July 6, 2007

Theo Parrish - Sound Sculptures Volume 1


Like most well-known Detroit techno producers, Theo Parrish is as much a shrewd marketer as he is a talented musician. Since so much of what comes out of Detroit is shrouded in mystery, one needs to be really clued-in to all the limited edition vinyl, homemade CD-Rs, and mail-order labels to try to make some sense of what is going on in the scene. Having talked about this with people from the Detroit area, I get the sense that this protectiveness often stems from a demand that the listener take the music seriously. But there’s a reason why someone like Omar-S, with his handwritten vinyl sleeves, 12 inches that play inside-out, and one-sided white labels, has created a stir in techno geek circles the past couple years, and it ain’t just the music.

If you’ve been following minimal and techno the past year or so, you’ll have noticed that house and soul have been turning up more and more as an influence (or as a no-longer-latent fetish). What with Antonelli naming his last single after Bobby Konders, Efdemin’s “Just A Track” based on a Chicago styled preachapella, Ame writing “WILD PITCH I LUV U” on the back of their singles, the growing ubiquity of Schwarz/Ame/Dixon’s “Where We At”, Carl Craig remixes, and Larry Heard’s “The Sun Can’t Compare”, as well as the popularity of openly Detroit/deep house themed labels from Europe (Innervisions, Philpot, Delsin, Styrax), demands for jackin’ are high.

It’s the perfect time then for Theo Parrish to release this new triple LP on his own Sound Signature label. With the residual love from Carl Craig’s remix of “Falling Up” still coming in, Sound Sculptures Volume 1 arrives with high expectations, and a hefty import price if you live outside the States. The extra exposure might explain why Sculptures sounds like a more streamlined and accessible version of Parrish’s music, although you can’t really say it’s watered down. As always, the vibe here is as much mechanical as it is soulful. No matter how organically jazzy or funky the music gets, it’ll always be stymied by some hard-boiled drums and extremely tight programming and editing. What’s missing on these nine tracks is Theo’s wild sense of vocal juxtaposition and gratitutious use of live EQing, the stuff that often works miracles in his live sets, but can be more frustrating to plow through on his studio albums. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has problems listening to Natural Aspirations (released by Parrish’s collective group The Rotating Assembly), where vocals either sit too high or low in the mix, and are set against music which seems completely incongruous.

Listening to Sculptures in comparison is a piece of cake: everything here goes down smoothly and easily. The first three sides are actually pretty concise, almost song-oriented. “Second Chances” open things up strongly with vocalist Monica Blaire impressively soloing and vamping around a four line refrain and some subdued piano/rhodes lines. “The Rink” is very similar to Theo’s Ugly Edits series, where a couple of very short soul/disco samples are chopped up, put against each other, and then looped for five or six minutes. The final three sides are all extended eleven minute workouts, including album highlight “Soul Control” (another vocal showcase, this time for Alena Waters) and the rather straightforward acid-tech groove of “Synethic Flemm”, which was engineered by the aforementioned Omar S.

As far as a potential crossover release goes, Sound Sculptures does its job. It’s representative of Theo’s sound, it’s consistent from front to back, and there are some great standout tracks. For long time fans, it may feel a bit redundant, a bit safe. To me, there is still enough of a distinctive “soulful” (for lack of a better word) quality to this music that comes across as tangible, even when motifs are being heavily repeated. I’d almost even equate such a feeling to eating corn on the cob: it’s hard to not walk away from the experience with some flavor stuck in your teeth.

Sound Signature / SS 026 / 027 / 028
[Michael F. Gill]

June 22, 2007

Beatzcast #38: Crambe Repetita


Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music featuring new music from DJ Koze, the Wighnomys, and Glass Candy, as well as new tunes from Mobilee, Cocoon, and Vakant…

01: DJ Koze - Cicely [buy]
02: Portable - Don’t Give Up (Lawrence Remix) [buy]
03: Keytronics Ensemble - Calypso of House (Julien Jabre Remix) [buy]
04: Stephan Bodzin vs. Marc Romboy - Callisto [buy]
05: Glass Candy - Miss Broadway (Belle Epoque) [buy]
06: Wighnomy Brothers - Guppipeitsche [buy]
07: Onur zer - Halikarnas [buy]
08: Tolga Fidan - Venice [buy]
09: Marcin Czubala - Consigliere [buy]
10: Loco Dice - El Gallo Negro [buy]

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June 17, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 24

DeepChord - Vantage Isle (echospace [detroit])
Genre: Techno, Dub

Todd Hutlock: Vantage Isle is perfection for anyone looking for the logical successors to the Basic Channel throne, or just looking for something mellow for those steamy late summer nights.

Ame - Balandine (Innervisions)
Genre: Techno, Progressive/Trance

Gudrun Gut - In Pieces (Monika Enterprises)
Genre: Downtempo, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: If you’ve ever seen Michael Mayer do his dance behind the decks, the Burger/Voigt remix is, well…this is what the dance “sounds” like.

Audion - Noiser / Freds Bells (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

Nate DeYoung: Dears previous all-excess all-acid diet lead to the dreadful and desperate cul-de-sac of “how can I add even more?” With “Bells” and his recent string of songs, it sounds like he realized the question shouldve been “How can I make it sound like I’m adding even more?”

DJ Koze - All The Time (Philpot)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Argy - 1985 (Liebe Detail Spezial)
Genre: Minimal/Deep, House

Motorcitysoul - Kazan (Exit Cube) (Aus Music)
Genre: Electro-House, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: Classy gear for warming up cool-hearted floors.

Beatzcast #37: Crambe Repetita

Mike Powell talks to Gui Boratto

Thomas Inskeep’s bluffer’s guide to ’80s R&B

Mike Orme reviews Justice’s

Fergal OReilly takes on Burn Your Own Church by Black Strobe

June 13, 2007

DJ Koze - All The Time

In all his work, DJ Koze’s sense of humour tends toward an overdeveloped, lo-fi sense of the ridiculous, and it’s not something limited to the picture you see above: the madness is also in the music. Listen to any of Koze’s tunes, and there’s a sense of willful perversity to the crazy twists, the pleateaus, the digressions, and the timbral sleights-of-hand. Like his often amazing DJ sets, he’s always toying with you as he plays with himself in sound relentlessly, recklessly, joyfully. The recent (brilliant) remix of his own Naked (with Sheldon “Pan/Tone” Thompson) was a case in point.

“All the Time” hits all the familiar sweet spots by defamiliarising idioms of melodic minimalism and house (off the deep end). The A harks back to early Kompakt, with shades of Dettinger and Reinhard Voigt, but again re-fashioned into something utterly Koze. It bleeps, it squawks, and it grooves like hell, taking you into the shadowy parts of the thicket where the creatures only come out at night. But it’s the B, “Cicely”, that makes this EP. Starting off with a long (maybe overlong) intro, the track drops in what sounds like a stretched ‘n’ pulled guitar sample, before lifting things off the ground with a rising attack of gulping drums contrasted by another, higher pitched guitar sample. The track just keeps building and unfolding, introducing a third swirling loop (a la the Superpitcher of yore) and then letting the whole she-bang fall away for a moment, leaving the drums to climb their way out of the darkening ebb. Great stuff.

Philpot / PHP 024
[Peter Chambers]

December 15, 2006

Manmade Science feat. Halder Laegreid - Just Tell Me When


The Larry Levan influence is present here not just in the name of this German label but also within the grooves of Just Tell Me When. Manmade Science supply a brand of disco-house that’s been somewhat lacking in this year of darker sounds. The vibe is funky deep house, looped and spun bits of bass, with Chic-esque guitar scratching that calls back to the heyday of French House but it updated with a chilly Teutonic sheen. The B-side “Difunkt” is a bit sloppier and funkier, with nice organic drum sounds writhing and coalescing around a simple bassline and synth-wriggle. Nicely old-school but not outdated, this is a fine release all around.

Philpot / PHP 020
[Mallory ODonnell]

November 3, 2006

Bruno Pronsato - All Night Blahblah

So many of this guy’s twelves are totally interesting but way too busy, as if the Canadian micro-clicker is worried about getting called lazy or something. I’ve worked in slow restaurants and know the feeling; you just want to do *something* so the boss knows he’s getting his money’s worth. But dude, the boss is out of town! Relax! You’re not going to get fired! Re-released from 2004, “Blah Blah” isn’t too glitched out but there’s something groove-averse about it, very little space explored dynamically. The best things the track has going for it are these warped deep-dub basstones that slurp under the fracas, and the lyrics, which seem to moralize coke use: “talking all night,” “blah blah blah.” “wasting our time,” “do ya wanna grind [teeth?]?”, etc. Jackmate’s remix actually literalizes said dental grind at the track’s end, though the remix never pops, and maybe I’m reading into things.

Philpot / PHP 019
[Nick Sylvester]

August 25, 2006

Treplec - The Moon Doesnt Exist

If minimal (or mnml) means as little as possible, Lucianos bastard offspring have by and large offered an interpretation which changed the formula to: As little as possible, for as long as possible. Thats fine, provided youve got (no) ears. Listen very closely to Lucianos tracks, or go back the formative works of this sub-genre such as Voigts Studio Eins, Vainios Shk releases or any of the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction records and listen: its music where almost nothing happens, but that little something is everything. It doesnt seem to be a lesson that Treplec have learned, and to these ears, four ideas over twenty five minutes doesnt cut the earwax unless theyre 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. Its the best minute of the track, the other fourteen are taken up with a monotonous percussion workout thats 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. Its reminiscent of some of the earliest Areal releases, but without the mentalist sense of invention. All in all, a great example of everything thats dull and lifeless about B-grade minimal in 2006.

Philpot / PHP 018
[Peter Chambers]

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 - Shes 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 ODonnell

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 Isnt Right [!K7]
05. Excepter Alternation [5RC]

July 14, 2006

Soulphiction - Masai Mara / Keekorok


Released on his own imprint, Philpot Records, Soul Phictions newest 12 is a psyched-out techno exploration of live string and drum sounds. Although not directly related to the Chilean troika of Pier Bucci, Luciano, or Villalobos, Phiction shares (here, at least) their focus on percussion that pounds, while leaving enough room for other elements to maneuver about. A-side destroyer Masai Mara begins with a loose snare and heavy bass drum that beat the shit out of your ears until accompanied by a crisp arpeggio and space synth duo that changes the entire feel. Going from a Latin cadence to a nearly Balearic anthem, Masai is at home among more minimal tracks but stands out as something altogether new. Unrelenting B-side banger Keekorok manages to travel back earlier in the night, bring the tempo up, and drift further into space. With an EQ that stresses the high-end of the synths and a melody reminiscent of leftfield theremin explorations, the sense of tension and confusion continues to rise until the beats drops one final time and Phictions vessel loses all contact with mission control. Essential.

Philpot / PHP 017
[Cameron Octigan]

June 30, 2006

Charts: June 30 2006

Todd Hutlock
Black Dice Cone Toaster [DFA]
Booka Shade Pong Pang [Get Physical]
Burial Pirates [Hyperdub]
Two Lone Swordsmen Slutloop [Jockey Slut]
Cristian Vogel Whipaspank [NovaMute]
The Illustrator Beautiful Boxer [Underground Resistance]
Black Phuture Unfriendly [Motech]
Ellen Allien Just a Woman (Audion Version) [Spectral Sound]
Pantytec Maybe Not [Perlon]
Rhythm & Sound Poor People Must Work (Carl Craig Remix) [Burial Mix]

Cameron Octigan
Agoria La 11me Marche [PIAS]
Gui Boratto Like You (Supermayer Remix) [Kompakt]
Crystal Castles Atlantis to Interzone (Klaxons Remix) [White]
Cio D’or Lichtblick [Karmarouge]
Taana Gardner Heartbeat [West End]
Kris Menace Voyager [Compuphonic]
Mtrika Ichi [Crosstown Rebels]
Treacherous Three Feel the Heartbeat [Enjoy]
Sven Vth & Anthony Rother Springlove (Original) [Datapunk]
Claude Von Stroke Seven Deadly Strokes (Patrick Chardronnet Remix) [Neuton]

Michael F. Gill
TBA Empty Stupid Rotation [Max Ernst]
Adam Beyer Selmas Dream [Cocoon]
Matt John IO [Underline]
Alex Smoke Never Want to See You Again (Ada Remix) [Soma]
Five Deez Black Rushmore (Force Of Nature Remix) [Rapster]
Cream De Coco Disco Strut [Free Spirit]
TJ Swann And You Know That [Express]
Steve Angello Tracks [Konvex Konkav]
Jody Watley I Love to Love [MAW]
Soulphiction Masai Mara [Philpot]

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