanical Dragon up there with Boshke and Horns & Hoofs in delivering the quality stuff. As a compilation, it could flow better: at times it seems too disparate and scattered to be truly cohesive. But for a slice of where this music’s at now, which is somewhere rather good, you need look no further.