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EP: Quark: Second Earth
Any techno fan who remembers going into record shops during 1993, and was repeatedly shocked by the quality of electronic music coming out back then, will most likely have tears come to their eyes when they hear this EP.
It's bizarre that "Second Earth" is so obscure, given its immensely high quality; from the clarity of the aggressively programmed hi-hats in the mix to the use of sparkling, stellar sounds and chord structures (if you like your synth strings in early '90s techno, this is perfect for you), it has all the makings of a classic EP from that era. The sort of thing that would have people looking up from the racks in Fat Cat and asking the staff about!
A particularly interesting track is "Emphasis", which, with its 1989-era Derrick May style, sounds older than the other three tracks, each of which is designed, very effectively, for the dancefloors of 1993. However, although "Emphasis" is inspired by May, it uses a number of rich, contemporary sounds to avoid making it sound too much like a retro homage. "Second Earth" is possibly my favourite track - understated and cool yet deeply futuristic, it has a skippier, less 909-based rhythm and a tendency to allow high-pitched bleep noises to start playing those sorts of effortlessly sci-fi melodies that many artists in the early 90s were fond of doing.
If you're not interested in older techno, or have come to electronic music more recently, you'll still find this EP a good one to have - it has definitely aged well, and its audaciously techno sort of sound is used by producers to this day. This record seems to predict, or anticipate, a certain evolution of techno which has, unfortunately, faded a bit under Millsian 909 stomps and morphing, pounding loops.