The passing of time obligates one to see the work of Steven Hitchell and Rod Model as a work in progress without an end or goal in sight: their sound is watery, like the flow of a stream through a creek — or if you want to describe their music even more elusively, like the curtains of a layer of fog covering the city, which doesn’t let you see any further than the nose on your face. In short: their career doesn’t seem to ever have a definite, final form, although it does have a clear course. It started at the beginning of the last decade, when Model was the brain of DeepChord, and it has continued towards the cosmic depths since the moment that Hitchell joined the team. Each find in the Echospace cell – even every apparently-closed song — can be reopened after a time, like a judge might reopen a case or George Lucas, his galactic saga; there are always additions, touch-ups, new readings (which some might like and others might find terribly irritating). For fans, this has become a bit of a financial blood-sucking; this one, for example, went as high as 58 pounds in various online shops — which hasn’t kept it from selling out at all of them, in runs that are increasingly limited and hard to come by. But for the idea of Echospace, it is still an exciting course of survival: how to finally achieve the idea of a perpetual motion machine in techno, a silhouette in constant transformation, without beginning or end, which is the very idea of the genesis of the material.
Altering Illusions –notice the title, which not only refers to the mutating nature of the pieces, but also places them in the sphere of magic, as if they were parlour trick — is possibly Model and Hitchell’s definitive declaration in terms of that obsessive work routine. Spanning four heavy albums and 13 pieces in all, this monumental collection brings together disparate recordings of Echospace and its different alter egos, and it modifies them again, reconstructing or re-imagining them from apparently insignificant details: increasing the duration, adding new beats or ruptures, modifying intros and outros — dissolving the music once more in the unlimited flow that is their own work, cared for as if it were a garden. The question for the consumer is whether it’s worth the trouble of depositing the notable number of bills that this onerous quadruple vinyl costs if you already have a substantial amount of the material previously pressed on echospace [detroit], Modern Love, SYNTH, Soma, and Fortune8. Well, if it comes to that, nothing is overwhelmingly necessary: Hitchell and Model are settled in a glorious redundancy, a revision of their aesthetic on very well-fixed patterns, and which may no longer offer significant changes. However, there is one thing: they add organic percussion, as if a Caribbean or African rhythmic group was added over the flow of synthesized layers. This already occurred at the end of “[LIVE]” (2010) and now, here, in the pulsing “Electromagnetic Dowsing (cv313 Live Rewire),” very similar in intensity to the coda of that recording at the Labyrinth Festival in Japan.
Beyond that particular observation, Altering Illusions stays exactly in that glacial/oceanic/volcanic post-Basic Channel techno sound, with wide ambient development, submerged bass, drums in the distance, wrapped snugly in sheets and blankets of levitating synthesizers. There are only two options: take it or leave it. Although if it comes to that, after dozens of LPs, limited-edition CDs, several live albums, and two major works— Liumin (2010) and the majestic The Coldest Season (2007)— those who follow in the wake of Echospace know the risks and why they are there, so the question becomes irrelevant. The only option is to melt, like in a sauna, into the steam of “A Silent Storm (cv313 Reprise),” let yourself be hit over the head with the drum falling like a hammer on an anvil in “01-06 (cv313 Rework I),” get drunk on the sliding derivations from the old albums of Various Artists on Chain Reaction –“Inifint-1 (Intrusion’s Lost Dub)”– and add new oddities signed as cv313 to the collection (“Altering Illusions,” “Above Clouds,” and “Hypnosphere”). Furthermore, there are two reconstructions –yes, two more– of the almost legendary Spatialdimension of 2007, that blue vinyl that proposed a marshy techno of variable depth, and three static developments, with electric clicking on the surface and quiet turbulence in the nucleus, signed as Variant ( “As Time Stood Still,” “MagneticPulsation” and “Enchanted”). A new chapter — the longest and one of the deepest — in the particular never-ending story of Echospace.