Adam Freeland is not cool. No way. Maybe once... But certainly not these days.
Global Underground... Pfft. They are so lame. Stupid prog compilations churned out like the FIFA series of computer games, without any thought as to why they should even bother still existing.
Why then, is BlackPlastic even worrying its pretty little head about this release? It has something to do with the fact that the tracklist doesn't contain a single John Digweed track but instead reads like a who's who in the cool list of right now. Spank Rock are here with the Switch remix of 'Bump', Mr. Oizo turns up for 'Half An Edit' and yes, Justice are here too. What's more there is some sort of concept, be it a slightly wishy washy one.
Disco Uno is party central... But Adam, dear Adam, has fucked with things a little bit. This means the lovely Thomas Bangalter mix of DJ Mehdi's 'Signatune' gets further tweaked and twisted to fulfill Adam's evil plans before getting entirely decimated by Phones' 'Sharpen The Knives', a track so evil BlackPlastic expects Bush to launch a war on Paul Epworth once the old war on terror has died down. The Para One remix of the crazy Icelandic Queen-wannabes, Trabant, on 'The One' sounds so divorced from the original that you wonder why Trabant bothered to pay the bill. Still, these French guys know what they're doing, right? Even Adam's own exclusive track, 'Silverlake Pills' is pretty enjoyable with similar synth washes to 'Signatune', a freaking rediculous bassline and some nice snappy drums.
CD one is finished off in a suitably fashion with Evil 9's 'Happy Ending', a post-punk breakbeat shakedown and as a mix it is very enjoyable and accessible if in danger of being a little formulaic.
Concept two and disc two then is Drone. Or e-Drone. Taking cues from shoegazing bands such as My Bloody Valentine this 'new genre' is Adam's attempt to fuse the wall of sound approach of these bands to electronic music. It's an interesting idea and in places works well, generally when it veers as close rock music as possible.
CD two starts with Spacemen 3 (who went on the become Spiritulized) and 'Ecstasy Symphony', but at two minutes long this is little more than a blissed out intro. Several deep electronic cuts follow, My My's 'Butterflies & Zebras' introduces a warm melodic bassline and Justus Kohncke strips things back to a piano and the odd brief stab of distortion for 'Advance'. It is track five and 120 Days' 'Come Out, Come Down, Fade Out, Be Gone' before the concept is really fleshed out beyond its bones. A chugging techno track with flat but live sounding drums, 'Come Out...' manages to capture the feeling aimed for, even if the singer does sound a little too like Grant Nicholas from Feeder.
Things really hit their stride just over three minutes into 120 Days, when synths encircle the throbbing basslines and everything descends into a hiss. It is apparent that what makes this new 'sound', if you can bare to believe in such a thing, is the contrast. Nice and nasty distortion arrives in the forms of Gui Boratto's 'Terminal' and Holden's 'Lump' respectively before things head back towards the more rock tinged sound in the form of Cobblestone Jazz with 'Dump Truck' and Silversun Pickups 'Lazy Eye'.
In its conventional form 'Lazy Eye' sounds a little like the Pixies covering a Foo Fighters song but here Freeland effectively throws in a guitar-based muted pop-song into his mix before letting it hit a self destruct button two minutes in that drowns the singer in a wall of post-rock noise. As a DJ tool it works quite well as a completely unexpected left turn. What a dancefloor's reaction to this would be is anyone's guess but BlackPlastic would love to see.
'Lazy Eye' eventually dissolves into Substance & Vainqueur's 'Immersion', which in turn gets sliced into by Fujiya & Miyagi's enjoyable 'Ankle Injuries', used here in a way that neatly counteracts the somewhat clinical introduction to the sunnier feel of the main song proper.
By the time Andrew Weatherall's 'Feathers' rolls around Freeland's intentions are a little clearer, and BlackPlastic can't help but think that Weatherall's track was perhaps a major inspiration for this project. A post-punk electronic machine of a track that sounds closer to its source material than many other so called 'new-post-punk' bands whilst also sounding thoroughly modern itself. It is Freeland's own mix of 80s band B-Movie's 'Nowhere Girl' that provides the album highlight however... A throbbing, chugging slab of melting rock that demands the listener to turn it up just one more notch. Drums crash and vocals roll in and out but it is the bassline slicing in and out of the mix and the distorted melody that provide the real excitement. It was already used to great effect on Evil Nine's Fabric Live mix but here is makes even more sense - another clear inspiration for this mix as a whole.
It seems unlikely that Freeland has truly invented a new genre, what is certain whoever is that he has created the most exciting Global Underground CD in ages and as a New Order style bassline carries the second CD out on a mix of Mylo's 'Paris 400' it feels like a real journey that the listening will want to repeat.