Urban Tribe: Authorized Clinical Trials

Rephlex, 2006

Sherard Ingram is a Detroit techno legend best known for “Covert Action” on Retroactive’s 1990 Equinox EP. (The track was later re-issued as a single by Planet E.) He has also worked with Carl Craig, Anthony Shakir, and Kenny Dixon Jr. He shows up on Rephlex, of all places, for his second full-length, which spans bass-heavy electro to downtempo braindance.

The first couple of tracks, “Polar Molecule” and “Microwave Energies” seem cold despite their lo-fi production. “Mass” thickens things up with an overdose of bass, ending in a rumble of backspins. “Axon” introduces the machine pulses I most associate with electro. It sounds like an eighties beat was run over by a cement truck. “Biohazard 17284” was already released on a vinyl EP, so it only appears on the CD version of the album. It’s a 160 BPM booty-shaking bass extravaganza with swirling synths and “male” and “female” computer voices.

My favorite tracks are near the end of the album. “T-Cell” is minimal, built on subtle percussion changes and repetitive synthesizer phrases. “RNA World” (another EP- or CD-only track) sounds familiar, with early Autechre-esque bass and gurgling bleeps. “Carbon Based” also reminds me of early IDM. Deep bass and tickly treble make for a beautiful track. “Stop Codon” is a soothing way to end.

Don’t be fooled by the EP; there’s more than just electro here. While some of the early tracks are simple, the later ones are sophisticated. This is a really important (and enjoyable!) release.

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