Sometimes when reviewing dance mix albums it’s essential to remember they’re not really intended for 3:00 in the afternoon, and make their greatest impact when darkness falls at the very earliest. Such thinking needs to be taken into account for the second in Soma’s Sci Fi series, which sees Chilean DJ Luciano take to the controls on his first outing for the label.
The brooding strings of D:uni:son‘s Orange act as an effective intro, ushering in a steady pulse almost immediately. From here on Luciano ensures that in terms of the basic beat a little goes a long way, his choice of largely underground material finely detailed yet minimalist in its development. By the time Tadeo‘s Bateria Lup! arrives a hypnotic groove has been established, the music almost imperceptibly beginning to take an electro turn.
This tune turns out to be hard work on headphones with its steadily rising treble, but with the busy background lines asserting themselves again the music gradually begins to gather momentum and depth, the bass drum pushing ever lower and the tempo starting to rise. This is realised in a track seemingly devoid of artist, entitled simply Framework, which has its relative peace threatened by the hovering 303 sounds of Lineas De Nazca, a clear Hardfloor influence taking hold in Eje Central.
Luciano goes ever deeper for tracks like Butane‘s Next, which on the face of it is little more than an electronic ‘whoosh’ and a subterranean bass sound, but suddenly starts to add disconcerting, passing machine noises that pass through the stereo picture. This is a characteristic common to a lot of the tracks sourced here, a relatively simple front end in fact much more complicated than it sounds.
As Luciano heads for the finish he introduces a much-needed hook to latch on to, even if it is the straightforward pattern of repeated chords used by 2000 And One, and fellow countryman Ricardo Villalobos gets in on the act with the other-worldly Ichso, spinning a long-drawn melody with a strangely moving effect.
It has to be said if you’re a fan of Soma’s output you still have to be on exactly the right wavelength as this album to appreciate it. At the wrong time the minimal textures and the relative lack of treble could completely pass you by, but find an atmospheric, warm evening and put this on the stereo and you’ll get to the core of the music.
Luciano deserves credit for his unhurried approach and attention to detail, not to mention a careful track selection that bigs up several previously unaired tracks. Rather than come up with a bog standard techno/house compilation then, Soma have continued to champion electronic music that thinks on its own feet.