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  Laurent Garnier - The Cloud Making Machine - Mute
Rating: 1 out of 5

by Russ Marshalek

It seems that, in recent years, I have come to be Laurent Garnier's most ardently venomous (if not only) critic. While others hail the Frenchman as not only one of modern techno's founding fathers but also one of its few modern saving graces, I yawn as he releases a bloated 5-disc mix set. While my colleagues go crazy as he effortlessly lays down an 8 hour live set of techno, electro and house, tracing from "Hacienda State of Mind" to "Acid Eiffel," I roll my eyes as he pulls out that DJ crutch of all DJ crutches, "Blue Monday," and walk off the dance floor to go find someone (anyone) who hasn't been brainwashed. Sure, he's got the looks, the talent, and the productions under his belt-but I have yet to hear Garnier do ANYTHING to back up the message board fandom that proclaims him "The World's Greatest DJ" (sorry Tiesto).

So now Garnier presents us with his new artist album The Cloud Making Machine. The aforementioned fanatical whispers have it on the wire that it's "brilliant," "the most forward-thinking music ever," "a blend of jazz, ambient, IDM, house, and techno," and no doubt better than Grandma's peanut butter cookies. But, with the admission that, yes, I am ridiculously hard on the guy with the funny black hat, and that the Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest reference of the album's title (how's that, you old-school SNES freaks), the music that IS The Cloud Making Machine would be really mindblowing-if it wasn't tired retreadings of territory covered by Josh Wink, anyone on Schematic Records, and a little-known chap calling himself Aphex Twin who made a couple ambient albums you may have heard of a looooong time ago.

Wispy, trippy, noodely, at times trying to venture into hip-hop ("First Reaction") or chuggy house ("Controlling The House Pt. 2"), everything from the album's schitzo nature to the song titles screams of Josh Wink's seminal (and now classic meaning OLD) "Herehear" release. And what of those damned sound-games that seem to compile to make the rest of the record? Richard James, bless his less-than-recently-accomplished heart, set those all to tape years ago with his Selected Ambient Works Vols. 1 & 2. If those aren't weird enough for you, the entire collected output of Schematic Records over the past few years, particularly Kiyo's "Chaotic Odd Ends" and Nick Forte's "Pasted Lakes", should not only set you straight but paint Garnier as the annoying geek roommate you just kicked out because he was always playing with goddamn Absynth too much while you were trying to sleep. Amateur.

And what IS with Garnier trying to make brainy noodles where he was once content with acid squelching, anyhow? I'm reminded of the scene in 24 Hour Party People where the character of Shaun Ryder (lead singer for the Happy Mondays) is put on the spot to quote some of his "poetic lyrics" (which, in his fine moments, can be quite deep), and he comes up with "good, good, good, good, good, good, doubly good". THAT ecstasyed-into-submission state IS the Hacienda state of mind Garnier's been trying so damn hard to push lately, not the not-quite-ready-for-Warp-Records Tweebient he's presenting here. So why, Laurent, why go in this direction? The answer's simple: ambient, minimal, glitchy "Braindance," as the boys at Rephlex Records would have it labeled, is COOL right now. One look at John Digweed's recent Fabric mix track listing will prove the commercial viability of the sound, and no doubt the amount of cash The Cloud Making Machine will put in Garnier's pocket will prove it, as well. Trendsetter? Hardly. When "Herehear" was released it was new. Garnier's just following the trends and tracks already laid.

Yes, The Cloud Making Machine has its touching moments ("9.01-9.06" and the opening title track), but as a whole the record, which will no doubt be touted on every Electronic Music message board as the coolest, most amazing thing since Sasha.... did... whatever, falls flat and feels as cold, lifeless and uninspired as the cloud images in which it's supposed to conjure.


Cloud making Machine from Cloud Making Machine
by Laurent Garnier

Track Listing:

  1. The Cloud Making Machine Pt. 1
  2. 9.01-9:06
  3. Barbiturk Blues
  4. Huis Clos
  5. Act 1 Minotaure Ex.
  6. First Reaction (V2)
  7. Controlling The House Pt. 2
  8. (I Wanna Be) Waiting For My Plane
  9. Jeux D'Enfants
  10. The Cloud Making Machine Pt. 2

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