The “grandfather paradox” is the term for the old sci-fi trope in which you can’t go back in time and kill your own grandfather because then you wouldn’t exist to go back in time in the first place. The DJ/producer tag-team of Henrik Schwarz, duo Âme, and Dixon aren’t here to kill their techno grandfathers, they’re here to praise them—or reappraise them. The Grandfather Paradox finds them compiling cuts from a dizzying array of de facto minimalist music forefathers into a deceptively dense and pulsing history lesson in the rich past of the Sound of the Future.
Each of the two discs in the non-vinyl version features a slightly different lineup and agenda. The first features a mix that hews close to the original intent of the project, according to the liner notes—honoring the ’90s forerunners of today’s minimal techno. Mid-mix, things get percolating nicely on the back of cuts such as Metamatics’ “Blue Water,” I:CUBE’s “Acid Beatless,” and Mika “Ø” Vaino’s “Atomit.” But Schwarz et al. also fold in bits and beats from a roster ranging from ’70s synth boffin Conrad Schnitzler to omnivorous funk act Cymande, from filmmaker/soundtrack composer John Carpenter (a cut from his icily throbbing Escape From New York score) to electronic-music pioneer Raymond Scott (the vintage electro template “Bass-Line Generator”). The reach is impressive, as is the musical and intellectual grasp: The textbook syncopating minimalism of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint that opens the mix echoes in Detroiter Robert Hood’s 1994 “Minus” near the end, closing a most diverting circuit.
The second disc collects unmixed versions of various tracks used to manufacture the main attraction, and it’s an education in itself, if for nothing else than to hear the epic electronic cheeze of Patrick Moraz’ “Metamorphoses 1st Movement (Live).” But even the contributions from relatively well-known acts such as Young Marble Giants, Arthur Russell, and Can sound fresh in this context. As always, less is more.