Some years back, I got a complaint from a reader out in Chicago, who sent an email to Dusted about “can you please get someone to write about dance 12”s other than Doug Mosurock?” My response was to cover twice as many, but it got me to thinking: what was this guy looking for, anyway? I took it to mean that most dance music releases got reviewed together by their genre, and that others were more capable of describing them in whatever terms were useful to the kind of person who bought a lot of dance or electronic singles. Depositing them amidst indie rock 7”s and noise cassettes was a welcomed break, a good a reason as any to get up and move around for a bit, and opened them up to a different audience, so why did descriptions or critical analysis of the music have to rely on the same ol’ tautologies?
Vibe 2, a recent compilation by Washington D.C.’s Future Times crew, disputes that tautology almost completely. Here’s a collection that is built on strong musicianship and golden ear-sourcing (many of the participants came up in punk- and rock-based scenes), of being deposited in the Mid-Atlantic amidst a still strong culture of dance and rhythm-based music, of half-remembered and reconstituted ideas of what that music meant during another part of their lives (or even before their lives began), and of what these artists and friends can do to bring those ideas out to the shirtless masses. If the compilers — probably some loose aggregation of Beautiful Swimmers’ Andrew Field-Pickering and Ari Goldman, Protect-U’s Mike Petillo and Aaron Leitko, and Jason Letkiewicz (Steve Summers, Innergaze, Alan Hurst, and on and on) — were drawing any lines, they’d probably look something like this, with all of it dumped in the middle and getting thrashed by skaters and rolled up in one of those big papers that came with the one Cheech & Chong record.
The only thing really holding these tracks together is the general tempo (not too fast), and toolsets that started to drop out during the Reagan administration. There’s B-boy electro breaks in Confused House’s “Concrete (Dub)” that slap back behind a nice, toothy synth lead, gentle and milky analog excursions into the golden mound courtesy of Steve Moore’s Z Channel-worthy “Volatile Memory,” more traditional moves towards house from a number of different perspectives, and some sample/loop-based bangers that reach back to disco and R&B for inspiration. Everything on this is fine, particularly the stern and spacious productions of Dutch duo Juju + Jordash, who passed along a fine series of 12”s via Golf Channel some months back. Play it backwards from side D to side A for maximum impact, or let it serve as a taste of what any Future Times party might be like, only a little farther out there. It’s a good thing by a group of people with a wide and thorough basis of taste, and the abilities to build a state of mind out of what gets included.