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 23, 2007

Will Saul & Lee Jones - Hug the Scary

Best served with a sigh, the “micro-epic” genre is as microscopic and widespread as a virus. It’s an oxymoron, but if I’m allowed to be so blunt, such fucktard names are known to have staying power (hello IDM!). And that doesn’t account for the reserve force of progressive house rejects like James Holden and Minilogue, who lovingly craft odes against the law of normal distribution - think minimal and maximal squashed together.

If there’s one image and tone that seems to inspire these folks, it’s that of looking straight up – either as becoming bubble-laden dolls stuck in bathtubs or fluorescent skies. The latest of these neck-breakers comes from Aus label-boss Will Saul and Lee Jones (of My My fame). While “Hug the Scary” might have the bleary-eyes to run into flowers, the track also has a gravity that won’t allow it to expand and contract as far as pulling muscles.

I’d be hard pressed to mistake “Scary” for cotton candy despite its flickering arpeggiator and billowing melodies. Instead there’s a grace to the track that hits tempered minor keys as well as blistering swells without sounding disjointed for a second. Which is as good of a description as any for Partial Art’s recent single, “Trauermusik.” Partial Arts, aka Ewan Pearson and Al Usher, do not derail the momentum of the title cut, but they streamline it and add enough fizz to leave you hiccupping.

Aus Music / AUS0707
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


July 2, 2007

Prosumer / Murat Tepeli - What Makes You Go For It?

200712"HouseMinimal/Deep

Well, to me this is shaping up as a vintage year for techno (if you still call it that). There seems to be a glut of subtle, surefooted records being made at the moment by producers whose unformed foundational years are behind them. It’s often difficult not to feel you’re drowning in the sea of new releases. For my own part, I gave up trying frantically to cram in a rinse of everything that flickered fancily past. And in a sense, I feel like this might be happening with the music. There’s a period of settlement upon us, and now nearly-veteran people (though this is just my anecdotal impression) seem to be producing fewer and better tracks than three years ago, when the “medicore minimal” glut seemed to peak.

To me, the label that seems to have condensed this idea is Ostgut Tonträger. They don’t release much, but everything is solid gold: from the moment you first see the beautiful sleeves to the final aaah you get on a floor once the dragging needle’s signal drops at full volume. This is proper techno, made by people who love, understand, and care about their music. Listen to Len Faki’s Mekong Delta or Ben Klock’s Czeslawa/Warzsawa EP from earlier this year, and get an Ostgut lesson in how to “do” techno properly. Yet both Faki and Klock’s contributions are full-bore, main-floor, peaktime numbers, delicate though they may be in detail. They’re Berghain. Prosumer and Murat Tepeli’s “What Makes You Go For It” on the other hand is every inch the upstairs/backroom (or even bedroom) incarnation. They’re the Panoramabar.

The title track is somewhere between the blue, raw, and pink beats of the old Trax tracks, but with a vocal trip describing a one night stand that’s equal parts philosophical and carnal, leading to automatic comparisons with Chelonis R Jones. But there’s a definite Ostgut quality at work, too. It bangs, it swings, it’s a great track with a big metallic bell clanging all over it. Prosumer’s vocal sits nicely in the mix – he doesn’t overstretch chords or overstate words: she’s got a boyfriend, they’re fucking, where will it end up?

Tepeli’s “Jaws” is much closer to the housey end of Mobilee’s sound, with matte-finish percussion and a sleek, fat bassline whose physicality wiggles widely, in neat contrast to a very chic string synth over the top. Like the lyric on the A, there’s a nice tension between the forward-pushing needs of the body and the inwardly reflective eyes of the mind. But it’s Prosumer’s “Vise” that really puts the icing on this ambivalent cupcake, for me at least. I could swear Prosumer has borrowed My My’s patches to write the melody here – the tone, the dynamics, and the break are all redolent of Jones & Höppner, with just a touch of Rest-era Isolée. All three tracks here stand on their own, but as a trio they make an outstanding EP.

Ostgut Tonträger / o-ton 07
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


March 22, 2007

Sideshow - Philly Soundworks

200612"HouseNeo-Disco

This came out late last year, Sideshow being Aus co-founder Fink, and “Philly Soundworks” being the latest prog-house track I’ve liked that includes the word “Philly” in its title (DJ T’s “Philly” being another). There’s a dub-like amount of space in the production, which lets the slinky piano chords spread out ad infinitum and the live-sounding drum patches loosen up without derailing the song’s otherwise steady uptempo groove. Remixer Jesse Rose throws a huge kick behind the original and stop-starts the track with Switch-like breaks that I could see working in a new-rave set; Lee Jones goes the opposite direction, softening the track with a glaze of held synth-tones that land this one in Buddha Box territory, despite the last-minute acid freakout towards the end.

Aus Music / AUS0603
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


March 21, 2007

Jacopo Carreras - Olanto

The Lee Jones remix was the one I heard first, late January actually, a steady round thwop with a mess of skittering synth rhythms on top. Like some of my favorite no-wave disco, the bass & drum grooves were so locked and hard, it doesn’t really matter what the hell is happening over them, much like how only the most truly beautiful people can wear those high-waisted jeans and not look like herbs. The Italy-born Carreras’s original, which I just heard, is way better though. Reverb-treated synths in competing octaves refuse to acknowledge each other, bouncing around for two cockteasing minutes before the beat drops and they’re forced to give up the charade. With more time the synths grow more acidic and streak both fatter and longer across the pan, which might bum out the Chem Bros haters, but my guess is not for long.

Lan Muzic / LAN 008
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


March 12, 2007

Lee Jones - There Comes a Time

200712"DetroitNeo-Disco

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 conditions—really lush Food and Revolutionary Art-type synth progression, harder flutters here and there, a modest kick, a rhythm-keeping bassline thump—to 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
[Listen]
[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…

(more…)


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…

(more…)


October 13, 2006

Commune

When I was growing up, I wanted to live in a commune. Just to be in one building or a small area with all my friends nearby and everyone in constant touch with each other. Somewhere that didn’t foster as many inhibitions. It may seem like a cultish pipe dream now, but I really believed in it and felt I needed it, being yet another young person staring in the face of alienation. In one sense, this is what house and techno has been all about: supplying a refuge for the oppressed and frustrated through music and communion, creating insular families that share a vernacular with each other, and providing outlets for exploring both spirituality and sexuality. But in the same way, this close-knit circle cultivates a sort of distant, blurred elitism from the outside, which is not only daunting to dance neophytes (let alone general music fans), but also creates an intriguing and/or frustrating confusion as to how house and techno should be confronted and evaluated.

Part of my fascination with house music is these contradictions. Community and exclusion, sex and religion, the organic and the mechanical: all these factors are working off each other during the best DJ mixes, the best tracks, the best parties. The insularity of each little scene and sub-genre these days has made those transcendental moments seemingly more fleeting. I’ve gone to many minimal/techno nights where you’d think the DJ has contempt for any sense of humanity or motion in music, I’ve been to deep house clubs where the edgiest part of the night is deciding what color lounge chair to bring with me, and then there are nights where I’ve heard people frantically mix mash-ups with loud electro-rock until you get a headache stuck on one dynamic level. For me, the element that I often feel is missing in the music as well as the atmosphere is a certain “physical” component. It’s not necessarily something that’s overtly sexual, but one that gives off a vibe of kinship, while still challenging your comfort zone.

The two-sided coin of sexuality and spirituality is one that is becoming sorely underused in house and techno today. This idea fuels a great deal of Chicago House, where the soul could be redeemed through the body, where salvation and release often came from sexualized dancing and music. For the quintessential example of this, look no further than the seminal “Baby Wants to Ride” by Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle, which is no doubt one of the most sexually explicit tracks to come from the era, but yet it opens with a prayer (“Now I lay me down to sleep…”) and a message from God (“Jamie, it’s time to tell my people the truth, it’s time to tell them the revelation of my second coming.”) While there are plenty of sun-coated soul divas and foul-mouthed ghetto-tech impresarios, there are too few people with the rawness of Chelonis R. Jones, too few tracks that play up the sense of community and physicality that is such an essential part to dance music.

This is a scene from the end of the film Morvern Callar that really illustrates the divide I often feel on the dancefloor. There is a sense of comfort being surrounded by these likeminded people, but there is also a sense of individuality. The headphones Morvern wears stress a sense of alienation as well as a kind of mute rapture. This sense of being almost paralyzed by a multitude of emotions is something that comes over me often on the dance floor. The scent and sporadic taste of these feelings, no matter how divergent they are, is something I chase, and is one of the major factors that has endeared me to electronic dance music.

[Michael F Gill]


September 29, 2006

Charts: September 29 2006

Guest Chart: Kiki

Mr Gone - Do 4 Love (Radio Slave Remix) [Rebirth]
Henrik Schwarz - Imagination Limitation [K7]
Stefan Goldmann - Sleepy Hollow [Innervisions]
Lazy Fat People - Shinjuku [Wagon Repair]
Jamie Jones - The Capsule [Freak n Chic]
Latex - The Porcupine [Rebelone]
Underworld - Pig Play (Buick Project Mix 2) [White]
Shonky - Closer to Pluton [Resopal]
Kiki - Trust Me [Bpitch Control]
Martin Buttrich - Full Clip [Planet E]

Todd Hutlock
InBetween DJs - Horns in the Attic [Wallshaker Music]
Raudive - Ultraviolet [Klang Elektronik]
Marc Houle - Edamame [Minus]
Andrea Parker - Ballbreaker [Mo’ Wax]
Cobblestone Jazz - India In Me [Wagon Repair]
Metope - I’m So Ready (Sleeparchive Remix) [Areal]
Christian Dittmann - Buena Decision [Echocord]
Paul Kalkbrenner - Queer Fellow (Ellen Allien & Apparat Remix) [Bpitch Control]
Fraktion - This Fever Works [Resopal Red]
Thomas Melchoir & Luciano - Father [Cadenza]

Mallory O’Donnell
Morgan Geist - Crash Tracks EP [Metamorphic]
Daso - Daybreak (Oliver Koletzki Remix) [My Best Friend]
The Rice Twins - Reach for the Flute EP [K2]
Putsch 79 - Doin’ It Remixes [Clone]
Scarlet Smears - Spitfire [Blank Start]
Lindstrom - It’s A Feedelity Affair [Smalltown Supersound]
Scissor Sisters - I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ (Linus Loves Remixes) [Polydor]

Michael F. Gill
Chris & Cosey - Walking Through Heaven [Rough Trade]
Rammellzee vs. K-Rob - Beat Bop (Instrumental) [Profile]
Ahzz - New York Moving [Land of Hits]
Curtis Mayfield - Superfly Soundtrack [Curtom]
The League Unlimited Orchestra - Love and Dancing [Virgin]
Legowelt - Bonn 1978 (Discodubmix) [Legowelt]
Dilo vs Gurtz - Piedras (Dandy Jack and the Latin Elvis Remix) [Roman,Photo]
Cohen vs Deluxe - Just Kick! (Carl Cox Mix) [Intec]
Kevin McKay - Summer Breeze [Muzik/Glasgow Underground]
V/A - Idol Tryout Two [Ghostly International]


— Next Page »