CD Review

V/A – “UTurn 3 – The Dark Side of the Beat”

By Marcus Pan

UTurn 3 - The Dark Side of the BeatArtoffact cranking them out, this time a two-band mini-comp LP featuring one Artoffact artist and one from a partnering label. A third in the UTurn series, The Dark Side of the Beat features Blank, from Artoffact, and Icon of Coil’s Sebastian Komor under the moniker Moonitor. The idea behind the UTurn series is to provide top quality electro specifically aimed to DJs in the industrial and EBM underground in the hopes of injecting new bands into the growing electro culture. Artoffact, being well known for the quality of their releases, should have no problems here.

Blank(1) takes the helm to kick off The Dark Side of the Beat by providing their heavy-hitting blend of dance core electro and EBM. Blank has just recently kicked out Artificial Breathing(2) on the Artoffact label for us here in the States and Canada, and their set here on UTurn 3 includes some remixes from this release. Dead End opens right away with flashy synth overtones, robotic industrial stompage and your expectantly high-speed rhythms. The Instrumental Club Mix of Mutant Engine follows along in this same vein, but ups the bar with some seriously slick keyboard programming breathing an easy-to-get-lost in trance element to groove to for over seven minutes.

Three more tracks follow, two of which are remixes. One of the top is the XTC-Mix of Afterburn by label mates Massiv in Mensch(3). Afterburn was one of the tracks I covered in my Artificial Breathing review: “bubbles up into another enjoyable tune with synth-based rhythms, concentrating on the upper end of the spectrum at first before blowing into a full-on metallic dirge with amazingly catchy orchestration.” Massiv in Mensch take out much of the metallic dirge qualities of Afterburn and keep it in the bubbly trance zone for the sake of this club release. Blank’s mastery at their craft is apparent, a sign of years in the biz. Their entire section of UTurn 3 keep the BPMs up near 150 for all of those fast paced stompers on the floors.

Moonitor – side project of Seb Komor from Icon of Coil. Throwing us five more tracks once Blank’s done, Moonitor drops the BPMs down a bit for the floaty/swirly crowd. While it remains upbeat insofar as rhythm goes, the music takes a decidedly darker turn. Moonitor adds a lot of background key floats to the mix, even taking a drum ‘n bass over swirly foggy synthwork type of style with tracks such as Skydiver. While dark, the lower BPMs and effervescent keyboard work makes for a rather comfortable atmosphere following the much stompier work by Blank.

Darkside of the Beat will even get a little chant-like, and really turn up the dramatic darkness flair without losing its swirly and effervescent style. The closing track on the album, Non Human picks up with a slightly metal-laced slide, and brings me the only critical opinion I can state about UTurn 3. Skydiver or Darkside of the Beat would have been better to wind down the compilation, and Non Human would have been better near the center as it does tend to hit the riffs slightly harder than the others. Nonetheless a fine track.

Being unfortunately unfamiliar with the previous two UTurn releases by Artoffact, I can say I’d expect them to be nothing less than superb. UTurn 3 – The Dark Side of the Beat pumps up the dancefloor hits and then winds you down comfortably, Blank and Moonitor complementing each other very well. Released in a slimline case specifically for DJ use in club rotation, there’s some fine choices here for any underground club to spin from the open-the-night slams of Dead End and Data Gram by Blank to the shutting-it-down smoothness of Skydiver and Darkside of the Beat from Moonitor.

(1) Interviewed in this issue.
(2) Reviewed in this issue.
(3) We interviewed Massiv in Mensch back in Legends #118.
Contact Information:
ArtOfFact Records
Post: 1057 Steeles Ave. W., P.O. Box 81630, Toronto, Ontario, M2R 3X1, Canada
Phone: (905) 707-6283

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