June 7, 2007

A Mountain Of One - EP1 / EP2

2006200712"Balearic

A lot of this stuff sounds to me like “Talk Talk covers the Dances With Wolves soundtrack,” at best when people actually believed rock & roll was something spiritual and not just a backdoor to preteen booty — but to be fair I’ve never heard a note of Fleetwood Mac or Pink Floyd or Peter Frampton so maybe this London soft-rock act sounds like them too. All the songs on EP1 are really schmaltzy, really serious, even their cover of Ginny’s “Can’t Be Serious” has patient piano and guitar motifs run through who knows how much reverb, and falsetto-heavy vocal melodies just sorta floating atop. Maybe this “rock music for a hot summer night” / Buddha Bar shit is your idea of a good time?

“Can’t Be Serious,” which welded guitar-soloing beardo to nervous arpeggiated midtempo synth-pop, seems to have been the band’s jumpoff for the recent EP2: “Your Love Over Gold,” “People Without Love,” and “Arc of Abraham” use more confident variations of treated synths, balearic guitar, and heavily FX’d lead guitar. Even if you don’t dig them, you can’t deny their conviction, especially on “Your Love Over Gold.” They probably don’t even know they just wrote a shitty “Come Undone,” g’bless’em.

AMO / 001 / 002
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


March 22, 2007

Sideshow - Philly Soundworks

200612"HouseNeo-Disco

This came out late last year, Sideshow being Aus co-founder Fink, and “Philly Soundworks” being the latest prog-house track I’ve liked that includes the word “Philly” in its title (DJ T’s “Philly” being another). There’s a dub-like amount of space in the production, which lets the slinky piano chords spread out ad infinitum and the live-sounding drum patches loosen up without derailing the song’s otherwise steady uptempo groove. Remixer Jesse Rose throws a huge kick behind the original and stop-starts the track with Switch-like breaks that I could see working in a new-rave set; Lee Jones goes the opposite direction, softening the track with a glaze of held synth-tones that land this one in Buddha Box territory, despite the last-minute acid freakout towards the end.

Aus Music / AUS0603
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


March 13, 2007

Narcotic Syntax - Provocative Percussion

Id always thought that Narcotic Syntax was nothing more than Marcus Nikolais silly sidethe kind of tracks that might have resulted when the dentist/label owner reached for his sampler not a moment after taking his snout out of the gas mask. I mean, Reptile Sweat Accelerator? Muff Diver? Whose madness is this? Punning Germans? Really?! Well, as it turns out, Narcotic Syntax is actually Yapacc and James Dean Brown, with the ribald puns being the work of the latter. Narcotic Syntax have been popping up on the Superlongevity compilations since the word go, and their Latinized, percussive microhouse jumped a zany inch out at you after the sometimes flatlining funk of other berminimal trackmakers.

Provocative Percussion takes you from this context to where the title would suggest, with four drum swamped tracks that would work wonderfully well as tools, provide the raw materials for a whole batteria of loops, or carve things up on their own. Blast Excavation sets the agenda, with a slow building heave of hits which add, conjugate, and multiply as the track unfolds. A background listen lends the impression of a straight-ahead barrage, but closer ears expose endlessly proliferating layers of grooves, breaking down, breaking apart, reforming, but always marching onward.

Descarca Narcotica is a re-presentation of their track Ping Pong Voodoo from Superlongevity 3 which introduces the old versions groove to the melodic equivalent of a leopard-skin couch in a mondo cocktail lounge. While somehow not as directly satisfying as their work incorporating vocals (check the hilarious Raptors Delight), this is an engaging and useful EP for anyone who wants to add more than a pinch more drums to their box.

Wir / WIR 005
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


March 2, 2007

Maximilian Skiba - Apple Of Disco.RD EP

200612"Neo-Disco

Video-game disco? MIDI Cerrone demos? This is precious stuff but very, very catchy, almost disarmingly so. Skiba is a 19-year-old Polish kid from what I gather, just out of high school, and hes got a patient sense of build, never too anxious to prove how clever he is. The sound palette is pretty 8-bit, but there’s always one element in the song that sounds dizzingly acoustic by contrast: the ride cymbal taps on disco-funk a-side “Safari Jazz”; the rhythm guitar scratches on “Violet Carnation,” which is “Supernature” meets the theme from NES’s Ghosts and Goblins; the obviously digital runs of piano on horror-disco track “The Fog.” I don’t think this stuff would work too well in a club setting alongside bigger-sounding tracks, and the ornamentation is a little too new-sounding to fit entirely into neo-italo stuff that’s happening now (though the title track would disagree with me). That said, consider me charmed.

Terranova / TNT 82876870531
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


March 2, 2007

Tangoterje - On the Beach / Belladonna Edits

200612"Balearic

In the race to mine the archive of early eighties sounds, theres bound to be a few strange excavations. All kinds of bad music, not least of all disco (and its bastard progeny), have been dredged up, washed off, inspected, re-evaluated and finally defended: You dismiss Antillean ska-folk disco, but actually Perhaps this intro is just an indication of my ignorance, not to mention my cynicism, toward the excesses of a necessary and interesting process. There are lots of instances of maligned genres containing fascinating musical ideas, could we but overcome our prejudice and listen carefully. Wally Badarous music is a fine example on this tip.

Having said all that, Im failing to see what Todd Tango Terje does in Belladonna and On the Beach. To me at least, this is just MOR dreck thats been given far more attention than it deserves. Belladonna, (originally by Andreas Vollenweider), is a kind of elevator music epic that belongs on the soundtrack to Blame it on Rio, melding a Brazilian jazz sound to disco and a yucky ethnic female vocal. Likewise, On the Beach (originally by Chris Rea) has all the hallmarks of a 1983 promo video for a three star conference centre in the Bahamas. Perhaps theres more to it than that and (once again) this music is not being given its fair hearing. Okay, but you try listening to it. Blech.

Balearic Biscuits / bb04
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


February 23, 2007

Hot Chip - No Fit State (Audion Remix)

Peter Chambers: Something must have happened to Matthew Dears head a year or two back, or the Audion part of it at least. Where his earlier work under the alias presented a swirling maelstrom of jacking techno that sounded exactly like the album covers seasick art suggested, the new Mouth to Mouth style tracks are like a wave that never breaks, pitching you further and higher as the ray gun noises hit you harder and rougher each time, only to pull back on the brink of each successive impact. Its a fresh approach thats bound to inspire imitators, but for the moment, Audion seems to have become a genre unto himself, and its a state of play that Dear appears to be really enjoying on this record. Its not quite the smasher that Mouth to Mouth proved it to be, but nonetheless, this is one big rollercoasting mo-fo of a track, with a slowly ascending/descending flanged scale that has absolutely nothing to do with the Hot Chip original, but is bound to drive the floor hog wildand isnt that the point? As a remix its a non-eventthe vocal is the only snippet to be retained from the bands versionbut as yet another example of Dears new accuracy with his ray-spitting bop gun, its a bulls-eye.

Mallory ODonnell: Perhaps I’m too in thrall to the original, but the buzz that this remix is getting in circles bloggy quite baffles me. In terms of creative restructuring and incorporation of select elements from the original, it’s technically excellentMatthew Dear completely reconfigures the song into a neo-tech shuffle with lots of blurting bottom end, crackling hiss and dry percussion. The vocals are a wispy spectre haunting the track at various points throughout, and the cavernous sustained note that drops several times is suggestive of a higher plateau. The only problem is we never get thereit comes in first at the four minute mark, then more often, but it only marks a dip in the energy level when it acts as nothing more than a precursor to slightly more excitable bloopery and drum paddling. I thought the point of architecture was to build something useful and beautiful.

EMI UK / 12EMDJ 715
[Listen]


February 23, 2007

Blackbelt Andersen - Alfaz de Pi

200612"Neo-Disco

Blackbelt Andersen is the scruffier dog on Full Pupp. His workouts, in comparison to Prins Thomas more polished epics, are stripped, raw and grunting, like his wonderful remix of Goettsching from 2005, which added that extra amount of grrrr the original needed. Alfaz de Pi continues in the same vein as his previous tracks, showing (to me at least) an inchoate connection between the Norwegian space-disco sound and Carl Craigs Paperclip People project by combining sampled disco percussion with delayed vocals and mids-heavy acid lines just begging for some further filter abuse from the lad(d)y at the controls.

The title track is propelled into twisted tone-pot territory with a repeated tscha utterance and some congas, and would make a neat way of transitioning into freak time. Snake Eyes sways along on layers of dubbed out drums samples which find their way toward a very Detroit synth melody. Sandoz starts off with a very dry, almost Metro-Area electro-disco feel, and slowly evaporates into a big, spaced out synthscape with a deliciously fluffy, euphoric feel. This is a really nicely put together EP with three congruent yet diverse sounds and grooves for those who love their space disco acidic. Well worth checking.

Full Pupp / FP07
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


February 9, 2007

DJ Technician - My Beat Is a Monster

200612"Electro

You don’t need to be a dance music historian to read the devotion of the Bunker crew to old school electro and bass music - it’s written all over their collective face. DJ Technician has brought it to another level, though, with this EP chock-full of old-as-new frosty booty jams that are equal parts Jonzun Crew, Magic Mike, and Jive Rhythm Tracks. Technician is an apt moniker - these are clinical, perfectly crafted genre exercises, complete with a “Bonus Beats” track, no less. What makes My Beat Is a Monster more than just a pastiche is the sense of goofy fun that bubbles out of the whole package. Dance music, especially of the Northern European school, often gets a bit stodgy in its minimalist beauty, and this is a well-placed combat boot in the ass of anybody who forgot that dance music is silly, sweaty fun, and all the more glorious for it. Retro? Ah, who the fuck cares! From the absurd Newcleus-esque title track whose “beat is a monster / with bass in your face” to the more icy Italo soundscapes of “Basslines” to the spacy video game effects of “One Credit Left,” there’s a little something here for everybody who came late to the party in ‘84.

Bunker Records / Bunker 3060
[Listen]
[Mallory O’Donnell]


February 9, 2007

Depeche Mode - Remixes

Depeche Mode have always been at the forefront of the remix game, historically lining up a whos who of dance music producers to rework their electronic pop into lots of interesting shapes and sizes, occasionally to devastatingly brilliant effect. This limited edition, stunningly packaged gatefold double-pack was released to coincide with the bands latest Best Of, Vol. 1 collection, bearing similar cover art and reworkings of tracks from the collection. While the promo CD version of this release contained eight tracksincluding Ricardo Villalobos stunning take on The Sinner In Methe actual commercial release only includes four. One can assume that when Best Of, Vol. 2 eventually surfaces, those remaining four mixes will be given a similar release treatment, especially considering that the Villalobos mix is already widely bootlegged on vinyl and changing hands for ludicrous amounts on eBay.

As far as what is on offer here, while nothing is as downright fantastical as Villalobos take, there is plenty to excite Mode fans and DJs alike. Boys Noize take on Personal Jesus and wisely maintain the pulpit stomping feel of the original while adding an extended noise/loop intro and throbbing analog synth riffs to replace the originals guitars. Digitalisms take on Never Let Me Down Again is a crunching analog affair that bears more resemblance to Mute labelmates Nitzer Ebb than the cyclical, driving original. Oliver Huntemann and Stephan Bodzins dub version of Everything Counts is a floor filler in the making, fusing key melodic phrases of the original into an updated tech-house template, while Underground Resistances DJ 3000 transforms People Are People into a latin-infused monster in the aggressive, relentless UR techno style. With the limited nature and collector-targeted packaging on this release, it may not be aimed at DJs who are just going to beat the hell out of it in their crates, but if you can get over the price tag (and find a copy!), theres plenty here to spice up a set of any style, presuming of course that vocals dont bother you.

MUTE / L12 BONG 39
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


February 2, 2007

Kathy Diamond - All Woman

200612"Neo-DiscoFunk

Peter Chambers: Maurice Fulton has been at it for quite a while, producing everything between trancey techno, house, dub-disco, electro pop, and jazztronic. Whats so striking though, aside from the effortless versatility of his productions and the musicianship and acute ear he brings to everything his touches, is how much he manages to excavate polished and personal sounding gems from tired genres. Like Hans-Peter Lindstrom, Fulton has a knack for generating space in his recordings. His instrumental versions add to the groove by subtracting clutter, following George Clintons edict that funk is what you dont play. This recent EP with Kathy Diamond sends him to the sparkling dub end of space disco, armed with slap bass, fruity keys and mad-isms. Like recent remix work for Hot Chip and !!!, this EP has got a sense of ease to it, and grooves along, propelled by a self-assured succession of reverbed claps, skittering bongos, and wiggling synths. The B-side gets you an instrumental version, which stands equal scrutiny with the vocal cut. Kathy or no Kathy, this is one of the biz most talented people, doing their best work.

Nick Sylvester: I first heard this on Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space program a few weeks ago actually. Reminds me of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” though this night does actually last forever, if that makes sense: excessive slapbass, conga accents of the “afro-electro-disco-funk” variety, the heavily FX’d Wurlitzer rhythms, “I came, I saw, I conquered your heart,” etc. Plus Diamond, who is Sheffield-from but London-in at the moment, has legitimate pipes, none of the whispery quote-nave girlfriend-of-producer stuff that OK yeah I’ve come to like a lot too. Either way, this is a Maurice Fulton production, which means the bass kicks are taut, and the snare clacks and handclaps combine on the twos and fours just a millisecond out of sync. I’m not sure how much longer it’ll be before that multitracked vocal harmony breakdown goes from cheesy-irresistible to merely cheesy, but let’s be fair: not all Rufus breakdowns aged well either.

Permanent Vacation / PERMVAC 005-1
[Listen]


Next Page »