#010: Kick Starts
nto double digits for Beatz by the Pound, and we’ve got new reviews of Gabriel Ananda, Vitalic, Michael Mayer & Reinhard Voigt, Idjut Boys, and Carl Craig, among a whole host of other items for your delectation. Away we go!
Obsession is not an unfamiliar word to any serious or avid music fan. I assume many people reading this have dealt with it on one or multiple levels in music. I had always penciled myself in with music obsessives, people who loved to talk for hours on end about new releases, singles, genres, controversy, musical politics, et al. But lately, something has been feeling off about this pairing. Presently, it seems more likely that music is obsessing and dominating over me, instead of the other way around. And perhaps I’m a little uncomfortable with how good it feels.
I’ve enjoyed the recent intelligent and thoughtful musings on Stylus’ Soulseeking articles; I’ve marveled at the amount of ways music critics and bloggers can scholarly expound on musical and extra-musical elements that would have seemed esoteric to me, and I’ve watched heated message-board discussions develop with a sense of weariness and wonder. But when it comes down to it, I’d rather immerse myself headfirst in music than feverishly write about. I was a musician and music lover long before I wrote about it, and I commonly find it hard to distance myself emotionally from it. This is something a standard critic must do, in order to objectively interpret meaning and evaluate quality. Therefore, you can see how it would be to a critic’s advantage to be able to obsess and defiantly rule over the music itself rather than the other way around.
It’s no secret that I’m a zealous fan of dance music, from disco to house to techno to anything that can fall under the broad umbrella of “minimal.” Obsessing over every little detail, from sub-labels and sub-genres, to signature hi-hat sounds and keyboard patches has become a requisite part of the territory; removing this focus is like trying to appreciate and analyze a slide of germs without a microscope. It’s an intensity that I find seeping elsewhere. While listening to the new Superlongevity compilation on the bus recently, I glanced down at my skin and found myself counting the hairs on my arm. And look, there’s a tiny blemish near my elbow. By the time I’m squeezing each of my fingers, measuring the slightly different sentiment each one produces, the music has attained a strong emotional control over me.
Admittedly, there is something a bit wrong about this, being so tied up in one area of life, obsessively hunting down new music, information, and then going to see people play it. Surely, I should focus more on my job, my friends, and my physical well-being more than trying to find out the best Afro-disco singles from the 80’s. Or discovering that Daft Punk’s logo nearly rips of the Strictly Rhythm logo:
Yet music is the most consistent source of joy in my life at the moment, and for the moment I have no problem letting myself be overwhelmed by it, no matter the anti-social ramifications (this being America, not Germany.) Things like the buoyancy of a great DJ set, the nomadic surprises of crate-digging, that spunky drive you feel upon following scents of a sub-genre towards its actual taste; these things excite me more than they should. Perhaps it’s the archivist in me that sees these obscure vinyl releases, new and old, as forgotten fragments of feeling. That these abandoned feelings, dreams, beliefs, and hopes belonging to remote people and communities can trickle down from a piece of vinyl to my hand and into my head. What a joyous panic these thoughts bring me! A whistle and a fever, then I see a wall tethered to spinning circles. A knock on the wrong. A vision finally spread into two. Two skins into a flare. Oh the joy of discovery! Oh the pain of obsession.
[Michael F. Gill]
Ihre Personliche Glucksmelodie Remixes
Karmarouge / KR 18
Outstanding! Eager to redeem themselves after their tepid remix of "I Feel Space," Freeform Five weigh in with a hardcore mover in the classic vein of their earliest reworks. The focus here is on booty-grinding action, loved up with a touch of the electro-gone-jazz craziness that remains a F5 hallmark. It's damn near impossible to resist—tech-house breakdowns and fist-pumping flourishes abound, to the delight of those with a fixation on being the next champion ass-shaker. The Dominik Eulberg remix is nothing short of a revelation for those of us still skeptical about the talents of this highly-touted artist—bringing all his heady touches to the fore while still making the flesh flap on the dancefloor. One of the most outstanding releases of the season, this is a double-sider that deserves to be right at the top of your shopping list next time you hit the vinyl bins.
A Beatz by the Pound Roundtable Review
Michael Mayer & Reinhard Voigt / Davidovitch
Kompakt Extra / KOMEX36
Presumably there are people in the indie kid turned Kompakt kommunity that don’t start thinking “calling Mr Raider, calling Mr Wrong, calling Mr Vain” when they hear “Transparenza.” Shame on them! “Tranzparenza” is essentially a great piece of pop trance just in time for summer. And if you’re going to break a trance taboo, then why not do it with an air raid siren?! On the flip Davidovitch’s “Cellophane” continues the summer in the 90s theme. I’m too young to remember if Ace of Base released “12 inch versions,” or what kind of seedy underworld clubs played these, but if they did then “Cellophane” is surely what they sounded like; stomping dub basslines for the holiday resort beach.
Coulda told me Davidovitch's b-side was Senor Coconut stabbing at some sideways America's Most Wanted, Commish or New York Undercover theme, I'da believed. This is by far the most shoulder-jiggly synth-noir wax I've heard out the Speicher series, which once used to put out real dance(able) music but now has become a repository for shitty basslines like this one, blup blup blup, fat guy doing the stairmaster. I appreciate the "steady beat with crazy shit on top" approach—crazy shit here being some dentist drill sounds and a dude talking about stuff—but this is camp at best, and it's too slow to dance to anyway.
Know what? I think Mayer and R. Voigt actually do take a cop theme for their side. Listen to "Transparenza," then listen to the turnaround on (the original) "Axel F.” The whole thing is a pleasant if not accidental Rex the Dog homage, the synths way too rounded off for either Mayer or Voigt. And like Davidovitch, crazy shit on top is the game's name, but these vets pronounce their beats better, their snares crumpling not snapping, their smarts in the kicks.
Lily Of The Valley
Mobilee / mobilee010
Mobilee brings it back home with a new single from Anja Schneider. Already on a fairly slick roll after some great remixes for Alison Marks and Aural Distortion, Anja now comes with a sound that’s a little techier than usual. “Lily of the Valley” is acid-drenched, but still maintains that huge heavy Mobilee dub in the beats and bassline. “Addicted” perhaps is the better of the two, in spite, or because of its relative simplicity. As always the melodies are deep and haunting; it’s just more perfect house music from Mobilee.
Vitalic & Linda Lamb
Citizen / CTZ011
Vitalic has made a pretty solid reputation for himself out of turning other artist's cliches into something exciting—and he's done it here yet again. However, about another foot further towards the sound of 90's dance and I'd be shaving my legs again and waiting for the Chemical Brothers remix. As it is, he keeps the big, booming rock beats and acid-wash textures in careful balance—very admirable. There's something in this track that suggests a certain dangerous presupposition, though: the more Vitalic creeps towards floor-filling beats, the closer he gets to wackness. Now, "Bells" ain't wack—but it very well could have been. Luckily, there's some squirrelly synths and (duh) bell-like tones that keep us tuned in. A compromise, then: between all-out success and deep textural pleasures in the service of a somewhat dubious God.
Kitsuné / KITSUNÉ 034
It's said you shouldn't kick a man when he's down, but Mr. Sky might have missed that memo. Hearing this after “Bells (Citizen),” it's hard not to think that “Ape-X” injects the same rock / techno / electro / disco breaks formula with a whole lot more life. Especially considering how Adam Sky wraps those mouth-watering organic percussion breaks around such a bleepy, 1 AM electro heartbeat without missing a bar. This is going in the box if for no other reason than the fact that the moments held in suspension in between build-ups suggest that Ecstasy might make a welcome comeback on the market sometime soon. Recommended for those who like epic slabs of stool-softening beats thundering in their heads whilst they shake and jerk around the room like insane fools.
Idjut Boys / Rune Lindbæk
Bear Funk / BFK 018
Known mostly for their excellent mixes focusing on the dubby, psychedelic end of the dancefloor, as well as their inveterate love of all things residing at the deeper end of disco, Idjut Boys come up with a bit of a surprise on "Laisn." It's a far more down-tempo affair than usual—a bit like Dominik Eulberg remixing Kruder/Dorfmeister. Kalabrese’s remix adds a blues sample and extra percussion to great effect, focusing on the warmness and mindbending-ness of the original. Moodmusic’s Sasse checks in with a mix that wields the same elements, but ends up taking too long a ride to Dub Town…anyone still listening by the end winds up left at the station with a pocketful of change and a half-smoked blunt, wondering whether or not they just missed the transfer.
James T. Cotton
Spectral Sound / SPC-35
Tadd Mullinix resurrects his James T. Cotton guise for the infectious “Oochie Coo,” and heads directly to rump-shaking territory. Over crashing hi-hats, stuttering snare snaps, and a bouncing bass groove, Mullinix lays down some schmoooove talk to his lady while the track percolates into a frenzy. Tip: the louder you play this, the better it sounds, and the more you play it, the more infectious it is. On the flip, “My Zel” is a fairly unremarkable, mid-tempo analog shaker with sizzling cymbals and big tom-toms pushing the rhythm, but 2AM/FM’s remix of “T-Y-O-C Painkillers” strips the original down and sells the parts, resulting in a throbbing head-nodder in the classic Trax/acid house style. Another winner from the Ghostly/Spectral camp.
Baby Ford + Eon/Link
Dead Eye / Amenity
Plus 8 / PLUS8086
The past few years have seen Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva’s Plus 8 imprint alternately looking forward and backward. There’ve been both excellent new school techno releases (Alex Under, Adam Beyer) and key reissues (Teste, Taksi, and Hawtin’s own Plastikman project) that influenced the label’s own output. The latest Plus 8 missive falls firmly in the latter camp, a double-A side of two hard-to find classics that still have the power to rock modern dancefloors. “Dead Eye”—originally the debut release on Ford’s IFACH label—sees Baby Ford and Ian Loveday working a thumping, scratchy, shuffling 4/4 groove over some seriously moody keys for an epic journey through the dark. “Amenity,” from Mark Pritchard’s Link alias, opens with a Morse Code riff, adds some skillful atmospheric washes, pings, and pongs, and builds toward a thrilling climax. Both tracks are essentials in the truest sense of the word—no self-respecting techno collection is complete without them.
Planet E / PE 65285-1
Though he has been dropping some of the best remixes of his storied career of late (see: Theo Parrish, Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom, and Goldfrapp), Carl Craig thankfully has found time to release some new productions of his own. Craig’s previous Tres Demented single had an assist from Laurent Garnier, but this time out he goes it alone and is all the better for it. Over a heavy, pulsing, old skool electro-funk-a-chunk groove, Craig speaks/sings about an eeeeeevil woman (“She’s Satan!”), showcasing his long dormant love of Prince/George Clinton. Though the instrumental version may work better for dancefloors, both versions (aided by bonus beats on side B2) are funky as unwashed gym socks. Flip side “BrainFreeze” thumps along in a more up-tempo 4/4 manner as a recurring analog riff is tweaked, turned, and multiplied to menacing effect, finally coming to a head with a fuzzed-out guitar chord, percussion breakdown, and a screaming Craig—“You give me brain freeze, baby!” Damn! Craig is one of electronic music’s most original and diverse producers, and this is release shows yet another fascinating side of his musical personality—the angry side.
25 Bitches Vol. 1 / 25 Bitches Vol. 2
M_nus / MINUS 38 / MINUS 39
April 2006 / May 2006
Brooklyn’s Troy Pierce returns with the anthem-in-the-making “25 Bitches” and a host of remixes spread across two separate twelves. Volume 1 features Pierce’s original (a techno thumper that works Pierce’s “25 Bitches” vocal snippet over a series of bass-heavy grooves), as well as two popping, percussive versions from labelmate Berg Nixon. Matt John turns in the “25 Pitches,” which true to its name, works off a classic DJ Pierre/Wild Pitch template to great effect. Volume 2 features three Minus regulars, as Marc Houle goes all rat-a-tat with the snares and adds some truly magnificent filters to the vocal and Heartthrob gets a bit abstract and echo-laden. The winner of the bunch, however, is Jon Gaiser’s “Too Many Bitches Makeover” wherein Gaiser’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink percussion style builds from a multitude of diverse, constantly shifting patterns into a snarling, layered monster of a track. So what’s a DJ to do? Buy them both and mix them all together, of course.
The Life Force Trio
Plug Research / PLG72
Daedelus concocts ace leftfield hip-hop, dresses like a dandy in concert, and has a heart of gold. But why did he have to spoil the best moment of his remix of the Life Force Trio’s “Space Flowers”? He places the listener in the lobby outside the concert hall where that lullaby is playing. The loose jazz-hop beats, the glum clarinet melody, and the sighing, melancholic vocals are blanked in enough reverb and echo to fit that picture. When the beat steadily marches home and the woodwinds bid farewell after the song’s peak, a studio producer’s voice suddenly interrupts and says, “That’s nice!” Curses. Nonetheless, Daedelus gives a much needed surprise to Life Force’s otherwise flat single. “Space Flowers” is a ballad built on a simple, almost rudimentary keyboard melody that builds tension to the point where a beat is crucially needed—but never arrives. Life Force mastermind Carlos Niño (of L.A. leftfielders Ammoncontact) fares better on the b-side, “Starship.” He achieves a genuine psych effect with melted Moog drones and soulful organ stabs that genuinely hypnotize. Ammoncontact then takes that ship through the cosmos in their remix. Over a deft Reggaeton beat, Rapper Myka 9 tells everyone that alien abduction is truly liberation from Earth. His sales pitch is delivered like a seasoned Army recruiter with an arm around a naïve college kid. I’ll see you in Roswell.
Kompakt Pop / KOM POP 10
Three years ago I remember when everybody over at Traum was making tracks like this one's topside: bleary-eyed long tones, early morning fog, really effete, really erotic, and then some big-dick kick violates it and systematizes it. Even better here. "Like You" gives up on minimal quickly and switches up to a big bright pop progression and a huge vocal hook not unlike "Lovefood" and "De Papel." I always thought they were the same song and now I know they are, because "Like You" does the same bizarre "techno pop that makes you think!" lyrical nonsense: "I just want to be like you / I don't care what people say / I just want to be myself / I am was you..." sings Boratto's chanteuse, before going through some kinda-awesome vocal garble that, I guess, is performative, turning into the other person, etc.. In other words: fantastic. As for the Supermayer remix on the ass, don't bother, unless you like blueballed beats, bells and whistles, or people who say "literally, bells and whistles."
Pom Pom / POM 24
Don't bother with this one on headphones, even expensive ones. Compressed it'll sound exactly like a Gabriel Ananda track and The Hug, and neither of those are proper references. More than the other Pom Poms I've heard, this one's about the sub-bass and ethereal trebs and often nothing else—as if to spite the MP3, to say nothing of AAC or WMV. Four tracks here: A1 is really spooked out, and its curiously slow and steady beat may be the creepiest thing here. Slight mods to a modest bassline move it from "Yankee Doodle" to that Toadies song. If you like both those you'll obviously love this. A2, on the other hand, sounds like Isolee's "My Hi-Matic" on clock radio speakers, a sort-of comedown for A1. B1 is a little too fey, too much Pom Pom forestfucking tinkerbell for my ears, but I like B2 lots. Producers have been trying to do the hospital pulse vs. heartbeat vs. weezy paranoia and imminent needles sound for a while; B2 is a welcomed addition.
In the Mix: Nate De Young
01: Tensnake - Around the House
02: Bodzin and Huntemann - Black Ice
03: Agaric - Untitled (from We Are 5)
04: Jona - Monkey Money
05: James T. Cotton - Oochie Coo
06: Duoteque - Daki Theta Alpha (MFA Instrumental Remix)
07: Ada - Sternhagel
Eve Massacre - When Silhouettes Cry
Cassie - Just Friends
Christopher & Raphael Just - Popper ft. Fox N' Wolf
The Flirts - Passion
Gabriel Ananda - Ihre Personliche Glucksmelodie (Freeform Five Remix)
Adam Sky - Ape-X
Prince - Cindy C (Jaksoul's Basilika Edit)
Momus - Lord of the Dance
Rekid - Retroactive
Tres Demented - Shez Satan
Troy Pierce - 25 Bitches (Matt John’s 25 Pitches Remix)
James Cotton - Oochie Coo
Kid 606 - Pretty Girls Make Raves EP
DJ 3000 - Ancestors (Fabrice Lig Remix)
Audio Werner - Trust
Loco Dice - Menina Brasileira
Mr. Motech - Merchants of Identity
DJ Rolando - Jaguar (Mayday Dub)
Osborne - Bout Ready to Jak (Shake’s Mix)
Gabriel Ananda & Cio D'or - Lauschgoldengel
Can - I'm So Green
Cluster & Brian Eno - Hollywood
Luomo - The Present Lover
Simian Mobile Disco - Hustler
Skyy - Let's Turn it Out
John Tejada - The End of it All
Satoshi Tomiie - Glow (Spirit Catcher Remix)
Alden Tyrell - Knockers
Zongamin – Spiral
Nate De Young
Auto Repeat - Auto Disco (Soundhack remix)
Giorgio Gigli - Geometrik Forms EP
Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - Revelee (Carl Craig Remix)
Audio Werner - Trust
Unai - A Love Moderne
Skull Disco - Shackleton
Tolga Fidan - Now I'm Weak
Anja Schneider - Lily of the Valley
Michael F. Gill
J.M. Silk – All in Vain
Band of South – Sensitive
Ron Trent – Altered States
Karen Young – Deetour
SCSI-9 – On the Edge
Remute & Riley Reinhold – Polyester
Gary Low – I Want You
Swingle Sisters – Aria
Mark Conner - I Got Eyes
Franz Ferdinand – I’m Your Villain (Lindstrom Extended Mix)
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-06-02