September 21, 2007

Ricardo Villalobos - Fabric 36

Fabric 36—announced years ago—has become the venerated mix series’ most anticipated disc. But in the announcement, Ricardo slipped in that he “prefers for it to be treated like a normal mix CD, with no hype.” Sure. Right. But, then again, take a quick listen to it: because despite the inevitable hype and a cover only a goth could love, Fabric 36 sounds almost carefree enough to actually live up to his modest hopes.

There’s been no lack of swipes at Ricardo Villalobos’ self-indulgence (cue this review’s gratuitous mention of Fizheuer Zieheuer), but Villalobos may be trying to save “self-indulgence” from derogatory connotations one release at a time. In his latest, what’s difficult to miss isn’t that he scraps the DJ mix as an outpouring of free publicity (for other artists) but that the mix is the rare modern entity that forces you to listen to an album as a whole. Fabric 36 has highlights but no singles—a series of tracks with only one order. And as imposing as that sounds, it only becomes an obvious fact when you try to listen to parts outside the mix itself.

Thankfully, it’s easy to get lost in the actual mix of the CD. There’s a lightness of touch throughout, leaving sections where Villalobos can transition from the introductory yelps of “Farenzer House” into the taut bass stabs of “Mecker” without batting an eye. In the midst of that section, there’s also a nudging synthpad that fleshes itself out five minutes later in the anthemic pop-rush of “4 Wheel Drive.” With Fabric 36, Villalobos has refined the volatile tangents of “Achso”—tracks are just as rambunctious and twisting, but also ebb with a purpose and destination.

That’s also a pretty apt description for this year’s earlier “album-mix” from False. But 2007, despite its breadth of textures, sounds one-note compared to the variety of rhythm and idiosyncrasies here. If 2007 was busy stumbling and scraping itself on concrete sidewalks, then Fabric 36 is a drunken party-host that introduces herself as “Moist.” And she’s not alone on the album’s centerpiece, “Andruic & Japan.” Accompanied by a personal Japanese drummer who blows his nose through a harmonica, she spouts anecdotes (about marriage, dead chickens, etc.) to either invisible guests or to herself—it depends on how demented you think she is.

Either way, she, like Villalobos, doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously here. Ricardo doesn’t ham it up on Fabric 36, but with tracks like the joyful splinter of “You Won’t Tell Me” and the celebratory finale of “Premier Encuentro Latino-Americano,” he sounds all but ready to throw away his cultivated mystique for something a little more pleasurable. And I’m still ready to indulge him a little more.

Fabric / FABRIC 71
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


September 9, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Weeks 33, 34, & 35

Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 01
Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 02
Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 03

Pikaya - Cambrium (Cadenza)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: This is not house so much as the ivy that clings to it.

Will Saul & Lee Jones - Hug the Scary
(Aus Music)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Electro-House

Charts: August 23 2007

Gavin Mueller’s guide to Ghettotech

Future Loop Foundation - The Sea and the Sky (Louisiana Recordings)
Genre: House, Neo-Disco

Osborne - Outta Sight (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Acid, House

Nate DeYoung: If we’re heading into the last days of summer, then by all means let it be soundtracked by shimmering piano-house.

Brendon Moeller - Jazz Space (Third Ear)
Genre: Techno, Dub

False - False (M_nus)
Genre: Minimal/Deep

Andy Stott - Fear of Heights
(Modern Love)
Genre: Dub, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: As a child, I used to build my Lego castles as per the instructions, but only the first time. The subsequent re-builds would slowly deviate, riffing around the structures of the original but adding, subtracting and supplementing elements, to the point where my later creations were unrecognisable as mutants of the original.

Tobias Thomas - Please Please Please (Kompakt)
Kaito - Contact to the Spirits (Kompakt)

Nina Phillips: Thomas is too busy crafting to see the dancers looking back at him from the floor. No wonder this was mixed live—in an empty dance club in Cologne.

V/A - Grand Cru 2007 (Connaisseur)
V/A - Rekids One (Rekids)

Nina Phillips: If you build bangers, they will come.


Wiley - Playtime Is Over
(Big Dada)

Chris Gaerig: Playtime Is Over proves that Wiley truly does run the grime game. Hell, he’s the only one left.

Arsenal - The Coming (Idjut Boys Mixes) (Play Out!)
Genre: Downtempo, Balearic

Beatzcast #47: Crambe Repetita

Deepchord Presents Echospace - The Coldest Season (Modern Love)
Genre: Dub, Techno

Todd Hutlock: Basic Channel effectively invented the wheel of this genre, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t admire the latest models to roll off the modern assembly line.


September 7, 2007

Deepchord Presents Echospace - The Coldest Season

2007CD/AlbumTechnoDub

Dub techno is a bit of a challenging listen, much in the same way, say, free jazz is. On first listen, the genres are practically opposites, but in approach and execution, they are remarkably similar—it isn’t about the melodies, it’s about the sounds and the feelings. The “challenge” in free jazz is to follow all the different parts down their winding paths and to see the craft and invention in its rendering. The “challenge” in dub techno is the opposite, to find the excitement and movement in what at first sounds like a static and unmoving piece.

Since dub techno was pioneered by the Basic Channel camp in the early ’90s, casual listeners might not even have noticed much progression—after all, the template is basically the same concoction of deep, muted, echoing chords, subsonic bass lines, compressed hi-hats, and lots of tape hiss—and much the way that Ornette Coleman might sound just like Anthony Braxton to the untrained ear, so might Maurizio sound just like Thomas Brinkmann. Dig a little deeper into either genre, however, and the subtleties and nuances become more and more apparent, and one’s appreciation deepens. The devil may be in the details, but so are the thrills.

Detroit native Rod “Deepchord” Modell—he and Chicagoan Steven “Soultek” Hitchell are partners in Echospace, also a label—has been operating as a shadowy entity for some time now, unleashing limited-run singles over the years that fetch crazy sums on eBay. Now with this, their highest profile and best-distributed release to date, the pair have stepped up and released their masterwork. Judged on its own merits, The Coldest Season should stand as one of the best electronic releases of the year, and one of the best dub techno releases in the last decade.

Certainly, one can appreciate the music here on strictly a background level. The album definitely conjures a mood, and played at a low level, it creates a suitably laid-back, chilled atmosphere—downright icy, in fact. The beats don’t kick in on opener “First Point of Aries” until well past the three-minute mark, giving the swirling, hissing synths plenty of time to work up some steam (or frost, if you will). The tracks tumble and roll into each other through the entire first half of the album, each track morphing into the next, but distinct in themselves, and listening to these transitions, admiring the little differences from track to track, is half the fun of the dub techno experience. “Ocean of Emptiness” is nearly 12 minutes of beatless space; “Celestialis” is a shuffling, almost funky drive through the big city at night. Tiny trails of melody drift, barely audible, through “Sunset,” while “Elysian” ups the percussion and twists and turns the mix actively throughout its, almost aggressive. The biggest and best thrills are saved for last, however, as the closer “Empyrean” is the most inventive and downright catchy thing here, with a percolating rhythm track, spooked-out organ stabs, and a truly inspiring drop out. If anything here makes you leap for the repeat button, it’s this. Otherwise, just playing the entire album on a loop will do just fine, thanks.

With all this in mind, anyone going into The Coldest Season expecting some sort of radical departure from the dub techno style that has proceeded it will likely be disappointed. Basic Channel effectively invented the wheel of this genre, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t admire the latest models to roll off the modern assembly line. There are enough new wrinkles and, yes, thrills here to appeal to devotees and newbies alike.

Modern Love / LOVE 33CD
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


September 4, 2007

Andy Stott - Fear of Heights

200712"DubMinimal/Deep

Aside from relentless bleakness and a highly developed sense of minute sound-design, the hallmark of Andy Stott’s music is its continual restructuring. As a child, I used to build my Lego castles as per the instructions, but only the first time. The subsequent re-builds would slowly deviate, riffing around the structures of the original but adding, subtracting and supplementing elements, to the point where my later creations were unrecognisable as mutants of the original. I don’t mean to give myself airs by saying “I once owned a castle” or that my childish re-builds were in any way as creative as Stott’s music. I mention this to emphasise that, perhaps more than any other contemporary techno artist, Stott has mastered modularity with a playful, seemingly effortless ability to build completely novel structures into every track, despite the fact that each one is made out of similar sounds.

“Fear of Heights” takes the woofer-busting bass from “Handle with Care” and throws it over a new rhythm, with sharp, reverbed hats and a haunting melody where the rising call of one synth is met by the reedy fall of the other. It’s mind is Mancunian gloom, but the physical parts are precious high-gloss Dial darkness. “Made your Point” follows the rhythmic template of Claro Intelecto’s Warehouse Sessions, but, as is the norm now, the “student” outdoes the master, playfully rendering the Modern Love sound several shades darker in colour and lighter in touch. Again, the bassline is massive – this one rumbles just below the reach of small speakers, only to come humming out of a large system like the sudden presence of a heretofore un-named ghost.

Modern Love / LOVE 37
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


August 22, 2007

Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 03

Mixes2007

VARIOUS ARTISTS - FREESTYLE ESSENTIALS 03
Mixed by Michael F. Gill

It’s not that there weren’t big freestyle singles during the first few years of the ‘90s. It’s that the majority of what was being produced wasn’t moving beyond the established template. The closest freestyle got to progressing was by adding more house rhythms and modern sounding hip-hop loops into the mix.

01. TKA - Maria - Tommy Boy Music 1992
02. Sa-Fire - Don’t Break My Heart - Cutting Records 1986
03. Jaya - If You Leave Me Now - Lefrak-Moelis Records 1989
04. Cynthia & Johnny O - Dreamboy/Dreamgirl - MicMac Records 1990
05. Lil’ Suzy - Take Me In Your Arms - High Power Records 1991
06. Collage - I’ll Be Loving You - Viper 7 Records 1993
07. Laissez Faire - In Paradise - Metropolitan Recording Corporation 1992
08. TKA - Louder Than Love - Tommy Boy Music 1990
09. Cynthia - Change On Me - MicMac Records 1989
10. Judy Torres - Love you, Will You Love Me - Profile Records 1989
11. George Lamond - Without You - Columbia 1989
12. George Lamond - Bad Of The Heart - Columbia 1990
13. George Lamond - Where Does That Leave Love - Columbia 1992
14. Lisette Melendez - Together Forever - Columbia 1990
15. Corina - Temptation - ATCO/Cutting 1991
16. Two Without Hats - 3 On The Mic - MicMac Records 1991
17. Rockell - In A Dream - Robbins Entertainment 1997
18. Jocelyn Enriquez - Do You Miss Me - Classified Records 1996


July 13, 2007

Charts: July 13 2007

Nate DeYoung

Lee Douglas - New York Story [Rong]
Strategy - Future Rock [Kranky]
Social Being - Free Your Mind [Tuning Spork]
Roisin Murphy - Overpowered [EMI]
Von Sudenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions [Domino]
V/A - This is Rong Music [Rong]
Ada - Hensel & Damsel [Cereal/Killers]
The Martinez Brothers - My Rendition [Objecktivity]
Kocky - Tricks [La Vida Locash]

Michael F. Gill

Asa-Chang & Junray - Jun Ray Song Chang [Leaf]
DeepChord Presents: Echospace – Empyrean [Modern Love]
A Guy Called Gerald - Sweet You [Laboratory Instinct]
Ida Engberg - Disco Volante (Hugg and Pepp Remix) [Pickadoll Records]
D1 - Mind + Soul [Tempa]
Rednose Distrikt Feat. Benny Sings and Die Bend - Maaitiemaai [Kindred Spirits]
For The Floorz - Body Angels [We Rock Music]
Freemasons - Love On My Mind [Loaded Records]
Arnie Love and The Loveletts - We’ve Had Enough [Tap Records]
Fleetwood Mac - You Make Lovin’ Fun (Trailmix Remix) [Synergize Communications]


July 1, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 26

Portable - Don’t Give Up (Remixes) [Sud Electronic]
Genre: Minimal/Deep

Turzi - Seven Inch Allah (Record Makers)
Genre: Indie-Dance, Leftifeld

Nick Sylvester: Three pretty different tracks from this French act, though they all could have ended up on Optimo’s Psyche Out cosmic/dance/kraut mix from two years ago had they existed then.

Andy Stott - The Massacre (Modern Love)
Genre: Dub, Techno

Underground Resistance - Electronic Warfare 2.0 (Underground Resistance)
Genre: Detroit, Techno

Todd Hutlock: I’m a pretty mild-mannered dude, but this shit made me want to punch some oppressive fucker in the face! Uh!

Andomat 3000 and Jan - L Delay (Cadenza)
Genre: Minimal/Deep, House

Peter Chambers: If you’ve a troublesome vocal to mix out of, this rather plain track could save your fretting DJ ass.

Various Artists - 4 Season Sampler, Volume 1 (Jet Set Records)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Downtempo

Studio - Life’s a Beach! (Remixes) (Information)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Balearic

Peter Chambers: Oddly similar, the two mixes here are sun and moon to each other.

Weekly Staff Charts

Beatzcast #39: Crambe Repetita

Nick Southall reviews Rushup Edge by The Tuss, on Rephlex Records.

Ben Good’s take on Adapt by Milanese, new on Planet Mu.


June 26, 2007

Andy Stott - The Massacre

200712"TechnoDub

We live in the time of “dodgy rips” that clip and fudge your precious music. Crap, flat, dead sounding mp3s might well be the key reason that gets all you tune-filching Oinkers back into the shops to buy music that sounds as it was meant to. My previous experience of Pantha du Prince’s This Bliss was blighted by bitrates of only 128kbps, a reminder of just how crap mp3s were/are, and how much you really do miss out on by not listening to a prime source (or at least a high quality rip).

So it was (do I confess to much?) with my recent copy of Andy Stott’s EP The Massacre – a pre-release purloin, the codec kept coughing and spluttering all over a bassline that was simply too fat to chew on without choking. I ordered the vinyl the next day, and haven’t looked back. Stott’s recent work has brought in greater and deeper bass, to the point where a wooferless recital is only half the goodness, at most. “Unknown Exception” makes my headphones quiver on their headband, sending rippling buzz down the cable. Inside the can it’s a different matter, as the delicacy that Stott always fixes in high contrast to the threatening brutality of the deep below plays itself out. It’s extremely hard to believe this guy’s only been making music for a couple of years, and that he’s Claro’s “apprentice”.

“The Massacre”, the B, takes a burbling drum machine pattern then puts a very Moritz-y melody over it, sending it forth into the never-never with another huge bassline. The closer on Efdemin’s recent (and exceptional) RA podcast, this track is the definition of deep, the soul of techno laid bare. The outro is exceptional, as tiny amounts of delay are added to the basic percussive pattern until it skips into itself, just as the bassline sidles up underneath, then pulls back, then returns, then fades back down. Ahhh. Listen closely and you can hear each element modulating slowly and inter-acting – nothing has been allowed to “just loop”: everything has been considered and placed perfectly in the mix, each part plays with every other. Rarely is techno so subtly or skilfully written.

Modern Love / LOVE 035
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


May 13, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 19

Pepe Bradock - Rhapsody in Pain (Atavisme)
Genre: Leftfield

Peter Chambers: You’re not going to have a lukewarm reaction to this composition—I love it, but that might be a reflection of my overdeveloped sense of the ridiculous. I’m so happy people are making fearlessly individual, expressive music like this, experimenting with the idiom of groove to make something perverted, perverting—yet still funky.

Ilya Santana - Discotized (Permanent Vacation)
Genre: Neo-Disco

Force of Nature - Sequencer / Afroshock (Mule Musiq / Headinghome Records)
Genre: Neo-Disco

Nate DeYoung: It takes a grown man to acknowledge when he goes out of his way to find dishwashing music and this time—like always—Force of Nature’s “Afroshock (Broken Rule Mix)” just fell on my lap.

Toby Tobias - Dave’s Sex Bits (Rekids)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Balearic

Shed - Remixes In Four Parts 2 (Soloaction)
Genre: Techno, Detroit

Oliver $ - Hotflash Vol 2 (Grand Petrol)
Genre: Electro-House

Nick Sylvester: When [Oliver] grooves for a few seconds on a hiccup of filterhouse, I suddenly remember how infuriating glitch can get. I want that hiccup to last forever, a hiccup that comprises the best moment on the whole twelve-inch, but Oliver’s already moved on.

Baby Ford / Benno Blome - Smoke Machine (Sender)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Passions - Emergency (Kitsune)
Genre: Indie-Dance

Move D - Ac1D (Modern Love)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

Weekly Staff Charts
Beatzcast #32: Crambe Repetita

Nina Phillips reviews MIA’s Bittersüss

Michael F. Gill talks about the process of a creating a DJ mix on Modyfier


May 11, 2007

Charts: May 11 2007

Mallory O’Donnell
Soft Cell - This Last Night in Sodom [Some Bizarre]
Mysterymen - Everything But an Answer [Disko B]
Brian Eno - Ali Click [Warner]
Meat Glove - Meat Glove EP [Hardwood Floor]
Sneak Thief - G-String Orchestra EP [Klakson]
Ilya Santana - Discotized [Permanent Vacation]
John Cale - All My Friends [EMI]
Move D - AC1D [Modern Love]
Doug Lazy - H.O.U.S.E. [Atlantic]
Junior Boys - In the Morning (Hot Chip Remix) [Domino]

Michael F. Gill
Voice Farm - Elevate [Systematic Records]
Asha Puthli - Right Down Here [Columbia]
Willow Band - Willowman [Epic]
Company B - Fascinated [Atlantic]
Tumblack - Caraiba [Island]
Marlow & Delhia - Movin’ (Marlow’s Movin Bassline Mix) [Moon Harbour Recordings]
Kelley Polar - Rosenband (Instrumental) [Environ]
John Daly - Sky Dive [Plak Records]
Burial - Unite [Soul Jazz]
Solomun & Stimming - Eiszauberv [Diynamic]


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