April 10, 2006

Onur Özer - Twilight

The daily work-routine can deliver a sense of stress and basic-issue tension that often isn’t as palatable as it is passively numbing. But after listening to a terrifying release like “Twilight,” perhaps it’s for the better that we don’t carry our emotional blood on our hands. The title track on this, the third EP by Onur Özer (after previous releases on Vakant and the Wighnomy’s Freude-Am-Tanzen) is a horror film in itself, the moment when thoughts of hatred refuse to thaw from one’s head, and just lie there unabated. It’s a venom that can never be logically released, an effect mirrored by the high-pitched string drones which are cemented into the background, making the eight minutes of “Twilight” seem like an eternity. The b-sides can’t help being a tiny bit lighter, but they complement the a-side with some of those large fizzling reverb blowouts that Robag Wruhme is so fond of, and a couple of remotely aquatic basslines. The centerpiece is definitely “Twilight” though, a tumultuous predator that should be played sparingly.

Vakant / 008
[Michael F. Gill]


April 10, 2006

Lindstrom - I Feel Space (Remixes)

Cameron Octigan: As much as everyone seems to love Lindstrom, this is still the one track everyone seems to mention. It hasn’t been out for too long, but they way it’s been making the rounds through nearly every DJ’s set, it’s almost destined to be marked as “nostalgia” rather than the “anthem.” So, when I saw this on the record shelves of Amoeba in California, it didn’t really seem that interesting. However, the day I received a promo copy is the day I ran back to the shelves and bought it. The B-side is Tiefschwarz’s “Tomba Spezial Space” mix, which really isn’t all that “spezial.” The biggest difference between this track and the original is that they’ve replaced the less abrasive sounds of the original with a stompier aesthetic, plus a few uninteresting bells and whistles. The Freeform Five remix is a completely different story, though, and a major candidate for the best remix of 2006 so far. Written in two movements, like Ewan Pearson’s recent Goldfrapp remix, Freeform take only a few choice melodies from Lindstrom, and insert those pieces into a larger framework, complete with a gorgeous added vocal track. Part one follows a lush, dreamy formula, while part two breaks out the anthemic electro that actually makes listening to the original sound fresh again. Maybe Lindstrom can collaborate with Prins-Thomas on making some nice stationery to write the biggest thank you letter ever to Freeform Five.

Mallory O’Donnell: Last year’s finest single gets a new pair of remixes, as Freeform Five and Tiefschwarz both weigh in with alternating takes. I’m normally a fan of F5’s aggressive reworks, but they seem to have gone a bit timid for this one, merely beefing up the beat and losing much of the original’s finesse in the process. Still a reliable floor-filler, but short on wit or charm. Tiefschwarz, after their brilliant transition from deep house heroes to acid savants, seem stuck in a rut here. While it’s a mix I’d play out, and I’m sure sounds fine at the height of the night, it’s no more than exactly what you’d expect from them. This is a high profile release that leaves me with the distinct impression that both our top-flight talents had the kid gloves on when they went to bat. The initial rush of excitement gives way to a slightly bitter taste.

Playhouse / 121


April 10, 2006

Ellen Allien & Apparat - Turbo Dreams (Remixes)

The first single from one of the best records of the year thus far, “Turbo Dreams” seems a bit playing-it-safe to me. With such dynamic, near-pop songs coming later in the record, this is one of the more traditional numbers. Still, it’s a solid tune—muted guitar tones mixed with breaths, tension prolonged to the point where it becomes release—kind of like huffing and puffing to push your bike up the hill, then swoosh! Off you go. With everything that’s going on here, all that Pier Bucci and Marc Houle can do is take things away. Bucci opts to focus on the feeling of motion, giving us an elegant 4 a.m. ride through windswept vistas, refining out the sweatier aspects of the original. With the Marc Houle remix it’s all about propulsion—a headbanging, tart synth line that jitters in and out of echobox drums and stop-start slaps. One goes forward, one goes up and down. Both get to the same place, and do so with class.

Bpitch Control / 124
[Mallory O’Donnell]


April 10, 2006

Palermo Disko Machine - I Ragazzi Dell 1982

Now, how in the world would I be able to resist something called Palermo Disko Machine? Thankfully, not at all, and so I get to tear right into two tracks here from the ever-reliable folks at Kitsune. “Shake Dat Shit,” which does precisely what it says on the tin, is what would happen if DJ Assault was a Frenchman living in a basement and pounding shots of rail vodka. For the flip, “Pump,” we get a tasty slab of fluffy disco, cowbell and all, with one of the most ridiculous spoken-word parts since Leroy Hanghofer. Is it all a bit silly in the face of dark Teutonic terseness and K-word House? Absolutely. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Kitsune / 031
[Mallory O’Donnell]


April 10, 2006

Francisco - Ultimo

200612"TechnoNeo-Disco

Francisco has chosen wisely here. With his album due for release in the States, he’s pulled one of the strongest tracks from the second (and far superior) side of his LP. While at first the album seemed a bit generic to me, it’s proven a grower, especially once one gets to the later tracks. “Ultimo” is one of the best—an update on the timeless combination of Kraftwerkian synth atop a chugging Trax Records groove. To some Italo-House connotes pop-Diva warbling and shitty beach parties, but “Ultimo” is what plays in my head—complexity and potency walking hand in hand. Marco Passarani shows up for remix duties and brings the slap-bass, tweaking the sounds but leaving the architecture intact. He makes it all a bit fuzzier and wiggier, as though you were hearing the original after getting something slipped in your drink.

Nature / 2132
[Mallory O’Donnell]


April 10, 2006

SCSI-9 - Transsibirski Express

Now, Russian techno music is not going to be something most of us have heard a lot of. From what I understand, there’s a great scene arising out there, but SCSI-9 are one of the first acts to poke their head out. If they are any indicator, however, we may have some exciting times ahead. As with their sublime “All She Wants Is,” released on Kompakt in ‘03, the key is the delicate balancing act that the duo undertakes between dusky and feathery, lush and strident, warm and chilly. “Pour Ne Pas Perdre Le Coeur Da” starts us off with a tranquil landscape interjected with creaky bells and whistles, like sounds from nature viewed through a fractured lens. “Transsibirski Express” (wink, wink) takes the boys from Dusseldorf on a trip through high steppes and tundra plains, a bold premise to be sure, but one that succeeds and wins them points for cheekiness infused with an appropriate reverence. “Woodman,” which rounds out this three-tracker, is a different proposition entirely. The shifty, unsettling side of the “Pour Ne Pas…” coin, this time the shadows are thicker and those distorted natural sounds have something of the supernatural about them. Still, with so much depth and humanity to their music, it’s no surprise it ends being more than a mere freaky soundscape. Top shelf electronica for a Sunday morning when one is bruised but hopeful.

Neuton / 022
[Mallory O’Donnell]


April 10, 2006

Fairmont - Gazebo Remixes

Canadian producer Jake Fairley’s Fairmont project was always a tight fit on Border Community. It is, after all, a label with an obvious strong trance and progressive house influence running through each of its releases. However, with a re-release on Electrochoc, “Gazebo” returns with a simple re-edit titled “Gazebo (Remix),” and like the name it fails to impress. Essentially it’s a rearrangement with the main melodies held out in certain places and shortened in others. Darker than simple tech-house, Lifelike/Inner City remixer Sebastian Léger’s recontextualization of Fairmont’s original melodies, within his own added production, lends a different overall feel to the track, emphasizing the tension within the brilliant original. Although there is still a good deal of down time in the track, it is a much friendlier version for dancers. Though not on Border Community, this could easily find a home there. And like all of BC’s projects, this is absolutely worth owning.

Electrochoc / 009
[Cameron Octigan]


April 10, 2006

Motor - Klunk

The CVs of the duo who comprise Motor, Mr. No (Olivier Grasset) and Bryan Black, includes programming for Prince at Paisley Park, multiple collaborations with Felix Da Housecat, and membership in the City Rockers/International Deejay Gigolos group XLover. From this you might expect Motor’s LP to be splashy, trashy post-electroclash fun but the record’s appearance on Novamute should disabuse you of that notion. Motor is electroid techno stripped-to-the-bone, flayed-raw, and then pumped up with the cartoon machismo of EBM, especially on the vocal tracks, one of which goes so far as to feature Douglas McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb. “Sweatbox” is a bass heavy acid line, reverbed out biscuit tin snare tattoos, a kick drum, and little else. The grubby arpeggios of “Black Powder” threaten to break under their own weight as they become increasingly distorted and twisted. On “Botox,” programmed rock drums flange into the ether whilst bit-crushed guitar-substitutes brings in pretty much the only high end on the album. A little too monotone, low-end obsessed, and one-dimensionally sleazy to convince over the full hour (“Hey man, have you got any gak?” asks the track “Yak,” like the punchline to a 2003 Popbitch mailout) but in small doses, and at high volume, this is invigorating.

Novamute / 170
[Patrick McNally]


April 10, 2006

Popnoname - You Are Popnoname

If you prefer your electronic music like a 1000-thread down comforter, then Popnoname’s “On the Run” could change your life. The song’s clipped shuffle may have more than a passing resemblance to Ellen Allien’s style, but “On the Run”’s synth-stabs capture fleeting tones better than Allien’s croon—they don’t so much massage as caress. The lightness of touch carries over into the bassline of “Wonder You”—leaving the single as warm as it is soft.

Italic / 056
[Nate DeYoung]


April 10, 2006

Sweet ‘n Candy - Unbreakable Remixes

Sweet ‘n Candy, aka Berlin’s Rico Henschel, emerged last year as one of the better producers of brittle, bass-heavy minimal techno, and his “Unbreakable” from last year’s Dead Behind The Ears EP is remixed here in wonderfully claustrophobic fashion by Justin Maxwell and Lan Muzic’s Exercise One. While there are dozens of similarly minded records, both mixes don’t at all sound like they’re being minimal for minimal’s sake. Maxwell’s mix in particular translates the idea of minimal as the notion of trapping energy in a compressed space, and then watching it trying to get out. The prickly tweaked synths respond to bouncing off the walls with a small but noticeable pitch-bending after every release, resulting in a very inorganic bubbling sound. Exercise One’s mix is more typical of the overall Dumb Unit sound, with gritty low-slung basslines and thick bristly hats, and snare. Give me this any day over the recent crop of M_nus, Contexterrior, and Tuning Spork 12 inches.

Dumb Unit / 027
[Michael F. Gill]


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