August 3, 2007

Beatzcast #44: Nate Deyoung

Mixes2007

Stylus contributor Nate Deyoung presents a mix of recent dance tracks…

Tracklist
01: Otterman Empire - Private Land [buy]
02: Black Leotard Front - Casual Friday [buy]
03: Studio - Life’s a Beach (Todd Terje Remix) [buy]
04: Kelly Polar Quartet - Rhythm Touch [buy]
05: Phantom Slasher - Lasagna for 10 [buy]
06: Runaway - Ain’t Afraid to Beg [buy]
07: Map of Africa - Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys [buy]
08: Harry Nilsson - Jump Into the Fire [buy]
09: Etta James - In the Basement (Theo Parrish Re-Edit) [buy]
10: Lq - Lies (Theo Parrish Re-Edit) [buy]
11: Lee Douglas - Our Song 99 [buy]
12: Giorgio Gigli - Circle [buy]

Subscribe to Beatz By The Pound.


July 15, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 28

Peter Visti - Dolly (Mindless Boogie)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Balearic

Wild Rumpus - Musical Blaze-Up (Bitches Brew)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Reggae

Nate DeYoung: I can only imagine that the Rumpus duo of legends, DJ Cosmo and Gary Lucas, must have a winged costume or two in their closets.

DJ 3000 / Gerald Mitchell / Ellen Allien - Alia / Geloshai 1862 / Retina (Motech Limited)
Genre: Detroit, Techno

Pharoahe Monch - Body Baby Remixes (Island Records)
Genre: House, R & B

Mallory O’Donnell: This single is a mixed bag to be sure, but one worth investigating, especially for those in search of rap / house crossovers that take chances, rather than skating to the easy route.

cv313 - Dimensional Space (echospace [detroit])
Genre: Techno, Dub

Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music (Moodmusic)
Genre: House, Minimal/Deep

Dennis Ferrer - Son of Raw (Locodice Remixes) (Objektivity)
Genre: Techno, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: Is LocoButtrich the king of mild pitch house?

Weekly Staff Charts

Beatzcast #41: Crambe Repetita

Andrew Gaerig looks at Klaus Dinger’s post-Neu! project La Dusseldorf

Brad Luen reviews the Disco documentary The Godfather of Disco


July 12, 2007

Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music

200712"HouseMinimal/Deep

If seeing is believing, hearing is disbelieving. It’s a fact that might’ve been founded by the musique concrete godfather Pierre Schafer more than fifty years ago, but still leaves more than a few of us lost in what it actually means. How about this one - when reversed, how can you listen to a sound that ends before it’s created? The latest artist playing in these sound riddles is Henrik Schwarz, who left his own breadcrumbs with “Walk Music” a couple months ago. For an artist responsible for one of the best DJ mixes of 2006, the response to Schwarz’s return to Moodmusic was not only unfounded, it was bizarre “Walk Music” was completely ignored.

On paper, the cricket-laden response might be hard to explain. On vinyl, though, the lost and reversed voice that pierces through the ether of “Walk Music” makes perfect sense. The single doesn’t seem to belong to a release date cemented by the 2003 version of “Walk Music” here that’s been lost and found. The uncanny cinematic burn of synths on “Walk Music” only enhances the track’s abject vocals, reminding you that horror not only has an ability to torture but also to haunt. Even the melodic sprinkle that begins the 2003 version has few comforts - it’s ends up being just the damp underbelly in which the rest of the song festers. But despite all of that, here’s the kicker: upon hearing Walk Music, it’s impossible to look away. Hearing really is disbelieving.

Mood Music / MOOD 51
[Listen]
[Nate Deyoung]


June 3, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 22

Various Artists - Shut Up And Dance! Updated (Ostgut Tontrger)
Genre: Techno, Minimal/Deep

Richard Carnes: At a time of the year where everyones looking to individual artists for 2007s top electronic album, this release definitely shouldnt be swept under the carpet.

Crowdpleaser & St Plomb - 2006 Remixes 1 (Mental Groove)
Genre: Electro-House

Marco Resmann - Watercolour (Mobilee)
Genre: Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: In this case, its easy to visualise a blue wash like an Yves Klein canvas on an overcast afternoon right before dusk.

Booka Shade - Tickle (Get Physical Music)
Genre: Electro-House

Maximilian Skiba - Beginning (Eva)
Genre: Electro-House

Prinzhorn Dance School - Up! Up! Up! (DFA)
Genre: Indie-Dance

The Skull - Enter The Skull
Genre: House, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: “Sensuella” continues the run of apt track titles by paring things back a few notches, with a lonely lady being serenading by sine tones who appear to be telling us that the undead are holding her captive. Or she wants to be held. Or something.

Weekly Staff Charts
Beatzcast #35: Crambe Repetita

Mike Powell interviews Environ’s Kelley Polar
Todd Hutlock reviews Hot Chip’s DJ Kicks mix CD.
Peter Parrish reviews Colleen’s Les Ondes Silencieuses


May 31, 2007

Prinzhorn Dance School - Up! Up! Up!

200712"Indie-DanceDFA

Prinzhorn Dance School sounds like an innocuous enough name. The group might reject the typical publicity blitz, offering just the barest dcor of a website, shadows instead of profiles, and are missing the 21st century business card - a myspace page. But leave it to the U.S. government to make your little hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Now accompanying their rejected Spring tour visas, Prinzhorn’s Sussex sneer and militant drumming suddenly have taken some terror-ridden overtones “you are a space invader” indeed.

Which makes the new single, Up! Up! Up!, sound even funnier and more tragic in context. Prinzhorn certainly don’t go out of their way to strike the ominous pose that they could get away with given their last couple months. Instead, the retro-riding boy-girl two-piece gets road weary on the title track. Left with hoarse throats, the group’s chants become screams while they spend their days watching cockroaches and fishes. Somewhere along the way, Prinzhorn’s minimal no-wave blueprint gets stretched into a landscape. It’s only amplified by the weak toss-off of a b-side, “Hamworthy Sports And Leisure Center” a song that reveals how Prinzhorn teeters on the edge of failure with every step. But with two great tracks under their belt (”Up! Up! Up!” & “Space Invader”), it’s time to bring on the album.

DFA / DFAEMIDJ 2170
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


May 29, 2007

Various Artists - Shut Up And Dance! Updated

All too often when I admit my passion for techno music to someone, the image that they conjure up is far from my own perception of it. To them, the word seems to imply a sound of hard and infinitely spiralling industrial loops; in short, music for drugged up idiots with their shirts off. This stigma that seems to stem from the more aggressive side of 90s techno has proved hard to shake from the everymans psyche, and is one of the main reasons why minimal has proved such a popular term for DJs, producers, and fans alike as they desperately try to distance themselves from the boorish connotations that many people draw with the genre.

The minimal techno (no matter how “minimal” a lot of these so called tracks are) scene seems to have manufactured an image for itself that suggests an intelligence behind the music and its creation, whilst simultaneously being extremely danceable and able to assert transcendental experiences on the dancefloor through innovative sound design. Some of the more rockist critics may scoff at this supposed ideology, writing it off as yet another excuse for hedonists in their twenties to go out and take as many drugs as they can get hold of, but the same criticism could be levelled to almost any other style of music. Would they say, for example, that punk meant nothing because a high proportion of the audiences were high on speed? Another argument aimed towards techno as a mindless, pedestrian form of art focuses on its simplistic rigidity of structure. Whilst its true that 99 per cent of tracks share uniformity through their 4/4 time signature, it is this theoretical canvas that allows producers to concentrate on the finer details and layers within the music, in addition to maximising the benefits that stem from using patterns and repetition to absorb the listener into the sound.

Electronic evangelists such as myself may even stick their necks out on the line to say that modern techno music is high art at its peak of visceral effectivity; marrying artistry and craftsmanship with sheer functionality to create an end product that is capable of stirring the minds, hearts, and feet of even the most casual observers. Obviously there are exceptions to this sweeping statement, but there are many stables of artists that almost certainly subscribe to this way of thinking. The prime example of this would be Berlins Ostgut Ton label; an anomaly in todays scene as its owners are also the proprietors of the infamous Berghain club. The club itself can even be seen in an artistic light; the unused power station being the perfect structural homestead for the machine music that inhabits its interior, whilst the Panoramabar upstairs hosts a painting by Turner prize winning German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans.

The labels latest venture, Shut Up And Dance! Updated, sees them consciously attempt to bring techno music closer to being accepted as a form of high art by creating a project that merges the music with a form of dance that has been part of the high art status quo for centuries ballet. The highly regarded Berlin Staatsballet are the chosen collaborators, and Ostgut have roped in an equally elite cast of producers to provide their soundtrack. me, Luciano, NSI (aka Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer), Sleeparchive, and Luke Slater (as The 7th Plain) are the chosen few that were cherry picked to submit compositions, and all of the artists were given no instructions as to how the music should sound.

NSI open up the body of work with their effort, entitled “Bridge and Tunnel People”, which is possibly a comment on the suburban ballet fans travelling to the industrial locale of Berghain to sample the delights of the citys vibrant techno scene (read more about the phrase here). The track begins with a section of typical orchestral instruments; a delayed harp, looped string section and a cascading piano, slowly building in intensity until the sounds are enveloped by rumbling bass and chaotic synth stabs that usher in the beat. The fourteen and a half minute piece continues to develop throughout, delicately segueing between and merging the sounds generally associated with both the techno and ballet worlds, and as such, is a perfect opening gambit for what is to come.

After the turbulent synergy of the opener, Sleeparchive contributes what is (as youd expect from him) the most resoundingly minimalist track of the five; conjuring up a slowed down techno track that works its way from low frequency throbs and buzzes to wonky high frequency synth loops, removing them a minute from the end to give the music a sense of spaciousness that is only amplified by the low tempo. Sleeparchives sparse ending provides the perfect ending to flow into the compilations centrepiece, mes seventeen minute long cosmic micro-houser “Fiori” (Italian for “flowers”). Foreboding arpeggios and subtle whooshing percussion set the tone, before other elements are slowly introduced to the mix. The rhythmic bassline gives some bounce to the delicate beats, and warm yet melancholic synths are washed over intermittently to provide some relief to the intensity that is only increased by the strengthening of the percussion just before the halfway point. As proved with Carl Craigs ubiquitous remix of Delia & Gavin on DFA, the 4×4 kick is a a very powerful tool when its employed midway through a track, but “Fiori” also demonstrates the efficacy of its removal; reintroducing the introductions ingredients now provide respite to the toughened middle section.

Lucianos contribution, “Drunken Ballet”, injects some much needed humour and light-hearted quirkiness to the aphotic productions that precede it. The usual organic swing that underpins his work is accompanied by an intertwining vocal (simply consisting of a male and female oohing and aahing) that gives it a childlike, yet strangely sexual feel. Things are neatly rounded off with Luke Slaters “Symphony for the Surrealists”, unconsciously continuing Lucianos theme of infancy with a lush, ambient introduction accompanied with bleeps and xylophones that bring a childs music box to mind. As the title suggests, its this track that has the most in common with traditional classical music in both structure and aesthetics, the typical orchestra being replaced with ebbing and flowing synthetic sounds. Slaters use of intermittent percussion, radio static, detached voices, and eerie electronics throughout the thirteen minute epic is astounding, and even though only the most adventurous after-hours DJs will be playing it, it definitely marks itself out as one of the best electronic tracks of the year so far.

At a time of the year where everyones looking to individual artists for 2007s top electronic album, this release definitely shouldnt be swept under the carpet. Its certainly very ironic that by collaborating with an organisation thats as exclusionary as the Staatsballet, Ostgut Ton have created a body of work that will appeal to a much wider range of people than the usual club-based techno album. Whilst it almost certainly wont be enough to make Berlins older ballet crowd journey back to Berghain for one of their usual debauched parties, if it makes a few of the more open minded classicist and rockist listeners think differently about techno, then its done its job. One things for sure, itll make a lot of electronic music fans very happy indeed.

Ostgut Tontrger / ostgut CD03
[Listen]
[Richard Carnes]


April 16, 2007

Theo Parrish - Children of the Drums

200712"Detroit

Theo Parrish is (by all accounts) a real character, an impassioned curmudgeon who spouts strong opinions, demands outrageous appearance fees, and produces highly idiosyncratic deep house that (likewise) oozes a deep self-assurance. Maybe the spirits are helping him, who knows? But theres a righteousness to the man and his work that infuses even the wonkiest of his tracks with an undeniable, irrepressible energy. Even when hes making seemingly counterintuitive production decisions, its obvious that he really means it, and time has largely endorsed himclassics like Ebonics and Overyohead are still as exquisite as when they were released almost a decade ago. Its something thats seen Parrish (rightly in my view) elevated to the status of a key innovator in the deeper strands of reduced house and techno and namechecked by Henrik Schwarz, Lawrence, and others as a godfather figure of sorts. CCs mix of Falling Up becoming a smash cant have hurt, either.

And here, folks, is a timely re-release of two classic Parrish cuts, just in time for the continental re-discovery of deep house that appears to be going on at the moment. Children of the Drum contains all those elements that make Parrishs music ticka descending mesmer-melody thats used as backdrop for rolling percussion (beautifully played by Jerry the Cat), a vocal very high in the mix, and these crazy drum machine patterns in the distant background somewherebongos going quietly bonkers. Deliciously bent deep stuff. I Am These Roots is infused with the same great feel, and while the arrangement isnt quite as interesting as the A-side, theres nonetheless that same intangible thing that keeps you coming back again and again. I think they call it soul?

Sound Signature / COD1
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


April 3, 2007

Joakim - Lonely Hearts

Joakim’s latest for the French label Versatile combines a nicely hummable tune with some elegant and funky padding in three mixes plus an acapella. The extended remix by The Loving Hand (aka Tim from the DFA) is nice to bop along with but is ultimately conflicted with too many ideas: deep house, acid, or electro, please make up your mind! But this is well worth picking up for the Radio Edit and Dub mixes, which keep the chunky, early-80’s vibe intact and turn up the melancholic, yearning vocals. The Radio Edit is a rock-solid pop tune with post-punk trappings, while the Dub version is actually a dub mix for once, instead of a merely gussied-up instrumental. It sounds just perfect for a hastily-planned, sweaty basement party in Paris, or wherever you happen to be this weekend.

Versatile / VER051
[Listen]
[Mallory ODonnell]


March 2, 2007

Heartthrob - Baby Kate Remixes

Heartthrobs Baby Kate was something of a summer anthem last year after its pole-position appearance on the min2MAX compilation, and while it wasnt really all that memorable in and of itselfsome routine minimal beats, a deep, bending, two-note analog riff, a few stuttering noises and little elseit worked well in everyones sets and that sense of space is also what likely gives it such appeal as a remix. Theres so much room to roam here, so much that can be done with a track that is essentially nothing more than a half-dressed mannequin waiting for someone to come along and drape it in their own fashion. Which is exactly what happens here across seven remixes (including some of those pesky download only versions, which are really starting to boil the blood of we vinyl purists), as the remixers take turns making the cut sound like their own work.

Deep breath and were off. Magda plays it straight by simply rearranging and tweaking the riffs and noises a bit while keeping the same general pulse and tempo of the original in what could easily be mistaken for an alternate take by Heartthrob himself. M_nus newcomer Konrad Black adds some more noises (the ones Magda left out, perhaps?) and a bit more rhythmic percolation to the pot, while Troy Pierce dispenses with the main riff altogether in favor of the sort of noises that come out of a fax machine when youve accidentally dialed one on the phone. Even M_nus boss Richie Hawtin takes a crack heretwice. Hawtins Plastikman mix is a refreshing trip down memory lane to the days of Spastik and Krakpot that keeps things low, thumping, and repetitive, with a few tweaked stabs of the original riff to break the hypnosis. Hawtins other mix is under his long-dormant Robotman guise (remember Doo Da Doo? Aw, yeah!) which follows the same rhythmic template as the Plastikman version, but with a bit more funk to it, not to mention a hi-hat and other bits of sorta housey perc. Good to hear the old boy remixing again, even if the tracks sound nearly exactly like things he did a decade ago.

As for the non-M_nus guests, they provide the more interesting and original work here. Sasha Funke gives the rhythm track a much-needed seeing to while clipping the riff into an altogether more sprightly sounding thing, while Adam Beyer and Jesper Dahlbck up the tempo a bit and work the riff into a big, bouncy dancefloor monster with more energy than the other remixers combined. See what happens when your beat is more than a simple minimal thump in 4/4, kids?

Everything here is good if not great, but I definitely walked away wishing that more remixers with different styles had been invited to contribute, as a few of these versions tread pretty similar territory. What might, say, Audio Werner have done with these elements? Or Alan Braxe and Fred Falke? Or Radio Slave? Or, hell, the DFA? Even if they had failed miserably, the whole package would have been better served by a few more truly different takes. If youre gonna bother with seven mixes, you might as well mix things up a bit more than this.

M_nus / MINUS48
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


February 2, 2007

Home Video - The Penguin

Was this inspired by March of the Penguins? I hope so, because I really like my read: Like March humanized the flightless birds to now parodied degrees (cf. Bob Saget’s latest Farce), “The Penguin” redeems countless hopeless/loveless/escapist/truly awful lyrics via penguinization: Sometimes “I wish I could fly away” is just “I wish I could fly away”; sometimes “waiting for the light to change” is not just the stuff of late-night high-school instant messaging. What I’m trying to say is that if you imagine this song being sung by a penguin, it’s pretty great. Otherwise it’s merely a good Maxi Priest mockup (”I just wanna be close to yoooouuuu”) with better-than-average bedroom dance-pop synths and drum sounds, and way better-than-average mixing and programming. There’s a steel-drumlike synth arpeggio that pops up every now and then and it’s just gorgeous. On the backside, DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy makes his solo remixing debut as the Loving Hand. To most it’ll just sound like a flightier DFA remix, much like the Unkle “In a State” one or the Chemical Brothers’ “The Boxer,” but keen ears will notice that the drum kicks are softer, and the background mix is extremely dense, with layers of soft ambient textures tickled by competing skitters of synth. It builds well and isn’t afraid to break down for the verse and build back up again. Really quiet, really confident.

Defend Music / DFN 80015
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


— Next Page »