Alex Attias

The Chromatic Universe

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Visions Inc. gained attention right off the bat with Mustang's "Transitions." A frantically percussive production from Alex Attias, "Transition"'s searing jets of drawn-out keyboard notes over a fractured jitter of a rhythm and clipped vocal grunts was surely one of the best 2000 releases that came from a scene begrudgingly known as broken beat. One of the primary reasons why several producers within this now-global community disdain the term is because it poorly describes much of what they're releasing. It would be understandable if Attias were among the disdainful, because only a percentage of the releases on his label through 2002 -- most of which are collected here -- feature beats that are truncated, splintered, fractured, or dislocated. Still, "broken beat" as a term is effective in disassociating the producers from tangentially related scenes that aren't/weren't as forward-looking as this one. The term also emphasizes the fact that the beat is just as key as it is in hip-hop, a field where many of these producers gain plenty of inspiration. Throughout its first three years, Visions Inc. has relied on quality over quantity and a wide spectrum of sounds. Attias is directly responsible for this range; nine of The Chromatic Universe's 12 tracks feature his involvement, whether it's through mixing or production. Xela Saitta's "Daylight," featuring twisting, feather-light vocals from Vanessa Freeman, has all the mid-morning float and glow of Ramp's song of the same name (Freeman also contributes the relatively somber but gorgeously expansive and epic "Sunrays"). Idema & Co's "Cascade" finds enough space to flaunt woodwinds, brass, and a quintet of female vocalists -- who deliver a thrilling series of "shu-bi-doo-dups" and "boo-doo-aaaas" when they're not wrapping their voices around the horns -- over a racing, unchanging rhythm. Other tracks from Plutonia, Emelda, Pavel Kostiuk, and Stephane Attias round out the disc, and most of them are tantalizing hybrids of drum'n'bass, hip-hop, and jazz-funk.

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