As One

So Far (so good) . . . twelve years of electronic soul

Before he started making music under the name As One, Englishman Kirk Degiorgio took a trip to the Motor City in the 1980s to find out what ticks at the mechanical heart of Detroit Techno. Its whirring, ghost-in-the-machine rhythms might have been explained by the presence of car manufacturers throughout the region. But Degiorgio found the real reason during a drive down Detroit's most savage streets. “There's just no hope at all. It's just complete despair. Young girls on the street,” he said in an interview for the book Ocean of Sound. “You can really understand the melancholy feel of a lot of those early Detroit records. The coldness people associate with them.” The desperation must have produced an allergic reaction in him, because when Degiorgio returned to England to sculpt his own version of Detroit techno, he dumped some of the music's corrosive bleakness and injected a warmth that makes this retrospective of his past 12 years sound like the most inviting future imaginable. Decade-old tracks like “Amalia” craft a gentle melancholia supported by a sprightly, brokenbeat rhythm that sounds like a bittersweet smile breaking through tears. Other tracks, like 1996's “Epic,” weave eerie enigmas on Space Age romance. And if there's any doubt Degiorgio can rock, just listen to the driving, hypnotic beat of the last track, “If It Ain't Broke.” It's a tough but hopeful journey that keeps the Detroit soul steady—like watching the city's desperation fade away in your rearview mirror.

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