Carthage Milk

Studio Album by released in 2005

Carthage Milk review

While it'd be a wonderfully strange twist if the balding, sensitive, adult-contemporary singer/songwriter responsible for such '70s hits as Carolina in My Mind had suddenly made a shift to minimal techno producer, it needs to be clarified that this James Taylor happens to be the one who helped catapult dubby minimal techno back in '98 as one half of the Swayzak. Since then this English duo has been servicing the global electronic music scene with their deep, groovy sound. With four albums under their belt already, varying from the subtle high-quality house of Snowboarding In Argentina (1998) and Himawari (2000) to the more pop sound of Dirty Dancing (2002) and Loops From The Bergerie (2004), this double-team have always been guided by their desire to make their recordings elegant and precise. Carthage Milk has James Taylor traveling back to the release of Snowboarding In Argentina, Swayzak's first outing, to rediscover the deep, contemplative roots of their tech house sound.

This solo album is incredible. Every track is scrupulously produced, maintaining a delicate balance of thoughtful, sophisticated minimalism and engaging textural richness throughout, from the first to the last track. Clear, crisp microsound has never been so groovy and rolling as on the opening number, Never Really Wanted To Be Like You. The jumpy beats of Jackflap are enough to drive any dancer crazy with frustration while Take Me Or Break Me hits the sweet spot with a quirky buzz and melodic strings. Myoptix has a driving electro bassline that's worthy of some serious dance floor energy. The bowed double bass sounds on Wagonlites underscore the thumping kicks with a memorable melancholy feeling perfect for rainy days.

Taking a break from popular techno juggernaut Swayzak hasn't meant a total break from music for James Taylor proves on this release. It has however, meant a departure for the pop vocal elements that have made Swayzak exceptionally popular given the rather underground nature of their musical style. With a touch of house and deep ambience, James Taylor gives us a more personal sound. But no matter what sub-sub-genre of electronic music Taylor applies, he tapers each cut with equal parts tech-dub warmth and glitchy precision. Taylor has made a very moody yet funky album, a nice addition to more adventurous techno record collections. Carthage Milk is not the work of a man on sabbatical.