Various Artists - Transfigure Volume 1

Leftfield techno flex from 90s Ohio

  • Label: Transfigure
  • Catalog Number: TFM-0001
  • Year: 1998

A top-notch collection of leftfield dancefloor business from 90s Columbus, Ohio label Transfigure Music.

This mysterious collection is a gift straight from the heart of the underground techno scene that swept the Midwest US in the 90s, steeped in the kind of left-field exuberance that's hard not to love.

The EP kicks off with two delightfully wiggly cuts from the legendary producer and Residual Records label boss Titonton Duvanté, who's enjoying a much-deserved renaissance lately, courtesy of a spate of reissues and music press attention. Free-wheeling funk leads bounce along over punchy kick / sub throb and choppy wild-pitch percussion, sure to bring smiles to any forward-thinking warehouse. 

Two tracks from Columbus's Archetype find producer Charles Noel in an especially deep and dark mood. On Silent E, he crafts deep space atmospheres from throbbing kicks, razor-sharp hats, and not a whole lot else. For album closer Unless Time, the beat is abandoned entirely in favor of radioactive arpeggios, for a hard sci-fi outing sharing more in common with fellow Ohioans Emeralds than anything from the Detroit / Chicago axis. 

The EP is rounded out with curveballs from two enigmatic and potentially pseudonymous producers. J Blunt delivers a blown-out bedroom techno jam, sweetened with floating pads, but soaking in hissing feedback. For an extra bit of fun, Fathom contributes two locked grooves, built from squinchy vocal samples and resonant synth burble (excerpted in the rip as looping 1 minute clips). 

All in all, a perfect capsule of a time and place that feels more prescient than ever as diggers continue to unearth the off-kilter energy of the 90s Midwest scene. Best of all, it's a no-brainer for the vinyl crate, with a few sub-$10 copies still floating around Discogs