Various Geology: A Subjective Study of Planet E Volume 2

Planet E-boss Carl Craig has a strange duality in his music. The message appears to be impassioned and futuristic, but its mode of expression is aesthetically rough and slightly lo-fi. He has all kinds of exciting ideas on fusing techno and jazz, but they're shabbily performed with strings and keyboard solos that sound like they were being done on a DX7 or some other synth-gear from the '80s (as heard on two of his tracks, "At Les" and "Steam"). On one hand, it's a DIY impulse that's showing through, and good or bad, it's been an influence for many of his fellow artists featured on this mix-CD, cross-faded together by Detroit's Mike Clark (whose mixing technique shares a similar combination of elements). And thus, while there's a sense of oddity to some of the tracks, like the Germanic, new wave bass-groove on Recloose's "Can't Take It," it's all charmingly eccentric, if not often subdued by more sophisticated production. This happens on the latter, with its awkward bass line going down to deeper frequencies as a hazy vocal comes up to bring some soul to its surface. Ibex's (Tony Ollivierra of Time-Space) "Bok Choy" is executed in a similar manner, with its jungle-tom stomp in the intro breaking the doors down for a melodic and almost-Salsoul disco style in the track's main section. There's a more nimble approach to composition with Kenny Dixon's sax-y house remix of "People Make the World Go Round," especially with Kirk DeGeorgio's elegant fusing of disparate elements on "Get Down" - Eno-esque ambience, a pulsing jazz cymbal and a bass-twitching techno beat. Geology might not but everyone's cup of tea, but it's definitely original in what attempts to offer. (Caroline)