Boomkat Product Review:
2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of James Stinson and the releases of the Transllusion and Shifted Phases albums. In recognition, the rights holders, their families, and the label have commissioned Detroit-based contemporary artist Matthew Angelo Harrison to re-conceptualize the covers of Tresor's Drexciya-related catalogue. These editions will be released sequentially, bimonthly, starting early-September 2022. The series starts with Neptune's Lair, first released in 1999, with the Hydro Doorways single arriving shortly after. In November, Harnessed The Storm and Digital Tsunami are coming. In 2023 comes the release of Transllusion in February. The series is completed by the long-awaited re-release of Shifted Phases - The Cosmic Memoirs Of The Late Great Rupert J. Rosinthrope - at the end of March.
First released by Drexciya’s James Stinson and Gerald Donald in 1999 after establishing a cult reputation via EPs and 12”s for UR, Rephlex and Warp, ’Neptune’s Lair’ was issued by Berlin’s Tresor to the acclaim of those in the know. Since James Stinson died in 2002, in subsequent years the album has become widely regarded as their definitive opus - a hugely sophisticated, imaginative piece of Afrofuturist sonic fiction embedded with deeply rooted politics.
As the album approaches its 20th anniversary of release, it still holds the power to utterly transport us to other dimensions, both physically and philosophically. Using the ocean and water as metaphor for deep space, and by extension a site of the unknown, where far-fetched (but not entirely unreasonable) ideas about slave babies thrown overboard on slave-trade routes evolved into futuristic, practically alien beings, Drexciya, much like Sun Ra and his Saturnian roots, formed a whole world unto themselves thru their music and track titles and Abdul Haqq’s artwork, creating a sort of holistic gesamtkunstwerk as rich in subtext and noumenal flights of fancy as the most cult comic books or underground animation and cinema.
In context of the very late ‘90s, when ‘Neptune’s Lair’ was issued, these ideas - whilst perhaps oblique on some levels - were necessary and important, as the electro/techno/house paradigm had been largely whitewashed by labels, promoters and DJs who either didn’t understand, or didn’t want to understand, the roots of the worldwide dance phenomenon that cropped up a decade prior - one mostly generated by PoC based in urban US cities. As prevailing techno-electronic trends in 2018 prize forms of classic EBM and trance, it’s perhaps as important as ever ever to acknowledge Drexciya’s origins and intent, to historically hold their work up to the rest of the field as waves of new, plugged in dancers become enthralled by their Hi-Tech Sci-Fi.