Corrugated Tunnel: Minor Obsessions
Process Recordings

Process Recordings pitches Corrugated Tunnel (Dublin-based DJ and producer Edwin James Cummins) as “Ireland's answer to Röyksopp, Trentemøller, and Booka Shade.” That's obviously quite the billing and one that Minor Obsessions doesn't quite measure up to, though not for lack of trying. Following upon 2006's We Are Electronix and 2008's I Am Corrugated, the third Corrugated Tunnel album is a solidly crafted fifty-three-minute set of melodic techno that touches on multiple genre bases, and includes a smattering of guest vocalists to boot.

On that vocal tip, Deborah Kay's voice brings a brooding dimension to the hyperactive “Cabin Fever,” whose squiggling synths pulsate with Detroit fever. While Martin McCann's drawl on “Threadbare” calls to mind Richard Hawley (an association reinforced by the inclusion of strings), the tune itself catches one's ear for the way it abruptly segues from its downtrodden first half into its uptempo second. “Remedy For My Soul,” a poppy, Italo-disco workout featuring vocals by Antoinette Dunleavy, feels a little too radio-ready to be recommended without reservation. By comparison, the other track on which she appears, the hard-driving “The Rejection,” has no such residue and consequently registers as a more satisfying house track.

Minor Obsessions' best tracks turn out to be the non-vocal ones. The album opens strongly with “Festival,” a driving tech-house throbber replete with church organ chords and a healthy dose of acid. Even better, the widescreen techno sweep of both “Fade Away” and the closing “Transist” exudes a grandeur that, in these cases, justifies the Trentemøller comparison. Less enthralling is “Ambidextrous,” which wisely distances itself from its “ Rock and Roll, Part 2 ”-styled intro by shifting the focus to electro-light synth washes and synthetic strings.

Listening to the album can be a bit of a middling experience when strong cuts are tainted by the presence of some lesser tracks. Still, though there's a generic quality in spots that's off-putting—the bouncy techno raver “Time Machine,” for example, could be the work of any number of electronic dance producers— Minor Obsessions does include a healthy portion of quality material. Hopefully on future recordings Cummins will build on the album's strengths and continue to develop his own personalized sound.

October 2010