September 10, 2007

San Serac - Professional

It often seems that the sincere ones are the most susceptible to disappearing in the future. Is that ironic or realistic? I think back to the half-remembered NYC indie/new wave group My Favorite, who channeled and built upon the literate poetry and angst of The Smiths and New Order better than any other group I’ve heard. But there wasn’t anything flashy or shockingly innovative about My Favorite’s music, and the fact that they always wore their earnestness on their sleeves eventually sealed their fate to obscurity.

I bring up My Favorite in relation to San Serac because Professional makes a case for the two groups being kindred spirits (not to mention that SS did do a remix for My Favorite’s swansong, The Happiest Days Of Our Lives). However, San Serac, fitting more into the growing indie-dance community, has a more marketable flash in his pan to overcome tags of “sophistication” and “maturity”.

That flash comes from an deeper set of musical influences than your average Ed Banger types, moving beyond the standard Daft Punk aping and post-punk racket to also include a sincere love of ’80s R&B, Funk, Freestyle and, dare I say it, Yacht Rock. The slightly peevish vocals from SS mastermind Nat Rabb may not sound too different from a standard !!! or LCD Soundsystem record (even if he can do a good Bowie impression), but you never get the feeling he is putting you on, even as he is namedropping Luis Buuel films, rhyming “commission” with “extradition”, and describing his plans for nihilstic love. This unbridled affection manifests itself in small ways throughout the record, but one of the key tip-offs is “The Black Monolith”, a rather heartfelt quiet storm number that could’ve easily been played for raised eyebrows and theatrical pastiche.

If there’s one criticism I might throw at Professional, its that some of the arrangements might be a bit overcooked for dance floor play, a qualm that is actually resolved by the CD’s addition of four dubbed out tracks (billed “for DJs only”) that follow the album proper. For the most part, San Serac has me excited about a fusion of indie rock and dance that is more sophisticated than the Modular or Kitsun template. Garish and more distorted blog-house artists will get more words written about them, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a classier indie-dance record in 2007 than Professional.

Frogman Jake / FMJ 23
[Michael F. Gill]

June 6, 2007

Tensnake - I Say Mista

Blame the current streak of scorching summer days but Tensnake’s new single I Say Mista is nothing short of a salve. Like a mutant (and highly infectious) strain of electro-pop, “I Say Mista” is doused with enough fizzing Italo handclaps and bubbling Chicago House synths to ignore your clingy t-shirt and how soaked it really is. Which really isn’t too much of a change for Tensnake. Dude’s unassuming productions have given us a debut (”Around The House”) and remix (Junior Boys’ “FM”) that never shock or awe outright - they take their time and insistently draw your attention in. A fact that makes Audision’s overhaul of “I Say Mista” into a churning techno beast feel like its declawed - all the gradual intensity of the original is blurred when thrown into the foreground. B-side “Look Into the Sky” flips “um hmm” into a hook and slowly carousels simple melody around like an ice cream truck. Like all the smart kids, all I can do is run after it.

Mirau / MIRAU 006
[Nate DeYoung]

May 13, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 19

Pepe Bradock - Rhapsody in Pain (Atavisme)
Genre: Leftfield

Peter Chambers: Youre not going to have a lukewarm reaction to this compositionI love it, but that might be a reflection of my overdeveloped sense of the ridiculous. Im so happy people are making fearlessly individual, expressive music like this, experimenting with the idiom of groove to make something perverted, pervertingyet still funky.

Ilya Santana - Discotized (Permanent Vacation)
Genre: Neo-Disco

Force of Nature - Sequencer / Afroshock (Mule Musiq / Headinghome Records)
Genre: Neo-Disco

Nate DeYoung: It takes a grown man to acknowledge when he goes out of his way to find dishwashing music and this timelike alwaysForce of Natures Afroshock (Broken Rule Mix) just fell on my lap.

Toby Tobias - Daves Sex Bits (Rekids)
Genre: Neo-Disco, Balearic

Shed - Remixes In Four Parts 2 (Soloaction)
Genre: Techno, Detroit

Oliver $ - Hotflash Vol 2 (Grand Petrol)
Genre: Electro-House

Nick Sylvester: When [Oliver] grooves for a few seconds on a hiccup of filterhouse, I suddenly remember how infuriating glitch can get. I want that hiccup to last forever, a hiccup that comprises the best moment on the whole twelve-inch, but Olivers already moved on.

Baby Ford / Benno Blome - Smoke Machine (Sender)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Passions - Emergency (Kitsune)
Genre: Indie-Dance

Move D - Ac1D (Modern Love)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

Weekly Staff Charts
Beatzcast #32: Crambe Repetita

Nina Phillips reviews MIA’s Bittersss

Michael F. Gill talks about the process of a creating a DJ mix on Modyfier

May 8, 2007

Force of Nature - Sequencer / Afroshock


I’ve hit the tipping point with Force of Nature. Black Moon, the duo’s debut for Mule Musiq, might have been my first belated exposure last year, but hell if I was willing to accept the feat of tracking down the rest of their stuffdudes at ritzy boutiques were charging 30 bucks for just a CD. So for the sake of my wallet, I chalked it up as an anomaly and moved on. But now, after both Sequencer and Afroshock have hit, and hit me hard, that gnawing feeling of inevitabilitythe opposite of consumer bliss?has started to creep in.

And the strangest part of this feeling is that I’m not even sure if “Sequencer” works. From the very beginning, the waves of a foreboding arpeggiator set against a gentle bobbing wheeze epitomize the track’s confused tone. It isn’t really helped out by the ghostly machine sighs or the hopscotch synths. Instead, each part uncomfortably hangs together, in a way that draws me into the structure and pulls me away from the actual sound of the track. Rekid fixes and vamps it. Built around billowing delay, his remix feels like the best cross-pollination with his Quiet Village remixes: he teases out and slowly builds a heavy pulse that goes for the gut. The single’s standout, though, is the b-side “Transmute.” Built around a slo-mo melody, defanged electro backbeat, and drizzle of massaging acid, the song is light and ephemeral in the best possible way.

It takes a grown man to acknowledge when he goes out of his way to find dishwashing music and this timelike alwaysForce of Nature’s “Afroshock (Broken Rule Mix)” just fell on my lap. The song’s original giant toms might have been muddled under the wipes, scrubs, and splashes of Broken Rule’s rework of the percussion, but the spy-film bassline sneaks through enough to add well-needed intrigue to my domestic life. It’s this Afroshock single in particular that has me totally seduced by Force of Natureboth sides are perfect for mid-set, mid-run, or pushing past the midnight doldrums. Be warnedit could end up costing you more than for just one vinyl.

Mule Musiq / MULEMUSIQ 11
Headinghome Records / HHR-016
[Nate DeYoung]

May 4, 2007

Charts: May 4, 2007

Nate DeYoung
Baby Oliver - Uptown Express [Environ]
Lindstrom - Let’s Practice [Feedelity]
Force of Nature - Afroshock [Mule]
Juergen Paape - Speicher 47 [Kompakt]
Andomat3000 & Jan - L Delay [Cadenza]
Sebbo - Beirut Boogie [Liebe Detail]
V/A - Shut Up and Dance! [Ostgut]
Kathy Diamond - Miss Diamond to You [Permanent Vacation]
Matthew Dear - Asa Breed [Ghostly]
Efdemin - Efdemin [Dial]

Michael F. Gill
Marlow - So Mellow So Sweet [Moon Harbour Recordings]
DJ /Rupture - Secret Google Cheat Codes [Violent Turd]
David Keno and Francesco Passantino - Monosynth [Keno Records]
Acid OG’s - Good Good Feeling [Chicago Housing Commission]
Chris Rea - Josephine [Magnet]
Electribe 101 - Talking With Myself (Deep Dream Mix) [Club]
Lo Verde - Die Hard Lover [Moby Dick]
Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy [MCA]
Prism - The White Shadow [Univer Records Production]
Blaze - I Think Of You (Restless Soul Inspiration Information Remix) [Slip ‘n’ Slide]

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


September 15, 2006

Kid606 feat. Johnny P - Seaya Face and P.J. Body


MC Johnny P disses Jamaican women who keep their skin brown but bleach their faces to look “pretty,” but his message will likely to be lost on the dancefloor. Not that many THC-clogged minds would ponder our man’s critique of post-colonial fallout in the first place (the “P.J. body” is of black PM P.J. Patterson and the “Seaya face” is inspired by Caucasian PM Edward Seaga). Johnny’s baritone accent is so thick and rapidly spat in a typical raggacore fashion that most listeners will just nod along to. That being said, this is Kid606’s strongest excursion in dancehall. He delivers a faithful dubstep groove that tick-tocks to an ace Middle Eastern poly-rhythm and synth growls that resemble a lazer gun shooting blanks (I assure you that they got funk). The fact that this track is produced by the same mastermind behind the vandalistic Ma$e remix, “It’ll Take Millions in Plastic Surgery to Make Me Black” has left me a little mystified though.

Shockout / SHOCK12
[Cameron Macdonald]

September 15, 2006

Charts: September 15 2006

Guest Chart: Troy Pierce

JPLS - Program [Minus]
Marcel Dettman Radio [MDR 1]
Dapyak - Uma [Mo’s Ferry]
Andre Chrome - Bodenturen [Leftroom]
The Knife - Like a Pen (Heartthrob remix) [Rabid Records]
Audion - Mouth to Mouth [Spectral]
Heartthrob - Baby Kate (Konrad Black remix) [Minus]
Frankie - Hunt [Frankie Rec]
Acid Circus - Minimal Junk (Jason Emsley Remix) [Droid]
Reagen - Dirt [Unreleased]

Todd Hutlock
iO - Claire [Cheap]
Michael Ho - Frisky [Tuning Spork]
Sleeper Thief - Chasing Rainbow [Mobilee]
Octave One - DayStar Rising [430 West]
Los Hermanos - Freedom Dancer [Los Hermanos]
Donnacha Costello - 6.1 [Minimise]
M.I.A. - Schoolcraft Bump [Underground Resistance]
Marc Houle - Bay of Figs [Minus]
Miss Fitz - Plak Du Jour (Mossa Remix) [Archipel]
Dominik Eulberg - Bionik [Cocoon]

Cameron Octigan
Misc. - Among Thieves [Sender]
Silicon Teens - State of Shock [Mute]
Partly Clouded [Fucked]
Extrawelt - Doch Doch [Traum]
Heartthrob - Baby Kate [M_nus]
Dominion - The Light of Day [KK Records]
Heroin - Meaning Less [Gravity]
Coil - The Snow [Wax Trax!]
Martin Buttrich - Full Clip [Planet E]
Troy Pierce (feat. Gibby Miller) - The Day After Yesterday [Items & Things]

Michael F. Gill
The Creatures - Believe In Yourself [Teldec]
Kasso Walkmen [Rams Horn Records]
Evelyn Champagne King - Love Come Down [RCA]
Mystic Merlin - Just Can’t Give You Up [Capitol]
M.I.A. - Safe Night [Sub Static]
Max Berlin - Elle Et Moi (Joakim Remix) [Eighttrack Recordings]
Likwid Biskit - Sound Orgy [Dynamite Joint / People]
Baby Ford & Mark Broom - Bubble Bath [Pure Plastic]
Plaid Squance [Warp]
Craig David - Whats Your Flava? (Akufen Remixes) [Wildstar/Atlantic]

May 19, 2006

My My - Swiss on Rye


With their third single for Playhouse, My My sound like theyre splitting the difference between their best poles. Taking another devastating use of bass and space (cue Serpentine) and throwing on a series of corkscrew phrases (cue Bel Etage Time), Swiss on Rye may not be shockingly new for the group, but thats beside the point. My My is flexing their collective muscles and the act of just trying to keep up is enough. With enough studio trickery to notice but natural enough to not know why (ala backward-audio sections sounding more normal than the rest), Swiss on Ryes breezy tone can float past as easily as be picked apart. On the flip, Brown Lily is anything but breezythe songs deadening thud is the sound of what lurks in the darkened corridor. Tread carefully.

Playhouse / PLAY124
[Nate De Young]

April 10, 2006

If you didnt come to party…

Dance Music per se came comparatively late in my life. Dancing to music occurred to me a good deal soonerapparently as soon as I could stand, I was holding the stereo with both hands and shaking that baby ass. The first music I reacted to was hip-hop, followed by synth-pop and clubby goth like Siouxsie and the Sisters. Going out, junior high school dances aside, I was never one to hug the wall, preferring to contort myself like “an angry lesbian,” as a friend once put it. While this description hopefully no longer applies, I still feel absolutely no shame or self-confidence issues when I go to out to dance.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that other people, shocking as it is, don’t feel the same way at all. Dancing comes naturally to me, something that I do because it feels absolutely amazing. Whether it’s, say, The Pixies or the latest micro-whatever single that’s playing is beside the point. Hey, it doesn’t even have to be that goodjust loud (but not too loud) and have some decent bass. BUT NOT TOO LOUD! People, seriously, turn the bass the fuck down. It sounds better when it trickles down your back like a tongue than when it vibrates the floor like a passing dumptruck. Most songs mixed with a dancefloor in mind already have a clean, full bass sound anyway, so your knob-twiddling is unnecessary.

But, back to the pointmost people don’t seem to have this willingness to shake it that to me is second nature. It’s hard work getting many to danceunderstandable at a wedding but a little less comprehensible at a night of DANCE MUSIC spun by a DJ. So, what are you here for then?

Do you not like to dance?
Have you checked your pulse lately?

Are you afraid of what you look like when you dance?
Look at us. We look like morons. Ain’t no stopping us, now.

Did you come only to get fucked up?
Dancing increases your blood-flow. You will get more fucked up if you dance.

Did you come only to try and get laid?
Standing at the bar is far less sexy than losing your inhibitions. This I can guarantee.

I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to be on the floor if they’re at a club. We all need to take it easy once in a while, and sometimes it’s best just to sit and chill for a spell. That’s more room for me to engage in my half-baked jazz moves. But please, if you’re going to be answering your cellphone in the middle of a crowded dancefloor, take that shit elsewhere.

Ultimately, more so than concerns about appropriate behavior on the floor, it’s the fear of dancing that boggles my mind. Put it another wayif the superficial concerns of what you look like are keeping you from dancing, then it must be hard even to put on clothes and face the world. Do you think most people in a club environment are judging you on your dancing ability?

It’s much more likely, if they are stupid enough to go that route, they are disparaging how you look in general. In fact, they’re probably one of the onlookers like yourself. When one is dancing, you’re not paying much attention to the appearance and skills of others. Feeling the beat and moving in accordance are far more important.

In my time dancing and DJing in this country I have noticed a disturbing lack of response to a solid beat. If you’re only looking for what you know, then the creative void of radio should suit you just fine. If you can only dance when you are inebriated, then do us all a favor and get royally messed up. If you don’t dig on dancing at all, then please free up the space for the living, breathing, dancing, dreaming human beings out there. There are those of us who love to feel our bodies (and the bodies of others, natch) get pure, scandalous thrills off of drums, synths and heavy (but not too loud) bass.

Like Pharoahe Monche said, “if you holdin’ up the wall then you missin’ the point.”

[Mallory ODonnell]

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