M16: Black Corner: After the Beat Sessions

Alessandro Bocci's first official full-length album under the M16 guise considerably fleshes out the portrait previously established on the EPs he's issued since the alias's 2004 inception (prior to M16, the Bologna-based producer was a member of Starfuckers). In its early going, lack Corner After The Beat Sessions sounds like it might shape up into a solid but well-behaved collection of artful techno, in particular when “Armati” opens the set promisingly with four minutes of metronomic, bass-heavy throb, and “Lab 1” follows suit with an agitated broil of bottom-heavy locomotion. But a more experimental side gradually begins to declare its presence in the rippling crackle and buzzing whirrs that threaten to smother the combustible beat undercurrent pounding throughout “Lab 1.” Sounding perfectly at home in this context, the already-heard EP cut “Agenzia 13” then works a thunderously thudding kick drum and ricocheting percussive accents into a roiling groove that grows ever more forceful until it reaches a steamrolling climax.

It's at this point, though, that things start to turn increasingly experimental. Nominally a techno-funk workout, “Overload By Funk” gradually adds ‘70s guitar shadings to its slippery, bass-crawling pulse and in so doing a little bit of James Brown flavour seeps into Bocci's Italian dish. “Vero Reato” signifies the most radical departure in what resembles a techno re-imagining of On The Corner for the 2000s. In classic Miles fashion, a rock-solid Michael Henderson bass line holds the piece together while electric piano melodies splinter in multiple directions and electronic squawks hammer the rapid-fire groove. “Basic Dub” subsequently maintains that edge with its rambunctious drum attack, as does the rumbling groover “QS 1” if in a more electro-techno fashion. Bocci bravely pushes the genre boundaries in not unsatisfying manner and kudos to him too for being so direct, as Black Corner After The Beat Sessions weighs in at an admirably lean forty-three minutes.

January 2009