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The Rubber Room
May, Volume One
The Rubber Room column is a weekly look at recent and notable releases that don’t fall into the rubric of traditional reviewed material—namely 7”’s, 12”’s, 3” CDs, EPs, cassette-only, DVDs and MP3-only releases.
The Album Leaf
Seal Beach EP
[Better Looking, 2005]
This reissue doubles the length of the original 2003 Acuarela release by adding five live tracks. It’s hardly noticeable in sound, though, as the transition between Jimmy LaValle's studio work and his stage performance is smooth enough that you won't know when it happens without looking at your tracklist. The downside? You probably won't need all of the fifty minutes the “EP” now contains. Because, sure, LaValle creates pleasing atmospheres, but unlike peers Sigur Ros or good minimalist composers, he doesn't quite know what to do with them. The resulting ten tracks work as mood pieces—and decent ones—but have too little substance to really feel.
Vigo Bay EP
Intended as a taster for the forthcoming Maritime LP on his new label home at 4AD, Vigo Bay sees David Edwards demonstrating a slight, but significant, change of direction from his 2002 debut Chiff Chaffs and Willow Warblers. Just like Four Tet’s forthcoming Everything Ecstatic, “Vigo Bay” has a considerably darker hue to previous Minotaur releases, opening with syncopated harpsichords and electro-boiled beats that spiral wildly to a thrilling conclusion. Sharp and precision tooled, Vigo Bay is a tantalising glimpse of an artist fully achieving their potential just in time for a much anticipated new album.
Voo Doo Knight 12” / Between Brothers EP
[Mood Music / Polyphonics, 2004 / 2005]
Admit it, you always wanted to like trance. You first gave in a tiny bit with Kaito and you’re secretly looking for a little bit more. But not too hard. Well, John Tejada makes it easy for you, appearing on Spirit Catcher’s most recent 12” for the Polyphonics label by remixing the kinda-trance, kinda-electro, kinda-house “Between Brothers,” but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original, which sends reverbed shivers down the spine. It hardly gets near the massiveness of “Voo Doo Knight,” though, which jacks a Jackson bassline, rolls out Metro Area handclaps in between a cavernous bass drum, and a melody that sounds like it’s being pushed forward by a hand crank. Sure, it doesn’t beat “Street Hawk”’s spirits being caught, released, and brought back in again melody. But it comes close and it’s on the B-side. So it’s not like you’re missing out. On trance, though? Yeah, you’re definitely missing out.
Traum Schallplatten has been taking care of business recently, with stellar releases on nearly each of their dizzying array of sub-labels. This is the Trapez platter worth it, if just to mix straight from Jeff Samuel’s “Endpoint,” much like Triple R did, to great effect on his recent visit to the States. “Mutant Pop,” said mixing tool, starts slow, eventually building up a bank of moans and softened yelps that leads straight into the restrained rolling synth line that carries the song along its merry way. “Shower of Ice” uses nearly the same beat, clipped vocal samples, and one of those bulbous emotional basslines that gets you near tears on the dancefloor if employed judiciously. Recommended.
[Get Physical, 2005]
Ever since DJ Koze used those immortal spoon-man bells on “Brutalga Square,” I’ve been waiting for the trend to catch on. You can’t call it a trend, but you can call it a help—M.A.N.D.Y’s newest 12” indulges in the sound, weaving it into the manic electro haze of “Jah.” Much like Koze’s joint, the track wanders around, building steam until it explodes (in the final minute here). “Say A Little Prayer For Me” is a tad pedestrian (too much electro, not enough house), but again flowers in the final half to bring out ideas that had only been bubbling up for the previous five-and-a-half minutes.
The last time we looked at Cadenza in this column, the praise mostly centered around the unique ability of artists on the label to create tracks well over ten minutes long that captured a Latin feel within the confines of a microhouse framework. I made much of the fact that, yes, home listening-wise this may not make a lot of sense, but heard inside of mixes and out on the dancefloor that this sort of stuff is minimalism at its finest. Owing a lot to the sound of Villalobos, but never coming near the sheer complexity and obfuscation, Luciano and friends have created a safe haven and a sure bet for this stuff’s continued prevalence. Same goes for this one too.
By: Stylus Staff
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