Recloose ReclooseEarly Works
The title “Early Works” can be somewhat deceiving, in the way that Matthew Chicoine’s career as a producer started around 1998, and, no matter how prolific and excellent it has been so far, it still isn’t long like those of the pioneers and great legends of Detroit techno. Recloose is, at most, an outstanding member of the city’s third generation that took the baton from Claude Young, Kenny Larkin and Carl Craig, and there is still quite some space for him to grow. Much of the material on “Early Works” isn’t even 8 years old, and cannot yet understood an exercise of archaeology like the ones Rush Hour has done on previous anthologies of real veterans like Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir, Daniel Wang or the aforementioned Larkin. But this marvellous CD –or, if you prefer, the two sample 12”s released earlier by the Dutch label with material taken from the deepest vaults– does accomplish a mission that couldn’t be postponed: to do Recloose justice, as one of the great techno masters of the past decade –always with a sound invaded by house and other deep aromas–, before it’s too late. In truth, you have to have been very much into the techno scene for several years in order to understand the pertinence of this record. Recloose could have been important, one of those artists called upon incessantly for DJ duties, remix work or the release of three tracks on 12” for any first-rate label, but an incomplete interpretation of the facts leaves him, for now, as a rare one-hit wonder of techno, the man who everybody talked about after he released garage bomb “Can’t Take It”, sung by a very young Dwele, and who, instead of taking of, disappeared right after that.
Recloose never disappeared, in fact. He released a studio album on Studio !K7 in a co-production with Planet E, the praiseworthy “Cardiology” (2002), and all the reviews were great. He always kept the support of his mentor, Carl Craig, his skills at fusing dub, jazz, garage and shining techno has always been acknowledged, but maybe he couldn’t find his place after “Can’t Take It”, or the scene –which was becoming more European, little by little, fixating on German references like Kompakt or Playhouse– didn’t have time for the poetry and maximum purity of Detroit. It was the opposite of Isolée: one hit ( “Beau Mot Page”) that led to an album ( “Rest”) and to a meteoric career. It wasn’t that Recloose’s career slowed down –there are three more albums, a lot more singles and all of them of the highest quality–, but the audience that should have supported him didn’t pay attention. That’s why this “Early Works” is necessary, and it would have been had it been called “Retrospective” or “Compilation” (on the sticker on the sleeve it even says “best of”): it focuses on the years around “Can’t Take It” –between 1998 and 2003, approximately–, but its ultimate mission isn’t to dig out the past, but to reactivate a whole career. Nobody could have done that better than Rush Hour, and only one thing is missing from this artefact: more information, some text, apart from the origin of each track. Because even though the music speaks for itself, Recloose deserves a more passionate and argued defence.
Another great value of this compilation is the extraordinary quantity of unreleased material it contains: demos, rarities, up to seven tracks that hadn’t been released on CD or vinyl before. Some are interludes –but not “simple interludes”: the Latin to and fro of “Lagan”, the breaks of “Flotsam” and the jazz-drenched ambient of “Jetsam” are of superior quality–, and others are little miracles of the heart and technique like that slice of raw house called “Antares” or “Land Of The Lost Dance”, a techno-funk monster that could have been made by Scott Grooves. Everything here is selected carefully and with good taste, there is no questionable track on “Early Works”: the original demo of “Maui’s Lament” is proof that Recloose’s present level comes from maintaining the quality of the early days, that nothing is coincidental, and for those who didn’t know the material from before “Cardiology”, the tracks of the “Spelunking EP” released on Planet E are included – “Get There Tonight”, “Soul Clap 2000” and “Insomnia In Dub”, sewn with a golden thread that goes from Detroit soul to techno-dub and lazy downtempo–, the real Holy Grail of Recloose alongside “Absence Of One”, the jazzy B-side of the 12” of “Can’t Take It”. All in all this is a must-have for those who want to go further in the reactivation of the elegant side of Chicago and Detroit and understand that all this, from M. Pittmann to Omar-S, wouldn’t have been possible without the other, and that “the other” means Theo Parrish and Moodymann, but also Recloose. He was and still is on the same level.