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Riff (Raff)

a weekly look into the world of electronic musics...

Tomas Andersson
Washing Up
[Bpitch Control, 2004]

Even though the job’s pretty much the same exact thing each and every day, I’ve applied at Ultra to be Peter’s assistant. “Washing Up” continues Andersson’s run as the only reason to be listening to Bpitch Control. Whereas label head Ellen Allien has gone inwards to examine her reasons for creating music in the first place, Andersson revels in the simple pleasure of the riff (raff). And when it’s this catchy, why try to deny it? Tiga doesn’t on the flipside remix, merely adding a bit of oomph to everything. Strangely, it doesn’t quite hit as nicely as the original, but that may just be my mind playing tricks on me.

Shyza Minelli
[Sub Static, 2005]

New producer or moniker (do you ever really know for sure?), Shyza Minelli returns for a second 12”, after the somewhat forgettable “Take It Back” on Tuning Spork. This time it’s eminently more exciting, if only for the idea of both an MIA and Donnacha Costello on the B-side. The original is all funky bass warm-up, leaving itself open to all sorts of mixing possibilities. There’s an incredible amount of space here, but no shortage of samples, promising for some interesting takes once you flip it over. MIA gets first crack at the track on the B-side and makes it a punishing minimal joint, punctuated by the main “I’m in a nasty mood” vocal hook. Donnacha Costello takes the reins after that, opening his track with a sample, presumably Shyza?, imploring him to do a good remix lest he get his ass kicked. It’s serviceable, but I might consider giving him a shot in the arm for the trad acid bassline and the prominence of the rising crowd noise.

Jeremy P. Caulfield
Scar City / Detached [05]
[Dumb Unit, 2005]

This, coupled, with Caulfield’s Calvacade EP from late last year signals a run of great productions from this Canadian producer. The feel here is much the same. Deeply tech-y house music, pierced by glistening shards of broken-glass melody. Obviously and lovingly structured, you know exactly what you’re going to get when you pop on both “Flipper Kicker” and “Wreckroom,” the former being the sharper-edged of the duo. Recommended.

Also recommended is Caulfield’s recent mix CD: Detached [05], which sees the producer taking to the decks and crafting an incredibly smooth ride between the Wighnomy Brothers, Alex Smoke, Rocco Branco, Jeff Samuel, Metope, and assorted other artists. Impeccably mixed, the disc is a nice mix between young and old minimal music.

Jake Fairley
Animal Love
[Dumb Unit, 2005]

For those who pay attention to things like ratings on reviews (I don’t, which could explain the ranting in comments boxes sometimes), the mark given to Jake Fairley’s recent album might seem a little low, considering the words bestowed upon it. Sometimes praise is faint. While I admire Fairley’s work, it’s simply not usually for me. Things don’t really change much with Animal Love. Huge and gritty analog basses rule the day, amid crunchy drum patterns drawn from the diagram that most electro hews closely to. I’m more than willing to admit that it’s a “me” thing (cf. this review) preventing enjoyment here, but this plods way too much for me to ever get with, although that breakdown in “Raccoondog” is getting close to something I can appreciate and love at the same time.

Blondix 2
[Areal, 2005]

Michael Mayer and Tobias Thomas have jointly created some of the most luminous moments in Kompakt’s history. Look no further than Smallville. They spread the love here over to the second edition of remixes from Ada’s Blondie album, making “Maps” what it should have been in the first place, an epic stormer of a techno track guided lightly by a music-box melody. Erlend and band turn out on the B-side, playing what ends up being a rather stunning version of “Cool My Fire.” In a genre known for its production, Erlend does it exactly right in a rock context, giving the track an incredibly intimate feel (warts and all). Highly recommended.

Booka Shade
Mandarine Girl
[Get Physical, 2005]

There are certain songs that make you want to find ways to make your stereo louder, so that you can somehow replicate the feel of hearing a track in a club. “Mandarine Girl” is one of those tracks. I honestly can’t think of a better track released this year. Unfortunately, both “Point Break” and “Triple Identity” are great as well. Meaning that I can’t do anything but fawn here. “Point Break”’s breakdown resembles Mayer’s mix of “Happiness” in its epic nature, but with an acid twist. And then “Triple Identity” is Metro Area on steroids. Single of the year (so far).

[Get Physical, 2005]

It’s no single of the year, but Get Physical rides again with this 12”, an incredibly subtle and involving joint that makes it mark by leaving no trace at all. The title track is all moody synth pads, longing for a Japanese vacation, resting comfortably with a sedate drum pattern that propels the production forward. The “Salty Dog” B-side is more ebullient, but doesn’t do much to establish itself outside of a beginning mixture of seagulls and dogs barking. Once that settles firmly into the background, though, we’re greeted with clinical acid basslines and violent synth stabs.

Pier Bucci
Cinetico Andino
[Crosstown Rebels, 2005]

Sometimes Luciano collaborator Pier Bucci brings the Chilean funk to this new 12” for the Crosstown Rebels label. Tendrils of synths billow out and return to their origins, rubbery drums seemingly never cohere into rocking beats, and vocals always appear under the influence here, making for a heady experience that’s perhaps better heard under the influence of substances that I would never encourage someone to imbibe. Let’s just say that I heard from a friend of a friend. Clocking in at nearly thirty minutes, it’s hard to imagine not playing this on repeat for an entire night and not getting tired of it.

By: Todd Burns
Published on: 2005-07-07
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