September 18, 2007

Basteroid - Upset Ducks

At first it’s hard for me to imagine Upsets Ducks being used for dancing. I mean, I’ve felt that alchemy before, where physically encountering the music at proper volume in a dark and sweaty room consecrated to moving your ass makes even the most unassuming jams take on dimensions you couldn’t imagine in your most feverish headphone dreams, but Sebastian Riedl’s long-playing debut under the Basteroid name is too captivating in its insular, rough-and-smooth way to imagine listening communally, let alone dancing. The opening “16 Steps Away from the Stars” especially soft shoes its could-be-huge raft of interlocking burbles, melodic stabs, and static washes into something that seems to be continually turning away from the listener into somewhere more private and inaccessible; sure enough, having to be the pursuer just makes the attraction of the track fiercer.

Which isn’t to say at all that Basteroid sounds difficult or obtuse or dull; each track here packs all the “cloudbursts, breakdowns, and big hooks” that Peter Chambers summed up as the hallmarks of Areal’s sound in Beatz semi-recently. The artist and record that Riedl’s work here summons unavoidably to mind for those of us who are happy observers but not necessarily devotees of techno is The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime. But as good as that record is, the title is maybe even more appropriate for Upsets Ducks (although I wouldn’t want to lose Riedl’s sense of humor); Axel Willner’s opus opts for the in-your-face sparkle that makes his name so appropriate (think field as ground versus object, not plot of land) whereas the sneakier apogees of Basteroid get to the same heights by rougher, subtler, more sublime means.

Once Riedl hits the late period trifecta of “Pulsador de Alarma”/ “Allright” / “Un Dos Windows” it’s clear that although he’s not so headphone-pointillist as Willner he’s at least his match in crafting snarky movers that don’t so much burst at you as slyly insinuate themselves into your hindbrain. Like a lot of listeners normally so devoted to the Word, or at least the Voice, I can’t say I can actually hum any melodies even after weeks of devoted (obsessive?) listening, but I do find its steady, building pulse threading its way into more and more of my waking life.

Even as the construction of this album apparently disturbed the waterfowl outside his studio (especially the buzzy, grainy “Attention: Upsets Ducks,” I’d imagine), Riedl was crafting a near seamless 70 minutes that deserves to rival Willner’s big debut for the affections of those who normally listen to things with guitars in them.

I lack the technical or genre vocabulary to communicate to the diehards the difference in technique between, I can only talk about emotion: The Field is more like the sensation of sunshine on your face, a train ride to a new city, leaning in to kiss someone; Basteroid evokes instead the feeling of finally leaving work for the day, walking alone through your city late at night, falling asleep to the muted sound of the party next door. That the former is more obviously, maybe even aggressively ‘good’ as a set of signifiers is true, but there’s at least as much space (if not more) in my life for the latter. Riedl is definitely still capable of tearing up a dancefloor but he along with his contemporaries have finally learned the hard lessons of techno’s rich history of trying to make albums: how to craft an experience beyond that of getting up and moving, while still allowing the latter response. The result is rich and compelling enough to warrant repeated listens even from the neophytes.

Areal / AREALCD 6
[Ian Mathers]

September 12, 2007

Lopazz - Fuck Me!

A contemporary quandary: if a piece of music isn’t on Discogs, does it exist? I’m beginning to wonder the same thing about myself: without the mirror of myself on Facebook or Myspace (I refuse, I refuse), it’s easy to forget that you “are”. But here is Gigolo #211, a three track EP not noted by Discogs (likely because it’s an internet-only release,) but written by Lopazz in collaboration with Deafny Moon and Savas Pascadilis.

In moving to Gigolo, Lopazz has done the expected and grown in sawteeth and electroid muscles, producing three different tracks that attack the need to groove from three distinct angles: one spooky, one rumble-buzzing, and one poppy. “Fuck Me!” represents the first of the three takes for a dark Ivan Smagghe-ish electro-pop number where the lyric “hold your hand” could easily be mistaken for “gland” in the back room of some seedy nightspot. “What Should I Do” meanwhile rolls over itself like a clumsy polarbear tripping over Metope’s Nord Micromodular, while “Watermelon Man” takes Savas Pascadilis’ voice for a ride into the foolish world of slap-bass minimal disco, creating something not unlike pre-neotrance Schaben and Voss. This is all good stuff, but there’s some intangible factor missing for me to really recommend it. And judging by the high standard set by Lopazz’ recent material, this single is likely to be of middling interest. If indeed it does exist.

International Deejay Gigolos
/ Gigolo 211
[Peter Chambers]

April 8, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 14

Knight Action - Single Girl (Clone Classic Cuts)

Nick Sylvester: One of those missing link-type tracks youve heard about or just plain intuited to have existedone of those synthpoppy bridges from Moroder-ripping disco to early houses heavy jack. Its as if this track invented the very sweetspots youre looking for; it probably did and you didnt even know it.

Metope - Braga/Breep (Areal)

Joakim - Lonely Hearts (Versatile)

Kotey Extra Band feat. Chaz Jankel - Sooner Or Later (Bear Funk)

Heartthrob vs. Troy Pierce / Gaiser vs. Heartthrob - MVS1 (M_nus)

DJ T - Lucky Bastard (Get Physical Music)

David Garcet - Redemption (Dirty Dancing)

Lazy Fat People - Pixelgirl EP (Planet E)

Claude VonStroke - The Whistler (Remixes) (Dirtybird)

Peter Chambers: I dont mean to suggest this is a cynical release, but this EP strikes me as being cheekily designed to achieve a certain response from a certain set of ears, to position itself as some of the stuff you hear in clubs.

Weekly Staff Charts
Beatzcast #26: Crambe Repetita

April 3, 2007

Metope - Braga/Breep

Metope was always the least melodically interesting artist on a label (his own!) full of buzzing beautiesAda has always been a skilled songwriter in Electribe drag, but even Basteroid and Konfekts trackiest moments were full of cloudbursts, breakdowns, and big hooks. But where Metopes tracks really shined was in their timbral richnessyou can tell this guy really, really loves the sounds of his machines, which works to the detriment of the song when it becomes a repetition-compulsion (or sounds like a beautifully tuned engine at idle, depending on your point of view).

But Areals colorful past seems to have faded, and the label, with the release of this EP, appears to be announcing a new, techier (trancier!) direction. Gone are the big melodies and tear-outs, replaced with more growling, buzzing, and swarming drones. Braga, the A-side, seems to be showing the transition between the Areal of old and the Areal of the new. But its Breep, the B-side, which really shows the new direction. Its trancey, but in the hypnotic sensetheres no moments of euphoric melodic resolution herethe only melodies sound like the cries of lemmings flung from the speeding mothership. Which is a good thing, trust me. When the cries of little critters sound this good, their deaths are not in vain.

Areal / Areal041
[Peter Chambers]

October 13, 2006

Metope - Kobox

In my opinion, Metope was always the least interesting artist on Areal. His tracks, while possessing the same Machinedrum and Nord barbarity as his label mates, never contained any satisfying melodic shapes or rhythmic structures, repeated too much and developed too little but hey, he runs Areal and gave Ada her break, so maybe I should do him the same favor. Sleeparchive has swarmed all over the originallike all his own recent productions, this mix is a fuzzfest, full of air and static. Increasingly, his techno seems to be utilizing distortion as a constant presence, like a sitars javari or a shamisens sawari. Theres something magical in his subtle understanding of drum machines and their resonances, and this cut, whilst hardly in dialogue with Metope, shows why he has a closer affinity than almost anyone else with his own circuits: he seems to be able to faithfully translate what the machines themselves want to say but cant. Adas mix displays her usual gift for melody and structureshe takes his track and turns it into a song. After all the intimations on her amazing Blondie album, I think its time for Ada to come right out of the pop closet and make a fully blown pop album. Basteroids contribution here is a real disappointment. Far from the tech-electroid perfection of Against Luftweiderstand or the fist-pumping rushes of Sympathy for Disruption or Sonnenbrilliant, this mix noodles around without focus, looping irritating sounds into an ungainly, annoying hodge-podge.

Areal / Areal039
[Peter Chambers]

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 ODonnell
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]

September 8, 2005

Metope - Kobol

For the first album of the big (read: other) three in the Areal stable, Metopes Kobol delivers exactly what you need. There are straight bangers (Superimbat, 33), Ada-styled mixtures of the sweetly melodic and industrial-tinged (Nashville, M1D1), and surprises (not surprises) (Im So Ready, Panicflute). And if youve got the vinyl version, that only leaves two tracks unaccounted for. Rest assured, theyre just as good as the others. I just havent been able to neatly slot them into some sort of naming convention quite yet (a good thing). A step up from their widely lauded, lackluster recent compilation, Metopes Kobol is sure to be overlooked, but doesnt deserve to be.

Areal / Areal033 / Arealcd5
[Todd Burns]

September 8, 2005

Konfekt - Quenge Liese / Rear Besen

Maybe its the haze of my youth, but didnt things used to be all roses for this label each time out? Listening back to their back catalogue the past few days, I can unequivocally say: Yes. For every 15 minutes of Ada perfection that was being dropped two years ago, it was sandwiched by aimless Undo/Redo jawns and brilliant/crap Metope 12s. The latter is what we have here on Konfekts latest outing Quenge Liese / Rear Besen. Quenge is the near-brilliant portion of the proceedings, reveling in Oizo analog bass farts that couch hardly lighter-tinged synth melodies that threaten to steamroll everything in their path. In typical Konfekt fashion, by the end of the track, you feel vaguely violated and satisfied. Never fear, however, for the comedown you can turn the vinyl over and have a short moment of cuddling before it happens all over again. This time, though, since youre a bit more prepared, youll find the returns a slight diminished.

Areal / Areal032
[Todd Burns]

July 7, 2005

Jeremy P. Caulfield - Scar City / Detached [05]

Scar City, coupled, with Caulfield’s Calvacade EP from late last year signals a run of great productions from this Canadian producer. The feel here is much the same. Deeply tech-y house music, pierced by glistening shards of broken-glass melody. Obviously and lovingly structured, you know exactly what you’re going to get when you pop on both “Flipper Kicker? and “Wreckroom,? the former being the sharper-edged of the duo. Recommended.

Also recommended is Caulfield’s recent mix CD: Detached [05], which sees the producer taking to the decks and crafting an incredibly smooth ride between the Wighnomy Brothers, Alex Smoke, Rocco Branco, Jeff Samuel, Metope, and assorted other artists. Impeccably mixed, the disc is a nice mix between young and old minimal music.

Dumb Unit / DU 022 / DU 020
[Todd Burns]

January 13, 2005

Metope - Libertango / Parallel To You

Taking cues from the nave charm of Adas off-kilter sampled sounds, Metope attempts to slide his own awkward notes to these two punishing tech-house monsters. While Libertango works better, mining a grinding out a living amid a few synthetic rays of hope, Parallel To You uses the same melodic presets to a much calmer effect, lulling you to sleep over its length. An unaccomplished 12, this ones more for the middle of the set, rather than peaks or valleys.

Areal / Areal027
[Todd Burns]