Boogybytes Vol. 04
Record Review by Adam McKibbin
Keeping up with Ellen Allien is no easy task. As the head of Bpitch Control and one of the leading ambassadors for Berlin electronic music and electronic in general, Allien (a recurring Red Alert favorite) has released a cornucopia of mixes over the years. Vol. 04 is her first entry in her label’s own Boogybytes series, which last saw shepherding from Modeselektor. That volume served as an enjoyable and eclectic lead-in to their fabulous Happy Birthday! Allien, too, has a “proper” album on the way - SOOL - in late May, and while it’s a little early to give a full review, suffice to say that she’s succeeded again in shifting gears while maintaining one of the more singular voices in the genre.
Her current fixation is minimalism, and Boogybytes Vol. 04 offers fewer pushes of the envelope than perhaps expected (fairly or unfairly) - and certainly fewer stylistic forks in the road than Modeselektor’s mix. She works instead to find a hypnotic techno groove with seemingly the fewest ingredients possible; again, minimal is the word of the day. The selections are smart and the mix is seamless in parts and deliberately jarring in others, as Allien teases the listener’s expectations and keeps them from getting too comfortable. Andres Zacco and Lucas Mari’s “Carbonela (Seph’s Vidrionela Rmx)” makes for a detour five songs in, an edgy four or five minutes fleshed out with scratchy sound effects. “Carbonela” melts away into “Christmas Fairytale (Moessap Edit”) from Konpiuta and “Eyes Forlorn” by Sozadams, a one-two punch that leads into the album’s best stretch (which also features Lucio Aquilina’s stylish “My Cube”). Other notables elsewhere include Ricardo Villalobos and Patrick Ense (“Fizpatrick”) and current Allien tourmate Sascha Funke (“Double Checked”).
Allien may not be Queen Midas, but she has a remarkably consistent and compelling track record. Boogybytes Vol. 04 is another success for her, although it’s unlikely it will be remembered as one of her finest hours. Both the beginning and end stretches take a little too long to find their footing, and none of the songs jump out in the way that makes you rush out to gobble up the responsible artist’s catalog. Allien’s choice for a closer, a sparse and quite lovely Little Dragon ballad (“Twice”), fades the mix away perfectly and winds up serving as one of the mix’s signature moments.
Even though Little Dragon brings the house lights up, listeners usually don’t have to wait very long before hearing from Ms. Allien again - and that's certainly the case this time with her very own SOOL right around the corner. The party never stops, really - even if it’s not quite the sort of party you’re used to.
Ellen Allien - Interview 
Ellen Allien & Apparat - Interview
Ellen Allien - Thrills
Ellen Allien - Time Out presents The Other Side Berlin
More by this writer:
Ghostly International (V/A) - Idol Tryouts Two
Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) - Interview
Hefty Records (V/A) - Hefty 10 Digest
The DFA - Remixes: Chapter One