Mirko Loko: Seventynine

Mirko Loko weighs in with his debut solo album Seventynine on Cadenza, label home to Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, and others. It's a seventy-minute odyssey in a maximal and sometimes Latin-tinged house and techno style that's heavy on the percussive side. While it's a strong enough collection and veritably bursts with imagination, it isn't perfect: brevity isn't Loko's strong suit (seven tracks surpass the seven-minute mark) and, while the material is impeccably produced, much of Seventynine hums along at an often too-even keel with only two tracks truly lifting the album into the stratosphere.

The album opens with the scene-setting splash and iridescent shimmer of “Sidonia,” all dub bass and flickering percussive flourishes—a startling overture that's a harbinger of the colourful material to come. “Around The Angel” churns breathlessly with a fleet-footed house pulse sprinkled with Latin flavour, chiming atmosphere, and showers of angelic female vocal musings, while “Love Harmonic” elegantly cruises with a tight, jacking pulse adorned with congas, sparkling keyboard patterns, and lush strings. “On Fire” jacks up the intensity and insanity with rocketing smears of white noise and blaring sirens while cowbells and techno beats fulminate aggressively below. “Blue Book” delivers nine minutes of insistent pulsations smothered with the kinds of space blips and garbled voices one associates with NASA radio transmissions. Two celestial interludes of synthetic strings and electronic glissandi provide some much-needed rest stops (“Astral Vacuum,” “Altrove”). The album's two best moments, “Takhtok” and “You Know Where,” appear during its final third. Though the former flirts with overkill, its pairing of relentless stomp and children's chant is heady, and Loko even ups the disorientation ante by adding Bulgarian folk singing, creating something alien, primal, and weird in the process. Swirling like an out-of-control carousel, “You Know Where” caps the release dizzyingly with a jubilant techno raver goosed by a grunted bass line and a robotic string theme. Had Loko injected a bit more of those tracks' fire into the other cuts, all of Seventynine would stand out instead of just specific components.

July 2009