Gatefold double LP version. Marc Houle has been famous for his releases on Richie Hawtin's M_nus label. Now the U.S. producer unleashes his brand-new album on his own imprint Items & Things (which is co-owned by Magda and Troy Pierce). Undercover is a double departure. His last album, Drift (MINUS 098CD/LP) was on M_nus, and his label, Items & Things, was a M_nus sub-label. He's now left the label, and Items & Things stands on its own two feet. With this new-found freedom, Marc's synth-driven techno sound continues to grow, evolve and surprise. Nowhere is this growth more evident than in the tracks that make up Undercover. Things kick off with "Hearing," which has a bassline that drives like a vintage Mercedes shifting gears on the Autobahn as it picks up speed. The synths, with their soft melody, let you know how smooth the suspension is while a metallic voice whispers in your ear from the back seat. "Undercover" is a case study in the deep and moody side of old school Chicago house. "Juno 6660" sounds like what could have happened if early Warp artists like LFO and Sweet Exorcist had grown up on NYC freestyle rather than Detroit techno. "Very Bad" is actually very good, so Marc must be referring to something else entirely. "Bink" sounds like it's from an old music box that's been wound up just a little too far, held steady only by 4/4 beat, acid house claps and bouncy bass. On "Am Am Am," Marc takes things in a bit of an industrial direction. Not the industrial of Nitzer Ebb and Einst├╝rzende Neubauten, but rather, a construction site buried deep inside an unsettling dream. When "Mooder" drops, you wake up slowly and find yourself back on the dancefloor. The track's driving rhythm and pitter-pat toms keep things moving underneath the track's ever-dreamy pads. The album concludes with "Under The Neath," which succeeds in taking things even deeper while at the same time unearthing Marc's roots in the sound of Detroit techno. With influence and inspiration from such diverse sources, Undercover carves out a distinctive flow that is all his own.