May 14, 2007

Battles - Atlas

Perhaps the greatest irony of all was indeed that Alanis’ song in its praise was not ironic. An arguably lesser but still significant irony is that math rock, as a genre, a sound, a stance dedicated to remorseless intensity and rhythmic, timbral, and harmonic experimentation, has become, twelve years later, one of the most conservative and unchanging of all musical scenes (which of course they would disavow being on both counts). In a parallel to the drum’n’bass scene, perhaps anything with such a particular sound and intensity is bound to attract two groups of people: those keen for the new, and those mad for the sound. Where the former engorge themselves on the signifiers and grow full and tired before sleeping it off and moving on, the latter seem to have an almost inexhaustible desire for that sound and nothing but that sound…forever.

So I suggested to two (still) math-rocking friends that Battles’ new single marked an exciting new direction for a genre that had gone from being merely stagnant to somehow embodying the very essence of stagnation. But they both hate Battles, ever since they “turned electronic”. Nothing, apparently, will ever equal the heights of Don Caballero. To them, What Burns Never Returns is not a title but the site of worship, of mourning and of an unquenchable repetition-compulsion.

So Atlas is a kind of a betrayal and promise by a group who seem to want to actually enact the originally progressive spirit of Touch-and-Go. What is it? It riffs like a Thorogood beast, howls like The Knife, but schaffels with a vengeance. It’s a fantastic rock epic and a great track. But thank God for the Koze mix on the flip. It’s more than a matter of 1 + 1 = two good sides. Like all good EPs, there’s a quality-multiplying factor lent by the proximities of creative differences-in-common. Koze’s mix presents his typical “touch” based approach to sound, with twee melodies not unlike recent International Pony work but a structure and mood that conjures Aphex Twin. The two tracks seem to wind into each other, not so much remixes as silent halves of the other that mutually intimate, stroke, and ground. The diehard math-rockers will hate it, and it’s too weird for the functionally-obsessed dancefloors of the world, but that’s (also) why it’s one of the more interesting EPs of the year so far.

Warp Records / WAP219
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


July 28, 2006

Common Factor - Through

200612"Techno

Three mixes of laid back tech-house from Nick Calingaert, half of Soma act Retroflex and Planet E alum. Calingaert definitely bears some traces of his former mentor’s work here, as layers of percussion, a pseudo-jazzy keyboard riff, and textural synth pads play musical chairs over a throbbing two-note bassline and a few key breakdowns. The stomping Phonique remix strips things down to start, then adds the layers back piece by piece for an altogether more interesting and dynamic track. Holmar Filipsson plays it a bit retro, with a big swinging hi-hat and an accent on the riffs rather than the rhythms. A little something for everyone, then, although nothing that will really stick to your ribs the next day.

Moodmusic / MOOD 042
[Listen]

[Todd Hutlock]


December 22, 2005

2005: The Year In Review

A look into the year that was in electronic musics…

Top 10 Albums

Matthew Herbert – Plat du Jour
Audion – Suckfish
Vitalic – OK Cowboy
Ark – Caliente
Dandy Jack & Junction SM – Los Siete Castigos
Marc Leclair – Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes
Pier Bucci – Familia
Who Made Who – Who Made Who
Lindstrom & Prins Thomas – Lindstrom & Prins Thomas
Alex Smoke – Incommunicado

This young Glaswegian producer’s debut came on like a shock: marrying a heady combination of electro, old school techno, minimal, and an innate pop sense. A collection of tracks that were just as liable to make you stop dancing in wonder, as it was to get you on the floor…

Top 10 Singles

Booka Shade – Mandarine Girl
Spare Time - Lazy
Luciano – Bomberos
Donato Dozzy & Exercise One - Skarciofen
Common Factor – That Was Then
Unai – Oh You and I
Royskpp feat. Karin Dreijer – What Else Is There?
Daso – Daybreak
Patrice Baumel – Mutant Pop
Stefan Goldmann – Blood

After previously appearing on the smaller Classic and Ovum labels, Goldmann steps up to the plate for Perlon’s 51st release—three enormous monster tracks of clicks and bass that start out with the most modest of intentions…

Top 5 DJ Mixes

Dominik Eulberg – Kreucht and Fluecht
Ewan Pearson – Sci.Fi.Hi.Fi, Vol 1
Annie – DJ Kicks
DJ Clever – Breakbeat Science 5
DJ Naughty – One Naughty Night in Berlin

Showcasing the vocal-end of electro-house, while throwing in classic disco and Italo to boot, DJ Naughty further pushed the dirty disco sound to its limits on this mix from the Eskimo label…

Top 5 Producers

Jesse Somfay
LCD Soundsystem
Putsch 79
Trentemoeller
Nathan Fake

Finding himself on seemingly every single DJ mix released this year, Fake had a massive year on the residual effects of the classic “The Sky Was Pink,” Traum’s 2005 crown jewel, “Dinamo,” and the white label of “Silent Night”…

Top 5 Remixers

Ricardo Villalobos
Abe Duque
Switch / YES Productions
Robag Wruhme
Stuart Price

Almost made the Killers listenable. No mean feat.

Top 5 Labels

Get Physical
Gomma
DFA
Eskimo
Traum/Trapez/MBF

Located strategically across the road from Kompakt HQ, the Traum family had its best year yet with strong entries from known quantities (Steve Barnes, Dominik Eulberg, Jeff Samuel) and a whole host of new producers (Alex Under, Jesse Somfay, Noze, Patrice Baumel)…

Top 5 Reissues

Keith Hudson – The Hudson Affair: Keith Hudson and Friends
DJ Shadow – Endtroducing
Luomo – Vocalcity
Prince Douglas – Dub Roots
AFX – Hangable Auto Bulb

Richard D. James’ formerly ultra-rare drill ‘n bass template sounds as fresh as ever, showing why betting on jungle in 1995 was the best decision he ever made…

Top 5 Compilations

Cybotron – Motor City Machine Music
V/A – Spectral Sound, Vol. 1
Senor Coconut – Coconut FM
Robag Wruhme & Wighnomy Brothers – Remikks Potpourri
Greg Wilson – Credit to the Edit

The first time that this dance music pioneer’s work has been collected. If you were going to clubs in the 1980s, Greg Wilson was your soundtrack—extending and tightening the tracks that you liked and turning them into the epics that you loved…

Words: Todd Burns
Voting Contributors: Todd Burns, Nate Deyoung, Michael F. Gill, Cameron Macdonald, Derek Miller, Mike Powell, Will Simmons