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Album Review

By the beginning of the new century, ambient techno had been around long enough to reach a period characterized by young producers influenced not by techno or industrial or hip-hop or acid house, but early examples of ambient techno itself: Black Dog, B12, Autechre, Aphex Twin. Along with work by artists like Solvent, Lowfish, Thug, and Casino Versus Japan (among many others), the album debut by Jeff Mcilwain's L'Usine project recalls the glory days of 1992 with a set of gorgeous downbeat techno — melancholy yet melodic, outboard yet restrained, and vaguely experimental despite its classicist flair. The grating percussion, haunted distortion, toybox melodies, and faint ties to electro make it at once a familiar listen for intelligent-dance fans, though Mcilwain rises above the status of nostalgia act with each track. Truth to tell, any one of the 11 tracks here would fit perfectly — in terms of sound as well as quality — on Artificial Intelligence, Warp's landmark ambient techno compilation from 1992. Without question it's one of the best albums in the revival of ambient techno — especially for fans of melody as well as programming — and it makes a strong case to be rated among the best of all time.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Texan Jeff McIlwain produces ambient/experimental techno that harks back to the era of classic early-'90s British techno (itself inspired by American sources in Detroit). Highly melodic though usually highly abrasive as well, his self-titled debut album was released in 1999 on the Isophlux label. He maintained a steady release schedule through 2003, with a full-length released each year -- in addition to an assortment of singles and EPs -- on labels including Hymen, U-Cover, and Zealectronic. Also...
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Lusine, Lusine
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