I guess the wheels fell of the Rapture bandwagon around the time of Pieces Of People We Love, which I actually felt deserved more than the dismissive attention paid to it by a lot of old Rapture fans I’ve met. That’s the problem with making your definitive statements so early on, though – the Rapture are in the unenviable position of having defined the early noughties zeitgeist with “House Of Jealous Lovers” and “Out Of The Races And Onto The Tracks,” which means everything’s in deference to those prioritized moments, even if (secretly) a lot of people loved Morgan Geist’s “Jealous Lovers” mix more, or exorcised their Cure jones with “Olio” instead.
The Rapture made those deft moves (post-punk to agit-funk to undie-disco to electro-pop to etc.) with an ease that showed up their detractors as humorless jerks and their peers as bandwagoneers. It made for great records, but the downside of all that effortless flirting is that Tapes is a prick-tease of a mix; it’s great fun, but it’s all boundless energy without centre. I mean, if I want to flick through someone’s record collection, I’ll visit their house, right? Or scroll through their iPod, or whatever. Tapes is subcultural savvy bumped to compact disc, a mix that’s been curated safe in the knowledge that relatively unlimited access has turned Western Millennials into jacks of all genres.
That said, there’s something irresistible in the seeming implausibility of some of the transitions here, particularly early in the mix, where the Rapture leap between Ghostface Killah’s “Daytona 500” to go-go outfit Junkyard Band’s “The Word,” through the Bar-Kays’ “Holy Ghost” and on. That approach to mixing suits the way the Rapture pole-vault through genres, and it’s only when they move into a relatively homogenous run of house tracks, from Kiloo’s helium-light “The Passion (Phonique Mix Down)” through the weepy house-not-house of Armand Van Helden’s “Flowerz” and the fibrillating arpeggios of Syclops’s “Where’s Jason’s K,” that the Rapture go linear.
Tapes reaches its peak in this lovely mid-section, which suggests their aesthetic voracity is a complicated thing to parse; while excellent in theory, that conscious desire for subcultural capital piques my suspicions. It’s when the Rapture swear their allegiance to the house nation that they get my vote. Though, anyone with the balls to mix Richie Havens into Galaxy 2 Galaxy deserves more than a passing glance…