Monday, April 09, 2007

Nice and Spicy

Speedy J - Beam Me Up!
Speedy J - Pepper

Out of all the albums from Warp’s seminal ‘Artificial Intelligence’ series, Dutch producer Speedy J’s ‘Ginger’ probably gets the least attention. It’s baffling why this is the case, as the more I return to these albums, the more I realise just how ahead of its time ‘Ginger’ was. Released in 1992, it is an album of real depth and warmth, taking in a multitude of different styles. It was the sixth album in the series of eight, which included two ‘AI’ compilations, and artist albums from Polygon Window (an early pseudonym of Richard ‘Aphex Twin’ James), Black Dog Productions, B12, F.U.S.E. (aka Richie Hawtin) and Autechre. Despite releasing a second album for Warp (‘G-Spot’ in 1995), Speedy J was never really accepted as a prominent and influential figure in the electronic music scene in same way the aforementioned artists were. Perhaps because of his initial association with Hawtin’s Plus 8 label, and subsequent albums of harder styles for imprints like NovaMute, Speedy J is pigeonholed as a hardcore techno artist, rather than a pioneering electronic producer.

But if you listen to ‘Ginger’, you realise just how gifted a producer Speedy J was. The album is full of variety, from the opening minimal techno of the title track to the sublime bleeps of ‘R2-D2’ and the more percussive, Detroit sound of ‘Basic Design’. ‘Beam Me Up!’ is an inspired slice of funky electronic house music, an obvious influence on later producers like Jedi Knights and even Daft Punk, with its filtered beats and twinkling, cheeky melodies. The album concludes with three tracks that are linked together to form an outstanding segment of music – the tough, electro of ‘Flashback’ with it’s rubber band bassline, is linked to the progressive, tribal ‘Pepper’ (which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Guerilla Records), by the phasing ambience of ‘Fill 15’. I can’t recommend this album highly enough. I enjoyed it at the time, but was perhaps guilty of overlooking it myself, or not realising just how incredible it was. Luckily, we have the benefit of hindsight, so if you own it, dig it out and enjoy, and if you don’t, track it down. It was originally available on double orange vinyl, but that, and the original Warp CD were deleted ages ago, so eBay is your best bet. You won’t regret it.

Search eBay for Speedy J 'Ginger'
Speedy J website
Speedy J My Space
Warp Records website