Miguel Campbell: Back in Flight School

As reliable as a Croque Monsieur in a French bistro, even basic and banal tech house such as this serves a utilitarian good.

Miguel Campbell

Back In Flight School

Label: Hot Creations
US Release Date: 2012-11-27
UK Release Date: 2012-10-29

Though upwardly mobile thanks to plundering popstars and cartoon-headed caricatures, electronic dance music remains staunchly conservative in certain subgenre pockets, where far too many comfortable conventions remain. Part of that may stem from niggling nostalgic sentiment (see: the neo-rave blissouts of Unicorn Kid) and if that's your sort of trip then so is this assortment of Leeds-based producer Miguel Campbell's adequate platters.

To be fair, the seemingly dated nature of this material says more about the scene than it does the artist. "Something Special", an apparent 2011 Beatport fave, sports a functional and familiar vocal snippet over a restrained arpeggiated groove. After all, if either filter-funky "Boy" or "Love Electric" had been the A-side of a Forcetracks 12" in 2000, it would have rocked the proverbial discotheque. But 12 years later, this formula barely moves the needle on its own.

Where Campbell needs to accept some accountability comes on filler moments like "Dedicated Music" and low-rent Daft Punk mimeograph “Take Off”. They are less like natural interludes than raw unfinished doodles better left on his hard drive. Not entirely dissimilar from Sebastian Tellier's out-there French Kitsch, shimmering electro-soul oddity “Night Moves” suffers ultimately from directionlessness, something that could have been rectified with a vocal. The less said about plodding sub-karaoke rap diversion "Life" the better.

As reliable as a Croque Monsieur in a French bistro, even the most basic and banal tech house serves a utilitarian good. Despite Luomo's cerebral "Tessio" turning vocal house on its well-coifed head over a decade ago, and Burial's frequent subversion of the sound by way of fractured garage, there’s still a demand for the straightforward and safe, promising a bright future for the contented likes of Campbell.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.