Beatz By The Pound
#009: Pleasure Principle Loop Hooks

revolution number nine for Beatz, and this time we’ve got new reviews of The Field, Kerri Chandler, Phonique, Ellen Allien, My My and the latest from Get Physical. Also, Patrick McNally reviews Alan Braxe’s first DJ set ever, and the debut of Serials, our new section on compilation series’.

Alan Braxe at ISSST, The Key, London, May 2006

Alan Braxe has sold over two million records that are aimed straight for the heart of the dancefloor, most of them copies of “Music Sounds Better with You,” one of the best ever tracks about dancing and a giant crossover record that even the people I know who despise dance music grudgingly admit to liking (it was #2 in the UK back in August 1998.) Almost unbelievably, before the beginning of this month Alan Braxe had never played a DJ set in public, apparently preferring to be known for his production work.

His doing so deserves an in-depth report. Unfortunately this ain’t it, but I’ll endeavour to get as many details down as possible. It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention, but more that I was paying attention in the wrong way (with every sinew and fibre of my body—but not many brain cells). Also, I was drunk. If I could just write “I danced and had a lot of fun,” I would.

The Key, in Kings Cross, is a club that I’d had an awful experience with previously when it, along with other clubs in the same complex, was part of a hellishly overcrowded, incompetently organized, and hateful in all ways Soulwax “warehouse party.” Tonight, though, it was fine: friendly bar staff, a honeycomb dance floor that made me worry when the giant bees would be returning, and so much dry ice that I felt I was in a dream sequence from Manhunter or Risky Business. The sound was crisp and clear and bumping, but not so loud that I had no voice the next day from YELLING.

Here’s how things end up being in London—Justice and the Ed Banger Records crew along with Mr. Oizo were playing on the same night. In the club next door! And they got a bigger turnout, which is a shame but to be expected in the real or imagined constant NOW of dance music. On the plus side (for me, if not Braxe), it meant that there weren’t any boggly-eyed pill casualties except for one mullethead who’d travelled all the way from Scotland to get mashed and forget everything by the next day. Even he was friendly enough in a I-am-gonna-give-you-a-high-five kind of way.

What made Braxe decide that now was the time to play out (and in London rather than his homebase of Paris), I don’t know. Maybe it was the chance to DJ with Vulture label mate Kris Menace, who did the heavy lifting, manning the decks for most of the evening whilst Braxe cued up re-edits on his laptop. Not that division of labour mattered. As a force, they were hands in the air exciting all night, starting as they meant to go on—hi-impact—with a pitched up “LFO,” “Body Language” and some Chicken Lips before moving into filter-disco. There was surprisingly little I knew except for Lifelike and Kris Menace’s “Discopolis” and a vocal-less, re-cut and stripped-to-the-bone “Music Sounds Better with You” that removed the anthemic whilst keeping the disco propulsion. It was like a suite of variations on the first three seconds of the track, ever spawning and replicating. Near the end, three hours later, there was a baffling mindwarp of an edit of “O Superman” by Laurie Anderson (was it chosen because it also reached a highest chart position of #2 in the UK?) I emailed my brother to find out what I’d forgotten but all he could add was that Braxe “looks like a typical man from the Tricolour French textbooks from school... (i.e. like a sex criminal).”

Then Cagedbaby stepped up and killed the vibe as easily as Braxe had killed EQs with a set of ‘roided-out Bloc Party remixes and tracks that instruct you to have fun just a little too emphatically. It didn’t really matter, though. The best was over with and I managed to get chucked out by the bouncers anyway. I stood in the cool morning light, ears still ringing, loose limbed, and sweaty because I hadn’t stopped moving all night.
[Patrick McNally]

Featured Release

Shyza Minelli - To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Label/Catalog #: Sub Static / sus_55
Released: May 2006

This fantastically named 12” is one of those rare releases where all three tracks are playable, distinctive, and brilliant. “Shyza All Night Long” is a deep Booka Shade style night-starter. “Rippin Pop” is jacking in that all-conquering DJ Koze style, and sounds like it was made as a present for Ivan Smagghe. Then just when you think it can’t get any better, “Gravity Master” comes on like a nine minute dub house epic with weirdo vocals, it’s almost, dare I say it, punk-funk, but don’t let that stop you. This is a scintillating record from start to finish, easily one of the best packages of the year so far.
[Ronan Fitzgerald]

The Consensus
A Beatz by the Pound Roundtable Review

Snax & Ianeq - Fill Me Up
Label/Catalog #: Get Physical Music / GPM 043
Released: April 2006

Mallory O’Donnell: Get Physical and Playhouse in a crossover smash? Get real! But here it is, Snax moonlighting from his Captain Comatose gig and hooking up with Ianeq for two tracks of that Deutscher-boy laptop R&B;, each track featured in both longer original form and shorter edit courtesy of M.A.N.D.Y. "Ain't That Love" brings the heavy clunky-funk vibe and tranceoid atmospheric strings, but it's "Fill Me Up" that gets the gold star for white-on-white soul cut of the month. Daring enough to rope in some fat-bottom acid squelch along with the classy falsetto, "Fill Me Up" is enough to inspire thoughts of an alternate universe in which the Red Hot Chili Peppers discovered house music and suddenly ceased to suck.

Ronan Fitzgerald: Fans of discarded Kitsuné b-sides form an orderly queue! Snax and Ianeq have brought some good old-time Prince booty music to Get Physical! Just in case you don’t like anything the label has done to date, they’ve kindly deviated from their usual style to bring you a sugary slice of fake pop music. Given there’s a radio edit, maybe this is intended to be a chart hit, but even in Germany it’s hard to imagine anyone giving a damn about “Fill Me Up.” Of course neither the vaguely pervy clunk of the title track nor the Lil Louis meets Chromeo vibe of “It Ain’t Love” sound irredeemably awful, but at least if they did you’d be less ambivalent about what’s essentially a massive waste of time from a usually efficient label like Get Physical.

The Consensus
A Beatz by the Pound Roundtable Review

Fuckpony - Ride the Pony
Label/Catalog #: Get Physical Music / GPM 044
Released: April 2006

Ronan Fitzgerald: Thankfully, Fuckpony’s “Ride The Pony” ends up being everything that “Fill Me Up” is not. It’s sexier, more raw, and it actually bothers to mix its retro elements with 00s house music feeling. The title track is burbling in a Classic Records style, with a vocodered vocal that’s a perfect string of rhyming Trax records clichés. But it’s “Cell Phone Hit” that steals the show. On Tuning Spork, Jay Haze and Samim have been flirting with the idea of ditching the minimal and making a record this garish and sleazy for some time. There’s no doubt Get Physical is pretty much the label for interesting pop-art-techno fusions these days, but it really must be done with some imagination otherwise it’s not worth the effort.

Nate De Young: Caro’s “My Little Pony” apparently sewed the seeds for the latest genre fad: prurient-pony-house. Jay Haze and Samim Winiger’s latest on Get Physical extends the wink-nudge of Caro, pairing a cartoon-western landscape cover with the title Ride the Pony. The title track is everything your heart and loins desire, with a beckoning diva and a backing track that gains velocity throughout the song. Just in case you were confused about the song’s title, Fuckpony include found-sound of a guy peddling rides—and yes, it’s totally necessary. “Cell Phone Hit” might be no less salacious (e.g. “I got to get inside ya”), but both B-sides maintain the propulsion of the title cut. If this is an attempt to brand the pony as a sex symbol, Fuckpony didn’t forget to bring the tattooing iron.

Rekid - Made in Menorca
Label/Catalog #: Soul Jazz / SJR132
Released: May 2006

Depending on where you’re coming from, Rekid’s Matt Edwards will probably be better known for his big-room house remixes of Elton John, Tiga, and Jentina or for his bearded disco as Quiet Village Project. Rekid catches him making slo-mo frozen-in-the-strobe-light discoid house. “85 Space” and “Tranzit” sound like Edwards has slowed them down in an audio editor until echo and spring reverb swirls like thick cream poured slowly into black coffee, and that’s probably what they are—screwed, but not chopped. Sometimes I listen to this record and nothing happens, it’s disco with its blood drained and cold lips, but sometimes—like right now!—the degraded cowbell and resonant white noise creep of tracks like “Lost Star6” or “Arp” are as voluptuous and overwhelming as any woman in a Fellini movie.
[Patrick McNally]

The Field - Sun & Ice
Label/Catalog #: Kompakt / KOM137
Released: April 2006

While the cut-up method has left literature snacking with newspaper forks, its most unnerving use in music has been chugged straight from the word blender. Letting Todd Edwards turn the shape of a speech bubble into a tornado and Scott Herren (in his Prefuse 73 guise) make dada into a glitched-hopped phrase, rapid-fire edits only achieve the startling otherness they deserve with speech. But rarely have phonemes sounded as comforting as with The Field’s newest EP, Sun & Ice. With “Over the Ice” Axel Willner (The Field) uses phrases as exfoliates. “Istedgade” sounds like the distant waves of a euro-dance hit before locking into a pleasure-principle loop-hook. The song’s blurry phrase repeats and reveals a slow ebb and flow that never says the same thing twice. And while the strummed guitars bear a resemblance to Superpitcher’s moody epics, Willner sheds the Rhein’s cloudy days for Stockholm’s lucid nights. Although the demo spilled onto the internet a while back, the title track hasn’t aged second—the song is swoon-worthy and provides the perfect backdrop to a packed lunch of cut-ups. Highly Recommended.
[Nate De Young]

My My - Swiss on Rye
Label/Catalog #: Playhouse / PLAY124
Released: May 2006

With their third single for Playhouse, My My sound like they’re splitting the difference between their best poles. Taking another devastating use of bass and space (cue “Serpentine”) and throwing on a series of corkscrew phrases (cue “Bel Etage Time”), “Swiss on Rye” may not be shockingly new for the group, but that’s beside the point. My My is flexing their collective muscles and the act of just trying to keep up is enough. With enough studio trickery to notice but natural enough to not know why (ala backward-audio sections sounding more “normal” than the rest), “Swiss on Rye”’s breezy tone can float past as easily as be picked apart. On the flip, “Brown Lily” is anything but breezy—the song’s deadening thud is the sound of what lurks in the darkened corridor. Tread carefully.
[Nate De Young]

Ellen Allien & Apparat - Way Out
Label/Catalog #: BPitch Control / BPC 129
Released: May 2006

The extended dance remix makes a welcome reappearance on the second from the still wondrous Orchestra of Bubbles. "Way Out," gets a loving elongation that is, yes, more danceable, and also stretches out the great bleepity bloops that got compressed in the album edit. It's casual Friday at the meat-packing plant for Robag Wrumhe's mix, a loose-limbed romp through mechanistic EBM beats and the sound of power systems failing. But this release is one worth buying for the b-sides alone—"Rotary" ups the BPMs yet preserves a sense of calm, buffeted all the while by Ellen's trademark moody synthetics. "Sleepless," on the other hand, is a stunner, with a slithering Allien vocal (think Annie in her sultry mode or early Bjork) contrasted by some zither-plucking action and the rising, then falling patterns of drums and waveforms.
[Mallory O’Donnell]

Kerri Chandler - After the Other Thing for Linda EP
Label/Catalog #: Downtown 161 / www002
Released: April 2006

Deep house is an oft- and deservedly-maligned genre, much of it too self-referential and self-conscious to ignite any but the most condescending dancefloor. In the hands of its few auteurs, though—of which Kerri Chandler is one—the staid formulas attain a new life. Avoiding the gravity of the genre in favor of levity, Kerri adds blues harp on "Out to the Boonies" and transcends the usual stereotypes. Despite a great snare sound, "I Will Send It" is so far, so Mr. Fingers, and "Downtown" a rather monochrome exercise in boompty-boom drums and keyboard stabs. Like those of his peers, Chandler's tracks attain much greater "depths" when employing jazz-influenced solos and live instrumentation. Still, devotees of the sound will find much to occupy them here. Meanwhile, the rest of us wait for Kerri to drop Trionosphere II and revive the art of the DH long-player.
[Mallory O’Donnell]

Phonique - Gaga
Label/Catalog #: Moodmusic / MOOD 040
Released: May 2006

Phonique has brought us a number of classics in recent years, but this is my favorite thus far - there are a number of genre touchstones I could call upon to define it, but this is ultimately a release that moves across stylistic boundaries with ease. Presented in two equally strong versions—an amped-up original and a sleeker Tim Paris remix, "Gaga" is perfect for dancefloors with a psychedelic edge, and dancers who aren't afraid to mix a little bug-out into their bump-n-grind. It hints at the previous Phonique characteristics—humpy electro without the dirtiness, darkwave disco without any unnecessary clackity-clack—and adds a dimension of rubbery, gelatinous groove.
[Mallory O’Donnell]

Remute - Please Say Something
Label/Catalog #: Ladomat 2000 / LADOMAT 2185
Released: April 2006

Christopher Just’s remix is the one to check here. That is, if you like huge invasive 4/4s and vulgar distorted basslines, plus squeaky noises and triumphant string breakdowns which sound a bit like Daft Punk making trance music. It’s soiled a little by a slightly annoying outro, with contains a stupid vocal sample that sounds a little like “yip, yo, yip yip yo” and the tempo of this will be recognised by clubbers as the “asshole with a whistle” riddim, but these are mild irritations: this record will probably be pretty big.
[Ronan Fitzgerald]

This time: The Disco-tech of… series from France’s Yellow Productions; home and launching pad for Kid Loco, Dimitri From Paris, and Bob Sinclair.

The Disco-tech of…Julien Jabre (2003)
Still the only CD with Julien’s name on it, it is also the most diverse entry in the series so far, ranging from jazzy fusion, to disco and deep house, with little emphasis on the “tech.” To be honest, Jabre dangerously flirts with samba-ish cocktail jazz and velvety vocal house throughout, but through excellent mixing and sequencing, he does manage to hold interest way longer than, say, Thievery Corporation. Besides bookending the mix with a snippet of Philippe Sarde’s tumultuous score to “Les Choses De La Vie,” and including the extended version of Carl Craig’s epochal “Domina,” there’s little to interrupt the lush keyboards, round edges, and accomplished arrangements of each track here. And while it’s surprising to hear anonymity coming from tracks by such heavyweights as Herbie Hancock and Marvin Gaye, it’s good to see a mix that gives the smoother, classier side of jazz, disco, and house music a more respectable (if completely un-hip) name.

The Disco-tech of…DJ Cosmo (2003)
Veteran NYC/London resident Collen Murphy (aka DJ Cosmo) isn’t as well-known as Jabre or Robotnick, so here’s a short resume: she runs the label Bitches Brew, is a member of that forgotten Playhouse supergroup Light Fantastic, and is one of the few people allowed to fill in for David Mancuso during one of his famous loft parties. Right. Murphy’s mix is probably the one in the series that fits conceptions of what one would think “disco-tech” would sound like. Chicken Lips, Metro Area, Robotnick, Gino Soccio, and other synth-heavy artists fill out the tracklisting, including a slaying instrumental version of Rafael Cameron’s Salsoul hit “Boogie’s Gonna Get Ya” that is practically worth the price of admittance. There’s also a couple of great detours: namely the Isaac Hayes-baiting funk of Los Chicharbons and the old-school disco rapping by Fertile Ground. The only problem I have with this mix is that it feels more like a collection of good/excellent tracks that stand up by themselves, rather than a solid blended mix. Pickiness aside, Murphy holds her own against Jabre and Robotnick.

The Disco-tech of…Alexander Robotnick (2004)
Definitely the most popular in the series, Mr. Robotnick’s mix lays down the links between electro-clash, new wave, and italo disco while still being defiantly populist. It’s likely that since Maurizio Dami never DJed throughout the 80s, he hasn’t worn out all of the obvious genre touchstones and headed towards white-label obscurity. So, you get such familiar new wave staples like “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “Wordy Rappinghood,” and “Enola Gay” rubbing up against nu-school tracks from Miss Kitten, Bangkok Impact, and Dopplereffekt (with a half-dozen italo classics splitting the hipster difference.) It may not have as much value to dance music nerds, but it does show a neat musical continuity over the past three decades: all the canonical tracks of each era have a similar idea of what defined radiant, romantic, and melodic dance music.
[Michael F. Gill]

In The Mix: Todd Burns

01: The Deacon - Multi-Dimensional Drama
02: Cabanne - Dirtymove
03: Britney Spears - Me Against the Music (Justice Remix)
04: Tim Paris - Standing Up
05: Codec and Flexor - Broke Free
06: The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health (Trentemoller Remix)
07: Van She - Kelly (Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Remix)
08: Hervé Ak - My Favourite Smile
09: Manual - Bajamar

Mallory O'Donnell
My Robot Friend - 23 Minutes in Brussels
My My - Swiss on Rye
Hot Chip - Boy from School (Maida Vale Version)
Kris Menace - Voyage
Ellen Allien & Apparat - Way Out (Dance Remix)
Snax & Ianeq - Fill Me Up
Mr. Cisco - Culo
Tim Paris - Standing Up (Goldman Remix)
Phonique - Gaga (Tim Paris Remix)

Ronan Fitzgerald
Serge Santiago - Anticipation
Falko Brocksieper - Hardwired EP
Hot Chip - Boy from School (Cosmic Sandwich Mix)
Pet Shop Boys - Flamboyant (Michael Mayer Mix)
Gui Boratto - Strobe
Fuckpony - Cell Phone Hit
Ost and Kjex – Kjexterminate
Claude Vonstroke - The Whistler
I-Robots - Spacer Frau (Boys Noize Remix)
Shyza Minelli - To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Michael F. Gill
Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Zulu Rock
Donna Allen – Serious
Full Intention – I Believe in You
K Hand – Mystery
Various Artists – Cream Collect: Balearic
Awesome 3 – Don't Go (Kicks like a Mule mix)
Boytronic –Bryllyant
Patato & Totico – Patato & Totico
The Congos – Congoman Chant
Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-05-19
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