September 17, 2007

Modeselektor - Happy Birthday!

Actually Modeselektor are excited to become cartoons. The group’s last couple of album covers are giddily aware of it. Inside the cover for Happy Birthday! and on its portly made-for-CD running-time, Modeselektor pound away with ACME anvils and beep beep through open ranges—covering the distance between bangers and ballads. Or, to be fair, it’s just bangers and ballads. That’s it.

Let’s not take away from Modeselektor’s strengths though, the pair is also good at bastardizing genres and music scenes. Their debut album wasn’t named Hello Mum! for no reason. Happy Birthday! just begs to be described in a pragmatic word like “chock-full,” but here’s an overlooked factoid—it’s the first album to be graced by one Thom Yorke which isn’t worried about being tasteful with a capital T.

Being tasteless suits the band just fine. With “2000007,” it also lets them out-prefuse Prefuse 73. Not stuck explaining their exquisite band name or racial politics must be fun, because it definitely sounds a helluva lot more brash and exciting than what Scott Herren is doing these days. The track might be in the genre-netherworld between glitch-hop and euro-crunk, but it’s definitely an unabashed sequel to group’s last album opener with the French rap group TTC.

Modeselektor continue to gleefully plunder their own past as well as others for inspiration throughout the 18 tracks. One notable choice is Scooter and their Teutonic happy-hardcore schlockfest, “Hyper Hyper.” The original isn’t waiting to be rediscovered anytime soon, which makes Modeselektor’s locked-jaw and straight-faced cover even more perfect. Enlisting Otto Von Schirach for the vocal role of Wizard-gone-Return to Oz, with a couple flying monkeys in tow, “Hyper Hyper” is bound to make another generation of kids yell for hardcore all over again.

When the tempo slows, the duo is wise to make their music just as sonically juicy and epic. On their collaboration with Apparat, “Let Your Love Grow,” the group let a field of bulbous synths and trip-hop drum patterns sprout around Paul St. Hilaire, ending up with a dead ringer for Massive Attack. The track is a highlight but one that’s sure to be trumped in notoriety by “The White Flash.” The group’s best contribution to “White Flash” is to let Thom Yorke do what he does best (i.e. play lost angel in our dystopia and moaning into the abyss), and Yorke is perfectly laconic in return—he even twists the euphoric “you have all the time in the world” into something preciously fleeting.

Happy Birthday! constantly reminds me of something Vitalic said in an interview—”I like people screaming in the sound with explosions.” When Modeselektor don’t try to fit every scream and explosion into its folds, the album sags. Tacks like “BMI” and “The Wedding Toccata Theme” sound dull when set against the cartoon-ish extremes of a song like “The First Rebirth,” which comes alive by being chopped and crunked before your ears. Luckily, most of Happy Birthday! finds Modeselektor being so busy being loony tunes that there’s little time to sit still and be bored.

Bpitch Control / BPC 159CD
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


March 27, 2007

Lusine - Podgelism / Podgelism Select Remixes

200712"CD/AlbumDowntempo • Ghostly International • Minimal/Deep

Seattle’s Jeff McIlwain has been cranking out quirkified electronic fare on Ghostly International since the label’s early days, and now they’ve set some interesting remixers (and Mr. Lusine himself, natch) loose on his back catalog to see what they can make of it, including such luminaries as Lawrence, Apparat, and Deru. That sounds like a great idea, and even if four of the mixes on the CD are from 2004’s Flat Remixes EP, the whole thing still flows pretty well, despite the Frankenstein nature of the remix album.

The three Lusine mixes are spread throughout the running order, adding a unified sound to the proceedings and helping to draw the connection between McIlwain’s lush sound sources and the disparate styles of the remixers. Even the 2004-vintage mixes sound fresh and inspired here, especially the reworks from Matthew Dear (funky, bubbling minimalism) and Dimbiman feat. Cabanne (funky, soulful percussionism). If you already own the Flat Remixes twelve, no problem either, as Ghostly has seen fit to release a “highlights” four-tracker on wax including four of the best new mixes, including Robag Wruhme’s ping-pong-in-orbit take on “The Stop” and John Tejada’s swinging tech-house update of “Make It Easy.” On one format or another, there’s a lot to love about Podgelism.

Ghostly International / GI-68 / GI-67
[Listen / Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


December 22, 2006

2006 Year In Review: Individual Writer Lists

As a companion piece to our 2006 year in review, here are the individual lists/charts from each of our contributors. Happy reading…

(more…)


December 22, 2006

2006: The Year In Review

Welcome to the Beatz By The Pound year-end roundup for 2006, a veritable smorgasbord of lists, thoughts, and reflections about the current state of dance music. And while all of our writers handed in very diverse ballots, we were able to come to a consensus on a couple of key releases, producers, and labels. Let the madness begin…

(more…)


September 29, 2006

Charts: September 29 2006

Guest Chart: Kiki

Mr Gone - Do 4 Love (Radio Slave Remix) [Rebirth]
Henrik Schwarz - Imagination Limitation [K7]
Stefan Goldmann - Sleepy Hollow [Innervisions]
Lazy Fat People - Shinjuku [Wagon Repair]
Jamie Jones - The Capsule [Freak n Chic]
Latex - The Porcupine [Rebelone]
Underworld - Pig Play (Buick Project Mix 2) [White]
Shonky - Closer to Pluton [Resopal]
Kiki - Trust Me [Bpitch Control]
Martin Buttrich - Full Clip [Planet E]

Todd Hutlock
InBetween DJs - Horns in the Attic [Wallshaker Music]
Raudive - Ultraviolet [Klang Elektronik]
Marc Houle - Edamame [Minus]
Andrea Parker - Ballbreaker [Mo’ Wax]
Cobblestone Jazz - India In Me [Wagon Repair]
Metope - I’m So Ready (Sleeparchive Remix) [Areal]
Christian Dittmann - Buena Decision [Echocord]
Paul Kalkbrenner - Queer Fellow (Ellen Allien & Apparat Remix) [Bpitch Control]
Fraktion - This Fever Works [Resopal Red]
Thomas Melchoir & Luciano - Father [Cadenza]

Mallory O’Donnell
Morgan Geist - Crash Tracks EP [Metamorphic]
Daso - Daybreak (Oliver Koletzki Remix) [My Best Friend]
The Rice Twins - Reach for the Flute EP [K2]
Putsch 79 - Doin’ It Remixes [Clone]
Scarlet Smears - Spitfire [Blank Start]
Lindstrom - It’s A Feedelity Affair [Smalltown Supersound]
Scissor Sisters - I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ (Linus Loves Remixes) [Polydor]

Michael F. Gill
Chris & Cosey - Walking Through Heaven [Rough Trade]
Rammellzee vs. K-Rob - Beat Bop (Instrumental) [Profile]
Ahzz - New York Moving [Land of Hits]
Curtis Mayfield - Superfly Soundtrack [Curtom]
The League Unlimited Orchestra - Love and Dancing [Virgin]
Legowelt - Bonn 1978 (Discodubmix) [Legowelt]
Dilo vs Gurtz - Piedras (Dandy Jack and the Latin Elvis Remix) [Roman,Photo]
Cohen vs Deluxe - Just Kick! (Carl Cox Mix) [Intec]
Kevin McKay - Summer Breeze [Muzik/Glasgow Underground]
V/A - Idol Tryout Two [Ghostly International]


August 11, 2006

Interview: Amy Grill / Speaking In Code

Stylus and Beatz By the Pound are very excited to bring you an interview with sQuare Productions’ Amy Grill, director and producer of the upcoming techno documentary Speaking in Code.

So, Amy, you’re making a movie about electronic music. Why?

Speaking in Code is a techno movie that’s not really about techno. It’s about people. It is a feature length character driven documentary that follows a global cast of underground electronic music writers, DJs, producers, and label heads as they survive and thrive in the digital age.

Within the indie electronic music community there are many compelling characters. By tracking these characters Speaking in Code discovers some very human truths about subculture, independence, DIY determination, risk, obsession, and eccentricity.

The music (and the ‘minimal’ scene) is a colorful, captivating backdrop and binding force for several intersecting character driven stories—the film has a narrative arc to it based on the life changes and exciting, even funny moments that happen over the course of the year and a half that we will have spent making the film and following these people.

There are a lot of electronic music documentaries out there that have attempted to do one of a few things: capture the spirit of rave culture, survey a specific genre of electronic music, engage the viewer in DJ worship and/or crazy laser light fascination, or make some kind of grand statement about the significance of electronic music, but this film is nothing like any of that.

We are interested in exploring personality, motivation, and getting beyond the surface-y, questions and answers. The film invites the viewer in to experience ‘being there’—at the club, in the studio, in a forest, climbing a hill on the way to see chalk mines, visiting moms in the suburbs, driving through a white-out snow storm, performing at a huge festival, entering the secret underground club or illegal party, and on and on. We have unprecedented access and we get very close with the main characters in the film.

We want to surprise people and perhaps change their minds about electronic music or at least open their minds and show them something they didn’t expect. This movie isn’t just for the techno heads, it’s for the hip old ladies who love character-driven art house documentaries too.

What about 2005/2006 strikes you as the right time for this sort of film?

A film like this could have been made 10 or 20 years ago and although some of the themes and characters would have a different tone and purpose—many similarities would still exist.

There is something special about right now though—from a big picture historical perspective we are seeing the effects of the digital age that make advanced communication and sound technology very accessible. This has strengthened the possibilities for independent music and subculture and our main characters are living proof.

From a more localized perspective on the minimal scene and our characters—over the last year or two minimal techno has arguably become the dominant sub-genre in techno and it has been fun to explore the personalities in the minimal scene and experience the music’s rise in popularity vicariously through our characters. Of course, it’s difficult to even know what minimal really is: is it a sound, an aesthetic, a lifestyle, a hairstyle, a look, or all those things combined perhaps? Some of the characters can’t even be described as minimal at all, but they are somehow minimal by association or connection to the minimal scene. Musings aside, I have to emphasize this is not the “what is minimal techno?” film. I’m sure there is a DVD project like that on the way soon, but we aren’t the one’s making it.

Where all have you traveled to get footage for the film?

We’ve been all over: Montreal, San Francisco, New York, Boston (I live in Boston), Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Jena, Amsterdam, Miami…

Most of the film has been shot—what techno celebs can we expect in the final cut?

Well, we’ve shot 217 hours of footage since we began production in May of 2005 and we hope to cull all of that into a feature-length film, so I hesitate to list everyone at this point, but certainly you can expect to see a lot from these people:

Robert Henke aka Monolake (co-creator Ableton Live)
Modeselektor, Bpitch Control
Ellen Allien, Bpitch Control
Wighnomy Brothers, Freude-Am-Tanzen
Bryan Kasenic (minimal techno promoter in NY)
Jimmy Johnson (owner of Forced Exposure)
Philip Sherburne (writer, DJ)
David Day (Label Manager and Marketing Director at Forced Exposure, DJ, writer, promoter)
Mike Uzzi aka Smartypants, Unlocked Groove
Dan Paluska aka Six Million Dollar Dan, Unlocked Groove
Tobias Thomas, Kompakt
David Prince, M3 Summit

Interviews / Appearances (it remains to be seen whether or not all of these people will make the final cut and we have interviewed many more people not included in this list to help us round out the story):/p>

Akufen
Deadbeat
Apparat
Wolfgang Voigt
Michael Mayer
Reinhard Voigt
The MFA
James Holden
Superpitcher
Isolee
Luomo
Anja Schnieder
Richie Hawtin
The Juan Maclean

Any surprising anecdotes that you can share with us (Vitalic actually is a robot, etc.)?

Too many stories to even tell. The whole film is like one big surprising anecdote, but a surprising anecdote with a point. ;)

What kind of role has Philip Sherburne played?

Philip is a character in the movie, and as a co-producer he has been part tour guide, advisor, consultant, and friend throughout the entire process.

Tell me about financing something like this—what sources are you relying on to keep it going?

Plastic, lots of plastic (as in credit cards) and a handful of small private investors and a community of online supporters—although we are nearing the end of our credit limits and this last Europe trip tapped most of the small investments. So we are now really relying on grassroots fundraising online and also an upcoming benefit/screening/art party/happening here in Boston on August 26 at the sQuareone studio space in Fort Point / South Boston (New England’s oldest and largest artist community). We want to stay away from corporate sponsorship, so we are hoping that people who want to see the film made will help us make it. Anyone can donate any amount on our website—we are offering screen credit in the film for any donation of $50 or more. The grassroots efforts are to make the film mirror the DIY attitudes you’ll see in the documentary.

We are also seeking a film producer to help us cultivate prospective investors and help manage the business end of the film…and most importantly we are looking for investors—big and small.

We need another 25K in the very immediate future to finish production in the fall (Camera and equipment rentals, bus/train/plane tickets, gas, tape stock, the Director of Photography’s day rate) and also to purchase a G5 and enough drive storage (several terabytes) to be able to cut the film. We are currently hobbling along with my laptop and a few Lacie Hard Drives. We also need to be able to pay an assistant editor to log the tapes.

It isn’t cheap making a film—especially when the locations are all over the world …even if we eat on the cheap and stay with friends when we can. And, now Scott (our Director of Photography) is paid—he volunteered for a full year, but it is important to start paying him. Fortunately the most expensive part of the production is out of the way—we can see the light at the end of the tunnel—we just need a little more funding to get through the last few months of production and post production.

By May 2007. Then begins the festival circuit and search for distribution. We would like to see the film get international and domestic theatrical distribution, some broadcast play abroad, and a DVD release too—with lots of extras for the collector type.

Related Links
sQuare Productions
Speaking in Code @ MySpace
Photos from Speaking in Code’s Production
Contribute to sQuare Productions [Todd Burns]


July 28, 2006

Charts: Best of 2006 (so far)

Ronan Fitzgerald

Loco Dice - Seeing Through Shadows [M_Nus]
Duoteque - Amyra [Boxer Sport]
Claude Vonstroke - The Whistler [Dirty Bird]
Gummihz - The First Time [Mobilee]
Fuckaponydelic - Switch on the Light [White]

Michael F. Gill

Albums
Luciano - Sci-Fi Hi-Fi Volume 2 [Soma]
Kiki - Boogybytes Volume 1 [Bpitch Control]
TBA Empty - Stupid Rotation [Max Ernst]
Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener [Monika]
Herbert - Scale [!K7]

Singles / EPs
Sasse - Loosing Touch [Moodmusic]
Italoboyz - The Titty Twister [Einmaleins]
Chelonis R Jones - Deer in the Headlights Remixes [Get Physical]
Escort - Starlight [Escort]
Soulphiction - Masai Mara [Philpot]

Todd Hutlock

Albums
Magda - She’s a Dancing Machine [M_nus]
V/A - Interstellar Fugitives 2: The Destruction of Order [Underground Resistance]
Burial - Burial [Hyperdub]
Booka Shade - Movements [Get Physical]
Alex Smoke - Paradolia [Soma]

Singles / EPs
Jeff Mills - Natural World [Purpose Maker]
Audion/Ellen Allien - Just a Man/Woman [Spectral Sound]
Troy Pierce - 25 Bitches [Vols. 1 and 2] [M_nus]
DJ T vs. Booka Shade - Played Runner [Get Physical]
Sleeparchive - Radio Transmission [Sleeparchive]

Colin James Nagy

Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs [City Centre Offices]
Burial - Burial [Hyperdub]
Cobblestone Jazz - Dump Truck/Peace Offering [Wagon Repair]
The Knife - Silent Shout [Rabid]
DJ Koze - Kosi Comes Around Remixes Part 1 [Kompakt]

Mallory O’Donnell

Albums
The Knife - Silent Shout [Brille/Mute]
Crowdpleaser & St. Plomb - 2006 [Mental Groove]
Ellen Allien & Apparat - Orchestra of Bubbles [BPitch Control]
Fuckpony - Children of Love [Get Physical]
Hot Chip - The Warning [DFA/Astralwerks]

Singles / EPs
Fred Falke - Omega Man [Work It Baby]
Sneak Thief - The Hollow Land [Creme Organisation]
Christopher & Raphael Just - Popper [Kitsune]
Lindstrom - Another Station [Feedelity]
Morgan Geist - Raremix [Environ]

Cameron Octigan

Gabriel Ananda & Cio D’or - Lauschgoldengel [Treibstoff]
Adam Beyer - Stereotypes [Cocoon]
Gui Boratto - Like You [Supermayer Remix] [Kompakt Pop]
Loco Dice - Orchidee [M_nus]
Misc. - Tanz Der Polymere [Hemmann & Kaden Remix] [Sender]

Nick Sylvester

01. The Knife – Silent Shout [Rabid]
02. Delia & Gavin – “Relevee (DFA Remix)” [DFA]
03. Belong – October Language [Carpark]
04. Herbert – “Something Isn’t Right” [!K7]
05. Excepter – Alternation [5RC]


July 14, 2006

Charts: July 14 2006

Todd Hutlock
Bandulu - Phaze In Remix [Infonet]
LocoDice - Seeing Through Shadows [Minus]
Johannes Volk - Synergetik [Mission 6277]
Ben Watt - Old Soul [Buzzin’ Fly]
Quadrant - Infinition [Planet E]
DJ T Vs. Booka Shade - Played Runner [Get Physical]
Ellen Allien & Apparat- Way Out (Robag Wruhme Vati Mafonkk Remikks) [Bpitch Control]
Goldfrapp - Fly Me Away (C2 Remix 4) [Mute]
Electronic Resistance - Marvelous Night (Claude Young Remix) [Sĺhkĺtek]
Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia - Pull [KK]

Michael F. Gill
Tri Atma – Mikrokosmos [Erdenklang]
Lindstrom – Breakfast in Heaven [White]
Wali & The Afro Caravan - Hail the King [Solid State/Harmless]
Squallor - I Love My Disco Baby [CGD]
Stars On 33 - I Feel Music in Your Heart [Vulture Music]
Galoppierende Zuversicht – Klumpknolle [Dachkantine]
Gys – Lon (Soultek Remix) [Zer0 G Sounds]
To Rococo Rot - Music Is a Hungry Ghost [Mute]
King Tubby – Sir Niney’s Rock [Metro]
Françoise Hardy – Parlez-Moi De Lui [Asparagus]


May 19, 2006

Ellen Allien & Apparat - Way Out

The extended dance remix makes a welcome reappearance on the second from the still wondrous Orchestra of Bubbles. “Way Out,” gets a loving elongation that is, yes, more danceable, and also stretches out the great bleepity bloops that got compressed in the album edit. It’s casual Friday at the meat-packing plant for Robag Wrumhe’s mix, a loose-limbed romp through mechanistic EBM beats and the sound of power systems failing. But this release is one worth buying for the b-sides alone—”Rotary” ups the BPMs yet preserves a sense of calm, buffeted all the while by Ellen’s trademark moody synthetics. “Sleepless,” on the other hand, is a stunner, with a slithering Allien vocal (think Annie in her sultry mode or early Bjork) contrasted by some zither-plucking action and the rising, then falling patterns of drums and waveforms.

BPitch Control / BPC 129
[Mallory O’Donnell]


May 19, 2006

Charts: May 19 2006

Mallory O’Donnell
My Robot Friend - 23 Minutes in Brussels
My My - Swiss on Rye
Hot Chip - Boy from School (Maida Vale Version)
Kris Menace - Voyage
Ellen Allien & Apparat - Way Out (Dance Remix)
Snax & Ianeq - Fill Me Up
Mr. Cisco - Culo
Tim Paris - Standing Up (Goldman Remix)
Phonique - Gaga (Tim Paris Remix)

Ronan Fitzgerald
Serge Santiago - Anticipation
Falko Brocksieper - Hardwired EP
Hot Chip - Boy from School (Cosmic Sandwich Mix)
Pet Shop Boys - Flamboyant (Michael Mayer Mix)
Gui Boratto - Strobe
Fuckpony - Cell Phone Hit
Ost and Kjex – Kjexterminate
Claude Vonstroke - The Whistler
I-Robots - Spacer Frau (Boys Noize Remix)
Shyza Minelli - To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Michael F. Gill
Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Zulu Rock
Donna Allen – Serious
Full Intention – I Believe in You
K Hand – Mystery
Various Artists – Cream Collect: Balearic
Awesome 3 – Don’t Go (Kicks like a Mule mix)
Boytronic –Bryllyant
Patato & Totico – Patato & Totico
The Congos – Congoman Chant
Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face


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