With The Grandfather Paradox Henrik Schwarz, Âme and Dixon tackle the mix CD problem by avoiding the new altogether. The techno they've chosen is old, and some of their selections probably don't even have a copyright anymore. Taking its name from the proposed paradox which refutes the possibility of time travel, considering a time traveller could theoretically go back in time, kill their grandfather and negate their own existence, this hasn't prevented the Innervisions gang from attempting similarly complex feats of time-juggling. The subtitle further spells out their intention: "A Journey Through 50 years of Minimalistic Music" explores minimalism as a concept, linking house and techno with pioneering minimal(istic) music of all genres. What results is a truly time-defying melting pot, where Steve Reich's gradual processes link arms with clanging kosmische chug and motor city machine music, the DJs zipping through epochs like Marty McFly.
The quartet's idea of what constitutes "minimalistic music" is broad, but the selections are never intentionally obtuse, nor delivered like a history lesson. Indeed, the joy in The Grandfather Paradox is that Âme and co. approach this as house DJs, paying meticulous attention to sequencing and investing the most academically stripped-bare productions with disco sweat and swagger. They delight in matching incongruities like the clinical razors of Ø's "Atomit" with Conrad Schnitzler's velvet synths, or Cymande's naked congas and harmonies with Patrick Moraz's hazy elektronische squall.
The development from Reich's opening "Electric Counterpoint" through to Liquid Liquid's "Lock Groove" is exquisitely balanced, linking New York loft-academia with contemporaneous punk-funk (themselves never far removed), and the final third—from Hawtin's mix of La Funk Mob through to Yusef Lateef's "The Three Faces of Bala" and Robert Hood's "Minus"—is nail-bitingly tense. That we end with the ragtag street rhythms of Moondog shows just what these boys can pack in.
In any selection this broad there's bound to be quibbles over absences. Particularly on the unmixed second disc, I'd like to have seen even earlier examples of minimalism, Satie's furniture music perhaps, or an ol' timey fiddle dance such as "Indian War Whoop," but this unsolicited advice is subjective and irrelevant, as Henrik Schwarz, Âme and Dixon's project is clearly expressed. Perhaps Optimo could have pulled this off, but I've yet to hear a mix both as diverse and streamlined as this.