Feeling subservient

Following closely in the footsteps of London’s (and Detroit’s) beloved Carl Cox, Montreal’s Misstress Barbara, the reigning queen of hard techno antes up with a solid studio mix on a label that was once associated with churning out countless boring electronica compilations. Taking a turn for the much better, Moonshine’s latest installment in the emerging “party in a jewel box” genre is surprisingly close to the real thing we call “techno.”

Quite appropriately, the mix begins with a recording of Barbara’s Prada heels walking down an echoing corridor, which she deftly transitions into elaborate conga rhythms and rolling synth stabs. Almost as soon as it has begun, Barbara leaves little doubt as to why she refers to herself as Miss Stress (it’s not just a spellcheck problem). Chester Beatty’s “Goldenball,” Marco Carola’s remix of “Pressure Theme” and The Cause’s “Yet Again” set the mix off well and are a good representation of Barbara’s brand of compressed, complex rhythms and pounding bass. Unlike her minimalist cohorts, Barbara shows her mastery of what might be described as full-flavored techno; lusciously thick and tonally rich tracks are boiled and served al dente.

The mix works as a progression, methodically deconstructing the various components of hard, funky techno until the depths of the music’s soul are revealed. In order to do so, Barbara takes the energy behind the first two-thirds of the mix — which is heavy, consuming and fast-paced — and slows down the BPMs just enough to sneak in some darker melodies and sexier grooves between the downbeats for an absolutely satisfying finale. Barbara (the misstress herself) Brown’s “Dammelo” oozes overt sexuality with soft vocals and a saucy synth arrangement. RSP’s “King of Hit Hat” and “Rok’s “Commodore” feel like the obligatory post-coital cigarette with their heavily textured bass lines and intelligently crafted drum programming. The beats are indeed relentless, and you’ll want to go again.

E-mail Robert Gorell at [email protected].

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