August 29, 2007

Osborne - Outta Sight

200712"HouseAcidSpectral Sound

For a guy who has done slice-n-dice jungle under the name Soundmurderer, Todd Osborn doesn’t seem to be possessed by much rage on “Outta Sight.” In fact, this single shows he’s more likely to be throwing down some loved-up house vibes than fragmented epics. I’m all for it though - if we’re heading into the last days of summer, then by all means let it be soundtracked by shimmering piano-house.

The individual ingredients on “Outta Sight” aren’t the most innovative - you could dine on the flirting piano melodies, Latin rhythms, over-enthusiastic bassline, and sampled vocal quiver for your next assembly-line meal. But Osborne teases each out, making such potentially hackneyed elements sound current for 2007. Along with Sly Mongoose’s “Snakes and Ladders” and the forthcoming single from Still Going, “Outta Sight” makes a great case that there’s a piano-house revival afoot. On the flip, “L8″ (produced with Tadd Mullinix) provides the necessary jacking foil - 303s, cowbells, and 909s need not apply, as there’s more than enough to go around.

Spectral / SPC-45
[Nate DeYoung]

July 19, 2007

Brother From Another Planet / .Xtrak - 7th City Classics Vol. 1


Daniel Bell’s fabled 7th City imprint was working the whole minimal techno vibe long before there was even a name for it, and early sides on the label are treasured by that community not just because of their rarity, but for their enduring quality. While reissued tracks from Bell himself (or hell, new music!) would likely be the most welcome to collectors (he didn’t record much for 7th City himself), the two tracks chosen for the first of the three-volume 7th City Classics series are certainly worth additions to anyone’s crate.

Claude Young’s Brother From Another Planet alias contributes the mighty “Acid Wash Conflict,” which, naturally, sounds exactly like the title would lead you to believe, but its Todd Sines’ .Xtrak entry that really should open some ears here. “Multiplexor” is a stomping stealthmode workout in the mold of DBX himself, with a popping riff and acid-style knob-tweaking that moves insistently as much as it jogs in place. If the 7th City sound was before your time, the Classics series are essential. Now, if DBX would get to reissuing those classic Accelarate sides…

7th City / SCD 022
[Todd Hutlock]

April 12, 2007

J.T.C. - Take ‘em Off / D’Marc Cantu - No Control / X2 - Barely A Track


Tadd Mullinix’s James T. Cotton project seems to have found its spiritual home at the Dutch label Crme Organisation, who have not only released his last two singles of raw acid-jacking, but have now gone out of their way to devote a sub-label to this sound called Creme Jak. These first three releases are all one-sided affairs, limited to 200 copies, and don’t contain much more than a liberal helping of 303 and 909.

As with other projects that state a nostalgia for a time that may have never existed, releases like this often need to tame their infatuation with the sound (here, lo-fi acid) in order to be a success. J.T.C’s “Take ‘em Off” falls flat along these lines, as it sounds like any other Chicago acid track circa 1989, but fails to give me anything other than “cool raw acid lines” and “distorted jackin’ drums.” D’Marc Cantu, Mullinix’s partner in 2 AM/FM, is on hand for the second and third releases here, which are a bit better. “No Control” is more percussion-oriented, with a grunged-up vocal echoing the word “house” incessantly, and plenty of flange effects thrown in. “Barely a Track,” under Cantu’s moniker X2, is the pick of the three releases, utilizing a more breakbeat flavored house rhythm to underscore yet even more swampy vocals and low-end drones. An inauspicious start to Creme Jak, yet the potential remains.

Creme Organisation / Creme Jak 01 / 02 / 03
[Listen / Listen / Listen]
[Michael F. Gill]

February 16, 2007

Trans Mania - Boing, Boom Jack!


Originally slated for Diskokaine’s label (home of the wonderful Sally Shapiro), this dark and electro-tinged house track is now being released through Gomma, a doubling of resources and delights that will hopefully lead to Sally Shapiro singing on the next Munk album and Tomboy being reworked by Wolfram Eckert. Given the appearance of none other than Alexander Robotnick alongside Patrick Pulsinger on remix duties for this single, could we be overly hopeful in thinking the neo-Italo cauldron in northern Europe is finally coming to a boil?

“Boing, Boom, Jack!” is exactly what it promises, I’ll tell you that muchheavy pulsating, dancefloor-shredding nouveau electro with monster old-school acid house drums and squelches, the kind of thing those black boot-donning kiddies in Copenhagen should be stomping along to right about now. The original is right insane, but the remixes shouldn’t be overlookedPulsinger goes deep for a reception in hard electro territory and penetrates the end zone with a vibe perfect for the Italo Superbowl Shuffle. Robotnick, old hat that he is, kicks the drums and spaceship noises into overdrive and pulls the extra point, in just a little over five minutes. God, sometimes it feels good to root for the home team, don’t it?

Gomma / Gomma 088
[Mallory ODonnell]

December 15, 2006

Africans With Mainframes - Mogadishu


Sometimes you wonder why he releases his weaker material, but when hes on it, Jamal Moss is the heir apparent to the jack masters of old. These four amazing, jammed, slammed, jacking machine workouts with Noleian Reusse are doing acid in your ear. This is proper techno, made the old-school way, for the pure pleasure of the resonance and the wildness of the frequencies, as lo-fi as they may objectively sound. This is the hot, wet response to sleeparchive’s cold, dry machine drum beats, or the dark cousin of Tadd Mullinix wilder journeys into the freq as JTC or TNT. The goodness begins with Faso, which tumbles through a sea of snares and a filtered, low pH melody until it finds the floor with a flood of toms, and then brings the boom. Djbouti starts with everything delayed to buggery, conjuring the groove up from a series of beats which come thuddering back in the loop one on top of the other. Yaounde rolls with a massive, flanged out melodies and a tweaked up, seasick groove that nearly looses its lunch somewhere in the effects chain. Are drum machines animal? These ones are.

Crme Organization / Crme 12-28
[Peter Chambers]

November 17, 2006

JTC - Psychedelic Mindtrip


Tadd Mullinix has revealed himself to be one of the most remarkable and idiosyncratic producers this side of Ann Arbor, effortlessly alternating between dense, smoky hip-hop grounded beatz under his Dabrye alias and acidic jack tracks, either cleaner (as James T. Cotton) or filthier than an aging rock-stars hard drive (as TNT, with Osborne, or here, as JTC). This is some of the most seriously monged, script-flipping munt music out there folks. Watch your pets run yelping from the room as you put it on. Hell, play it at a party and watch everyone except the dude on mushrooms completely lose their shiznit. To me, The Sound of Winedrinking is more like the sound of a dreaming drum machine with all the freakquencies of its unconscious thoughts streaming freely across its dozy circuits. Psychedelic Mindtrip? Well, mind the title, then dig right in. This side gradually piles on the hits and effects until the whole swirling mlange finally goes off like a howl from a bent head. Freaky stuff, indeed.

Crme Organization / Crme 12-29
[Peter Chambers]

October 13, 2006

I:Cube - Acid Tablet


I:Cube is a bankable producer, and Acid Tablet is no exception. While not tearing up any trees for innovation, if you like Europeans aping early American house/techno then you cant get much better than this. Acid Tablet is a rather standard 303 workout with some typical I:Cube strings welling up in the background. Danse De Saint Guy is the kind of mournful soundscape that I:Cube has been doing for years, with huge synth washes and lots of cowbell, plus garbled vocal samples and what sounds like Gregorian monks chanting. Un Proton Pour Moi, Un Neutron Pour Toi is a nice piece of electro-disco in a Maurice Fulton style that caps off this quality EP.

Versatile / VER048
[Ronan Fitzgerald]

September 30, 2006

Sneak Thief - Body Militia


Not very long after his last appearance in Beatz, Michel Morin returns under the Sneak Thief alias for another outstanding release. And quite a different one at that-the Turkish Delight exotica of The Hollow Land EP gives way to the heady, heavy-buckled black-boot affair that is “Body Militia.” Drawing more explicitly on EBM and acid touches and a deftly-woven, very slight female vocal, it’s a fist-thumping trip that still displays a certain refinement in its balance of disparate elements. Electro single of the year? If not, it’s mighty damn close. The “Maru & Comix 8 MM Remix” is a bit stripped-down for my liking, but it channels the gothic force and bounceosity of the original into more modernistic, minimal trappings, so house/techno DJ’s are likely to find it on the more useful/functional side.

Voltage Musique / VMR 010
[Mallory O’Donnell]

September 15, 2006

Hieroglyphic Being - The Acid Test Pt. 1


Originally released in 1998 as half of a limited-edition double-pack and now available on its own, these five cuts represent the first recorded work by Jamal Moss under his Hieroglyphic Being moniker. As the title might suggest, these are stripped-down 303 monsters that, thanks to their timeless sound, dont sound dated in the leastor perhaps that should be impossible to accurately date, as they sound like they could have been made anytime after the initial acid boom in early-80s Chicago. With acid suddenly coming into vogue again of late, the reissue couldnt be more timely, and these tracks will mix well with anything from DJ Pierre to Adonis to 2 AM/FM. The three tracks on the A side are a bit formulaic: lay down a sick bassline, add beats, tweak knobs, repeat. But on the flip, were treated to the longer and far stronger Rational Expression, wherein Moss gives things a bit more time to develop by upping the length and spacing out the grooves a bit more. The palette is verrrrrry familiar by that point, but Moss hits some new octaves and percussion sounds in there, and even messes with the volume a bit. But then again, if youre into acid sounds, repetition is never a bad thing. Final track Ellipse is the most experimental and most frenetic, but also the shortest. There were far, far better things to come from Moss later, but those looking for some fun and funky acid tracks could do far worse.

Mathematics Recordings / Mathematics 002

[Todd Hutlock]

September 1, 2006

2 AM/FM - Pt. 2


Jack-of-All-Trades Tadd Mullinix, who drops hip-hop as Dabrye and crazed minimal acid as James T. Cotton, teams for the second time with DMarc Cantu for three tracks of old-school acid madness. The gritty, thunderous Sweat Box starts with a whispered vocal reading the title, simple bloopy bass, and rumbling toms before those hi-hats ride in and the tension builds. You keep expecting it to explode and the kick to come in, but in its restraint it is all the more effective and menacing. Besides, the next cut, Ace of Spades, takes care of all of that anyway. Screeching from the get-go, it thumps along with a tweaked vocal snippet and a 4/4 pulse, until eventually some snares roll in and more knobs are twisted. The side-long Acid Planes follows the same basic formula, but stretches it out for 10 minutes+ for maximum mixability. In fact, you could likely start it at three different points in the record and no one would notice, and that is not an insult. Drop this next to some Trax classics and watch the trails.

Spectral Sound / SPC 38
[Todd Hutlock]

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