Mute - 2014
Ex is Ritchie Hawtin's first release under his Plastikman alias since his underachieving Closer album way back in 2003. The seven tracks here, all beginning with the capitalized letters "EX", were recorded live in 2013 at the annual fundraiser at New York's Guggenheim Museum. Those looking to judge Hawtin's recent work against the groundbreaking minimalist masterpieces he produced twenty years ago as Plastikman, starting with the whimsical sonic textures of Sheet One in 1993 to the almost somnambulant Consumed five years later, are bound to be a bit disappointed. Better then to take this as one would a late-period Kraftwerk or Brian Eno record. The former's Tour de France Soundtracks, for instance, was a thoroughly enjoyable sonic experience without pushing any new electronic boundaries.
That said, much of Ex treads paths taken when this sort of music was in its infancy, like the hiccupy blips of the opener 'EXposed' or the sinewy beats of the relatively clubby 'EXtrude'. After nearly three decades at the decks, Hawtin is a master at creating a dark, introspective electronic experience. His mixing and sense of timing are impeccable, especially during the first twenty-odd minutes of the set, where the tone is decidedly quieter. Things really get moving, however, around the half-hour mark of the performance, when Hawtin segues into the subtler motorik motifs that anchor 'EXplore'. Though Ex is hardly Hawtin's best work, it is still quintessentially Plastikman, and thus worth a listen.
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