September 18, 2007

Supermayer - Save The World

Remember the supergroup? It was a big conceptual thing a few decades back, but it still pops up every now and again. Here’s how it usually worked: a bunch of high pedigree rockers would get together, proclaim that they really “dug each other’s music,” book a bunch of studio time, get stoned out of their gourds, and more often than not, release an album of half-baked ideas and poorly executed jams that proceeded to shift millions of units based solely on the reputation of the players. Sometimes the idea actually workedsee Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young and Derek & The Dominos. Sometimes it wouldn’tsee pretty much everyone else.

Diehard fans of the musicians in question usually lapped this stuff up, but somewhere in the back of their minds, they still felt somewhat let down more often than not. The problem was squarely on themtheir expectations were simply, inevitably too high. No matter how great one of these supergroups sounded on paper, they couldn’t possibly live up to that sort of hype on record. Blaming the musicians, on the other hand, was a futile exercise. After all, they just wanted to hang out with some friends, play some music, and enjoy themselves. Can you really blame them for that?

Which brings us to the case of Supermayer, a supergroup-style collaboration between two of Kompakt’s biggest names: Michael Mayer and Superpitcher. And while the collaboration has more in common with the above than notthis is nothing if not a “fun” recordthis is most certainly not a bad thing. If anything, Save the World is just the kind of project that Kompakt needed, given the (somewhat inexplicable) backlash the label has been taking of late. Too many have complained that Kompakt has taken to making records by numbers; Save the World is anything but your (stereo)typical Kompakt fare.

Just as the grooves of those ’70s albums are laden with artists just trying to have a good time and vibe with each other, so does Save the World exude a palatable sense of smiling, laughing musicians just having some fun and getting down, and most importantly, encouraging the listener to do so as well. Look no further than the first proper track on the album (after the spoken intro “Hey!”), “The Art of Letting Go”the lyric tells the story of the album in a simple idea: over a grooving bass, chunky guitar chords, and some decidedly un-Kompakt sounds (are those horns? Melodica perhaps?), the gauntlet is thrown, “Let’s get to it / Relax / Let me go.” This is a first-class party record, assembled by two of techno’s foremost minds, and if the instruction is followed, you’ll have just as good a time listening as they obviously did making it.

With their mission statement firmly established, Supermayer proceed to circle the universe, capes flying, in search of the magic note, and while they never quite find it, the thrill of discovery is clearly the intent for our heroes (there’s even a comic book insert). There’s atmospheric dancefloor techno, there’s some light techno pop, some swinging indie bouncers, there’s vocals, there’s ambient interludes, there’s horns, there’s even a fucking gong. “The Lonesome King” is Martin Denny in Ralf and Florian’s studio; “Please Sunrise” recalls 808 State and YMO; “Two of Us” is a classic floor-filler laden with peaks and valleys; closer “Cocktails for Two” is a late-night comedown complete with shag carpeting and a disco diva perched on the love seat waiting for an afterhours tumble. It’s a gloriously unorganized mess, but all of it is so lovingly and skillfully done that it sounds far closer to some sort of mad genius.

Save the World is not a work of high art like The Magic Flute and it’s certainly not a pretentious epic like Kid A. It lives in its own skin and its comfortable there. The key to saving the world according to Supermayer is simple: lose the pressure and enjoy things for what they are, not what you expect them to be. There is an art to letting go, and they seem to have mastered it here, at least as much as such a thing can be mastered. They might not have saved the world, but Supermayer might just have saved your next house party.

Kompakt / KOMPAKTCD 61
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


September 12, 2007

Lopazz - Fuck Me!

A contemporary quandary: if a piece of music isn’t on Discogs, does it exist? I’m beginning to wonder the same thing about myself: without the mirror of myself on Facebook or Myspace (I refuse, I refuse), it’s easy to forget that you “are”. But here is Gigolo #211, a three track EP not noted by Discogs (likely because it’s an internet-only release,) but written by Lopazz in collaboration with Deafny Moon and Savas Pascadilis.

In moving to Gigolo, Lopazz has done the expected and grown in sawteeth and electroid muscles, producing three different tracks that attack the need to groove from three distinct angles: one spooky, one rumble-buzzing, and one poppy. “Fuck Me!” represents the first of the three takes for a dark Ivan Smagghe-ish electro-pop number where the lyric “hold your hand” could easily be mistaken for “gland” in the back room of some seedy nightspot. “What Should I Do” meanwhile rolls over itself like a clumsy polarbear tripping over Metope’s Nord Micromodular, while “Watermelon Man” takes Savas Pascadilis’ voice for a ride into the foolish world of slap-bass minimal disco, creating something not unlike pre-neotrance Schaben and Voss. This is all good stuff, but there’s some intangible factor missing for me to really recommend it. And judging by the high standard set by Lopazz’ recent material, this single is likely to be of middling interest. If indeed it does exist.


International Deejay Gigolos
/ Gigolo 211
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


July 9, 2007

Peter Visti - Dolly

200712"Neo-DiscoBalearic

If kitsch weren’t such a discredited term, we might be tempted to apply it to Peter Visti’s remix choices here, consisting as they do of one wan blues whitey, Dolly Parton, and the mostly forgotten disco-bowtie charlatan Taco. Luckily, Visti is so kitsch he’s beyond kitsch, especially when his nimble fingers grace the source material of our last two subjects. Parton’s “Jolene” becomes almost unrecognizable in Visti’s context, transmogrified into an unlikely underground disco smash you’re certain you heard one stoned night at the Gallery. With bass-driven meanderings and pungent synth swells supporting a filtered guitar strum, it seems Dolly can ride the analog waves as well as any old diva.

Chris Rea’s “Josephine” sounds much more true to form, although I must confess my ignorance with regards to the original track. It’s loads more atmospheric, almost to a fault, and could be any one of a number of innocuous ’80s soundtrack cuts, left out to drift in the realm of the dollar bin. Thankfully, Visti comes back with another surprise, turning the bland swing-disco pabulum of Taco’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” into re-edit gold, morphing the groove into something that’s equal parts Kano and Nitzer Ebb. As though the cast of Fame got choked-up on crystal meth and Baudrilliard’s critical theory, the track resolutely (and brutally) demands you to get your kicks on, lest you suffer the groovy, post-modern consequences. Highly recommended for the not-so-faint of heart.

Mindless Boogie / Mindless 006
[Listen]
[Mallory O’Donnell]


July 2, 2007

Prosumer / Murat Tepeli - What Makes You Go For It?

200712"HouseMinimal/Deep

Well, to me this is shaping up as a vintage year for techno (if you still call it that). There seems to be a glut of subtle, surefooted records being made at the moment by producers whose unformed foundational years are behind them. It’s often difficult not to feel you’re drowning in the sea of new releases. For my own part, I gave up trying frantically to cram in a rinse of everything that flickered fancily past. And in a sense, I feel like this might be happening with the music. There’s a period of settlement upon us, and now nearly-veteran people (though this is just my anecdotal impression) seem to be producing fewer and better tracks than three years ago, when the “medicore minimal” glut seemed to peak.

To me, the label that seems to have condensed this idea is Ostgut Tontrger. They don’t release much, but everything is solid gold: from the moment you first see the beautiful sleeves to the final aaah you get on a floor once the dragging needle’s signal drops at full volume. This is proper techno, made by people who love, understand, and care about their music. Listen to Len Faki’s Mekong Delta or Ben Klock’s Czeslawa/Warzsawa EP from earlier this year, and get an Ostgut lesson in how to “do” techno properly. Yet both Faki and Klock’s contributions are full-bore, main-floor, peaktime numbers, delicate though they may be in detail. They’re Berghain. Prosumer and Murat Tepeli’s “What Makes You Go For It” on the other hand is every inch the upstairs/backroom (or even bedroom) incarnation. They’re the Panoramabar.

The title track is somewhere between the blue, raw, and pink beats of the old Trax tracks, but with a vocal trip describing a one night stand that’s equal parts philosophical and carnal, leading to automatic comparisons with Chelonis R Jones. But there’s a definite Ostgut quality at work, too. It bangs, it swings, it’s a great track with a big metallic bell clanging all over it. Prosumer’s vocal sits nicely in the mix he doesn’t overstretch chords or overstate words: she’s got a boyfriend, they’re fucking, where will it end up?

Tepeli’s “Jaws” is much closer to the housey end of Mobilee’s sound, with matte-finish percussion and a sleek, fat bassline whose physicality wiggles widely, in neat contrast to a very chic string synth over the top. Like the lyric on the A, there’s a nice tension between the forward-pushing needs of the body and the inwardly reflective eyes of the mind. But it’s Prosumer’s “Vise” that really puts the icing on this ambivalent cupcake, for me at least. I could swear Prosumer has borrowed My My’s patches to write the melody here the tone, the dynamics, and the break are all redolent of Jones & Hppner, with just a touch of Rest-era Isole. All three tracks here stand on their own, but as a trio they make an outstanding EP.

Ostgut Tontrger / o-ton 07
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 29, 2007

Beatzcast #39: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music featuring new music from Liebe Detail, Get Physical’s Kindisch, and Tattoorec.com…

Tracklist
01: Ink and Needle - Number Seven [buy]
02: Raz Ohara - Whitmey Na (Nass Aka Geiger Ride Vocal Mix) [buy]
03: TNT - L8 [buy]
04: Tiger Stripes - Hooked [buy]
05: Pharoahe Monch - Body Baby (An Optimo [Espacio] Dub) [buy]
06: Mountain People - Mountain003 [buy]
07: Murat Tepeli feat. Prosumer - What Makes You Go for It [buy]
08: Chris Rea - Josephine (Visti Edit) [buy]

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


June 22, 2007

Charts: June 22 2007

Mallory O’Donnell

The Nick Straker Band - The Nick Straker Band [Prelude]
William Strickland - An Electronic Visit to the Zoo and Sound Hypnosis [Spectrum]
Tiefschwarz - Black Music [Souvenir]
Ack By Panel - Base Filmtab EP [Greystate]
Bonde Do Role - Office Boy [Mad Decent]
Grand National - By The Time I Get Home… [Domino]
Third World - One More Time [Columbia]
Ricardo Villalobos - 1 Encuentro Latinoamericano de la Soledad [White]
Justice - D.A.N.C.E. [Ed Banger]
Bohemia - All The Way [Discos de Tinga]

Michael F. Gill

Alton Miller - Souls Like Mine (R2)
Canvas - The Cat (Rebelone)
Keith Worthy - shelovesmenot [Mental Deepstrumental] (Aesthetic Audio)
Syncom Data - Beyond The Stars (Legowelt Remix) (SD Records)
Paul Birken - Numbskull (Communique Records)
Studio - Radio Edit [Information]
Alicia Myers - I Want To Thank You [MCA]
Marek Bilinski - Po Drugiej Stronie Swiata [Polton/Digiton)
Wish feat. La-Rita Gaskin - Nice and Soft (Downtown Version) [Perspective Records]
Kat Mandu - Super Lady (Manhattan Formula)


June 5, 2007

Oto Gelb / Daniel Wang - Magical Yellow Sound From Germania / Look Ma, No Drum Machine!

20071990s12"HouseDisco

It’s likely that over the past year or so, “disco edits” have been clogging up the new releases page on your favorite vinyl retailer’s website. Now that any chimp (let alone human) can freely acquire an editing programming like Audacity within a few mouse clicks, we are all that much closer to being exposed to Rising Disco-Tech Producer #56 extending the introduction to a favorite or obscure disco/new wave track by four minutes, and paying for the privilege to hear it. All together now: “And then I was discouraged by YOU!”

At their best, disco edits reveal hidden potential in otherwise imperfect tracks, and/or turn you on to a new set of tracks to dig for. The Idjuts Boys’ series of re-edit CDs on Noid takes this one step further by adding in new material, overdubbed effects, and wilder arrangements to the original source material. But it’s negligible how many edits actually need to be released on vinyl, especially when the original artists/tracks are rarely credited.

Daniel Wang seem frustrated at this state of edits too, and seemingly in a response to raise the level of re-arranging discourse, has reactivated his Balihu label with two edit-friendly releases of his own. The first is a new release of disco edits under the name Oto Gelb, with a press release that justifies itself by saying “[this is] music you just can’t make on a laptop, and that’s why it’s so good.” I hate to be an equally bitter pill, but there is not much to get excited about here, unless the idea of disco versions of Bach and Debussy tick your novelty sensors. This version of Bach’s “Air On A G-String” does give me a suave and sentimental feeling though, as if I was visiting Dimitri from Paris in an old folks home twenty years from now.

The second release is a reissue of Wang’s debut EP from 1993, Look Ma, No Drum Machine, which is one of his most highly regarded works, thanks to “Like Some Dream (I Can’t Stop Dreaming)” being a long time staple of disco and house DJs. And the track still works a treat, pasting an emotionally tense vocal snippet from Sleeque’s “One For The Money” onto a blank disco drums canvas, effectively flattening the tension into some kind of detached wonder. Actually, the entire EP is made up of sampled disco records, and while it was a common practice at the time for deep house records to work off a disco sample, Wang’s material here has more of a raw and homemade feel to it. On the b-side, “Gotta Get Up” is as fine a disco-house number as you can get without using a bassline, “Warped” falls a little flat if you’ve heard “Time Warp” from Disco Not Disco 2, and “Get Up, Get Up” locks into a more soulish loop a la Theo Parrish’s Ugly Edits.

While both of these records feels more “angsty” than necessary, Look Ma is still worthy of your time, and should put Daniel back in the public eye with both DJs and MP3 bloggers, just in time for his upcoming full-length album.

Balihu / BAL 016
[Listen]
Balihu / BAL 001
[Listen]
[Michael F. Gill]


May 25, 2007

Thinking Out Loud: Physical vs. Digital

Thinking Out Loud developed from a series of open-ended email conversations and ruminations between Beatz staff members. In this article, Michael F. Gill and Peter Chambers discuss the merits of dance music on vinyl and MP3.

(more…)


May 7, 2007

Pepe Bradock - Rhapsody in Pain

200712"Leftfield

Deeply deranged. This word pair keeps frothing up as I reach for the adequate descriptors for Pepe Bradocks musical worlda comparison with (pre-Napoleon complex) Herbert/Wishmountain might get you partway there, but theres something uniquely subversive about Bradocks collisions of atmospheric musique concrete and sweet (but not sugary) deep house. The covers of both his classic Burning EP and the later Intrusion set the scenerepetitions of disturbing mannequins, mannered yet monstrous.

But of all of Bradocks oddball curveballs, this has to be the strangest and curliest. The fact that its called Rhapsody in Pain should help you realizewe are most definitely not in Kansas anymore. The track (I hesitate to call it a track) is ostensibly a wonky house number that might warm the cockles of a Metaboman or Lump fans heart, exceptits urged along by looped choruses of people screaming. Not the screams of tortured souls, more like camping zombies being bitten by fire ants. Youre not going to have a lukewarm reaction to this compositionI love it, but that might be a reflection of my overdeveloped sense of the ridiculous. Im so happy people are making fearlessly individual, expressive music like this, experimenting with the idiom of groove to make something perverted, pervertingyet still funky. Deeply deranged, and funky. Or otherwise, you might say (as my partner did) What is this monged rubbish?

Atavisme / ATA 007
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


April 25, 2007

Lopazz - Share My Rhythm

Peter Chambers: Lopazz has always positioned himself (or been positioned) between the airbrush-smooth electro-house that Get Physical mastered (and transcended) and its others: Trevor Jacksons cool-hunting Output inprint, and the spectre of Playhouse, first with the Villalobos remix of Migracion, and now the inclusion of an Isole remix.

Theres always a danger to having a gifted freak remix your work, even if you are one yourself (witness Villalobos showing Beck up on the stellar Information remixes). Share My Rhythm is a case in point. The original version is a lovely, sparkling electro-disco-house number with that greet the sunshine vibe that Metro Area or Danny Wang managed to infuse their tracks with. You listen to it, you dont think youre missing out on much: This will do nicely, I thought. Then I heard the Isole remix Its just like the original, but all the frequencies are stuffed full of that magical squawk, fuzz, and grit that he seems to have an inexhaustible supply of. Every sound has been lovingly treated in such a way as to bring out both its personality and Isoles (sigh). Im gushing, I know. Its unbecoming. Gimme Gimme, the B, is another serviceable track in the same sound-vein. Again, its tidily produced and sounds nice, but after hearing the Isole mix, it sounds like a thin approximation of something far richer, deeper and more interesting.

Mallory O’Donnell: While it might be tough to pin down the Lopazz sound, it’s oh-so-easy to enjoy. “Share My Rhythm” is no exception to this, boasting a starry, sparkling melody coupled with a stiff tech-house beat and warm, swirling pads. It plays a perfect middleman to introspective and deep-house styles, having a bit of the best of both worlds to offer, with none of the genre-inclusive traits that tend to drag. Isole turns in a typically fine remix, drawing out the bassline and dubbing up the accents blacker than dread. It’s definitely a chilly take, but one that’s refreshing, like a skinny dip in Autumn waters, rather than the numbed-senses bath of the minimal icebox. B-side “Gimme Gimme” ups the thunkability quotient considerably yet retains the sensuous elan of the title track. A complex, well-rounded EP from an artist who we’ll continue to expect big things from.

Get Physical / GPM 064
[Listen]


— Next Page »