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This review was first published on CLUAS in 2000
Other albums reviewed in 2000

'Ground Floor' - Various Artists

A Compilation of Irish Techno on the Front End Synthetics label

Feeling out of touch? Divorced from reality? Disconnected? Can't remember what it was to be cool? What you need is a healthy dose of this CD.

Do you like the myriad of dance categories out there? Here's another - let's call this one 'Intelligent Ambient Experimental Electronica'.

Front End Synthetics' first release is a sampler from Dublin's techno heads. Fourteen home-grown tracks that provide an instant insight into Dublin's techno music. I didn't realise that there were fourteen different people making this sort of tuneage in Dublin, but they exist in bedsits, studios, clubs and wherever. You probably pass them on the street and wonder what plays on their headphones.

The album features some unknowns and a couple of heavy hitters - Decal, Anodyne, M-cut and Ambulance, all who you should be aware of. Decal and Ambulance play definitively experimental electronica. 'Air Hostess' by Ambulance sounds like Ibiza sunset music from mars, mellow but disconcerting. Anodyne's contribution 'Darkest' is for techno-gothics, foreboding and wearing too much eyeliner.

As for the rest, where the hell is this stuff coming from? One of the immediate standout tracks is "It's a miracle productions present the soul gun warriors in: <Robot Boys Blues>" (yipe - what a title). It's about as twenty first century as you can get right now, synthetic unrequited love poetry for silicon-based life forms (they get depressed too apparently). Wonderful listening.

Tracks by Booger and Droid and Slug also impress fairly immediately, as does John Braine's 'La Belle Shayenne' with a distinct Jimmy Tenor vibe and is fairly accessible as this album goes. New Dark Ages' 'Innards' brings a jazzy tip to proceedings. If you want to get really cool in your tastes 'Three Fat Ladies' by Trev and 'Eau de Nollag' by Dunk give the same kind of pleasure as a foreign art-house film, obscure and refined, and you just hope not too many people like it.

The opening track, 'Automatic Weapon' by Street Thunder, sounds as if it was discovered (?la Moby) in some national archive of folk music for synth bands. Street Thunder - a lost legacy, falling in around New Order and MARRS.

There's much more, but the titles are long and each track is way distinctive. There are one or two not up to the standard of the rest - but figure that out for yourself. This compilation seems important to me, interesting original music from Dublin - a really healthy sign.

The album is Techno 101 for the uninitiated. Some mellow enough for your mother and some testing your levels of noise toleration. If this line up is in anyway representative of what Front End Synthetics have to offer I'll be looking out for all future releases. As a final tip - buy the CD, copy it onto a blank tape, tell your friends it's a compilation you banged together yourself, and, well, you're a techno guru.

Jack Murphy

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