April 24, 2007

Boundzound - Louder


Given the currently high trading value of Martin Buttrich and Henrik Schwarz and the recent continental (re)discovery of all things house, you’d have to say that this record is a missive aimed squarely at the heart of the now. But the thing is, a lot of these apparently strategic remix releases (I’m thinking of the Tracey Thorn EP a few months back) swerve strangely in mid-flight, hitting something unintended and missing the intended point.

“The All Mighty Club Mix,” while labeled a Martin Buttrich production, seems to be the closest thing to the “original mix” here, as it stands in stark contrast to the rest of the tracks. It’s a hit. Potentially a huge hit. This cut has got the same crossover appeal of the old Daft Punk records—it’s got enough balls for the big-room boom boom, but also undeniable pop hooks and a chorus so infectious you’ll hear it in your sleep. Well, I did. So the question is, why didn’t they get likeminded artists to remix the record? I would have liked to see the EP done over by Basement Jaxx, Masters at Work, Cajmere, Tim Goldsworthy, or Ewan Pearson, all of whom (in their best work) manage to channel the energy of the source material in interesting directions.

Schwarz’ mix strips things back for an oldskool feel, but the looping melody he introduces doesn’t seem to follow the progression of the tune, leaving the new elements floating at a distance where it should be following like a Bootsy bassline. Buttrich sticks a big kick under it, then tries to be all Carl Craig, restraining the vocals and pushing things along with a big synth line. It’s a fairly dull track that’s meant to tease, but never “happens,” although it does betray Buttrich’s past as a co-producer of prog dishwater. I was hoping against hope that he’d let things really tense up, then release into the chorus around the five minute mark, but nope. Maybe if you were DJing, you could play this version, spin a few builders, then mix the original back in… meh.

So, ironically enough, an EP that was supposed to position the work in relation to (and generate appeal from) its connection to Buttrich and Schwarz has shot itself in the foot. The EP is less appealing for the boring remixes, and both remixers come off looking bereft of ideas and energy. Having said all that? It’s still almost worth getting just for “The All Mighty Club Mix.”

Warner / Island / ISL 1726486
[Peter Chambers]

February 16, 2007

Tracey Thorn - It’s All True (Remixes)

Tracey Thorn has always been the “Thin White Duchess” of the dance diva landscape—her rich, sweet voice has graced countless dance EPs, from Deep Dish to Tiefschwarz. But this is one of her better efforts, first of all because (thank God) she’s not singing about an abusive relationship. In fact, even after eight or nine listens, I still haven’t paid any attention to the lyrics, and don’t feel the need to. It’s all true.

The really interesting thing here is how it’s managed to condense several threads or tendencies within recent dance music production into one artifact. In the first instance—how many people had even heard of Martin Buttrich a year ago? And yet now, based on the strength of no more than three EPs, Buttrich has become an in-demand remixer in the league of Matt Edwards or Ewan Pearson, who gets co-production credits on this track, along with Darshan Jesrani of Metro Area. Having Darshan, Martin and Ewan all in the room also brings three highly developed and particular production sensibilities into the same frame also shows not just a rapprochement, but an affection for and between dub-disco, electro inflected tech-house, and muscular minimal—a love that might not have spoken its name even a few years ago.

The original is hard to go past—it manages to showcase Thorn’s sweet throat and give itself a sparkling electro disco massage all in a radio friendly four minutes, easily referencing synth pop (a la Eurythmics), disco, and house along the way. Buttrich’s mixes are meaty, nine minute affairs. They start off all “Pokerflat” (dry, strumming minimal house) and gradually build with a melodic refrain that threatens to break into Ame’s “Rej” at any moment, until Thorn’s vocal reminds you where you are. The dub version adds space for a “bubbling up” feeling. Kris Menace’s version is a real stinker—unimaginative and unengaging, it adds cold pads and attempts to create drama with a break based around pitch shifting poor Tracey’s voice. Meh. Both the Escort extended mix and the DSE dub head for the dub disco, with the former opting for a more openly retro take and the latter taking things in a very Metro Area electro-disco vein (unsurprising, as it’s a Darshan production). They’re both great, but I couldn’t help but wish that M. Fulton had been brought on board to lend a pound more fruit and funk to proceedings.

Virgin / VST 1932 00946 3 83897 1 2
[Peter Chambers]

February 16, 2007

Charts: February 16 2007

Todd Hutlock
Todd Sines - In_Come [Frankie Rec]
Safety Scissors - Where Is Germany and How Do I Get There? (Ellen Allien Germany Remix) [Bpitch Control]
Roxy Music - The Main Thing (Rub-N-Tug’s Proton Saga) [Virgin]
Dominik Eulberg & Gabriel Ananda - Harzer Roller [Traum Schallplatten]
Pär Grindvik - Casio [Spectral Sound]
Heartthrob - Baby Kate (Robotman Remix) [M_nus]
Ripperton - Tainted Words [Connaisseur]
Audio Werner - Flat Funk [Circus Company]
Tracey Thorn - It’s All True (Martin Buttrich Dub) [Virgin]
Marcellus Pittman - A Mix [Unirhythm]

Michael F. Gill
Goat Dance – Goat Dance (Version) [Bear Entertainment]
Blackjoy – Untitled (Kerri Chandler’s Bigga Mix) [Freerange]
Tony Allen – One Tree (Terrence Parker’s Spirit of Unity Instrumental Mix) [Honest Jon’s]
PM Dawn – A Watcher Point of View [Don’t Cha Think] (Todd Terry’s Hard House Mix) [Gee Street]
Escort - All That She Is [Escort]
Jo Squillo Eletrix – Avventurieri [Polydor]
The Voyagers - Distant Planet [Discomagic]
Venus Gang – Space Woman [P.B.I. Records]
Two Tons O’ Fun – Got The Feeling [Fantasy Honey]
Tribe – Koke [Probe]

May 5, 2006

Tiefschwarz feat. Tracey Thorn - Damage

Mallory O’Donnell: When their mix-n-remixes comp Misch Masch came out last year, I was hugely pumped for a Tiefschwarz full-length. But Eat Books was a vastly underwhelming affair, and how we’ve gotten four singles deep into it is simply beyond me. The sub-Sarah McLachlanisms of “Damage” certainly provide no answer. Having mastered their variations on both deep and acid house, a new direction is clearly needed for the mighty brothers Schwarz. However, a combination of tepid elements from both styles and a rote Tracey Thorn vocal does not constitute breaking any new ground. The “Dub Mix” brings in some more interesting sonics, clattering drums and sinister echoes livening up the track, but then those accursed vocals drop back in and we’re back in the acid-house Starbucks. M.A.N.D.Y. bring both a vocal and dub mix to the plate, and guess which one I prefer? Sounding a bit horror for the disco and a bit dancey for the bug-out, we at last have something that twists the track into some interesting shapes, but not yet enough to entice the listener (if they’ve made it this far) to fork over their hard-earned Euros.

However: whoever or whatever the Mogg Man Band is, they have (besides a horrible name) redeemed this one from the trashpile. Concocting a live band backdrop, they take us from the coffee shop to the dancefloor—a warm, two-minute buildup, some plinky guitar and enough swaddling draped ’round the vocal to keep it from intruding. Then the beat drops and we focus on the one non-throwaway line—”music is a lonely place”—before heading into jam land. If I could get it on a single piece of black plastic with the “Buick Project Remix,” we’d have something. The last version here, it’s not really that radically different from the original—but Buick Project seemed to have understood the brothers’ intent better than they did—scuzzing up and tweaking out the mix a bit, they deliver a combination of diva house and spastic funk that actually sounds proper rather than forced.

Ronan Fitzgerald: So what do you do when you’re stuck in the little gap between electrohouse and minimal? You hire other people who are more gracefully skipping through said gap to remix your single! Enter M.A.N.D.Y. with a typical M.A.N.D.Y. remix; that is to say, rather low key but decent quality deep electronic house, with a nice Garnier/Sanderson bassline. The truth is Tiefschwarz’s own gothy, metallic dub outdoes M.A.N.D.Y, but sadly it’s only a little evocative of the days when Tiefschwarz outdid everybody. Elsewhere Buick Project and the Mogg Man Band continue the overly polite theme for this 12. You had one nice but overly retro deep houser; now have 5!

Fine. / FOR 82876835471
Fine. / FOR 82876835861