September 18, 2007

Supermayer - Save The World

Remember the supergroup? It was a big conceptual thing a few decades back, but it still pops up every now and again. Here’s how it usually worked: a bunch of high pedigree rockers would get together, proclaim that they really “dug each other’s music,” book a bunch of studio time, get stoned out of their gourds, and more often than not, release an album of half-baked ideas and poorly executed jams that proceeded to shift millions of units based solely on the reputation of the players. Sometimes the idea actually workedsee Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young and Derek & The Dominos. Sometimes it wouldn’tsee pretty much everyone else.

Diehard fans of the musicians in question usually lapped this stuff up, but somewhere in the back of their minds, they still felt somewhat let down more often than not. The problem was squarely on themtheir expectations were simply, inevitably too high. No matter how great one of these supergroups sounded on paper, they couldn’t possibly live up to that sort of hype on record. Blaming the musicians, on the other hand, was a futile exercise. After all, they just wanted to hang out with some friends, play some music, and enjoy themselves. Can you really blame them for that?

Which brings us to the case of Supermayer, a supergroup-style collaboration between two of Kompakt’s biggest names: Michael Mayer and Superpitcher. And while the collaboration has more in common with the above than notthis is nothing if not a “fun” recordthis is most certainly not a bad thing. If anything, Save the World is just the kind of project that Kompakt needed, given the (somewhat inexplicable) backlash the label has been taking of late. Too many have complained that Kompakt has taken to making records by numbers; Save the World is anything but your (stereo)typical Kompakt fare.

Just as the grooves of those ’70s albums are laden with artists just trying to have a good time and vibe with each other, so does Save the World exude a palatable sense of smiling, laughing musicians just having some fun and getting down, and most importantly, encouraging the listener to do so as well. Look no further than the first proper track on the album (after the spoken intro “Hey!”), “The Art of Letting Go”the lyric tells the story of the album in a simple idea: over a grooving bass, chunky guitar chords, and some decidedly un-Kompakt sounds (are those horns? Melodica perhaps?), the gauntlet is thrown, “Let’s get to it / Relax / Let me go.” This is a first-class party record, assembled by two of techno’s foremost minds, and if the instruction is followed, you’ll have just as good a time listening as they obviously did making it.

With their mission statement firmly established, Supermayer proceed to circle the universe, capes flying, in search of the magic note, and while they never quite find it, the thrill of discovery is clearly the intent for our heroes (there’s even a comic book insert). There’s atmospheric dancefloor techno, there’s some light techno pop, some swinging indie bouncers, there’s vocals, there’s ambient interludes, there’s horns, there’s even a fucking gong. “The Lonesome King” is Martin Denny in Ralf and Florian’s studio; “Please Sunrise” recalls 808 State and YMO; “Two of Us” is a classic floor-filler laden with peaks and valleys; closer “Cocktails for Two” is a late-night comedown complete with shag carpeting and a disco diva perched on the love seat waiting for an afterhours tumble. It’s a gloriously unorganized mess, but all of it is so lovingly and skillfully done that it sounds far closer to some sort of mad genius.

Save the World is not a work of high art like The Magic Flute and it’s certainly not a pretentious epic like Kid A. It lives in its own skin and its comfortable there. The key to saving the world according to Supermayer is simple: lose the pressure and enjoy things for what they are, not what you expect them to be. There is an art to letting go, and they seem to have mastered it here, at least as much as such a thing can be mastered. They might not have saved the world, but Supermayer might just have saved your next house party.

Kompakt / KOMPAKTCD 61
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


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 Muellers 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 livein 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, hes 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 doesnt mean that you cant admire the latest models to roll off the modern assembly line.


September 5, 2007

Trio of Five

Here’s some recent Beatz-related reviews from the main Stylus site:

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 livein 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, hes the only one left.


August 19, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 31 & 32

G-Man - Quo Vadis (Styrax Leaves)
Genre: Techno, Dub

Peter Chambers: These tracks lumber forward, only allowing the slow revelation of a timbro-melodic theme to happen “in the fullness of time.” It’s a strategy that gave rise to a lot of exceedingly dull records, but Varley knows exactly which tone-pots to touch, and how.

Adam Craft / Grindvik - Catch Me / NAND-Grind (Stockholm LTD)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

B12 - Practopia / Slope (B12 Records)
Genre: Techno, IDM/Experimental

Todd Hutlock: The infamous cover of the original Artificial Intelligence comp features a robot chilling out in an easy chair with headphones on. This could easily have been what it was listening to.

Various Artists - Death Is Nothing To Fear Vol. 2 (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

Argenis Brito - Micro Mundo (Cadenza)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Nate DeYoung: With Micro Mundo’s highs never too far away from its lows, the Chilean techno drug is no longer as potent as it used to be.

Henrik B feat. Terri B - Soul Heaven (Boss)
Genre: House, Electro-House

Michael F. Gill: Let’s act like this review never happened.

Beatzcast #45: Crambe Repetita

Michael F. Gill’s featured article on Stylus: The Bluffers Guide To Freestyle

The Chemical Brothers - Do it Again (Remixes) (Virgin / Astralwerks)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Electro-House

Beatzcast #46: Crambe Repetita

Album Reviews:

Lindstrom & Prins Thomas - Reinterpretations - reviewed by Mike Powell

Prins Thomas - Cosmo Galactic Prism - reviewed by Tal Rosenberg

Dixon - Body Language Vol. 4 - reviewed by Nina Phillips

V/A - Kompakt Total 8 - reviewed by Peter Chambers

V/A - Soundboy Punishments - reviewed by Nina Phillips

The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night - reviewed by Dan Weiss

White Noise - An Electric Storm - reviewed by Mike Powell


August 16, 2007

From The Main Site

Check out some of the Beatz-related reviews happening over on the main Stylus site:

Lindstrom & Prins Thomas - Reinterpretations

V/A - Kompakt Total 8

Prins Thomas - Cosmo Galactic Prism

Dixon - Body Language Vol. 4

V/A - Soundboy Punishments (on Skull Disco)


July 18, 2007

Len Faki - Rainbow Delta/Mekong Delta Remixes

Like a lot of people, my first sensible reaction to hearing Len Faki’s Rainbow Delta/Mekong Delta was, “Holy shit!” Some tracks grow on you, but Faki’s pounced. But this is no panflash superstar both sides of the EP still get a regular caning six months down the spiral. I have the same prolonged reaction to both Tobias EPs, and find a need to not only fit them into any mix (regardless of fitness) but even to structure whole mixes around a dramatic presentation of their treasures.

Its just such a dramatic presentation that Adam Beyer’s remix here has attempted, and it’s half successful. The kicks seem over-filled though, too compressed. There are moments here where you could be listening to some dire Mauro Picotto mix, hearing the wriggling tads of some “hard house rubbish” haunting the dark shadows by the bassbin. In another way though, this is a fun piece of hard techno…if I hadn’t heard the original, I might like it more.

Jerome Sydenham’s mix likewise goes for a big, fat kick and a whole lotta balls, but focuses more on getting the whole thing to tunnel into an unstoppable, rushing flow. It sort of works in a way, but it’s a kind of taming, levelling out Faki piped through Sydenham’s circuits. Faki musak. The great little tear-outs, the microdramas, they’ve all gone missing in a great surging wash of beats. In a way, it might have been better for Faki to get someone totally unexpected to do a remix, or a person who would have guaranteed a complete renovation. I can’t help but think that the Kompakt boys, especially Mayer, Koze, ‘Pitcher, or Wolfgang Voigt, would have done the best job with this material, and would have understood how to handle its delicate, powerful emotions without sapping, scaring or overpowering it.

Ostgut Tontrger / o-ton 08
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 13, 2007

DJ Koze - All The Time

In all his work, DJ Koze’s sense of humour tends toward an overdeveloped, lo-fi sense of the ridiculous, and it’s not something limited to the picture you see above: the madness is also in the music. Listen to any of Koze’s tunes, and there’s a sense of willful perversity to the crazy twists, the pleateaus, the digressions, and the timbral sleights-of-hand. Like his often amazing DJ sets, he’s always toying with you as he plays with himself in sound relentlessly, recklessly, joyfully. The recent (brilliant) remix of his own Naked (with Sheldon “Pan/Tone” Thompson) was a case in point.

“All the Time” hits all the familiar sweet spots by defamiliarising idioms of melodic minimalism and house (off the deep end). The A harks back to early Kompakt, with shades of Dettinger and Reinhard Voigt, but again re-fashioned into something utterly Koze. It bleeps, it squawks, and it grooves like hell, taking you into the shadowy parts of the thicket where the creatures only come out at night. But it’s the B, “Cicely”, that makes this EP. Starting off with a long (maybe overlong) intro, the track drops in what sounds like a stretched ‘n’ pulled guitar sample, before lifting things off the ground with a rising attack of gulping drums contrasted by another, higher pitched guitar sample. The track just keeps building and unfolding, introducing a third swirling loop (a la the Superpitcher of yore) and then letting the whole she-bang fall away for a moment, leaving the drums to climb their way out of the darkening ebb. Great stuff.

Philpot / PHP 024
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


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 6, 2007

Gui Boratto - Chromophobia Remixe Part 1

Like Booka Shade or Hkan Lidbo, Gui Boratto has an extensive background as a “hired gun”, and has produced all kinds of tracks to order. Chromophobia, his debut on Kompakt, is likewise a finely fashioned piece of work by somebody who knows their way around a studio and is intent on manufacturing a product with polish and care. The album sounds exactly as Boratto had intended, which is both its strength and (ultimately) its limit.

This remix EP is also “exactly what you’d expect” - close your eyes and imagine either Robert Babicz or The Field remixing Boratto and (if you’ve any imagination) you’d probably conceive of something almost identical to what’s being offered here. Babicz’s mix of “Mr. Decay” is typically loud, fruity, and rich (his tracks always “sound” about 10% fatter than anyone elses) with his quasi-Wagnerian love of massive stabs and huge malfunctioning reverb breakdowns. With the mids-heavy bassline driving things along here, this is also as close to Alex Smoke as Babicz has ever sounded, but ultimately it’s neither Babicz’s best work nor a magical translation of the original. The Field’s rework of “Hera” does the equivalent of cutting a photograph into tiny squares and then sticking them back togetherin almost exactly the same place. Both mixes are competent works by talented producers reworking decent tracks by a conspicuous professional - but thats not enough, theres no surprise here, nothing dangerous or truly unexpected. Ho hum.

Kompakt / KOMPAKT 158
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


May 11, 2007

Beatzcast #32: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mini-mix of electronic music…

Tracklist
01: Ilya Santana - Discotized [buy]
02: Para One - Midnight Swim (Beckett & Taylor Remix) [buy]
03: Luca Bacchetti - Rolling Brooklyn [buy]
04: Tiger Stripes - Voyage (Dance Mix) [buy]
05: Audiofly & Paul Harris - Miscalate [buy]
06: Sebbo - Beirut Boogie [buy]
07: SOG - SOG 1.1 [buy]
08: Rene Breitbarth - Graveyard Swing One [buy]
09: Pepe Bradock - Rhapsody in Pain (Live) [buy]
10: Sneak Thief - My Sullen Mistress [buy]
11: Whitey - Stay on the Outside [buy]

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