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]


April 19, 2007

Jrgen Paape - Speicher 47

Jrgen Paape, one of the several founders and owners of the Kompakt empire, is something of a slow mover. His split release with Tom Pooks on Speicher 45 and now this two-tracker constitute his first new music in roughly five years. Perhaps its quality control; Fruity Loops 1 and Fruity Loops 2 are extremely intense yet well-mannered productions, no matter how strong the connection is with the popular downloadable software of the same name.

The first version is an iceberg, pummeling you with strident, mechanistic tech-house beats above a chilly oceanic swirl, while the more thawed-out second version sports one of those elusive Kompakt almost-melodies to great effect. The gorgeous balance of shimmer and sway dovetail nicely for a perfect Teutonic trance excursion: ethereal enough to be dreamy, physical enough to break a sweat.

Kompakt Extra / KOMEX47
[Listen]
[Mallory ODonnell]


April 11, 2007

Antonelli - The Name of This Track Is Bobby Konders

200712"HouseTechno

Antonelli (Electr.) has always stood apart. His tracks radiate the cold purity of a purposeful examination of deep houses frequencies conceived as high-concept minimalism but executed with sparkling pop smarts. The perfect producer, in short, to interpret something of the spirit of Bobby Konders deep-house sound.

Like a lot of Antonellis work, this EP is striking on first listen for its low-temperature repetitions. Or it might just be boring. But theres a quality here beyond the detached operation of a disco-machine, or just because it is so clinicaland the pleasure extracted parallels that of the Modernists Explosion, or being privy to ten minutes left in Larry Heards studio to hear the machines loop, while he takes a slash or a phone call. Lafayette conjures both the late 80s and pre-millennium modern minimalismsomewhere between early Traum, Kompakt and (unsurprisingly) Konders sound from a decade or more earlier.

Slow Money Music brings this EP within a snares breadth of Jrg Burgers productions, but its the title track and the homage that it conjures through its tag and contents that really bring the EP in from the cold. The piece, which sounds like the endless intro to a track which never materializes, sounds positively empty on first listen, but with every repetition it (somehow) conjures this strange atmosphere of reminiscenceRemember? it asks. But what? A curiously endearing, alienating record.

Italic / ITA 65
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


March 29, 2007

Justus Khncke - Justus Khncke vs Prins Thomas

200712"Neo-DiscoKompakt

Full Pupps blueprint of acid-washed, spacey electro-disco found curious but undeniable elective affinities with Kompakts less schranzy/trancey moments. Its a love that spoke its name by M. Mayers insistence on not only including Terjes mix of Another Station on Immer 2, but mixing it with Justus Khnckes own Advance. What a shame then, that the A-side (Prins Thomas string plucking diskomikks) doesnt really work. Elementally, theres nothing wrong with the arrangement, its just that, well, it doesnt swing. Theres something slightly off about the strings and the bass playing, as if the session was rehearsed and recorded over Skype, with the slight delay that entails. Where Kelley Polars playing lends his tracks a magnificent liquidity, the diskomikks sounds lumpythe bass just doesnt groove with the strings.

Prins version of Advance is far better, but its just what youd expect and nothing morethe original, soaked in spacemaking delay and reverb until the whole thing whooshes and churns itself to a giddy climax. Tilda, in every apparent way the B-side, comes away as the most interesting track on the EP, although it has very little to do with the meeting of the various sound spectrums that the record seems to have been designed for. Its a really pleasant repeatscape, driven by a metallic dulcimer that conceals a strong sense of pop smartssubtly and quintessentially Kompakt, in other words.

Kompakt / KOM 153
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


March 19, 2007

DJ Koze vs. Sid le Rock - Naked

Personality is often a codeword for obnoxiousbut even when it is, theres an affectionate connotation that tacitly states that its no bad thing. With this in mind, let me tell you: this EP has personality. Both Sid (Pan/Tone) le Rock and DJ (Adolf Noise) Koze take a one eyebrow and a brimming glass raised approach to productionif their methods of mayhem intersect, its at a point where irreverence meets festivity to do the wild thang on your mixer.

And boy are they hard at it herethe original manages to conjugate a moody tech-house number to an attack-ready electroid track with the kind of lubricated ease that fractionalises all its friction. Kozes remix grabs the quirky parts by their love handles and wrestles them into a wheezing microhouse groover that sounds like Moodymann dreaming of pre-millenium Herbert. Theres even a vocal sample that sounds like 80s Iggy Pop. The track just keeps growing and morphing, even featuring a signature Koze anti-climax breakdown and breaking strings falling into the abyss with all the vocal snippets. Just these two tracks would be enough to give this work a big thumbs up, but wait kids, theres more.

Es Scheppert Wie Def Leppard reveals the entire vocal from Kozes remix, but here it leads a wonky-ass pop number that rocks like a baby elephant on a rowboat. Then theres Keep it simple, stupid which shows both producers back in their Kompakt Extra/Sender mode and about to saw shit up. I nearly killed my own cereal playing this over a hungover breakfast this morning. Interestingly, Koze and le Roks noise tendencies combined seem to make something like a Basteroid. But thats what happens when people this depraved get naked.

Cereal/Killers / c/k02
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


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…

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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

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October 13, 2006

Charts: October 13 2006

Guest Chart: DJ Barbara Preisinger [~Scape, Berlin]

Alix Alverez & Mr.V - Beat Bodega vol1 [Sound Channel Music]
Shed - Shot Selection [Selection records]
Deadbeat - Version Immersion [~scape]
STL - Purple Saturn Days [Perlon]
Pantha Du Prince - Lichten [Dial]
Ferrer & Sydenham Inc - The Black Door [ibadan]
Nathan Cole - Musik Freak [Funkd]
Andy Vaz - Remixes [Background]
Herrmann & Kaden - Corroboree [Freude Am Tanzen]
Beckett & Taylor - Hired New Hands [Hand On The Plow]

Michael F. Gill
And One Sometimes (Instrumental) [Virgin]
Terrence Fixmer Resistance [Gigolo]
Deepchild Blackness of the Sea (Luomo Remix) [Future Classic]
Chagrin DAmour Chacun Fait (Dub) [Barclay]
Black Gold Cmon Stop [Prelude]
Kiko Solar [Notorious Elektro]
Alisha All Night Passion [Vanguard]
Stephane Signore & Wehbba Destiny [Bound Records]
Red Lipstique Dracs Back (Dub) [Magnet Records Ltd]
Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats Let Them Talk [Soundway]

Todd Hutlock
Lawrence - Deep Summer Hole [Dial]
Lazy Fat People - Shinjuku [Wagon Repair]
Heidi Vs Riton - Vejer [Get Physical]
Sense Club - Tommorrov Cocktail [Perlon]
John Dahlbaeck - Wet Summer [Kompakt Extra]
Trentemeller - Always Something Better (Trentemeller Remix) [Poker Flat]
Meek - Glowing Trees [New Ground]
Andrew Weatherall - Feathers [Rotters Golf Club]
John Hassell - Voiceprint (Blind from the Facts) (808 Mix Two - Latin In It Mix) [Opal]
Dirt Crew - Largo [Dirt Crew Recordings]

Nate DeYoung
My My - Songs for the Gentle [Playhouse]
Tim Hecker - Harmony in Ultraviolet [Kranky]
Rex the Dog - Maximize [Kompakt]
Matthias Kaden / Onur Ozer - Pentaton / Twilight [Vakant R]
Mobilee - Back to Basics [Mobilee]
Pikaya / Andomat 3000 & Jan - Grne Raufaser / Entr’acte Music [Cadenza]
Bruno Pronsato - Lady Collage [Orac]
The Modernist - Presents “Popular Songs” [Faith]


September 29, 2006

The Rice Twins - Reach for the Flute

Plangent three-track EP on the somewhat puzzling Kompakt sublabel K2. Whatever the K2 raison d’etre might be, the Rice Twins are filling a much needed role with this lush soundtrack to a night of summer city driving with the windows down and a loved one by your side. “For Dan” evokes a wistful, romantic tone; “Rome” gets the blood racing a bit quicker as we merge onto the freeway, and the slightly wacky / nervous “Poppers” plays as you arrive at the club and surreptitiously smoke a joint in the parking lot.

K2 / K2/16
[Listen]
[Mallory O’Donnell]


September 15, 2006

Fenin - Black and White

200612"Minimal/TechDub

For a couple of years now, Echocord has been thee flag flyer for the vague territory between dub, minimal, and technosomething only occasionally and flirtatiously claimed by Kompakt or Shitkatapult. Compared to the labels other stalwarts (icy) Anders Ilar and (melty) Mikkel Metal, Fenins records have a straight purposiveness to them. Where Anders deals in atmosphere and Mikkel writes disguised pop tunes, Fenin is a tracksmith. Unfortunately, on Again and Again, Fenin appears to have been smoking the same bad batch that Meteo did before producing his weirdo Peruments album, and as a result Fenins fine formulas have gone mong. As we all know, too much of the bad stuff will give you palpitations, or arrhythmiago easy, kids. Chewing Dub is a club tune from a blunted world, but (as such) lacks any sticky parts that might attach to or gum up your imagination. In Between lowers the tempo and the tone with a lackluster beatscape, while Tallyman gets us back to house without ever seeming to find its home in a mode of being which might make it musical or interesting. Ho hum.

Echocord / echocord20
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


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