Author – Lee Shields
Artist: Slam & Various Artists
Release: Archive Edits LP
Label: Soma Records
Release Date: November 29th, 2019
With around 1000 releases, you could say Soma Records deserves a victory lap. The iconic label is, of course, headed by legendary duo Slam, and with a career that spans over three decades, it’s a credit to the Glaswegians to deliver a contemporary sound that bangs clubs to this day. Known for their distinct straight-up techno, Stuart McMillan & Orde Meikle have been on a digging mission in a project called Archive Edits: curating some paragon releases on their label and giving them a modern twist. The culmination of their efforts now comes in the form of a 9-track album that features a bevy of heavy hitters: Nitzer Ebb, Silent Breed, DK8, Terrence Fixer, Damon Wild, and Hertz.
The album sees a melange of cuts, from well known, to unreleased, to reworks, re-edits, and live edits. The only thing to expect is infectious basslines and kick drums to melt your socks off. Genres bend with elements of techno, rave, dance, and a sprinkle of trance. If you’ve been looking for a track to push through tired bodies at 5am, chances are you’ll find something here. Strap on your pedometer because it’s marathon music.
The record kicks off with their rework of Nitzer Ebb’s Join In The Chant. Talk about setting a tone, the destructive wood chopping reverb is compounded with a jolting percussion. The high filters allow for a litany of elements to flutter in and out. Textured and detailed, an ear can be pleased with the underlying complexities. A slightly acidic tinged bassline encompasses the track and essentially creates a mood akin to that of Wipeout Fusion games. It descents, however, into techno’s version of punk with an abrasive vocal. Polyvalent and with great diversity, it can set dancefloors ablaze.
Now that I’ve poured my guts out over the opener, my actual favourite track on the album is Memorium. Hidden in the crevices of the abyss lurks out the bass drum and all the demons that come with it. The icy hat pierces the incubus as an ominous synth is married to a rolling snare. What really catches the attention is a lonely orchestral synth that meanders at the tail with such lilt. A sign of things to come, it rises like a phoenix and becomes a beautiful symphony, understated yet emotive. A stirring drum pattern takes centre stage, the break is drawn to perfection and has trance aspects delivered with such delicate melancholy, but rave precision: the ’90s would be proud.
The album may plateau there. However, if you enjoy masters flexing their craft, there are plenty of sizzling basslines and euphoric drops to come. For example, a crackerjack convivial cut is from the re-edit of Sync In by Silent Breed. The duo takes the bouncy-euro-feel of the original and techno charge it. It sounds like a game of smash tennis on Super Mario Party 8. The vivacious kick drum is embroiled by a gleeful melody, while the snare leads to an extravaganza.
To conclude this locomotive steam train of an album, we have two club evaporators. One, a live edit and the other, a rework. The penultimate track is Rotary from Damon Wild. This number is highly recommended. A heavy bass drum, velocity inducing snare and a menacing organ-like arpeggio that comes from the shadows, and mesmerises dancers into the two-step. Wrapping things up is Hertz’ Recreate, a tempo pusher with a riff that sifts between the percussions. Punishing high-pitched stabs make it a rave must as they create yearnful builds.
An album of Minotaur proportions and not for the faint-hearted. Not something that you will put on in pensive, ponderous contemplation. As such, it’s a fine art of club weaponry, another string to Slam’s bow.