September 11, 2007

Tussle - Alphabet Series R

Tussle have indie cred: Kit Clayton mastered their album, Rong music released their early EPs, and now Tomlab (home of Deerhoof & the Books) have offered a spot in their “Alphabet Series” of seven-inch EPs to the creative kraut/rock/frotting quartet. On the A, things start in a vein familiar to Trans-Am’s cosmically-inclined moments (like the opening to “Futureworld”), with a motorik jamathon that gathers steam and gradually gets ahead of itself.

It’s nice, but not as cute/irritating as the Yacht remix of “Second Guessing” on the flip, which takes a dosed-up kids choir and subjects them to a raucous attack of cut, paste, and loop. This being a 7″, both sides are pretty short, but Tussle have followed the injunction of Robert Plant and made it “every inch of their love”. To the metric among us, that’s 35.6cm of musical pleasure at stake here.

Tomlab / tom 89R
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 27, 2007

Underground Resistance - Electronic Warfare 2.0

“I AM/UR/WE WILL/RESIST!”

It’s been a while since the Underground Resistance crew have let their militant fangs show, but with the double-12 plus 7-inch Electronic Warfare 2.0 release (finally following up the classic original double-pack, released way back in 1996), and the above quoted rallying cry, they show there is some unrest left in those machines yet. Chanted, yelled, and spat out by some angry men credited simply as “The People” over a stripped-down electrofunk breakbeat and some grinding, industrial-strength noise bursts, “I AM UR” (note the all caps) lays down the template here with a definitive call to arms. Not only is this the first track of the fiercest things they’ve done for ages, it’s also one of the best, a power grab that UR have been sorely missing over the last few years. They’ve shown some flashes for sure, but this is the real deal, crisp and sizzling with attitude. Those looking for the next “Windchime” or “Jupiter Jazz” can turn their ears elsewhere. This is strictly “Seawolf” territory. No cheese allowed.

Over the six sides, the electromenace stomps through a variety of tough-minded analog instrumentals and vocal tracks, all of which are tight, minimal, funky-as-fukk, and thoroughly aggressive. I assume that “Kill My Radio Station” (also on the bonus 7-inch in an acapella version for extra mixing fun) is aimed at Detroit locals, but in these days of ClearChannel, et al, it could easily apply just about everywhere on earth. Then theres “Kut (UR Heavy Analog Deployment),” kicking out one of the illest fuzz riffs ever over some snapping live drums and punctuating grunts. Uh! Mm! Uh! Mm! Uh! Im a pretty mild-mannered dude, but this shit made me want to punch some oppressive fucker in the face! Uh!

Simply put, UR have dropped some serious artillery here, kicking that sissyfied techno back into the European disco it crawled out of. Black bandanas are optional but recommended. (Need more ammunition? There’s a separate four-cut single Electronic Warfare 2.1 available exclusively from Submerge mail order, as well.)

Underground Resistance / UR-072
[Buy]
[Listen 1/ Listen 2]
[Todd Hutlock]


June 26, 2007

Turzi - Seven Inch Allah

Three pretty different tracks from this French act, though they all could have ended up on Optimo’s Psyche Out cosmic/dance/kraut mix from two years ago had they existed then: the uneasy trans-european chug of “Amadeus” whose sixteenth-note pulse recalls the pinprick synths on Delia and Gavin’s “Rise” (a Psyche Out track itself); the blast of surfrock punk in “Are You Thinking About Jesus” which could have pinch-hit for any number of Tarantino soundtracks (and any number of directors QT aped in the process); and “Hippy Heart”, a downtempo demo of Turzi’s “Afghanistan”, and something you might confuse for a Beastie Boys instrumental or, if you’re feeling generous, a grittier Serge. I hate the namedrop review as much as you do, but it’s worth noting that all of these descriptors are very good things.

Record Makers / REC 39
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


June 11, 2007

DeepChord - Vantage Isle

200712"7"TechnoDub

Echospace [detroit] is a new label launched by Rod Modell (half of DeepChord, along with partner-in-crime Mike Schommer) and Steven (Soultek) Hitchell, two leading lights of the minimal dub techno scene. And as with anything DeepChord, the entire release has an air of mystery to it. With the minimal packaging, restricted distribution, and the fact that this set of two 12 inches and one colored 7″ is limited to 1,000 copies, everything about Vantage Isle is geared toward the underground, or “those who know.” This isn’t an elitist thing - there’s nothing but love of their craft driving these grooves, certainly not a cash-in effort - but it is a crying shame that more people won’t be able to hear this absolutely brilliant collection of spacial dub wonder. Take that as a warning: go out and find this now while you can, or you’ll be paying through the nose for it later.

That all said, Vantage Isle consists of a whopping 10 takes of the title track, reworked across the three pieces of vinyl by Modell and Hitchell in various guises (DeepChord, Soultek, Echospace, Spacecho), as well as a guest spot (and first ever remix) from Gerald “Convextion” Hanson (more on that one later.) Across their 9 versions, Modell and Hitchell manage to take the DeepChord template (analog synths, deep bass, gently throbbing beats, bursts of static and noise, and of course those deep, deep chords) into a surprising variety of directions, akin to looking at the same giant glacier from a helicopter from every angle possible: some are beatless and undulating, some are pulsing and dynamic, some are looking up from under the ice and some are towering overhead. The aforementioned Convextion version, however, is revelatory. It’s built on cascading and echoing pieces of the original that are layered like shifting sands, for a distinctly dark and shimmery journey to the bottom of the frozen ocean and back. It is literally breathtaking.

It’s remarkable enough to get all these takes on one basic template to sound somewhat different, given that the source material is really just a skeletal array of sound sheets. Consider it a bonus, then, that all of them are masterfully realized and capable of mixing and matching with each other into entirely new shapes and forms by an enterprising sound sculptor with two decks. Vantage Isle is perfection for anyone looking for the logical successors to the Basic Channel throne, or just looking for something mellow for those steamy late summer nights. A stone cold classic of the genre. Dont miss it.

echospace [detroit] / echospace001
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


September 8, 2006

Dntel - Jukebox Series #10

20067"Downtempo

Precious little jewels! In two tracks and less than eight minutes, Dntel and Mia Doi Todd re-affirm their reputation as two of the most interesting talents working in the strange, difficult gaps between indie and electronica. Like a lot of the work on Life Is Full of Possibilities, both Rock My Boat and Everythings Tricks require close, repeated listening to surrender a portion of the quality crafted into them. Theyre both much larger than their run-time, and require repetition to unpack fully. The reward for your efforts is a beautiful pop song and a wonderful instrumental, both of which blend found sounds, samples, synths, beats, and instruments together into a delicately balanced mlange thats only shy of giving itself up for knowing its got so much to offer. If you enjoyed Dntels earlier work, this is (as they say) a must have.

Aim Records / 100-10
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


March 17, 2005

Hieroglyphic Being - The Temple Of The Moon

20047"TechnoWorld

Went to Germany last week and while what follows will mostly be Kompakt-related gushing, at the Hardwax store they were playing this little gem of a 7 on the stereo and even my friend who doesnt like techno at all had to admit that it was something special. What it comes down as is tribal techno of an abstract bent. African and Caribbean drum sounds make up the base, while hazy off-kilter synths weave in and out of the two tracks. Strong stuff to scare off the uninitiated or, in the case of my friend, draw them in.

Mathematics / Mathematics 006
[Todd Burns]