Unai / Various Artists
A Love Moderne / Digital Disco 3: Mixed by Unai
Force Tracks / Force Tracks
2006 / 2006
B+ / C
y 2003 it seemed that the balance of power had shifted completely inside Mille Plateaux. Clicks were replaced by digital, cuts by disco—and Force Tracks became the imprint whose website it became infuriating to click through in search of information about the Europeans casually crafting some of the most exciting dance music around. Then EFA, the label’s distributor, went under and the Mille Plateaux family seemingly lived out the promise of its Deleuzean influenced theory—branching out into different rhizomes of thought and sound: Disco Inc., MillePlateauxMedia, Molecular Funk Guerilla. In this period Kompakt rose up and took over as the leading light of German techno.
But now Force Inc. has distribution yet again and (some) of the labels are back. Force Tracks is, once again, the most notable. That’s because they picked up exactly where they left off. Before the demise, the label had a solid run of full-lengths: SCSI-9’s hugely underrated Digital Russian, Dub Taylor’s Experience, and Luomo’s Gap-sales-floor-ready The Present Lover. Add to that list Unai’s A Love Moderne.
Unai (Erik Møller) is probably the last person you’d expect to be responsible for the label’s resurrection. His first LP, 2001’s Rebel Swing was a non-starter—an application to Force Track HQ sans the personality that the label’s flagship artists had in abundance. There were no vocals and only hints of fathomless dub: it was boilerplate glitch-house. But it’s been nearly five years and Møller has been working, improving, and plotting.
A Love Moderne is the result of some that labor. It’s a record in the vein of The Present Lover, but where Luomo sheared Present clean of any rough edges, Møller revels in them. Tracks like “Youngkiss,” perhaps the most straightforward here, throw in cascading echoes and shards of molded static. It’s digital dub put through a pop filter, crowned by Møller’s breathy vocals. The album drags late, “Blissful Burden” and “Steps to Heaven Are Steps to Me” both bide time, but it’s redeemed by the title track and the moody outro “Exit Wounds.” For those who don’t own the 12”’s that contain scene-setting opener “Oh You and I” and the stunning “I Like Your Style,” A Love Moderne is an essential purchase—one of the better single-artist electronic full-lengths of 2006.
That’s the exact reason that hopes were high for the Digital Disco 3 compilation. Møller mixed the disc, which was compiled by Force Tracks head Achim Szepanski. But mixing is a completely different art than producing—and so is compiling. Complaints that the mixes aren’t stunning fall to the material, the material falls to the compiler. You want to believe that Premature Wig’s track is genius merely based on the name, you want to believe that Crane A.K. and Igor O. Vlasov’s contributions are highlights (they’ve recently released tracks on Force Tracks and most likely represent part of the new lineup)—but both of these things are simply untrue. Instead it’s Voltique and his remix of Morgan Page’s “Outside the City,” the ever-present John Tejada and his track “Voyager,” and things remixed by Møller or remixed from material originally created by him—all things that don’t necessarily bode well for future Force Tracks offerings. The actual mix is exactly what you’d expect: there are some highs, there are some lows, and you end the whole experience by taking it back in two years to a used CD shop and getting less than half your money back.