Scratch Massive: Time
Chateaurouge / Nocturne

On its second album, Time (mastered, incidentally, by Rhythm & Sound's Moritz von Oswald), Scratch Massive's (Parisian duo Maud Geffray and Sebastien Chenut) ‘black electronic' cuts adds New Wave to a potent mix of acid, industrial, electro, and funk. Sometimes resembling Kill Memory Crash in disguise, opening cuts like the throbbing “Fake Lesbian” and burning “Girls on Top” promptly set the bar high. Gravelly male voices, hammering percussion, hornets' nests of synths, and horror-film organs bring dark ambiance to the album's storming electro-house. Highlights include the haunting “Soleil Noir,” so elegant it verges on symphonic, and “Dance,” a slow-burning electro-funk raver. Time's peak moment arrives, though, with “Shining in My Vein,” a spectacularly tripped-out, electro-industrial-funk mix of subterranean bass hum, distorted cyborg vocals, and tight beats (even better is the raunchy guitar motif that crash-lands throughout). But what a shame that Time's quality level drops off in its final three tracks: the anomalously poppy Cure cover “Three Imaginary Boys” sounds like it's been lifted from some other group's album (largely due to Frank Arbaretaz's guest vocal), plus the penultimate “Wagon,” an instrumental beehive of resonant guitar twang and lazy beats, isn't eighteen minutes long but only three, meaning that fifteen minutes of silence separates it from Spirit Catcher's closing mix of “Shining in My Vein,” itself a decent enough version on its own terms but no match for the original. Excise the last three songs and Time weighs in as a near-perfect eight-track mini-album.

April 2007