Synchrojack’s first EP, “Cash Machines” had many of San Francisco’s house DJs and fans running to the nearest cash machine in order to purchase it from the city’s vinyl emporiums — many of which are now sadly gone. At that point Ferox, the fine British label belonging to Russ Gabriel, was 14 releases deep. It had already put out records by Affie Yusuf, Cristian Vogel, Gabriel himself and other producers. Synchrojack’s Phaze II EP was release number 18 and was as keenly received as their previous record.
Gabriel took a break from pressing vinyl between 1999 and 2008 and is now back again as strong as ever. When you scan the imprint’s discography you get an idea of the important artists it featured and the valuable contribution it made to that beautiful gray area between house and techno. Ferox applied equal importance to both genres and the quality of its classic and new output makes it a go-to imprint for collectors, DJs and fanatics alike.
The review below is from 1995 when a staple point of conversation among any group of San Francisco house and techno DJs was, “Have you heard the new Synchrojack? Did you hear the EP before it? Damn, Ferox is the bomb!” Yes it was, and is. Investigate and set off on your own adventure into techno soul. My review is a little lukewarm, but I was a judgmental wanker back then. I’ve had that knocked out of me a bit and Russ Gabriel is still putting out bomb records. Win/win.
Phaze II EP
Synchrojack return after their sensational Yuletide five tracker with this four-track offering of bouncy technoid house. On the A side “900th Birthday” carries all the right elements, but is let down by an over repetitive bassline. “Staying OK” takes the jazzy techno route explored by the likes of Phil Asher, Joey Beltram on his second Code 6 outing and Larry Heard. However, once again the bassline fails to move me as it simply doesn’t exercise enough variety. “Quality of Life” goes for a smooth, sinewy and sparse groove that harks back to classic Suburban Knight; very funky and perfect for the house or techno floor.
“It’s Between Women” rounds this platter off with its lush selection of a warm, dubby bassline, smooth, glassy keyboard sounds, a meandering acidic synth line and snare happy motor city style percussion. Somehow this track reminds me of the excellent dubs you used to find on Italian records a few years ago (come back Andrea Gemolotto). Perhaps not as strong as the first release, but a must have all the same. Chris Orr