Album Reviews

Slam – Human Response

(Soma) UK release date: 25 June 2007

Glasgow, so much to answer for. Once rated by the UN as the most dangerous city in the world, shunned by bum-bagged Yankee tourists for Edinburgh’s tranquil reposes, it sits like a dark turd on the pavement of Scotland’s tourist dollars.

Or so it might seem. If your experience of the city is borne of the travelogues of ‘experts’ whose knowledge comes from a single night in a dodgy TravelLodge on the banks of the Clyde, you’re probably nodding in agreement as you simultaneously finger your pepper spray.

In reality, Glasgow is a vibrant post-industrial city that knows how to make the most of its past; in particular, taking warehouses made empty by the drop in traditional industry and filling them full of gurning clubbers. And there are few success stories in the city that exemplify this as well as Orde Meikle and Stuart McMillan’s, the two DJs that record and play as Slam.

These days, when not running their successful label Soma or playing at The Arches under Glasgow’s Central Station, the boys find time to stick out the odd album. When they’re good, they’re good: 1996’s debut Headstates sounded like it had been cut to acetate straight from a triumphant live set.

But their follow-ups have all fallen prey to the need to stay relevant while attempting to stick to their original roots in deep, atmospheric techno. It’s a criticism that can be levelled at Human Response, their latest full-player.

While it’s their most consistent since Headstates, it can feel at times like a direct sequel to that disc, rather than a real progression. Don’t get me wrong: in 1997, this disc would have ripped through playsets faster than Keith Richards in a crematorium. But in 2007, Human Response can sound rather like an old Warp Artificial Intelligence collection.

Expect quality, old-skool techno, then, rather than the great leap forward that the better tracks from their lesser albums teased us with.

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