Let’s call ‘Undercover’, the new album from Marc Houle, a double departure. His last album, ‘Drift’ was on Minus, and his label, Items & Things, run alongside Magda & Troy Pierce, was until this year a Minus sub-label. He’s now left the label, and Items & Things stands on its own two feet poised for great things in the years to come. With this new found freedom Marc’s synth-driven techno sound continues to grow, evolve and surprise. Nowhere is this growth more evident than in the tracks that make up ‘Undercover’. Things kick off with ‘Hearing’ which has a bassline that drives like a vintage Mercedes shifting gears on the Autobahn as it picks up speed. The synths, with their soft melody, let you know how smooth the suspension is while a metallic voice whispers in your ear from the back seat. ‘Undercover’, the eponymous single, is a case study in the deep and moody side of old school Chicago House. In a recent interview Marc said that ‘right how I am trying to get away from my regular tempo, play some real drums and get some non 4/4 fills and beats going on.’ On ‘Juno 6660’ he does just that and with stellar results. ‘Juno 6660’ sounds like what could have happened if early Warp artists like LFO and Sweet Exorcist had grown up on NYC freestyle rather than Detroit Techno. ‘Very Bad’ is actually very good, so Marc must be referring to something else entirely; the mystery remains within him and the music. Bink is able to set you off balance with a melody that sounds like it’s from an old music box that’s been wound up just a little too far. The ballerina dancing on top of the box is held steady only by 4/4 beat, acid house claps and bouncy bass.
3. Juno 6660
4. Very Bad
6. Am Am Am
8. Under the Neath
Release date: February 24, 2012