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Wednesday
Jul152009

Bodycode - Immune

BODYCODE - IMMUNE (SPECTRAL SOUND)

It’s difficult to think of a more vital artist in house and techno right now than Alan Abrahams. His live shows have garnered a fantastic reputation for their uniqueness, which in a world of laptops is saying something, and his credentials for the cutting edge of the genres extends to releases on labels such as Spectral and Perlon. As well as the Bodycode project, there’s also his long running Portable guise, in which he pays attention to the more abstract aspect. Yet for all this, I’ve always felt that Abrahams lacked a truly special record that would crown the potential.

“Immune” displays impeccable taste. The rich musical heritage of Bodycode/Portable is all on display, from the staccato samples on “Hyperlight” to Detroit-tinged meanderings on “Arigato”, Abrahams collects much of the textures and musical themes that make up the very best of the musical diaspora that is modern day house. Across nine tracks he skilfully demonstrates his talents, in particular with strong vocal elements included in most of the compositions. This is mature stuff, put together by an artist who is approaching his zenith, with many recognisable house tropes and ideas being refined and put in their place with a real care and attention. Tracks such as “Arigato” and “I’ll hold your hand” are as good as anything you’ll hear in European House today. Abrahams’ talents for me come to the fore with his meticulous percussion arrangements, often leading one astray from the main focus of the tracks, especially in the murky underworld of “Spacial Harmonics”, one of the album’s highlights. The sound design is immaculate at times, especially as mentioned before in his treatment of vocals, which are all unique, if never really branching out into anything new.

And here for me lies the crux of the matter. While it’s difficult to pick holes in “Immune”, somewhere along the line it is not the sum of its parts. Deep down throughout ran the feeling that this is simply a refinement of existing strands and ideas in the genre, brought together with a professional hand. The scattery, almost quixotic ideas that percolate Abraham’s Portable project seem somewhat more alive, more sensual and more likely to take musical risks and alongside it, his Bodycode ideas seem to be somewhat more traditional. For all the warmth of a recognisable rebirth of European house music than has redrawn its musical DNA in alignment with the spirit of Detroit and Chicago, this new generation of producers has yet to produce something that is ground-breaking. “Immune” doesn’t change anything, but it does consolidate the position of one of the genre’s premier producers.

Toby Frith

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