August 31, 2007

False - False

There comes a time when a musician is capable of shitting gold and Matthew Dear has released an album titled 2007 to mark his. It takes a certain grace to make defecating metal sound like a talent, but it’s the same grace that makes Dear’s missteps sound just as captivating as full-strides. Thankfully, 2007 is full-stride, especially when placed next to the scattershot Asa Breed. Working under his minimal moniker, False, must be a liberating change of pace for Dear2007 has none of the gratingly earnest pop-impulses (found under his birth name) or earnestly abrasive big-room techno (as Audion). Instead, 2007 is all burned-out ambiencethe sound of a post-metropolis slowly ebbing away.

2007 is not just an album. It’s not just a mix. Somehow it gets to be bothit’s made up of all new material from Dear and fashioned into one giant smorgasbord. There’s none of the pomp you’d expect from an actual album and none of the tastefulness that you get from a mix. 2007 is a sleight of hand. A magic trick that begins off in the horizon with the rumble of distant cars (”Indy 3000″) and ends with a way-out-of-body blur of voices (”Forgetting”). To describe how 2007 travels between those points should include an important tangentDear sees his music under the False moniker as “clinical and mysterious.”

Which are an evocative pair of words and ones that describe a chunk of 2007’s label, M_nus. With their finely-honed textures and considered slabs of minimal techno, “clinical” could be as succinct of mission statement as M_nus deserves. Although 2007’s drizzle of percussion has been quantized good and proper with M_nus’ weapon of choice, Ableton, Dear’s compositions still find a way to drift, wallow, and entropy. It makes sense that 2007 is the result of a spring cleaning of Dear’s hard drive. Songs are an accumulation of forgotten tidbits and 2007 is an unwillingness to let dust lie.

And there’s little dust left in the nooks of the album mixfrom Dear’s swallowed gulps of “shout!” on “Dollar Down” to the fidgeting synth that bridges “Timing” to “Alright Liar,” Dear isn’t able to stay still for long. Which is a welcome surprise from Dear’s last mix for Fabricsomething that could charitably be described as static. Dear freely ditches rhythms for swaths of fuzz on “Disease/George Washington” and peaks with a swarm of bees on the single “Fed on Youth.” With each of album’s sixty minutes, there’s a compulsion that drives the mix with no hint of a resolution around any corner. For an album as porous as 2007, each track sounds opaque, calcified.

With those shards, Dear captures the sound of a city worn down not by time, but by disuse. Recurring throughout 2007 is the Doppler effect of cars racing past and sandpaper kick drums. Both sculpt an uncompromising environment of main drags and barren lots. But as willfully dark as Dear makes 2007, there are glimpses, like the low-lit chimes of “Face the Rain,” that make the album live-able if not understandable. And for an album as obtuse as 2007, the fact that it can be loved instead of just respected is reason enough to follow Matthew Dear like a gold claim.

M_nus / MINUS 55 CD
[Listen]
[Nate Deyoung]


August 14, 2007

The Chemical Brothers - Do it Again (Remixes)

Recently, my sister decided to through a ’90s retro party, something that has only become conceivable in the past few years. Until about 2004, the 90s, with all its big hair, baggy trousers and bad colour combos (lime green and tangerine?!) was still too fresh a scar, too painful a memory to be safely retro. Planning the programming for the party, something emerged the ’90s feels like two eras with a brief threshold in the middle. For me at least, the ’90s begins in 1989 with acid-house and early techno crossovers, hip-house, New Jack Swing, “rap” (prior to its being hip-hop) and the last of the Stock, Aitken, and Waterman hits. 1995 feels like the threshold “respectable” electronica like Autechre and Aphex Twin finds its way onto the cassette comps of indie kids and groups like the Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers suddenly sit comfortably beside the Smashing Pumpkins and Tool on the rotating platters of 5CD mini-systems at teen parties. My sister and I pulled out all our old ’90s comps and gave some of the classics a rinse. The Prodigy still have brutal energy and addictive hooks, Fatboy Slim sounds even more irritating than it was, and KLF’s The White Room is an unqualified masterpiece. The Chemical Brothers’ albums get worse and worse as the nineties climb to the highpoint (lowpoint?) of “pre-millenium tension” Exit Planet Dust is still their best work, while by 1999 the tracks rely on bombastic impacts to the detriment of groove and flow.

As if conceding the need to ride the coat-tails of the swiftly departing zeitgeist, the Brothers have enlisted the talents of Oliver Huntemann and Matthew Dear (here in Audion guise) to overcome redundancy. Huntemann’s track is lacklustre and dull it takes little of the original version’s hyperactivity and replaces it with your typical Huntemann/Bodzin big rolling synth. The Audion version is actually closer to recent False material in style, but unlike the tracks on the outstanding 2007 record (a record that actually is 2007), this re-touch is relatively bland, with none of the compelling spookiness of the twisted medleys in the murk. The last song on the Brothers’ new album is called “The Pills won’t Help you Now”, and I can’t help but think this is a self-reproach (or maybe it should be) but on “Do it Again” the lyrical content suggests the opposite. It details the misadventures of some hapless drugged punter in a way that seems to celebrate the very thing it’s condemning; this is probably not what they were aiming for, and the overall impression is “who cares?” more than “do it again”.

Virgin / Astralwerks / 3941480 / ASTR 92726
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


August 8, 2007

Various Artists - Death Is Nothing To Fear Vol. 2

Whereas the first volume of Spectral Sound’s latest compilation series featured a side-long groover from the label’s biggest star, Matthew “Audion” Dear, the follow-up isn’t dominated by one act at all. The four tracks here are uniformly excellent and of enough variety to keep even the most OCD listener satisfied, driven as they seem to be by genuinely, um, “spectral” sounds (or perhaps “ghostly” is a better description).

Spectral mainstay James T. Cotton’s “2 Keys” leads things off with more of his familiar funky-acid-by-numbers action, but hey, acid isn’t exactly built on the idea of diverse sounds, so you can hardly be surprised. Jonas Kopp remixes Plan Tec into a building, percussive nightmare with inspired (and masterfully restrained) use of some very cool horrorshow effects and knob-tweaking, and you might swear that Geoff White’s minimal popper “Apartmental” is a long lost Daniel Bell cut, bugged out and bouncing along.

The cream of this particular crop, however, is Mikael Stavstrand’s “Can You See Through My Eyes,” a clattering, spooked-out ride full of inspired textures and percussive tricks that rumble over the track’s spine like a skeleton being dragged on a bumper. The Cotton track may be a little samey, but three out of four winners these days is a mighty fine ratio. Oh, and bonus points for the cute skull-&-hearts cover motif.

Spectral Sound / SPC-043
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


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
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 13, 2007

Audion - Noiser / Fred’s Bells

Since Beatz isn’t afraid of repeating itself, it’s worth pointing out that we really do think Audion is running neck to neck with sliced bread for what we prefer to gush over. We would feel totally justified doodling New Yorker comics where Matthew Dear (AKA Audion) gets to use the punchline “but I wrote Mouth to Mouth, bitch” in various settings in front of a Rothko, on top of the Sear’s Tower, or meticulously peed onto a wall in R. Kelly’s mansion. Dear’s recent releases and remixes have all but shown that he can turn water into wine, leap tall buildings in a single bound and even make the Chemical Brothers sound relevant again.

His latest two-sider will no doubt satisfy such high expectations. “Fred’s Bells” mumbles, slithers, and ties the bow with any narco-minimal heart in sight. The track’s boomerang effect, which generally defies the law of conservation, is as much about the competing basslines as the song’s loss of depth perception. “Noiser” returns to the dry-heaving and dry-humping jack that culminated in Suckfish. Set next to “Fred’s Bells,” though, it shows how Dears previous all-excess all-acid diet lead to the dreadful and desperate cul-de-sac of “how can I add even more?” Both with “Bells” and his recent string of songs, it sounds like he realized the question should’ve been “how can I make it sound like I’m adding even more?” It’s subtle, but important.

Spectral Sound / SPL-44
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


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


May 4, 2007

Charts: May 4, 2007

Nate DeYoung
Baby Oliver - Uptown Express [Environ]
Lindstrom - Let’s Practice [Feedelity]
Force of Nature - Afroshock [Mule]
Juergen Paape - Speicher 47 [Kompakt]
Andomat3000 & Jan - L Delay [Cadenza]
Sebbo - Beirut Boogie [Liebe Detail]
V/A - Shut Up and Dance! [Ostgut]
Kathy Diamond - Miss Diamond to You [Permanent Vacation]
Matthew Dear - Asa Breed [Ghostly]
Efdemin - Efdemin [Dial]

Michael F. Gill
Marlow - So Mellow So Sweet [Moon Harbour Recordings]
DJ /Rupture - Secret Google Cheat Codes [Violent Turd]
David Keno and Francesco Passantino - Monosynth [Keno Records]
Acid OG’s - Good Good Feeling [Chicago Housing Commission]
Chris Rea - Josephine [Magnet]
Electribe 101 - Talking With Myself (Deep Dream Mix) [Club]
Lo Verde - Die Hard Lover [Moby Dick]
Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy [MCA]
Prism - The White Shadow [Univer Records Production]
Blaze - I Think Of You (Restless Soul Inspiration Information Remix) [Slip ‘n’ Slide]


April 17, 2007

Audion - Mouth To Mouth Remixes

Whenever I see a remix single of an absolutely amazing, individualistic recordlike this is, one of 2006s biggest and best tracksI have to wonder why in the hell anyone would want to remake it. It just seems to be a losing proposition to try to put your own work up next to a classic in the making, especially less than a year after the original release.

The brave souls here are M_nus man Heartthrob (who takes it on twice, no less!) and Wagon Repair vet Konrad Black, both of whom should be commended for not only having the balls to take on a record bigger than the both of them put together, but also to do a fine job with it, all told. Heartthrob takes two similar routes, both maintaining the originals singular sense of menace and stalking ability, and on the Mantap Mix he takes the swelling analog noise from the original that made you scream your balls off last summer. Beyond that, its pretty much par for the course: a tight, funky, minimal, throbbing analog steam. Konrad keeps it more on the lowdown, working the bottom end and the atmospherics into a thick, sticky froth, only to let in some light just in time to keep it from getting suicidal. Disaster averted.

Online exclusives are here, too, from Matthew Audion Dear himself and Ryan Elliott. Dears Mund zu Mund version rearranges some runs and kicks a bit more Latin-esque funk into the mix while still managing to turn those noises in for more thrills than they should be worth. Elliott strips it down for spare parts, working the perc into a frenzy and dropping a few of those big swells, too, just to keep it interesting. Its a damn shame the online tracks arent available on wax, they are worth the trouble for fans.

Spectral Sound / SPC-42
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


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 24, 2007

The Spectral Social @ the Clinton Hotel (WMC, Night Two)

Friday night seemed the perfect night to stay confined to Miami Beach, so we went back across the causeway, refreshed and re-upped and spent the rest of the night walking up and down the strip (strips, really). The beach is a monster with mythic aspirations, crawling with every form of beauty and degeneracy staking out its own space from which to confront the mundane. Its also the perfect place for Winter Music Conference to really sprawl out into the street as well - adding its own mix of nasty and nice to the cauldron.

When it comes to WMC on the beach, there seem to be two basic types of party- free / cheap ones that take over hotel lobbies and exclusive ones at the trendy-ass velvet-rope clubs (Nikki Beach, the Pearl, the Opium Garden, Cameo). When it comes to these latter parties, we quickly realized that a press pass or badge is more a hindrance than an advantage - after all, if we let you in, we cant get away with insisting on a two-bottle charge (where a bottle costs $200).

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At any rate, our first target was the Spectral Social @ the Clinton Hotel, featuring Matthew Dear, Ryan Elliot and Seth Troxler alternating, tag-teaming, corroborating and confounding each other to create an astonishingly seamless mix. I cant think of a time Ive ever seen more fun up in the DJ booth - the party seemed to emanate from the outrageous antics of the party-throwers, rather than the party-goers. The tracks thrown down by this six-limbed DJ defied the narrow view of Spectral as monochromatic minimalists with a bass fixation. The bass-heavy frenzy was there, all right, but there was plenty going on all across the (forgive me) spectrum. Extra points awarded for the girls who made up their own special dance, the Spectral Shimmy - cyclic rotations of the posterior to soak up extra bass and hand motions inspired by the rattling procession of the high end.

bullshit.jpg

From gutter to glitter - the low-key fun of Spectral gave way to our misguided attempt to go to Opium Garden for the Tony Humphries / Todd Terry / Blaze event. After a few minutes of standing around behind the velvet rope and observing the ratio of exchange (2 girls : 1 guy in a group to gain admittance, plus the usual necessary fabulosities), plus hearing the complaints of non badge-holders, plus hearing one badge-holder complain that theyd been there for hours, we decided to skip out on the Studio 54-wannabee bullshit and head further down. The same policy (with less interesting potential rewards) seemed to be offered by Nikki Beach & the Pearl, so we did what sensible human beings do. We went back to the gutter.

hotellobby2.jpg

Ocean, Collins and Washington offer a number of hotels with open-lounge, free-admission parties that rock until dawn (or close enough). One has to wonder what the actual tenants think of a bunch of freaks dancing on the stairway and in the lobby until 5 a.m.- or perhaps these rooms are only advertised amongst those for whom heavy, throbbing bass during their sleeping hours is something of a tonic. We did witness one middle-American family leaving their hotel room amidst typical beach insanity in the wee hours, tempting the headline : 4:15 A.M., South Beach : Wife Will Put Up With Bass No Longer

The Chesterfield, Chelsea and Marlin Hotels all had parties with varying sounds and degrees of success, with a bit of patio and sidewalk overflow (well, except the Chelsea, which was dead). And while it wasnt quite the dancing in the streets promised by Berlins Love Parade, there was definitely enough action to encourage me to think of coming back to the beach after todays Ultra action. Plus, there is promise of Spank Rock & the Rub later tonight

[Mallory O’Donnell]


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