So Dumb Unit aren't rocking any boats with their double collection, and like many others, the unmixed set 'Public Works' suffers from sameness overload and lack of context. The child of Toronto's Jeremy P. Caulfield, Dumb Unit started life in 2000 before transplanting - like many others - to Berlin in 2003, its sound sitting comfortably between these two cities: part sleek Berlin micro-minimalism (ala M_nus and Mobilee) and part glorified laptop whirr, popular in Canadian techno since Force Inc's 'Montreal Smoked Meat'. Spanning two years of releases, it’s disheartening to see such limited range and development. That said, there is quality here: the thunderous build of Butane's 'The Gimp Can't Hunt' is perfect late night fodder and almost Tresor-ian in its toughness, while 'How Low Can You Go' toys with schaffel before attacking the freezer with a hatchet, showering crowds with shards of ice and steam. Caulfield's own 'Nude Beach' sets families of bouncing thuds against an unforgiving kick, while Sweet N Candy provide three modestly arresting tracks, from the petite drums and chirriping pond-life of 'Bash the Bishop' to the mangled Louderbach groan of 'Unbreakable'. It's all a bit too polite however, with melody abandoned in favour of seemingly haphazard arrangements of clipped and truncated bitty sounds. More tools than song, they fare far better in sequence than isolated like this, so that's what disc 2 is for.
And it's here that the sound succeeds, with Caulfield-the-DJ eschewing the 'home listening' fit-for-dinner-parties approach taken by more pragmatic DJs in favour of a macho set of claustrophobic banging. Outsourcing to include non-Dumb Unit product (wisely), 'Detached' collates unreleased promos and unfinished pieces from friends, and mixed using Serato Scratch the result is not unlike Hawtin's DE9 project. Nonetheless it's a uniform ride, with nary a bump in the road between Butane's percussive opener 'The Girl is Bored' to the precise clatter of Mare and Solaris' 'Ten Thirteen' closing things twenty one tracks later. There's some added buoyancy to Barem's 'Cilindro', snatches of processed female babbling in Ryan Crosson's mix of Seth Troxler's 'Love Bezerker' and by track fourteen (Kai Mann and Neal White's 'Deli 1430') someone's turned on the synthesizer, but otherwise this is a - gloriously - monochrome stream of impersonal rhythms, intoxicating in its relentlessness. 8 stars for this, 6 for disc 1.