September 18, 2007

Supermayer - Save The World

Remember the supergroup? It was a big conceptual thing a few decades back, but it still pops up every now and again. Here’s how it usually worked: a bunch of high pedigree rockers would get together, proclaim that they really “dug each other’s music,” book a bunch of studio time, get stoned out of their gourds, and more often than not, release an album of half-baked ideas and poorly executed jams that proceeded to shift millions of units based solely on the reputation of the players. Sometimes the idea actually workedsee Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young and Derek & The Dominos. Sometimes it wouldn’tsee pretty much everyone else.

Diehard fans of the musicians in question usually lapped this stuff up, but somewhere in the back of their minds, they still felt somewhat let down more often than not. The problem was squarely on themtheir expectations were simply, inevitably too high. No matter how great one of these supergroups sounded on paper, they couldn’t possibly live up to that sort of hype on record. Blaming the musicians, on the other hand, was a futile exercise. After all, they just wanted to hang out with some friends, play some music, and enjoy themselves. Can you really blame them for that?

Which brings us to the case of Supermayer, a supergroup-style collaboration between two of Kompakt’s biggest names: Michael Mayer and Superpitcher. And while the collaboration has more in common with the above than notthis is nothing if not a “fun” recordthis is most certainly not a bad thing. If anything, Save the World is just the kind of project that Kompakt needed, given the (somewhat inexplicable) backlash the label has been taking of late. Too many have complained that Kompakt has taken to making records by numbers; Save the World is anything but your (stereo)typical Kompakt fare.

Just as the grooves of those ’70s albums are laden with artists just trying to have a good time and vibe with each other, so does Save the World exude a palatable sense of smiling, laughing musicians just having some fun and getting down, and most importantly, encouraging the listener to do so as well. Look no further than the first proper track on the album (after the spoken intro “Hey!”), “The Art of Letting Go”the lyric tells the story of the album in a simple idea: over a grooving bass, chunky guitar chords, and some decidedly un-Kompakt sounds (are those horns? Melodica perhaps?), the gauntlet is thrown, “Let’s get to it / Relax / Let me go.” This is a first-class party record, assembled by two of techno’s foremost minds, and if the instruction is followed, you’ll have just as good a time listening as they obviously did making it.

With their mission statement firmly established, Supermayer proceed to circle the universe, capes flying, in search of the magic note, and while they never quite find it, the thrill of discovery is clearly the intent for our heroes (there’s even a comic book insert). There’s atmospheric dancefloor techno, there’s some light techno pop, some swinging indie bouncers, there’s vocals, there’s ambient interludes, there’s horns, there’s even a fucking gong. “The Lonesome King” is Martin Denny in Ralf and Florian’s studio; “Please Sunrise” recalls 808 State and YMO; “Two of Us” is a classic floor-filler laden with peaks and valleys; closer “Cocktails for Two” is a late-night comedown complete with shag carpeting and a disco diva perched on the love seat waiting for an afterhours tumble. It’s a gloriously unorganized mess, but all of it is so lovingly and skillfully done that it sounds far closer to some sort of mad genius.

Save the World is not a work of high art like The Magic Flute and it’s certainly not a pretentious epic like Kid A. It lives in its own skin and its comfortable there. The key to saving the world according to Supermayer is simple: lose the pressure and enjoy things for what they are, not what you expect them to be. There is an art to letting go, and they seem to have mastered it here, at least as much as such a thing can be mastered. They might not have saved the world, but Supermayer might just have saved your next house party.

Kompakt / KOMPAKTCD 61
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


June 17, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 24

DeepChord - Vantage Isle (echospace [detroit])
Genre: Techno, Dub

Todd Hutlock: Vantage Isle is perfection for anyone looking for the logical successors to the Basic Channel throne, or just looking for something mellow for those steamy late summer nights.

Ame - Balandine (Innervisions)
Genre: Techno, Progressive/Trance

Gudrun Gut - In Pieces (Monika Enterprises)
Genre: Downtempo, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: If you’ve ever seen Michael Mayer do his dance behind the decks, the Burger/Voigt remix is, well…this is what the dance “sounds” like.

Audion - Noiser / Freds Bells (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

Nate DeYoung: Dears previous all-excess all-acid diet lead to the dreadful and desperate cul-de-sac of “how can I add even more?” With “Bells” and his recent string of songs, it sounds like he realized the question shouldve been “How can I make it sound like I’m adding even more?”

DJ Koze - All The Time (Philpot)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Argy - 1985 (Liebe Detail Spezial)
Genre: Minimal/Deep, House

Motorcitysoul - Kazan (Exit Cube) (Aus Music)
Genre: Electro-House, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: Classy gear for warming up cool-hearted floors.

Beatzcast #37: Crambe Repetita

Mike Powell talks to Gui Boratto

Thomas Inskeep’s bluffer’s guide to ’80s R&B

Mike Orme reviews Justice’s

Fergal OReilly takes on Burn Your Own Church by Black Strobe


June 12, 2007

Gudrun Gut - In Pieces

Nobody has old-school West Berliner coolsie cred like Gudrun Gut. The ex-Einstrzende Neubauten/Malaria member and current Monika label boss has finally released her debut solo album I Put A Record On, a gauzy/wonky/smoky fug of beats, breaths, and sweet nothings. It’s a treat, but it pales in comparison to this EP of remixes. In fact, for me the past while has nodded to 2007 being the “Year of the Remix EP”. Hmm. It’s a measure of how connected Gudrun is that she’s got not just one, or two, but three luminaries to remix her work. For the price of one piece of wax you get a Voigt/Burger remix, a Pole remix, and a Dntel remix.

Voigt and Burger straighten things out in inimitable Kln style, sticking a one-note piano sample from the original in between some dubby soundplanes, and then placing the vocal in the middle of the whole she-bang. It’s a dead-simple track, but punches above the weight of its elements with direct, emotive force. If you’ve ever seen Michael Mayer do his dance behind the decks (youtube it if you haven’t), this iswell, this is what the dance “sounds” like. Pole’s mix stays with the groove and feel of the original, but adds a farty bumble-bee synth note and some of that Polescape magic. But as accomplished as both of these mixes are, it’s the Dntel one thats the heartwinner. Layering lots of found/field sounds in the background, Tamborello brings Gudrun out of the haze and into the sunshine for something like an electronically rendered Breeders tune. Tender anthems, tracks, and insect vibrations it’s all here volks. Get it while the getting’s gut.

Monika Enterprises / MONIKA 54
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


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]


February 16, 2007

Audision - Jetlag

A download-only release from Russian imprint Between Us, Audision returns with more dubby, brooding melancholia that sounds like an outtake from the first quarter of Michael Mayers Immer mix. While the original is best suited for a headphone listen or perhaps to create atmosphere early on in a set, the remix by Pablo Bolivar pushes things down further down the filtered-down, Basic Channel path to enlightenment, also adding a bit more swing and animated drum programming to make it slightly more floor friendly. Recommended.

Between Us / BTWN 07
[Colin James Nagy]


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…)


September 8, 2006

Phantom/Ghost - Relax It’s Only a Ghost Versions

Is this some kind of German joke? So asked my significant other upon hearing the lyrics of the original from the next room. Relax, I said, its only Phantom/Ghost. Indeed, the lyrical content of Dirk Von Lowtzow and Thies Mynther is that strange mix of an incredibly earnest theme (love beyond death) delivered in casual, breezy English. Those who remember the climax of Michael Mayers masterful Immer mix will know the score. The effect here is something like Frankie goes to the tundra, sees a ghost, likes it, and takes it to bed. Heres a lyrical sample: Try to let it stay / Make it warm and say / Ectoplasmatic friends / Are well behaved. Hmm. For those of you who can relax and enjoy the oddball vocal, this EPs got a lot to offer, including remixes by the rising darkstars of Dial: Efdemin (here with Carsten Jost) and Pantha du Prince. Panthas mix is very much in the vein of his wonderful Lichten/Walden EP, but without quite the emotive force. The Efdemin/Jost version sounds much more Leaving the Frantic-era Sten, and is a nice mid-tempo tech-house track. Neither this nor the Pantha really manage to deal with the vocal properly though, and both might be better without it. The surprise winner here is the Raboisen mix, which sounds somewhere between Fennesz-esque digital fuzz (but tamed and taught to sing in 4/4) and Panthas older material. In fact, although its not directly credited, the vocal credits suggest this is a Pantha du Prince mix. Its great.

Ladomat / LADO 17187-0
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


August 25, 2006

Charts: August 25 2006

Guest chart: Pellarin
Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch [Rykodisc]
Depeche Mode - Precious (Michael Mayer Belearic Mix) [Mute]
Printer - Satisfaction [Unreleased]
Andre Kraml - Get Me Now [MySpace.com]
Gui Boratto - Like You (Supermayer Mix) [K2]
D?dsfald - Vs Sly [Unreleased]
Artful Dodger - Rewind [London Records]
Richard Davis - This Time [Kitty Yo]
Markus Nikolai - Bushes [Perlon]
Liebe Ist Cool - Hymn [Electric Avenue]

Todd Hutlock
Audion - Mouth to Mouth [Spectral Sound]
Battant - Jump Up [Firewire]
Ican - A Quien [Planet E]
Lima?on - Kunk [Intrinsic Design]
Justus K?hncke - Overhead [Kompakt]
Elektrabel - Bing [6277]
Adam Beyer - Stereotypes [Cocoon]
Claude Vonstroke - The Whistler [Dirtybird]
Hieroglyphic Being - Letters from the Edge [Mathematics]
Tortoise - Gamera [Duophonic]

Ronan Fitzgerald
Gus Gus - Mallflowers [Pineapple]
Sweet N Candy - Tacky Wakeup (Dominik Eulberg Mix) [Raum Musik]
Sleeper Thief - Chasing Rainbow [Mobilee]
Hug - Hearki [K2]
Claude Vonstroke - Beware of Bird [Dirtybird]

Michael F. Gill
Daybreak - Everybody Get Off [Prelude]
The Jammers - Be Mine Tonight [Salsoul]
Crazy Gang - Every Sunday [Bubble / Flexx]
Neuro - Mama [R&S]
Mara Branco, Julian Sandell, & Henry Cullen - Funky [4 X 4 Recordings]
Renato Figoli - Serontonin Smile [Gumption]
Dinky - Home on a Sunday [Horizontal]
Sweet N Candy - Nutty as a Fruitcake [Einmaleins Musik]
Luomo - Really Don?t Mind [Huume]
Akabu - Phuture Bound (?me Remix) [Z Records]


August 11, 2006

Interview: Amy Grill / Speaking In Code

Stylus and Beatz By the Pound are very excited to bring you an interview with sQuare Productions Amy Grill, director and producer of the upcoming techno documentary Speaking in Code.

So, Amy, youre making a movie about electronic music. Why?

Speaking in Code is a techno movie thats not really about techno. Its about people. It is a feature length character driven documentary that follows a global cast of underground electronic music writers, DJs, producers, and label heads as they survive and thrive in the digital age.

Within the indie electronic music community there are many compelling characters. By tracking these characters Speaking in Code discovers some very human truths about subculture, independence, DIY determination, risk, obsession, and eccentricity.

The music (and the minimal scene) is a colorful, captivating backdrop and binding force for several intersecting character driven storiesthe film has a narrative arc to it based on the life changes and exciting, even funny moments that happen over the course of the year and a half that we will have spent making the film and following these people.

There are a lot of electronic music documentaries out there that have attempted to do one of a few things: capture the spirit of rave culture, survey a specific genre of electronic music, engage the viewer in DJ worship and/or crazy laser light fascination, or make some kind of grand statement about the significance of electronic music, but this film is nothing like any of that.

We are interested in exploring personality, motivation, and getting beyond the surface-y, questions and answers. The film invites the viewer in to experience being thereat the club, in the studio, in a forest, climbing a hill on the way to see chalk mines, visiting moms in the suburbs, driving through a white-out snow storm, performing at a huge festival, entering the secret underground club or illegal party, and on and on. We have unprecedented access and we get very close with the main characters in the film.

We want to surprise people and perhaps change their minds about electronic music or at least open their minds and show them something they didnt expect. This movie isnt just for the techno heads, its for the hip old ladies who love character-driven art house documentaries too.

What about 2005/2006 strikes you as the right time for this sort of film?

A film like this could have been made 10 or 20 years ago and although some of the themes and characters would have a different tone and purposemany similarities would still exist.

There is something special about right now thoughfrom a big picture historical perspective we are seeing the effects of the digital age that make advanced communication and sound technology very accessible. This has strengthened the possibilities for independent music and subculture and our main characters are living proof.

From a more localized perspective on the minimal scene and our charactersover the last year or two minimal techno has arguably become the dominant sub-genre in techno and it has been fun to explore the personalities in the minimal scene and experience the musics rise in popularity vicariously through our characters. Of course, its difficult to even know what minimal really is: is it a sound, an aesthetic, a lifestyle, a hairstyle, a look, or all those things combined perhaps? Some of the characters cant even be described as minimal at all, but they are somehow minimal by association or connection to the minimal scene. Musings aside, I have to emphasize this is not the what is minimal techno? film. Im sure there is a DVD project like that on the way soon, but we arent the ones making it.

Where all have you traveled to get footage for the film?

Weve been all over: Montreal, San Francisco, New York, Boston (I live in Boston), Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Jena, Amsterdam, Miami

Most of the film has been shotwhat techno celebs can we expect in the final cut?

Well, weve shot 217 hours of footage since we began production in May of 2005 and we hope to cull all of that into a feature-length film, so I hesitate to list everyone at this point, but certainly you can expect to see a lot from these people:

Robert Henke aka Monolake (co-creator Ableton Live)
Modeselektor, Bpitch Control
Ellen Allien, Bpitch Control
Wighnomy Brothers, Freude-Am-Tanzen
Bryan Kasenic (minimal techno promoter in NY)
Jimmy Johnson (owner of Forced Exposure)
Philip Sherburne (writer, DJ)
David Day (Label Manager and Marketing Director at Forced Exposure, DJ, writer, promoter)
Mike Uzzi aka Smartypants, Unlocked Groove
Dan Paluska aka Six Million Dollar Dan, Unlocked Groove
Tobias Thomas, Kompakt
David Prince, M3 Summit

Interviews / Appearances (it remains to be seen whether or not all of these people will make the final cut and we have interviewed many more people not included in this list to help us round out the story):/p>

Akufen
Deadbeat
Apparat
Wolfgang Voigt
Michael Mayer
Reinhard Voigt
The MFA
James Holden
Superpitcher
Isolee
Luomo
Anja Schnieder
Richie Hawtin
The Juan Maclean

Any surprising anecdotes that you can share with us (Vitalic actually is a robot, etc.)?

Too many stories to even tell. The whole film is like one big surprising anecdote, but a surprising anecdote with a point. ;)

What kind of role has Philip Sherburne played?

Philip is a character in the movie, and as a co-producer he has been part tour guide, advisor, consultant, and friend throughout the entire process.

Tell me about financing something like thiswhat sources are you relying on to keep it going?

Plastic, lots of plastic (as in credit cards) and a handful of small private investors and a community of online supportersalthough we are nearing the end of our credit limits and this last Europe trip tapped most of the small investments. So we are now really relying on grassroots fundraising online and also an upcoming benefit/screening/art party/happening here in Boston on August 26 at the sQuareone studio space in Fort Point / South Boston (New Englands oldest and largest artist community). We want to stay away from corporate sponsorship, so we are hoping that people who want to see the film made will help us make it. Anyone can donate any amount on our websitewe are offering screen credit in the film for any donation of $50 or more. The grassroots efforts are to make the film mirror the DIY attitudes youll see in the documentary.

We are also seeking a film producer to help us cultivate prospective investors and help manage the business end of the filmand most importantly we are looking for investorsbig and small.

We need another 25K in the very immediate future to finish production in the fall (Camera and equipment rentals, bus/train/plane tickets, gas, tape stock, the Director of Photographys day rate) and also to purchase a G5 and enough drive storage (several terabytes) to be able to cut the film. We are currently hobbling along with my laptop and a few Lacie Hard Drives. We also need to be able to pay an assistant editor to log the tapes.

It isnt cheap making a filmespecially when the locations are all over the world even if we eat on the cheap and stay with friends when we can. And, now Scott (our Director of Photography) is paidhe volunteered for a full year, but it is important to start paying him. Fortunately the most expensive part of the production is out of the waywe can see the light at the end of the tunnelwe just need a little more funding to get through the last few months of production and post production.

By May 2007. Then begins the festival circuit and search for distribution. We would like to see the film get international and domestic theatrical distribution, some broadcast play abroad, and a DVD release toowith lots of extras for the collector type.

Related Links
sQuare Productions
Speaking in Code @ MySpace
Photos from Speaking in Codes Production
Contribute to sQuare Productions [Todd Burns]


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