Marco Bailey – ‘High Volume’

Album Reviews

Label: MB Elektroniks
Score: 7/10

Belgian monster spinner Marco Bailey makes a landmark 100th release on his own MB Elektronics label with the unveiling of the long player “High Volume”. This one’s been billed as an album to show off a scope of influences while not losing sight of the dance floor energy Marco’s made his name with.

The starting point is the frankly gorgeous downtempo track ‘Grolzham’. Dreamy organ droning and a cavernously echoing melody set a contemplative mood for the rest of the trip.

From this cerebral opening the album dives into techno. The next few tracks are characterisations of animals. The first: brooding chords from “The Black Crow” which fade into a rolling thunder four four beat. The prominence of the effects and textural build ups give the track a very busy feel, at points coming off a little distracting and impatient especially after the relative understatement of “Grolzham”.

Things settle down a bit on “The Falcon”, still menacing and dark with hints of minimal effects and a straightforward but effective groove. Then onto the decidedly more grounded “The Fox”: There’s much more emphasis on bounce in the kick drum than in the prior two tracks where the beasts were soaring.

Marco takes back into the full moon sky atop “The Owl” before coming back down hard in “The Snake”. This particular snake  neither of this world nor entirely organic. The track has hints of industrial sounds and alien sirens running throughout. The breakdown and drop towards the end is particularly enjoyable and there are some nicely disorienting dry panned vocal chops thrown in too.

Moving away from the natural “Cash” and “Funk That Groove” draw more into tech house territory. Reaching out from the darkness it really gets housey when the vocal sample drops in the latter. “Summer Madness” continues the fun and lets loose the congas. “Horny Tiger” is not quite as wild as the title suggests but holds a very driven determination throughout.

“The Airport Lounge” pulls right back out into Balearia with process veiled vocals and a chilled feel not unakin to that of the late great Shem McCauley’s music. “She Leaves” glides to even greater serenity pulling in cavern dwelling violins and piano keys.

This is an album that undoubtedly contains some great treasures, the snake in particular is an extremely well crafted techno bomb which sounds much indebted to great music from the early days of the Detroit movement but with a distinctly fresh edge. The movement from track to track does show cohesion: As a result of the attempt to bring together his many musical interests the “Funk That Groove” will make a useful dj tool for the transfer through to the house-y-et sounds. The distance between the dots that are joined do however cause a little friction in how the album hangs as one: once the techno got going the intro seemed a distant memory. That’s not to say that the opening was wasted as previously stated it probably led to greater cogitation later on.

It would’ve been nice to see maybe a little more of the down tempo stuff from Marco. He’s clearly got some great ideas in this vein and the impression here is that they are a little under explored. The dropout from the forceful sounds into the final two tracks feels quite sudden and there is definitely space for a prelude into the mellowness of “The Airport Lounge”. In all, an interesting work containing tracks which will certainly bring me back in the future.