The mighty Force Inc label moved its North American office from New York to Montreal in 2001, which at first seemed a little odd. After all, New York is the business capital of North America, and Montreal is -- well, it's a nice place and everything, but it's definitely no New York. However, when Force Inc released its Montreal Smoked Meat collection in early 2002, the move to Montreal suddenly seemed completely logical. More so than Detroit, Chicago, or Toronto -- and certainly more so than New York -- Montreal had become the techno capital of North America in the early 2000s, and the Montreal Smoked Meat collection is the undeniable evidence. Therefore, the icy and largely French-speaking city seemed the logical place to base the world's most powerful techno label's North American office. As Alain Mongeau explains in the liner notes, "Montreal has always been an avant-garde city, but with respect to techno, patience was needed." Known particularly for its music festivals, many of them emphasizing the avant-garde, Montreal hosted the first Mutek festival in 2000 -- "an annual gathering showcasing emerging forms of electronic music and the latest trends in sound creation," to quote the festival's mission statement. In the immediate years that followed, a number of incredibly creative and visionary artists blossomed, most of them producing laptop techno, and several of them showcased on this collection: Akufen, Jetone, Mitchell Akiyama, Jeff Milligan, Eloi Brunelle, and seven others, some of them newcomers. However, though it's tempting to tag these producers as practicing a general "Montreal sound" -- much like how all Detroit producers are generally presumed to practice "Detroit techno" -- don't be misled: this is a diverse collection of music. The first few tracks are rather straightforward glitch techno -- lots of cutting and pasting random samples and glitches over hard-hitting rhythm tracks -- but the consistencies end there. Jetone's "Bassbind Sunblind" and Akiyama's "Operations From Incision" are both album highlights and turning points -- the former a monstrous barrage of noise and monolithic bass beats, the latter a sedate soundscape of ambience and gentle crackling sounds. And from there, Montreal Smoked Meat really opens up, encompassing a variety of styles, some more traditional than others, though none being outright traditional techno. Force Inc has released many landmark collections during its reign -- from the Rauschen and Electric Ladyland collections to the Clicks + Cuts and Force Lab collections -- and Montreal Smoked Meat no doubt is just as landmark, particularly for the burgeoning Montreal scene.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier