Ellen Allien’s first contribution to her label’s Boogybytes mix series follows a Fabric compilation last year that split opinion right down the middle. Not exactly a Marmite mix, it was more like caviar: an acquired taste that, for some, failed to live up to expectations. Few could fault the track selection, or the technique with which it was mixed (on vinyl), but its detractors were united in their criticism of its “flow”. Even fans of Ellen’s excursions into sound had to admit that, in the end, she didn’t take us on any real journey.
Whether consciously or not, Boogybytes Vol.04 addresses this issue. Whereas Fabric 34 pitched headlong into upfront, emotional techno, the fourth Boogybytes builds up from next to nothing. It is breathed into existence by “e-poet” AGF, whose ethereal vocals could have been tapped directly from Allien’s own stream of consciousness—which both bodes well for their collaboration on the forthcoming album SOOL and gives a sense of music spilling forth from a collective mind. As the glitchy industrial ambience gives way to the cricket chirps of Vera’s ‘In The Nook’, and the undulating, ping-pong rhythm starts to insinuate itself, so begins the steady upward crawl through minimal into melody.
From here on in, the mix flows like milk and honey. Allien charts a bold, direct path through her brand of techno (billed as “emotional, noisy, trippy, weird, and sexual”), which snowballs with each subsequent track. Selections like Villalobos and Ense's 'Fitzpatrick' may not be the most memorable tracks ever (sorry Ricardo), but they are mood perfect, rolling right into the gathering momentum of a potent, propulsive compilation. The oh-so-Ellen standout moments happen later on, like when the vocals of the Martin Buttrich remix of 'Music Is Improper' and Sascha Funke's 'Double Checked' blend momentarily into a male/female duet or when Kassem Mosse's mean 'A1' dissolves into a beautiful piano ballad from Little Dragon, but on the whole, and unlike Fabric 34, this mix is much more than the sum of its parts.
The only bump in the road is a small one that is traversed well before Boogybytes reaches critical mass. One moment, the micro-tribalism of Melon’s ‘Nitzi (In My Mind, So Fine) is pressing forward compulsively; the next, the bottom falls out and the listener is plunged into the paranoid, pitch-black minimalism of ‘Carbonela’ by Andres Zacco and Lucas Mari. A minor blip, and while it threatens to reset the mix back to zero, it actually clears the way for a second wave spurred on by Konpiùta's body-rattling 'Christmas Fairytale'.
While the phrase "return to form" is hardly fitting for an artist whose varied output as DJ, producer and label owner is rarely lacking in quality, Boogybytes Vol.04 should silence any doubters. It proves that Ellen Allien can still turn in mixes that convey her broad taste in techno without losing focus.
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Tracklist: Ellen Allien - Boogybytes Vol.0401 Agf - Liniendicke
02 Vera - In The Nook
03 Ricardo Villalobos & Patrick Ense - Fizpatrick
04 Melon - Nitzi (In My Mind, So Fine)
05 Andres Zacco & Lucas Mari - Carbonela“ (Seph's Vidrionela Rmx)
06 Konpiùta - Christmas Fairytale“ (Moessap Edit)
07 Sozadams - Eyes Forlon
08 Richard Seeley - Juicy Vermin
09 Lucio Aquilina - My Cube
10 Melchior Productions - Don Juan
11 Friendly People - Music Is Improper“ (Martin Buttrich Rmx)
12 Sascha Funke - Double Checked
13 Gaiser - Withdrawal
14 Kassem Mosse - A1
15 Little Dragon - Twice
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