August 30, 2007

Brendon Moeller - Jazz Space


Beatz regulars might be familiar with my rendering of “Abletonitis”, the disease which seems to infect every promising Ableton-arranged track with the “limitations of almost infinite possibility”. Somehow, in being able to do almost everything, the program seems to prevent most people from doing, well, anything. Instead of painstakingly hand-programming drum patterns, writing hooks, and making sure the phrasing of all the instruments swing together as one on the one, you just stretch, mute, transpose, and if things are getting boring, drop in a ping-pong delay. Presto! The recent release of Robag Wruhme’s The Lost Archives function as Exhibit A in showing the corrosive effects of this sickness on talented producers, showing how lazy, formulaic and FX-dependent so many interesting music makers have become due to such “amazingly streamlined workflow” and the “incredible drag and drop VST plugins”.

Moeller’s Jazz Space should be just another victim of this epidemic, but somehow, the EP is more like the soundtrack documenting Moeller’s overcoming of the illness by doing pitched battle with several bouts of its symptoms. Sonically, we’re very much in the territory of T++ and Monolake, with dry, granular, and planar sounds rolling through spacetime, their flow interrupted by eruptions of parameter-tweaking breakdowns, which are kept in check by big, deep, round basslines.

“Pink Noise” reaches such proximity to Momentum-era Monolake that you’d have to flag a co-write on it, while “Jazz”, with its warm, friendly micro-boompty feel sidles up very close to Robag’s work on Vakant. But it’s “Space” which goes someway toward staking out Moeller’s very own place on the moon, working intimations of early new-millenium Force Inc into something approaching its own musical identity. While not nearly as accomplished or atmospheric as some of the recent Deepchord material, Jazz Space lays out a musical question-mark that flags the possibility of another talent taking their dub-tech workflow all the way to the cold satellites (and back), in a way that entertainingly re-frames the tried and true template of this narrow but seemingly inexhaustible sound-vein.

Third Ear / 3EEP 068
[Peter Chambers]

July 8, 2007

The Week In Review: 2007, Week 27

Prosumer / Murat Tepeli - What Makes You Go For It? (Ostgut Tontrager)
Genre: House, Minimal/Deep

Peter Chambers: The title track is somewhere between the blue, raw, and pink beats of the old Trax tracks, but with a vocal trip describing a one night stand that’s equal parts philosophical and carnal, leading to automatic comparisons with Chelonis R. Jones.

Zander VT - Dig Your Own Rave (Memo)
Genre: Techno, Electro-House

Tolga Fidan - Venice / Tambulistan (Vakant)
Genre: Minimal/Tech

Peter Chambers: Once something sufficiently menacing is found (black horns, icy strings, something scaly and slithering), a two-note minor interval or an arabesque/creepy/ancient-sounding melody is mixed in, and there’s your track.

Theo Parrish - Sound Sculptures Volume 1 (Sound Signature)
Genre: Detroit, House

Michael F. Gill: To me, there is still enough of a distinctive “soulful” (for lack of a better word) quality to this music that comes across as tangible, even when motifs are being heavily repeated.

Syncom Data - Beyond the Stars Remixes (Syncom Data Records)
Genre: Techno, Dub

Beatzcast #40: Crambe Repetita

Nick Southall reviews Two Lone Swordsmen’s Wrong Meeting II

Nate DeYoung takes on the Scandanavian Disco of Bjorn Torske

July 5, 2007

Tolga Fidan - Venice / Tambulistan

Perhaps in this age of microgenre and marketing category, all one needs to do is to corner a market, and carve out a niche. Everybody decries pigeonholing, but (tacitly) we all know it’s the road (or crevice) to success. It doesn’t really matter which one. A film-making friend of mine may be right there’s absolutely no point compromising your creative vision these days, if you’ve got effective distribution. Hell, I’ve been to 12k gigs in Tokyo crammed to the gills with microsound geeks, all of them ready to record the show with their mini-disc players. Now that’s a freakshow.

Vakant have their slot sorted too ominous, dry, digital sounding minimal/techno. The names of the producers even sound to my Anglo-Saxon ears like those of vampires: Mathias Kaden, Onur zer, Tolga Fidan. Fidan’s Venice/Tambulistan follows hot on the shiny black heels of zer’s Red Cabaret EP, which everyone else seemed to like but me. First listens (while washing dishes) made me think, “hey, they’ve sent me zers EP again by mistake”. But no, it’s different, just the same.

Just like Red Cabaret, the A-side is full of noises that seem to have come from flipping through VST patches. Once something sufficiently menacing is found (black horns, icy strings, something scaly and slithering), a two-note minor interval or an arabesque/creepy/ancient-sounding melody is mixed in, and there’s your track. Pardon my cynicism, but I hope the artlessness of this is remedied by the dancefloor impact. Anyway, there’s lots of cool, spooky ideas here that are thrown into the cauldron for good effect, and I think it’d sound great mixed into something incongruously “happy and gay”. The B-side, “Venice” is rhythmically more interesting, vibrating with little ideas and intrusive hits and hisses. I guess you can’t fault the novelty, really with only one or two other labels making horror house minimal (Underl_ne and Perlon [in its dark moments]) this record has a very distinctive sound/feel that, like all monsters, is equally repulsive and attractive.

Vakant / SD05
[Peter Chambers]

June 22, 2007

Beatzcast #38: Crambe Repetita


Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music featuring new music from DJ Koze, the Wighnomys, and Glass Candy, as well as new tunes from Mobilee, Cocoon, and Vakant…

01: DJ Koze - Cicely [buy]
02: Portable - Don’t Give Up (Lawrence Remix) [buy]
03: Keytronics Ensemble - Calypso of House (Julien Jabre Remix) [buy]
04: Stephan Bodzin vs. Marc Romboy - Callisto [buy]
05: Glass Candy - Miss Broadway (Belle Epoque) [buy]
06: Wighnomy Brothers - Guppipeitsche [buy]
07: Onur zer - Halikarnas [buy]
08: Tolga Fidan - Venice [buy]
09: Marcin Czubala - Consigliere [buy]
10: Loco Dice - El Gallo Negro [buy]

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February 16, 2007

Onur zer - Red Cabaret

Who’d have thought that a pianica (or a synth patch imitating one) could sound evil? Onur zer proves here that, unquestionably, it can. Allegro Energico, the opening cut on the Red Cabaret EP menaces from the get go, with a bassline like a padded hammer falling on a cable very reminiscent of Cassy’s wonderful Toyah, which is quickly followed by said kiddy instrument. From there it’s wailing, reverbed one-finger synth lines and lots of clatter in the dark.

After the first spooking it’s a quick walk into the blackest of forests to get to the “Red Cabaret,” and this one’s a black lipstick affair. In some ways, this track bears comparison to Villalobos’ recent Fizheuer behemoth, if for no other reason than the epic scope and the interesting juxtaposition of squiggling, “micro” percussive elements interrupted by very live sounding horn samples. As a composition on its own, the track lacks coherence or direction, but like a lot of minimal produced these days, it’s more about generating an accumulation of “cool sounds” that beg to be given sense in the mix. “Orion” is more of the same, putting shaken tambourines and live drums in the midst of some freaked-out atmospheres and a strangely Art of Noise synth noodle.

These tracks might provide damning evidence that zer is neither able to play a synthesizer, write a song nor structure an arrangement, but perhaps Im using a logic that doesnt apply here. Hmm. Freaky, kooky stuff.

Vakant / VA 012
[Peter Chambers]

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…


October 13, 2006

Charts: October 13 2006

Guest Chart: DJ Barbara Preisinger [~Scape, Berlin]

Alix Alverez & Mr.V - Beat Bodega vol1 [Sound Channel Music]
Shed - Shot Selection [Selection records]
Deadbeat - Version Immersion [~scape]
STL - Purple Saturn Days [Perlon]
Pantha Du Prince - Lichten [Dial]
Ferrer & Sydenham Inc - The Black Door [ibadan]
Nathan Cole - Musik Freak [Funkd]
Andy Vaz - Remixes [Background]
Herrmann & Kaden - Corroboree [Freude Am Tanzen]
Beckett & Taylor - Hired New Hands [Hand On The Plow]

Michael F. Gill
And One Sometimes (Instrumental) [Virgin]
Terrence Fixmer Resistance [Gigolo]
Deepchild Blackness of the Sea (Luomo Remix) [Future Classic]
Chagrin DAmour Chacun Fait (Dub) [Barclay]
Black Gold Cmon Stop [Prelude]
Kiko Solar [Notorious Elektro]
Alisha All Night Passion [Vanguard]
Stephane Signore & Wehbba Destiny [Bound Records]
Red Lipstique Dracs Back (Dub) [Magnet Records Ltd]
Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats Let Them Talk [Soundway]

Todd Hutlock
Lawrence - Deep Summer Hole [Dial]
Lazy Fat People - Shinjuku [Wagon Repair]
Heidi Vs Riton - Vejer [Get Physical]
Sense Club - Tommorrov Cocktail [Perlon]
John Dahlbaeck - Wet Summer [Kompakt Extra]
Trentemeller - Always Something Better (Trentemeller Remix) [Poker Flat]
Meek - Glowing Trees [New Ground]
Andrew Weatherall - Feathers [Rotters Golf Club]
John Hassell - Voiceprint (Blind from the Facts) (808 Mix Two - Latin In It Mix) [Opal]
Dirt Crew - Largo [Dirt Crew Recordings]

Nate DeYoung
My My - Songs for the Gentle [Playhouse]
Tim Hecker - Harmony in Ultraviolet [Kranky]
Rex the Dog - Maximize [Kompakt]
Matthias Kaden / Onur Ozer - Pentaton / Twilight [Vakant R]
Mobilee - Back to Basics [Mobilee]
Pikaya / Andomat 3000 & Jan - Grne Raufaser / Entr’acte Music [Cadenza]
Bruno Pronsato - Lady Collage [Orac]
The Modernist - Presents “Popular Songs” [Faith]

April 10, 2006

Onur zer - Twilight

The daily work-routine can deliver a sense of stress and basic-issue tension that often isnt as palatable as it is passively numbing. But after listening to a terrifying release like Twilight, perhaps its for the better that we dont carry our emotional blood on our hands. The title track on this, the third EP by Onur zer (after previous releases on Vakant and the Wighnomys Freude-Am-Tanzen) is a horror film in itself, the moment when thoughts of hatred refuse to thaw from ones head, and just lie there unabated. Its a venom that can never be logically released, an effect mirrored by the high-pitched string drones which are cemented into the background, making the eight minutes of Twilight seem like an eternity. The b-sides cant help being a tiny bit lighter, but they complement the a-side with some of those large fizzling reverb blowouts that Robag Wruhme is so fond of, and a couple of remotely aquatic basslines. The centerpiece is definitely Twilight though, a tumultuous predator that should be played sparingly.

Vakant / 008
[Michael F. Gill]

October 20, 2005

Onur zer - Envy

This Turkish producers second 12 (the first for Vakant) is an accomplished piece of minimalism that owes a great deal to the sound crafted on records like Wighnomys Wurz + Blosse. Envys bassline, in particular, evokes that classic, while Mazes head-down second-half is a dead-ringer for the sort of unyielding funk at play in Wighnomys best efforts. Speaking of, Superfunk, is easily the most melodic of the trio here, with a whole three note line making its way to the surface every so often. This one isnt for the fair-weather fans, but its a must for anyone interested in keeping the crowd moving mid-set.

Vakant / VA 005
[Todd Burns]