Tech-house can be a bit difficult to pin down. It's the bridge between techno and house, two genres which themselves have so many sub-genres these days that the intersection between any two distinct points can sound entirely different from another. Nevertheless, as a genre, tech-house steals the best of both worlds. The driving, forceful energy of techno fuses with the funky, energetic grooviness of house, and the end result is a lovely jumble of banging beats and winding basslines. Andrew Clyne, in Plugged IN, explores this hazy yet intriguing area. He covers a lot of ground on this disc, successfully linking more minimal, tech-y sounds with electro-tinged house, all the while maintaining a dark, spooky, and somewhat sinister atmosphere.
Clyne takes his time easing into his mix. He starts with Nicholas Martin's "westCoastOwn", a warm deep house tune which employs clip-clopping noises and electro leanings; this blends easily with Clyne's own "The Back Nine", a subtle, glitchy house tune with subdued elegance and a mesmerizing melodic line. More aggressive tunes follow, but rather than pound them out full force, Clyne slyly sneaks them in until the pace becomes more assertive and the beats a bit tougher.
Seed's Dub Mix of "Blue Vibrations" signals the beginning of more intense sounds. This metallic, progressive house number utilizes pulsing synth waves and layers of varied percussion to build an undulating, powerful wave of sound. Clyne follows this with "Chlorine Shots" by Seed & Yoseff, a rumbling, peppy tech-house romp, and unleashes the mix full force with Visuddha's Teethgrinder remix of "Visualizer". With a growling, guttural bass, multi-dimensional rhythms and noises, and an electro-tinged psychedelic bent, this track attests to the diverse nature of tech-house.
Other strong tracks follow, including the chugging, ominous Mogwai's Trauma mix of "I Get a Rush" by Fisher Project (complete with nightmarish narration), the slicing synth and percolating rhythms of Seed's "Seed Sound", and the busy, squishy synth work of "Alien Data" by Deetron. "Only One" by the Organic Vegetarian Liberation Front stands out from this cluster of solid tech-y tunes with its catchy house hook, excess of hollow drumming, horn stabs, and bubbly sounds. Clyne caps off the proceedings with "Visions of You", by Trevor Rockliffe featuring Blake Baxter, an intriguing, steady tech-house track full of robotic voices.
Though it leans more towards the cerebral side of tech-house, Plugged IN is definitely worth a listen, and the album is a nice break from the scores of harder, heavier tech-house compilations on the market.