Rancho Relaxo / The Rancho Relaxo Allstars

The Rancho Relaxo Allstars, Vol. 1

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A sort of techno supergroup, Rancho Relaxo Allstars are the brainchildren of Abe Duque, yet also feature the talents of Taylor Deupree, Dietrich Schoenemann, Jimi Tenor, and John Selway, who allegedly contributes violin to this surprisingly subdued album. In fact, it is hard to believe that the contributions of so many conspicuous talents went into producing this ultra-minimal ambient work. For despite all the parties' usual involvement in dancefloor productions (Selway's name was made creating tech-house with Christian Smith, while Schoenemann is known as the central figure in the bombastic acid techno outfit Prototype 909), this disc never even comes close to the dance threshold. Only tracks five, seven, and ten (no names please) even bother with obvious beats. The rest are propelled with amoeba-like clicks and bumps, a technique later pursued extensively by Deupree and his 12K record label. Even more disconnected than the music is the CD's art direction, a comic design of Southwestern silliness that is Duque's most obvious contribution to the project, as he has maintained humorous facades for his solo work as Kierland. It all adds up to a product whose content is the complete opposite of the packaging and preconceptions, clearly something the Rancho Relaxo Allstars were striving for. But it would be unfair to criticize them for breaking with the aesthetic conventions that often overshadow the music inside.