Luke Slater has been releasing some of the best and most forward thinking electronic music since I was in nappies. His ability to weave disparate elements of club culture and the avant-garde have seen him rise (if not a little quietly) to be one of dance music’s elder statesmen. Managing this is no small feat, especially considering that Slater has managed to sidestep all the stale imagery that such a term conjures up. In short he is consistently forward thinking, with his latest offering under his L.B. Dub Corp moniker confirming all of the above and clearly defining the difference between mere production and real artistry.
The album largely drifts away from the sound of his last outing on Ostgut Ton leaving behind the high pressure, high tension techno in favour of a richer house sound. Notable exceptions do appear such as “Roller” in collaboration with Function which sticks to the sound were used to from Slater in recent years. The rest of the album by comparison is a singular vision, one of melodic maturity and rich textural production. Tracks such as “Take A Ride” and “Nearly Africa” prove that Slater can dish out well thought out house music with a skill that is usually reserved for devotees of the genre.
Indeed, “Turner’s House” sounds like an instant classic and is refreshingly lo-fi for a producer renowned for pristine sound design, here the melodies and pure jack of the drums keep the focus sharply on the creative elements beyond that of the mixing desk.
Tracks such as “No Trouble In Paradise” and “Any Time Will Be Ok” take things that bit deeper, with the former being a real highlight of the LP. It is a stunning piece of music and one that if deployed at the right time on the right dance floor would be nothing short of sublime. Such is Slater’s skill that these tracks work perfectly in multiple contexts, without ever sounding forced or overly conscious of the need to work at home and in a club, they just do. Ideas this well thought out and executed tend to sound effortless in the right hands.
The undoubted highlight of the LP is “I Have A Dream Feat. Benjamin Zephaniah”. This chugging, dubbed out piece manages to blend superb floating chords and chest thumping sub with the witty, intelligent and sharply focused political poetry of one Britain’s foremost spoken word poets. This track lifts the album to something far beyond a collection of dance tracks, instead it paints a picture of a multicultural Britain, one with funny and moving references across the spectrum of Britain’s multicultural landscape, a lineage which Slater has stated real pride in. The inclusion of these cultural markers and political observations helps to re contextualise Techno and electronic music back into a wider discourse surrounding dance music and its uses and functions in Britain, namely of cohesion and a more unified political focus.
In short, “Unknown Origin” is a lesson in real artistry from a figure who manages to make such an undertaking sound effortless and stylistically rich.
‘Unknown Origin’ is out now on Ostgut Ton.