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Album: Other People Place: Lifestyles of the Laptop Café
Released on Warp Records in 2001, and produced by an 'anonymous' Detroit artist, "Lifestyles of the Laptop Café" is ideal for the late-night reading of science fiction novels, or as the soundtrack for candle-lit romantic dinners with cyborg dates...
Underground Resistance act who redefined electro during the 1990s. This album, however, sounds very much unlike most other Drexciya output. Instead, it has a vintage texture, with a distinctly laid-back feel best reserved for the early hours of the morning.
The track titles give an idea of the album's mood: "It's Your Love", "Moonlight Rendezvous", "Running from Love"... it could probably say that this is the most overtly romantic electronic album I've come across in a long time. This doesn't detract from the fact that it is still strongly futuristic, though. What we have is an album made for driving pensively along elevated motorways during the ghostly quiet of night; for silently passing luminous but deserted skyscrapers.
The first track, "Eye Contact", captivates us with its intriguing, cyberpunk bassline and almost sleazy whispered vocal:
"What do we have here? All...
Something happening to my transfers
They're starting to overload
Sitting here in this cafe...
Drinking a latté
Something's happening to me..."
Later on, "Let Me Be Me" makes it explicit that there is Drexciyan involvement in this album - the stark, industrial quality to this track, with its portamento-warped lead melody and devastatingly frank chords, fit brilliantly with the bassline and vocal interjections, which sound reminiscent of moody 1980s synth-pop. The calm of the rest of the album is momentarily abandoned while we enter the Drexciyan aquazone; in many ways this is the only track on here you are likely to hear in a nightclub.
The final track, "Sunrays", also moves away from the rest of the album, but in an even more laid-back direction rather than towards a dark and industrial sound. "Sunrays" could quite easily find its way into the top 40, in fact - slowed down almost to ballad speed, it features a lovely arpeggiated synth line throughout, some luscious synth chords basking the rhythm in sunlight, and female vocals; catch some rays... / of the sunshine..."
For the most part, "Lifestyles of the Laptop Café" makes for an extremely relaxing but not quite torpid listen, even for those who buy regular Warp releases and have no experience of Drexciya nor of the more vintage electronic sound being utilised on this album. It is often said that Detroit producers are able to infuse their machines with soul in a way that's often difficult in electronic music, and this album backs that up.
Whether you're a seasoned obsessive like me, or new to the world of electronic music, this album will grow on you and become the soundtrack to your more relaxed, expansive moods - just don't expect to hear Paul Oakenfold playing it down in Ibiza next year. This is for connoisseurs.