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DeepChord / Rod Modell - Vantage Isle Sessions / Incense and Black Light

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Artist: DeepChord / Rod Modell

Album: Vantage Isle Sessions / Incense and Black Light

Label: Echospace

Review date: Aug. 27, 2008

Michigan’s Rod Modell makes immersive techno. It doesn’t quite fit into any specific genre mold, so his subtle, nearly anonymous tracks can slip by unnoticed. It’s easy to get lost in the microbial hiss, goopy dub timbres and rumbling muffle to miss the bass writhing in the fuzz or percussive tics cracking the drone.

On Vantage Isle Sessions, he again partners with Soultek’s Steven Hitchell as DeepChord. This new disc comprises 12 remixes by the duo of the elusive "Vantage Isle,” a track so impermanent it appears there was never a proper, original version. The 13th remix, smack in the middle of the disc’s sequencing, comes from the sole outsider: Gerard Hanson (Convextion). It may also be the best thing here. His version is by far the most submerged; strands of shuffling dust pile up on a cyborg samba, immersed in a hail of cut-ups, stray clicks and extended chords. Modell and Hitchell’s "Echospace Spatial Dub" is far more immediate. The closest thing to a straight dance cut, its bass is crisp and dry, looped in a slinky cycle that rattles along a taut trot, leaving the dub FX to plop and squish on the periphery.

The "Echospace Reshape" could pass as early-’90s ambient rockers Seefeel remixed by a Warp glitch-termite of comparable vintage. It’s a radian eight-minute sprawl that, thankfully, can’t decide whether it struts or churns, jets spurting and bass paddling in mutual confusion. The "Echospace Glacial" mix is practically a symphony of aquatic audio, complete with cascading water. The "cv313" reductions are the most surprising. The first applies a more variegated rhythm, its spatter and chipped blips a relief from the disc’s constant numbing throb. The second, the album’s closer, is all crackling froth and organ spume, blissfully coursing through the stereo field.

Modell is in solo mode on the weirder Incense and Black Light. From its title on down, this album has an after-hours feel. There’s more water, but now it sounds like it’s pebbling apartment windows instead of draining along sewer canals. A recurring bongo-like smatter, muted and almost incongruous, adds to the bedroom vibe. It’s as if some vintage space-age bachelor pad LP is spinning absent-mindedly with the volume turned way down. Only the tinniest percussion pops through the silence. Chimes shimmer, hi-hats lisp, steam crackles. Modell’s music always seems to be in this suspended animation, adrift and afloat in a majestic emptiness.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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