July 16, 2007

Deetron feat. DJ Bone - Life Soundtrack

200712"HouseTechno

Deetron’s “Life Soundtrack” was one of the revelations of Radioslave’s “tough toys for tough boys” Misch Masch mix - mostly for DJ Bone’s wonderful vocal. There’s a lot of this malarky going about at the moment - get a European to put together the track, then get a black American innovator to add a vocal part. Maybe it’s just because most white producers have such reedy, weak little voices. Imagine a Frank Oz preachapella and you’ll get the gist.

So anyway, the solution to a possible horror: first there was Coldcut’s soppy “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” with Robert Owens, then Innervisions’ “Where We At” with Derrick Carter, and now “Life Soundtrack”. If the first was all about sentimental tears on the dancefloor, and the second was a head nod and a whoop in agreement, then this baby’s a pumping fist and a set jaw - the big bad techno other to its softer, wssier housemates. The reason’s the content, as Bone can tell you himself. It’s because “this sound comes from dirt, pain, boredom, cold streets, nothing from nothing to everything, from frustration to innovation, this sound makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you hate, makes you stomp, makes you clap. This music, deep down, special place, special time, special sound, lives forever - life soundtrack.”

And damn, doesn’t it sound great, especially where, as with the Radioslave version, Bone’s sonorous voice is given enough space for each of the phrases to hit you as the whole thing chugs past. It’s a fresh demonstration of Matt Edwards’ intuitive understanding as to which elements of the track need repeating, which need foregrounding, and which need binning. But then there’s Redshape’s version, which utilises the mystery man’s masterful re-manufacture of the mid-nineties Detroit vibe, harnessing yet another crunchy, percolating groove to a whole lotta late night dirt. It doesn’t treat the vocal as well, but it’s so sharp, rich and grinding that you’ll barely care.

Deetron’s edit is like hearing backwards to the elements of a track after both the Radioslave and Redshape remixes, each of which gives a very strong, singular impression. Deetron’s version is still a great track, but it’s less stylish, more generic, less tense. Last of all there’s the “Rejected Interpretation”, which is stripped right back and pulled down into the deep, as a concession to DJs who are playing too small a room at too early in the evening for the scale and growl of the other versions. It starts off well, but loses it for me in the later sections with a proggy, generic arrangement that will age very quickly.

Music Man / MM 133 / MM 133R
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


May 30, 2007

Crowdpleaser & St Plomb - 2006 Remixes 1

My God, has it really been three years since the “plugin acid” revival ran its course? Remember all those Dalhbck and Dahlbck records? Actually, they were pretty good, I thought. But maybe its wrong to ever talk about acid as a “revival”, when its never really gone away for more than a moment. Like the Blues Brothers, acid seems to be as revoltingly effective as it ever was, now matter how much of a caning it gets.

Little wonder though, when you hear a record like the “Jackin Freak” remix of Crowdpleaser & St. Plomb’s wonky floor-warmer “1,2,3″. This track manages to bottle the psychopathology of an entire lost weekend in the space of six minutes, starting out quite politely, bugging like a pair of Rodney Dangerfield eyes for a moment, then calming right down—just in time for your neat segue into the low-slung scape of the Daschund mix of “Zukunft”, which echoes and eddies its way into a party mood (in a very mnml way), with lots of splashing granulated textures, and that “sleazy bee” melody retained from the original version. Und (remember “Fox in the Box”—now that was a polarizer) brings her love for out-of-place-vocals and her ear for melody to bear “Today”, coming up with a nice A to B microhouse record, replete with strange intrusions, crowing cocks and toy machines.

This is a great EP that manages to do what remix EPs should—complementing the spirit of the original and introducing new relationships, new proximities that suggest both the source and an inspiration. Hot on the heels of Crowdpleaser & St Plombs album and the recent Kate Wax reissue, Mental Groove are (just quietly) shaping up to be one of the truly great labels.

Mental Groove / MG.LTD.016
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[Peter Chambers]


May 25, 2007

Beatzcast #34: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music…

Tracklist
01: Shemale - Untitled [buy]
02: Lindstrom and Solale - Let’s Practise [buy]
03: Trusme - Nards [buy]
04: Miguel Migs - So Far [buy]
05: Voom Voom - Sao Verought (Marcus Worgull Mix) [buy]
06: Booka Shade - Karma Car [buy]
07: Baby Ford and Zip - Morning Sir [buy]
08: Minilogue - Inca [buy]
09: Crowdpleaser and St. Plomb - Zukunft (Dachshund Remix) [buy]
10: Tiesto feat. Julie Thompson - Do You Feel Me [buy]
11: Nid and Sancy - Give It Up for Sound [buy]

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May 21, 2007

Shackleton - Blood On My Hands (Villalobos Remix)

Even when I see the towers fallfallits difficult to see, to breathe, for all the smoke and dust. I have this feeling with Villalobos’ remixes these days: rumours that theyre about to drop induce the mental equivalent of wheezing. It was the same being a latecomer to Reservoir Dogs and Bladerunner, the demand to find genius at play was inversely proportional to the ability to “just enjoy” the works after so much praise had preceded them. Its the hype, your honour, and this asthmatic boy doth breathily protest.

The personal irony then (or not) was the elemental force of Villalobos’ remix of Becks “Cellphones Dead”. Unhyped by friends, unanticipated by me, it sighed, kicked, and sung its way right out of my loudspeakers and into the quiet parts of my heart. It might be one of the best house tracks Ive ever heard. Might be. I set the Beck remix up as a counterpoint against the two “smoke machines” : the hype and the structure. “Cellphones Dead” is a beautifully composed track designed to unfold over its long minutes, with every refrain changing its relationship through repetition and emphasis. Its like a blueprint for how to do groove music, and it feels like its composed to do so.

“Blood on my Hands”, like Fizheuer, is nothing like this. Both tracks, similar in scope and sound, play with (as far as I can gather) an effects processor called the Eventide H3000, producing slowly modulating drum sounds that shift timbre and seem to push and pull into each other, creating (especially at high volumes) beguiling tricks of the ear and sending dancefloors into paroxysms of addled ecstasy. Theyre tools, likely written by Villalobos solely for himself, to be layered under other tracks and to fade through other mixes in his inimitable DJ style. I imagine him, off his guts after a long weekend of after-after parties, eyes rolling mental hours spent in the studio with a buzzing whirl of falling drums.

The wonder of these tracks is twofold then: that theyre the audible traces of a private musical process; that theyre unfinished, more like snatches of an almost unending work made from hours of tweaking, of getting deep inside your groove, out of your head. Simply by releasing them as such, Villalobos has innovated like Andy Warhol’s eight hour long films of people sleeping, “Blood on my Hands” questions the presuppositions and re-frames the possibility of what a piece of music is, how its structured, what it does, and what its for at once process, instrument, and product. And there is a unique piece of music in here it emerges in the plateaus, the retreats and the attacks of the effected drums, it rushes up through Shackletons fantastic lyrics (and how many groove-based tracks have even good lyrics), it drops past you with the atmosphere of apocalypse conjured by the image of the falling towers. Its a ridiculous criticism to say that “its too long”, or that “its not a track” these are two other undeniable qualities that make this work so exemplary, just as they point out its limitations. “Blood on my Hands” might not be a beautiful piece of music like “Cellphones Dead” is, but it is undiminished as an artistic statement for all that. As Brian Eno once noted, new forms of music necessitate new ways of listening. So it is here.

Skull Disco / Skull 007
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


May 20, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 20

Battles - Atlas (Warp Records)
Genre: Leftfield

Peter Chambers: The two tracks seem to wind into each other, not so much remixes as silent halves of the other that mutually intimate, stroke, and ground. The diehard math-rockers will hate it, and its too weird for the functionally-obsessed dancefloors of the world, but thats (also) why its one of the more interesting EPs of the year so far.

Water Lilly - Invisible Ink (Mental Groove)
Genre: Electro-House, Minimal/Deep

Minilogue - Elephant Parade (Wagon Repair)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Nate DeYoung: Ive been told that Elephant Parade is a snorefest, and while Im sure thats the case for most people, I sleep on my belly.

Solomun & Stimming - Feuer & Eis (Diynamic)
Genre: House, Minimal/Deep

Escort - All Through The Night (Escort)
Genre: Disco

John Daly - Sky Dive (Plak Records)
Genre: Techno, Detroit

Skatebard - Vuelo (Radius)
Genre: Neo-Disco

Nick Sylvester: Makes me wonder whether I would have liked that Sally Shapiro album more if there was, cough, less Sally Shapiro.

Selway and Vincenzo - Dream Stealer (CSM)
Genre: Minimal/Deep

Weekly Staff Charts

Beatzcast #33: Crambe Repetita


May 15, 2007

Water Lilly - Invisible Ink

What a relentless track: it’s like your head is being run through a sewing machine, the synths needling away at every frequency range while the midtempo kick thumps along obliviously. Beyond the rhythm, Water Lilly keeps the pitches at really tense intervals, uninterested in resolving them until she breaks into the main riff, which is a lonely bit you might have expected on the last Knife album. If it went longer than 7:25 I’d say enough already, but that’s exactly where it stops, an etude in tension/release.

Arnaud Rebotini’s Black Strobe Mix on the flip is, as you’d expect, a harder, darker, “slamming” take on the original, something that’d fit perfectly into electroclash sets and current distorted-to-death bloghouse outings. It’s also the first time you’ll be able to make out the vocals from the original - “Except for me, what else do you want?” - which are presented here as a centerpiece, something of a meta-thesis for the rest of the mix. Rebotini bests the original when he moves into a sub-bass acid freakout towards the middle, and never lets up.

Mental Groove Records / MG 057
[Listen]
[Nick Sylvester]


April 22, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 16

Theo Parrish - Children of the Drums (Sound Signature)
Genre: Detroit

Peter Chambers: 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.

Lovebirds - Modern Stalking (Winding Road Records)
Genre: House, Neo-disco

Audion - Mouth To Mouth Remixes (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Cortney Tidwell - Dont Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up (Ever Records)
Genre: Electro-House

Sly Mongoose - Bad Pulse (Mule Musiq)
Genre: House, Neo-Disco

Nick Sylvester: Sped up just 8-10 BPM or so would make this hotly tipped Japanese producers latest a-side a primetime player at a disco-edit party, though theres something special to how the track works at the slightly languorous tempo it ships with: the toms sound deeper and hold out with pitch, the percussive grit of the rhythm guitar scraping hits harder, the piano fills up what space is left.

Digitaline - Anticlockwise (Cadenza)
Genre: Minimal-Tech

Tiny Sticks vs. Mental Groove - Killing Your Ghost (Mental Groove/Tiny Sticks)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Electro-House

Jrgen Paape - Speicher 47 (Kompakt Extra)
Genre: Minimal/Deep, Techno

Convextion - Miranda Remixes (Matrix)
Genre: Techno, Dub

Todd Hutlock: The original mix is a damn fine piece of second-wave Detroit techno, all jumping rhythms, dubbed-out keyboard stabs, and ring-modulated riffage, but fuck, this aint the second coming of Strings of Life or something.

Weekly Staff Charts
Beatzcast #28: Crambe Repetita


April 20, 2007

Charts: April 20 2007

Mallory O’Donnell
V/A - Trance Europe Express [Volume]
Hiltmeyer , Inc. - Sendling 70 [Gomma]
Cabaret Voltaire - The Crackdown [Virgin]
Sly Mongoose - Bad Pulse [Mule Musiq]
Michoacan - She’s Sent Heaven (The Emperor Machine Instrumental Remix) [Tiny Sticks]
Annie - Heartbeat (The Field Remix) [679]
Taana Gardner - Heartbeat (Larry Levan Remix) [West End]
Inner Life - Moment of My Life [Salsoul]
Ministry - I Wanted to Tell Her [Arista]
Krisma - Miami [CGD]

Michael F. Gill
Tiger Stripes - Voyage [Nite Grooves]
Root Source - Beyond The Haze [Freestyle Records]
Pendle Coven - Golden Hadron [Modern Love]
The Progressions - Fair Deal [Trojan]
The Rotating Assembly - Seasons Of My Life [Sound Signature]
Einzelkind & Meat - Bonus Beats [Get Physical]
Search and Destroy - Candyfloss [Hotflush Recordings]
Martin Circus - Before It Gets Dark [Prelude]
Wish & Fonda Rae - Touch Me [KN Records]
Aaron Broomfield - I’m Gonna Miss Ya [Mountain Records]


April 19, 2007

Tiny Sticks vs. Mental Groove - Killing Your Ghost

Given Michael Mayers re-positioning of himself between minimal tech-house and space disco on Immer 2 (he even cites the fade between Lindstroms track and the Rice Twins as the essential moment on the mix), youd have to say that this EP is aimed squarely at the space between in the Kompakt jocks box. Whatever the motive, its a solid lob, and one that lands the record right in our now (Oh no! Its the zeitgeist!).

St. Plombs mix of (ever under-rated) songstress Kate Wax begins all Chicken Lips with a big, plump bassline, but the space made between the mental synth attack and the vocal twists this track into a tense tech-house number full of the same self-possessed effectiveness that made 2006 such a (ahem) crowdpleaser.

The Emperor Machine mix of Michoacan on the flipside is full of whooshing synth breaks, bubbling space noises, and a kicking electro-disco groove thats bound to send the cool kids into hyperspace. Whilst neither of these tracks is a smash/hit in their own right, their combined force on one EP is a canny call to all you record buyers out there. This record has box appeal.

Mental Groove / Tiny Sticks / MGSTICK 01
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


March 28, 2007

Tobias - Dial EP

I found myself contorted into all kinds of verbal shapes and hard-wrung hand positions the other night, trying to explain to a non-techno friend exactly whats so good about Tobias productionsbecause on the surface at least, theres very little to it. The friends ears, tuned to jazz and classical, kept wading through the repetitions waiting for it to happen and he shrugged when it didnt. Its not the moment, its the movement, I said. Im not sure that conveys it either. It just sounds so damned good. Like last years wonderful Street Knowledge EP, every clap, kick and bassline on Dial sound just right.

And the tracks groove like hell, especially the title cut, which twists through seven minutes with nothing more than bass and percussion. Violence takes things in a more experimental direction, and sounds like some of Carl Craigs similar styled-work (Darkness). Below Houston (which was featured on Cassys Panoramabar mix along with the title track) is a much housier cut in the vein of older 7th City Records tracks, while Second to None is a more spacious tech-house excursion. In every way the sequel to Street Knowledge, Dial is the second part of a manifesto that lays out the unmistakable patterns of an incurable machine romance.

Logistic / LOG059
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


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