Isotope 217 – Mixed by Commander Mindfuck and Designer (Aesthetics, 1999)

Isotope 217
Mixed by Commander Mindfuck and Designer

CD Aesthetics AST06LP (USA, 03-1999)

01. Hodah (Commander Mindfuck Mix)
02. User Password: Lebar (Designer Mix)

Taken from live recordings and remixed and redesigned.

Isotope 217 is comprised of well known jazz artists and multi-faceted musicians acclaimed in the indie, electronic & jazz world’s. Jeff Parker, John Herndon, Dan Bitney, Rob Mazurek, Sarah P. Smith and Matt Lux are the players, all with lengthy musical backgrounds: Tortoise, Chicago Underground Duo, Trio, Orchestra, AACM, Tranquility Bass, The For Carnation, Poster Children, The Eternals, 5ive Style, The Tar Babies… Their first tour was opening for Tortoise in the spring of ’97. This group of musicians are consistently pushing the field of music and have continued to never let down. Their sound is a creative blend of structure, improvisation, and studio.
Released in March of 1999, these recordings were manipulated and remixed by two masterminds in electronic music.
Mike Kandel is Commander Mindfuck, more commonly known worldwide in the electronic community as Tranquility Bass. The Tranquility Bass release ‘Let The Freak Flag Fly’ (Astralwerks) heralded much critical acclaim for his music which Mike likes to call ‘experimental electronic freak-out music.’ He released ‘We Come In Peace’ & ‘Cantamilla’ on Exist Dance, the label he co-founded, and has released many other records, under various identities.
Casey Rice is Designer, who is well known for his numerous electronic 12inch releases on Soul Static Sound UK, Duophonic, Kultbox, Organico, Source, as well as Hefty where he collaborates with Damon Locks as Super Esp. Casey Rice is also well known for his sound engineering with Tortoise and his engineering and recording work with Liz Phair, Ben Lee, Joan Of Arc, and the Derrick Carter-Sound Patrol, to name only a few.

The innovative Chicago collective Isotope 217 delve deeper into the obscure with this project. This EP is essentially a collection of taped live performances that have been remixed by Casey Rice (Designer) and Commander Mindfuck. Musically, Isotope 217 attempt to push the envelope of improvised jazz, and the decision to offer their music to be further tweaked by DJ’s displays a creative edge not found in other contemporary jazz groups. It is this innovative spirit that sets Isotope 217 apart from mainstream acts, and gives their music a unique sound. This album provides glimpses of the different sides of Isotope. Sometimes reckless and other times carefully monitored, the bridges between these gaps are taken away, providing a pastiche of their music. This album is markedly different than The Unstable Molecule, the group’s debut album: the songs are longer and less structured, at times sounding like a Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis. Isotope 217 also dispense with much of the subdued tones found on Unstable, opting for a more biting, aggressive sound. Band leader Rob Mazurek’s trumpet is a predominant force as is the guitar playing of Jeff Parker. The Commander Mindfuck mix jumps around quite a bit, whereas Designer’s is more consistent. To understand this album completely, one needs the background of the first Isotope 217 album and Mazurek’s work in the Chicago Underground Duo. This is not the best introduction to Isotope 217, but it displays the vision of its leader Mazurek as a jazz revolutionary. (Marc Gilman, All Music Guide)

Free-jazz-funk-fusion? Si vous le dites… Personnellement j’aurais misé sur un croisement en laboratoire de jazz libertaire et de post-rock… Des remixes qui ne sonnent pas comme des remixes, un joli travail de reconstruction à partir de bandes live, et un résultat qui devrait faire monter la température dans vos écouteurs.

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