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Glimpse - Runner


Crosstown Rebels

The rise of “minimal” has seen it draw, rather like an eddy, various elements of house and techno into a genre where the boundaries become fogged. This should in theory be a good thing. Art and especially music shouldn’t be constricted by what we term it because that only leads to pigeon-holing. Yet, for want of a better term, I call this style Beatport. Why? Because if you visit that site, this slushy house-techno-minimal hybrid will be 90% of the music available on it.  The components this genre is built by on their own are all impeccable - from the classic reference to Basic Channel, Robert Hood and Dan Bell, to the idiosyncratic Ricardo Villalobos and character of artists such as Roman Flugel and Wolfgang Voigt. This amorphous mass of techno that isn’t house and house that isn’t techno manages to be arguably some of the most popular music in clubs right now. It should be by all accounts, be great - but its very global character is its very weakness. Slick and ultimately lacking in identity, it permeates dancefloors with an insipid dullness.

So to Glimpse, whose debut album on Crosstown Rebels sums up for me, for wont of a better term, this unfortunate malaise. This may be harsh on Christopher Spero, whose influences tick all the right boxes. There’s all manner of sounds on “Runner” but what is utterly frustrating is that none of them are unusual and they all adhere to some of stereotype. To his credit Spero, according to the press release, has made this music live and only on analogue equipment. Yet from the start, it’s all predictable. Take “Walk Tall”. It starts off with a scratchy, uplifting sample of an African preacher, and then hey presto, in comes the sampled ethnic percussion. It doesn’t go anywere apart from the marimbas, which flurry a little. “If I was Your Girl” is thumping, reverb-filled deep tech-house replete with Robert Owens-style vocal, whilst “Things to do in Denver”  is a carbon-copy Moodymann track, right down to the snippets of talking and tense bassline. Is there nothing new going on here at all? It doesn’t seem like it. Apart from producing grooves with some choice samples there’s not much going on with either invention or character that feels different.

Tracks such as “New Beginnings” (sic) and “Feel Ok” are ultimately creditable club  tech-house tracks. Heard within the context of a DJ set they would be acceptable, but an album of this stuff just withers my interest to that of a bumblee with attention-deficit syndrome. Even “Thankyou” sounds just like a Nick Holder record.  “I know I show it” has a certain abstract funk to it that makes it stand out from the others and the final track “Train in Austria” sees Spero break free from his devotion to a groove with a beatless synth line, yet its relentless climatic finish again just adheres to a stereotype.

If you’re looking for a weighty collection of tech-house tracks to beef up your record box, then you can’t go wrong with “Runner”. I would however say that you’re better off just buying the original records that Spero has been influenced by. This approach to dance music is one of my biggest bugbears - too many artists it seem are happy just to produce music that is going to be played because it conforms to a particular style that is commercially popular. Beatport compounds it like a huge, digital ouroboros. “Runner” is frustrating because Spero obviously has immaculate taste yet can’t see beyond his devotion to them. Wearing your influences on your sleeves is fine, but please bring your own clothes to the party.

Toby Frith

Reader Comments (2)

Interesting review. Out of curiousity, which artists currently putting out music excite you ?

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJackyApreal

Not sure I agree with this review at all. If you listen back to Glimpse's back catalogue on Planet E or Kompakt you will here some really stunning work. Sounds like your a bit bitter to be honest.

September 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLola

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