Artist: Ben Sims
Title: Smoke & Mirrors
Release: 27th October 2011
Format: Vinyl / CD / DigiCat No: DCCD005
Late-October sees the long awaited release of Ben Simsʼ debut LP, ʻSmoke & Mirrorsʼ, on Swedish techno imprint
Having developed an impeccable reputation in the past twenty years since delving into the word of turntables and mixtapes at an early age, Sims can be called a genuine legend in the world of techno. As a producer he has remixed Jeff Mills, Chris Liebing, Adam Beyer and Kevin Saunderson as well as releasing on just about every
seminal techno imprint there is. As an A&R heʼs been at the helm of nine labels, including the highly influential Ingoma and KB Records inc, and continues to steward Theory and Hardgroove towards the boxes of the discerning fans.
Most recently the London-based producer has seen his ʻWay Back Wednesdayʼ (with Tony Anderson), ʻFunk Youʼ and occasional disco radio shows garner huge support while ploughing further energy into the futurist techno club
night “Machineʼ alongside Kirk Degiorgio.
Itʼs with Simsʼ multitude of achievements and notoritey in mind that the knowledge that ʻSmoke & Mirrorsʼ is his debut LP is somewhat unbelievable, but fact it is. After initially hooking up with Adam Beyerʼs Drumcode imprint late in 2010 after a long standing friendship, the affable and dry witted Simsʼ was persuaded to deliver an LP and the lengthy writing and selection process began. The result is 11 superb productions which showcase Benʼs talents, influences and perhaps most importantly, his vision of what techno can and should be.
From the off ʻSmoke & Mirrorsʼ is a technicolour affair that refuses to sit too comfortably into one groove, preferring to pull the listener through a range of vibes that, while disparate, flow together perfectly. As the album moves, snippets of new vibes bleed through before developing into themes and this is one of the brilliant elements of ʻSmoke & Mirrorsʼ.
The rousing and prophetically titled ʻRiots in Londonʼ opener leads us into a frenetic, dub-tinged and filter-driven aesthetic which is neatly carried on in ʻDescentʼ but subtly augmented with almost-there soulful vocal samples. This
nod to soulful elements is then carried on in the less pacey, house referencing ʻ The Snakeʼ which fuses stabbing keys to a skipping beat which is as much New York as it is Detroit, London or Berlin.
As ʻSmoke & Mirrorsʼ develops, suprises like the out-and-out tech-funk of ʻBack To The Podʼ and the street party disco of ʻCan You Feel It?ʼ are hinted at but never lack surprise when dropped. The emphatic drive of the huge
sounding ʻI Wanna Go Backʼ featuring Blake Baxter takes things back to techno territory and does so with real purpose while darker edged tracks such as the lethal ʻBulletʼ and the late-night discordance of ʻThe Afterpartyʼ ramp up the tension.
The twilight sections of Simsʼ debut are perfectly judged. The dubbed (and blissed) out title track lightens the mood before the slightly more aggressive but widescreen ʻThe Callingʼ trips proceedings out in anticipation of the closer,
the Tyree Cooper vocalled and aptly titled ʻI Feel It Deepʼ
ʻSmoke & Mirrorsʼ has been more than worth the wait. Itʼs as balanced, entertaining, engaging and powerful as youʼd expect from such an artist as Ben Sims and, comfrom Blake Baxter and Tyree Cooper, is essential stuff.
DJ SUPPORT FROM: ADAM BEYER, SLAM, BEN KLOCK, MARCEL DETTMANN, CARI LEKEBUSCH, TECHNASIA and many more.
- Techno, House and Hardgrooves