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The Black Dog – Liber Chaos Remixes review

It’s been twenty years since the Black Dog released its first record, and in that space of time their fans have been through more line-up and style changes than a US R&B act. From breakbeat rave through poly-rhythmic ‘intelligent techno’ –  this writer’s favourite incarnation, it must be said –  through their film soundtrack, ambient and industrial stylings, tBD have covered a wide range of ground, enchanting, sometimes baffling, but always demanding our attention.

What is most striking is that apart from Luke Slater, they are the only act from the UK’s golden age of techno that still sound relevant, something they have achieved by  not standing still for too long. The Liber series revealed their love of 80s industrial, but it also showcased Italo, moody electro and techno without breaking a sweat. Now tracks from the series get the remix treatment from some of contemporary electronic music’s most vital names. Sandwell District’s take on “Dissident Bleep” is everything one would expect from the revered techno act, a tunneling, hypnotic groove, while newcomer Sigha’s take on “High Rise Choir Reprise” opts for a diametrically opposed sound, the textures stripped away, replaced by a stuttering, plate-metal rhythm.

Shifted and Perc also impress; the former’s take on “Heavy Industry” sees a gushing filter wash over the Dog’s bleepy techno and the latter turns “Bass Mantra” into a pounding, sheet metal rhythmic assault. It’s not all functional, streamlined techno however, and, like the Black Dog themselves, a large part of this remix package’s charms comes from unexpected moments like Richard H Kirk’s shimmying, sax-infused take on “Greedy Gutter Guru” and the muttered vocals and murderous sub-bass of Blawan’s version of “Black Chamber Order”. Here’s to 20 more years.

Richard Brophy