Various Artists

Time: Space

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Stagnant since the dawn of the 1990s, Derrick May's Transmat once held the position of one of the most groundbreaking labels in the pioneering days of electronic music. A roster of new, talented techno artists comprising Transmat's roster for the dawn of the 21st century fills this compilation. Whereas the Transmat of the late '80s focused on many diverse styles, releasing records by Joey Beltram and 3 Phase, the rejuvenated Transmat focuses on a smooth, sensual techno sound reminiscent of Derrick May's past work as Rhythim Is Rhythim. Although the new Rhythim Is Rhythim track is the most noticeable inclusion on Time: Space, it is not necessarily the album's highlight. A lush exercise in relaxed techno minimalism, "Beforethereafter" could very well be a leftover from the 1987-1991 era, when May composed many early techno masterpieces; it sounds incredibly similar to classics such as "It Is What It Is" and "Icon." There are also two ambient techno songs on the compilation that deserve recognition. Most notably, Indio's "Snowdrifts" glows vibrantly with showering, synthesized colors and simple melodies, no mechanical percussion, and very little bass. Similarly, Tony Drake's contribution, "To Touch You," functions as a romantic techno ballad. While a digitally altered voice proclaims "I want to touch you," a minimal piano melody twinkles through the haze of ambient synthesized strings. Furthermore, two other artists contribute noteworthy updates of May's sound: Aril Brikha and Microworld. The two Brikha tracks, "Otill" and "Groove La Chord," add lush feelings of tranquility and saturated synthesizer notes to their momentum-building energy. Microworld's "Signals" builds over the course of several minutes to an intense peak of multi-layered percussive loops and repetitive synthesizer melodies before slowly deconstructing its sonic collage to a dim conclusion. Overall, this compilation foreshadows a continuation of the lush synthesizer-based techno May innovated in the late '80s -- a very welcome continuation.

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