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Augmented Returns - 2

Augmented Returns is a column about art and music objects that we continue to return to, seeking to learn more from with each recurring visit. The second edition comes from Eric Hurtgen, a graphic designer and core member of The New Graphic.

During the early to mid-90s electronic music hit some kind of critical mass and exploded in both interest and output. Probably somewhat related to the rise of personal computing and the burgeoning rise of the nascent internet. Regardless, the art form grew along with the pace of technology and my interest grew along with it. I grew up in between middle America and the South, so Detroit and Chicago were the meccas, though I was definitely captivated by the sounds coming out of the UK. Most of the information at the time came through listservs and zines, that and buying the steady flow of mixes that came through the local record stores and at parties. One that particularly stands out to me was the well-considered Warp mix, Blech II. I picked it up at the right time to be very influenced by the whole thing.

The look and the feel of the disc belongs to mid-90s—the packaging expertly executed by the Designer’s Republic. The fact that it’s a CD and not some other format means something—most mixes were on cassette at the time. The mix itself is a record of some of the best of the small scene that was growing in and around Warp—Autechre, Aphex Twin, Mira Calix, Plaid, Squarepusher, among others. Not that the tracks or design are encased in amber, the emerging sound and the influence lives on—a lot of the work still sounds fresh. This is definitely an artifact that I enjoy having in my collection and don’t plan on passing along any time soon. Also, the “imported” sticker put there by an actual record store is a nice touch.