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Collective States – Chrome Dome EP (High Tide Recordings)

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The new school amongst us will know High Tide from the label that releases the quality output from their own Collective States material and friends. Their debut ‘Planet Mongo’ was a big tune from the summer of 2017 that enjoyed big support from Carl Cox, James Zabiela and many others. The old school amongst you will know that Collective States, AKA Gary Bennetton and Dan Reid have been running High Tide as a boat party on the South Coast of the UK, tracking from the early days through to recently they have enjoyed the company of the very top echelons of the DJ community playing to a select crowd. This experience has allowed them to draw, with some authority, a taste in music that is wide as it is deep, distilling the essence of those years into Collective States.

Gary tells me that the ‘Chrome Dome EP’ started with a visit to their ever burgeoning repository of tracks, and tackling the archive with fresh ears told them some gems had been overlooked and needed to see the light of day. For me, this resonates because despite Collective States relative youth the early tracks are super fresh, coming with the vitality of a new act that is having an outpouring of ideas.

I can see that ‘Amity’ might, at the time, have been too deep for an opening gambit, but with maturity and a change in times, it’s definitely worthy of release. Tracks like this have a timeless appeal, deep and thoughtful, moody and transitional. There are melancholy pianos, classic-style arpeggios, other-wordly ambients all bound together with a rope of tom-led, deep and tribal drums. Don’t expect roof-raiser, this is back-room or early doors, strobe-light flashing, head down and moving. ‘Amity’ is music from outer space, it’s a space station docking, it’s looking back down at earth from your space suit.

Chrome Dome’ toughens it up, harking (to some extent) back to the sound of ‘Planet Mongo’ with the cool vocal inserts, but again this is deeper. The growling bass and throbbing pads put it firmly into deep-progressive waters. This is another track that isn’t instant but listen again, there is an undeniable quality there that drives the sound, much more big-room but credible with it. The melody here works so well, less is more but the groove is peppered with subtle riffs that flow & ebb.

Knee Deep in Sound contributor and 43 Degrees head-man Hoten turns in a remix of ‘Chrome Dome’, doing a great job of bringing out the main elements and dialing in the peak-time. Production is excellent as you’d expect, it’s a rolling techno-progressive crossover, nothing short of what you’d expect from Hoten. It’s a great version but somewhat lacking in the soul that drives the original.

‘Droid’ is an acid-drenched techno cake. The main layer is the rumbling bass, almost distorted and constant. The acid sits on top burbling through and undulating through the arrangement as the other more progressive/deep house influenced elements drift in and out. ‘Droid’ is a lesson in simplicity, if the elements are all good you don’t need much. By utilising what’s there to good effect you can produce a clean & driving sound. This is a back-room basher, a techno bruiser. 

Early support from Maceo Plex, John Digweed, Tocadisco, David Moreno, Darren Epsilon, Alan Fitzpatrick and Paco Osuna. None of that is a surprise. What is a surprise for me is how mature these early tracks sound. In my view they are some of Collective States best work and I’m glad they decided to release them into the galaxy.

Score: 8.5/10

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