#018: Robot Holocaust
eatz By The Pound arrives at your Friday doorstep again, and we’ve got reviews of new releases from Dntel, Kelis, Spektrum, and Claude VonStroke, plus recent stuff from Opossum, Terminal M, Conaisseur, and Rong Music. But first, Todd Burns is back with an audio profile of the Hand on the Plow label.
Beatz by the Pound continues with its newest podcast: Influx. On this second edition, we profile UK imprint Hand on the Plow. The label puts out what co-label head Steven Taylor calls “21st century blues” and returns this month after a more than two-year hiatus. Stylus editor Todd Burns talked to Taylor, Laszlo Beckett, and Matt Southall about the origins of HotP, the music that they’re each producing, and about the slew of releases that they have upcoming in 2006.
01: Spandex - What’s Wrong With You
02: Beckett and Taylor - Where There You Been Gone Find It
03: Pleated Lemon - Cocks and Fannies
04: Beckett and Taylor - Hoody (Instrumental Version)
[INFLUX #001: Orac Records]
Jukebox Series #10
Aim Records / 100-10
Precious little jewels! In two tracks and less than eight minutes, Dntel and Mia Doi Todd re-affirm their reputation as two of the most interesting talents working in the strange, difficult gaps between indie and electronica. Like a lot of the work on Life Is Full of Possibilities, both “Rock My Boat” and “Everything’s Tricks” require close, repeated listening to surrender a portion of the quality crafted into them. They’re both much larger than their run-time, and require repetition to unpack fully. The reward for your efforts is a beautiful pop song and a wonderful instrumental, both of which blend found sounds, samples, synths, beats, and instruments together into a delicately balanced mélange that’s only shy of giving itself up for knowing it’s got so much to offer. If you enjoyed Dntel’s earlier work, this is (as they say) a “must have.”
Virgin Records (UK) / VSTDJX 1914
Continuing in the mini-trend started with Felix working over Brandy and Tiefschwarz remixing Missy Elliot, edgy electronic and edgy R&B; meet on the plateau for Kelis' "Bossy." However, the talent called upon here seems to have been given nothing more than a 12" copy of the song, with instrumental and a cappella versions to play with. Which leads to a lot of what is somewhat misleadingly-called "time stretching." i.e. digitally manipulating the vocal to alter the tempo without affecting the pitch. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke use this technique to turn in not one, but two up-tempo makeovers (the original is crunk-speed slow), the "Earth Out" version isolates a simple phrase and a whoop to anchor a fairly generic but effective and pleasing lip-gloss house banger. The un-subtitled remix is far more successful by keeping the speed hyperkinetic but rooting the track in layers of disco-era percussion and trailing synth leads while keeping most of the vocal. Too Short’s part sounds a lot less half-assed in this context, perhaps because his limp lines go by so quick you don't fixate on them. The Sebastien Remix keeps the original tempo (and even some of the backing track—almost like a real remix!) and cleverly mixes Warp bleep-n-bass with bipolar breaks to give the track a strange techno-blaxploitation feel. On the other hand, the Switch Remix loops the line "that's right / I switched up the beat of the drum" (get it—Switched?) at warp speed for an opener, then bangs along with seemingly random loops and vocal phrases over what sounds like little more than a sped up version of the original track with the bass dropped out. It’s interesting enough, but to what end?
Conaisseur / CNS 008-6
We've been loving on Daso over here since he emerged with 2005's "Daybreak," and expect more of the same from Adventure—Daso balances darkside and sunrise with precision, clarity, and humanity, or to be more specific, he allows the music to remain spooky while maintaining a relentless groove. Opener "Sam N' Max" is insidious in its delicate intensity, the kind of track that has you cursing the times you were muttering on about not liking “minimal.” Daso seems to have used many of the same sounds and structures for all three tracks here, so "Dott" and "Beneath a Steel Sky" seem like microvariations of the A-side. Not a bad thing—the former accentuates the battering waves of percussion and atonal hiss to develop a sense of restrained build and release, the latter moves into far more visceral territory with an ominous bassline and meditative plonks and pads rising to the surface like dawn on the day after the robot holocaust.
Monika Kruse & Patrick Lindsey
Terminal M / TERM-050-6
For the fiftieth release on her own Terminal M label, Monika Kruse teams up with Harthouse veteran Patrick Lindsey for two percussion sandstorms of techno that aren't afraid to cull some plays from the minimal handbook. Just like the recent work by Thomas Schumacher, who for years was releasing brittle, no-holds-barred techno that showed little regard for life outside the club, Kruse and Lindsey are bending their sound to include more intricate, detailed rhythm studies and a clearer sense of evolving structure. Hence, both sides of this single pack the wallop of say, Luciano's "Love Dose" remix amped up and dipped in cement, but still have enough shifting bubbles on the surface to retain both energy and interest for the entire running time.
[Michael F. Gill]
Ein Känguruh Im Clubraum / Huldigung Den Triole
Opossum Recordings / OPSM008
This just in: unpronounceable German single to be saved from obscurity by getting a cushy spot on the new Heidi compilation on Get Physical. English speaking public thrilled to realize it's about a kangaroo being let loose in the club. Said kangaroo has been seen hopping to a wild series of cut up vocals, and claims to be the animal incarnation of a more disciplined and clubbier Robag Wruhme. Beware, flipping over of record will result in agitated computer funk that grows more ugly, inorganic, and insistent in its attempt to teach kangaroo to dance. Film at 11.
[Michael F. Gill]
Beware of the Bird
Dirtybird / db006
The Bay Area’s hottest tech-house wrangler drops two tracks of sublime funkiness on his own Dirtybird label, but those looking for another “Who’s Afraid of Detroit?” or “The Whistler” won’t find the immediacy of those hooks here. The jazzy, bloopy riff just doesn’t stick with me, and the low-key (but up-tempo) rhythm and plucked string-like sounds don’t exactly grab you by the ears like VonStroke’s previous singles have. A fine track, but VonStroke appears content to tread water when he should be walking on it. Justin Martin’s remix on the flip, however, shakes things up a bit more, trading in some of the original smoothness for some glitchy, off-kilter grooves and backwards effects that have a bit more grit and bite. VonStroke’s propulsive version certainly would work better in a set, but Martin’s is far more interesting to the ear.
33 1/3 Queen
Tu-Rong / TR-003
Here’s a real EP, covering a wide spectrum of taste and sound, re-presenting the past into a neat present. For those of you too young to remember or too jaded to care, 33/3 Queen’s “Searchin” was a big, main room stomper on Nu-Groove records back in 1990. Re-appearing here in Rob Rives’ (Floppy Sound) re-blessed form, the original has lost none of its jarring, full-bore impact. It’s the kind of record that most will find tasteless, some will discover as a guilty pleasure, while other perverted souls will gush over it endlessly. The B is the “opposite” side, in more ways than mood; both Ray Mang’s deliciously fu(n/c)ked up version of “Disco Four” and DJ Spun’s stripped-back edit of “Steal Blue” work via subtlety. If the A brutalises you with beats, the Bs frot you with the funk. Spun’s edit would almost work best as a mixing tool, making it “useful” but not wonderful, unless you’re part of that rare breed of disco-mnml lovers I’ve heard rumours about. Mang’s mix, utilizing a super-infectious guitar loop and full array of background explosions, reverbs, and “weird noises” (including what sounds like the Powerbook “error” effect at one stage) is the pick of the EP, but having all three together on one piece of wax would be a worthy and interesting proposal.
Relax It's Only a Ghost Versions
Ladomat / LADO 17187-0
“Is this some kind of German joke?” So asked my significant other upon hearing the lyrics of the original from the next room. “Relax,” I said, “it’s only Phantom/Ghost.” Indeed, the lyrical content of Dirk Von Lowtzow and Thies Mynther is that strange mix of an incredibly earnest theme (love beyond death) delivered in casual, breezy English. Those who remember the climax of Michael Mayer’s masterful “Immer” mix will know the score. The effect here is something like “Frankie goes to the tundra,” sees a ghost, likes it, and takes it to bed. Here’s a lyrical sample: “Try to let it stay / Make it warm and say / Ectoplasmatic friends / Are well behaved.” Hmm. For those of you who can “relax” and enjoy the oddball vocal, this EP’s got a lot to offer, including remixes by the rising darkstars of Dial: Efdemin (here with Carsten Jost) and Pantha du Prince. Pantha’s mix is very much in the vein of his wonderful “Lichten/Walden” EP, but without quite the emotive force. The Efdemin/Jost version sounds much more Leaving the Frantic-era Sten, and is a nice mid-tempo tech-house track. Neither this nor the Pantha really manage to deal with the vocal properly though, and both might be better without it. The surprise winner here is the Raboisen mix, which sounds somewhere between Fennesz-esque digital fuzz (but tamed and taught to sing in 4/4) and Pantha’s older material. In fact, although it’s not directly credited, the vocal credits suggest this is a Pantha du Prince mix. It’s great.
May Day Remixes
Spektrum / SPEK 005X
As far as extended dub remixes of campy electro songs go, this one's not bad for showcasing the sounds behind the sounds: the drums grittier than you ever knew, and that hornhonk trashbarge synth riff prettier too, maybe even a bit mellifluous. There's no room for the extra minutes in a DJ set, but your pop lab scientist /discogs jockey types has it in a beaker. TRAMP! did a remix. It starts like any number of Radio 4 songs (the shit-for-brains agit-dancepunk act, not the BBC station), with the minor thirds on the bass and bad percussion. But when the isolated vocals kick in, there's an impressive Knife-like gloom to the track that flips the original's may-day! may-day! lolligagging to something a little more Right Now, technocratically cagey, humanly concerned. Escapist by contrast, DJ T's remix switches the main riff for boogie playground spaceship sounds, which wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't failed one-upsmanship.
Shinedoe - Seek And You Will Find [100% Pure]
Ican - A Quien [Planet E]
Audion - Mouth to Mouth [Spectral Sound]
Daniel Stefanik - Move Me (Guido Schneider’s Dark Side of the Moon Mix) [Moon Harbour]
Musical Science - Musical Science (Squelch Mix) [Sabres of Paradise]
Two Lone Swordsmen - Felt Under Pressure [Firewire]
Galaxy 2 Galaxy - Afros, Arps, and Minimoogs [Underground Resistance]
Spektrum - May Day (DJ T. Remix) [Spektrum]
Pier Bucci - Junk [Cocoon]
Dominik Eulberg - Der Buchdrucker [Traum Schallplatten]
Daso - Sam N Max [Conaisseur]
Booka Shade - In White Rooms (Mexico Mix) [Get Physical]
Kerrier District - Sho U Rite [Rephlex]
Kelis - Bossy (Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Remix) [Virgin]
Arthur Russell - Springfield (DFA Remix) [Audika]
Justin Timberlake - Future Sex / Love Sounds [Jive]
Beyonce - Get Me Bodied (Remix) [Columbia]
Michael F. Gill
Lee Douglas – Same Changes [Rong]
Lindsay J & Sneak Thief – Open The Door (Imatran Voima Remix) [Mighty Robot]
Spice Girls – Holler (Masters At Work Remixes) [Virgin]
P’taah – Staring At The Sun (Atjazz Remix) [Ubiquity]
Demon vs Heartbreaker - You are My High [20000st]
Pete Shelley – Witness The Change (Dub) [Arista]
P. Lightfoot – The Drive [Recycled Records]
Patti Jo – Make me Believe In You [Scepter / Souljazz]
Alden Tyrell feat. Fred Ventura – Love Explosion ‘05 [Clone]
Carlton & The Shoes – Love Me Forever [Trojan]
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-09-08