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
[Ian Mathers]

May 18, 2007

Charts: May 18 2007

Peter Lansky

The Black Ghosts - Anyway You Choose To Give It (Extended Version) [Southern Fried Records]
Passions - Emergency [Kitsune Music]
Para One - Midnight Swim (Surkin Drowning Mix) [Institubes]
!!! - Must Be The Moon (Hot Chip Remix) [Warp]
Black Devil Disco Club - The Devil In Us (Dub Version) [Lo Recordings]
Herbert - Moving Like A Train (Smith & Hack Remix) [Studio !K7]
Booka Shade - Tickle [Get Physical]
Bjrk - Earth Intruders (Spank Rock Remix) [One Little Indian]
Lindstrm & Solale - Let’s Practise [Feedelity]
Simian Mobile Disco - I Believe (Prins Thomas Diskomiks) [White]

Michael F. Gill

Andre Crom - Reiner Wahnsinn [Sender Records]
Shyza Minelli - Haunting Me [Tuning Spork]
Pablo Bolivar - The King Of My System (Phage & Daniel Dreier’s Whisper Mix) [MIS]
Ark & Mossa - Homme Sweat Homme [Complot]
Skream feat. Warrior Queen - Check It [Tempa]
Dee Scott - Irresistible [Electric Ice Records]
Scientist - Rids The World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires [Greensleeves]
Can - Soon Over Babaluma [Spoon/Mute]
Stephanie Mills - Sweet Sensation [20th Century Records]
Husky Rescue - Summertime Cowboy (Serge Santiago Version) [Catskills]

May 8, 2007

Force of Nature - Sequencer / Afroshock


I’ve hit the tipping point with Force of Nature. Black Moon, the duo’s debut for Mule Musiq, might have been my first belated exposure last year, but hell if I was willing to accept the feat of tracking down the rest of their stuffdudes at ritzy boutiques were charging 30 bucks for just a CD. So for the sake of my wallet, I chalked it up as an anomaly and moved on. But now, after both Sequencer and Afroshock have hit, and hit me hard, that gnawing feeling of inevitabilitythe opposite of consumer bliss?has started to creep in.

And the strangest part of this feeling is that I’m not even sure if “Sequencer” works. From the very beginning, the waves of a foreboding arpeggiator set against a gentle bobbing wheeze epitomize the track’s confused tone. It isn’t really helped out by the ghostly machine sighs or the hopscotch synths. Instead, each part uncomfortably hangs together, in a way that draws me into the structure and pulls me away from the actual sound of the track. Rekid fixes and vamps it. Built around billowing delay, his remix feels like the best cross-pollination with his Quiet Village remixes: he teases out and slowly builds a heavy pulse that goes for the gut. The single’s standout, though, is the b-side “Transmute.” Built around a slo-mo melody, defanged electro backbeat, and drizzle of massaging acid, the song is light and ephemeral in the best possible way.

It takes a grown man to acknowledge when he goes out of his way to find dishwashing music and this timelike alwaysForce of Nature’s “Afroshock (Broken Rule Mix)” just fell on my lap. The song’s original giant toms might have been muddled under the wipes, scrubs, and splashes of Broken Rule’s rework of the percussion, but the spy-film bassline sneaks through enough to add well-needed intrigue to my domestic life. It’s this Afroshock single in particular that has me totally seduced by Force of Natureboth sides are perfect for mid-set, mid-run, or pushing past the midnight doldrums. Be warnedit could end up costing you more than for just one vinyl.

Mule Musiq / MULEMUSIQ 11
Headinghome Records / HHR-016
[Nate DeYoung]

March 16, 2007

Charts: March 16 2007

Mallory ODonnell
Propaganda - Duel / Jewel [ZTT]
Silver Convention - Mission to Venus [Midland International]
Visions of Tomorrow - Galaxy (Charles Webster Edit) [Past Due]
Cat Stevens - Was Dog A Doughnut? (Pilooski Edit) [Dirty]
D-Train - Keep On (Dub) [Prelude]
Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence (Hands & Feet Mix) [Mute]
40 Thieves - Point to the Joint (Electric Boogie Band Remix) [Smash Hit Music Co.]
Sascha Funke - Auf Aix [BPitch Control]
Junior Boys - Dead Horse EP [Domino]
Juan Atkins - Wax Trax! Mastermix Volume 1 [Wax Trax]

Michael F. Gill
Teena Marie - Youre All The Boogie I Need [Gordy/Motown]
Brass Construction Movin (12 Mix) [United Artists]
Number One Ensemble Back To Heaven [Radio Records]
June Evans If Your Want My Lovin [H & H records]
Roundtree Hit On You (Tony Humphries Dub) [Discfunction]
Afx - VBS.Redlof.B [Rephlex]
Moonbeam Sunshine [Traum]
Each Sunrise (Original Mix) [Out of Orbit Recordings]
Joachim Spieth Connect [Paso Music]
Dub Taylor Schmidts Cat / Schmidt’s Katze (Part 1) [Organic Domain]

February 9, 2007

Claude Von Stroke - Who’s Afraid of Detroit (Remixes)

Mallory O’Donnell: A thing like this should just arrive on the doorsteps of all techno devotees with a big black stamp on the mailer proclaiming it an “EVENT RELEASE.” Von Stroke’s anthemic non-anthem gets tarted up for the party by Audion, Tanner Ross, and… Kevin Saunderson?! Kev, what up, how you doing, it’s been what… two years? Three years? Afraid of Detroit? No sir! What follows all the fuss and excitement is as best as could be expected, which means it’s quality achieved by playing to the strengths of the remixers, rather than taking any big chances. Starting us off, Matthew Dear / Audion does his thing with the rubberized freakbeat baton for eight minutes of squeaks and creaks. I recommend playing this as loud as possible, preferably while doing something like showering or quietly running in place, but the key is LOUDjust to hear all the little nuances and revolving circular nipple-twisters of sonic nutriment Dear’s installed in his refit. Tanner Ross stays pretty close to the original, which is fitting, because nobody knows who the hell he is. He’s actually done more of a smoothing job than a remixing oneif the original was straight-up double chocolate fudge this is more of a peanut-butter / mocha swirl. Nice enough, but not really needed. Last but surely not least, Kevvy Kev throws down a classy-as-fuck version to show these young whippersnappers how it’s done. The word here is LUSHit’s basically a big band swing tune masquerading as roots techno, sympathetically warm, grooving and brassy. Naturally, the jaggedness of the original has been lost, but Saunderson’s scorched it away by applying a soulful fire to the canvassomething added, something taken away. Pick it up.

Nick Sylvester: For not being too sold on the original, I’m pretty psyched how these remixes turned out. Audion goes way sleek, way minimal, emptying the track of its middle so he can pingpong and hiccup and squelch the VonStroke’s rubber synth hook until it accrues those trails of clean reverb I can only describe as Audionesque. Sometimes when he does that, it really derails the track’s momentum; not here. The opening puddle-splasher-type vamp on Kevin Saunderson’s sounds more Juan Atkins than KS, but when the beat drops, everything mellows out into that muted mid-heavy funk I get out of E-Dancer and Reese. The other remixer, Tanner Ross, I’d never heard of until now, and he’s by far the most respectful of the three, just making what sound like EQ tweaks here and there, adding an additional squelch in the bottom, etc. But then all the sudden he starts deploying vocal cut-ups as rhythmic accents, then all these really fast-cut swells and Luomo-like swoops. Man to watch maybe?

Dirtybird / db 008

February 9, 2007

Depeche Mode - Remixes

Depeche Mode have always been at the forefront of the remix game, historically lining up a whos who of dance music producers to rework their electronic pop into lots of interesting shapes and sizes, occasionally to devastatingly brilliant effect. This limited edition, stunningly packaged gatefold double-pack was released to coincide with the bands latest Best Of, Vol. 1 collection, bearing similar cover art and reworkings of tracks from the collection. While the promo CD version of this release contained eight tracksincluding Ricardo Villalobos stunning take on The Sinner In Methe actual commercial release only includes four. One can assume that when Best Of, Vol. 2 eventually surfaces, those remaining four mixes will be given a similar release treatment, especially considering that the Villalobos mix is already widely bootlegged on vinyl and changing hands for ludicrous amounts on eBay.

As far as what is on offer here, while nothing is as downright fantastical as Villalobos take, there is plenty to excite Mode fans and DJs alike. Boys Noize take on Personal Jesus and wisely maintain the pulpit stomping feel of the original while adding an extended noise/loop intro and throbbing analog synth riffs to replace the originals guitars. Digitalisms take on Never Let Me Down Again is a crunching analog affair that bears more resemblance to Mute labelmates Nitzer Ebb than the cyclical, driving original. Oliver Huntemann and Stephan Bodzins dub version of Everything Counts is a floor filler in the making, fusing key melodic phrases of the original into an updated tech-house template, while Underground Resistances DJ 3000 transforms People Are People into a latin-infused monster in the aggressive, relentless UR techno style. With the limited nature and collector-targeted packaging on this release, it may not be aimed at DJs who are just going to beat the hell out of it in their crates, but if you can get over the price tag (and find a copy!), theres plenty here to spice up a set of any style, presuming of course that vocals dont bother you.

MUTE / L12 BONG 39
[Todd Hutlock]

February 2, 2007

Charts: February 2 2007

Todd Hutlock
Kiki - Trust Me (Super Dub) [Bpitch Control]
Radio Slave - Weeeze [Rekids]
Pantytec - Micromission (Daniel Bell Remix) [Perlon]
Thomas Brinkmann - Wait A Minute [Max Ernst]
Mikkel Metal - Noff [Echocord]
Sieg ber Die Sonne - Youll Never Come Back (Tobi Neumanns Waiting For You Rmx) [Multicolor Recordings]
Villalobos - Tub [Playhouse]
Alan Parsons Project - I Robot (Pilooski Edit) [D*I*R*T*Y Edits]
Depeche Mode - Master And Servant (An ON-U Sound Science Fiction Dance Hall Classic) [Mute]
Convextion - Solum Ferrum [Down Low]

Mallory ODonnell
Roxy Music - Same Old Scene (Glimmers Remix) [Virgin]
Love Supreme - Pork Chop Express [Tirk]
Kathy Diamond - All Woman [Permanent Vacation]
Flim Flam - Best of Joint Mix [Dum Dum]
Marsha Raven - I Like Plastic [Red Bus]
Pet Shop Boys - One More Chance (Remix) [ARS]
Orgue Electronique - The Garden [Creme Organisation]
Chocolate Milk - Action Speaks Louder Than Words [RCA]
The Field - From Here We Go Sublime [Kompakt]
Gui Borrato - Chromophobia [Kompakt]

Michael F. Gill
Tenderness - Got To Keep On Trying [RCA]
Bob-A-Rela - Why Does It Rain? [Channel]
O’Gar Playback Fantasy (Instrumental) [Magic Circus Productions]
Quartz Beyond The Clouds [T.K. Disco]
Omar-S- The Maker [FXHE]
Robert Hood Hoodmusic 2 [Music Man Records]
Marcellus Pittman Come See [Unirhythm]
Herbert The Movers & The Shakers (Green Velvet Remix) [!K7]
Remo feat. Chelonis R. Jones - Empire [Dance Electric]
Home Video - The Penguin (Tim Goldsworthy’s The Loving Hand Remix) [Defend]

January 19, 2007

Charts: January 19 2007

Michael F. Gill
Sylvester I Need You (Dims Maxi Disco Blend) [ITH Records]
Remute Bounce 23 [Trapez]
V/A - This Is Rong Music [Rong Music]
Lil Louis - I Called You (The Story Continues) [Epic]
E-Dancer - Oombah [Planet E]
Midnightrats - Goalmaker [Magic Circus]
Macho Cat Garage - Ghetto Blues [Viewlexx]
V/A - Make Me What [Minisketch]
Benfay - Pink Silk Panties (Bang Goes Remix) [Stattmusik]
The Nova Dream Sequence - Interpretations [Compost]

Todd Hutlock
Depeche Mode - People Are People (Underground Resistance Remix) [Mute]
Tomas Andersson - Mot Matsalen! [Bpitch Control]
Radio Slave - Weeeze [Rekids]
Theo Parrish - Falling Up (Technasia Rmx) [Third Ear/Syncrophone]
Hot Chip - Over And Over (Naum Gabo Remix) [Astralwerks/DFA]
False - Kickball [Plus 8]
Thomas Fehlmann - Dusted [Kompakt]
Pier Bucci - Lnuit (Dominik Eulberg Mix) [Crosstown Rebels]
Booka Shade - In White Rooms (Shinedoe Remix) [Get Physical]
Nitzer Ebb - Control Im Here (Superchumbo Dub) [NovaMute]

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


December 1, 2006

Charts: December 1 2006

Todd Hutlock
Substance & Vainqueur - Surface [Scion]
Ricardo Villalobos - Africolaps [Perlon]
Robert Hood - Still Hear (Los Hermanos Rmx) [Music Man]
Tractile - Silent Movie [Minus]
Depeche Mode - Everything Counts (Absolut Mix) [Mute]
Dominik Eulberg - Bionik (Guy Gerber Red Light Rmx) [Cocoon]
Todd Sines & Natacha Labelle - Cum Closer (C Mix) [Planet E]
Super Flu - Lady In Pink [KarateKlub]
Thunderground - Canz [Infonet]
Altern 8 vs Evelyn King - Shame (Hardcore Mix) [Network]

Michael F. Gill
Sierra Sam Perfume (Quenum Remix) [Surprise Records]
Luna City Express Mars Attacks [Moon Harbour Recordings]
Melon Spring [ratio?music]
Ken Ishii Extra [R & S]
Kevin Blechdom Me Saw Me Momma [Chicks on Speed Records]
Bobby Konders A Lost Era In NYC 87-92 [Gigolo]
Raze Break 4 Love [Champion/Grove Street]
David Howard feat. Jhay Palmer U & I [Locked On]
Strikers Body Music [Special Instrumental Version] [Prelude]
Elijah John Group Keep A Little Love For Yourself [Keylock]

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