September 18, 2007

Basteroid - Upset Ducks

At first it’s hard for me to imagine Upsets Ducks being used for dancing. I mean, I’ve felt that alchemy before, where physically encountering the music at proper volume in a dark and sweaty room consecrated to moving your ass makes even the most unassuming jams take on dimensions you couldn’t imagine in your most feverish headphone dreams, but Sebastian Riedl’s long-playing debut under the Basteroid name is too captivating in its insular, rough-and-smooth way to imagine listening communally, let alone dancing. The opening “16 Steps Away from the Stars” especially soft shoes its could-be-huge raft of interlocking burbles, melodic stabs, and static washes into something that seems to be continually turning away from the listener into somewhere more private and inaccessible; sure enough, having to be the pursuer just makes the attraction of the track fiercer.

Which isn’t to say at all that Basteroid sounds difficult or obtuse or dull; each track here packs all the “cloudbursts, breakdowns, and big hooks” that Peter Chambers summed up as the hallmarks of Areal’s sound in Beatz semi-recently. The artist and record that Riedl’s work here summons unavoidably to mind for those of us who are happy observers but not necessarily devotees of techno is The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime. But as good as that record is, the title is maybe even more appropriate for Upsets Ducks (although I wouldn’t want to lose Riedl’s sense of humor); Axel Willner’s opus opts for the in-your-face sparkle that makes his name so appropriate (think field as ground versus object, not plot of land) whereas the sneakier apogees of Basteroid get to the same heights by rougher, subtler, more sublime means.

Once Riedl hits the late period trifecta of “Pulsador de Alarma”/ “Allright” / “Un Dos Windows” it’s clear that although he’s not so headphone-pointillist as Willner he’s at least his match in crafting snarky movers that don’t so much burst at you as slyly insinuate themselves into your hindbrain. Like a lot of listeners normally so devoted to the Word, or at least the Voice, I can’t say I can actually hum any melodies even after weeks of devoted (obsessive?) listening, but I do find its steady, building pulse threading its way into more and more of my waking life.

Even as the construction of this album apparently disturbed the waterfowl outside his studio (especially the buzzy, grainy “Attention: Upsets Ducks,” I’d imagine), Riedl was crafting a near seamless 70 minutes that deserves to rival Willner’s big debut for the affections of those who normally listen to things with guitars in them.

I lack the technical or genre vocabulary to communicate to the diehards the difference in technique between, I can only talk about emotion: The Field is more like the sensation of sunshine on your face, a train ride to a new city, leaning in to kiss someone; Basteroid evokes instead the feeling of finally leaving work for the day, walking alone through your city late at night, falling asleep to the muted sound of the party next door. That the former is more obviously, maybe even aggressively ‘good’ as a set of signifiers is true, but there’s at least as much space (if not more) in my life for the latter. Riedl is definitely still capable of tearing up a dancefloor but he along with his contemporaries have finally learned the hard lessons of techno’s rich history of trying to make albums: how to craft an experience beyond that of getting up and moving, while still allowing the latter response. The result is rich and compelling enough to warrant repeated listens even from the neophytes.

Areal / AREALCD 6
[Listen]
[Ian Mathers]


September 4, 2007

Andy Stott - Fear of Heights

200712"DubMinimal/Deep

Aside from relentless bleakness and a highly developed sense of minute sound-design, the hallmark of Andy Stott’s music is its continual restructuring. As a child, I used to build my Lego castles as per the instructions, but only the first time. The subsequent re-builds would slowly deviate, riffing around the structures of the original but adding, subtracting and supplementing elements, to the point where my later creations were unrecognisable as mutants of the original. I don’t mean to give myself airs by saying “I once owned a castle” or that my childish re-builds were in any way as creative as Stott’s music. I mention this to emphasise that, perhaps more than any other contemporary techno artist, Stott has mastered modularity with a playful, seemingly effortless ability to build completely novel structures into every track, despite the fact that each one is made out of similar sounds.

“Fear of Heights” takes the woofer-busting bass from “Handle with Care” and throws it over a new rhythm, with sharp, reverbed hats and a haunting melody where the rising call of one synth is met by the reedy fall of the other. It’s mind is Mancunian gloom, but the physical parts are precious high-gloss Dial darkness. “Made your Point” follows the rhythmic template of Claro Intelecto’s Warehouse Sessions, but, as is the norm now, the “student” outdoes the master, playfully rendering the Modern Love sound several shades darker in colour and lighter in touch. Again, the bassline is massive this one rumbles just below the reach of small speakers, only to come humming out of a large system like the sudden presence of a heretofore un-named ghost.

Modern Love / LOVE 37
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


July 6, 2007

Beatzcast #40: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music featuring new music from Ricardo Villalobos and Jay Haze, Luciano, Get Physical, and My Best Friend…

Tracklist
01: Piemont - Sick Certificate [buy]
02: Riley Reinhold - Lights in My Eyes (Patrice Bumel Mokum Rmx) [buy]
03: Kollektiv Turmstrasse - Grillen Im Park [buy]
04: Gluhen 4 - The World Of… [buy]
05: Kramer - Sonne Ist Da [buy]
06: Social Being - Free Your Mind [buy]
07: Luciano - Back to Front [buy]
08: Half Hawaii - Mir Nichts [buy]
09: Phonique feat. Erlend Oye - Casualties [buy]

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July 2, 2007

Prosumer / Murat Tepeli - What Makes You Go For It?

200712"HouseMinimal/Deep

Well, to me this is shaping up as a vintage year for techno (if you still call it that). There seems to be a glut of subtle, surefooted records being made at the moment by producers whose unformed foundational years are behind them. It’s often difficult not to feel you’re drowning in the sea of new releases. For my own part, I gave up trying frantically to cram in a rinse of everything that flickered fancily past. And in a sense, I feel like this might be happening with the music. There’s a period of settlement upon us, and now nearly-veteran people (though this is just my anecdotal impression) seem to be producing fewer and better tracks than three years ago, when the “medicore minimal” glut seemed to peak.

To me, the label that seems to have condensed this idea is Ostgut Tontrger. They don’t release much, but everything is solid gold: from the moment you first see the beautiful sleeves to the final aaah you get on a floor once the dragging needle’s signal drops at full volume. This is proper techno, made by people who love, understand, and care about their music. Listen to Len Faki’s Mekong Delta or Ben Klock’s Czeslawa/Warzsawa EP from earlier this year, and get an Ostgut lesson in how to “do” techno properly. Yet both Faki and Klock’s contributions are full-bore, main-floor, peaktime numbers, delicate though they may be in detail. They’re Berghain. Prosumer and Murat Tepeli’s “What Makes You Go For It” on the other hand is every inch the upstairs/backroom (or even bedroom) incarnation. They’re the Panoramabar.

The title track is somewhere between the blue, raw, and pink beats of the old Trax tracks, but with a vocal trip describing a one night stand that’s equal parts philosophical and carnal, leading to automatic comparisons with Chelonis R Jones. But there’s a definite Ostgut quality at work, too. It bangs, it swings, it’s a great track with a big metallic bell clanging all over it. Prosumer’s vocal sits nicely in the mix he doesn’t overstretch chords or overstate words: she’s got a boyfriend, they’re fucking, where will it end up?

Tepeli’s “Jaws” is much closer to the housey end of Mobilee’s sound, with matte-finish percussion and a sleek, fat bassline whose physicality wiggles widely, in neat contrast to a very chic string synth over the top. Like the lyric on the A, there’s a nice tension between the forward-pushing needs of the body and the inwardly reflective eyes of the mind. But it’s Prosumer’s “Vise” that really puts the icing on this ambivalent cupcake, for me at least. I could swear Prosumer has borrowed My My’s patches to write the melody here the tone, the dynamics, and the break are all redolent of Jones & Hppner, with just a touch of Rest-era Isole. All three tracks here stand on their own, but as a trio they make an outstanding EP.

Ostgut Tontrger / o-ton 07
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 29, 2007

Beatzcast #39: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music featuring new music from Liebe Detail, Get Physical’s Kindisch, and Tattoorec.com…

Tracklist
01: Ink and Needle - Number Seven [buy]
02: Raz Ohara - Whitmey Na (Nass Aka Geiger Ride Vocal Mix) [buy]
03: TNT - L8 [buy]
04: Tiger Stripes - Hooked [buy]
05: Pharoahe Monch - Body Baby (An Optimo [Espacio] Dub) [buy]
06: Mountain People - Mountain003 [buy]
07: Murat Tepeli feat. Prosumer - What Makes You Go for It [buy]
08: Chris Rea - Josephine (Visti Edit) [buy]

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June 10, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 23

Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (Ed Banger / Because Music)
Genre: Indie-Dance

Nina Phillips: You know what would be cool for those DJ gigs you guysll 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.

Michoacan - 2 Bullets (Glimmers/DJ Harvey Remixes) (Grayhound)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Indie-Dance

Peter Chambers: Are you DJ enough to like this? Youll get cred for trying.

Oto Gelb / Daniel Wang - Magical Yellow Sound From Germania / Look Ma, No Drum Machine! (Balihu)
Genre: House, Disco

Tensnake - I Say Mista (Mirau)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Minimal/Deep

Gui Boratto - Chromophobia Remixe Part 1 (Kompakt)
Genre: Minimal/Deep, Progressive/Trance

Riley Reinhold - Light In My Eyes (My Best Friend)
Genre: Minimal/Deep

A Mountain Of One - EP1 / EP2 (AMO)
Genre: Balearic

Nick Sylvester: A lot of this stuff sounds to me like Talk Talk covers the Dances With Wolves soundtrack, at best when people actually believed rock & roll was something spiritual and not just a backdoor to preteen booty.

Beatzcast #36: Crambe Repetita

Derek Miller reviews Matthew Dear’s Asa Breed
Peter Chambers’ take on Get Physical’s 5th Year Anniversary Compilation
Mallory O’Donnell takes on Bondo Do Role’s With Lasers
James Cobo reviews the compilation Kitsune Maison Volume 4


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 30, 2007

Booka Shade - Tickle

The definitive low point of this year’s Winter Music Conference was standing outside the venue for the Get Physical event and being told that Booka Shade were about to wrap up their live set and the door fee had just doubled to $40 a head. At 4:30 AM. This almost makes up for it, though.

“Tickle” could be an addendum to last year’s amazing Movements LP, with those itchy little tapping sounds and swooning ethereal pads the duo favor so much. Their use of percussion in particular seems to have gotten even richer, with oscillating drumrolls and filtered beats sounding both metallic and static-fringed. Tickle? Indeed it does. Even sweeter to these ears is “Karma Car,” balancing a crunchy sawtooth undercurrent with chime and bell-like tones. The wood-circle faerie dance of alternating melody lines that starts close to the two-minute mark gets even tastier with the addition of finger snaps and one of the boys singing wordlessly along. It’s rare to find a track that combines a clean, ultra-modern aesthetic with a great sense of humor, but this is definitely one of those moments. Simultaneously classy and joyous, as we’ve come to expect from this lot.

Get Physical Music / GPM 0706
[Listen]
[Mallory ODonnell]


May 25, 2007

Beatzcast #34: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music…

Tracklist
01: Shemale - Untitled [buy]
02: Lindstrom and Solale - Let’s Practise [buy]
03: Trusme - Nards [buy]
04: Miguel Migs - So Far [buy]
05: Voom Voom - Sao Verought (Marcus Worgull Mix) [buy]
06: Booka Shade - Karma Car [buy]
07: Baby Ford and Zip - Morning Sir [buy]
08: Minilogue - Inca [buy]
09: Crowdpleaser and St. Plomb - Zukunft (Dachshund Remix) [buy]
10: Tiesto feat. Julie Thompson - Do You Feel Me [buy]
11: Nid and Sancy - Give It Up for Sound [buy]

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May 25, 2007

Thinking Out Loud: Physical vs. Digital

Thinking Out Loud developed from a series of open-ended email conversations and ruminations between Beatz staff members. In this article, Michael F. Gill and Peter Chambers discuss the merits of dance music on vinyl and MP3.

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