April 17, 2007

Audion - Mouth To Mouth Remixes

Whenever I see a remix single of an absolutely amazing, individualistic record—like this is, one of 2006’s biggest and best tracks—I have to wonder why in the hell anyone would want to remake it. It just seems to be a losing proposition to try to put your own work up next to a classic in the making, especially less than a year after the original release.

The brave souls here are M_nus man Heartthrob (who takes it on twice, no less!) and Wagon Repair vet Konrad Black, both of whom should be commended for not only having the balls to take on a record bigger than the both of them put together, but also to do a fine job with it, all told. Heartthrob takes two similar routes, both maintaining the original’s singular sense of menace and stalking ability, and on the “Mantap Mix” he takes the swelling analog noise from the original that made you scream your balls off last summer. Beyond that, it’s pretty much par for the course: a tight, funky, minimal, throbbing analog steam. Konrad keeps it more on the lowdown, working the bottom end and the atmospherics into a thick, sticky froth, only to let in some light just in time to keep it from getting suicidal. Disaster averted.

Online exclusives are here, too, from Matthew “Audion” Dear himself and Ryan Elliott. Dear’s “Mund zu Mund” version rearranges some runs and kicks a bit more Latin-esque funk into the mix while still managing to turn those noises in for more thrills than they should be worth. Elliott strips it down for spare parts, working the perc into a frenzy and dropping a few of those big swells, too, just to keep it interesting. It’s a damn shame the online tracks aren’t available on wax, they are worth the trouble for fans.

Spectral Sound / SPC-42
[Todd Hutlock]

February 16, 2007

Peter Visti - Balearic Love


It really doesn’t come much more transparent then the title of this little ditty—”Balearic Love” pretty much does what it says on the tin, which is certainly not a problem for this child. A sensuous, deep, casa de tropico number, it gets stark naked and runs around on the beach at 3 a.m. looking for hugs—and we’ve only reached the halfway mark. All the touchstones are here—lingering syn-strings, piano stabs, warm layers of
multiple melodic lines and drums that don’t so much drive as bolster the sexualized technology on display. There’s even an indecipherable vocal coming in at the song’s close, so you can vibe and chant away, at least until the rush cools off.

B-side “Bad Weather” mixes things up a bit and gets into squirrely funk land, which is more than fine—this time the rhythm is dominant and chunky like a 1983 dance dubplate, with the layering of multiple synths as prominent as on the flip, but to the tune of a more
stark and Euro-disco beat. Though not as memorable as the A-side, it gives us a little bit more to chew on in the bottom-end department, while still retaining the lovely midi-scapes of its partner. Completely predictable, yet somehow completely awesome.

Eskimo Records / 541416 501583
[Mallory O’Donnell]

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…


November 10, 2006

Alice Smith - Love Endeavor


Singer Alice Smith, brassily-voiced and unknown, helms this set of vocal and instrumental remixes from two decided non-unknowns—Freeform Five and Maurice Fulton. One in a long line of BBE’s soulful house cuts, “Love Endeavor” revolves around a simple, supple bassline and a slowly accumulating wave of percussion. Freeform Five balance the vocal with an electro tinge and build to an early-house workout complete with what sound like spoons. Maurice Fulton drops a good deal of the vocal out and wields the higher end of Smith’s register into a simmering gospel breakdown featuring delectably spare use of piano fills. Quite good, if a bit workmanlike at times—I’ll be intrigued to hear what else Alice comes up with on her own.

BBE / BBE 12 041
[Mallory O’Donnell]

November 10, 2006

Greg Wilson - Hardcore Boogie


Last year’s Credit to the Edit was, for many, one of the reissues of the year, as long-time Manchester DJ Greg Wilson served up some of his finest disco, funk, electro, and boogie re-edits. The three tracks on Hardcore Boogie are Wilson’s own, created using the same techniques as his re-edits, but with more layers of different source songs and various vocals thrown on top. In other words: bootlegs. “Hardcore Boogie” cuts in some orgiastic female panting and a vocoder-ized Bambaataa over a roller-disco loop. “Chocolate Factor” is an unqualified masterpiece—nearly fourteen minutes of Chocolate Milk’s “Who’s Getting It Now” atop a mesmerizing set of funk bass and stabs. The result is an early-morning danceathon that’s the essence of boogie—spare enough to be ageless, forceful enough to keep the dedicated groover in total body-lock. The last track, “DD & Rakim” mixes Eric B & Rakim’s well-worn “I Know You Got Soul” and a James Brown grunt scratched at 45 (from Dubble D’s “Squelch”) to create an almost introspective, broken beat-esque jazzscape. Essential productions from a living legend.

Redux / REDUX001
[Mallory O’Donnell]

June 2, 2006

Michael Mayer & Reinhard Voigt / Davidovitch - Speicher 36

Ronan Fitzgerald: Presumably there are people in the indie kid turned Kompakt kommunity that don’t start thinking “calling Mr Raider, calling Mr Wrong, calling Mr Vain” when they hear “Transparenza.” Shame on them! “Tranzparenza” is essentially a great piece of pop trance just in time for summer. And if you’re going to break a trance taboo, then why not do it with an air raid siren?! On the flip Davidovitch’s “Cellophane” continues the summer in the 90s theme. I’m too young to remember if Ace of Base released “12 inch versions,” or what kind of seedy underworld clubs played these, but if they did then “Cellophane” is surely what they sounded like; stomping dub basslines for the holiday resort beach.

Nick Sylvester: Coulda told me Davidovitch’s b-side was Senor Coconut stabbing at some sideways America’s Most Wanted, Commish or New York Undercover theme, I’da believed. This is by far the most shoulder-jiggly synth-noir wax I’ve heard out the Speicher series, which once used to put out real dance(able) music but now has become a repository for shitty basslines like this one, blup blup blup, fat guy doing the stairmaster. I appreciate the “steady beat with crazy shit on top” approach—crazy shit here being some dentist drill sounds and a dude talking about stuff—but this is camp at best, and it’s too slow to dance to anyway.

Know what? I think Mayer and R. Voigt actually do take a cop theme for their side. Listen to “Transparenza,” then listen to the turnaround on (the original) “Axel F.” The whole thing is a pleasant if not accidental Rex the Dog homage, the synths way too rounded off for either Mayer or Voigt. And like Davidovitch, crazy shit on top is the game’s name, but these vets pronounce their beats better, their snares crumpling not snapping, their smarts in the kicks.

Kompakt Extra / KOMEX36

February 10, 2006

In The Mix: Todd Burns

Maybe it’s just been a while, but this mix came surprisingly quickly and easily, whereas most attempts take four months of planning and three months of retooling. But, like anything, it’s all in the source material. Thomas Schumacher’s “Brut Royal” is the opener and sort of sets the template for what will follow: brutal bangers that nonetheless revel in a heaping of melodic marinade.

3 Channels’ Robag Wruhme imitation flows nicely into Lee Van Dowski’s newest record for the Num label, which is rapidly becoming as Boomkat rightly describes “the stripped-down dancefloor-ready cousin to Cadenza,” while the sonar bleeps of Chardronnet’s mixes nestles itself perfectly against the electro-disco-house stomp of Afrilounge’s undeniable “Discoheadz.”

I’ve been more interested in anthems than anything else lately, which should explain the next two tracks: “La Migale” and “Lazy,” which don’t exactly mix perfectly but are both too good on their own not to give their place here. And besides, “Lazy” offers a nice mix into the deep and bitter finale, “Tribute to Solitude,” which meets anything that Nathan Fake’s new album has to offer head-on.

1. Thomas Schumacher - Brut Royal [Spiel-Zeug Schallplatten]
2. 3 Channels – 2 Dancing Rabbits [Crosstown Rebels]
3. Lee Van Dowski – The Darkened Component [Num]
4. Goldfish und der Dulz – Ding Dong (Chardronnet Mix) [Kickboxer]
5. Afrilounge – Discoheadz (Rough Demo Cut) [Get Physical]
6. Delon & Dalcan – La Migale [Boxer]
7. Spare Time – Lazy (Original Mix) [Factor City]
8. Pelle Buys – Tribute to Solitude [Italic]


December 22, 2005

2005: The Year In Review

A look into the year that was in electronic musics…

Top 10 Albums

Matthew Herbert – Plat du Jour
Audion – Suckfish
Vitalic – OK Cowboy
Ark – Caliente
Dandy Jack & Junction SM – Los Siete Castigos
Marc Leclair – Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes
Pier Bucci – Familia
Who Made Who – Who Made Who
Lindstrom & Prins Thomas – Lindstrom & Prins Thomas
Alex Smoke – Incommunicado

This young Glaswegian producer’s debut came on like a shock: marrying a heady combination of electro, old school techno, minimal, and an innate pop sense. A collection of tracks that were just as liable to make you stop dancing in wonder, as it was to get you on the floor…

Top 10 Singles

Booka Shade – Mandarine Girl
Spare Time - Lazy
Luciano – Bomberos
Donato Dozzy & Exercise One - Skarciofen
Common Factor – That Was Then
Unai – Oh You and I
Royskpp feat. Karin Dreijer – What Else Is There?
Daso – Daybreak
Patrice Baumel – Mutant Pop
Stefan Goldmann – Blood

After previously appearing on the smaller Classic and Ovum labels, Goldmann steps up to the plate for Perlon’s 51st release—three enormous monster tracks of clicks and bass that start out with the most modest of intentions…

Top 5 DJ Mixes

Dominik Eulberg – Kreucht and Fluecht
Ewan Pearson – Sci.Fi.Hi.Fi, Vol 1
Annie – DJ Kicks
DJ Clever – Breakbeat Science 5
DJ Naughty – One Naughty Night in Berlin

Showcasing the vocal-end of electro-house, while throwing in classic disco and Italo to boot, DJ Naughty further pushed the dirty disco sound to its limits on this mix from the Eskimo label…

Top 5 Producers

Jesse Somfay
LCD Soundsystem
Putsch 79
Nathan Fake

Finding himself on seemingly every single DJ mix released this year, Fake had a massive year on the residual effects of the classic “The Sky Was Pink,” Traum’s 2005 crown jewel, “Dinamo,” and the white label of “Silent Night”…

Top 5 Remixers

Ricardo Villalobos
Abe Duque
Switch / YES Productions
Robag Wruhme
Stuart Price

Almost made the Killers listenable. No mean feat.

Top 5 Labels

Get Physical

Located strategically across the road from Kompakt HQ, the Traum family had its best year yet with strong entries from known quantities (Steve Barnes, Dominik Eulberg, Jeff Samuel) and a whole host of new producers (Alex Under, Jesse Somfay, Noze, Patrice Baumel)…

Top 5 Reissues

Keith Hudson – The Hudson Affair: Keith Hudson and Friends
DJ Shadow – Endtroducing
Luomo – Vocalcity
Prince Douglas – Dub Roots
AFX – Hangable Auto Bulb

Richard D. James’ formerly ultra-rare drill ‘n bass template sounds as fresh as ever, showing why betting on jungle in 1995 was the best decision he ever made…

Top 5 Compilations

Cybotron – Motor City Machine Music
V/A – Spectral Sound, Vol. 1
Senor Coconut – Coconut FM
Robag Wruhme & Wighnomy Brothers – Remikks Potpourri
Greg Wilson – Credit to the Edit

The first time that this dance music pioneer’s work has been collected. If you were going to clubs in the 1980s, Greg Wilson was your soundtrack—extending and tightening the tracks that you liked and turning them into the epics that you loved…

Words: Todd Burns
Voting Contributors: Todd Burns, Nate Deyoung, Michael F. Gill, Cameron Macdonald, Derek Miller, Mike Powell, Will Simmons

August 18, 2005

Spare Time - Lazy

The second release from this duo comprised of MouseUp (production) and Undo (vocals) is another burner from the Factor City camp. The A-side is the original mix, comprised of precision synth stabs, heavy bass drum and bassline, some light strings, and the unmatched vocal stylings of Undo. His is a controlled simmer here, never betraying much, but complementing well. After his contributions conclude, though, MouseUp turns the track elsewhere, undergoing a key change, edging the song into trancey-house oblivion. On the flipside we have Agoria’s mix, who takes the track and jacks it, cutting it up into constituent parts, all leading up to a periodic climax of clustered synth barrages. Top stuff, per usual.

Factor City / FC 012
[Todd Burns]