August 8, 2007

Various Artists - Death Is Nothing To Fear Vol. 2

Whereas the first volume of Spectral Sound’s latest compilation series featured a side-long groover from the label’s biggest star, Matthew “Audion” Dear, the follow-up isn’t dominated by one act at all. The four tracks here are uniformly excellent and of enough variety to keep even the most OCD listener satisfied, driven as they seem to be by genuinely, um, “spectral” sounds (or perhaps “ghostly” is a better description).

Spectral mainstay James T. Cotton’s “2 Keys” leads things off with more of his familiar funky-acid-by-numbers action, but hey, acid isn’t exactly built on the idea of diverse sounds, so you can hardly be surprised. Jonas Kopp remixes Plan Tec into a building, percussive nightmare with inspired (and masterfully restrained) use of some very cool horrorshow effects and knob-tweaking, and you might swear that Geoff White’s minimal popper “Apartmental” is a long lost Daniel Bell cut, bugged out and bouncing along.

The cream of this particular crop, however, is Mikael Stavstrand’s “Can You See Through My Eyes,” a clattering, spooked-out ride full of inspired textures and percussive tricks that rumble over the track’s spine like a skeleton being dragged on a bumper. The Cotton track may be a little samey, but three out of four winners these days is a mighty fine ratio. Oh, and bonus points for the cute skull-&-hearts cover motif.

Spectral Sound / SPC-043
[Todd Hutlock]

August 1, 2007

Ilya Santana - Quasar


A few months ago, I had this to say about Discotized, one of Ilya’s last EPs: “You could locate this record somewhere between the Emperor Machine, Daniel Wang and Norwegian space disco, but what escapes that is the sedate, comforting groove here - no big ‘whoosh’ noises, no ‘frantic congas or tiresome solos’ - ‘Holding You’ is seven minutes long, but contains nothing superfluous.”

And, comfortingly perhaps, not much has changed here on Quasar, except the speeding of the proceedings. Maybe it’s all the slow-mo/po-mo Harvey disciples Santana is marketing his tracks at, but Quasar has definitely taken the BPM and the intensity down a few clicks. Play this at -8 and you could probably even mix it with Severed Heads’ “We Have Come to Bless this House” at the monged speed Harvey himself plays it at.

But as fun as “Quasar” is, to such a talented artist this is treading water. There’s no innovation going on here…the same old (albeit enjoyable) formulas are in full effect. But hey, nobody criticises AC/DC for being formulaic, do they? Interestingly, the B-side, which is initially far more arresting, ventures into the very territory that Daniel Wang derided I don’t know about tiresome solos, but there’s more than a few frantic congas being brought to this particular party. But before you can say, “oh no, psytrance hippies”, Pete Herbert (he of Reverso 68) saves his side with a funkin’ bassline, a whole lotta wiggle, and a neat melody. Like the bellhop in Some Like it Hot, this track is “the way I like ‘em big ‘n sassy.”

Disciple of Groove / DOG 002
[Peter Chambers]

July 19, 2007

Brother From Another Planet / .Xtrak - 7th City Classics Vol. 1


Daniel Bell’s fabled 7th City imprint was working the whole minimal techno vibe long before there was even a name for it, and early sides on the label are treasured by that community not just because of their rarity, but for their enduring quality. While reissued tracks from Bell himself (or hell, new music!) would likely be the most welcome to collectors (he didn’t record much for 7th City himself), the two tracks chosen for the first of the three-volume 7th City Classics series are certainly worth additions to anyone’s crate.

Claude Young’s Brother From Another Planet alias contributes the mighty “Acid Wash Conflict,” which, naturally, sounds exactly like the title would lead you to believe, but its Todd Sines’ .Xtrak entry that really should open some ears here. “Multiplexor” is a stomping stealthmode workout in the mold of DBX himself, with a popping riff and acid-style knob-tweaking that moves insistently as much as it jogs in place. If the 7th City sound was before your time, the Classics series are essential. Now, if DBX would get to reissuing those classic Accelarate sides…

7th City / SCD 022
[Todd Hutlock]

February 2, 2007

Charts: February 2 2007

Todd Hutlock
Kiki - Trust Me (Super Dub) [Bpitch Control]
Radio Slave - Weeeze [Rekids]
Pantytec - Micromission (Daniel Bell Remix) [Perlon]
Thomas Brinkmann - Wait A Minute [Max Ernst]
Mikkel Metal - Noff [Echocord]
Sieg ber Die Sonne - Youll Never Come Back (Tobi Neumanns Waiting For You Rmx) [Multicolor Recordings]
Villalobos - Tub [Playhouse]
Alan Parsons Project - I Robot (Pilooski Edit) [D*I*R*T*Y Edits]
Depeche Mode - Master And Servant (An ON-U Sound Science Fiction Dance Hall Classic) [Mute]
Convextion - Solum Ferrum [Down Low]

Mallory ODonnell
Roxy Music - Same Old Scene (Glimmers Remix) [Virgin]
Love Supreme - Pork Chop Express [Tirk]
Kathy Diamond - All Woman [Permanent Vacation]
Flim Flam - Best of Joint Mix [Dum Dum]
Marsha Raven - I Like Plastic [Red Bus]
Pet Shop Boys - One More Chance (Remix) [ARS]
Orgue Electronique - The Garden [Creme Organisation]
Chocolate Milk - Action Speaks Louder Than Words [RCA]
The Field - From Here We Go Sublime [Kompakt]
Gui Borrato - Chromophobia [Kompakt]

Michael F. Gill
Tenderness - Got To Keep On Trying [RCA]
Bob-A-Rela - Why Does It Rain? [Channel]
O’Gar Playback Fantasy (Instrumental) [Magic Circus Productions]
Quartz Beyond The Clouds [T.K. Disco]
Omar-S- The Maker [FXHE]
Robert Hood Hoodmusic 2 [Music Man Records]
Marcellus Pittman Come See [Unirhythm]
Herbert The Movers & The Shakers (Green Velvet Remix) [!K7]
Remo feat. Chelonis R. Jones - Empire [Dance Electric]
Home Video - The Penguin (Tim Goldsworthy’s The Loving Hand Remix) [Defend]

March 24, 2006

Italoboyz - The Titty Twister

Surely not a release you would pick up by name alone, or even after looking at the bright cartoon figures on their website, The Titty Twister could easily find its home in the record bag of Zip, Luciano, or Daniel Bell. Bubble and Click is exactly as advertised, offering a leaky faucet of minimal slurps and gulps, and a kick drum that leans into your moving hips ever so gently. Birdman on the flip is even better, riding so solemnly on a flattened ticking funk until the crisp winds of nature creep in halfway to loosen everybody up for the run-out groove. Recommended.

Einmaleins / 007
[Michael F. Gill]

January 27, 2006

Live: Dan Bell @ Phoenix Landing, January 2006

Its Sunday, January 23rd. Theres a ticking in my head. Its been there for awhile, seemingly acting as a subconscious pulse thats reliable when life can seem overly dramatic or overly boring. As I travel to and fro, the desire grows to give an external shell to this pulse, to share its energy with those around me. For those times when I am not surrounded by friends or people who care about me, the constant rhythm of house music is this outgrowth of my inner clock. Four on the floor: its the eternal optimist.

Where do these thoughts come from? I try not to interpret and deconstruct electronic dance music as if it were a riddle, I much prefer to work off the feelings it provides me and the reactions it provokes as a partial set of blueprints relating to who I am. These are things that I remind myself off as I get ready to see Daniel Bell spin over at the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I feel when I go out I have this side of me that is very cerebral and knowing, wanting to slowly analyze the music and environment around me, as well as a side thats very loose and loopy, letting the night just happen to me. It can be hard to let go of this brainy side when you are a music geek, easily charmed that an episode of Law & Order revolved around a person with the last name Speicher.

I arrive a bit late, but just in time to see Dan go on. He played a good set here last January that was mostly straight minimal techno, with a couple of vocal wildcards like Sexual Harassments I Need A Freak & Freaks Turning Orange 2 Please U. Hes even better tonight, diversifying things with snippets of minimal vocal house that act as brief respites from the more bangin techno tracks. Its worth noting that since Bell avoids any sense of melody throughout the set, when the rippling acoustic guitars of Lucianos Salif Keita remix come in at the very end of the set, its not only a refreshing shock, its almost out of character.

This brings me to a point I was discussing at the end of the night with local producer Mike Uzzi, who, after gently chiding me on my lack of knowledge about Stewart Walkers Persona label, remarked how expansive and diverse Dans set was. That Mike was able to notice this is testament to how finely tuned his ears are, because during the best moments of Dans set, when I found myself really immersed and being carried by the music, my ears tend to tune out all the shifts from sub-genre to sub-genre, and enjoy the set as one large, level plane. I wonder how many people dancing around me were attuned to the subtle shifts in the music and how many were oblivious, and if there was any difference in each groups level of enjoyment. Perhaps I should hand out written surveys at the end of the show alongside those people who hand out flyers to leaving clubgoers. Perhaps I am thinking about this too much. Hmm, I think so.

As Im walking out, I have a chance to talk briefly with Dan, who is more laid-back and down-to-earth than youd expect for someone who just threw down a few hours of obscure techno and funky pinpricks. In contrast, Fred Gianelli (another Boston-based techno producer) is standing next to us launching into an unprompted story about how his lesbian cousin saved his life by pulling him away from a horse that started attacking his head for no reason. While Im really tired as I arrive home, Im greeted by a comforting sound as Im about to fall asleep: a pulsating ticking in my head.

[Michael F. Gill]