Blake Baxter

Dream Sequence 3: The Collective

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Never one for a consistent aesthetic or approach, Blake Baxter's sprawling Dream Sequence 3 album finds the Detroit producer showcasing an elaborate collection of his different styles. Released by Tresor -- the high-profile label Baxter helped launch with his original Dream Sequence album a decade earlier -- this 22-track collection surprisingly never gets overly redundant; in a scenario such as this, Baxter's inconsistent aesthetic is actually a benefit. The booty-themed vocal techno anthems many have come to expect from Baxter are here ("Work Dat," "If You Were Mine"), as are the vocal-driven techno-soul exercises ("We Vibe," "Deep N Da Groove") and a few darker, more menacing tracks with an old-school acid aesthetic ("Compromised Evolution," "Acid Belch"). From beginning to end, the Prince of Techno (as he not-so-humbly refers to himself) hasn't let go of the classic Detroit techno sound he helped invent in the late '80s and early '90s. Whether listeners appreciate what Baxter is doing on this album will likely depend on whether or not they still savor the mechanical sound of crashing 909 drum kicks, crisp 808 high hats, and eerie 303 acid lines -- in addition to plenty of that sneering Detroit attitude and the city's trademark dark vibe. This music isn't anything new by any means -- it's a classic sound that has become literally extinct by the end the century with the sole exceptions of Detroit and Berlin. So when one takes the classicist angle, it is in fact refreshing to hear a contemporary take on a classic sound. As the late-'80s and early-'90s Detroit sound slowly collects dust and is talked and written about more than it is actually heard or spun, anomalies such as Baxter become increasingly vital. This collection represents the classic Detroit aesthetic perhaps more fully than any album of its time (not counting 12"s like Knights of the Jaguar), even if it does ramble a bit and hark back to the sort of music Baxter created ten years earlier.

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