November 10, 2006

Charts: November 10 2006

Guest Chart: Mathias Schaffhauser, Ware

Ricardo Villalobos – Unflug / Good Groove & Yapacc Remix [Frisbee Tracks]
Bond & Blome – Tentacular [Sender]
Five Green Circle – Ochim EP [Meerestief]
NDKJ – Pimp / from „Put It Where You Want It EP“ [Maschine]
Oliver Koletzki – Follow Up / Kiki Remix [Stil vor Talent]
V.A. – Mobilée Remix Series Vol. 4 / Daniel Stefanik Remix [Mobilée]
Agnès – Is She He [Einmaleinsmusik]
Garnica – The Lucky Guy [Galaktika ] – Panakia EP [Ware]
Mathias Schaffhäuser vs. V.A. – RE:2 / Vinyl Selection [Multicolor]

Mallory O’Donnell
Greg Wilson - Chocolate Factor [Redux]
Alice Smith - Love Endevour (Maurice Fulton Remix) [BBE]
Sessomatto - Movin’ On (Joey Negro Remixes) [Z Records]
Tantra - The Double LP [Importe/12]
V/A - El Mejor Italo-Disco De Los 80’s [Contrasena]
Skatebård - Midnight Magic [Digitalo Enterprises]
Matt & Kim - Matt & Kim [IHEARTCOMIX]
Blowfly - Blowfly’s Disco Party [Weird World]

Michael F. Gill
Alan Banford - Delanox [F1]
Pheek - Magda Had A Little Troll ([a]pendics.shuffle remix) [Clever Music]
Freddie Mercury - Love Kills (More Order Rework By The Glimmers) [Parlophone]
John Dahlback - My Secret [Acid 80 Italy]
Jetone - Sufraise II [Apnea]
Arpanet - Event Horizon (Instrumental) [Record Makers]
Umwelt - Kiss In The Dark [Satamile Records]
Das Kraftfuttermischwerk - Monotonism [Tendenzen Freier Entfaltung]
Rekleiner - Sideways [Catwash Records]
Phase - Espresso [Ingoma]

September 15, 2006

Label Profile: Elettronica Romana


There have been more than a couple reviews of Elettronica Romana releases that describe the label’s sound as “intelligent techno.” As much as my knee-jerk response is to shun, shudder and/or scream at such terminology, the tag might still be at the very least pointing in the right direction. What’s missing, though, is the velocity. The one consistency of the label through the high-end of Giorgio Gigli’s trance inflections to the low-end of Maurizio Cascella & Joe Casagrande’s dub marches, is how each single becomes utterly cerebral. But as far as descriptions, cerebral is definitely not precise enough. Founded under foundations of arpeggiated analog synths, Elettronica Romana’s discography reveals a roster of artists willing to hypnotically bridge the divide between a caress and a shove.

Although the label’s blurb of a biography pinpoints its origins to Remix, a famous record store in Rome, it also leaves out just enough for a little free-form techno bollocks mythology to maneuver. Sure, Donato Dozzy has bounced around with Berlin labels like Lan Muzik and Orange Groove, but he’s an exception to the rule. Both Modern Heads and Giorgio Gigli have blossomed primarily on Elettronica Romana. Their contributions have given the label a novel spaced-out form of trance that’s alien to current cinematic stabs found on the Border Community label or other under-currents that are polyrhythmically bouncing around Berlin. With eight releases in the past two years and three currently in tow, Elettronica Romana has culled together a very strong base to a sound that’s bound to go further into the black hole of “more deep/space/trance.”

Key Releases

Giorgio Gigli - Geometrik Forms EP [e.r. 002]
From the first kick-drum, it’s apparent that the Geometrik Forms EP chugs along with a complete disregard of pit stops. Gigli’s endurance is fuelled by a healthy dose of Kraut- the EP’s two sides take all the vibrant atmospheric arpeggios of trance, discard the anthemic traps, and then coast into a hypnotic stretch of motorik rhythm.

Donato Dozzy & Brando Lupi - Destination: Eskimo EP [e.r. 003]
Hypothesizing a mash-up of Monoton and your favorite Italo-disco track, the first part of this single (done solo by Dozzy) could birth a new bastard genre: claustro-disco. Following the famous German group’s predilection for huge analog synthesizers, Dozzy might want to consider renaming his instrument the Seekrank synth; the track’s arpeggiated line wobbles in disorienting extremes, leaving many hunched over the side as the ship presses onward.

Modern Heads - Paper Toys EP [e.r. 008]
Paper Toys’ final track, “Puzzle” might find the group sculpting the airy expanse usually reserved to DJ jet setters like the Wighnomy Brothers, but the rest of the EP’s path is far more grounded. Perhaps even underground, as “Cartoon” burrows into the paradox of being equally antiseptic and damp, and “Toy” applies both vantages, using and leaving micro-house in the dust.

[Nate DeYoung]

August 25, 2006

Treplec - The Moon Doesn’t Exist

If minimal (or mnml) means as little as possible, Luciano’s bastard offspring have by and large offered an interpretation which changed the formula to: “As little as possible, for as long as possible.” That’s fine, provided you’ve got (no) ears. Listen very closely to Luciano’s tracks, or go back the formative works of this sub-genre such as Voigt’s “Studio Eins,” Vainio’s “Sähkö” releases or any of the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction records and listen: it’s music where almost nothing happens, but that little something is everything. It doesn’t seem to be a lesson that Treplec have learned, and to these ears, four ideas over twenty five minutes doesn’t cut the earwax unless they’re far more compelling than those being pimped here. Am I the only one sick of endless soft synths, compressed bass drums and punctuations of squiggly sound FX? Is that really satisfying any of you out there? “Orsi Schreck” begins promisingly with a haunting, Satie-ish piano line, which it begins to warp and fuck up. It’s the best minute of the track, the other fourteen are taken up with a monotonous percussion workout that’s perfectly functional but utterly unexciting. The title track is more interesting, weaving a “spooky” guitar ditty around a drum kick and some more squiggly noises. It’s reminiscent of some of the earliest Areal releases, but without the mentalist sense of invention. All in all, a great example of everything that’s dull and lifeless about B-grade minimal in 2006.

Philpot / PHP 018
[Peter Chambers]

June 16, 2006

Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - Relevee


Cameron Macdonald: “Relevee” was the only song that went somewhere on Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom’s overrated, astrokraut homage, The Days of Mars. Their repetitious analog synth melodies orbited the earth for 13 minutes in a strong lysergic haze. On this EP, two techno icons further explore that melancholy. Carl Craig saturates the melody in a thick, acid-electro texture, and then stares at his hands for four minutes until he finally drops a mid-tempo bass kick. The spaceship later lands in Renaissance Harlem—a piano jazz solo peeks at the machine down from its bedroom window. It’s a refreshing surprise that is sorely lacking in UK acid pioneer Baby Ford’s remix. He breaks down “Relevee” and loops it into a droning tribal rhythm that is too monotonous and dull to justify its ten-minute run-time. And then there is the DFA crew who would rather pass out on a Paradise Garage bathroom floor than test the weightlessness of screws in a space shuttle. They deliver the best DFA remix I’ve heard in years, relaying sweaty disco percussion with the carnal intoxication of house. The remix is completely unfaithful to “Relevee,” but stands eight miles above Craig and Ford.

Cameron Octigan: Two great things: First, the remixes presented have little, if anything at all, to do with the original track, “Relevee.” Secondly, fucking Carl Craig did a remix (more on that in a minute). The Baby Ford remix leaves everything to the imagination by stripping nearly everything away from the song and inserting a beat that just makes me say, “Oh, IDM.” And then there is the Carl Craig remix, which has had more a more pervasive buzz surrounding its release than perhaps any other record this year. Although there is something to be said for the way that the dreaminess of the original melds with Craig’s own spacey, blissed-out productions, it seems that the allure of this track is the fact that it really is a Carl Craig and DFA collaboration. In fact, that Craig has collaborated at all with a label that gained notoriety with bands like The Rapture is, if I may say so, pretty fucking cool. The track amounts to this: two minutes of arpeggios, a few more minutes of layered groove, followed by a piano interlude. However, I prefer my Detroit a little more Detroit, and Craig has done much more interesting work. The saving grace of this release is the anthemic, Chicago inspired DFA remix. Black Leotard Front fans may notice the similarities between “Casual Friday” and this mix of “Relevee,” but it’s the 99-Records-for-a-new-millenium percussion that has an even stronger presence. The subtle introduction of a clean piano sound makes it abundantly clear that James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy have some tricks left in their bag.

DFA / dfaemiwl 5159

April 10, 2006

Motor - Klunk

The CVs of the duo who comprise Motor, Mr. No (Olivier Grasset) and Bryan Black, includes programming for Prince at Paisley Park, multiple collaborations with Felix Da Housecat, and membership in the City Rockers/International Deejay Gigolos group XLover. From this you might expect Motor’s LP to be splashy, trashy post-electroclash fun but the record’s appearance on Novamute should disabuse you of that notion. Motor is electroid techno stripped-to-the-bone, flayed-raw, and then pumped up with the cartoon machismo of EBM, especially on the vocal tracks, one of which goes so far as to feature Douglas McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb. “Sweatbox” is a bass heavy acid line, reverbed out biscuit tin snare tattoos, a kick drum, and little else. The grubby arpeggios of “Black Powder” threaten to break under their own weight as they become increasingly distorted and twisted. On “Botox,” programmed rock drums flange into the ether whilst bit-crushed guitar-substitutes brings in pretty much the only high end on the album. A little too monotone, low-end obsessed, and one-dimensionally sleazy to convince over the full hour (“Hey man, have you got any gak?” asks the track “Yak,” like the punchline to a 2003 Popbitch mailout) but in small doses, and at high volume, this is invigorating.

Novamute / 170
[Patrick McNally]

March 10, 2006

Monoton - Monotonprodukt07

If an inclusion into The Wire’s list of “100 records that set the world on fire (when no one was listening)” means an automatic spot in permanent obscurity, it does also give Monotonprodukt07 a free pass to avant-garde legitimatization in the same broad-stroke. Such obscurity also breeds a reputation for Konrad Becker’s masterpiece into a cultish following. A following that I fell entrapped by when critic Matthew Ingram not only called the record “the square root of Basic Channel, Kompakt and Oval” but also “a very strong candidate for the most important record of the last 30 years”—seemingly hyperbolic statements that both piqued interest and skepticism. But even after my initial pair of spins, I knew I couldn’t refuse.

With Monoton’s constant pulses of arpeggiating analog synths stringing together much of Monotonprodukt07, the album has an uncanny sense of sterility and rigidity that is not only furthered by Becker’s interests in mathematics and sound, but also as a metaphor running through the song titles (ie. “Soundsequence” & “Root of 1=1”). But there’s a tactile expanse that belies a merely frigid barren; echoes, drones, and fat dubbed oceanic waves of analog sound complicate the strictly dystopic tone of the tracks. Becker’s intention of an “integrated sound massage” certainly comes across with the sensuous drones of “New” and acid-tinged pounding of “Where Am I?” Littering the sheen of the underpinned rhythms with trance-inducing murmurs, Becker’s vocals float in and out from ether, sounding less like mere disembodied voices than full-on séances. Rather than just an ominous tone throughout, there’s a variety of trance-states that each track achieves, from the motorik-lite of “Root of 1=1” to Becker’s curiously nonchalant chant of “a fish in water thirsty” in “Wasser.”

While easier to trace paths back to Monotonprodukt’s influence on minimal techno, with the austere chic of Richie Hawtin and the label Sahko as the first of many strains to spring to mind, it becomes profoundly more difficult to explain why this didn’t “set the world on fire” itself in its time. Perhaps the album’s trance-like meditations transferred directly to its reception, with it spurning an interest that is more a fixation than an explosion. But Monotonprodukt07 is a fixation that haunts, not aging a day since it was first released—instead caressing and completely disregarding the effects of time itself. The re-release of the album sound especially impacting with a nice digital re-mastering for CD in 2003, retitled Monoproduckt07 20y++.

Monoton / Monotonprodukt 07
[Nate DeYoung]