Ride's 'OX4,' Erol Alkan's 'Fabriclive 77' in Coachella groove

Randall Roberts
Contact ReporterLos Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
'90s British guitar band Ride is back for Round 2 at Coachella. But first, 'OX4'

Two Coachella-related releases to celebrate in advance of the festival.

Ride, "OX4: The Best of Ride" (Rhino Records). Though the British guitar band called it quits in 1996, the thick layers of distortion and washes of melodies it made during its mid-1990s prime are likely still echoing somewhere in the galaxy. Until a few months ago, those reverberations were all fans had to sustain themselves with. Ride, which rose as part of essential English label Creation Records' roster, has lain dormant for nearly two decades but is returning for Round 2 when it hits the Coachella Music and Arts Festival.

Along with fellow Creation bands My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver and Medicine, Ride and its peers have spawned a legion of admirers and imitators. Born in Oxford, England, during a particularly ripe time for melodic, feedback-happy guitar bands, Ride never achieved the status of My Bloody Valentine, but the quartet crafted a sound that at its best channeled the spirit of British guitar pop and post-punk and merged it with the harmonic vibe of Los Angeles in the 1960s. The band released four albums between 1990 and 1996, and the highlights are spread across "OX4: The Best of Ride."

Recently reissued in the U.S., this collection gathers work from throughout Ride's six years. Guitar texture was paramount, and the group found tones through use of myriad effects pedals and electronic units. During a recent phone conversation, Ride's Mark Gardener told me he had to undertake sonic archaeology to uncover the buried tones and settings he hadn't used since.

"I became like a white-coat lab technician" with one particular piece of gear, he said. "I had kept all of the Ride sounds in the machine." One spin of "Vapour Trail," which sounds like Byrds-era Los Angeles channeled through circuitry mazes designed by M.C. Escher, suggests the lab work will prove valuable in Indio.

Erol Alkan, "Fabriclive 77" (Fabric Worldwide). The British dance music producer and DJ has been active for more than a decade; on his DJ mix "Fabriclive 77," he proves his depth by ending this 70-minute mix of house, techno and experimental beats with his remix of Saint Etienne's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." The influential dance-pop group's cover of the Neil Young classic was an early rave anthem, one that Alkan upends in hypnotic fashion.

In the hour leading up, Alkan rips through a joyous, rhythmically wild and un-boring series of Chicago house-centric tracks that further confirms his beat knowledge — and hints at future dance tent glory on the pitch. Whether Phreak's rhythm box banger "Acid On," Tom Rowlands' (Chemical Brothers) solo groover "Through Me" or Alkan's own minimalist acid house track "Bang," this relentless, dynamic mix makes for a delightful roadtrip soundtrack.


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