Drexciya: The Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller II
Clone Classic Cuts

The second of four planned re-issues of Drexciya's groundbreaking work, The Journey of The Deep Sea Dweller II re-presents thirty-nine minutes of classic tracks by Gerald Donald and the late James Stinson. Like the first in the series, the second collection gathers cuts asynchronically from a number of the Detroit electro-techno outfit's releases, making it more of a compilation than formal historical document intending to trace the evolution of the group's music in sequential manner. The collection itself, however, is thoughtfully sequenced so that it achieves a unified, self-contained form, starting as it does with an atmospheric, scene-setting “Intro” and moving on from there.

“High Tide” hits hard from its outset, with its onslaught of funky machine beats, shotgun claps, and acidy vibe presenting Drexciya's music in a deliciously raw form. Here and elsewhere, what hits home is how current the group's music still sounds, despite having entered the world almost two decades ago; it would be interesting to hear what a current electronic producer unfamiliar with “Neon Falls,” for example, might say about the track, given how fresh it sounds. Even more stunning is “Danger Bay,” which dazzles the listener with springy synthetic patterns and a skeletal funk groove. On a comparatively more soothing tip, “The Davey Jones Locker” sprinkles elegant pianisms over a base of relentless machine gurgle and tinkling ride cymbals. Nominally techno, tracks like “Anti Vapour Waves” and “Dead Mans Reef” are as much electro-funk as anything, and the material often suggests a direct line from Drexciya to Kraftwerk. There's a similarly ascetic sensibility at work in that every sound serves a purpose, plus there's a shared emphasis on melody and rhythm in their respective productions. There's little if any excess, and some tracks state their case with such dispatch they've over and done with in no more than two minutes.

If desired, one can immerse oneself in all of the mythology surrounding the group, whether it be its own history (a central detail being the untimely death of Stinson on September 3rd, 2002 due to a heart condition) or the complex mythology the group devised as a conceptual framework for its ‘aquatic' sound (the idea of a Drexciyan race of underwater dwellers). Adding to the group's mystique, Stinson and Donald largely remained hidden behind the Drexciya alias for much of the group's tenure, a strategy Donald has perpetuated in Dopplereffekt, one of the projects with which he's been associated in his post-Drexciya career. So, yes, one can attend to all of the extra-musical stuff, or simply focus on the music in its pure form, something eminently easy to do when sultry electro-synth jams such as “The Journey Home” are readily available. All praise to Clone Classic Cuts, then, for bringing the group's material back into the world in newly remastered form.

June 2012