Carl Craig & Moritz von Oswald: Recomposed (Music by Maurice Ravel & Modest Mussorgsky) (CD, Deutsche Grammophon, October 2008)

In which the 2nd-generation Detroit deity and the more famous half of Basic Channel rip apart Ravel’s Bolero and Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, chuck in some old-skool drum machines and synths, and create a 64 minute techno megamix.

It’s possibly too easy to call this symphonic techno. Also slightly misleading, as neither of the source works are symphonies. But if we take “symphonic” in the sense of “symphonic rock”, it’s rather apt. The six-minute introduction is a lush orchestral swell, the sort of warm hug of a production that says “welcome in, you are in good hands here”. As it moves into Movement 1, it picks up a beat… the famous ostinato snare drum of the Bolero. The link with techno is quite obvious, and the next couple of tracks are based around this idea. It’s really rather nice, but I did find myself wondering how it would last over an album. Luckily, Craig and von Oswald change tack for Movement 3. It becomes more obviously techno, pinned by beats which, though analogue, are undeniably electronic. The source material is incorporated more subtly — von Oswald spent a long time in pre-production with the master’s of DG’s recordings with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, picking out individual elements — but it is nearly always there, and not as a gimmicky add-on but as the backbone of the mix. The mood varies (as I would hope and expect). At times, it’s quite banging (though never exactly dancefloor friendly). At others, it has a warm ambience. The Interlude between Movements 4 and 5 is pretty much Basic Channel style dub. Movements 5 is big and driving. Movement 6 is delicate, almost ethereal, the drums reduced to a soft clicking and a lilting violin melody drifting in and out of the mix. It’s all rather epic, very different, and generally smashing.

I bought this from Juno. They call it Leftfield, whatever that means.

Leave a Reply