Machine Drum – Mergerz & Acquisitionz (Merck)

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Miami-based Merck intends to cease releasing new material once it reaches the 100 release mark as of fall 2006—news that makes listening to Mergerz & Acquisitionz a tad bittersweet: the two-disc set’s so stunning, one wonders why any label would choose to close doors when the quality of its output is so strong.

The collection is issued under Travis Stewart’s Machinedrum alias but it’s less a single artist release than a comprehensive survey of electronic artistry circa 2006, with the Merck and Neo Ouija rosters in particular represented heavily alongside a smattering of other guests. The contributors created the remixes using bits from seven of Bidnezz’ twenty-two cuts (“Break Stylez” and “Bill O Wads” among them, with the stutter-glitch workout “Disa Bling” the one most often referenced). Merck’ done this kind of thing before, incidentally, (Ilkae’ Bovine Rearrangement and Blamstrain’ Blamstrain Remixed cases in point) but, with thirty-four contributors spreading more than 150 minutes across two discs, Mergerz & Acquisitionz pushes the idea to its zenith.

The release compiles endlessly imaginative variations on vibrant instrumental hip-hop and atmospheric IDM. Slathering micro-voice snippets over warm surges of hiccupping funk, Stewart himself unlocks the Machinedrum floodgates with a superb opener (“Stevie Bam Jackson Apology Mix”), after which Nautilis (Skyler McGothlin aka Malcom Kipe) drops a sweetly soulful smorgasbord of beats and synths (“Blackwidow Mix”) until ringing bells announce the arrival of Kid 606′ lurching “Da Kidness Mix.” In addition, Acid Wolf’ electropop marries an acid backbeat to jubilant synth melodies (“Cherokee Lectro Mix”) while Epstein wraps coiled clavinets around beats and dusty samples (“Paso Doble Mix”). There’ scratching insanity (Looza & Chimerical Child, Praveen, Miles Tilmann), smoked hip-hop (Jemapur, Mic Mell), and paradisiacal sparkle (Kettel, Sabi, Proswell, Lackluster, Deceptikon, Secede), plus lurching tribal trance (Ginormous), gentle soul-jazz (Landau), and bleepy hip-hop grime (Wake)—not to mention cuts by Deru, Mochipet, Brasswork Agency, Crankshaft, Funckarma, and more. Quite literally an embarrassment of riches, Mergerz & Acquisitionz may be a long ride but, oh my, what magnificent scenery.

Ron Schepper

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