August 3, 2007

Beatzcast #44: Nate Deyoung


Stylus contributor Nate Deyoung presents a mix of recent dance tracks…

01: Otterman Empire - Private Land [buy]
02: Black Leotard Front - Casual Friday [buy]
03: Studio - Life’s a Beach (Todd Terje Remix) [buy]
04: Kelly Polar Quartet - Rhythm Touch [buy]
05: Phantom Slasher - Lasagna for 10 [buy]
06: Runaway - Ain’t Afraid to Beg [buy]
07: Map of Africa - Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys [buy]
08: Harry Nilsson - Jump Into the Fire [buy]
09: Etta James - In the Basement (Theo Parrish Re-Edit) [buy]
10: Lq - Lies (Theo Parrish Re-Edit) [buy]
11: Lee Douglas - Our Song 99 [buy]
12: Giorgio Gigli - Circle [buy]

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July 10, 2007

DJ 3000 / Gerald Mitchell / Ellen Allien - Alia / Geloshai 1862 / Retina


The fetish releases from the Motor City continue as DJ 3000’s (aka Frankie Juncaj) Motech label releases two limited-edition (at a mere 100 copies each) one-sided singles, capping the relative flurry of activity from the label in the last couple of months after a long layoff. Juncaj’s style fuses the sounds of his ancestral and birth homes: soulful keys and string sounds of classic Detroit mixed with tribal percussion inspired by the native music of Albania. It’s a rather unique mix, but on the first release here, the signature sounds are washed over a bit by Juncaj’s collaborators.

Gerald Mitchell (a fellow member of the UR/Los Hermanos family) adds a bit more techno thump than is necessary to the remix of the pair’s recent Alia single, effectively smothering its flavor; the addition of Diametric’s spoken word bits on “Geloshai 1862″ add some color, but not enough to make things memorable. Thankfully, Juncaj’s own remix of Ellen Allien’s “Retina” is full of the elements that make his best work so memorable. Led by a dramatic looped violin sample and laid over with his signature layered percussive elements, Juncaj makes the tune his own and then some. Anthemic, kinetic, and percolating in all the right ways, its a fantastic remix deserving of a much, much wider audience. Best of luck finding a copy, but if you do, clutch it with two hands.

Motech Limited / MT-LIMITED-1 / MT-LIMITED-2
[Todd Hutlock]

July 8, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 27

Prosumer / Murat Tepeli - What Makes You Go For It? (Ostgut Tontrager)
Genre: House, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: 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.

Zander VT - Dig Your Own Rave (Memo)
Genre: Techno, Electro-House

Tolga Fidan - Venice / Tambulistan (Vakant)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: Once something sufficiently menacing is found (black horns, icy strings, something scaly and slithering), a two-note minor interval or an arabesque/creepy/ancient-sounding melody is mixed in, and there’s your track.

Theo Parrish - Sound Sculptures Volume 1 (Sound Signature)
Genre: Detroit, House

Michael F. Gill: 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.

Syncom Data - Beyond the Stars Remixes (Syncom Data Records)
Genre: Techno, Dub

Beatzcast #40: Crambe Repetita

Nick Southall reviews Two Lone Swordsmen’s Wrong Meeting II

Nate DeYoung takes on the Scandanavian Disco of Bjorn Torske

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]

May 29, 2007

Various Artists - Shut Up And Dance! Updated

All too often when I admit my passion for techno music to someone, the image that they conjure up is far from my own perception of it. To them, the word seems to imply a sound of hard and infinitely spiralling industrial loops; in short, music for drugged up idiots with their shirts off. This stigma that seems to stem from the more aggressive side of 90�s techno has proved hard to shake from the everyman�s psyche, and is one of the main reasons why �minimal� has proved such a popular term for DJs, producers, and fans alike as they desperately try to distance themselves from the boorish connotations that many people draw with the genre.

The minimal techno (no matter how “minimal” a lot of these so called tracks are) scene seems to have manufactured an image for itself that suggests an intelligence behind the music and its creation, whilst simultaneously being extremely danceable and able to assert transcendental experiences on the dancefloor through innovative sound design. Some of the more rockist critics may scoff at this supposed ideology, writing it off as yet another excuse for hedonists in their twenties to go out and take as many drugs as they can get hold of, but the same criticism could be levelled to almost any other style of music. Would they say, for example, that punk meant nothing because a high proportion of the audiences were high on speed? Another argument aimed towards techno as a mindless, pedestrian form of art focuses on its simplistic rigidity of structure. Whilst its true that 99 per cent of tracks share uniformity through their 4/4 time signature, it is this theoretical canvas that allows producers to concentrate on the finer details and layers within the music, in addition to maximising the benefits that stem from using patterns and repetition to absorb the listener into the sound.

Electronic evangelists such as myself may even stick their necks out on the line to say that modern techno music is high art at its peak of visceral effectivity; marrying artistry and craftsmanship with sheer functionality to create an end product that is capable of stirring the minds, hearts, and feet of even the most casual observers. Obviously there are exceptions to this sweeping statement, but there are many stables of artists that almost certainly subscribe to this way of thinking. The prime example of this would be Berlin�s Ostgut Ton label; an anomaly in today�s scene as its owners are also the proprietors of the infamous Berghain club. The club itself can even be seen in an artistic light; the unused power station being the perfect structural homestead for the machine music that inhabits its interior, whilst the Panoramabar upstairs hosts a painting by Turner prize winning German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans.

The label�s latest venture, Shut Up And Dance! Updated, sees them consciously attempt to bring techno music closer to being accepted as a form of high art by creating a project that merges the music with a form of dance that has been part of the high art status quo for centuries � ballet. The highly regarded Berlin Staatsballet are the chosen collaborators, and Ostgut have roped in an equally elite cast of producers to provide their soundtrack. �me, Luciano, NSI (aka Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer), Sleeparchive, and Luke Slater (as The 7th Plain) are the chosen few that were cherry picked to submit compositions, and all of the artists were given no instructions as to how the music should sound.

NSI open up the body of work with their effort, entitled “Bridge and Tunnel People”, which is possibly a comment on the suburban ballet fans travelling to the industrial locale of Berghain to sample the delights of the city�s vibrant techno scene (read more about the phrase here). The track begins with a section of typical orchestral instruments; a delayed harp, looped string section and a cascading piano, slowly building in intensity until the sounds are enveloped by rumbling bass and chaotic synth stabs that usher in the beat. The fourteen and a half minute piece continues to develop throughout, delicately segueing between and merging the sounds generally associated with both the techno and ballet worlds, and as such, is a perfect opening gambit for what is to come.

After the turbulent synergy of the opener, Sleeparchive contributes what is (as you�d expect from him) the most resoundingly minimalist track of the five; conjuring up a slowed down techno track that works its way from low frequency throbs and buzzes to wonky high frequency synth loops, removing them a minute from the end to give the music a sense of spaciousness that is only amplified by the low tempo. Sleeparchive�s sparse ending provides the perfect ending to flow into the compilation�s centrepiece, �me�s seventeen minute long cosmic micro-houser “Fiori” (Italian for “flowers”). Foreboding arpeggios and subtle whooshing percussion set the tone, before other elements are slowly introduced to the mix. The rhythmic bassline gives some bounce to the delicate beats, and warm yet melancholic synths are washed over intermittently to provide some relief to the intensity that is only increased by the strengthening of the percussion just before the halfway point. As proved with Carl Craig�s ubiquitous remix of Delia & Gavin on DFA, the 4×4 kick is a a very powerful tool when it�s employed midway through a track, but “Fiori” also demonstrates the efficacy of its removal; reintroducing the introduction�s ingredients now provide respite to the toughened middle section.

Luciano�s contribution, “Drunken Ballet”, injects some much needed humour and light-hearted quirkiness to the aphotic productions that precede it. The usual organic swing that underpins his work is accompanied by an intertwining vocal (simply consisting of a male and female oohing and aahing) that gives it a childlike, yet strangely sexual feel. Things are neatly rounded off with Luke Slater�s “Symphony for the Surrealists”, unconsciously continuing Luciano�s theme of infancy with a lush, ambient introduction accompanied with bleeps and xylophones that bring a child�s music box to mind. As the title suggests, it�s this track that has the most in common with traditional classical music in both structure and aesthetics, the typical orchestra being replaced with ebbing and flowing synthetic sounds. Slater�s use of intermittent percussion, radio static, detached voices, and eerie electronics throughout the thirteen minute epic is astounding, and even though only the most adventurous after-hours DJs will be playing it, it definitely marks itself out as one of the best electronic tracks of the year so far.

At a time of the year where everyone�s looking to individual artists for 2007�s top electronic album, this release definitely shouldn�t be swept under the carpet. It�s certainly very ironic that by collaborating with an organisation that�s as exclusionary as the Staatsballet, Ostgut Ton have created a body of work that will appeal to a much wider range of people than the usual club-based techno album. Whilst it almost certainly won�t be enough to make Berlin�s older ballet crowd journey back to Berghain for one of their usual debauched parties, if it makes a few of the more open minded classicist and rockist listeners think differently about techno, then it�s done its job. One thing�s for sure, it�ll make a lot of electronic music fans very happy indeed.

Ostgut Tontr�ger / ostgut CD03
[Richard Carnes]

May 24, 2007

Trentemoller feat. DJ Tom and Vildtand - An Evening With Bobi Bros


The word antipodes was recurred in descriptions justifying the quality of Trentemoller�s productions after the hype generated by �Polar Shift�. Hype that appeared to come to dust here, in the Antipodes (Australia), after a notoriously bad live show that showed beyond all reasonable doubt that �minimal� was totally at odds with itself, generating a hype-based following who neither understood nor liked the music they nonetheless deigned to dance to. Why? In Melbourne, it�s hard to discount the pervasive effects of five years of progressive dishwater on spongy young minds � here was a producer that re-packaged the �antipodes� of prog in a crispy, beautifully designed form. But it�s still dishwater if you ask me � the much loved Last Resort album is conspicuous both for its polished hi-fi sound design and its lack of taste. It�s not bad taste, no, just tasteless, inert � but for the light taint of detergent. Offensively inoffensive. Okay, so now you get both the �truth� of Trentemoller and this reviewers own prejudices (or at least one of the two). What of the music?

Well, I do concede this is a nice EP, actually. Again, maybe I only think so because of my bias in favour of all things deep and dubby, but both these tracks represent two ways into the groove via thoughtful, interesting arrangements filled with emotion and even� antipodes!

The A-side (with DJ T.O.M) opens on a keyboard line with something of the atmospherics of The Doors� �Riders on the Storm�, adding a scratch-textured loop for a momentary nod to Jan Jelinek before the signature crispy compressed kick-snare sets to work. The main melodic refrain from the keyboard part goes solo in the third minute, unfolding as the groove marks time and breaking apart with occasional outbursts of delay. I wonder if I can still pick up the remnants of the washing up? No, not here. Trentemoller�s collaboration seems to have moderated and mellowed the fellow, in a good way.

The B harks back to early MRI and the halcyon days of Force Tracks, which can�t be a bad thing � there�s even a very white female vocal on hand to lend curves to the sound planes. (Are we due for a dub-house revival?) But then there�s those lyrics � honestly, as a DJ, I couldn�t stand behind the decks with my best �serious DJ� mien while �You are ecstasy/you are sex� came oohing and ahhing out of an otherwise well put together track. Ah, my tainted palette. Argh, bubbles, bitterness � dishwater! How could you? Why did you? CD-users and edit-freaks offer themselves the possibility of truncating this taste lapse, but for me and others who play the track as it lays, this renders a whole side un-usable�unless you like the lyrics? Given that I was almost alone in my assessment of Last Resort, you�ll probably find a lot to love here.

Kickin Records / KICK 154
[Peter Chambers]

April 22, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 16

Theo Parrish - Children of the Drums (Sound Signature)
Genre: Detroit

Peter Chambers: �Children of the Drum� contains all those elements that make Parrish�s music tick�a descending mesmer-melody that�s used as backdrop for rolling percussion (beautifully played by Jerry the Cat), a vocal very high in the mix, and these crazy drum machine patterns in the distant background somewhere�bongos going quietly bonkers.

Lovebirds - Modern Stalking (Winding Road Records)
Genre: House, Neo-disco

Audion - Mouth To Mouth Remixes (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Cortney Tidwell - Don�t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up (Ever Records)
Genre: Electro-House

Sly Mongoose - Bad Pulse (Mule Musiq)
Genre: House, Neo-Disco

Nick Sylvester: Sped up just 8-10 BPM or so would make this hotly tipped Japanese producer�s latest a-side a primetime player at a disco-edit party, though there�s something special to how the track works at the slightly languorous tempo it ships with: the toms sound deeper and hold out with pitch, the percussive grit of the rhythm guitar scraping hits harder, the piano fills up what space is left.

Digitaline - Anticlockwise (Cadenza)
Genre: Minimal-Tech

Tiny Sticks vs. Mental Groove - Killing Your Ghost (Mental Groove/Tiny Sticks)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Electro-House

J�rgen Paape - Speicher 47 (Kompakt Extra)
Genre: Minimal/Deep, Techno

Convextion - Miranda Remixes (Matrix)
Genre: Techno, Dub

Todd Hutlock: The original mix is a damn fine piece of second-wave Detroit techno, all jumping rhythms, dubbed-out keyboard stabs, and ring-modulated riffage, but fuck, this ain�t the second coming of �Strings of Life� or something.

Weekly Staff Charts
Beatzcast #28: Crambe Repetita

April 20, 2007

Beatzcast #28: Crambe Repetita


01: Theo Parrish - Children of the Drum (1997 Predecessor Mix) [buy]
02: Lovebirds - Behind You [buy]
03: Bebel Gilberto - Bring Back the Love (Prins Thomas Miks) [buy]
04: Kate Wax - Killing Your Ghost (St. Plomb Mix) [buy]
05: Sly Mongoose - Bad Pulse [buy]

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April 20, 2007

Charts: April 20 2007

Mallory O’Donnell
V/A - Trance Europe Express [Volume]
Hiltmeyer , Inc. - Sendling 70 [Gomma]
Cabaret Voltaire - The Crackdown [Virgin]
Sly Mongoose - Bad Pulse [Mule Musiq]
Michoacan - She’s Sent Heaven (The Emperor Machine Instrumental Remix) [Tiny Sticks]
Annie - Heartbeat (The Field Remix) [679]
Taana Gardner - Heartbeat (Larry Levan Remix) [West End]
Inner Life - Moment of My Life [Salsoul]
Ministry - I Wanted to Tell Her [Arista]
Krisma - Miami [CGD]

Michael F. Gill
Tiger Stripes - Voyage [Nite Grooves]
Root Source - Beyond The Haze [Freestyle Records]
Pendle Coven - Golden Hadron [Modern Love]
The Progressions - Fair Deal [Trojan]
The Rotating Assembly - Seasons Of My Life [Sound Signature]
Einzelkind & Meat - Bonus Beats [Get Physical]
Search and Destroy - Candyfloss [Hotflush Recordings]
Martin Circus - Before It Gets Dark [Prelude]
Wish & Fonda Rae - Touch Me [KN Records]
Aaron Broomfield - I’m Gonna Miss Ya [Mountain Records]

April 16, 2007

Theo Parrish - Children of the Drums


Theo Parrish is (by all accounts) a real character, an impassioned curmudgeon who spouts strong opinions, demands outrageous appearance fees, and produces highly idiosyncratic deep house that (likewise) oozes a deep self-assurance. Maybe the spirits are helping him, who knows? But there�s a righteousness to the man and his work that infuses even the wonkiest of his tracks with an undeniable, irrepressible energy. Even when he�s making seemingly counterintuitive production decisions, it�s obvious that he really means it, and time has largely endorsed him�classics like �Ebonics� and �Overyohead� are still as exquisite as when they were released almost a decade ago. It�s something that�s seen Parrish (rightly in my view) elevated to the status of a key innovator in the deeper strands of reduced house and techno and namechecked by Henrik Schwarz, Lawrence, and others as a godfather figure of sorts. CC�s mix of �Falling Up� becoming a smash can�t have hurt, either.

And here, folks, is a timely re-release of two classic Parrish cuts, just in time for the continental re-discovery of deep house that appears to be going on at the moment. �Children of the Drum� contains all those elements that make Parrish�s music tick�a descending mesmer-melody that�s used as backdrop for rolling percussion (beautifully played by Jerry the Cat), a vocal very high in the mix, and these crazy drum machine patterns in the distant background somewhere�bongos going quietly bonkers. Deliciously bent deep stuff. �I Am These Roots� is infused with the same great �feel,� and while the arrangement isn�t quite as interesting as the A-side, there�s nonetheless that same intangible �thing� that keeps you coming back again and again. I think they call it� soul?

Sound Signature / COD1
[Peter Chambers]

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