While the southern region of the United States has made great contributions to the stylistic development of many different music genres, outside of Miami, there is notably a lack of influence on dance music. This is why I was very surprised to discover the Atlanta-based CGI Records while perusing the racks of my local techno peddler.
Beginning in 2013, they are now on their 17th release as of February. All of the releases had me personally questioning how I had never heard of them before. Each of them possess a forward thinking aura about them, straying from the rule book while making sure to have a classicism that prevents too close a brush with the avant-garde.
Queens, NY producer Love Letters serves up the latest installment with four quality cuts that each hit a different part of the techno palette on the Suburban Attractive Complex release.
A1 “Who Was Driving” leads things off with a very infectious club workout for the sweatiest moments on the dance floor. Perhaps the most straightforward track of the bunch rhythmically speaking, this track makes use of a very simple audio gate on the spoken sample, to input from the drums. Living proof that it really doesn’t take much to keep a solid techno track interesting.
Track 2 on the A-side “F+” gets an eerie vibe going with significantly over-driven and distorted kicks under faint white noise wisps and barely noticeable organ/string patches. A simple mid-bass synth loops throughout, while the more creepy harmonies build and fall along with reverb drums. It’s very easy to tell that like it’s siblings, this track was undoubtedly made with all analogue instruments – powerful even when faint.
Switching over to the flip side, “Sporty Presentation” features an assertive bassline that injects itself around more sparse rhythm. The track gets a chance to breathe a bit more than the previous two, with more of a melodic exploration. It does pick up halfway through with a classic open hi-hat sound on the upbeat but overall this one is deeper, more musical, and just as enjoyable.
The final tune, “Digital Favoritism”, comes closer to the realm of house music. The drum machine is still present, the expertly crafted analogue synths are still there, but there is heartfelt emotion here to close things out. Perhaps the most interesting, is that in such a beautifully harmonic track, Love Letters still reminds us of the fleeting comfort in life by detuning the synth work periodically. The result is something that’s perfectly poignant, but also wrong. Additionally it is notable that this is the only song on the record longer than seven minutes – in fact closer to eight – and my personal favorite.
This record is another great example of the limitless creativity artists can achieve with very limited tools. It sounds as though the same drum machine and synthesizer was used for the entire record, yet each track goes down a different path and reaches a different destiny. It’s also an example of limited press runs that slide under the radar and don’t get the price gouged reputation of so many other releases limited to 300 copies.
You can get a hold of the vinyl with high quality digital as well for $11 straight from the label. And while many limited releases are lackluster in terms of art and design aesthetics, this record features tempting hand stamp artwork from Stephanie Cheng which I very much hope will continue on more CGI records releases.
Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.