Slam - Ekspozicija 04: Stardome

Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle have been pushing the best in forward thinking house and techno for well over 10 years and during this time they have developed a reputation for impeccable track selection, tight mix sequencing and unrivalled technical ability - both in the club environment and in a studio format.

It hasn't been that long since Slam's illuminated 'Nightdrive' dropped on Resist, but a new mix project from the Glasgow based techno partnership is always warmly welcomed here at Beat Factor. It would be hard to pick a fault with previous mix projects but here on Umek and Valentino Kanzyani's Matrix Musik international mix series 'Ekspozicija 04' - Slam unexpectedly show some fragile signs amongst the undoubted quality of the tracks presented.

Despite the success of the excellent 'Nightdrive' - this latest mix, closely following Christian Varela's 'Ekspozicija 03' recorded live in Brazil, is perhaps the most succinct representation of Slam's DJ sound since 'Slam The Mix' released back in 2002. This new 22-track snapshot of bright minimal inspired grooves and tough electronic techno encompasses some of the best designed ryhtmns of the last 12 months – including the deep jack of 'The Depths' by Berg Nixon and the sublime funky techno of Alex Under's 'Una Aguja En Pajar' on Trapez. As Matrix Musik only provide a single CD platform both Stuart and Orde are clearly less patient than when they compiled 'Nightdrive' and waste no time in increasing the intensity of this 'Stardome' mix, quickly inserting the tough framework of Mike Shannon's 'Consequences' on Dumb Unit and the distorted sound waves of Dominik Eulberg and Thomas Schumacher. Next up is the unstoppable 'A Walking Contradiction Part 1' by Sweden's finest techno export Adam Beyer. Despite the widespread acceptance of minimal inspired techno by more mainstream DJ's and producers, the sound has also received plenty of criticism from inside the techno community. However, Adam Beyer's 2 part AWC presentation on Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva's revered Plus 8 label is without doubt one of the finest records to emerge from this scene. The ultra hypnotic pulses build incessantly and sound better and better with every listen. It is one of the most important techno records of the last 5 years, which should in the future sit comfortably next to most if not all of the past classics that shaped the scene today.

After this highlight Slam heavily drop Marco Carola's debut Domino release 'Sun City'. It would be unusual to hear either DJ sequence a mix as roughly as this live so it is even more surprising to hear it on a studio project. That said the quality of 'Sun City' quickly erases the technical fault. Marco Carola was one of the first funky techno producers to showcase a diverse production profile on his Domestic Minimal Noise imprint and hearing his first prototype track alongside later productions like 'A Walking Contradiction' and Smith and Selway's sparsely programmed 'Silver Bullet' reinforces the forward thinking approach of Italy's finest. The track selection only gets better from this point onwards. The inclusion of the retro styled loop of Percy X and his Separatist movement's 'Bug Rider' provides an overdose of bounce, energy and wild sound variations. The hip components of Paul Woolford's 'Erotic Discourse' soon take control despite a lack of mixing imagination. Slam finish 'Ekspozicija 04' with some of the hardest and addictive techno heard on any of their mix projects to date. The ever experimental Oliver Ho can on occasion miss the integral theme of dancefloor suitability in his outstanding techno experiments but Slam manage to select one his most hypnotic and effective club tools to date - the immense 'Light and Dark Part 8'. The fluctuating tempo and wild builds create further intensity and disruption. Michel De Hey's powerful 'Oil and Vinegar' also adds to the strong techno finish. Not satisfied with simply shifting up the gears Soma's best pairing add one final dimension to the mix with a second Separatists track 'Audiomer'. This track was Percy X and Marco Bernadi's first attempt at a new techno direction and they have without doubt succeeded at producing an absorbing combination of leftfield melodies and Detroit inspired energised soul, which closes the mix with quite a statement.

It would be hard to dispute the quality of the records presented by Slam on 'Ekspozicija 04'. However, long time followers will probably come away rather disappointed by the lack of mixing invention - and this is quite a shock by both Stuart and Orde's normally high standards. This is in no way an exercise to question their ability to mix, I have seen them play live enough times to confidently state that they are some of the best mixers in the business. However, purely mixing one track after another is not enough for a studio mix in the current technologically advanced climate. You only have to listen to recent mix presentations from the likes of Joris Voorn on Fuse, or Agoria's cut and paste project for PIAS to witness what is possible with the right tracks and the right equipment. Compared to such projects, Slam's latest statement looks rather ordinary. Given that they are currently working hard on putting together the follow up to their 2004 album 'Year Zero' whilst at the same time co-ordinating the 200th release for their legendary Soma label - I wouldn't be surprised if they compiled this mix in the space of an afternoon. However, when considering all the aspects of the mix - in particular some of the outstanding tracks on offer - it is still an essential purchase for fans of Slam and for fans of forward thinking techno music in general.

Slam - Ekspozicija 04: Stardome


Explicit Musick




May 26 2005


June 5, 2006 at 1:15 PM CEST


Paul Pritchard

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