August 19, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 31 & 32

G-Man - Quo Vadis (Styrax Leaves)
Genre: Techno, Dub

Peter Chambers: These tracks lumber forward, only allowing the slow revelation of a timbro-melodic theme to happen “in the fullness of time.” It’s a strategy that gave rise to a lot of exceedingly dull records, but Varley knows exactly which tone-pots to touch, and how.

Adam Craft / Grindvik - Catch Me / NAND-Grind (Stockholm LTD)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

B12 - Practopia / Slope (B12 Records)
Genre: Techno, IDM/Experimental

Todd Hutlock: The infamous cover of the original Artificial Intelligence comp features a robot chilling out in an easy chair with headphones on. This could easily have been what it was listening to.

Various Artists - Death Is Nothing To Fear Vol. 2 (Spectral Sound)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Techno

Argenis Brito - Micro Mundo (Cadenza)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Nate DeYoung: With Micro Mundo’s highs never too far away from its lows, the Chilean techno drug is no longer as potent as it used to be.

Henrik B feat. Terri B - Soul Heaven (Boss)
Genre: House, Electro-House

Michael F. Gill: Let’s act like this review never happened.

Beatzcast #45: Crambe Repetita

Michael F. Gill’s featured article on Stylus: The Bluffers Guide To Freestyle

The Chemical Brothers - Do it Again (Remixes) (Virgin / Astralwerks)
Genre: Minimal/Tech, Electro-House

Beatzcast #46: Crambe Repetita

Album Reviews:

Lindstrom & Prins Thomas - Reinterpretations - reviewed by Mike Powell

Prins Thomas - Cosmo Galactic Prism - reviewed by Tal Rosenberg

Dixon - Body Language Vol. 4 - reviewed by Nina Phillips

V/A - Kompakt Total 8 - reviewed by Peter Chambers

V/A - Soundboy Punishments - reviewed by Nina Phillips

The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night - reviewed by Dan Weiss

White Noise - An Electric Storm - reviewed by Mike Powell

August 8, 2007

Argenis Brito - Micro Mundo

Chileans must have techno intravenously injected in their blood from birth. The Chilean-gone-techno-superstar not only accounts for instant deities like Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano, but has also been a clich going on five years strong. You might remember Argenis Brito’s contributions to the Chilean project Monne Automne, and it’s frequently brilliant album Introducing Light and Sound. So the prospect of Brito coming out with his debut album on Chilean ex-pat label Cadenza doesn’t sound surprising at all. Which might be the biggest detriment to Micro Mundo its mythology overshadows an album that’s too modest to be noteworthy otherwise.

It won’t be too long before the wrinkles of warm bass that adorn tracks like “Disconet” and “Amplified” will be forever lost among the sea of German minimal techno. There’s also many cuts like “Sensorial”, which is something that could provide a nice bridge mid-set, but for the life of me, I can’t hum the main motif even though I’ve heard it at least 20 times. This sound-over-substance quality hides the few small surprises collected herein, like “Cepe”, an accomplished and laidback production that starts to build towards a climax when the bare bass and hi-hats swirl into an unexpected spoken vocal. A similar resonant effect can be heard on “Espejismo”, but for an album that never wavers and is never quantifiably bad, such highlights feel underwhelming on the whole. With Micro Mundo’s highs never too far away from its lows, the Chilean techno drug is no longer as potent as it used to be.

Cadenza / CADENZA 16
[Nate DeYoung]

June 29, 2007

Charts: June 29 2007

Nate DeYoung

Tiger Stripes / Solomun - Hooked / Jungle River Cruise [Liebe*Detail]
Half Hawaii - Mir Nichts / Dir Nichts [Hello?Repeat]
Brendon Moeller - Jazz Space [Third Ear]
The Mountain People - Mountain People 003 [Mountain]
Argenis Brito - Micro Mundo [Cadenza]
Henrik Schwarz - Walk Music [Innervisions]
Blackstrobe - I’m A Man (Audion Donation Mix) [Playlouderecordings]
Mock & Toof - Zomby [Mule]
Sorcerer - Surfing At Midnight (Prins Thomas Miks) [Tirk]
Eddie Kendricks - Thanks For The Memories (Lee Douglas Edit) [White]

Michael F. Gill

Peter Horrevorts - You Look But You Don’t See [Kanzleramt]
Brando Lupi - The Attitude [Dozzy Records]
The Dining Rooms - Thank You (Skwerl Dub) [Schema]
Roland Appel - Dark Soldier [Sonar Kollektiv]
Dredl Kibosh - I Found You [Fenou]
Jupiter Black feat. Fred Ventura - Hold Me [Clone]
Salome De Bahia - Outro Lugar [Yellow Productions]
Billy Griffin - Hold Me Tighter In The Rain [CBS]
Earth, Wind, and Fire - Let’s Groove [CBS]
Cappuccino - Tomorrow [Black Sun]

June 7, 2007

A Mountain Of One - EP1 / EP2


A lot of this stuff sounds to me like “Talk Talk covers the Dances With Wolves soundtrack,” at best when people actually believed rock & roll was something spiritual and not just a backdoor to preteen booty — but to be fair I’ve never heard a note of Fleetwood Mac or Pink Floyd or Peter Frampton so maybe this London soft-rock act sounds like them too. All the songs on EP1 are really schmaltzy, really serious, even their cover of Ginny’s “Can’t Be Serious” has patient piano and guitar motifs run through who knows how much reverb, and falsetto-heavy vocal melodies just sorta floating atop. Maybe this “rock music for a hot summer night” / Buddha Bar shit is your idea of a good time?

“Can’t Be Serious,” which welded guitar-soloing beardo to nervous arpeggiated midtempo synth-pop, seems to have been the band’s jumpoff for the recent EP2: “Your Love Over Gold,” “People Without Love,” and “Arc of Abraham” use more confident variations of treated synths, balearic guitar, and heavily FX’d lead guitar. Even if you don’t dig them, you can’t deny their conviction, especially on “Your Love Over Gold.” They probably don’t even know they just wrote a shitty “Come Undone,” g’bless’em.

AMO / 001 / 002
[Nick Sylvester]

May 3, 2007

Daso - Absinthe EP

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Daso Franke? Well, yes, I believe I have, actually. His music has all the swelling space and moody flourishes associated with that overused term (I’m guilty too) “ambient,” but damn if it doesn’t move as well. Back again with another solid three-tracker, Daso serves up a great creepy-crawly thumper in standout “Thujon” on the A-side. Eeky insectoid noises devouring your spine while an irresistible beefy pulse works your legs? I’m in.

“Louche” starts the flipside off in very tasteful form. In fact it might be a bit too tasteful, and though undoubtedly warm, it’s also a shade too Spartan to really liven up the legs or tickle the ears. Those lovely noises come back into it with the spacious, gorgeous “La Fee Verte,” which ends the EP. More of a texture than a melody or a beat, it’s nonetheless exactly the kind of track that seems to scrape out your ears with a spoon, leaving you supple for the next breath of wind to come and sweep you along. Tasty and refined. Make more tracks now, please.

Connaisseur Recordings / cns 013-6
[Mallory ODonnell]

March 14, 2007

Mundo - Still Stand Rasta / Hear Dis


Dallas (and Houston, actually) had a strong rave scene back in the day, but it’s surprising to hear of a sound as introspective and (dare I say it) un-American as dubstep comin’ straight out of a town most people still associate with rich hicks high on oil money. Yet this fusion of ragga, two-step garage and dub has won enough converts down here that Mundo can have his own music, label, and club night, so something good must be going on. This double-A sider is pretty ample proof of the why, if not the how. “Still Stand Rasta” is a disorientating journey through a cauldron of bubbles, bouncing and careening off each other to the tempo of a skittering flanged-out beat. The flip, “Hear Dis,” is just as tactile but a bit less engaginga drawn-out and manipulated skank played against a bit of bwoyish nonsense. The most interesting thing going on is the space between the elements, but it’s not enough to drive the tune out of neutral.

Dub Assembly / DA 001EP
[Mallory ODonnell]

November 3, 2006

Interview: Cerrone

French disco producer Cerrone is, undoubtedly, a legend of dance music. Beginning his solo work in 1976 with the classic Love in C Minor, he has gone on to sell more than 25 million records and win five Grammy Awards for his efforts. In the course of promoting the reissue of his first four albums and the upcoming NY Dance Party for 2007, Stylus sat down with the man that brought us Supernature.

First uptell us a little bit about the NY Dance Party for 2007. How did you become involved with this project and with Nile Rodgers?

Yes, Nile, he’s been my friend for thirty years. We’re going to celebrate thirty years of dance, also thirty years of his and my careers, too! (Laughs) It’s going to be in New York, during the Columbus Day weekend, and it’s going to be really huge. We have fifteen different sites, the main stage is going to be in the park (Central Park), and the event will be between 3 PM to 9:30 PM. Every site is going to have something differentsome will be a DJs, some singers, but at 6:30, from the main stage, we’re going to have the big show, with a lot of stars involved from the last thirty years of dance, and that (will be broadcast to) all the sites by satellite, because all the sites (across the city) are going to have a large video screen on the back of the stage. With all of the sites in New York, we could have more than 3 or 400,000 New Yorkers dancing in the streetsit would be a great image for the World, and for New York. This is what the Mayor wants, too.

So, the Mayor has been enthusiastic and positive about it?

Oh yes, and if the mayor was not enthusiastic about it, you know, how could we do it? The mayor understands very well what we are trying to do, and likes the idea to give back the image of New York to the world… it’s sad, because after the Eleventh of September of 2001, the image of New York for the rest of the world changed very much. You know, it’s become much more a city of business than music, like in Europe we have Geneva… but New York is a wonderful city for music, and we want to celebrate the city as the home of dance music. The image of the people of New York, young or old dancing in the street, it’s a tremendous, beautiful image that we want to give back to the world. We are still working on the sites for the event, but we are thinking Battery Park, other parks, some sites for 3,000 people, some for 10 or 15,000, maybe something by LaGuardia as well… every month the event is getting bigger and better, with more and more people getting on board.

You’ve been doing a number of live events and dance parties recently, havent you?

We did the event in front of Versailles, with 100,000 people, which you can see six minutes of video from on my website… that was last year… Two months ago I played (an event) for Dolce Gabana, next month a tour in Moscow, in February another tour in France… and I’ll be working in the middle on a new LP to be released in the spring.

This will be all original material?

Yes, right now we have 14 new tracks.

So, do you enjoy the live performances as much as the studio work? How do you feel about that?

Oh, I love it! Did you see the video?

The DVD you released last year? Yes, I saw that.

OK, because if you see the video, you have the answer for your question.

Very true!

After 30 years in the music industry, when you have the chance to play in front of so many young people… I take a great pleasure, it’s a surprise and a pleasure… and I thank my God that I could do this!

It’s great to see some of the things that you’ve done as far as live performancesnot just concerts but theatre events, operas, the global peace concert back in ‘92… do you still see yourself as primarily a musician? In some ways it seems like you’ve become more of an artist in the broad sense, a cultural force of sorts.

When I’m on stage, I’m a musician. More a musician than an artist. I have to be. But, I mean, when you start in a group, in a band, as a musician, it’s for the rest of your life. When you take an American star, like a Carlos Santana, no matter what you have going on in the front, they are still a musician in mind.

How do you feel about your relationship with the dance music world? It seems that you’ve moved away from dance at times, doing rock and doing more neo-classical music, but that you’ve never really turned your back on dance music as a whole…

Well, every few years I have a DJ who remixes or releases some of my old music, so the radio plays new stuff, but also, plays the old stuff with a new style, and the DJ puts me right on the floor where I have to be. For example, William Orbit made a remix in 1990, 1991 and then David Morales and Frankie Knuckles and so on, I mean there are so many DJs who have remixed my back-catalog, so no matter what, if I want to move from the styleand I say to you, I don’t want to movethe DJ kicks me in the… (laughs).

You don’t have a choice!

Yeah, and thanks, it’s perfect! Those guys make my life easier, so I don’t sound like a has-been!

Well I think you’ve combined enough looking back with looking forward that no one could accuse you of resting on your laurels or taking it easy…

Thank you!

But, looking back for a moment, what are some of your favorite or most memorable of your own releases?

Of my back-catalog, oh wow… I don’t want to sound pretentious, but I like I lot of itstarting from “Love in C Minor,” to “Got to Have Loving,” to “Supernature,” and so on… I like them all, they are my babies, if I can say that! I have to love my babies, you know? (Laughs)

How about your productions for other people?

If I made a production or a track for someone else, like Don Ray or Kongas or something like that, it’s still 75% myself, so, it’s still my baby! For example, for my last LP I composed 18 songs, and I know that I’m only going to use 12 or 14 songs for the record, so the other four songs are maybe going to go to someone else, but… I’m going to do something with it. Like, the Don Ray albumI had too many tracks for my album Supernature, and in the meantime, because Don Ray was my arranger for strings and brass, I said let’s make an LP for youand we finished the LP together, but as I said, these are still my songs, my productionmy babies!

What else are you listening to right now?

There is a lot. A lot, a lot of good music right nowI like a lot of R&B, I like also… the Madonna, I love the last Madonna!

How about when you started?

For strings, I got very influenced by Barry White, of course. And because I’m a drummer, I put the drums at the front on the mix. At the moment everybody told me, it’s crazy to have the drums up front, you have to remix that for the radio. But, to make sure that the record company isn’t going to remix my songs, I made it 60 seconds or a few minutes longer so that I was sure I’m not going to be played on the radio and no one is going to touch my mix!

Well, it worked out well for you and for the dancers as well…


[Mallory ODonnell]

October 20, 2006

Interview: Juan Maclean & Tim Sweeney

On the occasion of the 2006 US DFA DJ Tour, Stylus stopped for a moment to chat with the Juan Maclean and Tim Sweeney over sushi and Sapporo as they swung through Houston…

So, Juan, working on album number two?

Juan: Yeah, album number two is the next step.

Are you gonna be using a lot of players from the live setup?

Juan: Sureit’s really become a different thing livelike a happy acid house jam band. Like the Grateful Dead crossed with the Chemical Brothers.

My friend saw you play at the Winter Music Conference in Miami and he wanted me to ask you if you’ll be getting more use out of the big button? The one that makes everything super-loud…

Juan: Ohthe up-down button. We do this crazy thing where we break songs down really quiet, then build up a big drum fill that comes crashing in on the one, and I press the button and everything comes screaming back in.

Tim: The target button!

Juan: I do a similar thing when DJing. It’s very sneaky. I just set up two records but really there’s a mix CD in there, ‘cuz I don’t know how to DJ or anything.

They won’t notice here.

Juan: They’ll know. When they see my skills. Mad skillz! (Laughing) No, he likes to make fun of me (points to Tim) because he says that guys who play in bands can’t DJ. It’s true though, that just trying to DJ without having produced anything of your own is really tough.

How long have you been DJing? Even just playing with it?

Juan: Oh, I don’t knowyears!

Were you ever a radio DJ, or…

Juan: Yeah, years and years ago, but real club DJing I didn’t really take seriously until a little while ago.

I usually find it a lot more fun when people don’t take it too seriously…

Juan: No, no… I take it seriously…

As far as the mixing, or what you play…

Juan: Yeah, definitely! (Meaning all of it)

Well, that’s good tooit’s just another instrument, reallyif you can bring a musical approach to it, it really rewards the listener.

Juan: Coming from playing instruments, it’s just another instrument that I have to learn how to play, I’m not gonna just get up there and not be good at it.

That’s good, I guess what I meant more, is that I get tired of as a listener is the cult of the DJ where the DJ plays a four-hour set of basically the same song.

Juan: I hate that! It’s really boring.

Especially with the focus lately on minimal sounds…

Juan: I know… well, I won’t say their names… I have friends who are minimal guys. And I like that stuff, but it’s endless…all that stuff sounds like an endless track, like the same track after a while…

Tim: You’re talking about minimal stuff? Who?

He’s not gonna name names, we’re on the record here.

Tim (gleefully): Name names!

[Juan looks askance]

Tim: What’s your problem (teasingly)? I thought you had more of a diverse outlook on music than the rest of the DFA?

Juan: Well, they make fun of me at DFA for liking certain things.

Like what?

Juan: Well, I’m probably the most tasteless DJ on the DFA, cuz I’ll play things that are just like retarted and fun or whatever…

Tim (smiling): Oh, I’ll agree…

Juan (continuing): But there are DJs that are infinitely tasteful, but it’s like nobody wants to hear it…

Tim, give me your rundown on radio DJing versus live club DJing

Tim: Well… it’s two different things… on radio, you obviously don’t have to worry about the crowd, or if anyone’s listening…

Do you get into that vibe when you play live, or find yourself wanting that freedom?

Tim: No, I love playing with the crowd, because sometimes you have this connection or whatever and you work with that, but you get a lot more nervous, worrying if something’s going to clear the floor or whatever… but opening for Juan, it’s like I can’t do any worse than he does. (Laughter)

Juan: I can do whatever I want to, because of who I am!

You have carte blanche, then?

Juan: A blank slate, even.

Tim: Oh, you don’t have a blank slate.

[Mallory ODonnell]

April 10, 2006

In The Mix: Todd Burns


1. Onur zer - Twilight
2. Matt John Hawaii You
3. Adultnapper Fecund (Mr. C Remix)
4. Robyn Crash and Burn Girl (Jesper Dahlback Remix)
5. Undo No Matter Where You Are, We Are Together

March 10, 2006

Sleeparchive - Radio Transmission EP

After a long night of dancing six months ago, a track from one of Sleeparchives earlier 12 inches ended one of the better DJ sets Ive heard at around 4 AM. Ive since gone on a fruitless quest to find the track responsible and hoped beyond hope that the mysterious act would release similar work to sate my urge for pounding, unrelenting sonar minimalism that often only utilizes a simple panning effect to woo. This is the EP that Ive been waiting for. When archive isnt pounding out five long-form tracks that seem to bob and weave between every variant of this sound, there are short ideas (usually spanning less than a minute) presented in the grooves that seem to beg for further examination. Many will undoubtedly find home-listening a chore for this sort of release, but once youve heard it out in the hands of a talented DJ, youll probably be finding yourself pleading for more. For the bulbous underwater sound of Berlin, look no further.

ZZZ / 005
[Todd Burns]

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