That’s part of the fun when your record collection is a little larger than average, and when it’s all neatly entered on Discogs. Taking the record I want to write about and start looking where it takes me.
Like this one. Bluetrain being Steve O’Sullivan and him being the founder of Mosaic, and the name behind a few more identities like The Wise Caucasian or Blue Spirit. His name popped up quite a few times on my shopping lists during the last year or so. Two re-releases – the “Kutchie Dub” 12″ and the “Mosaic Classics” on Sushitech, “Precious Times” on Kontakt, the “Chant Down” Remixes, and this album.
I had to look. What else is there. Mosaic releases in my collection. Earliest entry: MOSAIC002, the “Arizona Fall” EP from 1996, O’Sullivan and someone called Wis checking in as Echo Motif. And then there’s MOSAIC017. A few weeks ago I went through a big stack of 12″es that I had selected to maybe part with. A few went back to the shelf – too good to let go. This one included, “Mosaic Efforts Vol. 2″ by Jorge Zamacona, which is really Paul Souter who is also Paul Mac, and yes, wasn’t there that totally underrated 12” I liked to play for a while? Yes, the “$100 EP”. In charge of mastering on this album too.
Oh, the precious one: the “Submerged” EP he did together with Mike Schommer, with that magnificent Deepchord remix…
It was about time to put out an album too. As Bluetrain, O’Sullivan has been active for a quarter of a century now. Quite an achievement in a corner of the music world that doesn’t support too many names for more than a few years. Only works if you’re a driving force of the category you represent, and that’s what O’Sullivan undoubtedly is – even after having once chosen to stop making music altogether. Nine long years.
First Bluetrain album after twenty-five years in the business. Many others might have chosen to put out a bunch of classic tracks and give us a compilation. Thankfully, Sullivan called a few friends instead, and asked them to join him on some these nine new tracks.
Good thing he did. “Steady Pulse” would have been classy without them – but the collaborative tracks are the ones that turn the collection into a proper album. “Cherry Dub” and “Perfect Circle” benefit from the punch and drive added by Hidden Sequence, Prince Morella’s vocals on “Chant Down” turn an elegant Dub Techno groover into what would be called a hit single in other parts of the music world, and Another Channel push the closer “Step It Up” deep into roots territory.
A smart move. Not only because these four tracks widen the horizon. Whenever we return to the more single-minded tracks that Sullivan presents on his own, we are able to appreciate his work even more. Five solid and finely crafted instrumentals that take us from more dancehall sounding pieces (“Downtown”) to Dub House and Deep/Dub Techno (“Headspace”), most of them easily ahead of what we get to hear from other artists in the respective genres.
That’s one of the ways we get to experience what 25 years of ups and downs in this business add up to – O’Sullivan’s relaxed masterful delivery. The feeling that he’s already cruising at a different altitude when he’s just warming up. The other way we get to benefit from it: his embrace of friends and great talents. After all, he could have published this album on his own label. Instead he decided to say yes when Lempuyang asked for a long player. Hard to believe these guys have only been around for two years.
“Strictly for connoisseurs” is what we read at the end of the credits. Yes and no, I would say. For connoisseurs of various shades of dub flavored electronic music, but also for those who value depth and style in House and Techno.
Release for review:
BLUETRAIN – STEADY PULSE – LEMPUYANG – LPY-07