August 30, 2007

Brendon Moeller - Jazz Space


Beatz regulars might be familiar with my rendering of “Abletonitis”, the disease which seems to infect every promising Ableton-arranged track with the “limitations of almost infinite possibility”. Somehow, in being able to do almost everything, the program seems to prevent most people from doing, well, anything. Instead of painstakingly hand-programming drum patterns, writing hooks, and making sure the phrasing of all the instruments swing together as one on the one, you just stretch, mute, transpose, and if things are getting boring, drop in a ping-pong delay. Presto! The recent release of Robag Wruhme’s The Lost Archives function as Exhibit A in showing the corrosive effects of this sickness on talented producers, showing how lazy, formulaic and FX-dependent so many interesting music makers have become due to such “amazingly streamlined workflow” and the “incredible drag and drop VST plugins”.

Moeller’s Jazz Space should be just another victim of this epidemic, but somehow, the EP is more like the soundtrack documenting Moeller’s overcoming of the illness by doing pitched battle with several bouts of its symptoms. Sonically, we’re very much in the territory of T++ and Monolake, with dry, granular, and planar sounds rolling through spacetime, their flow interrupted by eruptions of parameter-tweaking breakdowns, which are kept in check by big, deep, round basslines.

“Pink Noise” reaches such proximity to Momentum-era Monolake that you’d have to flag a co-write on it, while “Jazz”, with its warm, friendly micro-boompty feel sidles up very close to Robag’s work on Vakant. But it’s “Space” which goes someway toward staking out Moeller’s very own place on the moon, working intimations of early new-millenium Force Inc into something approaching its own musical identity. While not nearly as accomplished or atmospheric as some of the recent Deepchord material, Jazz Space lays out a musical question-mark that flags the possibility of another talent taking their dub-tech workflow all the way to the cold satellites (and back), in a way that entertainingly re-frames the tried and true template of this narrow but seemingly inexhaustible sound-vein.

Third Ear / 3EEP 068
[Peter Chambers]

July 31, 2007

Italoboyz - Viktor Casanova

There’s nothing like the sight of crisp tuxes and sleep-deprived ravers rubbing elbows. With a taciturn twirl, Shut Up and Dance! Updated dotted the first lines between high-art and minimalism a month ago. Composed as a soundtrack for the esteemed Berlin Staatsballet, the compilation’s seriousness was momentarily punctured by the stumbling detour de force of Luciano’s “Drunken Ballet.” And now that we’ve come across the first response of high-art digested by a minimal-machine (and fueled on clicks and cuts), there are surprisingly few hiccups in Italoboyz’s “Viktor Casanova.”

Instead, we’re introduced by the lull and hum of a soft-focus Ingrid Bergman conjuring “As Time Goes By.” It’s a sample so bleeding obvious and ghostly that it can’t help to be unsettling. Which, according to a choice pull-quote by Ricardo Villalobos, shows the most important thing about a good track is the idea behind it something I’ll tentatively agree with. Especially since Villalobos’ recent work is a perfect opposite of “Viktor Casanova.”

So I’ll enjoy the sights of “fucked up girls trying to imitate the opera singer“ as much as hearing the minimal percussion which delicately avoids overshadowing or under-lighting the track’s main attraction. But what I enjoy most is that “Viktor Casanova” can be as earnest or glib as you want and still be incredible. On the remix front, Samim’s pleasant retooling come with a nagging sense of being superfluous, while Lee Curtiss’ radical and dark mix flourishes under the weight of the original’s instantly iconic composition.

Mothership / MSHIP 001
[Nate DeYoung]

June 28, 2007

Various Artists - 4 Season Sampler, Volume 1

The young Jet Set Records out of Kyoto (who rock a logo highly reminiscent of a certain defunct airline) brings us this three-track sampler for their 4 Seasons CD comp, including an exclusive from Daniel Wang and organic beatscapes from two Japanese groups. The former is a fine enough offering, with typically bubblesome bass and a pair of “Eastern-sounding” melodic motifs, but it might sound a bit rote to those expecting some new tricks from the mighty Mr. Wang. The two natal inclusions are far more interesting, however.

Nix fuse several styles together for “Syk-A” with impressive, rapidly-moving fluidity. Over a smooth synthetic beat, they drop some jazzy keyboard infusions and gospel-house yearning with almost a New Age-y prettiness. The unexpected appearance of the flute in the track’s final third is a welcome nod to East-West crossover that sounds remarkably unforced. Similarly lovely and graced by natural progressions is the delicate “Flower” by Bassed on Kyoto. More jazz than house or techno, it’s a textural marvel, a series of interlocked rhythms, tasteful soloing and Minnie Riperton-esque vocal ejaculations that positively oozes the promise of spring emerging from an unfolding bud.

Jet Set Records / JS12S007
[Mallory O’Donnell]

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 13, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 19

Pepe Bradock - Rhapsody in Pain (Atavisme)
Genre: Leftfield

Peter Chambers: Youre not going to have a lukewarm reaction to this compositionI love it, but that might be a reflection of my overdeveloped sense of the ridiculous. Im so happy people are making fearlessly individual, expressive music like this, experimenting with the idiom of groove to make something perverted, pervertingyet still funky.

Ilya Santana - Discotized (Permanent Vacation)
Genre: Neo-Disco

Force of Nature - Sequencer / Afroshock (Mule Musiq / Headinghome Records)
Genre: Neo-Disco

Nate DeYoung: It takes a grown man to acknowledge when he goes out of his way to find dishwashing music and this timelike alwaysForce of Natures Afroshock (Broken Rule Mix) just fell on my lap.

Toby Tobias - Daves Sex Bits (Rekids)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Balearic

Shed - Remixes In Four Parts 2 (Soloaction)
Genre: Techno, Detroit

Oliver $ - Hotflash Vol 2 (Grand Petrol)
Genre: Electro-House

Nick Sylvester: When [Oliver] grooves for a few seconds on a hiccup of filterhouse, I suddenly remember how infuriating glitch can get. I want that hiccup to last forever, a hiccup that comprises the best moment on the whole twelve-inch, but Olivers already moved on.

Baby Ford / Benno Blome - Smoke Machine (Sender)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Passions - Emergency (Kitsune)
Genre: Indie-Dance

Move D - Ac1D (Modern Love)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

Weekly Staff Charts
Beatzcast #32: Crambe Repetita

Nina Phillips reviews MIA’s Bittersss

Michael F. Gill talks about the process of a creating a DJ mix on Modyfier

December 8, 2006

20:20 Soundsystem - Tape Remixes

20:20 Soundsystem made electro/disco/house for years before Get Physical made it hot. Their pristine, squeaky clean sounds and lines belie a dancefloor muscularity that only seems to come to the fore when the floor is dark and the moon is high in the sky. Likewise, Ralph Lawsons label 20:20 Vision has always sat easily between its sometimes-brilliant electro-leaning output by Carl Finlow and its housier offerings like Fred Everythings fruity Light of Day. This massive remix project is another well-considered move, pairing the original with Dirt Crew and Prins Thomas. Dirt Crews sound sits perfectly here as the filthy other to 2020s sparkles, while Prins Thomas takes a pinch of the same grime and flings it into hyperspace disco mode. To tell the truth, the original is no masterpieceits one of those tracks which stays in your box for its qualities as a gear changer, the B-side between A and C, useful for moving a house set into electro mode or vice versa. Dirt Crews mix smears a little disco mud on the original licks, but ends up underwhelmingits the Prins Thomas you want. All three versions, even the seemingly throwaway bogus bonus version prove yet again why this Norwegian is justly touted as one of the most creative productive forces in current dance music.

20:20 Vision / VIS137 / VIS137-A
[Peter Chambers]

October 6, 2006

Charts: October 6 2006

Guest Chart: Steve Bug, Poker Flat

Extraproduktionen - Subgreen (Arto Mwambe Mix) [Brontosaurus]
Ian OBrien - Totally Alright (Martin Buttrich Mix) [Virgin]
Ben Westbeech - So Good Today (Yoruba Soul Mix) [Brownswood]
Das Bierbeben - Alles Fllt (Losoul Mix) [Shitkatapult]
Stefan Goldmann - Sleepy Hollow [Innercity Visions]
Cle & Mike Vamp - Maisonette (All Mixes) [Dessous]
Gummihz - Isolate (Sebo K Mix) [Mobile]
Dan Berkson & James What - Mescalincircus [Poker Flat]
Abe Duque - When The Fever Breaks [Abe Duque Records]
Studiogemeinschaft - Employee [Treibstoff]

Todd Hutlock
Afternoon Coffee Boys - Busted Speaker Brew [Clink]
Ricardo Villalobos - Bach to Back [Playhouse]
Markus Nikolai - Bushes (Freaks In Outer Space Dub) [Perlon]
Jay Haze - Change Something (Pier Bucci Remix) [Contexterrior]
Shane Berry - Fillertet 2 (Dominik Eulberg Remix) [Trapez LTD]
Anthony Shakir - Sermon [Sublime]
Justin Martin & Sammy D - Swamp Thang (Claude VonStroke Swamp Rat Mix) [Dirtybird]
Kenny Leaven - Feeling Spicy [Traum]
Alexi Delano & Xpansul - Vegetotherapy [Plus 8]
Davidovitch - Insider [Kompakt]

Ronan Fitzgerald
Gummihz - Isolate (Sebo K Remix) [Mobilee]
Solieb - Isotropy (Lazy Fat People Remix) [Maschine]
Rekorder - 6 [Rekorder]
Jens Bond - Rocket Queen [Highgrade]
Stefan Goldmann and Ame - Sleepy Hollow Version [Innervisions]
Argenix and Samim - Sabor EP [Tuning Spork Family Affair]
Anja Schneider - Addicted (Gummihz Mix) - [Mobilee]
Juergens - Love It [Room Recordings]
Shonky - Closer To Pluton [Resopal Red]
Kollektiv Turmstrasse - Disconnect EP [Ostwind]

Mallory ODonnell
Lindstrom - Arp She Said [Smalltown Supersound]
Erasure - Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day) (Fingers In Crumbs) [Mute]
Peru - Oriental [Red Bullet / Compost]
Tetine - A Historia De Garca [Soul Jazz]
Dexter Vs. Cosmic Force - Drum Techniek [Marguerita ]
Sneak Thief - Body Militia [Voltage Musique]
Underworld Cowgirl [Junior Boys Own]

Michael F. Gill
Pinktronix Booty Sez (Juho Kahilainen rmx) [Elettrica]
The It - Donnie (Ron Hardy mix) [DJ International]
Public Energy - Three ‘O Three [Probe Records]
Ministry - I Wanted to Tell Her [Arista]
George Clinton - Erotic City [Fox Records]
Contemporary Household She Said (Toktok remix) [Bomzh]
XR7 XR7 [Quality Records]
Galaxy Dancing Tight [Island/Ensign]
Sven Weisemann Slices [Liebe Detail]
Ginny - Can’t Be Serious [VM Records]

September 8, 2006

Phantom/Ghost - Relax It’s Only a Ghost Versions

Is this some kind of German joke? So asked my significant other upon hearing the lyrics of the original from the next room. Relax, I said, its only Phantom/Ghost. Indeed, the lyrical content of Dirk Von Lowtzow and Thies Mynther is that strange mix of an incredibly earnest theme (love beyond death) delivered in casual, breezy English. Those who remember the climax of Michael Mayers masterful Immer mix will know the score. The effect here is something like Frankie goes to the tundra, sees a ghost, likes it, and takes it to bed. Heres a lyrical sample: Try to let it stay / Make it warm and say / Ectoplasmatic friends / Are well behaved. Hmm. For those of you who can relax and enjoy the oddball vocal, this EPs got a lot to offer, including remixes by the rising darkstars of Dial: Efdemin (here with Carsten Jost) and Pantha du Prince. Panthas mix is very much in the vein of his wonderful Lichten/Walden EP, but without quite the emotive force. The Efdemin/Jost version sounds much more Leaving the Frantic-era Sten, and is a nice mid-tempo tech-house track. Neither this nor the Pantha really manage to deal with the vocal properly though, and both might be better without it. The surprise winner here is the Raboisen mix, which sounds somewhere between Fennesz-esque digital fuzz (but tamed and taught to sing in 4/4) and Panthas older material. In fact, although its not directly credited, the vocal credits suggest this is a Pantha du Prince mix. Its great.

Ladomat / LADO 17187-0
[Peter Chambers]

August 25, 2006

Paradroid - Monster Waves Revealed!

Two new tracks and two remixes from Max Paradroid Wendling that find his brand of popping minimal funk working to fine effect. A-side Faked Moon Landing snaps and swerves with panache over some mellow chords, while the remix by Manutchehr Ghassemlou (what a name!) strips things down a bit further but is basically cut from the same cloth. The flipside, Technology Dream Was Squashed, treads similar territory, but the Elco Park (aka Wendling and occasional partner-in-crime Tobias Lorsbach) version turns it out and is the highlight here. All four tracks resemble each other a bit too much for comfort, which is a shame as some radical reconstructions of these tracks might have been spectacular, given that the source material is strong and swinging.

Force Inc. / FIM 248
[Todd Hutlock]

August 25, 2006

Nze - Kitchen (Remixe)

Nzes Kitchen EP on Trapez was one that really polarised people. Like a lot of earlier releases on Circus Company, it was inspired buffooneryhouse as a rumpalicious parodic pastichebut I can see why it gives people the howling shits. To me, its always a relief when artists re-introduce a sense of the ridiculous into what can all-too-often become a very self-serious humour-free zone. On this remix twelve inch, Skats mix retains most of the madcap vocal, but foists it into the service of the groove, a swinging, bouncy house number in typical Circus Company/Karat style. Thomas Schbens version adds electric-bass-in-space and mentalist skip/schaffel beats to dub the original to the limit of recognition. Like needle-free acupuncture or fat-free butter it removes those parts of the original people might have found most irksome. That theres nearly none of the essential humour left seems an (un)fortunate and unavoidable consequence. If trapped in a pantry and forced to listen to a version of Kitchen all day, Id definitely prefer Schbens version ad nauseum. But without the ridiculousness of the original, should it still deserved to be called Kitchen?

My Best Friend / MBF 12023
[Peter Chambers]

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