September 28, 2007

Beatzcast #50: Crambe Repetita


Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music…

01: Break SL - Flow [buy]
02: Matias Aguayo - Papel [buy]
03: Sascha Funke - The Acrobat [buy]
04: Einmusik - Fleur De Lis [buy]
05: Lawrence - Compulsion [buy]
06: Petre Inspirescu - Galantar [buy]

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June 25, 2007

Portable - Don’t Give Up (Remixes)

Bodycode’s The Conservation of Electric Charge would have been better titled “Flying under Fanbase Radar”, such was its woefully under-appreciative reception. Along with Jan Jelinek’s Tierbeobachtungen (a very different pleasure admittedly) nobody seemed to get it, to have gotten it, or even to care, despite my squeaky protestations that they should, they really should. Abrahams’ inclusion on the recent Death is Nothing to Fear EP along with rising star Par Grindvik and Matthew “Raygun Audion” Dear seemed to confer a good (dries sticky, sets permanently) bridesmaiding. All this by way of saying, get the album, have a listen, and give Bodycode the listening his subtle creativity deserves.

With that rant out of the way, let’s turn to the music at hand, and another great remix EP, but a remix of what? “Don’t Give Up”, apparently. But discog it however I might, I can’t seem to find the original. Is this proof of some kind of remix primacy, that the original doesn’t even have to be released anymore? Bodycode’s remix is a twelve minute journey through his sound, with all those cool little polyrhythms, that metallic flange, and a slow stabbing synth line. This track is a gem, twelve minutes of rolling, kicking techno plateaus with an overlong fade at the end. Cassy’s version takes her typical mixture of sparse and voice, adds a blues harmonica in the background, makes everything unsettled with a droning sample, and then (suddenly and almost miraculously) introduces a very Tortoise-y bassline, which brings it all back home. The rich bright metal of the strings sounds lovely against the shadowy background.

Meanwhile, somewhere near a bath-house, Lawrence is writing the gayest track he’s ever made (and not in the Cartman sense). I wonder how he saw his monitor with all that sticky steam. In truth though, it’s more like “Frankie goes to the Panorama Bar” with the blue synth washes undercutting the Mardi Gras vocal. Lawrence’s sound-design dead-ended itself on The Night Will Last Forever after a productive three preceding years, but here, as with the inklings on his recent(ish) Liebe Detail release, you get the sense of a new vector. All three tracks here work beautifully on their own, but together it’s an exceptional EP that shows three interesting artists doing some of their better work of the past year.

Sud Electronic / SUED 010
[Peter Chambers]

June 22, 2007

Beatzcast #38: Crambe Repetita


Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music featuring new music from DJ Koze, the Wighnomys, and Glass Candy, as well as new tunes from Mobilee, Cocoon, and Vakant…

01: DJ Koze - Cicely [buy]
02: Portable - Don’t Give Up (Lawrence Remix) [buy]
03: Keytronics Ensemble - Calypso of House (Julien Jabre Remix) [buy]
04: Stephan Bodzin vs. Marc Romboy - Callisto [buy]
05: Glass Candy - Miss Broadway (Belle Epoque) [buy]
06: Wighnomy Brothers - Guppipeitsche [buy]
07: Onur zer - Halikarnas [buy]
08: Tolga Fidan - Venice [buy]
09: Marcin Czubala - Consigliere [buy]
10: Loco Dice - El Gallo Negro [buy]

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April 16, 2007

Theo Parrish - Children of the Drums


Theo Parrish is (by all accounts) a real character, an impassioned curmudgeon who spouts strong opinions, demands outrageous appearance fees, and produces highly idiosyncratic deep house that (likewise) oozes a deep self-assurance. Maybe the spirits are helping him, who knows? But theres a righteousness to the man and his work that infuses even the wonkiest of his tracks with an undeniable, irrepressible energy. Even when hes making seemingly counterintuitive production decisions, its obvious that he really means it, and time has largely endorsed himclassics like Ebonics and Overyohead are still as exquisite as when they were released almost a decade ago. Its something thats seen Parrish (rightly in my view) elevated to the status of a key innovator in the deeper strands of reduced house and techno and namechecked by Henrik Schwarz, Lawrence, and others as a godfather figure of sorts. CCs mix of Falling Up becoming a smash cant have hurt, either.

And here, folks, is a timely re-release of two classic Parrish cuts, just in time for the continental re-discovery of deep house that appears to be going on at the moment. Children of the Drum contains all those elements that make Parrishs music ticka descending mesmer-melody thats used as backdrop for rolling percussion (beautifully played by Jerry the Cat), a vocal very high in the mix, and these crazy drum machine patterns in the distant background somewherebongos going quietly bonkers. Deliciously bent deep stuff. I Am These Roots is infused with the same great feel, and while the arrangement isnt quite as interesting as the A-side, theres nonetheless that same intangible thing that keeps you coming back again and again. I think they call it soul?

Sound Signature / COD1
[Peter Chambers]

April 12, 2007

Vulva String Quartett - Cranberry Song

Vulva String Quartett is actually just one man, with nary a bowed instrument in sight. Hanno Leichtmann, the Austrian behind the moniker, is a man whose musical proclivities extend in several directions between jazz, house, and electronica. Hes released albums for Karaoke Kalk (as himself) and City Centre Offices (as Static) as well as recording EPs with Compost-affiliated sweet-toned honey Clara Hill.

But this EP shows the multi-directional artist exploring the beautones of strands between and beyond Farben, AM/PM, Betreib, and the like. Cranberry Song nods along with the swinging insistence of several malfunctioning layers of droning loops that give way to a funky, yapping synth line. Roundabout harks back to the some-called Immer house sound of the turn of the millennium, using a string loop as a neatly textured drone which moves the track into proximities with early Lawrence and the deep-blue-house excursions of Combination records labelmate Norken. But, to me at least, the pick of the bunch is Cloudseeding, which has something of the shy anthem quality to it, underwritten by an indie-tronic (a la Dntel) sensibility guaranteed by the placement of electro-acoustic instrument samples and a guitar line into the mix. Neat.

Combination / CORE 051-1
[Peter Chambers]

March 27, 2007

Lusine - Podgelism / Podgelism Select Remixes

200712"CD/AlbumDowntempo • Ghostly International • Minimal/Deep

Seattles Jeff McIlwain has been cranking out quirkified electronic fare on Ghostly International since the labels early days, and now theyve set some interesting remixers (and Mr. Lusine himself, natch) loose on his back catalog to see what they can make of it, including such luminaries as Lawrence, Apparat, and Deru. That sounds like a great idea, and even if four of the mixes on the CD are from 2004s Flat Remixes EP, the whole thing still flows pretty well, despite the Frankenstein nature of the remix album.

The three Lusine mixes are spread throughout the running order, adding a unified sound to the proceedings and helping to draw the connection between McIlwains lush sound sources and the disparate styles of the remixers. Even the 2004-vintage mixes sound fresh and inspired here, especially the reworks from Matthew Dear (funky, bubbling minimalism) and Dimbiman feat. Cabanne (funky, soulful percussionism). If you already own the Flat Remixes twelve, no problem either, as Ghostly has seen fit to release a highlights four-tracker on wax including four of the best new mixes, including Robag Wruhmes ping-pong-in-orbit take on The Stop and John Tejadas swinging tech-house update of Make It Easy. On one format or another, theres a lot to love about Podgelism.

Ghostly International / GI-68 / GI-67
[Listen / Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]

March 23, 2007

Charts: March 23 2007

Peter Chambers
Beck - Cellphones Dead (Villalobos entlebuch remix) [Geffen]
Len Faki - Pearl Delta/Mekong Delta [Ostgut Tontraeger]
Tobias. - Dial EP [Logistic]
Andy Stott - Handle with Care/See in Me [Modern Love]
Carsten Jost/Efdemin - Split EP [Dial]
Lawrence - Fridays Child EP [Mule]
Donnacha Costello - 6.6 [Minimise]
Half Hawaii - Into Me/Out of Me [Perlon]
Move D - Anne Will (Lawrence remix) [Liebe Detail]
Repeat/Repeat Carpark (Second Edition) [Soma]
DJ Koze/Sid le Rock - Naked (Koze remix) [Cereal/Killers]

Michael F. Gill
Jan Leslie Holmes Im Your Superman [Jay Jay Records]
Domina You Got My Soul [Crash]
Automat Automat [EMI/Barclay]
Alloy Orchestra The Man With The Movie Camera [Junk Metal Music]
David Garcet Redemption (The Revolving Eyes Mix) [Dirty Dancing]
Roy Davis Jr Traxx From The Nile [Bombay Records]
Wolfgang Voigt Oktoberfest [Auftrieb]
Mike Uzzi & Ben Recht Reclaiming The 120s [Unfoundsound]
Loco Dice - El Gallo Negro [Ovum]
Nasty & Tresher - The Well Served Event [Terminal M]

March 21, 2007

Move D - Anne Will (Remixes)

Anne Will saw the return of Move D, an artist who had never gone away, but whose profile had been lost in the proliferation of side-projects, aliases, and creative tangents. The track in its original form was an initially unexciting but subtly impressive minimal tech-house number typical of the finely formed, elegant releases on Hamburgs Liebe Detail. Argys remix exhibits the aridity of his similarly super-dry workouts for Pokerflat. Gone is the bassline and the reeling loop melody over it; retained is the sleazoid yeah baby vocal and some of the incidental noises; added is a one-note piano loop and a whole new vibe. Its not particularly arresting, but might work nicely as a suture track.

Vincenzos mix opts for more giddy-up: a tech-leaning re-arrangement and a new melody which recalls some of the signature tones and tendencies of Mobilee. Its a decent piece in its own right, but loses too much of the original in seeking out the party. Lawrences mix, on the other hand, manages to creatively synthesize the originals melody with typically aching Lawrencian motifs. In this case, it’s the introduction of floating chimes (a little like those that function as a storm approaching signal in Alex Smokes productions), then a big build with an introduced synth line which then dissipates, leaving nothing but the chimes, the kick, and one or two other rhythmic effects. A nice, elegant, and efficient EP for fans of the dry, melodic minimal-tech-house thang.

Liebe Detail Spezial / LDS 002
[Peter Chambers]

March 2, 2007

Carsten Jost / Efdemin - Split EP


The happy Hamburg-ers at Dial have always shown a cryptic interest in deep house, but until recently its a feeling that bubbled up as an interpreted influence, rather than an openly presented take. But listen to Lawrences betalounge DJ set from last year, and the open embrace of this foundational sound is becoming obvious. Dial is digging the deep house of old.

The Split EP perfectly complements this gesture, offering a pair of tracks at once openly reverential and unapologetically, distinctively their own. The tracks have an inverse relation to each other in a sense: Josts begins with a conga-led groove that could easily be Moodyman, but the Detroit house thang slowly subsides as Carsten piles on the blue notes and reverb, finally adding sibilant tambourines on every beat and more melancholy piano. Its a return to form of sorts that sees Jost re-capturing the lovely gloom of his criminally under-rated You dont need a weatherman album.

Efdemins track, on the other hand, begins sounding light-years away from the deep house vibethe intro has more in common with the silicon dryness of Donnacha Costellos recent 6×6 release. The angular pixelfunk nods along for a few minutes (enough time for Magda to play six tracks over the top), before a (you guessed it) blue sounding melody intrudes, giving absolutely no forewarning for the sudden interjection of a Chicago-style house nation preachapella. The contrast between the outrageously sparse rhythmic arrangement and the vocal works a treat. More than that though, the splitness of the EP somehow belies a synthesis between the old and the new, between the happy and blue, and also between Jost and Efdemins work. For all these reasons, its another superb EP from Dial.

Dial / dial 34
[Peter Chambers]

February 2, 2007

Various Artists - We Are Smallville

Smallville Records is a Hamburg thing, and grows in the same soil as Dial and Liebe Detail, presenting Hanseatic tech-house with brittle percussion, minimalist melodies, and grayscale moods. Theres a kind of sleight of hand involved in computer musica neat nip/tuck thats needed so the listener hears the various threads as a tightly braided whole, and not each stringy bit chafing against your brain. This is music, after all, which is meant to mesmerize. The first cut on this release, Steinhoff and Hammoudas Chestnut Way, nearly gets there, but too little attention seems to have been paid to where the drums sit in the mix, and the track sounds too much like a conscious imitation of the style it seeks to become. If I were at the record store, itd be the offer of the Sten (Lawrence) track thatd hook me, and sure enough, this ones a beauty, driven by a dry, ding-donging cathedral bell synth line that works like a gothic rendition of a Larry Heard tune. If you heard Faces off the Sender compilation a few years back, you know what to expectthe compositional formula here is almost identical. DJ Swaps Blue, with its blunt steel drum-sounding motif and metronomic drums, relies on slowly, sweetly doing your head in. It all sounds okay, but somewhere around the four-minute mark you get jarred, or bored, when you realize what youre listening to is more like an arrangement of cool sounds than a track. Magda-cribbing collage mixers could easily take their favorite four bars from this and re:make it into something, but as it is, this ones a chore.

Smallville Records / SMALLVILLE001
[Peter Chambers]

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