altering illusions

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Echospace, DeepChord, Intrusion, and Variant box setDeepChord and Echospace started off as barely more than a rumor, supported mostly by the continuous scarcity of their records, some of which were trading at astronomical prices. Now, following success on Modern Love and other more widely available labels, the artists behind the myth have finally emerged to worldwide recognition. It's impossible to say why they remained so unbelievably obscure for so long, but certainly being Americans making dub Techno in Detroit in 2000 wasn't helping matters. By 2003, their initial DeepChord imprint had already dissolved into as much smoke. They were next spotted on Mike Huckaby's intermittently active S Y N T H label, but it was really in 2007, just as Dub Techno began to move inwards from the periphery of the global scene, that they found a wider appreciation for their material. They resurrected DeepChord as echospace[detroit] and basically it's been no looking back since then. Ever since, the Detroit-based operation has spun off a long streak of related projects in instantly sold-out pressings that have added immensely to their influence as well as established them as a unique and special offshoot of the Dub Techno sound that stands distinctly apart from its Berlin center. With the release of Altering Illusions, the duo of Stephen Hitchell and Rod Modell at long last make an effort at a career retrospective and revisit some of their finest moments over four LPs.

As expected of Echospace, this compilation doesn't draw many moments directly from their highly coveted back catalog. All of Echospace's music revolves around variations on a very short list of themes, and true to form, most of the material on these records has been altered in some way from its original version. Essentially, what they present here is two full LPs of previously unheard music, most of which is new, unheard versions of old material, and two LPs worth of tracks that had surfaced here and there, but never before on vinyl. The oldest material here is the two cv313 reinterpretations of DeepChord01-06; these were originally self-released on CD compilations in 2000, but the material here dates back even earlier than that, to 1997-1999. There is an entire LP devoted to unreleased cv313 tracks, and another LP revisits Hitchell's Variant album, The Setting Sun, from 2009. Echospace's Spatialdimension also sees a reappearance, but rather than re-release the two vinyl versions, they offer two alternate versions that originally were released digitally. Actually, two of the three Variant tracks are the only straight reissues here, and they were never before released on wax, and so on...

Throughout their career, Echospace have remained rooted in the Detroit tradition and thus maintained a separation from the more widely credited German practitioners of the Dub Tehcno school, a contrast that is apparent throughout these four plates. Eschewing the dry, metallic scrapings and sound design-intensive ideas that dominate Berlin, Echospace favor lush emotionalism, hazed out into soft focus with monumental amounts of dub effects. This totally immersive and layered approach is the key to their music's allure and addictive quality. At their most beautiful, they suck the listener down into a shattering well of twinkling, briefly-seen moments that disappear as they're gradually enveloped in the ether, only to surface again with renewed vigor in one of their epic-length dub excursions. If a stoned, hippie version of Basic Channel sounds odd at first, the kind of super-strength cheeba this crew endorses imparts even the most functional dancefloor tracks with a shimmering psychedelia that's the auditory equivalent of packing Quadrant Dub into a bong and sparking an eye-watering hit. With four LPs of mind-altering versions there's a huge amount of enveloping music to dive into here, and novices and longtime fans alike should get a thorough idea of what has created and sustained the intense, devoted following that Echospace has unquestionably cultivated.

-Halcyon, NYC

If the shock that the long-awaited Dimensional Space album consisted of seven totally new tracks plus a bonus disc entirely dedicated to mixes of “Subtractive,” then the revelation that what at first glance appeared to be an extended version of the 4xLP “Altering Illusions” compilation was, instead a completely different bursting-at-the-seams 2xCD collection of old and new cv313 material was a delight.

You see, Echospace [Detroit] presents: Altering Illusions Chapter One: cv313 (or whatever the hell this thing is actually called) is in fact the first chapter in a three part series of Altering Illusions releases, each focusing on a different artist. Two brand new cv313 albums instead of one? Yes, please. Furthermore, it makes for an amazing companion piece to the main Dimensional Space album, the tone and palette substantially different but the content every bit as essential.

There is no better statement of intent than the opening track, “Isis,” as jets of crystalline ice particles are shot through solar winds, which batter the soundstage to the rhythmic thump of a relentless beat. Forthcoming single “Fading Lights [Original]” ups the ante with shuffling rhythms, blunted beats, plumes of steam and tumbling breaks before the album spirals towards the dance-floor with the comparatively brief “Irradiate,” all pin-sharp hi-hats, fretwork and thundering bass.

We enter previously released singles territory at this point, with remastered versions of the both the original and particularly fine reduction of “Seconds To Forever,” “Dimensional” and “Sailing Stars” before the disc ends with “Beyond Starlit Sky [Live]” that reads like a re-pitched, holographic version of “Fading Lights.”

The only material here that doesn’t quite blend in is the odd slice of older single material. “Dimensional” sounds better than ever thanks to an even higher definition remaster, but feels like it belongs to a different era, and the harder stomp of “Sailing Stars” juts out at oblique angles, somehow out of place among its amorphous, vaporous siblings. But this is nitpicking given that this is ostensibly a compilation rather than a dedicated album, even though it mostly feels like the latter, rather than the former.

Perhaps the finest moments on Altering Illusions [Chapter One] cv313, however, are those found on the second disc, an even more seamless and unified experience than the first. It certainly has the power to surprise as it opens with “Longing For Darkness,” a delicate but metallic bowed synth string melody emerging from a mist of swirling vapour, soft static hiss and what sounds like a genuine field recording of a haunted, twilight whistle and howl of wind through deeply saturated, nocturnal environments. It is quite unlike anything cv313 has released before or since, a beautiful hybrid of cv313 textures, dense, whirring drones from Alva Noto’s Xerrox series of ambient albums and Thomas Koner’s panoramic soundscapes.

“Beyond The Clouds” is, for many, one of Hitchell and Modell’s key masterpieces and reason enough to own this compilation, which it closes in a beautifully remastered form, but if any shred of doubt still lingers in your mind, it should be utterly eradicated by one of Hitchell’s crowning achievements: I give you “Standing Still [Reduced].”

Seated regally at the epicenter of the majestic second disc, it is simply one of the ultimate expressions of cv313’s craft, a twenty-two minute pièce de résistance of meticulous and subtle artistry. Once you enter its orbit, and are enveloped in its supple blooms of synth, scything fx, soft flashes of electricity, deep-sea sub-bass throb and bass rumble, ever-so-subtle machine fan whir and the hypnotic, propulsive rhythm of the piece, a higher state of (un)consciousness is inescapable.

It’s followed by yet another album highlight in the newly minted “Magenta,” packed with turbulent whorls of dark beige storm clouds pregnant with rain and ice whipping around the adrenalin-fueled listener submerged in a tumbling life-support capsule full of bubbling fluid that muffles the beat to a in-ear heart pounding. And as already mentioned, the whole experience is beautifically rounded out by “Beyond The Clouds [Reprise]”.

Altering Illusions [Chapter One] cv313 is every bit as strong and essential as the debut cv313 album it supplements and acts as a nexus between cv313 material old and new. It has also just become available as a digital download on the echospace [detroit] Bandcamp site, for those who missed out on or are not interested in the physical CD edition. -Igloo Magazine

An essential compilation sharing unreleased gems from the Echospace imprint. Reworked or re-imagined, this contains work from Echospace, DeepChord, Intrusion and Variant that hasn’t seen the light of day in any traditional format. There are cv313 reinterpretations of DeepChord01-06 that date from 1997/1999, more unreleased cv313 tracks, Echospace's Spatialdimension album presented in two alternate versions that originally were released digitally, the list goes on. It’s a no brainer really, a must-but for anyone interested in the vast history of Echospace’s dub techno. -Bleep

Typical. You wait ages for one CV313 record, and three come along at once. Hot on the heels of the recent release of the much-delayed Dimensional Space album and Live @ Primary CD comes Altering Illusions [Chapter 1], a notably warm, attractive and enveloping two-disc compilation that mixes classic and hard-to-find material with a slew of previously unheard alternate versions. Fans of Steve Hitchell's atmospheric fusions of drifting chords, locked-in techno rhythms, electronic noise and heavy dub bass will find plenty to enjoy, from the 23-minute ambient exploration "Beyond The Clouds (Reprise)" to the classic deep dub techno of "Seconds to Forever (Original)". -Juno

Ready to take off with Echospace Present: Altering Illusions (Chaper One). This one is the first in a trio of releases from the label, with cv313 supplying the movement. It's over two hours of ethereal technological rhythms, classic electronics and conscious altering sonic matter. It's grainy and gritty yet clear as a bell, searching for the new whilst paying respects to the masters. Out on CD from Echospace [detroit]. -Norman

Echospace return to their "Altering Illusions" project and deliver a massive double CD edition released in three separate issues, part 1 closely focused on the work of cv313. Expect sub-harmonic deep space exploration in some seriously out-there electronic quadrants, some of the deepest techno reductions ever captured to tape. A sprawling nebula of etheric sounds made by the illusive cv313 project, exploring re-mastered versions of their most celebrated classics ("Dimensional," "Sailing Stars," "Seconds to Forever," "Beyond the Clouds") to exclusive new, unreleased material. Over two discs, you'll be treated to over 2.5 hours of purified groove reductions made on vintage analog equipment, teasing out the infidelities of archaic equipment which render the sound at its most diffuse and opiated. Lush listening from the magical cv313 project, one of Detroit's finest. -Forced Exposure

I’m not even going to attempt to review this one. If you know techno you will want this. 13 tracks from Deepchord, Variant, cv313 and Echospace all in one package. Dubbed out techno-bliss made with analogue machines and loving care. Just get it; you’ll be better for it. -Gramaphone Records, Chicago

The holy grail for fans of Steve Soultek's peerless Echospace label which over the years has released some momumental 12's from himself and Deepchord. This limited edition 4x 12" label compilation features unreleased material from cv313, Deepchord, Echospace, Intrusion & Variant that's been pressed on to 4 nice slabs of 180g coloured vinyl and it comes with a full colour gatefold sleeve.

A new chapter — the longest and one of the deepest — in the particular never-ending story of Echospace. -Playground Magazine


released January 3, 2014

w + p by cv313 + deepchord + variant


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