June 22, 2007

Charts: June 22 2007

Mallory O’Donnell

The Nick Straker Band - The Nick Straker Band [Prelude]
William Strickland - An Electronic Visit to the Zoo and Sound Hypnosis [Spectrum]
Tiefschwarz - Black Music [Souvenir]
Ack By Panel - Base Filmtab EP [Greystate]
Bonde Do Role - Office Boy [Mad Decent]
Grand National - By The Time I Get Home… [Domino]
Third World - One More Time [Columbia]
Ricardo Villalobos - 1ş Encuentro Latinoamericano de la Soledad [White]
Justice - D.A.N.C.E. [Ed Banger]
Bohemia - All The Way [Discos de Tinga]

Michael F. Gill

Alton Miller - Souls Like Mine (R2)
Canvas - The Cat (Rebelone)
Keith Worthy - shelovesmenot [Mental Deepstrumental] (Aesthetic Audio)
Syncom Data - Beyond The Stars (Legowelt Remix) (SD Records)
Paul Birken - Numbskull (Communique Records)
Studio - Radio Edit [Information]
Alicia Myers - I Want To Thank You [MCA]
Marek Bilinski - Po Drugiej Stronie Swiata [Polton/Digiton)
Wish feat. La-Rita Gaskin - Nice and Soft (Downtown Version) [Perspective Records]
Kat Mandu - Super Lady (Manhattan Formula)

June 4, 2007

Justice - D.A.N.C.E.

I’m sure that there are moments of brilliance in the very hip French filter-metal-disco scene (see: “Killing in the Name Of” simultaneously killing a dancefloor and [possibly] killing a movement), but as I just let loose in the parenthetical above, I sincerely doubt this thing’s got more legs. Justice’s upcoming album proves that much in short order and, if it weren’t for “D.A.N.C.E,” I’d predict their downfall for sometime in mid-2008.

But here it is and I’m forced to point out that it’s kinda structured like a song (a feat for these guys), is much lighter than their previous speaker-blowing plod-fests, and actually bounces along like something that an actual human being might dance to. It’s as if someone got a hold of these guys after they made the track “Phantom,” which appears here as a B-side, and told them, “You know what would be cool for those DJ gigs you guys’ll be going to soon? Music that girls actually like. Music that has a tension between hard and soft. Music built for the floor - and not the blog.” Thank God they listened.

Ed Banger Records / ED 017
Because Music / BEC5772071
[Nina Phillips]

May 17, 2007

Skatebard - Vuelo


Way back in 2004 when I didn’t know techno from the sounds my backside makes after a night of too much hummus, Skatebard was an ultra-obscure contributor to Erlend Řye’s DJ Kicks outing, with a four-on-the-floor high-treble UR-like banger called “Metal Chix.” In 2006, the Nordic producer gave us Midnight Magic, which was mostly chillout music and mostly a letdown. Tempo-wise Vuelo splits the difference, but this might be Skatebard’s best outing yet: two tracks of forlorn italo-disco, one track of Lindstrřm-like downtempo space music (”Celluloid Mirage”), and one massively rhythmic, melodically impressionistic techno track akin to Booka Shade or Gui Boratto (”Holidays On Ice In Space”). The italo tracks are tops: understated melodies over the standard italo bubble, percussion underneath either going through various tweaks to reverb and modulations (”Vuelo”) or just overwhelming the lines with massive claps and more twittering hi-hat sounds, all of it dissipating upon contact (”June Nights South of Siena”). Makes me wonder whether I would have liked that Sally Shapiro album more if there was, cough, less Sally Shapiro.

Radius / RAD 012
[Nick Sylvester]

March 26, 2007

Faze Action - In the Trees


UK dance vinyl shop Juno Records plans to celebrate 2007, its tenth anniversary, with ten classic tracks reissued and remixed by topdog producers; “In the Trees” is their first and bodes extremely (extremely) well for the series. Faze Action’s debut record from 1996 was just one of those prime do-no-wrong disco-house cuts: the brooding swaths of strings under nervous agitations of violin, the lascivious interval-jumping bassline that screams ‘90s house (to me), the mist of synth that does in fact permeate the track’s eight-minute length. Especially with the crowd that space-disco’s drawing at the moment, you can’t go wrong re-releasing what in retrospect sounds like an accidentally seminal cut.

Speaking of accidentally seminal cuts, don’t be surprised to find, as I did, the Carl Craig remix in otherwise aggravating neu-rave Franco-filter-metal sets happening in Lower East Sides near you. Everything sounds like an imitation next to this monster: just the way the acid bassline throbs so menacingly, the way the strings take on this outlandishly world-is-gone vibe that reminds me (favorably) of the Kronos Quartet’s work for the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack…I feel bad pretending like CC is actively stunting on your Ed Banger partypeople types but so it goes. Expect to hear this everywhere.

Juno Records / JUNO 1
[Nick Sylvester]

October 13, 2006

Lotterboys - Iron Man

Since yeah it’s obviously that “Iron Man,” electro-discofied to oh-so-campy proportions, and obviously it’s terrible no matter who sings over it (the always annoying Princess Superstar) or remixes it (the pretty reliable [italo-]disco editor Serge Santiago), I recommend staying away. It’s like not even worth knowing about. Lotterboys, to say nothing of composite parts Terranova and Detroit Grand Pubahs, have one pretty solid song called “Blazer,” whose aux percussion breakdowns and horn stabs and hard-plucked basslines could land the track into those Klaxons / EdBanger / Institubes / Kitsune franco-disco-metal type dance sets. But the goofy-electro stuff they deal in otherwise, e.g. this “Iron Man” cover or the punny “Heroine,” really never pops: the humor’s either overbearing or not enough.

Eskimo / 541416 501544
[Nick Sylvester]

September 15, 2006

Misc. - B_Movie 6:00 AM

Peter Chambers: Sender have always been the hard-edged moon to Areal’s messy sunbeams and within the label’s imaginary, Misc. represent the warm force of jet-propelled acceleration, the heat of a turbine’s exhaust switched to rave-mode and turned on the dancefloor. At their best, Christopher Bleckmann & Hannes Wenner’s work is devastating—their brittle percussion and knarzing basslines will growl and stab mayhem out of even the most indifferent dancer. “B-Movie 6AM” is simply the latest update in this tried and true trick—don’t expect to hear any tones or textures you haven’t. But even if no ground’s been broken, the floor’s still shaking. The title track is the biggest winner, with (surprise) a B-movie sample right in the middle that hints at the existence of a humour that the gravity of this “serious body music” might otherwise indicate. If the best bits on this EP don’t approach the highs of “Rocket Control” or the versatility of their fantastic “Trash Talk” EP, it functions nicely as another hit in the knarz-addict’s arm.

Hector Rodriguez: Although a tech house record in name, Misc.’s latest bears a striking resemblance to much of the harder edge of Detroit techno from the preceding century. Despite the hard and bracing edge of many of the sounds, there is an understated refinement to the proceedings. In an earlier time this might have been considered techno funk and filed with Sterac or Drexia but today as the multiplicity of subgenre’s continues to grow, a gem like this gets lost in the space between. The title track is a gloriously dark banger perfect for a 3 AM spin on the dance floor where you can get lost in the saw tooth bass line and menacing beats. “Among Thieves” complements the EP as well: still dark, but without the menace of the title cut, it’s sure to get the booty bumping.

Sender / send059


August 25, 2006

Djuma Soundsystem - Les Djinns Remixes

Nate De Young: Get Physical’s first re-released single is a tribal-house dish from 2003. Thankfully, the three remixers avoid staring too long at the song’s “ethnic” instrumentation to fetishize it. Trentemřller’s remix might have the trance crowds looking for cheap tickets to Berlin, but it’s My My’s remix that’ll rock the clubs, distilling three years into a fizzy yelp and a glitchy, ass-swinging good time. Djuma Soundsytem’s own remix (under the Def Jaguar moniker) prove the group have been taking tips directly from label bosses Booka Shade, with an instantly memorable bassline providing the listener with something warm to nuzzle with as the summer nights fade into autumn.

Ronan Fitzgerald: With this reissue/remix package, Get Physical gives some neat exposure to the Scandinavian Balearic scene which has been quietly awesome for some time now. Trentemoller’s remix is not the banger you might expect, but rather a haunting downtempo effort that focuses on the ear-grabbing hook of the original. Def Jaguar, loosely connected to possibly the world’s greatest down-tempo label, Music For Dreams, comes with a mix that’s strongly evocative of Superpitcher’s “Heroin,” with a little less rock and a little more disco. Finally, Playhouse’s My My provide the techno with a sprawling, dub heavy re-work that scores full marks for intricacy.

Get Physical / GPM 049

July 14, 2006

Soulphiction - Masai Mara / Keekorok


Released on his own imprint, Philpot Records, Soul Phiction’s newest 12” is a psyched-out techno exploration of live string and drum sounds. Although not directly related to the Chilean troika of Pier Bucci, Luciano, or Villalobos, Phiction shares (here, at least) their focus on percussion that pounds, while leaving enough room for other elements to maneuver about. A-side destroyer “Masai Mara” begins with a loose snare and heavy bass drum that beat the shit out of your ears until accompanied by a crisp arpeggio and space synth duo that changes the entire feel. Going from a Latin cadence to a nearly Balearic anthem, “Masai” is at home among more minimal tracks but stands out as something altogether new. Unrelenting B-side banger “Keekorok” manages to travel back earlier in the night, bring the tempo up, and drift further into space. With an EQ that stresses the high-end of the synths and a melody reminiscent of leftfield theremin explorations, the sense of tension and confusion continues to rise until the beats drops one final time and Phiction’s vessel loses all contact with mission control. Essential.

Philpot / PHP 017
[Cameron Octigan]

May 19, 2006

Live: Alan Braxe at ISSST, The Key, London, May 2006

Alan Braxe has sold over two million records that are aimed straight for the heart of the dancefloor, most of them copies of “Music Sounds Better with You,” one of the best ever tracks about dancing and a giant crossover record that even the people I know who despise dance music grudgingly admit to liking (it was #2 in the UK back in August 1998.) Almost unbelievably, before the beginning of this month Alan Braxe had never played a DJ set in public, apparently preferring to be known for his production work.

His doing so deserves an in-depth report. Unfortunately this ain’t it, but I’ll endeavour to get as many details down as possible. It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention, but more that I was paying attention in the wrong way (with every sinew and fibre of my body—but not many brain cells). Also, I was drunk. If I could just write “I danced and had a lot of fun,” I would.

The Key, in Kings Cross, is a club that I’d had an awful experience with previously when it, along with other clubs in the same complex, was part of a hellishly overcrowded, incompetently organized, and hateful in all ways Soulwax “warehouse party.” Tonight, though, it was fine: friendly bar staff, a honeycomb dance floor that made me worry when the giant bees would be returning, and so much dry ice that I felt I was in a dream sequence from Manhunter or Risky Business. The sound was crisp and clear and bumping, but not so loud that I had no voice the next day from YELLING.

Here’s how things end up being in London—Justice and the Ed Banger Records crew along with Mr. Oizo were playing on the same night. In the club next door! And they got a bigger turnout, which is a shame but to be expected in the real or imagined constant NOW of dance music. On the plus side (for me, if not Braxe), it meant that there weren’t any boggly-eyed pill casualties except for one mullethead who’d travelled all the way from Scotland to get mashed and forget everything by the next day. Even he was friendly enough in a I-am-gonna-give-you-a-high-five kind of way.

What made Braxe decide that now was the time to play out (and in London rather than his homebase of Paris), I don’t know. Maybe it was the chance to DJ with Vulture label mate Kris Menace, who did the heavy lifting, manning the decks for most of the evening whilst Braxe cued up re-edits on his laptop. Not that division of labour mattered. As a force, they were hands in the air exciting all night, starting as they meant to go on—hi-impact—with a pitched up “LFO,” “Body Language” and some Chicken Lips before moving into filter-disco. There was surprisingly little I knew except for Lifelike and Kris Menace’s “Discopolis” and a vocal-less, re-cut and stripped-to-the-bone “Music Sounds Better with You” that removed the anthemic whilst keeping the disco propulsion. It was like a suite of variations on the first three seconds of the track, ever spawning and replicating. Near the end, three hours later, there was a baffling mindwarp of an edit of “O Superman” by Laurie Anderson (was it chosen because it also reached a highest chart position of #2 in the UK?) I emailed my brother to find out what I’d forgotten but all he could add was that Braxe “looks like a typical man from the Tricolour French textbooks from school… (i.e. like a sex criminal).”

Then Cagedbaby stepped up and killed the vibe as easily as Braxe had killed EQs with a set of ‘roided-out Bloc Party remixes and tracks that instruct you to have fun just a little too emphatically. It didn’t really matter, though. The best was over with and I managed to get chucked out by the bouncers anyway. I stood in the cool morning light, ears still ringing, loose limbed, and sweaty because I hadn’t stopped moving all night.[Patrick McNally]

May 5, 2006

Justice - Waters of Nazereth

Here’s a handy six track UK CD that combines one of the biggest records of 2005 with a brace of remixes (there’s also a 12” issue with just the new tracks.) I’m sure that most people reading this are aware of the original “Waters of Nazareth”—house music that’s been backspun then kaleidoscopically chopped, compressed and digitally distressed until it’s less le French touch, more le French punch. Justice and Feadz new take on it splits it into disassociative shards of crappy beat-box, bass drops and mobile phone siren, before becoming more four-to-the-floor than they’ve ever been for, oh, fifty seconds at least. Erol Alkan’s ‘remix and re-edit’ (choose one or the other, you can’t do both) is more spacious, playing up drum hooks and church organ. Except for the DJ Funk mix, standard booty biz that fucks the flow, this sounds like one long track, such is the homogenising power of the ever-present distortion.

Ed Banger Records / 5060107720077
[Patrick McNally]

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