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Population One – Theater Of A Confused Mind

Terrence Dixon enjoys the kind of media profile that would make Howard Hughes look like a soundbite-junkie but a few months ago, in a rare online communication, he announced that he was going to retire from music-making. Despite making this statement, this most enigmatic of Detroit producers shows no signs of slowing down just yet. Following on from last year’s Badge of Honour, Dixon now delivers the first Population One album in twenty years.

Population One - Theater Of A Confused Mind
Population One
Theater Of A Confused Mind
Rush Hour Music
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In name, Theater of a Confused Mind is the follow-up to the rudimentary Millsian techno sketches of 1994’s Unknown Black Shapes. However, as Dixon has explored so many possibilities in the interim, it would be wrong-headed to compare and contrast this new Population One LP with Unknown Black Shapes. If anything, Dixon’s latest album is an amalgamation of the hypnotic, experimental tones of 2012’s From the Far Future 2 and the functional qualities of releases like Lost at Sea and the Population One series on what now appears to be the short-lived Reduction label.

The album starts with “Out Of Control”, a locked-on groove supporting warbling keys and whispered voices breathlessly intoning the name of Dixon’s hometown. “Code Urgent” follows, with Dixon delivering a heavier take on this approach, albeit with melodic keys and spaced out filters. The great thing about Dixon’s music is that even at his most experimental and reduced, it is never too self-indulgent. By the same token, his most dance floor- based tracks are shot through with unusual elements, things you would never expect to hear in a techno track. A good example is the foreboding double-bass that drops like an A-bomb over “For Only You” or the ghoulish textures of “Inner City Circus”.

On the subject of the supernatural, Dixon veers close to Suburban Knight territory on “My Own Shadow”. The track has the same powerful but ill-defined bass tones – slurred and yet battle-primed –  as the finest records by another underrated Detroit producer, James Pennington, with Dixon’s own psychedelic swirls provide an added, magical layer. The album closes with the pummeling tribal drums and spatial whooshes of “All Of A Sudden” – is this the track to bring down the curtain on Dixon’s musical career? Like the mysterious producer’s spellbindingly intricate music, it’s impossible to predict what will happen next.

Richard Brophy


1. Out Of Control
2. Code Urgent
3. For Only You
4. Battle For Space
5. Inner City Circus
6. All Together
7. My Own Shadow
8. All Of A Sudden