July 20, 2007

Charts: July 20 2007

The Beatz staff pick their favorite dance releases of 2007, so far…

Peter Chambers

Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Lopazz - Share my Rhythm (Isolee mix) [Review]
Andy Stott - Handle with Care / See in Me [Review]
Kalabrese - Rumpelzirkus Part 1 [Review]
Efdemin/Carsten Jost - Split EP [Review]
Carsten Jost - Atlantis I & II
Kerri Chandler - Computer Games EP
Andy Stott - the Massacre EP [Review]
DJ Koze - All the Time EP [Review]
Len Faki - Rainbow Delta/Mekong Delta [Review]
Shackleton - Blood on my Hands (Villalobos mix) [Review]
Roman Fluegel - Mutter EP
Various - Death is Nothing to Fear Vol. 1 [Review]
Vulva String Quartett - Cranberry Song EP [Review]
Portable - Don’t Give Up (Remixes) [Review]
Syncom Data - Beyond the Stars (Remixes) [Review]
Ilya Santana - Discotized EP [Review]
DJ Koze vs. Sid le Rock - Naked (Koze remix) [Review]
Battles - Atlas (Koze mix) [Review]
Prosumer/Murat Tepeli - What Makes You Go For It? [Review]

Nate DeYoung

Lindstrom & Solale - Let’s Practice [Review]
Hatchback - White Diamond (Prins Thomas remix)
Audion - I Gave You Away [Review]
Partial Arts - Trauermusik [Review]
Motiivi:Tuntematon - I Don’t Feel Good [Review]
Efdemin - Just a Track [Review]
Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Ame - Balandine [Review]
Argy - 1985 (Sydenham & Rune Remix) [Review]
Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music [Review]
Dixon - Resident Advisor #48

Todd Hutlock

cv313 - Dimensional Space EP [Review]
Lazy Fat People - Pixelgirl EP [Review]
Dominik Eulberg - Limikolen EP [Review]
Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Luciano - No Model No Tool [Review]
Audio Werner - Flatfunk [Review]
Tony Allen - Ole (A Remix by Moritz Von Oswald) [Review]
Riton - Hammer of Thor
Adultnapper - Betty Crocker Moves to Berlin
Gaiser vs Heartthrob - Nasty Girl [Review]
The Field - From Here We Go Sublime [Review]
Gui Boratto - Chromophobia [Review]
DeepChord presents Echospace - The Coldest Season
Dominik Eulberg - Heimische Gefilde [Review]
Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss [Review]

Michael F. Gill

Sorcerer - Surfing After Midnight (Prins Thomas Remix) [Review]
Matt John - Soulkaramba [Review]
Jacek Sienkiewicz - Good Night & Good Luck [Review]
Shackleton - New Dawn / Massacre
Air - Lost Message [Review]
M.I.A. - Bittersuss [Review]
Escort - All That She Is [Review]
Voom Voom - Best Friend / Sao Verought Remixes
Frankie Valentine - Zumbi (Henrik Schwarz Dub Remix)
Kelley Polar - Rosenband (Instrumental)

March 12, 2007

Lee Jones - There Comes a Time


I’m no Jones fanboy, but this is a monster release. Here he’s closer to Isolee than My My as far as how the whole track blossoms, which is deceptively, from pleasant but humble conditionsreally lush Food and Revolutionary Art-type synth progression, harder flutters here and there, a modest kick, a rhythm-keeping bassline thumpto a storm of octave-climbing polyrhythmic figures deployed like an expert military attack. Psychically it’s overwhelming, morose by one turn, bright-eyed the next, all traceable to meticulous detailwork born of an intractably deep heart. Remixer Prins Thomas bulldozers the song into throbbing subbass frequencies I don’t have the headphones to appreciate, but I can intuit its hugeness from the disco-fied void PT leaves. It’s like the sonic inverse of the a-side, blunt where Jones’ was sharp, murky when Jones’ was crystal clear. So big; just wow.

Aus Music / AUS0604
[Nick Sylvester]

December 22, 2006

2006 Year In Review: Individual Writer Lists

As a companion piece to our 2006 year in review, here are the individual lists/charts from each of our contributors. Happy reading…


December 22, 2006

2006: The Year In Review

Welcome to the Beatz By The Pound year-end roundup for 2006, a veritable smorgasbord of lists, thoughts, and reflections about the current state of dance music. And while all of our writers handed in very diverse ballots, we were able to come to a consensus on a couple of key releases, producers, and labels. Let the madness begin


October 20, 2006

Isole - Hermelin

Peter Chambers: Recently, Warp artist Clark has commented that four bars is a long time. In the artisan world of Isoles music, it seems equally true to say five years isnt much time. One listen to the bespoke animals of his imagination on We Are Monster was enough to explain where a decade or two could have been spent. While genre artists scribble, tinker and produce, Isoles music is a careful creation of storytelling and illustration better compared with master childrens illustrators like Maurice Sendak, Tomi Ungerer, or Bruno Munari. The title track Hermelin sounds for all the world like Rest or transitional period Isole, with its straight, open structure and oddly tuned and effected synths. Its unusually linear by the standards of his usually tangential arrangements, and doesnt ever really blossom or rupture like my expectations wanted it to. The B1, Willy Skipper contains strong elements of Niun Niggung-era Mouse on Mars, even if it retains Isolees trademark melodic overstuffing. From the B1 to the Sleazy Bee (B2): this ones a bumbler, clap-waddling along with a deranged hip-hop groove. These arent tracks, or even songs, but precious treasures, and yearn to be kept and cared for, and passed on.

Nick Sylvester: Busy as hell but no beat outta place, “Hermelin” reps the detailwork of 2005’s fantastic We Are Monster, and its sense of surprise: kicks come in a beat before expected, melodies compete and combine and deflate, sonics mutate, creating impossible space. Typical of Isolee, the composition grows up and out pretty logically, so it never feels overwhelming. The track darts out of the box with like this bluesy, slightly paranoid subway-car rattle, balanced out perfectly a minute or so later by these pillowy horn stabs that float like juggled handkerchiefs. Rhythm becomes tone, tone becomes rhythm, and it’s all so facile, like when that crisp laserlight melody snakes around the low-end like a laser in a labyrinth of mirrors, or how the held flute tones at the end torment each other by moving in and out of each other’s harmony. I haven’t even gotten to the other two tracksI’m sure they’re great toobut, holy shit, is this guy in his own league or what?

Playhouse / PLAY130

August 11, 2006

Interview: Amy Grill / Speaking In Code

Stylus and Beatz By the Pound are very excited to bring you an interview with sQuare Productions Amy Grill, director and producer of the upcoming techno documentary Speaking in Code.

So, Amy, youre making a movie about electronic music. Why?

Speaking in Code is a techno movie thats not really about techno. Its about people. It is a feature length character driven documentary that follows a global cast of underground electronic music writers, DJs, producers, and label heads as they survive and thrive in the digital age.

Within the indie electronic music community there are many compelling characters. By tracking these characters Speaking in Code discovers some very human truths about subculture, independence, DIY determination, risk, obsession, and eccentricity.

The music (and the minimal scene) is a colorful, captivating backdrop and binding force for several intersecting character driven storiesthe film has a narrative arc to it based on the life changes and exciting, even funny moments that happen over the course of the year and a half that we will have spent making the film and following these people.

There are a lot of electronic music documentaries out there that have attempted to do one of a few things: capture the spirit of rave culture, survey a specific genre of electronic music, engage the viewer in DJ worship and/or crazy laser light fascination, or make some kind of grand statement about the significance of electronic music, but this film is nothing like any of that.

We are interested in exploring personality, motivation, and getting beyond the surface-y, questions and answers. The film invites the viewer in to experience being thereat the club, in the studio, in a forest, climbing a hill on the way to see chalk mines, visiting moms in the suburbs, driving through a white-out snow storm, performing at a huge festival, entering the secret underground club or illegal party, and on and on. We have unprecedented access and we get very close with the main characters in the film.

We want to surprise people and perhaps change their minds about electronic music or at least open their minds and show them something they didnt expect. This movie isnt just for the techno heads, its for the hip old ladies who love character-driven art house documentaries too.

What about 2005/2006 strikes you as the right time for this sort of film?

A film like this could have been made 10 or 20 years ago and although some of the themes and characters would have a different tone and purposemany similarities would still exist.

There is something special about right now thoughfrom a big picture historical perspective we are seeing the effects of the digital age that make advanced communication and sound technology very accessible. This has strengthened the possibilities for independent music and subculture and our main characters are living proof.

From a more localized perspective on the minimal scene and our charactersover the last year or two minimal techno has arguably become the dominant sub-genre in techno and it has been fun to explore the personalities in the minimal scene and experience the musics rise in popularity vicariously through our characters. Of course, its difficult to even know what minimal really is: is it a sound, an aesthetic, a lifestyle, a hairstyle, a look, or all those things combined perhaps? Some of the characters cant even be described as minimal at all, but they are somehow minimal by association or connection to the minimal scene. Musings aside, I have to emphasize this is not the what is minimal techno? film. Im sure there is a DVD project like that on the way soon, but we arent the ones making it.

Where all have you traveled to get footage for the film?

Weve been all over: Montreal, San Francisco, New York, Boston (I live in Boston), Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Jena, Amsterdam, Miami

Most of the film has been shotwhat techno celebs can we expect in the final cut?

Well, weve shot 217 hours of footage since we began production in May of 2005 and we hope to cull all of that into a feature-length film, so I hesitate to list everyone at this point, but certainly you can expect to see a lot from these people:

Robert Henke aka Monolake (co-creator Ableton Live)
Modeselektor, Bpitch Control
Ellen Allien, Bpitch Control
Wighnomy Brothers, Freude-Am-Tanzen
Bryan Kasenic (minimal techno promoter in NY)
Jimmy Johnson (owner of Forced Exposure)
Philip Sherburne (writer, DJ)
David Day (Label Manager and Marketing Director at Forced Exposure, DJ, writer, promoter)
Mike Uzzi aka Smartypants, Unlocked Groove
Dan Paluska aka Six Million Dollar Dan, Unlocked Groove
Tobias Thomas, Kompakt
David Prince, M3 Summit

Interviews / Appearances (it remains to be seen whether or not all of these people will make the final cut and we have interviewed many more people not included in this list to help us round out the story):/p>

Wolfgang Voigt
Michael Mayer
Reinhard Voigt
James Holden
Anja Schnieder
Richie Hawtin
The Juan Maclean

Any surprising anecdotes that you can share with us (Vitalic actually is a robot, etc.)?

Too many stories to even tell. The whole film is like one big surprising anecdote, but a surprising anecdote with a point. ;)

What kind of role has Philip Sherburne played?

Philip is a character in the movie, and as a co-producer he has been part tour guide, advisor, consultant, and friend throughout the entire process.

Tell me about financing something like thiswhat sources are you relying on to keep it going?

Plastic, lots of plastic (as in credit cards) and a handful of small private investors and a community of online supportersalthough we are nearing the end of our credit limits and this last Europe trip tapped most of the small investments. So we are now really relying on grassroots fundraising online and also an upcoming benefit/screening/art party/happening here in Boston on August 26 at the sQuareone studio space in Fort Point / South Boston (New Englands oldest and largest artist community). We want to stay away from corporate sponsorship, so we are hoping that people who want to see the film made will help us make it. Anyone can donate any amount on our websitewe are offering screen credit in the film for any donation of $50 or more. The grassroots efforts are to make the film mirror the DIY attitudes youll see in the documentary.

We are also seeking a film producer to help us cultivate prospective investors and help manage the business end of the filmand most importantly we are looking for investorsbig and small.

We need another 25K in the very immediate future to finish production in the fall (Camera and equipment rentals, bus/train/plane tickets, gas, tape stock, the Director of Photographys day rate) and also to purchase a G5 and enough drive storage (several terabytes) to be able to cut the film. We are currently hobbling along with my laptop and a few Lacie Hard Drives. We also need to be able to pay an assistant editor to log the tapes.

It isnt cheap making a filmespecially when the locations are all over the world even if we eat on the cheap and stay with friends when we can. And, now Scott (our Director of Photography) is paidhe volunteered for a full year, but it is important to start paying him. Fortunately the most expensive part of the production is out of the waywe can see the light at the end of the tunnelwe just need a little more funding to get through the last few months of production and post production.

By May 2007. Then begins the festival circuit and search for distribution. We would like to see the film get international and domestic theatrical distribution, some broadcast play abroad, and a DVD release toowith lots of extras for the collector type.

Related Links
sQuare Productions
Speaking in Code @ MySpace
Photos from Speaking in Codes Production
Contribute to sQuare Productions [Todd Burns]

June 30, 2006

Sonar 2006

It’s been more than a week since I attended this year’s Sonar festival in Barcelona, and despite all that’s happened since in my non-musical life (and believe me, it’s been quite a lot), I find that I am still unravelling the tangled threads of Sonar, still searching for the plot in a three-day two-night onslaught of sounds, lights, and colors. Perhaps I shot too high for my first festival, perhaps they’re all that insaneor, maybe, just maybe the madness of far too much to do and far too little time to do it in is exactly what makes sense in this crazy lifestyle.In a way, my experiences at Sonar 2006 are exactly representative of how I feel about dance and electronic music in a larger sensethe scene is so vast, so multinational, so without a center of gravity, that one almost has to be either dilettantish or uber-precise in ones tastes. There is simply no way to know even the basics of what is going on in all these disparate genres and subgenres, just as there is no way you are going to feel as though you haven’t missed something during such an amazing three days.Sure, you can catch the minimal set on the lawn at Sonar Village, shoot up to the record fair to check out new twelves and reissued classics, watch a film on the seminal figures of Detroit techno, and then boogie down in the Sonar Dome to a Spanish reggae soundsystem, but in that time you’ve neglected Schnieder TM, an amazing performance by the Modified Toy Orchestra, your last chance to see the spectacular exhibit of avant-garde sleeve design in the MACBA building, and that dude selling hash, who totally just left. And I’m only talking about Sonar Day, herethe Night events make the Day look like a piece of cake.

So it is with a heavy heart that I admit to not having seen the bulk of Isolee’s set, or the first half of Miss Kittin’s. I will forever be scorned by those I gave a hard sell to on the Knife’s new album that I missed their (quite rare, I discovered) live show due to a rather unfortunate misunderstanding about the limited capacity of the Auditori. But while I did fail to do everything I had set out to do, I also discovered a number of enchanting new prospectsfrom the great sounds made by local Spanish and Catalan artists I never would have heard back in the States, to the overwhelming potency of Marco Passarani and Jolly Musiccombining like Voltron to form Pigna People.

Hence the conclusion to this rather drawn-out analogypart of what drew me to electronic music in the mid-90’s and continues to do so today is it is so very unlike rock, soul, reggae et. al. Rather than seek a coherent engagement with its roots, it draws upon the bedrock of its sound without particularizing itbroken fragments and twisted corridors of sound and beats refashioned by DJs, producers, laptops, and pulsating cones. An oscillator knob turned, a mouse clicked, and the next variation of waveforms and microgenres is born. Yet, this is precisely what makes it so damn confusing and impossible to fully graspnot only is it vast, wide, multifariousit is expanding at an exponential rate, constantly. And just as one is unable to not miss some of what goes on mid-June each year in Barcelona, one can never quite feel comfortable with their grasp on the “electronic music scene” (if such a thing can truly be said to exist), as a whole.

Maybe it took the tension and exhaustion of Sonar to drive this point home for me, but I couldn’t be happier about it. I don’t want all the answers, a canon of artists and recordings, a library of quintessential moments and “best songs ever.” I want a pile of 12″s and burned CDs in the wrong cases, a rubbish bin filled with colored wristbands and the memory of being covered in sweat and in the arms of my new best friend I met three hours ago while a constant 4/4 hi-hat clicks somewhere inside my inner ear. Dammit, I want that blissful uncertainty that can only come from loving a song to death and having absolutely no clue what the hell it is. That is the reason festivals and raves and dance music existto give us something to hear and something to miss while we’re having the time of our lives, to give us a reason to be grateful and a reason to come back next year.

(For some additional thoughts on Sonar 2006, check out some of my blog entries
[Mallory ODonnell]

June 2, 2006

Pom Pom - Pom Pom 24


Don’t bother with this one on headphones, even expensive ones. Compressed it’ll sound exactly like a Gabriel Ananda track and The Hug, and neither of those are proper references. More than the other Pom Poms I’ve heard, this one’s about the sub-bass and ethereal trebs and often nothing elseas if to spite the MP3, to say nothing of AAC or WMV. Four tracks here: A1 is really spooked out, and its curiously slow and steady beat may be the creepiest thing here. Slight mods to a modest bassline move it from “Yankee Doodle” to that Toadies song. If you like both those you’ll obviously love this. A2, on the other hand, sounds like Isolee’s “My Hi-Matic” on clock radio speakers, a sort-of comedown for A1. B1 is a little too fey, too much Pom Pom forestfucking tinkerbell for my ears, but I like B2 lots. Producers have been trying to do the hospital pulse vs. heartbeat vs. weezy paranoia and imminent needles sound for a while; B2 is a welcomed addition.

Pom Pom / POM 24
[Nick Sylvester]

March 24, 2006

Good Life

Last July I moved to my city by the Bay from Gainesville, Florida. When I got here, I was desperate for some good dance nights, or shows, or something. So, I wrote my friend Philip to ask his advice, seeing that he had just moved away. Much to my dismay, he tells me that there is really no techno/tech-house/micro-house type scene, and there are even fewer nights. But while Im at it, I should check out Tweekin Records in the Lower Haight. Im not sure what I was expecting, but it seemed that San Francisco must have more to offer than a small town in Florida. To be fair, America isnt the first place that comes to mind for that sort of music anyway, and when I go to Amoeba the domestic house section is usually near the end of my list you know, just in case there are some used Trax classics. But over the months Ive realized that I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

New Years comes and I am disappointed with DJ celebrities, some of the best, and dying for a night with bass that will slug me in the chest. So, I check my email, and there is a message from one Chantilly Bass. She found me somehow, and figured out that we live in the same city. She tells me that I am crazy, and that this city is basically ready to blow up. Apparently I needed to learn about [Kontrol], Dirtybird Records, and, specifically, Claude Von Stroke. You may remember him for his track Chimps on the last Get Physical comp, or for the John Tejada remix of Deep Throat.

So, the following Wednesday we head to Blur for a night hosted by SFs own Jeniluv and Cat. The guests of the night were Claude Von Stroke, Alland Byallo, and Justin Martin. Basically, Blur is this little bar on Post Street that has some of the cheapest drinks and best surprises around here. Once I went to see Juan Maclean DJ a house set, another time I went to go see Star Eyes spin an amazing, basically epic, set of Ghetto-Tech and Baltimore Club. So, I walk in and all of my wildest, most ridiculous, tech-head dreams come true. The place is packed with enthusiastic techies bouncing up and down in unison to the San Francisco specific brand of house and minimal.

See, the house here isnt really house. In a conversation with Mr. Von Stroke last Friday he explained it to me like this, techno is too serious and house is too gay. While Balearic is probably a better word than gay, the relevance of that statement is intuitive. Its true at times. Minimal house, especially in a city where house music is often equated to OM Records or the RuPaul remixes of the Castro, is a big part of the SF house scene that gets only a little attention. Dont get me wrong, the first place I heard Madonnas Hung Up, gleefully losing my shit, was in the Castro, and the gay dance culture there means a lot to a lot of people. Without it, San Francisco wouldnt be the city that it is, and I am glad that things are the way they are. However, tech-house nights have been virtually non-existent. Secondly, it doesnt even seem necessary to debate whether or not techno gets too serious. Honestly, thats part of what I love about it, so Im not going to deny it. In fact, I originally wanted to write this article about technology as a mode of production within techno, and how it is changing the landscape. There has always been a link between techno and technology, techno and abstract thought; it lends itself to that kind of contemplation freely. So, having someone behind the wheels of steel who understands that on a fundamental level is exactly what I want when dancing; the aesthetic of tech, the fun of house, and the humor to appreciate both simultaneously.

Also, Von Stroke runs a label called Dirtybird Records, which has put out records by CVS, Justin Martin, Sammy D, Worthy, and John Tejada. Single-handedly, the Dirtybird team has restored my faith in dancing.

Well, almost single-handedlythere is also a night in town called [Kontrol], which is fantastic. Since I moved here, they have brought Isolee, John Tejada, Pier Bucci, Damian Lazarus, and a handful of others. Now whats impressive about this monthly is that the residents are often better than the headliners. My friend Chantilly and I spoken about this at length. Its quite a feeling to leave an Isolee show and know that your local DJs were performing on exactly the same level as someone who has done so much for techno. These guys are really impressive, and theyve always kept it minimal, dark, and incredibly fun. There arent many places you get to hear (a)pendics.shuffle, Pantytec, and Kammerflimmer Kollektief within a few moments.

So, after my first night of Dirtybird and [Kontrol] at Blur, I make it home at 7:30am just in time to have some coffee before I get ready for school and collapse on my bed. At the same time, Id have it no other way. My body is half dead, but my dancing shoes have found new life.

[Cameron Octigan]

February 24, 2006

Isolee - Western Store Edits

Isolee’s upcoming Western Store is an odds n’ sods collection better than most artists’ full-length albums. Fittingly, some of the leading lights of minimal house have stepped in to remix several tracks for the accompanying 12″ single. Sadly, everyone involved seemed to think that stripping back Isolee’s already Spartan sound even further was a necessity. “Cite Grande Terre,” originally an icy four-minute dubscape, gets turned by Luciano into a twelve-minute yawner with excessively awkward glitch effects sprinkled on it, as unwelcome as PCP dropped on a joint. The version of “Lost” (fittingly described as ’stripped by’ the usually on-form Glimmers) reduces the great danceability of the original to a loop that runs on repeat for six numbing minutes.

The in-demand Villalobos put his trademark stamp on “Djamel Et Jamshid,” a track which actually doesn’t appear on the upcoming Western Store CD. Much like his highly-touted original material, I find his remix here pleasant for background or headphones but without the sparkle and excitement of Isolee’s tracks which allow them to translate to the ride or the dancefloor. The only discernible difference between Dixon’s remix of “Bleu” and the original is that it’s neither as dynamic nor as dubby. Perhaps those called on to remix this well-regarded artist were scared to make a misstep, but the ginger handling of such strong original material inevitably produces tepid results. Of course, as with much on the minimal front (see the entire Spectral catalog and much of Kompakt’s), it’s in their elaborate mixing with other tracks that their true intricacies develop, but as straight-ahead listening material there is little to enjoy in these versions.

Playhouse / 120
[Mallory ODonnell]

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