July 23, 2007

Jahcoozi - Reworks


Yet even more sweets for 2007’s remix pińata. I’m not too familiar with Jahcoozi’s glitchy dub-pop stylings, but the “name” remixers piqued my interest here, and deliver three eargrabbing pieces of lively and stripped down house music. Leading things off is the nicely titled “Robert Johnson 6AM X-Ray Italo Rework” of “Ali McBillls” by Playhouse boss Ata and Moodmusic’s Sasse. It starts off a bit like an old MRI or Force Tracks record (dubby stabs on 2 and 4), punctuated by a heavily flanged snare at the beginning of each measure. As it progresses, things get slimier, with some disco-dub effects, pulsating eighth-note synths, and posh female vocals (”My Daddy’s rich but I don’t admit it”). There’s a line about Ally McBeal which is a bit cringeworthy, but thankfully it’s not so much a deterrent but a reminder of the fact that there are finger smudges in this chic pudding.

On the b-side, Arto Mwambé’s “Bubbles In The Bathtub Shake” remix of “Shake the Doom” is more straightforwardly housey, with simpler kick patterns and a two-note bassline. Arto maintains the interest level with an ever-shifting arrangement of staccato vocal chunks, colorful cymbal timbres, and a sneaky little chord progression revealed at the end. Cassy, Miss Panoramabar herself, remains in fine form with her own take on “Shake The Doom”. Similar in sound to her recent single with A Guy Called Gerald, this is a cyclic minimal house cut in love with its taut, old skool sounding drum rhythms. Yet it doesn’t feel flat or indulgent to me, as there’s a lot of spring to this remix’s step. Maybe I have a soft spot for drums that sound like they are made of rubber (i.e. they feel very flexible, yet still give a strong attack), but Cassy seems to get endless mileage out of this drum sound with only one vocal and keyboard loop laid on top.

Careless / LESS007
[Michael F. Gill]

July 18, 2007

Various Artists - Sasomo EP

Hi! I’m back from a dream where I had a brief look into the future. Here’s the news for you: eternity is dulled, but she remains resolutely horizontal. So, with the world remaining indifferent to my personal peaks and valleys, why not have my music be the same way? During its twelve minute duration, Matt John’s “Soulkaramba” consists of three plucked bass notes, some dried out percussion run through damp effects, live-sounding drum skitters, the occassional idle chatter, and a recurring synth drone on one note. It goes nowhere, it does nothing, and sounds nonchalantly cheerful while doing it. I empathize with it a great deal. I could write a short story and walk through a street festival while listening to it on loop, such is my comfort level towards its tender indifference.

The other two cuts here aren’t so bad, but lucid and undisturbed they are not. With “Elevator”, Phage and Daniel Dreier appear to have slightly lifted their head out of the minimal kitchen sink, but both of their ears remained submerged. There’s still too many restless percussion fills cluttering up the track by itself, but these Bisy Backsons remain great cannon fodder for minimal DJs who play out. Audio Werner is also on hand with “Kabarett”, a more low-key techy affair with a recurring motif of grainy, synthetic plucks that never really let the groove settle in. These two b-sides feel like escapism or distraction compared to John’s side of straight up reality. And I can’t help wanting to continue walking down the endless straight line of the latter.

BAR25 / BAR25-2
[Michael F. Gill]

June 5, 2007

Oto Gelb / Daniel Wang - Magical Yellow Sound From Germania / Look Ma, No Drum Machine!


It’s likely that over the past year or so, “disco edits” have been clogging up the new releases page on your favorite vinyl retailer’s website. Now that any chimp (let alone human) can freely acquire an editing programming like Audacity within a few mouse clicks, we are all that much closer to being exposed to Rising Disco-Tech Producer #56 extending the introduction to a favorite or obscure disco/new wave track by four minutes, and paying for the privilege to hear it. All together now: “And then I was discouraged by YOU!”

At their best, disco edits reveal hidden potential in otherwise imperfect tracks, and/or turn you on to a new set of tracks to dig for. The Idjuts Boys’ series of re-edit CDs on Noid takes this one step further by adding in new material, overdubbed effects, and wilder arrangements to the original source material. But it’s negligible how many edits actually need to be released on vinyl, especially when the original artists/tracks are rarely credited.

Daniel Wang seem frustrated at this state of edits too, and seemingly in a response to raise the level of re-arranging discourse, has reactivated his Balihu label with two edit-friendly releases of his own. The first is a new release of disco edits under the name Oto Gelb, with a press release that justifies itself by saying “[this is] music you just can’t make on a laptop, and that’s why it’s so good.” I hate to be an equally bitter pill, but there is not much to get excited about here, unless the idea of disco versions of Bach and Debussy tick your novelty sensors. This version of Bach’s “Air On A G-String” does give me a suave and sentimental feeling though, as if I was visiting Dimitri from Paris in an old folks home twenty years from now.

The second release is a reissue of Wang’s debut EP from 1993, Look Ma, No Drum Machine, which is one of his most highly regarded works, thanks to “Like Some Dream (I Can’t Stop Dreaming)” being a long time staple of disco and house DJs. And the track still works a treat, pasting an emotionally tense vocal snippet from Sleeque’s “One For The Money” onto a blank disco drums canvas, effectively flattening the tension into some kind of detached wonder. Actually, the entire EP is made up of sampled disco records, and while it was a common practice at the time for deep house records to work off a disco sample, Wang’s material here has more of a raw and homemade feel to it. On the b-side, “Gotta Get Up” is as fine a disco-house number as you can get without using a bassline, “Warped” falls a little flat if you’ve heard “Time Warp” from Disco Not Disco 2, and “Get Up, Get Up” locks into a more soulish loop a la Theo Parrish’s Ugly Edits.

While both of these records feels more “angsty” than necessary, Look Ma is still worthy of your time, and should put Daniel back in the public eye with both DJs and MP3 bloggers, just in time for his upcoming full-length album.

Balihu / BAL 016
Balihu / BAL 001
[Michael F. Gill]

April 17, 2007

Lovebirds - Modern Stalking


H-O-U-S-E! Beefy, crisp, unaffectedly sexy and sleek and not at all above a thin sliver of fromage, this is just how it was meant to be. The title track, with its clean, ultra-modern vibe, and “Can’t Get Along” are the standouts on this latest 12” from Winding Road. Elsewhere, “Behind You” deploys a disco sample that’s just a bit too played-out to muster much apart from a weary grin from long-serving trainspotters, but “I Don’t Know Why” turns that into a smile with its goofy, Greenskeepers-esque filter-pop. To be completely fair, there is almost a tad too much restraint here, and it’s the only thing that keeps these tracks on the level of outstanding set-building material and away from being straight-up anthems. Still, it’s great to hear a strong EP that caters to both the neo-disco lover and deep house fanatic, with tempo changeups enough to keep away from stagnation.

Winding Road / ROAD018
[Mallory O’Donnell]

February 23, 2007

Hot Chip - No Fit State (Audion Remix)

Peter Chambers: Something must have happened to Matthew Dear’s head a year or two back, or the Audion part of it at least. Where his earlier work under the alias presented a swirling maelstrom of jacking techno that sounded exactly like the album covers’ seasick art suggested, the new “Mouth to Mouth” style tracks are like a wave that never breaks, pitching you further and higher as the “ray gun” noises hit you harder and rougher each time, only to pull back on the brink of each successive “impact”. It’s a fresh approach that’s bound to inspire imitators, but for the moment, Audion seems to have become a genre unto himself, and it’s a state of play that Dear appears to be really enjoying on this record. It’s not quite the smasher that “Mouth to Mouth” proved it to be, but nonetheless, this is one big rollercoasting mo-fo of a track, with a slowly ascending/descending flanged scale that has absolutely nothing to do with the Hot Chip original, but is bound to drive the floor hog wild—and isn’t that the point? As a “remix” it’s a non-event—the vocal is the only snippet to be retained from the band’s version—but as yet another example of Dear’s new accuracy with his ray-spitting bop gun, it’s a bulls-eye.

Mallory O’Donnell: Perhaps I’m too in thrall to the original, but the buzz that this remix is getting in circles bloggy quite baffles me. In terms of creative restructuring and incorporation of select elements from the original, it’s technically excellent—Matthew Dear completely reconfigures the song into a neo-tech shuffle with lots of blurting bottom end, crackling hiss and dry percussion. The vocals are a wispy spectre haunting the track at various points throughout, and the cavernous sustained note that drops several times is suggestive of a higher plateau. The only problem is we never get there—it comes in first at the four minute mark, then more often, but it only marks a dip in the energy level when it acts as nothing more than a precursor to slightly more excitable bloopery and drum paddling. I thought the point of architecture was to build something useful and beautiful.

EMI UK / 12EMDJ 715

February 23, 2007

Charts: February 23 2007

Mallory O’Donnell
Dorfmeister Vs. MDLA - Boogie No More (Reverson 68 Remix) [G-Stone]
Teena Marie - Fix It (Instrumental) [Epic]
Escort - “Bright New Life” (Morgan Geist Remix) [Escort]
Blackbelt Anderson - Alfaz De Pi [Full Pupp]
Jackson Jones - I Feel Good (Pilooski Edit) [Dirty Edits]
Justin Timberlake - My Love (Linus Loves Remix) [Virgin]
Pet Shop Boys - Was It Worth It? (12″ Version) [EMI]
Tomboy - Seriřs [Gomma]
Gui Boratto - Chromophobia [Kompakt]
Donna Summer - Love to Love You Baby [Casablanca]

Michael F. Gill
Slg – Anymore [Level Records]
The Model – Stargate Interlude [Underl_ne]
Kris Menace feat. Fred Falke – Fairlight [Compuphonic]
Photocall – Silver Clouds (Dexter Remix) [Clone]
Flakes – Sugar Frosted Lover [Calibre]
Proton Plus – Pay Up [Yew Wood]
Kay-Gees – Latican Funk [De-Lite Records]
Airto - Celebration Suite [Warner Bros/WEA Discos Ltda]
James “Jack Rabbit” Martin - Rabbit Trax I [Yoton]
Keith Tucker – Electro Lights [Twilight 76]

February 9, 2007

DJ Technician - My Beat Is a Monster


You don’t need to be a dance music historian to read the devotion of the Bunker crew to old school electro and bass music - it’s written all over their collective face. DJ Technician has brought it to another level, though, with this EP chock-full of old-as-new frosty booty jams that are equal parts Jonzun Crew, Magic Mike, and Jive Rhythm Tracks. Technician is an apt moniker - these are clinical, perfectly crafted genre exercises, complete with a “Bonus Beats” track, no less. What makes My Beat Is a Monster more than just a pastiche is the sense of goofy fun that bubbles out of the whole package. Dance music, especially of the Northern European school, often gets a bit stodgy in its minimalist beauty, and this is a well-placed combat boot in the ass of anybody who forgot that dance music is silly, sweaty fun, and all the more glorious for it. Retro? Ah, who the fuck cares! From the absurd Newcleus-esque title track whose “beat is a monster / with bass in your face” to the more icy Italo soundscapes of “Basslines” to the spacy video game effects of “One Credit Left,” there’s a little something here for everybody who came late to the party in ‘84.

Bunker Records / Bunker 3060
[Mallory O’Donnell]

February 9, 2007

Beatzcast #18: Michael F. Gill

Mixes2007DiscoR & B

I recently picked up a bizarre, very bootleg-ish compilation of ‘80s Canadian funk and dancefloor R&B called Funk & Boogie from the Great White North. Unfortunately, most of it, filled with clunky synthetic drums/bass and primitive Fairlight/DX7-style synthesizers, has not dated well at all. Yet there is something endearingly weird about these tracks, as they were trying to follow the poppier footsteps of Jam & Lewis while still having a foot in the post-disco club scene, all on a very minimal budget. I decided to make a mini-mix to showcase some of these oddities, the majority of which I could find nothing about (not even a Discogs listing).

I do know that all of the tracks come from the Musicworks and Street Level imprints, two labels in the early ‘80s that were based in Montreal, although did a lot of recording in Philadelphia with prolific disco engineer/producer Herb Powers. As for the artists, James Carmichael is likely the same singer who once headed the group Instant Funk (of “I Got My Mind Made Up” fame), Kim Covington was a New Jersey soul/theater singer who now lives and records in Paris, and the Little Dabs were the two children (aged 4 and 6) of the drummer from the group Gypsy Lane, who did all the music for the Village People. Speaking of the Dabs, their Spielberg-inspired single “E.T. (Every Time)” was a big enough hit in Canada that it got European distribution through the Belgium label BMC. I sadly know little about Jahmilla, Tara Laine, Jacki, or Dee Dee T, but the Jahmilla record did get European distribution through the Dutch label Rams Horns. To close this mix off, there’s Mac Mac’s male answer/response track to Lisa Lisa’s freestyle hit “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” produced by someone called “Grandmaster Cash.” Hope you enjoy…
[Michael F. Gill]

Montreal Misfits
01: James Carmichael - All Of My Love [Expansion/Musicworks]
02: Jahmilla - Pillow Talk [Street Level, 1985]
03: Tara Laine - You Made Me Believe [Street Level]
04: The Little Dabs - E.T. (Every Time) [Musicworks, 1982]
05: Kim Covington - All Of My Love [Street Level, 1983]
06: Dee Dee T - We’ve Got All Night [Unknown]
07: Jacki - Don’t Break My Heart [Unknown]
08: Mac Mac & Jamalot Kingdom - Let Me Take You Home (Lisa Lisa) [Musicworks, 1985]

September 1, 2006

Charts: September 1 2006

Todd Hutlock
DJ Yellow - Goddess [Ovum]
Pig & Dan - 4 Leaf Clover [Cocoon]
2 AM/FM - Sweat Box [Spectral Sound]
Jeff Mills - Preview [Tomorrow]
Mr. Fingers - Beyond the Clouds [Trax]
Los Hermanos - My Mothers Guitarra [Los Hermanos]
This Heat - 24 Track Loop [These]
Claude VonStroke - Beware of the Bird (Justin Martin Remix) [Dirtybird]
David Wulle & Andy Garcia - A1/DOC 007 [Docile]
Sunglasses Afterdark - The Gaslamp (Crossed Swords Champion Mix by Two Lone Swordsmen) [Cloak & Dagger]

Ronan Fitzgerald
Giresse and Erb - Slapback [Connaisseur Superior]
Anthony Collins - Self Esteem [Session Deluxe]
Ripperton and She DJ Masaya - Long Distance [Num Ltd]
Michael Ho - Econoclast EP [Tuning Spork]
Sweet N Candy - Tacky Wakeup (Dominik Eulberg Mix) [Raum…Musik]
Pascal FEOS - Brooklyn Style [Level Non Zero]
Jobim’s Cousin - Comerte [Cargo Edition]
Extrawelt - Doch Doch [Traum]
Lawrence - Along the Wire (Superpitcher Mix) [Dial]
Pan - The Lizard [Rebel One]

Michael F. Gill
Errol Dunkley - Sit and Cry Over You [T.P. Records]
Starship Orchestra - The Waiting Game [CBS]
Ray Parker Jr & Raydio – Until the Morning Comes [Arista]
Didier Lockwood - Aspiring Answer [Inner City]
Shinedoe - Seek and You Will Find [100% Pure]
Lunapark - Lunapark [Sterpete Dischi]
Henrik B - Airwalk [Pryda Friends]
Moritz Piske - Ein Kaenguru I’m Clubraum / Huldigung Den Triolen [Opossum]
Monika Kruse & Patrick Lindsey - Whds [Terminal M]
V/A - Permanent Vacation [Permanent Vacation]

July 14, 2006

Pan-Pot / GummiHz - Black Lodge / Modern Dynamic

Things go from strength to strength for Mobilee with these, their 12th and 13th releases. Pan-Pot come with two utterly submerged dub house tracks. There’s a palpable chill in the air when you play “Black Dog”: has house ever sounded so stupendously cold and dead? “Black Widow” is a slightly harder track, edging towards techno, but the level of intricacy remains astounding, the sound more hedonistic and unhinged than ever. Gummihz’s second single for Mobilee sees them take a more summer friendly direction than their previous outings. On “The First Time,” what starts off as clicking, whirring minimal ends in a perfectly hushed breakdown with Detroit chords and a vocal whispering “like the first time, like every time.” It’s difficult to find more emotive, atmospheric house music than this. “Gomma Elastica,” meanwhile, would be the best track on many other 12”’s, a door slamming, glass-rattling piece of minimal techno that will slay any floor.

Mobilee / mobilee012
Mobilee / mobilee013
[Ronan Fitzgerald]

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