Monday, August 06, 2007

An Underappreciated Classic Revisited

I was a huge fan of Jake Fairley's LP Touch Not The Cat upon its release in 2004. It was like the cherry on the top of the post-electroclash/dirty-techno era: a time when Alter Ego, Black Strobe and T. Raumschmiere were shifting paradigms and destroying dancefloors in the process. For some reason however, Touch Not The Cat received neither the credit or enthusiasm it deserved. Initially I thought it may have been a few months late for Gnarzmania (the first brief window when the mainstream techno community truly embraced heavy distortion and punk rock ethics.) With the current resurgence of this aesthetic, I've been revisiting Touch Not The Cat a lot lately, and find that Fairley wasn't late on the Gnarz bus, but was in-fact way ahead of his time.

Not to diminish what Alter Ego and the like were doing, but in retrospect, Fairley was taking things to a new level that few could appreciate at the time. Three years later, I have a totally new appreciation for this album. If it came out right now, it would be the biggest thing to hit club culture since Audion's Mouth to Mouth and Motor's Black Powder - both breakthrough hits for the nasty, rusted underbelly of spaceship techno.

Aside from the masterful use of distortion, tube amps and ear-worm hooks, Fairley didn't build a long player around a couple of club hits. He built a real album with real stories. Every serious musician wants to do that, but to pull it off so successfully, and make every single track so infectious is pure genius. In a time of flux and over-saturation like now, when audiences are looking for more, Touch Not The Cat delivers like almost nothing else on the market. Shamefully, it is neither on or Beatport, but you can buy it from iTunes here.

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