He's capable of great music too, or at least arranging other people's work. His ‘Friends’ mix for Kompakt has stood the test of time and remains one of the most deep and durable CDs in their catalog, perhaps only eclipsed by Mayer’s Immer. Friends was the coiled spring of the 'minimal' explosion, and it held the explosively divergent potentials Metaboman, Robag Wruhme, Ada, Luciano, Oliver Hacke, Broker/Dealer, Process, Schaeben and Voss, Oxtongue and Michael Mayer together in a way that hasn’t seemed cohesively possible before or since. Oh, I forgot, and it had Superpitcher's remix of Dntel's 'This is the Dream' on it, which is possibly one of the most splendid and beautiful tracks, well, ever. It showed each personality, but worked perfectly in its totality.
Given his talents and achievements, it’s a shame Riley felt the need to add Friends are Silence to his résumé. From 'Friends' to 'Friends are Silence'. If only they were, I’m tempted to say. The unfortunate truth is that 'Friends are Audible'.
Maybe it's the by-product of a market where (nearly) anyone who wants to release a record not only can, but does – hey, guess who’s a label owner? Perhaps the 'release reflex' has become compulsive. These tracks are limp: not enough to hate, but certainly never worth loving, worth keeping. It’s been Riley’s willingness to seek out and release new, interesting and unproven stuff that’s been the making of a fair percentage of our most-loved producer-pinups from the Traum/Trapez/MBF camp. Still, I wonder if he'd released these if sent as a promo from an unknown? I doubt it.
There are ideas in all these tracks, but they're mostly underdeveloped and amateurish. 'Someday' (co-produced with Steve Barnes) is 'nice' minimal tech-house, and 'Polyester' (with ever under-rated Remute) has got some nice-spiced early Mayerish buzzy disco licks, but on the whole it's conceptually uninspired and fairly shoddily executed, real 'so what' tech-house that would be a snooze cruise if it weren’t somehow irritating. In a year where recently emerged artists as original and talented as some of those on Riley’s roster seem to be capable of releasing minor masterpieces (and sometimes do), it’s a wonder that an ear as obviously well-attuned as his can't hear the difference. I can, and it's a shame. Why Riley, why? You deserve better, and so do we.