#017: Californian Beardin’
e’re moving weekly here on Beatz, and this Friday we’ve got reviews from Lawrence, Luke Vibert’s Kerrier District, Sally Shapiro, plus the latest from Kitsune, Spectral Sound, Sentrall, Einmaleins, Planet E, and Boxer. Plus, Todd Hutlock takes a look back at the speaker-pushing power of the debut single by LFO.
I'll Be By Your Side
Diskokaine / DK 002
What is it about cold lands that bringeth pop so warm? "I'll Be By Your Side" is a typically irresistible slice of Nordic joy, vocoder and all, that manages to balance economy and lushness in such an impeccably hip way that all your potential arguments simply bounce off the ironclad resolve of its pure poptasticness. Diskokaine/Clone bring us a 12" with a remix (unnecessary) and a b-side "Time to Let Go" (tres necessaire), in which our dear Sally shares her command of French and Francophile pop, while still keeping the hat firmly tipped toward that dynamic pan-European style. The single is rounded off by an egregious track from producer Johan Agebjorn, who may need a tap on the shoulder to remind him that the 80's did, in fact, end. All the two-decades gone simplicities that make Sally's vocal tracks resound lose their steam in this cut, appropriately-titled "Overload."
Along the Wire
Ladomat 2000 / LADO 2179-0
Hector Rodriguez: The idea of a few micro-goth remixes by Superpitcher and Troy Pierce of Lawrence’s already gloomy music did not initially seem to be my idea of “fun summertime listening.” Don’t get me wrong, when the evenings are longer and a good chill pierces the air, there is nothing I love better than a little melancholic night music, but hey, it’s August and it’s hot out. But I may have to re-examine my expectations, as both mixes are winners, Pierce’s mix uses his dark, prickly palate to mold the image of a darkly tuxedoed gent out for a turn on the techno dance floor, with all sharply pointed lines and insistently smooth rhythms. Superpitcher’s mix is positively exuberant in its own vaguely trancey way, it could be the sunrise track for a particularly dark and mystical night—no matter what the temperature happens to be.
Nick Sylvester: We're past the point of protesting the original cut, I guess. When symphony orchestras tune up before the Big Show, and all the horns are blowing long tones with minimal concordance, and the timpani guy is rolling away on the timpanis, sometimes all the notes together blur into this noxious, smoggy-brown cloud of noise, shifting shape but never moving too far from its generative spot—this is the noise Lawrence so generously has given his remixers to work with, not to mention some shitty rhythm tracks and pensive, needlessly nervous high-pitched synth riff. Superpitcher finds a dark loop within the "Wire" cloud he likes, sticks the hard, exploding Superpitcher drum sounds over it as opposed to the soft, baby's-ass-round Superpitcher drum sounds, and pretty much calls it a day. Exhausting like his M83 remix, Supepitcher's "Wire" lacks the boundless melancholy, but considering what he had to work with, etc., etc..
Troy Pierce has the b-side, which deals in wriggling, fragmented, bass-grooving mini-hooks not unlike what his Minus labelmates Magda and Heartthrob tend to do. A nice contrast to Superpitcher's soaring MOR glum, and his Black Boots remix does a fine job tweaking Lawrence's needling synth line into something of an autumn drizzle. But he's ultimately an on-the-beat loop guy, pulling the drums in and out on pretty predictable measures, and aside from his incidental flourishes, said drum loops sound pretty plastic.
Dirty Soaked Tampon
Censored / Censored099
Cameron Macdonald: Ilsa Gold’s Christopher Just produced this nine-minute zinger that is more Lesbians on Ecstasy gimmickry than ironic Chicks on Speed performance art. We’ve got the fake orgasms, Christina Aguilera melodrama done in a karaoke way, demands for “satisfaction now,” and requests for rectal insertion. The song’s generic, Europop-house sound simply deflates the sass and worse, clubgoers will have little idea that the tune is actually about soiled tampons. Just’s own remix thankfully obscures the trash by stuttering the vocals and grooving to a decent microfunk glide, despite the synth blows seemingly stolen from The Juan MacLean’s “You Can’t Have It Both Ways.” Axel Bartsch’s remix is a bit bloodless, plodding along to keyboard squirts, slouching melodies, and vocals that are drenched in unnecessary echo.
Nick Sylvester: As if you can't tell from the artist name and track title, MM's "DST" is boilerplate electroclash w/ dirty lyrics!, the rub here being that MM's oversized skidmark-goth synth can't decide on an audience: I hear Jock Jams one minute, Benny Benassi strip anthem the next (the word "satisfaction" is actually said at one point), Chicks on Speed on bad speed after that. And when the brickhanded piano chords burst out mid-scene like the bad Chicago house parody they are, I hear Cece Peniston' "Finally," which turns out I'm not as excited about as I used to be. How Christopher Just turned this turd into a Carl Craig-circa-Paperclip People acid-house monster, with that relentless thump and an acid freakout Benassi only dreams of, I have no idea, but it's one of the best fake Carl Craig tracks I've heard in a while, and aside from the vocal cutups it has nothing to do with the a-side.
Enemy Love Remix EP 1
Underl_ne / UND/009
Cameron Octigan: With a burning red trident in hand, Troy Pierce has birthed a monster. In one fell swoop, he both exemplifies and brings into question the relationship between techno's more minimal aesthetic and the presentation of those sounds. Well, at least the remixes are interesting. Vivianne Project picks "Grace" and ditches Miami Bass for tech, which works better with the original vocals anyway. "Vital" is turned into a dull tech-electro by Donnacha Costello, while Marc Houle’s Rosaire Argyle moniker makes “Dior Compound” slightly more abrasive, but does little else. Osvaldo's remix of "Vacuum Packed" is probably the most interesting thing here: organic sounds like blood sucking and indiscernible vocal samples are garnish to the two-steps-from-dub backing. And Konrad? Pierce is the new Black.
Peter Chambers: Louderbach is more than just “Troy Pierce with black lipstick.” As with a lot of the recent M_nus output, you get the impression that you’re hearing the beginning of an exploration, not its ends and after-effects. M_nus’ spine is the bassline—foregoing techno’s obsession with frantic, abrasive, stabbing atmospheres in the 90s, all four of the remixes here build on neo-techno’s tendency to meander through percussive tropes which kick and click around the ever-present groove. Rosaire Argyle’s remix of “Dior Compound” takes “spooky chimes” (as much a theme of this year’s techno as the cowbell was to disco-not-disco a while back) and hangs them like a mobile above a bed of menace, removing the original version’s Green Velvet-y push. Vivianne Project’s remix of “Grace (Anxiety)” puts the vocal in the back seat and adds lots of percussive trapdoors and alleyways, but can’t top the impact of the album version. Osvaldo takes “Vacuum Packed,” the most Sähkö-ish track on the LP, and slaps it into a micro-goth funkup. Donnacha Costello’s remix of ‘Vital’ is the only real let-down here—it’s two minutes too long and the bassline is left in the mix in a way that makes me run squealing for the skip button.
Kitsuné Music / KITSUNÉ 038
Rave culture is barely 20 years old, and the hangovers and post-coital guilt still remain. Now we have a photogenic band being touted as “nu rave,” and they have a member named Captain Strobe. But don’t worry just yet. The Klaxons’s single, “Gravity’s Rainbow” is more SXSW convention showcase than Ministry of Sound. It’s understandable why the tune is an MTV2 hit, “Gravity” has the right 00’s alt-rawk clichés lined up: a jerky Radio 4 bassline that smokes cigs to look tough, a heartbroken guitar melody a la Interpol, and Beck’s karaoke-ish, stoned ‘n’ dazed vocals. The remixes fit the “raver” tag a bit better. The “Nightmoves” mix struts to a decent disco kick and an acid-didgeridoo riff, but it’s the “Van She Mix” that will most likely be spun in basement clubs in Berlin and Williamsburg. It’s got Daft Punk robo-disco calls, the lost-Cinderella-on-the-dancefloor melody recalling Annie’s “Heartbeat,” and 8-bit synth twinkles worthy of “The Legend Of Zelda.” Finely calculated stuff.
Kerrier District 2
Rephlex / CAT 183 R
More of an EP than a full-length, the ever-prolific Luke Vibert returns to his Kerrier District alias for two three-track twelve inches, or all six on the CD. As with the KD debut, disco is the corpse exhumed and delighted in here, and as with that record, Vibert is content to toy with his audience—"Disco Nasty" might be the apex of his benign piss-taking, alternating deliciously crunchy grooves with fucked-up dubbage. As is usually the case, acid informs his moves, so while the source material is discoid in sound, there's no Prelude / West End formalism to the way he lays down the funk—Vibert would rather mess with your head than sustain a flow, so he scatters delicious segments about with little regard for where they might fall. This either results in success—"Sho U Rite" suspends disco breaks into a kind of jellied noodle-house soup—or falling on his face ("Realistique" sounding like an attempt at evoking Sylvester from someone who's only just mastered Kano.) But this is nitpicking: Vibert's progressivism is a virtue to be admired, he may be one of the few interested in investing in future discos rather than disco futures.
Planet E / PE 65286-1
Los Hermanos/Underground Resistance crew member Santiago Salazar grabs his amigo Esteban Adame and heads for Carl Craig’s Planet E imprint for four tracks of amazing Latin-infused techno. The title track is a peak-time floor filler with a pounding beat and smooth, rolling bassline smashed up with salsa-style vocals and some killer Latin piano breaks. This is serious party music, and I guarantee that any DJ dropping this in the middle of a house or techno set will see the crowd go wild—hell, I was rolling my hips like mad in my dining room. The other three tracks tone down the overt Latino influence in deference to straight-ahead dancefloor techno, but each cut leaves enough influential flavor to make things just the right side of spicy.
Intrinsic Design / ID019
After singles on Poker Flat and Resopal Schallware, Bay Area-native Christopher Lee returns Stateside for this three-track excursion into late-night minimal funk. A-side “Ajar” starts slowly, but builds layer by layer with some whip-crack percussion over a 4/4 beat and menacing low-end tremors forming the backbone, but taking a bit too long to get to the real heart of the matter. Once it gets there, it delivers the goods, though. The better, more immediate track is on the flip, as “Kunk” trucks along with some snapping, layered percussion and a subtle, swinging bass groove, adding buzzes, snaps, and warm, ghostly keyboard stabs for a laid-back groove that is just the right side of minimal. Third track “Rev” is a bit more leftfield, with some backwards stuff that sounds great in headphones but not necessarily for the floor. All in all, a worthy effort, and at half the price of that latest Traum single.
Spectral Sound / SPC 38
Jack-of-All-Trades Tadd Mullinix, who drops hip-hop as Dabrye and crazed minimal acid as James T. Cotton, teams for the second time with D’Marc Cantu for three tracks of old-school acid madness. The gritty, thunderous “Sweat Box” starts with a whispered vocal reading the title, simple bloopy bass, and rumbling toms before those hi-hats ride in and the tension builds. You keep expecting it to explode and the kick to come in, but in its restraint it is all the more effective and menacing. Besides, the next cut, “Ace of Spades,” takes care of all of that anyway. Screeching from the get-go, it thumps along with a tweaked vocal snippet and a 4/4 pulse, until eventually some snares roll in and more knobs are twisted. The side-long “Acid Planes” follows the same basic formula, but stretches it out for 10 minutes+ for maximum mixability. In fact, you could likely start it at three different points in the record and no one would notice, and that is not an insult. Drop this next to some Trax classics and watch the trails.
Sentrall / SENDIGI001
Windsurf is two shorts-wearing Californian beardos doing what Californian beardos do. And that’s chopping a razored-out line that connects Fleetwood Mac at their most emotionally numb to krautrock just as it became consciously beautiful (and thus uncool). Windsurf make yacht rock walk the plank and take Metro Area out of the city and onto the on the beach ‘til you can taste the salt in their greasy hair as you kiss them. Therefore, The Windsurf EP is a blissed out easy-glistening glide-by that’s unashamed to sprawl with a washed out Jan Hammer t-shirt riding up over a tanned, but slack belly. It may help you through hard times—it has for me. I’d call it nu-balaeric if I didn’t really hate people who like that crap.
Ripperton & She DJ Masaya
Num Ltd / NUMLTD02
After the barely audible splash of his fine release as Lazy Fat People on Border Community, Ripperton takes his hazy smacked out sounds to Switzerland’s Num, and this vital and important 12 inch. “Long Distance” is 12 minutes of soaring epic house music. Airport noises fade into a perfect kick drum, buzzing hazy synths swarm higher and higher: is this really minimal? The heavy MBV-ish drones may be from the past but this song feels like an early morning in a way that is timeless and familiar to any dance music fan who has clubbed all night. Why is minimal taking over, huge in Ibiza, and on the cover of Mixmag? Because week in week out this scene continues to produce tracks like this; the greatest soundtracks to the greatest nights of peoples lives, worldwide.
Nutown Project and Katou
Einmaleins / 013
Einmaleins continues to rule the world of bonkers door-slamming minimal house, and here we have two more stuttering jacking bangers which should be like fine grist to the mill for fans of this on-point label. “Poisson Davril” is the slightly more straightforward of the two, but nonetheless sounds like it’s being EQ’d live all the way through, and with a touch of electro in the bassline it doesn’t follow a predictable trajectory of any sort. “Petite Chose” works around a huge splashing snare drum, with the newly obligatory “tourettes-twitch” vocal snippet carving its way around it. It’s a little deeper than “Poisson” with its gloopy breakdown, but as is the norm with Einmaleins, even the deeper tunes are so utterly insane they’d still qualify for peaktime.
Boxer / Boxer 041
Patrick Chardronnet! James Holden! What have you wrought! If you haven’t heard “Eve By Day,” or the first Oxia Speicher, or “The Sky Was Pink,” then you’ll probably consider this record to be utter genius. If this is the case you may want to try the new wonder drug, penicillin, and replace the logs under your massive immovable stone with a device known as a “wheel.” Of course this sarcasm is scuppered by the fact that “Sleeping,” Nazca’s version of “Eve By Day,” still gives the synapses a little twitch. It’s not bad by any means, a little ravier than its grim counterparts, and it’s got a much bigger kick drum on it. On the flip, “Western” is a barely passable piece of electro-disco, but “Svell” is a nice piece of house/trance, like Lawrence with pills instead of black and white pictures.
Tants Doll EP
De'fchild / DCP-004
Ruoho Ruotsi is a relative newcomer, at least as far as production is concerned, but already his reputation is growing. No wonder: his sound perfectly straddles the middle space between the floor-grounded end of ~scape (particularly Deadbeat and Portable) and Background records, with its (barely) audible deep house heritage. “Tants Doll,” contains one composition and three re-interpretations. The original shows off Ruotsi’s predilection for foregrounding the musicality of effects themselves; this is plug-in music, but with silicon soul. Close listening reveals an admirable attention to detail and an ear keen enough to capture the nuance necessary for the overall effect to be “subtle,” instead of merely ‘dull.’ Suz and Layborn’s mix adds further details and some vocal loops without harming the mood. KLMN's Ghostrider Mix goes further inside out of itself, sounding a little like Quiet Daze’s “The Scenic Route.” Mike Uzzi and Ben Recht’s remix is the only one to attempt a total reconstruction, and comes out with a minimally bangin’ strummer. It’s all well turned out stuff, and if you’ve got a thing for this particular type of laptop deepness (deeptop?), then the beautifully personalised cover art is just the icing on the cake.
Warp / WAP 5
I first heard LFO’s self-titled debut single in September 1990, in the DJ booth at my first-ever club gig. One of the managers of the club—Leah Hunter, a big hip-hop fan who had a soft spot for some deep house records—brought a white label copy into the booth before my set started and told me to give it a listen. I dug what I heard, already having a bit of Detroit techno in my crate and figuring it would mix well with Model 500 and the like. I also wanted to get off on the right foot, and so I told her I would be happy to drop it into my set.
Peak time hit a few hours later and I took a chance on “LFO,” thinking as I cued the record that the Speak and Spell vocals would likely hook the crowd if the beat didn’t, and the low-end rumbles would sound amazing through the club’s giant system. Sure enough, the snapping snare and swerving, bleeping riff went down a treat, as did the ridiculous bass groove, sounding absolutely mammoth as I tweaked my EQ to accentuate the richness. But then a funny thing happened a little less than a minute in, at the point in the song where the bass riff drops another (I’m guessing here) three octaves or so and solos on its own for a few seconds. DOOM DOOM DOOMDOOM. DOODOODOODOOOM.
The speakers went silent.
The crowd thought I did it and I thought the needles skipped, but when the riff appeared again a few minutes later, I figured out what happened—the bass overloaded the club’s system and it just cut out altogether. They never even heard it. Being as how no one in the room except Leah and I knew what happened, it didn’t really cause much of a ruckus. After I calmed down a bit and realized that I wasn’t going to be on the hook for blowing out the club’s speakers, I relaxed and the rest of the set was smooth as glass.
“LFO” opened my eyes that night—it taught me a lesson about sound and the power and the fury of it all, about the things you could do with mixing and EQ and production that I literally had never considered. It was a revolution in my head, and based on the way Warp took off after “LFO” became a hit, I’d say I wasn’t the only one who felt it.
A few months later, when I purchased the Tommy Boy domestic release of the single, it came with a warning on the back: “Tommy Boy Music, Inc., its affiliates and licensees disclaim any and all liability for speaker damage resulting from the playback of this sound recording.” Amen.
DJ Yellow - Goddess [Ovum]
Pig & Dan - 4 Leaf Clover [Cocoon]
2 AM/FM - Sweat Box [Spectral Sound]
Jeff Mills - Preview [Tomorrow]
Mr. Fingers - Beyond the Clouds [Trax]
Los Hermanos - My Mothers Guitarra [Los Hermanos]
This Heat - 24 Track Loop [These]
Claude VonStroke - Beware of the Bird (Justin Martin Remix) [Dirtybird]
David Wulle & Andy Garcia - A1/DOC 007 [Docile]
Sunglasses Afterdark - The Gaslamp (Crossed Swords Champion Mix by Two Lone Swordsmen) [Cloak & Dagger]
Giresse and Erb - Slapback [Connaisseur Superior]
Anthony Collins - Self Esteem [Session Deluxe]
Ripperton and She DJ Masaya - Long Distance [Num Ltd]
Michael Ho - Econoclast EP [Tuning Spork]
Sweet N Candy - Tacky Wakeup (Dominik Eulberg Mix) [Raum…Musik]
Pascal FEOS - Brooklyn Style [Level Non Zero]
Jobim’s Cousin - Comerte [Cargo Edition]
Extrawelt - Doch Doch [Traum]
Lawrence - Along the Wire (Superpitcher Mix) [Dial]
Pan - The Lizard [Rebel One]
Michael F. Gill
Errol Dunkley - Sit and Cry Over You [T.P. Records]
Starship Orchestra - The Waiting Game [CBS]
Ray Parker Jr & Raydio – Until the Morning Comes [Arista]
Didier Lockwood - Aspiring Answer [Inner City]
Shinedoe - Seek and You Will Find [100% Pure]
Lunapark - Lunapark [Sterpete Dischi]
Henrik B - Airwalk [Pryda Friends]
Moritz Piske - Ein Kaenguru I'm Clubraum / Huldigung Den Triolen [Opossum]
Monika Kruse & Patrick Lindsey - Whds [Terminal M]
V/A - Permanent Vacation [Permanent Vacation]
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-09-01