Michiganís Rod Modell makes immersive techno. It doesnít quite fit into any specific genre mold, so his subtle, nearly anonymous tracks can slip by unnoticed. Itís 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 Soultekís Steven Hitchell as DeepChord. This new disc comprises 12 remixes by the duo of the elusive "Vantage Isle,Ē a track so impermanent it appears there was never a proper, original version. The 13th remix, smack in the middle of the discís 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 Hitchellís "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-í90s ambient rockers Seefeel remixed by a Warp glitch-termite of comparable vintage. Itís a radian eight-minute sprawl that, thankfully, canít 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 discís constant numbing throb. The second, the albumís 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. Thereís more water, but now it sounds like itís pebbling apartment windows instead of draining along sewer canals. A recurring bongo-like smatter, muted and almost incongruous, adds to the bedroom vibe. Itís 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. Modellís music always seems to be in this suspended animation, adrift and afloat in a majestic emptiness.