May 1, 2007

Junior Boys - Dead Horse EP


A lot of people might say that the remix is nothing new—and in a sense, they’re right. But what is new is the emphasis, and the excitement. Where in the “old days” a remix was a way of disco-nizing a pop hit or letting the studio heads show off their skills, these days, the remixes are often not only more anticipated (and fascinating when they do drop), but also a way of establishing connections between talented artists, and showing the points of condensation and digression among and between various mutations of music. Hot Chip (and the Knife, with less success) have grasped this shift in the logic of (re) release and presentation, driving completists mad with a vast array of remixes, many of which are offered with multiple colours on the cover art. Junior Boys were always the third in the holy trinity of highly rated electro-pop releases last year, but unlike the Knife and the ‘Chip, this is only the Boys second remix EP, after 2006 gave us Smoke’s beautifully calming mix of “In the Morning” and Morgan Geist’s disappointing crack at “The Equalizer.” But here—wow, talk about big guns… oh no, did somebody say zeitgeist again?! Carl Craig, Kode 9, and Hot Chip all on the one piece of wax. So? What’s it like, you ask?

Well, fantastic, in a word. Fantastic, with a big “but” (I’ll get to that). Hot Chip pull out all the stops here for a typically heart-strings yanking electro-pop anthem, adding (as they often do on their remixes) their own new lyrics over the top. The vocal harmonies of the original become a background choir, and in the front is a big, fat, and warm rave synth that drives the mix along. Like their wonderful version of Steve Malkmus’ “Kindling for the Master,” the group manages to not only add, subtract, or re-arrange, but to multiply the songs melodic elements into something wonderful, touching, and entirely new. Marsen Jules’ pop-ambient offering (for obvious reasons the least in-your-face of the bunch) is likewise a transformative effort that brings the original’s vocals close to some of the work on Panda Bear’s great new album Person Pitch, with its own heart-on-sleeve remembrance of beaches and boys of yore.

Carl Craig’s re-work reduces in order to enlarge (for the big room), turning “Like a Child” into “Like a Bad Weekend.” It’s too easy a criticism to say “it’s too long,” but there’s something not “un” but undersatisfying about the track here. It’s definitely Carl Craig, but by the book, if not by numbers. There’s no button being pushed here that hasn’t been pushed better, harder, and more passionately elsewhere. Kode 9’s mix here brings us back to the grimy, alien/zombie-filled landscape of the dubstep imagination. No doubt Hardwax thinks this is the best mix (and it is neat) but it’s a whole lotta Kode 9 and very little of the Junior Boys—is there any overlap between the black, paranoid, science-fiction imagination of Kode 9 and the white, floppy-boy romantic snow-borne sorrows of Junior Boys? That would be a negative. Ten Snake’s mix goes for a spacey/italo/electro rendition, which jars with the other offerings here, though it does have its own discrete charms.

The big “but” after this long description is that, with the possible exception of Hot Chip, none of these admirable mixes comes close to the aching beauty of the original tracks. I finished listening to all these tracks…and I just wanted to hear the album again.

Domino / RUG251T2
[Peter Chambers]

February 23, 2007

Charts: February 23 2007

Mallory O’Donnell
Dorfmeister Vs. MDLA - Boogie No More (Reverson 68 Remix) [G-Stone]
Teena Marie - Fix It (Instrumental) [Epic]
Escort - “Bright New Life” (Morgan Geist Remix) [Escort]
Blackbelt Anderson - Alfaz De Pi [Full Pupp]
Jackson Jones - I Feel Good (Pilooski Edit) [Dirty Edits]
Justin Timberlake - My Love (Linus Loves Remix) [Virgin]
Pet Shop Boys - Was It Worth It? (12″ Version) [EMI]
Tomboy - Seriřs [Gomma]
Gui Boratto - Chromophobia [Kompakt]
Donna Summer - Love to Love You Baby [Casablanca]

Michael F. Gill
Slg – Anymore [Level Records]
The Model – Stargate Interlude [Underl_ne]
Kris Menace feat. Fred Falke – Fairlight [Compuphonic]
Photocall – Silver Clouds (Dexter Remix) [Clone]
Flakes – Sugar Frosted Lover [Calibre]
Proton Plus – Pay Up [Yew Wood]
Kay-Gees – Latican Funk [De-Lite Records]
Airto - Celebration Suite [Warner Bros/WEA Discos Ltda]
James “Jack Rabbit” Martin - Rabbit Trax I [Yoton]
Keith Tucker – Electro Lights [Twilight 76]

January 19, 2007

Escort - A Bright New Life


As with their last two twelves, one of which was Beatz’s #1 of 2006, this one’s just too well done to deny. On the a-side, Singer Zena Kitt dwells on various personal uncertainties in the verse over a spare synth octave thump and rich, long strings, but when the chorus approaches it’s like every sound starts getting really cagey, and when it finally does come the empty space is filled with cheeky chicken-scratch guitars, a healthy dose of horn stabs, and (naturally) “a bri-yut newww li-i-ife.” The songwriting’s smart, the stylized diction is perfect, the instrumental buildups and breakdowns are taut, no note’s out of place, no smirk’s in sight. Just awesome. For his remix, Morgan Geist subdues everything—even the volume is lower—and after a new bassline and lots more space and just enough reverb, we’ve got something of a Metro Area track, the instruments taking turns soloing in the lime.

Escort Recordings / ESCRT-003
[Nick Sylvester]

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…


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 O’Donnell
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]

July 28, 2006

Junior Boys - In the Morning

“In the Morning” doesn’t exactly attempt to turn the Junior Boys’ basic template for blue-eyed electronic soul on its head. Perhaps the biggest difference is in the extravagant production quality, which makes some of their previous recordings sound lo-fi. Alex Smoke’s remix drops the live instrumentation and funk of “In the Morning” to bring in a swarm of percussive samples, while raising the vocals in the mix. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to one’s expectations. For his remix of “The Equalizer,” Morgan Geist ditches the sparse beat for water-drop electro, improvising and accentuating the existing melodies, but the result sounds more like a nice re-edit than a completely different version. Finally, “So Sleep” shows the Boys in dubbed-out space techno mode. If not to screen the Smoke and Geist remixes, “In the Morning” sells itself on its closing B-side.

Domino / RUG237t

[Cameron Octigan]

July 28, 2006

Various Artists - Confuzed Disco

From the sixties ‘til the eighties Italian cinema did well for itself swallowing up American genres and then regurgitating them just nastily enough to create something new in the process. From the mid-seventies onward their music industry, pushed on in part by soundtrack composers, did the same. Where the related compilation I-Robots tackled post-Moroder electronic disco, Confuzed Disco is, well, just what the title claims, covering more electroid new wave. But that’s new wave as might be understood by a cheap film producer looking to score a blue-neon lit nightclub scene in a sweaty French Connection knockoff. There’s lotsa second language crap raps (check N.O.I.A.’s date rape anthem “Do You Wanna Dance”) and stilted, uptight machine drum patterns here, but it retains a certain charm. The second disc of contemporary remixes casts its net a bit wider into some already-compiled Italo classics with a gorgeous, relaxed Morgan Geist re-edit of Gaz Nevada’s “Special Agent Man” and a version of Nevada’s “I.C. Love Affair” by Munk that struts with a bass-loaded staccato swing. Amongst the others remixing are Lindstrom and Prins-Thomas, Radio Slave, and Kiki who, no surprise, surgically extract the original groove whilst leaving behind the grossest signifiers. Sometimes it’s their loss.

Mantra Vibes / IRM822 CD
[Patrick McNally]

July 28, 2006

Charts: Best of 2006 (so far)

Ronan Fitzgerald

Loco Dice - Seeing Through Shadows [M_Nus]
Duoteque - Amyra [Boxer Sport]
Claude Vonstroke - The Whistler [Dirty Bird]
Gummihz - The First Time [Mobilee]
Fuckaponydelic - Switch on the Light [White]

Michael F. Gill

Luciano - Sci-Fi Hi-Fi Volume 2 [Soma]
Kiki - Boogybytes Volume 1 [Bpitch Control]
TBA Empty - Stupid Rotation [Max Ernst]
Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener [Monika]
Herbert - Scale [!K7]

Singles / EPs
Sasse - Loosing Touch [Moodmusic]
Italoboyz - The Titty Twister [Einmaleins]
Chelonis R Jones - Deer in the Headlights Remixes [Get Physical]
Escort - Starlight [Escort]
Soulphiction - Masai Mara [Philpot]

Todd Hutlock

Magda - She’s a Dancing Machine [M_nus]
V/A - Interstellar Fugitives 2: The Destruction of Order [Underground Resistance]
Burial - Burial [Hyperdub]
Booka Shade - Movements [Get Physical]
Alex Smoke - Paradolia [Soma]

Singles / EPs
Jeff Mills - Natural World [Purpose Maker]
Audion/Ellen Allien - Just a Man/Woman [Spectral Sound]
Troy Pierce - 25 Bitches [Vols. 1 and 2] [M_nus]
DJ T vs. Booka Shade - Played Runner [Get Physical]
Sleeparchive - Radio Transmission [Sleeparchive]

Colin James Nagy

Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs [City Centre Offices]
Burial - Burial [Hyperdub]
Cobblestone Jazz - Dump Truck/Peace Offering [Wagon Repair]
The Knife - Silent Shout [Rabid]
DJ Koze - Kosi Comes Around Remixes Part 1 [Kompakt]

Mallory O’Donnell

The Knife - Silent Shout [Brille/Mute]
Crowdpleaser & St. Plomb - 2006 [Mental Groove]
Ellen Allien & Apparat - Orchestra of Bubbles [BPitch Control]
Fuckpony - Children of Love [Get Physical]
Hot Chip - The Warning [DFA/Astralwerks]

Singles / EPs
Fred Falke - Omega Man [Work It Baby]
Sneak Thief - The Hollow Land [Creme Organisation]
Christopher & Raphael Just - Popper [Kitsune]
Lindstrom - Another Station [Feedelity]
Morgan Geist - Raremix [Environ]

Cameron Octigan

Gabriel Ananda & Cio D’or - Lauschgoldengel [Treibstoff]
Adam Beyer - Stereotypes [Cocoon]
Gui Boratto - Like You [Supermayer Remix] [Kompakt Pop]
Loco Dice - Orchidee [M_nus]
Misc. - Tanz Der Polymere [Hemmann & Kaden Remix] [Sender]

Nick Sylvester

01. The Knife – Silent Shout [Rabid]
02. Delia & Gavin – “Relevee (DFA Remix)” [DFA]
03. Belong – October Language [Carpark]
04. Herbert – “Something Isn’t Right” [!K7]
05. Excepter – Alternation [5RC]

July 14, 2006

Morgan Geist - Most of All


Fans and non-fans alike of Morgan Geist’s productions will be unsurprised to learn that “Most of All” is another melting pot of 80’s R&B, post-disco dubplates, and latter-day house sounds and production techniques. Yet, like all the great monomaniacs, Geist always seems to turn up gold with the same old trusty, rusty shovel. Glowingly spacious, heart-on-lapel tender, and packed to the brim with those quirky jazz-esque fills he’s so fond of, “Most of All” is nothing but love set to a beat. He’s even roped in that dude from Junior Boys to provide vocals in a downcast-eyed boy from Biology class way; an almost picture-perfect match. “Skyblue Pink,” the third track included along with the original and instrumental mixes of “Most of All,” reminds us that Geist was initially a Detroit-indebted producer, more drawn to sci-fi mechanistic ideas than Stephanie Mills instrumentals.

Environ / ENV 026
[Mallory O’Donnell]

February 24, 2006

Profile: The Red Bull Music Academy


Even if it sponsored by the popular energy drink, The Red Bull Music Academy is perhaps a bit too good to be true. It’s a traveling mini workshop that zooms in on micro-cultures and new musical hybrids, while bringing together young producers of diverse backgrounds to interact with their contemporaries as well as with established producers in the field. It’s a place were people openly discuss aspects of dance and DJ culture, explaining how they create their own tracks, what motivates them to make them, and how they go about promoting themselves.

Now this isn’t an advertisement for the workshop, the main draw to the Academy’s website is that it has archived, in both streaming video as well as in full text, the majority of all the guest lecturers they have had in the most recent years. Just a brief scroll through the current diaries and lectures sections brings up video interviews and transcripts with Sway (one of Stylus’ favorite MCs,) Kerri Chandler, Alexander Robotnick, Atom Heart, Carl Craig, Claudio Simonetti, Leon Ware, Leroy Burgess, Legowelt, Madlib, and Michael Mayer. I haven’t even gone through the entire archives yet, but previous sessions that you can view also include Theo Parrish, Mathew Jonson, DJ Harvey, Tiga, Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Steve Spacek, Morgan Geist, Larry Heard and Danny Krivit. It’s often hard enough just trying to identify the faces behind dance music, but to be able to actually watch them ruminate on how and why they create their own music is something I find completely fascinating.

[Michael F. Gill]