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Go BackScotland's got soul - Soma's techno showcase.

Posted: 10/12/07 14:29

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These things techno fans hold to be self-evident: Berlin is the centre of the universe; South America is the breeding ground of the hottest talent; Detroit is the cradle of (musical) civilisation; London is the edgy party capital. Glasgow, funnily enough, doesn't figure heavily in the geographic hagiography cultivated by tech geeks. Perhaps that's how the gritty port town would prefer it. Let the urban centres preen and vie, Scotland doesn't need airs and graces to deliver tough, driving, unforgettable techno.

It is, after all, the home of pioneers like Slam and Funk D'Void, minimal demi-god Alex Smoke, space-tech stars Silicone Soul. All of whom feature on Soma 2007. Because just as Slam are the definitive Scottish techno act; The Arches the ultimate venue; Soma is the label. In their 16 years they've cultivated virtually every major Scottish techno act of note and the hits keep rolling out like boxcars in a never-ending freight train. Accordingly, their annual compilations are generally a cut above the slapdash, make-a-buck round ups that clutter the pre-Christmas shelves. There has been the occasional lean year (2004 springs to mind) but 2007 showcases an enviable selection of music and proves this stalwart imprint has nothing to fear from the burgeoning London-Paris-Berlin production axis.

A delectable blend of old and new, this set includes a reworking of The Black Dog's 1993 classic Cost II - a propulsive, minimal track whose time has come round again. The effortless slide from Vector Lovers' contemporary A Field (a haunting swathe of instrumental electronica) into The Black Dog is a subtle but effective assertion of Soma's special brew of longevity and relevance.

Given this is a round up of 12"s the LP has a markedly easy flow (think Kompakt's effortlessly brilliant yearly outings). It is characterised by the trait which has always set Soma apart: soul. As epitomised by Funk D'Void (whose contribution here, the bouncy, flirty Lovin' is a pitch perfect summer song) and his string-soaked classics like Diabla, the label has long excelled at bringing together technical nous with thick lashings of emotion - something of a lost art for many years.

No one does this better than Silicone Soul whose 3AM is a highlight. Its blend of tight percussion and Morricone-esque melodies create a dizzying, dystopic vision that lingers long after the notes have faded. Slam offer their own unforgettable epic with No One Left To Follow, a slab of ghostly perfection. On the other side of the sentimental coin, newcomers Let's Go Outside contribute the cheerfully smutty I'll Lick Your Spine - a winning mix of elastic beats and salacious lyrics ("I'll pull your hair/I'll lick your spine/I'll put my hands everywhere/I'll make you mine"). About the only bum note in the entire selection is the grindingly pointless My Robot Friend reworking of Blondie's Rapture. The original was knowingly, sassily daft; this version has none of its charm. However, since My Robot Friend lent his voice to the marvellous No One Left To Follow even that can be forgiven...

Words by Cila Warncke