VARIOUS ARTISTS Flux Trax (EXP)
Some might argue that what the world needs least is another techno compilation, but whereas the plethora currently available are concerned primarily with documenting the musics present ("Trance Europe Express") or with signposting its future (Warps "Artificial Intelligence" series), this gargantuan 18-track four-album feastie (or "The best electronic album in the world...ever", as the sleevenotes rightly suggest) makes a particularly thoughtful and scholarly attempt at charting its past.
Opening with Rhythim Is Rhythims (a.k.a. Derrick Mays) seminal 1988 track "It Is What It Is", which, entirely coincidentally, opened one of the first techno compilations "Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit", "Flux Trax" takes in such essential listening as Phutures "Acid Trax", the track most frequently celebrated/blamed for creating the entire acid house phenomenon and genuine chart fodder in the form of A Guy Called Geralds Derek and Clive-sampling "Voodoo Ray" and Stakkers (now half of Future Sound Of London) breakdance anthem "Humanoid". A few dead-cert nineties classics sneak in, in the form of Underworlds "Rez" and its amazing inflatable keyboard riff that appears to expand to venue-filling dimensions over the course of its ten minute duration and the irrepressible Aphex Twins Radio 3-friendly Aboriginal techno exposition "Digeridoo", allegedly constructed to stop people from dancing. Honourable mentions too for some of the less tried-and-tested talent assembled here - Slams thumping "Positive Education" and Empirions dizzying "Narcotic Influence 1". The hotly-contested best-track-award goes to Rhythim Is Rhythim (again), and his evergreen 1987 original techno symphony "Strings Of Life": when recently reissued on 12" one of Manchesters bestest record shops had sold its entire stock within three hours. Dated, yes, but if youve never heard it before its spiralling, muted piano loop and freefalling string samples are likely to send your volume control into hitherto uncharted regions of rotation.
Whether "Flux Trax" will ever be bought by anybody who doesnt already know and love at least some of its contents is a moot point, but if youve ever considered dipping a toe into technos balmy waters I cant recommend this album highly enough: in fact, with its excellent and informative track-by-track notes (a black mark for the Larkinism that holds Brummie pop messiah Jeff Lynne responsible for Jeff Waynes "War of the Worlds" concept-album atrocity) and track-picking by half of banjo-wielding dance duo Grid, it looks less like a record and more like a public service.