October 5, 2007

Beatzcast #51: Crambe Repetita

Mixes2007

Stylus editor Todd Burns presents a mix of electronic music…

Tracklist
01: Underground Resistance - Kill My Radio Station (Acapella) [buy]
02: Einzelkind vs. Meat - Hear the Man [buy]
03: Red Robin & Jakob Hilden - Lazy Jack [buy]
04: Kollektiv Turmstrasse - Eskapade [buy]
05: Underworld - Glam Bucket [buy]
06: Sennh - I Am With You [buy]
06: Baby Oliver - Feelings 2 [buy]

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October 4, 2007

Soul Capsule - Waiting 4 A Way

For their first single as Soul Capsule in six years, Thomas Melchior and Peter “Baby Ford” Adshead deliver not so much a set of DJ tools but something similar to an “open source code” of minimal techno. It’s wonderful to hear an EP that builds out of its own heritage, bringing the warm waves straight out of the depths of the circuits they’ve been coursing through for almost fifteen years.

Like a lot of his recent solo tracks, Baby Ford’s voice comperes the whole event he’s a quiet master of ceremonies who murmurs, whispers, and coaxes you through the auroral atmosphere like some kind of positively charged Leonard Cohen. As evidenced on the long and winding title cut, Ford’s influence on Melchior’s style is akin to the flattening of a wiggling arc - he basically gets Tommy to turn the brightness of his space-dusted melodies inwards. B-Side “Beauty and the Beat” brings the sound closer to the epic, deep minimal techno explored at length on Ford’s Sacred Machine a machine that wills the eternal return of a perfectly pitched and filtered kick drum. A repetition without gravity. Welcome back, guys.

Perlon / PERL 63
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


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 18, 2007

Supermayer - Save The World

Remember the supergroup? It was a big conceptual thing a few decades back, but it still pops up every now and again. Here’s how it usually worked: a bunch of high pedigree rockers would get together, proclaim that they really “dug each other’s music,” book a bunch of studio time, get stoned out of their gourds, and more often than not, release an album of half-baked ideas and poorly executed jams that proceeded to shift millions of units based solely on the reputation of the players. Sometimes the idea actually workedsee Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young and Derek & The Dominos. Sometimes it wouldn’tsee pretty much everyone else.

Diehard fans of the musicians in question usually lapped this stuff up, but somewhere in the back of their minds, they still felt somewhat let down more often than not. The problem was squarely on themtheir expectations were simply, inevitably too high. No matter how great one of these supergroups sounded on paper, they couldn’t possibly live up to that sort of hype on record. Blaming the musicians, on the other hand, was a futile exercise. After all, they just wanted to hang out with some friends, play some music, and enjoy themselves. Can you really blame them for that?

Which brings us to the case of Supermayer, a supergroup-style collaboration between two of Kompakt’s biggest names: Michael Mayer and Superpitcher. And while the collaboration has more in common with the above than notthis is nothing if not a “fun” recordthis is most certainly not a bad thing. If anything, Save the World is just the kind of project that Kompakt needed, given the (somewhat inexplicable) backlash the label has been taking of late. Too many have complained that Kompakt has taken to making records by numbers; Save the World is anything but your (stereo)typical Kompakt fare.

Just as the grooves of those ’70s albums are laden with artists just trying to have a good time and vibe with each other, so does Save the World exude a palatable sense of smiling, laughing musicians just having some fun and getting down, and most importantly, encouraging the listener to do so as well. Look no further than the first proper track on the album (after the spoken intro “Hey!”), “The Art of Letting Go”the lyric tells the story of the album in a simple idea: over a grooving bass, chunky guitar chords, and some decidedly un-Kompakt sounds (are those horns? Melodica perhaps?), the gauntlet is thrown, “Let’s get to it / Relax / Let me go.” This is a first-class party record, assembled by two of techno’s foremost minds, and if the instruction is followed, you’ll have just as good a time listening as they obviously did making it.

With their mission statement firmly established, Supermayer proceed to circle the universe, capes flying, in search of the magic note, and while they never quite find it, the thrill of discovery is clearly the intent for our heroes (there’s even a comic book insert). There’s atmospheric dancefloor techno, there’s some light techno pop, some swinging indie bouncers, there’s vocals, there’s ambient interludes, there’s horns, there’s even a fucking gong. “The Lonesome King” is Martin Denny in Ralf and Florian’s studio; “Please Sunrise” recalls 808 State and YMO; “Two of Us” is a classic floor-filler laden with peaks and valleys; closer “Cocktails for Two” is a late-night comedown complete with shag carpeting and a disco diva perched on the love seat waiting for an afterhours tumble. It’s a gloriously unorganized mess, but all of it is so lovingly and skillfully done that it sounds far closer to some sort of mad genius.

Save the World is not a work of high art like The Magic Flute and it’s certainly not a pretentious epic like Kid A. It lives in its own skin and its comfortable there. The key to saving the world according to Supermayer is simple: lose the pressure and enjoy things for what they are, not what you expect them to be. There is an art to letting go, and they seem to have mastered it here, at least as much as such a thing can be mastered. They might not have saved the world, but Supermayer might just have saved your next house party.

Kompakt / KOMPAKTCD 61
[Listen]
[Todd Hutlock]


September 12, 2007

Lopazz - Fuck Me!

A contemporary quandary: if a piece of music isn’t on Discogs, does it exist? I’m beginning to wonder the same thing about myself: without the mirror of myself on Facebook or Myspace (I refuse, I refuse), it’s easy to forget that you “are”. But here is Gigolo #211, a three track EP not noted by Discogs (likely because it’s an internet-only release,) but written by Lopazz in collaboration with Deafny Moon and Savas Pascadilis.

In moving to Gigolo, Lopazz has done the expected and grown in sawteeth and electroid muscles, producing three different tracks that attack the need to groove from three distinct angles: one spooky, one rumble-buzzing, and one poppy. “Fuck Me!” represents the first of the three takes for a dark Ivan Smagghe-ish electro-pop number where the lyric “hold your hand” could easily be mistaken for “gland” in the back room of some seedy nightspot. “What Should I Do” meanwhile rolls over itself like a clumsy polarbear tripping over Metope’s Nord Micromodular, while “Watermelon Man” takes Savas Pascadilis’ voice for a ride into the foolish world of slap-bass minimal disco, creating something not unlike pre-neotrance Schaben and Voss. This is all good stuff, but there’s some intangible factor missing for me to really recommend it. And judging by the high standard set by Lopazz’ recent material, this single is likely to be of middling interest. If indeed it does exist.


International Deejay Gigolos
/ Gigolo 211
[Listen]
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


August 24, 2007

Charts: August 23 2007

Michael F. Gill

Kettel - Marliesje [Marguerita Recordings]
San Serac - Fairlight [Frogman Jake]
The Replicants - Club Para (Matzak Instrumental Remix) [Gobatcha]
Paul Murphy - Withnail & I [Routine Records]
DMX Krew - Snow Cub [Breakin’ Records]
Rideout - Someone Special [Enterprises]
Cellophane - Music Colours (Parts 1-3) [Did Records]
Jones Girls - You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else [Philadelphia International]
Phortune - String Free [Hot Mix 5]
Fly Guy - Fly Guy Rap [P&P Records]


August 23, 2007

Pikaya - Cambrium

I recently rediscovered my CD copy of Gescom’s Minidisc. To those who are unfamiliar with the album, it’s comprised of eighty-something short tracks: rhythmic loops; spooky atmospheres; crunchbeats the building blocks of an Autechre album laid bare, and a view onto the unarranged organs of a functional set. It was originally designed to be played on shuffle with a minidisk player, which meant that the album never played the same way twice, producing thousands of combinations of mixes. iTunes has given this album a new lease on life, because not only does it randomise the tracks and mix them gaplessly, it can also fade them into each other, resulting in both amazing and awful mixes. The only problem is the arrhythmic flam that you get when one beat crosses another out of phase…but once Apple releases a version of iTunes that can beat match, it’s bye-bye DJ.

I’ve done a similar thing with my collection of Cadenza EPs, which I play in a similar fashion, leaving the 4.6 hours worth of material on at low volume in the background and letting them randomise and waft into each other. The open structures and aleatory nature of Cadenza’s tracks (avowedly so in the case of Digitaline) mean that the music seems to take pleasure in its own meandering. Needing no intervention, it scribbles and squiggles away the afternoon in its own way. It’s my very own automatic etch-a-sketch, and it draws monochrome flowers.

The playlist is evolving with every Cadenza release, and with the addition of this new Pikaya EP, it’s grown in dub and daub, adding ornamental flourishes and deep-thrown effects to the labels’ prototypical boom-click/plip-plop skeleton. Pikaya’s debut on Cadenza came with “Grne Raufaser” the b-side on the split they shared with Andomat 3000 and Jan’s more boisterous and successful “Entr’acte Music”. It was a track that always hinted at introducing a major theme, but never really delivered on this tease. Both “Fango” and “Jedi” offer the similar sense of imminent drama (which never quite materialises, it’s stuck teetering on the verge), and at high volumes they provide useful tension as foregrounding tracks to be mixed in before “Mr Big Hooks”. At low volumes (when the tracks return to being my living room wallpaper) this also works as part of the overall Cadenza strategy. This is not house so much as the ivy that clings to it.

Cadenza / CADENZA 17
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


August 22, 2007

Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 03

Mixes2007

VARIOUS ARTISTS - FREESTYLE ESSENTIALS 03
Mixed by Michael F. Gill

Its not that there werent big freestyle singles during the first few years of the 90s. Its that the majority of what was being produced wasnt moving beyond the established template. The closest freestyle got to progressing was by adding more house rhythms and modern sounding hip-hop loops into the mix.

01. TKA - Maria - Tommy Boy Music 1992
02. Sa-Fire - Don’t Break My Heart - Cutting Records 1986
03. Jaya - If You Leave Me Now - Lefrak-Moelis Records 1989
04. Cynthia & Johnny O - Dreamboy/Dreamgirl - MicMac Records 1990
05. Lil’ Suzy - Take Me In Your Arms - High Power Records 1991
06. Collage - I’ll Be Loving You - Viper 7 Records 1993
07. Laissez Faire - In Paradise - Metropolitan Recording Corporation 1992
08. TKA - Louder Than Love - Tommy Boy Music 1990
09. Cynthia - Change On Me - MicMac Records 1989
10. Judy Torres - Love you, Will You Love Me - Profile Records 1989
11. George Lamond - Without You - Columbia 1989
12. George Lamond - Bad Of The Heart - Columbia 1990
13. George Lamond - Where Does That Leave Love - Columbia 1992
14. Lisette Melendez - Together Forever - Columbia 1990
15. Corina - Temptation - ATCO/Cutting 1991
16. Two Without Hats - 3 On The Mic - MicMac Records 1991
17. Rockell - In A Dream - Robbins Entertainment 1997
18. Jocelyn Enriquez - Do You Miss Me - Classified Records 1996


August 21, 2007

Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 02

Mixes2007

VARIOUS ARTISTS - FREESTYLE ESSENTIALS 02
Mixed by Michael F. Gill

Its not an exaggeration to say that almost every freestyle song deals with variations on love lost, love found, love lost again. But what sets the genre apart in this regard is how literal the emotional appeals are presented: no matter how overwrought and dramatic the vocals may seem, there is no winking or irony to be found on these records.

01. Debbie Harry - In Love With Love (Heart Of Fire Mix) - Geffen 1987
02. Connie - Funky Little Beat - Sunnyview Records 1985
03. Sly Fox - Como Tu Te Llama? - Capitol Records 1985
04. Noel - Silent Morning 4th and Broadway - 1987
05. Giggles - Love Letter Cutting/Atlantic - 1987
06. Will To Power - Dreamin’ - Epic 1987
07. Sweet Sensation Hooked On You Next Plateau 1986
08. Trinere - I’ll Be All You Ever Need - Jam Packed 1986
09. Sweet Sensation - Victim Of Love - Next Plateau 1987
10. TKA - Come Get My Love - Tommy Boy Music 1986
11. Pajama Party - Yo No Se - Atlantic 1988
12. Nayobe - Second Chance For Love - Fever Records 1986
13. Latin Rascals - Arabian Knights - Tin Pan Apple 1987
14. Sa-Fire - Let Me Be The One - Cutting Records 1987
15. Cover Girls - Because Of You - Fever Records 1987
16. Trinere - How Can We Be Wrong - Jam Packed 1986
17. Stevie B. - Dreaming Of Love - Lefrak-Moelis Records 1988
18. Stevie B. - In My Eyes - Lefrak-Moelis Records 1988
19. Johnny O. - Fantasy Girl - MicMac Records 1988
20. Stevie B - Spring Love - Lefrak-Moelis Records 1988


August 20, 2007

Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 01

Mixes2007

VARIOUS ARTISTS - FREESTYLE ESSENTIALS 01
Mixed by Michael F. Gill

“People called it Latin hip-hop, but the pop producers didn’t want to use that term because hip-hop had negative connotations. So they started calling it freestyle.”

01. Shannon - Let The Music Play - Emergency Records 1983
02. Jellybean - The Mexican - EMI 1984
03. Lisa Lisa - I Wonder If I Take You Home - Columbia/CBS 1984
04. Nayobe - Good Things Come To Those Who Wait - Fever Records 1986
05. Amoretto - Clave Rocks - PKO Records 1986
06. Sa Fire - Love Is On Her Mind - Cutting Records 1988
07. Cover Girls - Show Me - Fever Records 1986
08. TKA - One Way Love - Tommy Boy Music 1986
09. Cover Girls - Inside Outside - Fever Records 1988
10. Nayobe - Please Don’t Go - Fever Records 1984
11. Alisha - All Night Passion - Vanguard 1984
12. Company B - Fascinated - Atlantic 1986
13. Expose - Point Of No Return - Arista 1985
14. Nocera - Summertime Summertime - Sleeping Bag Records 1986
15. Information Society - Running - Tommy Boy Music 1985
16. Debbie Deb - When I Hear Music - Jam Packed 1983
17. Debbie Deb - Lookout Weekend - Jam Packed 1984
18. Nice N’ Wild - Diamond Girl - Atlantic 1986
19. Judy Torres - No Reason To Cry - Profile Records 1986


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