August 23, 2007

Pikaya - Cambrium

I recently rediscovered my CD copy of Gescom’s Minidisc. To those who are unfamiliar with the album, it’s comprised of eighty-something short tracks: rhythmic loops; spooky atmospheres; crunchbeats the building blocks of an Autechre album laid bare, and a view onto the unarranged organs of a functional set. It was originally designed to be played on shuffle with a minidisk player, which meant that the album never played the same way twice, producing thousands of combinations of mixes. iTunes has given this album a new lease on life, because not only does it randomise the tracks and mix them gaplessly, it can also fade them into each other, resulting in both amazing and awful mixes. The only problem is the arrhythmic flam that you get when one beat crosses another out of phase…but once Apple releases a version of iTunes that can beat match, it’s bye-bye DJ.

I’ve done a similar thing with my collection of Cadenza EPs, which I play in a similar fashion, leaving the 4.6 hours worth of material on at low volume in the background and letting them randomise and waft into each other. The open structures and aleatory nature of Cadenza’s tracks (avowedly so in the case of Digitaline) mean that the music seems to take pleasure in its own meandering. Needing no intervention, it scribbles and squiggles away the afternoon in its own way. It’s my very own automatic etch-a-sketch, and it draws monochrome flowers.

The playlist is evolving with every Cadenza release, and with the addition of this new Pikaya EP, it’s grown in dub and daub, adding ornamental flourishes and deep-thrown effects to the labels’ prototypical boom-click/plip-plop skeleton. Pikaya’s debut on Cadenza came with “Grne Raufaser” the b-side on the split they shared with Andomat 3000 and Jan’s more boisterous and successful “Entr’acte Music”. It was a track that always hinted at introducing a major theme, but never really delivered on this tease. Both “Fango” and “Jedi” offer the similar sense of imminent drama (which never quite materialises, it’s stuck teetering on the verge), and at high volumes they provide useful tension as foregrounding tracks to be mixed in before “Mr Big Hooks”. At low volumes (when the tracks return to being my living room wallpaper) this also works as part of the overall Cadenza strategy. This is not house so much as the ivy that clings to it.

Cadenza / CADENZA 17
[Peter Chambers]

April 22, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 16

Theo Parrish - Children of the Drums (Sound Signature)
Genre: Detroit

Peter Chambers: 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.

Lovebirds - Modern Stalking (Winding Road Records)
Genre: House, Neo-disco

Audion - Mouth To Mouth Remixes (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Cortney Tidwell - Dont Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up (Ever Records)
Genre: Electro-House

Sly Mongoose - Bad Pulse (Mule Musiq)
Genre: House, Neo-Disco

Nick Sylvester: Sped up just 8-10 BPM or so would make this hotly tipped Japanese producers latest a-side a primetime player at a disco-edit party, though theres something special to how the track works at the slightly languorous tempo it ships with: the toms sound deeper and hold out with pitch, the percussive grit of the rhythm guitar scraping hits harder, the piano fills up what space is left.

Digitaline - Anticlockwise (Cadenza)
Genre: Minimal-Tech

Tiny Sticks vs. Mental Groove - Killing Your Ghost (Mental Groove/Tiny Sticks)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Electro-House

Jrgen Paape - Speicher 47 (Kompakt Extra)
Genre: Minimal/Deep, Techno

Convextion - Miranda Remixes (Matrix)
Genre: Techno, Dub

Todd Hutlock: The original mix is a damn fine piece of second-wave Detroit techno, all jumping rhythms, dubbed-out keyboard stabs, and ring-modulated riffage, but fuck, this aint the second coming of Strings of Life or something.

Weekly Staff Charts
Beatzcast #28: Crambe Repetita

April 18, 2007

Digitaline - Anticlockwise

Everybody understands the ominous descriptor pleasant tasting on the side of a bottle of cough syrup. Worlds away from delicious or even merely tasty, pleasant tasting was always my childhood harbinger of squashed insects, never adequately masked by all that sickly sweetness. On first listen at least, Digitaline draws a parallel squiggle (and boom-click) with sound: Anticlockwise is the very definition of pleasant-sounding.

Yes, its the dreaded minimal, returned-repressed as high-tech background music. Strangely though, thats also the strength of this releasewhile none of the tracks reward the close scrutiny of headphone walkabouts (and indeed, through some strange trompe l’oeil, its almost impossible to focus on these tracks) they bubble away beautifully in the background, almost minding their own business. This is the minimal your domesticated machines make in and for themselves.

It feels pointless to describe these tracks for their landmarks, but the landscapes they all commonly describe are filled with slow-fading loop ideas, melodo-textural themes that roll in, wiggle around, and then (after a few minutes) are either joined by a new plateau, driven onto other pleasures, or faded out again. Interestingly, the duos live set (available here) works in exactly the same way, totally confounding any expectation you might have that music should go somewhere. Its unashamedly pointless, pleasant music, no questionbut like online chat, theres a great undirected, non-purposive quality in it.

Cadenza / Cadenza 14
[Peter Chambers]

October 13, 2005

Digitaline - Rubicube

Cadenzas win streak (excepting NSI) is primarily based on the fact that Luciano has produced the majority of its releases. Youd be a wi Digitaline, a duo featuring Gregorythme and the (unknown to me) Laps, continue apace with Rubicube, two tracks that fit into the labels template nicely. The title track is bubbly, like a glass of water constantly being jostled, their contents spilling over onto the floor, while Belladonna is drier, more stiffly countering its lone wavering synth with a vocal stab and some politely Latin percussion. Nothing flashy here, just more quality.

Cadenza / CADENZA 07
[Todd Burns]