October 31, 2007

A New Beginning

Beatz By The Pound has moved to its new home, located at http://www.bbtp.net. Hope to see you over there!


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
[Listen]
[Ian Mathers]


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 similarit 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 progressionafter all, the template is basically the same concoction of deep, muted, echoing chords, subsonic bass lines, compressed hi-hats, and lots of tape hissand 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 ones appreciation deepens. The devil may be in the details, but so are the thrills.

Detroit native Rod “Deepchord” Modellhe and Chicagoan Steven “Soultek” Hitchell are partners in Echospace, also a labelhas 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 atmospheredownright 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]


August 9, 2007

Henrik B feat. Terri B - Soul Heaven

You know, I could carefully describe “Soul Heaven” to you. And tell you how it’s a cover of a seven-year-old house track by The Goodfellas, one that was comped on bigtime labels like Ministry of Sound, Hed Kandi, and Azuli, not to mention the UK label named after it. I’d also want you to know how well Henrik B., formerly a producer of schranz-style techno, has moved into loved-up funky house (check out the difference between “Airwalk” and “The Wound”).

But there’s a reason why these big Ibiza and funky house cuts don’t get written up critically: they can be a bit brainless. So often they are all about the euphoria of the moment, and their broad and obvious strokes fall apart under any closer inspection. It seems futile, even silly to say things like “hmm, the original mix could almost be a Ame/Sydenham production, if they were trying to be Joey Negro,” or to rave about the Fonzeralli remix being “the crossover anthem Rex The Dog will never have.” All I know is that I feel pretty giddy after listening to it, which is a hollow sentiment that doesn’t serve you well, fair reader. So let’s act like this review never happened. But considered yourself informed.

Boss / BOS 067AB / 067CD
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Michael F. Gill]


August 7, 2007

B12 - Practopia / Slope

UK duo B12 (Mike Golding and Steve Rutter) were a prime mover in Warp’s Artificial Intelligence movement in the early ’90s alongside acts like Richard James’ Polygon Window, Black Dog Productions, and Autechre. 1993’s Electro-Soma was their definitive statement. Fusing lush European sounds with Detroit-derived rhythms to great effect, it was fathoms deep and foot-tapping all at once. The five-track Practopia dates from 1996 and is just now getting a proper release (the original only made it to white label at the time), but still sounds like it sprung from some sleek Blade Runner-like futuristic society. Much like Kraftwerk’s timeless style, the classic melodic lines, Derrick May-inspired rhythms and sense of…space…place it firmly in the retrofuturist mold. The infamous cover of the original Artificial Intelligence comp features a robot chilling out in an easy chair with headphones on. This could easily have been what it was listening to.

The newly recorded Slope three-tracker, cut from the same template of sounds, is an altogether more bouncing and aggresive affair, built more on layered percussive elements than drifting keys and ambient washes. It’s good stuff and still distinctive, but lands closer to the Plus 8 sound than the original B12 recipe. The robot just might leave its chair for this one.

B12 / B1215 / B1216
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


July 20, 2007

Charts: July 20 2007

The Beatz staff pick their favorite dance releases of 2007, so far…

Peter Chambers

Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Lopazz - Share my Rhythm (Isolee mix) [Review]
Andy Stott - Handle with Care / See in Me [Review]
Kalabrese - Rumpelzirkus Part 1 [Review]
Efdemin/Carsten Jost - Split EP [Review]
Carsten Jost - Atlantis I & II
Kerri Chandler - Computer Games EP
Andy Stott - the Massacre EP [Review]
DJ Koze - All the Time EP [Review]
Len Faki - Rainbow Delta/Mekong Delta [Review]
Shackleton - Blood on my Hands (Villalobos mix) [Review]
Roman Fluegel - Mutter EP
Various - Death is Nothing to Fear Vol. 1 [Review]
Vulva String Quartett - Cranberry Song EP [Review]
Portable - Don’t Give Up (Remixes) [Review]
Syncom Data - Beyond the Stars (Remixes) [Review]
Ilya Santana - Discotized EP [Review]
DJ Koze vs. Sid le Rock - Naked (Koze remix) [Review]
Battles - Atlas (Koze mix) [Review]
Prosumer/Murat Tepeli - What Makes You Go For It? [Review]

Nate DeYoung

Lindstrom & Solale - Let’s Practice [Review]
Hatchback - White Diamond (Prins Thomas remix)
Audion - I Gave You Away [Review]
Partial Arts - Trauermusik [Review]
Motiivi:Tuntematon - I Don’t Feel Good [Review]
Efdemin - Just a Track [Review]
Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Ame - Balandine [Review]
Argy - 1985 (Sydenham & Rune Remix) [Review]
Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music [Review]
Dixon - Resident Advisor #48

Todd Hutlock

cv313 - Dimensional Space EP [Review]
Lazy Fat People - Pixelgirl EP [Review]
Dominik Eulberg - Limikolen EP [Review]
Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Luciano - No Model No Tool [Review]
Audio Werner - Flatfunk [Review]
Tony Allen - Ole (A Remix by Moritz Von Oswald) [Review]
Riton - Hammer of Thor
Adultnapper - Betty Crocker Moves to Berlin
Gaiser vs Heartthrob - Nasty Girl [Review]
The Field - From Here We Go Sublime [Review]
Gui Boratto - Chromophobia [Review]
DeepChord presents Echospace - The Coldest Season
Dominik Eulberg - Heimische Gefilde [Review]
Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss [Review]

Michael F. Gill

Sorcerer - Surfing After Midnight (Prins Thomas Remix) [Review]
Matt John - Soulkaramba [Review]
Jacek Sienkiewicz - Good Night & Good Luck [Review]
Shackleton - New Dawn / Massacre
Air - Lost Message [Review]
M.I.A. - Bittersuss [Review]
Escort - All That She Is [Review]
Voom Voom - Best Friend / Sao Verought Remixes
Frankie Valentine - Zumbi (Henrik Schwarz Dub Remix)
Kelley Polar - Rosenband (Instrumental)


July 19, 2007

Brother From Another Planet / .Xtrak - 7th City Classics Vol. 1

20071990s12"TechnoAcid

Daniel Bell’s fabled 7th City imprint was working the whole minimal techno vibe long before there was even a name for it, and early sides on the label are treasured by that community not just because of their rarity, but for their enduring quality. While reissued tracks from Bell himself (or hell, new music!) would likely be the most welcome to collectors (he didn’t record much for 7th City himself), the two tracks chosen for the first of the three-volume 7th City Classics series are certainly worth additions to anyone’s crate.

Claude Young’s Brother From Another Planet alias contributes the mighty “Acid Wash Conflict,” which, naturally, sounds exactly like the title would lead you to believe, but its Todd Sines’ .Xtrak entry that really should open some ears here. “Multiplexor” is a stomping stealthmode workout in the mold of DBX himself, with a popping riff and acid-style knob-tweaking that moves insistently as much as it jogs in place. If the 7th City sound was before your time, the Classics series are essential. Now, if DBX would get to reissuing those classic Accelarate sides…

7th City / SCD 022
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


July 3, 2007

Syncom Data - Beyond the Stars Remixes

200712"TechnoDub

It seems wrong to call Speedy J a stalwart, because that suggests the guy’s still making average records, despite being “hard at it” for more than a decade. If at times his production (however brilliant) goes a little bit off the hard/deep end for my delicate ears (I spook easily) - with an incredible live show and a few seminal albums behind him, you’d have to say the guy’s an innovator. And an undermentioned one. Maybe the problem with him, the reason why he never became a Craig or a Hawtin, was just that he’s singular - there’s something inimitable about his style that has deterred disciples, and his deep, textured, powerful music has remained a cul-de-sac or an appendix, albeit a beautiful one.

But when he pulls one out, he really pulls one out: this remix of Syncom Data is one of the most powerful, expressive, deep, and interesting tracks I’ve heard all year. Like some of the contributions on the Shut Up and Dance compilation as well as some of Monolake and T++’s more epic workouts, this is more freestyle/deepscape than techno pure and proper; their cylinders are too large, and there’s two much gas in them for this to be a bog-standard four-pot burner. Damn, it’s is just…fantastic (gush alert).

Oh yeah, and there’s two other remixes here too, which are both great in their own way, although not nearly as grand as the A. SD’s remix is much more digi-dub (similar to the Burialmix & ~scape sound), taking a melodica into delayed terrain with some heavy beats which move all the textures around. Meanwhile, Legowelt comes out with one of his best tracks of late, opting for something which (as always) is both steeped in his ‘85-’95 passions/influences and is in possession of an eccentric expressivity that’s solely his own. This one also goes bang around the two and a half minute mark, with a massive kick that puts the whole kaboodle into peaktime orbit.

Syncom Data Records / SD05
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 8, 2007

Beatzcast #36: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music…

Tracklist
01: Chaim - Same Same feat. James Blonde [buy]
02: Baldelli & Dionigi - Dyprion [buy]
03: Cave Bear Cult - Catch the Worm [buy]
04: STFU - Shut the Fuck Up (Mouth to Mouth Remix) [buy]
05: Sebastian Ingrosso & John Dahlback - Lick My Deck [buy]
06: Lil’ Mama - Lip Gloss (William Russell Stirhouse Remix) [buy]
07: Sleeparchive - Papercup [buy]
08: Pan-Pot - What Is What (Original Mix) [buy]
09: Red Robbin & Jakob Hilden - Dandelion [buy]
10: TG - Cave the Speakers (Konrad Black Remix) [buy]
11: Baldelli & Dionigi - Darkflies [buy]
12: Gudrun Gut - Move Me (Burger & Voigt Remix) [buy]

Subscribe to the Stycast.
Subscribe to Beatz By The Pound.


June 4, 2007

Justice - D.A.N.C.E.

I’m sure that there are moments of brilliance in the very hip French filter-metal-disco scene (see: “Killing in the Name Of” simultaneously killing a dancefloor and [possibly] killing a movement), but as I just let loose in the parenthetical above, I sincerely doubt this thing’s got more legs. Justice’s upcoming album proves that much in short order and, if it weren’t for “D.A.N.C.E,” I’d predict their downfall for sometime in mid-2008.

But here it is and I’m forced to point out that it’s kinda structured like a song (a feat for these guys), is much lighter than their previous speaker-blowing plod-fests, and actually bounces along like something that an actual human being might dance to. It’s as if someone got a hold of these guys after they made the track “Phantom,” which appears here as a B-side, and told them, “You know what would be cool for those DJ gigs you guys’ll be going to soon? Music that girls actually like. Music that has a tension between hard and soft. Music built for the floor - and not the blog.” Thank God they listened.

Ed Banger Records / ED 017
Because Music / BEC5772071
[Listen]
[Nina Phillips]


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