June 20, 2007

From The Archives #2

From The Archive is a selection of dance related articles and reviews from the archives of Stylus Magazine.

Sami Koivikko - Salmiakki (Shitkatapult)

Todd Burns: Quite simply, tennis has become less of a game of finesse and more of overpowering menaces that demand respect less because of their innate ability to outthink the other player and more because of their ability to stifle any response. For a long time, this was the state of German techno…

Various Artists - Inflation (Mu Label)

Michael Heumann: This is, in short, a remix album where the source material is inaudible and the artists must use these inaudible sounds to create audible music.

Monobox - Molecule (Logistic Records)

Todd Burns: The true highlight of the album comes with “The Diamond Age,” which oddly enough sounds much more like early Autechre or Posthuman than any other obvious antecedents to Robert Hood’s brand of minimal techno.

On Second Thought: Thomas Brinkmann’s Studio 1 – Variationen / Concept 1:96:VR (Profan / M_nus)

Todd Hutlock: In the liner notes to the release, Brinkmann explains his system (which one can assume he used on both releases) in detail: “I used a self-made turntable with 30 kilo plate, and two SME 309 Tone Arms utilizing both Ortofon and Van den Hul moving-coil pickups. The interventions with the actual vinyl are few: I slowed down the speed of the record and used the left pickup (arm) for the left channel, and the right pickup (arm) for the right channel. It’s possible to hear a melodic displacement between the channels. With a little intervention and displacement of elements, the Concepts are sounding different. The same information they had before, but two times present. Like the idea of cloning and twins: still Richie’s DNA with a little mutation. A different groove.”

On Second Thought: Pete Namlook and Dandy Jack - Silent Music (Fax)

Dane Schultz: Silent Music could be seen as a stylistic pastiche of the entire FAX catalogue.


March 2, 2007

Heartthrob - Baby Kate Remixes

Heartthrob’s “Baby Kate” was something of a summer anthem last year after its pole-position appearance on the min2MAX compilation, and while it wasn’t really all that memorable in and of itself—some routine minimal beats, a deep, bending, two-note analog riff, a few stuttering noises and little else—it worked well in everyone’s sets and that sense of space is also what likely gives it such appeal as a remix. There’s 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 we’re 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 you’ve accidentally dialed one on the phone. Even M_nus boss Richie Hawtin takes a crack here—twice. Hawtin’s 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. Hawtin’s 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 Dahlbäck 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 you’re gonna bother with seven mixes, you might as well mix things up a bit more than this.

M_nus / MINUS48
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


September 15, 2005

Blome & Grummich - Crystal Avenue / Hungry Bassline

200512"Techno

I imagine whenever German techno luminaries are in the studio and they’ve settled on a hard tinged bassline they name the file “sender.” That’s because everything the label releases is a beautiful barreling piece of wax. Call it Berlin crunk, if you will. This particular joint is a successfully melodic addition to the catalogue, with Blome putting fragile icicles of synth amid a gurgling and ferocious bass on “Crystal Avenue” and what sounds like fax transmissions in C major around the titular “Hungry Bassline.”

Sender / send049
[Todd Burns]


May 12, 2005

Fax - Bilateral EP

One thing Level is doing very right is in their graphic design. Each 12” thus far has been a stunning piece of art. The third release is the gem, thus far, depicting on its front cover what seems to be a confluence of electrical wires, a street lamp, and an unidentified solar flare. The music within is a sort of digital dub house—the music Pole might have made if he was more interested in dancefloors than hookahs. The melodies are slightly warmer than that comparison might imply, but the music is exactly as innocuous. You might be able to salvage something here for a mid-set track, but nothing here is singularly fascinating.

Level / LVL-03
[Todd Burns]