March 29, 2007

Jacek Sienkiewicz - Good Night & Good Luck

In comparison to his more introspective material on his own Recognition label, Jacek’s singles on Cocoon are usually more of a mainroom affair, and this one’s no exception. As good as “Six Feet Above” and “Double Secret Life” were, “Goodnight & Good Luck” sounds like a breakout release, straddling high-clarity minimal techno with a set of winding trance-esque melodies a la Orbital. “Good Luck” is the stunner: twelve minutes of pure sunrise techno, starting with high-pitched ping-ponging synth octaves, and adding in twinkling bells and warm drones half way in. “Good Night” is a bit more reminiscent of Donnacha Costello’s recent work, with crisp, dry bell sounds working an echoing lock-groove that eventually shows itself to be just as mesmerizing as its counterpart. Highly recommended.

Cocoon / COR0336
[Michael F. Gill]

March 20, 2007

Misstress Barbara Barcelona

It could be said that minimal is the continuation of techno by other means, at least in the case of labels like M_nus. For other camps, substitute trance for techno. For Border Community well, what was so wonderful about the label was that, initially at least, you didnt have to choose sides. As the label name promised, you could be a nomads lad, living in the lawless provinces where a bit of creative banditry could nab you a few hits against the stuffy village people below. Theres a double irony then, in Misstress Barbaras Barcelona arrival on the label. Barbara, formerly an exponent of hard as nails club-tech, has produced a tech-trance record that seems to be retreating back into Tranceland, with all of the implications that name gives.

If techno bores the shit out of a lot of people for its lack of melodic variation, the problem with Barcelona in its original version is that by focusing so much on the inter-relation of melodies, the mistress takes her eyes off the rhythmic ball, producing a track that sounds like three big wedges of melody thrust through each other, while a dull thud simply marks time in the background. Holdens tool mixes seem to be a tacit recognition of this, and overcompensatetheyre four minutes of constantly tweaked, prodded, torn out, and kicked drum patterns. Theres something interesting about the constantly mutating inter-relationships, but it sounds like Holdens managed to mic up the brain of some poor sap whose overdosed on caffeine. But then, the tool appellation is a get-out-of-jail free card on this tip, isnt it? Music thats not designed for listening hmmm.

Jamais moi sans toi sounds like a study piece of sortsas if Barbara was intentionally trying to mimic the labels previous releases. As when an attack dog bares its teeth gradually over five minutes, its difficult to stay scared, or even attentiveand likewise here too little takes too long to happen, and its an unexciting knock-off of Nathan Fakes sigh-trance when it does.

Border Community / 15BC
[Peter Chambers]

January 19, 2007

Jacek Sienkiewicz & Marek Raczkowski - Warsaw for Beginners

Jacek Sienkiewicz has, slowly but surely, been nailing the craft. Recent releases on his label Recognition have reached sublime heights of mean, moody, and magnificent techno, full of interlocking parts, sudden bad moods and noodling string pluck melodies capable of tugging even tautly tuned heartstrings. Late 2005s Double Secret Life found its way onto both Tobi Neumanns fantastic Fliederlieder mix and Lawrences Groove compilation as the crescendo selection, and with good cause.

Given the incredible polish (ahem) that Sienkiewicz has managed to achieve of late, its odd that he would choose to release Warsaw for Beginners (co-produced with Marek Raczkowski). Why weird? Simply because, despite a wealth of inventive ideas and odd combinations of almost Guru Josh piano lines, boisterous digitechno rhythms, and delicate au Harem textures, this feels like a strange sketch, a study for a far greater and more interesting EP that wasnt quite realized. I keep waiting in vain for it to happenmaybe this music needs new ears that are still growing. Give me time on that one, but for the moment, this is an eccentric, promising cacophony that doesnt quite hit the spot.

Recognition / r-epo019
[Peter Chambers]

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…


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


August 25, 2006

Nze - Kitchen (Remixe)

Nzes Kitchen EP on Trapez was one that really polarised people. Like a lot of earlier releases on Circus Company, it was inspired buffooneryhouse as a rumpalicious parodic pastichebut I can see why it gives people the howling shits. To me, its always a relief when artists re-introduce a sense of the ridiculous into what can all-too-often become a very self-serious humour-free zone. On this remix twelve inch, Skats mix retains most of the madcap vocal, but foists it into the service of the groove, a swinging, bouncy house number in typical Circus Company/Karat style. Thomas Schbens version adds electric-bass-in-space and mentalist skip/schaffel beats to dub the original to the limit of recognition. Like needle-free acupuncture or fat-free butter it removes those parts of the original people might have found most irksome. That theres nearly none of the essential humour left seems an (un)fortunate and unavoidable consequence. If trapped in a pantry and forced to listen to a version of Kitchen all day, Id definitely prefer Schbens version ad nauseum. But without the ridiculousness of the original, should it still deserved to be called Kitchen?

My Best Friend / MBF 12023
[Peter Chambers]

January 27, 2006

Jacek Sienkiewicz - Double Secret Life

After last years excellent Six Feet Above 12, this intriguing Polish producer hits the bullseye again with two long tracks that gel the loose fluidity of Latin microhouse with glances of Motor City introspection. Beyond that, Sienkiewiczs tracks are low-key and unassuming, with a rare capacity for a gentleness that nests inside density and digital craftsmanship. These tracks end abruptly because it would be too self-conscious for them to announce that they are ending. Life can be so nervous: a resolution or cadence to any of our thoughts and actions may or may not ever come. In Sienkiewiczs shy machines we find his uncertainty; in his tenderness, his humanity.

Recognition / 015
[Michael F. Gill]

August 18, 2005

Jacek Sienkiewicz - Six Feet Above

Six Feet Above picked up solely on the basis of a love for Six Feet Under does little to inspire comparisons to the TV show. Nonetheless, Sienkiwicz brings the goods here. The title track isnt much to worry about rhythmically, but the hovering synth lines that fly above the subterranean bass are. They rarely make much sense in the beginning moments of the track, but their atonal strains eventually coalesce into a sort of comfortableness after a few minutes before breaking up again into chaos. The B-side Perpetual Motion picks up the pace over its length, building to a Detroit-esque bell and stuttering synth laden high-point thats worth checking into.

Recognition / r-ep011
[Todd Burns]