May 24, 2006

Fred Falke - Omega Man

Fred Falke moves out from the Braxe & Falke umbrella with his first solo joint, two tracks indebted to disco (no surprise there) and full of warm string-based resonances. If “Omega Man” is not referencing the classic weird dystopian sci-fi film from 1971 starring Charlton Heston then it’s a shame, though innocuous as it is, it certainly doesn’t bring to mind the absurdity of the movie. With all the intimate ambient sound applied to the samples, I suspect it would sound a whole hell of a lot more engaging in between Linus Loves and a Royksopp remix at 2 AM, so final judgment will be reserved until that happens. “Wait for Love” is an entirely different matter, and an indication of why one should always preview both sides of the vinyl when shopping in your trendy little DJ store. Epic, emotional and delicately (ahem) progressive, it sounds a lot like New Order given a deep house remix that doesn’t suck. In fact it’s brilliant, an updated take on the classic disco dub, with enough instrumental variance to keep you tuned and enough basic oomph to drive a crowd. This one goes in the crate.

Work It Baby / 010
[Mallory O’Donnell]

May 24, 2006

Duoteque - Daki EP

Nate De Young: Duoteque are a couple of Italians that made their first big ripple last summer with analog bass-waves gone wild on “Drug Queen.” The song was massive, but also completely predictable—with breakdowns and build-ups signaled from a minute away. The Daki EP takes a hard left and finds the duo loosening up: lead track “Daki Theta”’s chorus goes, “I am a kid who feels fine / I want a pill that makes one smile.” If the grammar is a little awkward, it makes it that much harder to tell if you’re smiling about the lyrics or the music’s series of sonic gags—with pitch-shifting synths jumping every which way over a rubbery bassline. While the source material is an insta-setup for remixing, The MFA doesn’t paint by numbers. They can take credit for both a captivating take on filter-house and an 8-bit Contra-style breakdown.

Mallory O’Donnell: Brushing on Italo and New Beat textures while employing some of the squeaky goofiness of Gomma and the playfulness of Playhouse, “Daki Theta” is a proper headrush-inducer disguised as novelty number. “I just forgot your postal code,” indeed. This is primetime material for me—immediately bracing, but dense and original enough to go the distance, with extra points awarded for actually yelling “bass!” “Kyra” makes it clear that Duoteque have come here for one reason and one reason alone—to blow some speaker cones and kick some ass. Tomorrow we might all be gone, so there’s only so much time to strip down to our undies, dance before the beach bonfire, and experience the transcendental revelation that can only come through booming bass, synths cascading off into whirls of color and vapor and—oh shit, I’ve run out of synonyms for “throbbing.” The MFA remix of “Daki Theta” unites the two approaches—funk gets stronger, killer kilometer-longer version. Present in both vocal and instrumental flavors for added fun, play ‘em both together and watch the trance bunnies run.

Boxer / 038

May 24, 2006

Black Strobe - Last Dub on Earth

Weren’t these guys supposed to put out two albums last year? Instead we got an EP filled with recycled cuts from their early vinyl, and we began to wonder if the notion of scary, big-floor electro-acid thumposity was just too good to last. Black Strobe have always purveyed a singular dynamic - like a dance AC/DC. “Last Dub On Earth” doesn’t exactly upset that notion, but it does break up the hegemony of dark, fucked-up beats by giving us something a good deal warmer - though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it human. “Nazi Trance Fuck Off” as remixed by James Holden on the flip clicks back the niceness even further, but it repaints the Strobe in psychedelic hues potent enough to be worthy of a potential flashback. Is there such a thing as Nazi Trance? Is it a Dead Kennedys cover? The answers to these questions could quite possibly drive you insane. So, too, might this schizoid cauldron of bubbling analog bleeps and hallucinogenic echoes, the sonic equivalent of being chased down blind alleys by PCP-wielding French lunatics with an Orb fixation, bent on raping your mind with their delirious near-ambient noodlings. Shiversomely delightful.

Crosstown Rebels / 027
[Mallory O’Donnell]

May 19, 2006

Live: 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]

May 19, 2006

Shyza Minelli - To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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.

Sub Static / sus_55
[Ronan Fitzgerald]

May 19, 2006

Snax & Ianeq - Fill Me Up

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 Kitsune 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.

Get Physical Music / GPM 043

May 19, 2006

Fuckpony - Ride the Pony

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.

Get Physical Music / GPM 044

May 19, 2006

Rekid - Made in Menorca

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.

Soul Jazz / SJR132
[Patrick McNally]

May 19, 2006

The Field - Sun & Ice

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.

Kompakt / KOM137
[Nate De Young]

May 19, 2006

My My - Swiss on Rye


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.

Playhouse / PLAY124
[Nate De Young]

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