Terrence Dixon: From The Far Future Pt. 2

The word artist gets tossed about too cavalierly in my opinion but the label is well-earned in the case of Detroit native Terrence Dixon. The man puts out material infrequently (his last full-length was the marvelous Train of Thought issued by Yore in 2007), which makes the release of From The Far Future Pt. 2 an even greater event than usual. It's, of course, the sequel to his like-titled debut album, which Tresor issued a dozen years ago—a veritable lifetime in electronic music circles. Minimal techno is the term oft used in association with Dixon, but you'd be hard pressed to find much that's excessively stripped-down on the seventy-six-minute opus (the overlong twelfth track, “Tone,” comes closest). Instead, the album's luminescent sound is full, deep, and rich, and it teems with sonic colour and overflows with imagination.

That From The Far Future Pt. 2 is conceived to be a complete listening experience is apparent from the outset when “Self Centered” eases the listener into the album's deep sound world with a slinky jazz-inflected house meditation. Hi-hats, kick drums, and twilight tones coalesce into a silken moodpiece that eventually flirts with becoming a club banger when aggressive claps enter the fray, after which “Dark City of Hope (Main Mix),” its raw industrial-techno emblazoned with strobe-lit synth showers, announces a bold shift in style. It's a move that Dixon repeats throughout, with each of the CD's fourteen tracks offering a different perspective on his wide-ranging and cerebral sound; it should be noted that the double vinyl version is a somewhat different animal in featuring eight tracks (plus three digital bonuses) that are more squarely targeted at the dance floor.

While the album has its share of full-on techno bangers (the sparkling “Horizon,” pulsating “Navigate,” and hammering “The Auto Factory”), it also extends dramatically into multiple other zones. There's a grainy dub-techno exercise (“My Journey Here”) and synth-heavy space-techno (“Path to Mystery,” “Blinking & Flashing”), and even when a piece is nominally techno, Dixon finds a way to re-cast it into something considerably more arresting than a simple 4/4 exercise—a good example being “Vision Blurry” in the way it woozily warps its pulse and pummels it with syncopated textures. Reminiscent of Train of Thought, “The Switch” riffs on mutant jazz in sprinkling mallet percussion and (what sound like) writhing sax figures across a chugging rhythm base. Despite the eclectic nature of the project, it never feels like it's lacking in cohesiveness. What ultimately prevents From The Far Future Pt. 2 from sounding like a collection of unrelated tracks are the fine-tuned production skills and conceptual clarity that Dixon brings to it. One wonders if another twelve years will pass before From The Far Future Pt. 3 appears.

October 2012