Erol Alkan encapsulated the spirit of the times back at the beginning of the last decade, a period when dance music seemed to fracture - trance got harder, house became more and more commercial. Supermarkets were overrun with 'funky house' compilations and trance CDs emblazoned with nightclub logos that had long since ceased to properly exist.
Honest music played with a guitar seemed to get a lot cooler. The Strokes and The White Stripes proved that rock music could still be interesting. Even in their fairly derivative approaches they were still, you know, good. A void was left in dance music, and into that stepped the movement that ultimately triggered this blog - acts like 2 Many DJs played music for dancing that rocked harder and was far cooler than anything played by bands live.
The London night Trash, hosted at The End, became a key location in this transformation of electronic music. Within Trash you would find Erol Alkan spinning records by !!!, hosting gigs by a fledgling LCD Soundsystem and wearing skinny Batman tees.
But one thing you wouldn't generally find Erol doing is releasing mix albums in the supermarket. Or anywhere in fact. For some reason he seemed to be opposed to them, only ever releasing two - one as a cover CD to long defunct dance mag Muzik and one for the club night / cultural institution Bugged Out.
That last mix album was released in 2005 and now, seven years later, we have a follow up. Like the original this is an album of two halves - one disc is 'Bugged Out' (i.e. a dance mix) and the other 'Bugged In' (at home, chilled listening).
Other than that not all that much has changed. The first set is pretty strong - crunchy techno fused with grimey electro - but it could almost have been released in 2005 itself. Maybe that says more about electronic music than anything. There is the occasional nod to how things have changed - Scuba's warm, loved-up, soulful dubstep epic 'Never', for example, and Factory Floor's excellent (but also rapidly aging) 'Two Different Ways'.
There is still plenty to love - particularly Jimmy Edgar's scarily passive-aggressive rant 'This One's For The Children' and Erol's own dowdy post-punk-techno closer 'Forever Dolphin Love'.
The last time Erol released his Bugged Out compilation it was actually the laid back 'Bugged In' set that kept us coming back, and here it remains the one that is likely to age the best. It is little more than a standard collection of obscure left field tracks gently massaged together but Alkan can sure pick them - his music collection must be quite a thing. So from Jan Hammer Group's psychedelic soul opening 'Don't You Know' Erol barely misplaces a step.
Jai Paul's 'Jasmine' demo is disconcertingly claustrophobically sexy, throbbing bass and faint vocals seemingly calling out through the locked door. The synth line comes in more than halfway through like a chainsaw - it's a pretty much perfect pop record. Space Dimension Controller's 'The Love Quadrant' is equally funky - dense and filtered but nowhere near as creepy. Things end with the gentle jazz influenced 'Soaring and Boring' by Plush, a fittingly decadent end with an audible hum as the record stylus reaches the inside track.
Regardless of what you think of the passing of time since Erol's last compilation you can't really deny the quality of music here, nor the mixing. If you were a fan then, I would wager you still are now.