September 18, 2007

Basteroid - Upset Ducks

At first it’s hard for me to imagine Upsets Ducks being used for dancing. I mean, I’ve felt that alchemy before, where physically encountering the music at proper volume in a dark and sweaty room consecrated to moving your ass makes even the most unassuming jams take on dimensions you couldn’t imagine in your most feverish headphone dreams, but Sebastian Riedl’s long-playing debut under the Basteroid name is too captivating in its insular, rough-and-smooth way to imagine listening communally, let alone dancing. The opening “16 Steps Away from the Stars” especially soft shoes its could-be-huge raft of interlocking burbles, melodic stabs, and static washes into something that seems to be continually turning away from the listener into somewhere more private and inaccessible; sure enough, having to be the pursuer just makes the attraction of the track fiercer.

Which isn’t to say at all that Basteroid sounds difficult or obtuse or dull; each track here packs all the “cloudbursts, breakdowns, and big hooks” that Peter Chambers summed up as the hallmarks of Areal’s sound in Beatz semi-recently. The artist and record that Riedl’s work here summons unavoidably to mind for those of us who are happy observers but not necessarily devotees of techno is The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime. But as good as that record is, the title is maybe even more appropriate for Upsets Ducks (although I wouldn’t want to lose Riedl’s sense of humor); Axel Willner’s opus opts for the in-your-face sparkle that makes his name so appropriate (think field as ground versus object, not plot of land) whereas the sneakier apogees of Basteroid get to the same heights by rougher, subtler, more sublime means.

Once Riedl hits the late period trifecta of “Pulsador de Alarma”/ “Allright” / “Un Dos Windows” it’s clear that although he’s not so headphone-pointillist as Willner he’s at least his match in crafting snarky movers that don’t so much burst at you as slyly insinuate themselves into your hindbrain. Like a lot of listeners normally so devoted to the Word, or at least the Voice, I can’t say I can actually hum any melodies even after weeks of devoted (obsessive?) listening, but I do find its steady, building pulse threading its way into more and more of my waking life.

Even as the construction of this album apparently disturbed the waterfowl outside his studio (especially the buzzy, grainy “Attention: Upsets Ducks,” I’d imagine), Riedl was crafting a near seamless 70 minutes that deserves to rival Willner’s big debut for the affections of those who normally listen to things with guitars in them.

I lack the technical or genre vocabulary to communicate to the diehards the difference in technique between, I can only talk about emotion: The Field is more like the sensation of sunshine on your face, a train ride to a new city, leaning in to kiss someone; Basteroid evokes instead the feeling of finally leaving work for the day, walking alone through your city late at night, falling asleep to the muted sound of the party next door. That the former is more obviously, maybe even aggressively ‘good’ as a set of signifiers is true, but there’s at least as much space (if not more) in my life for the latter. Riedl is definitely still capable of tearing up a dancefloor but he along with his contemporaries have finally learned the hard lessons of techno’s rich history of trying to make albums: how to craft an experience beyond that of getting up and moving, while still allowing the latter response. The result is rich and compelling enough to warrant repeated listens even from the neophytes.

Areal / AREALCD 6
[Listen]
[Ian Mathers]


September 17, 2007

Modeselektor - Happy Birthday!

Actually Modeselektor are excited to become cartoons. The group’s last couple of album covers are giddily aware of it. Inside the cover for Happy Birthday! and on its portly made-for-CD running-time, Modeselektor pound away with ACME anvils and beep beep through open rangescovering the distance between bangers and ballads. Or, to be fair, it’s just bangers and ballads. That’s it.

Let’s not take away from Modeselektor’s strengths though, the pair is also good at bastardizing genres and music scenes. Their debut album wasn’t named Hello Mum! for no reason. Happy Birthday! just begs to be described in a pragmatic word like “chock-full,” but here’s an overlooked factoidit’s the first album to be graced by one Thom Yorke which isn’t worried about being tasteful with a capital T.

Being tasteless suits the band just fine. With “2000007,” it also lets them out-prefuse Prefuse 73. Not stuck explaining their exquisite band name or racial politics must be fun, because it definitely sounds a helluva lot more brash and exciting than what Scott Herren is doing these days. The track might be in the genre-netherworld between glitch-hop and euro-crunk, but it’s definitely an unabashed sequel to group’s last album opener with the French rap group TTC.

Modeselektor continue to gleefully plunder their own past as well as others for inspiration throughout the 18 tracks. One notable choice is Scooter and their Teutonic happy-hardcore schlockfest, “Hyper Hyper.” The original isn’t waiting to be rediscovered anytime soon, which makes Modeselektor’s locked-jaw and straight-faced cover even more perfect. Enlisting Otto Von Schirach for the vocal role of Wizard-gone-Return to Oz, with a couple flying monkeys in tow, “Hyper Hyper” is bound to make another generation of kids yell for hardcore all over again.

When the tempo slows, the duo is wise to make their music just as sonically juicy and epic. On their collaboration with Apparat, “Let Your Love Grow,” the group let a field of bulbous synths and trip-hop drum patterns sprout around Paul St. Hilaire, ending up with a dead ringer for Massive Attack. The track is a highlight but one that’s sure to be trumped in notoriety by “The White Flash.” The group’s best contribution to “White Flash” is to let Thom Yorke do what he does best (i.e. play lost angel in our dystopia and moaning into the abyss), and Yorke is perfectly laconic in returnhe even twists the euphoric “you have all the time in the world” into something preciously fleeting.

Happy Birthday! constantly reminds me of something Vitalic said in an interview”I like people screaming in the sound with explosions.” When Modeselektor don’t try to fit every scream and explosion into its folds, the album sags. Tacks like “BMI” and “The Wedding Toccata Theme” sound dull when set against the cartoon-ish extremes of a song like “The First Rebirth,” which comes alive by being chopped and crunked before your ears. Luckily, most of Happy Birthday! finds Modeselektor being so busy being loony tunes that there’s little time to sit still and be bored.

Bpitch Control / BPC 159CD
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


July 29, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 30

Jahcoozi - Reworks (Careless)
Genre: House, Leftfield

Tiger Stripes / Solomun - Hooked / Jungle River Cruise (Liebe Detail)
Genre: House, Minimal/Deep

Nate DeYoung: It didn’t take too long until I realized that yes, once again, the sky must still be quite pink.

Social Being - Free Your Mind (Tuning Spork)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: The guitar part is like a memory, like the raw acoustic riffs struggling against the walls of digital feedback in Fennesz’ Endless Summer.

Turbo Crystal - French Girl (Tiny Sticks)
Genre: Leftfield, Neo-Disco

Luciano - Fourges et Sabres (Perlon)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: Luciano, unlike Guns n Roses (theres a first time for every comparison), has achieved that rare thing, a track which almost totally suspends the sensation of time passing, which thrusts you into a soundworld which is propulsive and immersive.

Socks and Sandals - Rishi Saturn (Microcosm)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Beatzcast #43: Crambe Repetita

Kevin J. Elliott reviews Chromeo’s Fancy Footwork


July 20, 2007

Charts: July 20 2007

The Beatz staff pick their favorite dance releases of 2007, so far…

Peter Chambers

Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Lopazz - Share my Rhythm (Isolee mix) [Review]
Andy Stott - Handle with Care / See in Me [Review]
Kalabrese - Rumpelzirkus Part 1 [Review]
Efdemin/Carsten Jost - Split EP [Review]
Carsten Jost - Atlantis I & II
Kerri Chandler - Computer Games EP
Andy Stott - the Massacre EP [Review]
DJ Koze - All the Time EP [Review]
Len Faki - Rainbow Delta/Mekong Delta [Review]
Shackleton - Blood on my Hands (Villalobos mix) [Review]
Roman Fluegel - Mutter EP
Various - Death is Nothing to Fear Vol. 1 [Review]
Vulva String Quartett - Cranberry Song EP [Review]
Portable - Don’t Give Up (Remixes) [Review]
Syncom Data - Beyond the Stars (Remixes) [Review]
Ilya Santana - Discotized EP [Review]
DJ Koze vs. Sid le Rock - Naked (Koze remix) [Review]
Battles - Atlas (Koze mix) [Review]
Prosumer/Murat Tepeli - What Makes You Go For It? [Review]

Nate DeYoung

Lindstrom & Solale - Let’s Practice [Review]
Hatchback - White Diamond (Prins Thomas remix)
Audion - I Gave You Away [Review]
Partial Arts - Trauermusik [Review]
Motiivi:Tuntematon - I Don’t Feel Good [Review]
Efdemin - Just a Track [Review]
Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Ame - Balandine [Review]
Argy - 1985 (Sydenham & Rune Remix) [Review]
Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music [Review]
Dixon - Resident Advisor #48

Todd Hutlock

cv313 - Dimensional Space EP [Review]
Lazy Fat People - Pixelgirl EP [Review]
Dominik Eulberg - Limikolen EP [Review]
Beck - Cellphone’s Dead (Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Luciano - No Model No Tool [Review]
Audio Werner - Flatfunk [Review]
Tony Allen - Ole (A Remix by Moritz Von Oswald) [Review]
Riton - Hammer of Thor
Adultnapper - Betty Crocker Moves to Berlin
Gaiser vs Heartthrob - Nasty Girl [Review]
The Field - From Here We Go Sublime [Review]
Gui Boratto - Chromophobia [Review]
DeepChord presents Echospace - The Coldest Season
Dominik Eulberg - Heimische Gefilde [Review]
Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss [Review]

Michael F. Gill

Sorcerer - Surfing After Midnight (Prins Thomas Remix) [Review]
Matt John - Soulkaramba [Review]
Jacek Sienkiewicz - Good Night & Good Luck [Review]
Shackleton - New Dawn / Massacre
Air - Lost Message [Review]
M.I.A. - Bittersuss [Review]
Escort - All That She Is [Review]
Voom Voom - Best Friend / Sao Verought Remixes
Frankie Valentine - Zumbi (Henrik Schwarz Dub Remix)
Kelley Polar - Rosenband (Instrumental)


July 19, 2007

Avus - Furry Hat / Spnkr

A pleasant surprise is rarely a bad thing, being both enjoyable and unexpected. Cynicism is just as bored of itself as it is the world. A dash of cynicism can save you from later shames, but even a dash too much makes the sweetest puss sour. Going record digging, the strange vicissitudes of wet/dry and gush/clench really influence your obsessions. How many of you have had a “buy on sight” label that, based on a string of disappointments, you’ve written off totally? I confess I was just about to put Border Community into the ignore and disparage basket, but then along comes Avus to right my wrong-headed skull.

“Furry Hat” is warm, with a da-dudding bassline that’s nicely trancey, grounding the whole thing in BC’s fargone past at a summer field, way back in some psilocybin dreamtime. A little like some of Jesse Somfay’s work, Avus here manages a nice contrast between the lighter, granular elements written over the top and the deep, warm presence of the lower frequencies. The “Feedbackapella” stands on its own as an ambient track, and is just long enough to highlight the composition’s glassy high tone crescendo before the boredoms arrive. “Spnkr” continues with the “da-ga-da” bassline sound, but this time pairs it with some sandpaper-dry snares and a fairly tight, high-pitched kick which is then doubled as the track goes on, giving you twice the bass for your face. Like all the Border Community releases (and in homage to their prog/trance roots) the EP is totally modular, full of tools ready to be looped, cut, re-edited and arranged a la carte. It’s on this tip that the “Acid Paddle Tool” version of “Spnkr” comes into its own. Loopy, useful and kicking, it oddly ends up as my favourite track of the EP.

Border Community / 16 BC
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 15, 2007

Beatzcast #37: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music…

Tracklist
01: Beanfield Feat. Bajka - Tides (Ripperton Mix) [buy]
02: Simon Baker - The Fly [buy]
03: Argy - 1985 (Sydenham and Rune Mix) [buy]
04: Stereotyp - Keepin’ Me (Fauna Flash Mix) [buy]
05: Hatchback - White Diamond (Prins Thomas Mix) [buy]
06: Chymera - Arabesque [buy]

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


June 12, 2007

Gudrun Gut - In Pieces

Nobody has old-school West Berliner coolsie cred like Gudrun Gut. The ex-Einstrzende Neubauten/Malaria member and current Monika label boss has finally released her debut solo album I Put A Record On, a gauzy/wonky/smoky fug of beats, breaths, and sweet nothings. It’s a treat, but it pales in comparison to this EP of remixes. In fact, for me the past while has nodded to 2007 being the “Year of the Remix EP”. Hmm. It’s a measure of how connected Gudrun is that she’s got not just one, or two, but three luminaries to remix her work. For the price of one piece of wax you get a Voigt/Burger remix, a Pole remix, and a Dntel remix.

Voigt and Burger straighten things out in inimitable Kln style, sticking a one-note piano sample from the original in between some dubby soundplanes, and then placing the vocal in the middle of the whole she-bang. It’s a dead-simple track, but punches above the weight of its elements with direct, emotive force. If you’ve ever seen Michael Mayer do his dance behind the decks (youtube it if you haven’t), this iswell, this is what the dance “sounds” like. Pole’s mix stays with the groove and feel of the original, but adds a farty bumble-bee synth note and some of that Polescape magic. But as accomplished as both of these mixes are, it’s the Dntel one thats the heartwinner. Layering lots of found/field sounds in the background, Tamborello brings Gudrun out of the haze and into the sunshine for something like an electronically rendered Breeders tune. Tender anthems, tracks, and insect vibrations it’s all here volks. Get it while the getting’s gut.

Monika Enterprises / MONIKA 54
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


June 6, 2007

Gui Boratto - Chromophobia Remixe Part 1

Like Booka Shade or Hkan Lidbo, Gui Boratto has an extensive background as a “hired gun”, and has produced all kinds of tracks to order. Chromophobia, his debut on Kompakt, is likewise a finely fashioned piece of work by somebody who knows their way around a studio and is intent on manufacturing a product with polish and care. The album sounds exactly as Boratto had intended, which is both its strength and (ultimately) its limit.

This remix EP is also “exactly what you’d expect” - close your eyes and imagine either Robert Babicz or The Field remixing Boratto and (if you’ve any imagination) you’d probably conceive of something almost identical to what’s being offered here. Babicz’s mix of “Mr. Decay” is typically loud, fruity, and rich (his tracks always “sound” about 10% fatter than anyone elses) with his quasi-Wagnerian love of massive stabs and huge malfunctioning reverb breakdowns. With the mids-heavy bassline driving things along here, this is also as close to Alex Smoke as Babicz has ever sounded, but ultimately it’s neither Babicz’s best work nor a magical translation of the original. The Field’s rework of “Hera” does the equivalent of cutting a photograph into tiny squares and then sticking them back togetherin almost exactly the same place. Both mixes are competent works by talented producers reworking decent tracks by a conspicuous professional - but thats not enough, theres no surprise here, nothing dangerous or truly unexpected. Ho hum.

Kompakt / KOMPAKT 158
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


May 30, 2007

Crowdpleaser & St Plomb - 2006 Remixes 1

My God, has it really been three years since the “plugin acid” revival ran its course? Remember all those Dalhbck and Dahlbck records? Actually, they were pretty good, I thought. But maybe its wrong to ever talk about acid as a “revival”, when its never really gone away for more than a moment. Like the Blues Brothers, acid seems to be as revoltingly effective as it ever was, now matter how much of a caning it gets.

Little wonder though, when you hear a record like the “Jackin Freak” remix of Crowdpleaser & St. Plomb’s wonky floor-warmer “1,2,3″. This track manages to bottle the psychopathology of an entire lost weekend in the space of six minutes, starting out quite politely, bugging like a pair of Rodney Dangerfield eyes for a moment, then calming right down—just in time for your neat segue into the low-slung scape of the Daschund mix of “Zukunft”, which echoes and eddies its way into a party mood (in a very mnml way), with lots of splashing granulated textures, and that “sleazy bee” melody retained from the original version. Und (remember “Fox in the Box”—now that was a polarizer) brings her love for out-of-place-vocals and her ear for melody to bear “Today”, coming up with a nice A to B microhouse record, replete with strange intrusions, crowing cocks and toy machines.

This is a great EP that manages to do what remix EPs should—complementing the spirit of the original and introducing new relationships, new proximities that suggest both the source and an inspiration. Hot on the heels of Crowdpleaser & St Plombs album and the recent Kate Wax reissue, Mental Groove are (just quietly) shaping up to be one of the truly great labels.

Mental Groove / MG.LTD.016
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


May 27, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 21

Shackleton - Blood On My Hands [Villalobos Remix] (Skull Disco)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: Its a ridiculous criticism to say that its too long, or that its not a track these are two other undeniable qualities that make this work so exemplary, just as they point out its limitations.

Lindstrom & Solale - Lets Practise (Feedelity)
Genre: Neo-Disco

Trusme - Browns (Still Love Music)
Genre: House, Disco

Nick Sylvester: The lines between jazz and funk and disco and house continue to be blurred into one gloriously incriminating mess.

Sorcerer - Surfing At Midnight (Tirk)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Balearic

Mallory O’Donnell: In the field of down-to-midtempo dreamy instrumentals with beaded fringe, Surfing at Midnight is dippy rather than hippy, and (quite happily) just baked rather than psychedelic, dude.

Robag Wruhme Als Rolf Oksen - Bart Eins (Freude Am Tanzen)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Trentemoller feat. DJ Tom and Vildtand - An Evening With Bobi Bros (Kickin Records)
Genre: Minimal/Deep, Dub

Sneak Thief - G String Orchestra (Klakson)
Genre: Italo, New Wave/Synth

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…

Beatzcast #34: Crambe Repetita


— Next Page »