Ever since I started listening to and reading about Plastikman back in about 1993, I've always sort of pictured Richie Hawtin as more the focused, almost clinical type of musician rather than the mad scientist of someone like Richard D James or Alex Patterson of the Orb. Whereas those other two fellows come across as goofballs (both in how they dress and interview), Hawtin always seemed like he had something else up his sleeve that he wasn't letting onto. With his shaved head, monochrome clothing selection, and geometric eyewear, he's always seemed like someone who is precise to the button.
Although it's also been consistently inventive, his music has always seemed sort of the same way. At times, it seems almost antiseptic in creation, with every beat and sound placed at exactly the precise moment. Although Matmos may have sampled the sounds of surgery, but Hawtin seems like the person most likely to wield a steady scalpel if he ever had to.
Hawtin follows up last years mix disc Decks, EFX, and a 909 with yet another mixed album, but while the sounds are here, this isn't the same mix album that you're used to. As explained in the liner notes, Hawtin took samples of over 100 different tracks and stripped them down to their most basic elements (some samples are only 1 note while others last 4 bars), then reconstructed the entire batch of sounds jigsaw puzzle style into a 50-minute plus mix that utilizes over 300 different loops. Not only does it sound like something that Hawtin would do, it sounds like something that only Hawtin would do.
Using a new computer program called Final Scratch Pro, Hawtin fused all these different elements together and the result is a mix with 31 different segments (that last anywhere from 30 seconds to almost 4 minutes long), although you wouldn't be able to tell that from listening since the entire mix moves so fluidly. Starting out with some minimal click clack from "Range" by Rhythm & Sound on the Basic Channel label, he sets things up very slowly before bringing a full beat into the mix and even by the time the first "segment" is over, you forget that there are even different tracks involved.
Sure, there are different elements that creep into the mix more prominently than others (most noticible are the cricket sounds from Hawtins own Plastikman release "Kriket"), but overall it's more like Hawtin has created one big track from the parts of others. It's a warm, rich mix, and although it's fairly minimal, he manages to keep things pretty exciting (of course, if you've heard his music before, you know his style). Everyone from Carl Craig, Thomas Brinkman, Baby Ford, and Basic Channel are included (as well as several Hawtin and Plastikman pieces), and once the fourth segment starts, it slams nicely through the middle section until things start calming down a bit closer to the end. Whether you use it to fuel dancing or an all-night coding (or writing binge), Hawtin has pulled off another excellent mix.