Various Artists

Digital Disco

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Force Tracks could've easily commemorated their 50th release with a bunch of previously available-on-12"-only material. To this point, their only compilation wasn't exactly a compilation -- it was Andrew Weatherall's Hypercity, a mix album that was just as effective a label sampler as any, showing off the label's sleek minimalist house with spectacular results. It hardly exhausted the label's catalog, and plenty of their best moments remained only on vinyl. However, the "Best of Force Tracks" idea apparently made too much sense. So, the label decided to pull a Hannibal Smith and do something unexpected by presenting a batch of tracks that they refer to as -- daft alert -- Digital Disco. Force Tracks producers like Luomo, MRI, Dub Taylor, Matthias Schaffhauser, and Hakan Lidbo had been flirting with vocal dance-pop for some time, but they eventually went for full-blown courtship, as evidenced here. New tracks from the home team are scattered throughout the disc, and in most cases they are progressions. "The Present Lover" sees Luomo tightening his sound with a more song-based approach and thicker basslines, as well as a major role for a vocalist. This isn't quite "Can't Get You out of My Head" territory, but it might be close enough to turn away Force Tracks fans for the worst possible reason (fear of pop). Likewise, Hakan Lidbo's pair of Data 80 tracks clock in around four minutes with all sorts of delightful sounds and heavily processed vocals. Relative Force Tracks outsiders chip in with tracks that are occasionally less reliant on electronics. Metro Area's "Miura" fits into the scheme with a crunching assembly line rhythm and wordless manipulated vocals from Dei Lewison, but its organic elements -- percussion and strings played by actual humans -- play equally essential roles. Sylk 130's cover of Nu Shooz's "I Can't Wait" seems somewhat out of place with its acid jazz leanings, but it does add another flavor to the disc. Despite that regrettable title, the plan comes together.

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