September 18, 2007

Basteroid - Upset Ducks

At first it’s hard for me to imagine Upsets Ducks being used for dancing. I mean, I’ve felt that alchemy before, where physically encountering the music at proper volume in a dark and sweaty room consecrated to moving your ass makes even the most unassuming jams take on dimensions you couldn’t imagine in your most feverish headphone dreams, but Sebastian Riedl’s long-playing debut under the Basteroid name is too captivating in its insular, rough-and-smooth way to imagine listening communally, let alone dancing. The opening “16 Steps Away from the Stars” especially soft shoes its could-be-huge raft of interlocking burbles, melodic stabs, and static washes into something that seems to be continually turning away from the listener into somewhere more private and inaccessible; sure enough, having to be the pursuer just makes the attraction of the track fiercer.

Which isn’t to say at all that Basteroid sounds difficult or obtuse or dull; each track here packs all the “cloudbursts, breakdowns, and big hooks” that Peter Chambers summed up as the hallmarks of Areal’s sound in Beatz semi-recently. The artist and record that Riedl’s work here summons unavoidably to mind for those of us who are happy observers but not necessarily devotees of techno is The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime. But as good as that record is, the title is maybe even more appropriate for Upsets Ducks (although I wouldn’t want to lose Riedl’s sense of humor); Axel Willner’s opus opts for the in-your-face sparkle that makes his name so appropriate (think field as ground versus object, not plot of land) whereas the sneakier apogees of Basteroid get to the same heights by rougher, subtler, more sublime means.

Once Riedl hits the late period trifecta of “Pulsador de Alarma”/ “Allright” / “Un Dos Windows” it’s clear that although he’s not so headphone-pointillist as Willner he’s at least his match in crafting snarky movers that don’t so much burst at you as slyly insinuate themselves into your hindbrain. Like a lot of listeners normally so devoted to the Word, or at least the Voice, I can’t say I can actually hum any melodies even after weeks of devoted (obsessive?) listening, but I do find its steady, building pulse threading its way into more and more of my waking life.

Even as the construction of this album apparently disturbed the waterfowl outside his studio (especially the buzzy, grainy “Attention: Upsets Ducks,” I’d imagine), Riedl was crafting a near seamless 70 minutes that deserves to rival Willner’s big debut for the affections of those who normally listen to things with guitars in them.

I lack the technical or genre vocabulary to communicate to the diehards the difference in technique between, I can only talk about emotion: The Field is more like the sensation of sunshine on your face, a train ride to a new city, leaning in to kiss someone; Basteroid evokes instead the feeling of finally leaving work for the day, walking alone through your city late at night, falling asleep to the muted sound of the party next door. That the former is more obviously, maybe even aggressively ‘good’ as a set of signifiers is true, but there’s at least as much space (if not more) in my life for the latter. Riedl is definitely still capable of tearing up a dancefloor but he along with his contemporaries have finally learned the hard lessons of techno’s rich history of trying to make albums: how to craft an experience beyond that of getting up and moving, while still allowing the latter response. The result is rich and compelling enough to warrant repeated listens even from the neophytes.

Areal / AREALCD 6
[Ian Mathers]

September 7, 2007

Beatzcast #47: Crambe Repetita


Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music…

01: Johan Agebjorn feat. Sally Shapiro - Spacer Woman From Mars [buy]
02: Basteroid - Error Del Disco [buy]
03: Tensnake - White Dog [buy]
04: Staffan Linzatti - Quibble (Efdemin Remix) [buy]
05: The Viewers - Blank Images [buy]
06: Samim - Heater (Claude Von Stroke Mix) [buy]
07: Solomun - Jungle River Cruise [buy]
08: Innersphere - Phunk (Ricardo Villalobos Remix) [buy]

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April 3, 2007

Metope - Braga/Breep

Metope was always the least melodically interesting artist on a label (his own!) full of buzzing beautiesAda has always been a skilled songwriter in Electribe drag, but even Basteroid and Konfekts trackiest moments were full of cloudbursts, breakdowns, and big hooks. But where Metopes tracks really shined was in their timbral richnessyou can tell this guy really, really loves the sounds of his machines, which works to the detriment of the song when it becomes a repetition-compulsion (or sounds like a beautifully tuned engine at idle, depending on your point of view).

But Areals colorful past seems to have faded, and the label, with the release of this EP, appears to be announcing a new, techier (trancier!) direction. Gone are the big melodies and tear-outs, replaced with more growling, buzzing, and swarming drones. Braga, the A-side, seems to be showing the transition between the Areal of old and the Areal of the new. But its Breep, the B-side, which really shows the new direction. Its trancey, but in the hypnotic sensetheres no moments of euphoric melodic resolution herethe only melodies sound like the cries of lemmings flung from the speeding mothership. Which is a good thing, trust me. When the cries of little critters sound this good, their deaths are not in vain.

Areal / Areal041
[Peter Chambers]

March 19, 2007

DJ Koze vs. Sid le Rock - Naked

Personality is often a codeword for obnoxiousbut even when it is, theres an affectionate connotation that tacitly states that its no bad thing. With this in mind, let me tell you: this EP has personality. Both Sid (Pan/Tone) le Rock and DJ (Adolf Noise) Koze take a one eyebrow and a brimming glass raised approach to productionif their methods of mayhem intersect, its at a point where irreverence meets festivity to do the wild thang on your mixer.

And boy are they hard at it herethe original manages to conjugate a moody tech-house number to an attack-ready electroid track with the kind of lubricated ease that fractionalises all its friction. Kozes remix grabs the quirky parts by their love handles and wrestles them into a wheezing microhouse groover that sounds like Moodymann dreaming of pre-millenium Herbert. Theres even a vocal sample that sounds like 80s Iggy Pop. The track just keeps growing and morphing, even featuring a signature Koze anti-climax breakdown and breaking strings falling into the abyss with all the vocal snippets. Just these two tracks would be enough to give this work a big thumbs up, but wait kids, theres more.

Es Scheppert Wie Def Leppard reveals the entire vocal from Kozes remix, but here it leads a wonky-ass pop number that rocks like a baby elephant on a rowboat. Then theres Keep it simple, stupid which shows both producers back in their Kompakt Extra/Sender mode and about to saw shit up. I nearly killed my own cereal playing this over a hungover breakfast this morning. Interestingly, Koze and le Roks noise tendencies combined seem to make something like a Basteroid. But thats what happens when people this depraved get naked.

Cereal/Killers / c/k02
[Peter Chambers]

October 13, 2006

Metope - Kobox

In my opinion, Metope was always the least interesting artist on Areal. His tracks, while possessing the same Machinedrum and Nord barbarity as his label mates, never contained any satisfying melodic shapes or rhythmic structures, repeated too much and developed too little but hey, he runs Areal and gave Ada her break, so maybe I should do him the same favor. Sleeparchive has swarmed all over the originallike all his own recent productions, this mix is a fuzzfest, full of air and static. Increasingly, his techno seems to be utilizing distortion as a constant presence, like a sitars javari or a shamisens sawari. Theres something magical in his subtle understanding of drum machines and their resonances, and this cut, whilst hardly in dialogue with Metope, shows why he has a closer affinity than almost anyone else with his own circuits: he seems to be able to faithfully translate what the machines themselves want to say but cant. Adas mix displays her usual gift for melody and structureshe takes his track and turns it into a song. After all the intimations on her amazing Blondie album, I think its time for Ada to come right out of the pop closet and make a fully blown pop album. Basteroids contribution here is a real disappointment. Far from the tech-electroid perfection of Against Luftweiderstand or the fist-pumping rushes of Sympathy for Disruption or Sonnenbrilliant, this mix noodles around without focus, looping irritating sounds into an ungainly, annoying hodge-podge.

Areal / Areal039
[Peter Chambers]

August 11, 2006

In the Mix: Todd Burns

01. Goldfrapp - Fly Me Away [Mute]
02. Northern Lite - Cocaine [ARMUT24]
03. Cassius - Jack Rock [Virgin]
04. Maderfotor - Scissor [Ware]
05. Basteroid - Meteorchester [Areal]
06. Petter - Some Polyphony [Border Community]
07. Stephan Bodzin - Kerosene [Herzblut]
08. Jesse Somfay - Tonight’s Frail Desire [Budenzauber Recordings]
09. Tigercity - Are You Sensation? (Crambe Repetita Mix) [Igottarun]

June 30, 2006

Sian - Gypsy Life EP

The gypsy and proud of it Spaniard takes his time letting these tracks pop”Grixle” is two minutes on the same three loops, no heavy snare clicksbut goddamn do they pop when they do. If you’ve seen Mathew Jonson do a live set, it’s the same well-manicured paranoia, small sounds all around but a little reverb on the bassline goes a long way. Not crazy about “R U Aware,” which wants to be Kompakt Pop, but “Zeroid Flight” is fantastic neo-jack music, the progression straight out of Chicago 85 but the round faux-analog sound out of Basteroid’s sound bank. Rhymes with Zeroid, and you wonder why.

Karmarouge / KR 19
[Nick Sylvester]

February 24, 2006

Basteroid - I, The Schnitzelmachine

Tellingly, the first thing I thought when I heard that Basteroid was releasing a 12 in tribute to the Wiener Schnitzel was, I cant wait to see what ridiculous heights the press release will go to this time. True to form, the press release was a detailed six-step recipe on how to prepare a Schnitzel dinner. Luckily, Areal has yet to reach a Morrissey-type situation where the song titles and press information is more interesting than the actual music. Schnitzelmachine is actually a bit of a departure for Sebastian Riedl (aka Basteroid,) whos always been the most delightfully obnoxious producer of Areal when it comes to squelching beats and pure overdriven melodic assault. On both tracks, the edges of tension are now much more sleek, stark and agile, and remain mostly unresolved. Compared to the relative messiness and viscerality of Riedls earlier releases, I, The Schnitzelmachine, is like a formally tumultuous person trying to learn to express himself more efficiently without resorting to his once familiar tactic of full-on venting. In that respect it makes this release equally enveloping and frustrating, but overall worth hearing.

Areal / 035
[Michael F. Gill]