Mephisto Odyssey: The Deep Red Connection

Mephisto Odyssey
The Deep Red Connection
Warner Bros.

There seems to be a new trend in recent electronica releases: don’t stick to Just One Thing. Shake it up, show your versatility, and drive those genre/sub-genre purists up the all with your “inconsistency.”

Exhibit A: BT’s US release of Movement in Still Life, which BT himself described as a mix tape one would compile for a friend. The progressive house fans were lukewarm in their reception. For many, though, BT scored with a wide range of fans with his musical flexing.

Exhibit B: Mephisto Odyssey’s The Deep Red Connection. But there is a definite mix tape feel to the album, from the funked up reggae “Soundman Connection” (which features Mad Lion) to the progressive house of the current single, “Reach” (which features Iceland’s Angelcat). See a pattern? Yes, eight of the 13 tracks feature some guest singer, which may tempt one to compare the San Francisco production team’s second release to BT’s latest.

Rest assured, however, that Mephisto Odyssey is not a clone of BT. “Reach” and “Sexy Dancer” will be right at home on the dance floor, especially with the trance/house remixes that are sure to be on the way (if not here already). There is also a harder edge which reflects the Goth roots of the founding members. Rapper Jamalski contributes his rhymes to two tracks, The Mystic Monks’ Bigg Sauce gets in your face in “I’m the Man” (“I’m the motherfucking man!”), and Static-X put a fine metallic guitar to “Crash.”

There are quieter moments here as well. “Krak” and “Track 909” are one minute segue pieces that invoke the ambient moments on Yello’s first release. The other Angelcat tune is the dirge-like “I Breathe You”. But the most beautiful sound on the record comes last: Tarnation’s Paula Frazer gives “Wish” an eerie, folky atmosphere.

The Deep Red Connection is Mephisto Odyssey’s first major-label release (second, if you count the Lift EP which compiles earlier mix projects), but the group has been together since 1993, with one other release on City of Angels Records. Mikal Johnston and Orpheos Dejournette first started dabbling with electronic music in an apartment, leading to an underground success, “Dream of the Black Dahlia” and partnership with Barrie Eves and, later, Josh Camacho. Remix projects for Jane’s Addiction and Soul Coughing followed, which led the four-member team to Warner Brothers and The Deep Red Connection. Their versatility and their drive to look beyond just one kind of electronic dance music should carry them far in the future.