I wonder what that guy would think of Heidi Presents Jackathon. Maybe he'd find it too techno: a group of Berlin-identified artists who play around with a sound bite like "I'm the creator—I'm the creator of jack," as on Darius Syrossian's selection here, might seem like arrivistes. And maybe he'd like it—I do, anyway. If the mandate on all this back-to-'87 stuff floating around is to try and transmit that kind of giddiness, then a lot of the artists Heidi gathers here do just that.
Just to be clear, this isn't a back-to-'87 comp. There's some of that on here, of course—most obviously on "Jack Is Back" by Steve Bug. I can understand why someone might not like that track: it's a little too neat a summary of the moment. It took a while to come around, but now I kind of love it, not least because it works better as a final flourish (it's the last track) than as a mission statement.
That's a good way to hear Jackathon as a whole, not least because its best tracks aren't content with sitting in the past. That's usually a function of the low end. Juan MacLean's "Love in Tatters" has the type of vocal-sample stutters the mind's ear identifies with turn-of-the-'90s house, but the high gloss he puts on his elements, not to mention a fathom-deep kick drum, updates things sharply. The translucent organ at the heart of Solomun's "What the Funk," as well as the fizzy vocal lifts, shouts '89 but rides a bass with more dimensionality than '89 allowed for.
The most thoroughly up-to-date offering here is probably Jamie Jones' "Whiff It Yawl," which unfurls an early '80s R&B vocal hook (big surprise there: it's from the Dazz Band's 1982 "Let It Whip") over a tight strut heavily informed by that era but undoubtedly living in this one. It jacks, undeniably. Does that make it "back"? Maybe, maybe not, but sometimes it's enough for it to feel like the present.