Stephen Brown – Cultural Vibes - 1998 Detroit Techno 4 Trk 12 EP
Stephen Brown – Cultural Vibes
Djax-Up-Beats – DJAX-UP-290
Vinyl, 12", 33 ⅓ RPM
Tribal, Techno, Tech House
A2 Solar Flare
B1 The Self
B2 Hard Times
Artwork By [Illustration] – A Oldham
Written-by [All Trax] – S Brown*
Recorded in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Published by Djax Music.
Barcode and Other Identifiers
Matrix / Runout: DjAX-UP-290-THIS SIDE (A)
Matrix / Runout: DjAX-UP-290-THAT SIDE (B)
" Although Stephen Brown's name is unanimously synonymous with quality, he has always remained more of a connoisseur's icon that a household production figure. Now, that he's gaining more and more attention with each release that hits the shelf, I went a little bit back.
Perhaps, without a doubt, Cultural Vibes just might be his brightest moment in the pre-Y2K era, although it's not my favorite one. As stated before, it's undiluted Detroit soul, beamed from Detroit's delivery room to Europe, and then reconstructed in Edinburgh through proper machine funk.
The A side boasts two magnificent melodic workouts that could have only been pulled off by a dedicated Detroit disciple. Both are kept under the techno flagship by thumping drum kicks, but these are not the pagan dancing drums mind you. These are loud and prominent, yet tranquilizing in their execution. Designed to keep your feet tapping during those lonely nights of self reflection. My pick of the two would be "Solar Flare". With its crazy demented trash can percussion patterns, you'd think it'll head off to some berserk rave hysteria, but order is firmly restored through an angelic melody that shifts focus from mayhem to melancholia. Along with "Meng's Theme (Jeroen Verheij Remix)", this is just about my favorite avalanche of technoid melodic bliss from the mid nineties, hailing from Europe. The strongly emphasized melody present throughout is something that is sorely missed in the genre these days, and if someone does dare, it frequently transforms into overzealous presumptuousness, bordering cheese. This is soul captured into the memory of a machine, poured onto black wax, in order to live forever.
However, the masterstroke - to me at least - is "The Self". A unique effort that veers between house, techno and abstract IDM. At times cold, if you wish nordic in its aesthetic, its polar night distant feel is firmly juxtaposed by the analog warmth and stunningly haunting pads. Very often, when playing this, another release that pops to mind is Conceiled Project's Second Coming. As far as Stephen's piece is concerned, with its slightly off beat structure, rattle effects and reworked reverse congas, it's a master class production on many levels. Its intricacy resides in the highly creative drum programming as well as the layered arrangement of supplementary melodic patterns and bits. I'd dare call this a timeless piece.
"Hard Times" is another stellar effort, yet a step down the ladder compared to breathtakingly awesome A2 and B1 tracks. It's a break beat, 808-laden number with reverb drenched strings that adequately bring the magnificent journey to its inevitable end. Glacial melodic bits all over and lush atmospheres are the plat du jour, and when those claps and hissing highs are introduced some two and a half minutes deep, it turns into that early morning teaser of a tune that will drag you off to the dance floor for one more body work out.
Overall this is a proper transocenanic classic of atmospheric, radiating Detroit techno created by one of its true and authentic torchbearers in Europe. Easily a classic"
|Format||EP , 12|