September 9, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Weeks 33, 34, & 35

Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 01
Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 02
Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 03

Pikaya - Cambrium (Cadenza)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: This is not house so much as the ivy that clings to it.

Will Saul & Lee Jones - Hug the Scary
(Aus Music)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Electro-House

Charts: August 23 2007

Gavin Mueller’s guide to Ghettotech

Future Loop Foundation - The Sea and the Sky (Louisiana Recordings)
Genre: House, Neo-Disco

Osborne - Outta Sight (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Acid, House

Nate DeYoung: If we’re heading into the last days of summer, then by all means let it be soundtracked by shimmering piano-house.

Brendon Moeller - Jazz Space (Third Ear)
Genre: Techno, Dub

False - False (M_nus)
Genre: Minimal/Deep

Andy Stott - Fear of Heights
(Modern Love)
Genre: Dub, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: 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.

Tobias Thomas - Please Please Please (Kompakt)
Kaito - Contact to the Spirits (Kompakt)

Nina Phillips: Thomas is too busy crafting to see the dancers looking back at him from the floor. No wonder this was mixed live—in an empty dance club in Cologne.

V/A - Grand Cru 2007 (Connaisseur)
V/A - Rekids One (Rekids)

Nina Phillips: If you build bangers, they will come.


Wiley - Playtime Is Over
(Big Dada)

Chris Gaerig: Playtime Is Over proves that Wiley truly does run the grime game. Hell, he’s the only one left.

Arsenal - The Coming (Idjut Boys Mixes) (Play Out!)
Genre: Downtempo, Balearic

Beatzcast #47: Crambe Repetita

Deepchord Presents Echospace - The Coldest Season (Modern Love)
Genre: Dub, Techno

Todd Hutlock: Basic Channel effectively invented the wheel of this genre, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t admire the latest models to roll off the modern assembly line.


August 29, 2007

Osborne - Outta Sight

200712"HouseAcidSpectral Sound

For a guy who has done slice-n-dice jungle under the name Soundmurderer, Todd Osborn doesn’t seem to be possessed by much rage on “Outta Sight.” In fact, this single shows he’s more likely to be throwing down some loved-up house vibes than fragmented epics. I’m all for it though - if we’re heading into the last days of summer, then by all means let it be soundtracked by shimmering piano-house.

The individual ingredients on “Outta Sight” aren’t the most innovative - you could dine on the flirting piano melodies, Latin rhythms, over-enthusiastic bassline, and sampled vocal quiver for your next assembly-line meal. But Osborne teases each out, making such potentially hackneyed elements sound current for 2007. Along with Sly Mongoose’s “Snakes and Ladders” and the forthcoming single from Still Going, “Outta Sight” makes a great case that there’s a piano-house revival afoot. On the flip, “L8″ (produced with Tadd Mullinix) provides the necessary jacking foil - 303s, cowbells, and 909s need not apply, as there’s more than enough to go around.

Spectral / SPC-45
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


July 29, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 30

Jahcoozi - Reworks (Careless)
Genre: House, Leftfield

Tiger Stripes / Solomun - Hooked / Jungle River Cruise (Liebe Detail)
Genre: House, Minimal/Deep

Nate DeYoung: It didn’t take too long until I realized that yes, once again, the sky must still be quite pink.

Social Being - Free Your Mind (Tuning Spork)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: The guitar part is like a memory, like the raw acoustic riffs struggling against the walls of digital feedback in Fennesz’ Endless Summer.

Turbo Crystal - French Girl (Tiny Sticks)
Genre: Leftfield, Neo-Disco

Luciano - Fourges et Sabres (Perlon)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: Luciano, unlike Guns n Roses (there’s a first time for every comparison), has achieved that rare thing, a track which almost totally suspends the sensation of time passing, which thrusts you into a soundworld which is propulsive and immersive.

Socks and Sandals - Rishi Saturn (Microcosm)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Beatzcast #43: Crambe Repetita

Kevin J. Elliott reviews Chromeo’s Fancy Footwork


July 26, 2007

Luciano - Fourges et Sabres

Just after the fifteen minute mark, a strange thing happens while listening to Luciano’s new epic “Fourges et Sabres”. It fades out. That in itself is hardly strange, I suppose. What is odd is the sense of disappointment – because the track feels cut short. Truncated. Abridged. FM radio stations (understandably) do this to Guns n Roses’ “November Rain”, but even then, the full version is less than nine minutes long. And you hardly feel “cheated” when it finishes. Luciano, unlike Guns n Roses (there’s a first time for every comparison), has achieved that rare thing, a track which almost totally suspends the sensation of time passing, which thrusts you into a soundworld which is propulsive and immersive.

Like Prins Thomas’ glorious twenty minute remix of “Hatchback”, this is partially achieved through unhurriedness. These tracks don’t feel like epics, they sound like songs unfolding at their own pace with a stride that’s (naturally) long and loping. Able to leap minutes in a single bound. Users of Reaktor might be familiar with some of the “autopoietic” synthesizers you can download – you just fire them up, and they randomise, differentiate, and “make music” for as long as you let them. There’s a strong element of that here, although it’s mixed with an all-too-human command of the rhythm structures that bespeaks a knowledge of floors and dancing. Under all the ovoid chimes and fluff and hum there’s a big, warm bassline, and a fat kick.

“Back to Front”, the B, is not quite as successful (or effortless) in achieving a similar effect. The more conventional of the pair, it relies on a sax sample that stabs itself into the mix, urging the whole kaboose down the line along with some vocoded mutterings. This is a fantastically light, listenable EP that’s bound to layer and mix well (like most of Luciano’s recordings), but at the moment I’m still sort of dumbstruck by the qualities of the title track. If only life could be so effortless and endless…

Perlon / PERL 62
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 11, 2007

DeepChord - Vantage Isle

200712"7"TechnoDub

Echospace [detroit] is a new label launched by Rod Modell (half of DeepChord, along with partner-in-crime Mike Schommer) and Steven (Soultek) Hitchell, two leading lights of the minimal dub techno scene. And as with anything DeepChord, the entire release has an air of mystery to it. With the minimal packaging, restricted distribution, and the fact that this set of two 12 inches and one colored 7″ is limited to 1,000 copies, everything about Vantage Isle is geared toward the underground, or “those who know.” This isn’t an elitist thing - there’s nothing but love of their craft driving these grooves, certainly not a cash-in effort - but it is a crying shame that more people won’t be able to hear this absolutely brilliant collection of spacial dub wonder. Take that as a warning: go out and find this now while you can, or you’ll be paying through the nose for it later.

That all said, Vantage Isle consists of a whopping 10 takes of the title track, reworked across the three pieces of vinyl by Modell and Hitchell in various guises (DeepChord, Soultek, Echospace, Spacecho), as well as a guest spot (and first ever remix) from Gerald “Convextion” Hanson (more on that one later.) Across their 9 versions, Modell and Hitchell manage to take the DeepChord template (analog synths, deep bass, gently throbbing beats, bursts of static and noise, and of course those deep, deep chords) into a surprising variety of directions, akin to looking at the same giant glacier from a helicopter from every angle possible: some are beatless and undulating, some are pulsing and dynamic, some are looking up from under the ice and some are towering overhead. The aforementioned Convextion version, however, is revelatory. It’s built on cascading and echoing pieces of the original that are layered like shifting sands, for a distinctly dark and shimmery journey to the bottom of the frozen ocean and back. It is literally breathtaking.

It’s remarkable enough to get all these takes on one basic template to sound somewhat different, given that the source material is really just a skeletal array of sound sheets. Consider it a bonus, then, that all of them are masterfully realized and capable of mixing and matching with each other into entirely new shapes and forms by an enterprising sound sculptor with two decks. Vantage Isle is perfection for anyone looking for the logical successors to the Basic Channel throne, or just looking for something mellow for those steamy late summer nights. A stone cold classic of the genre. Don’t miss it.

echospace [detroit] / echospace001
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


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 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.

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

Peter Chambers: Are you DJ enough to like this? You’ll 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 5, 2007

Michoacan - 2 Bullets (Glimmers/Ray Mang & DJ Harvey Remixes)

I confess, I haven’t heard the original, so I’ll avoid some kind of specious contextualising and cut to the record. First listens find me flinging clichés around: “going for broke”, “everything but the kitchen sink”. Closer ears and repeat recitals find smaller (but not lesser) rewards – neat edits, muppet noises, and a strangely effecting counterpoint of vertical layering and spacious horizontal unfolding. Neither the Glimmers nor Ray Mang deserve all their coolsie hype, but this is a remix to be reckoned with, sublimating a good-old “boots and pants” (that phrase again) rhythmentality to a fun-loving, effect flinging melodicity that comes up with more than enough bounce to the ounce to please kidz and headz alike.

Harvey’s mix drags us out of the ebony/chrome/fluoro-pink disco universe of the Glimmer/Mang version into some kind of swampy, headfuck psychedelica, somewhere between a German jam band and early Funkadelic warming up (just as the acid starts to settle in). Are you DJ enough to like this? You’ll get cred for trying. There’s something to like here in the woefully, wilfully purple passages – where’s the original? Where are the kidz? What happened to the dancefloor? You’re not my mother. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore here. Whether it’s a good trip for you probably depends on the colour of Eddie Hazel’s teeth, and whether they’re sharpening as you try to focus on them, to no avail.

Grayhound / GND 053
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


May 23, 2007

Robag Wruhme Als Rolf Oksen - Bart Eins

Since I fashion myself as Beatz’s token hack, I spend my fair share of time poring over press releases to find out what music means when it doesn’t have lyrics to spell out those things we all like to obsess over - love handles, the “are two prunes too few or three prunes too many” debate and so on. Robag Wruhme might have cloned himself with the same sci-fi ether as Areal’s finest blurbs, but his alter-ego, Rolf Oksen, has an uncanny knack for self awareness that Areal might have missed when they described themselves as “advanced tech-electronic minimalism.” Rolf, as we’ve been introduced by the press release, “is so drunk, as drunk as a skunk! He has lost all control, and now his alter-ego Robag has to take control” (italics added for those keeping score on the sideline - we’re talking about an alter-ego’s alter-ego here).

Aside from the charming text, there’s something missing musically in this vodka-drenched haze. Blame it on the alter-ego, doppelganger, or your friendly neighborhood schizophrenic, but the shimmy drums of “Dopamin” are totally lost on the song’s threadbare hook. I can’t put my finger on it, but its too slow, too meandering, and its excessive glimmers makes the narrow scope of “Hakkatzen” feel like a virtue. There’s no reason to give “Hakkatzen” a backhanded compliment, though; it’s the highlight here, nuzzling like a sweater - prickling in all the right places as it expands and contracts. Rounding things off are three tracks of ambient found-sound which are more interesting in theory than practice. I spend enough time hearing the same cellphone buzz from telemarketers, so no thank you very much. Listening to “Rolf Auf Seinem Ausgukk,” the best of the ambient trio, I can only picture alter-ego Rolf, passed out on a train with his live recorder running, using the piece as his aural breadcrumbs back home.

Freude Am Tanzen / FAT 030
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


May 9, 2007

Toby Tobias - Dave’s Sex Bits

200712"Neo-DiscoBalearic

Like his first single for the Rekid label, Toby Tobias still doesn’t settle for anything less than a genre-clusterfuck. “Dave’s Sex Bits” could’ve just coined beardo-house and called it a day, but dude won’t let go of every little toy in his crate. With a constant ambient drone, Tobias stuffs in every swell, light-saber crash, and gurgling birdcall that he can touch. Even the funk licks of the bass are squashed in a song that nods to cosmic aspirations but can’t feel any space. On the flip, Quiet Village (comprised of Rekid label owner Matt Edwards and Joel Martin) rebuilds the sex bits from the ground up. Using delay like a Étienne-Jules Marey photograph, the Quiet Village remix not only captures momentary glimmers of the original song, it also strobes in and out of the regular’s forward progression of time. Thoroughly disorienting and wobbling near the black hole that swallowed Motiivi’s “1939,” Quiet Village’s remix might chug along to its own drummer but it’ll be hard to imagine a more massive sounding remix this year.

REKIDS / REKIDS 011
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


April 25, 2007

Joel Mull - The End Has Begun EP

Stockholm vet. The a-side’s first two minutes make good use of the “alien piano” keyboard preset, horrorflick longtones shimmering over rolls of syncopated drum programming, felt more than heard. When the beat drops finally—this bewildering cluck that’s treated with just enough reverb that it hits the left side of the pan before the right—Mull moves everything into pretty undeniable neu-trance terrain: arena-appropriate crescendos and plenty of growth/decay in the synths themselves. Still though I find myself rewinding back to the beginning just so I can hear the beat drop at minute two, which is saying something. On the flip, Mathew Jonson’s “Tiger Remix” has those pneumatic trainwhistle-type sounds that Superpitcher used in his underrated “Lick the Pipe,” but ambition gets the better of him. The track mixes everything from jungle-like rhythms, bar mitzvah scales and even kosmische synths that moan out like Moby Dick, often all at once, and never ends up popping.

Railyard Recordings / RYR007
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


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