With enormous hits like "Rej" or "Where We At" behind them, you could argue that Innervisions is currently going through a phase of self-discovery. Where do we go from here? Primary Structures, Âme's fourth mix CD, has a few answers. The first half-hour is what you could call an immersive experience: with no clear hooks or thumping kick drums, and with a fondness for chords in the higher end of the pitch spectrum and circling—almost sleep-inducing—melodies, it allows Âme to invest a mood a proper club environment probably wouldn't ever allow. (If the very idea of the mix CD still has some sort of meaning, you have it in this passage.) For instance, the transition from To Rococo Rot's wintry electronica to NDF's "Since We Last Me," itself interlaced with Dorisburg's dub of "Sinai Hypnosis," is spot on if slightly disorienting.
On the other hand, the inclusion of Mumbai-based composer Charanjit Singh's "Raga Megh Malhar" (a cut from the recently reissued Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat) is a welcome discovery: this is tune selection at its most clever and least gratuitous, especially when Âme bridge the generation gap that separates it from The Knife's theatrics on "The Seeds" so pertinently (even if the transition is, rhythmically speaking, a bit abrupt). That said, the perfectionist in-key segue is more brainy than remotely emotive, and it does impose a sense of cold, calculated distance.
Seven minutes after "The Seeds" has started its operatic meanderings, Innervisions' Tête's motoric kick drums (from 2010 "Rotor" single) makes itself heard. This is precisely when Primary Structures switches gears and allows itself to be more lively. Ruede Hagelstein's bouncy "Emergency" showcases the first inclusion of actual discernible vocals and offers an appreciated relief from all the previous abstractions. The mix then somehow anti-climatically climaxes with The xx's "VCR," as Four Tet's rehashing blends chopped vocal snippets with heady and unrepentant synthetic stabs, and then all rather cleverly ends with Canadian indie minstrel Owen Pallett, whose "Red Sun No. 5" is made more robust and beating thanks to Âme's reworking of their "Rrose Selavy" single.
It's mixing at its most audacious, and it does leave the listener on a high, savvy note. Overall, though, Primary Structures is a singular, if demanding at times, opus: punctilious, almost punishing in its rigor. It's impressively unpredictable here and there, yet it still has a clear idea of where it wants to go and how it is going to get there. Further, it shows impressive crate-digging credentials while displaying highbrow technical dexterity. That said, it lacks the sense of urgency that a release like A Critical Mass, recorded last year with peers Dixon and Henrik Schwarz, had. And this is why you can't help but feel there's something lacking at the very core of this otherwise craftily structured mix. A pulsing âme, maybe?
Tracklist: Âme - Primary Structures01. Âme – Intro
02. To Rococo Rot – Forwardness
03a. NDF – Since We Last Met
03b. Dorisburg – Sinai Hypnosis (Dub)
04. Von Spar – Daddy Longlegs
05. Charanjit Singh – Raga Megh Malhar
06. The Knife – The Seeds
07. Tête – Rotor
08. Ruede Hagelstein – Emergency
09a. Lucky Dragons – Typical Hippies
09b. B.D.I. – Industrial Kites
10. The xx – VCR (Four Tet Remix)
11. Âme – Rrose Selavy
12. Owen Palett – Red Sun No. 5
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