Het doek is na twintig edities uiteindelijk gevallen voor 10 Days Off, het Gentse dance-evenement dat de clubcultuur op haar best celebreerde. Steeds samenvallend met de befaamde Gentse Feesten, leverde het atypische festival tien opeenvolgende clubnachten met sterke namen, een gevarieerd aanbod en een zeer aangename sfeer. Ooit was het pionierswerk, nu is het voorbijgestreefd door dancefestivals die op een duidelijk rockleest zijn geschoeid. Ik maakte (een deel van) het afsluitende, negentien uren durende feest mee in de Vooruit en schreef er een stuk over voor het blad Gonzo Circus, dat je HIER kan lezen!
Since the early 1990s, a steady stream of select house and techno wells out of the Scottish city of Glasgow. The most substantial fountainhead has been Soma Quality Recordings, co-founded by techno household name Slam. Recently Soma presented its 400th release, which was reserved for the duo that established the label. The ep consists of two solid tracks, both clearly illustrating techno’s implied functionality. The steady pounding in “Rotary” is wrapped up in a menacing analogue synthesizer sound supplemented with hi-hats and sweeps while “Catacoustics” is much deeper, using bells, rattles and low bass to an entrancing effect. As this momentous release is a prelude to a new album by Slam, scheduled for October, we can rest assured Soma will continue to play their authoritative role in the scene.
A producer closely associated with Soma and originally hailing from Glasgow as well is Funk D’Void. A while ago, he has teamed up again with Dave Tarrida, yet another Scotsman with years of experience producing music, for a release on the latter’s fresh label Autofake. The fun they had while working on this “Data Reader EP” is apparent and the result is a set of three coarse, raw, flipping acid tracks. Take for instance “Glow Blob”: a little mean dance machine that shoots off noises and samples in all directions while rolling firmly forward. The title track in turn, can easily be described as timeless, prototypical acid techno. Lastly, the raucous, over-the-top stomper “Discontinue” gets a rework by upcoming Spanish producer Miki Craven, who transforms it into an atmospheric cut not unlike most of Funk D’Void’s solo work.
After Dutch imprint Delsin went for a more house-orientated series of eps last year and brought out the superb “Cushion” by Erdbeerschnitzel, they are now pushing an equally exciting follow-up. It contains all the necessary ingredients for an Erdbeerschnitzel taste: intricately woven layers of sound, samples and instrumentation, an over-all slow tempo, an organic feel despite the use of software, several catchy melodies and a decent funk groove. These are true summer tunes; listening to the title track “In Ample Waters” will induce every house aficionado a similar feeling as a kid getting an ice cream on a hot day in June. The beauty of “Never Tilt” is in its artisanship of melodic structuring, a characteristic which is also present in the soft-paced and soulful “Yet Unfulfilled”, the only track on the record that includes vocals. The German once again delivers a work of real flair that’ll be on my playlist for the warm months to come.
Like Delsin, Heist Recordings is proudly based in Amsterdam. It is, of course, a much younger label run by the house outfit Detroit Swindle, but Heist has already got a fair share of attention with a few exceptionally strong releases. Its fifth ep is by fellow townsman Frits Wentink (actually Steve Mensink), a newcomer who holds a degree in Audio Design and who is gaining status rapidly thanks to some decent production work on labels suchs as Triphouse, Shipwrec and Darko Esser’s Wolfskuil as well as to many club performances. This “Family Dinner EP” is in fact typical Frits Wentink material. Case in point is “Ligament” which has a heavy-thumping beat as a basis and gets its groove from a recurring filtered sample with a jazzy feel as well as a soulful vocal cut. “IF I Was To Gravy You’ is composed of similar elements and “Shrewd”, in turn, is an awesome garage house track, characterized by an even more efficient groove, very catchy synth lines and a cut-up vocal sample. Dutch singer Loes Jongerling, with whom the producer has worked before, contributes to “Sauce”. The piece has been built up around her voice, heavy percussive beats and some warm synth touches. All in all, Frits Wentink indeed confirms the buzz and Heist was right to sign him to their roster.
Lastly, a promising debut comes from the Berlin-based German-Greek duo Local Suicide (Brax Moody and Vamparella) on the stylish label Bordello A Parigi, an enterprise from Rotterdam that specializes in vintage music as well as cinema and fashion. Both members of Local Suicide are very active in the music scene and have already established quite a reputation so this ep was long due. You’ll get the original version of “We Can Go Everywhere”, a catchy and poppy tune with clear influences form Italo disco and Balearic house that locks into your head right away, as well as three remixes. The Swiss from In Flagranti give it a live sounding esthetics by means of a funky bass line and some drums, while Mexican dandy Iñigo Vontier chooses an electroclash roll to emphasize the potential the track has for peak time use. Finally, Richard Rossa’s version is more of an electro disco dub that works perfectly. And now please excuse me because I have to get into these high-heeled dancing boots!
Slam – “Rotary/ Catacoustics” is out on Soma Quality Recordings since June 9th
Funk D’Void & Dave Tarrida – “Data Reader EP” is out on Autofake since May 30th
1. Data Reader
2. Glow Blob
4. Discontinue (Miki Craven Remix)
Erdbeerschnitzel – “The Ample Waters” will be out on Delsin on July 7th
1. The Ample Waters
2. Never Tilt
3. With Level Hopes
4. Yet Unfulfilled
Frits Wentink – “Family Dinner EP” will be out on Heist Recordings on July 7th
3. Sauce feat. Loes Jongerling
4. If I Was To Gravy You
Local Suicide – “We Can Go Everywhere” will be out on Bordello A Parigi on June 24th
1. We Can Go Everywhere
2. We Can Go Everywhere (In Flagranti Remix)
3. We Can Go Everywhere (Iñigo Vontier Remix)
4. We Can Go Everywhere (Richard Rossa Remix)
There was a time when dance music albums were simply a collection of four-to-the-floor tracks without much coherence, like two or three 12inches released in one package. However, for quite some time now a large amount of artists in the genre have crafted albums that are a consistent set of pieces, often with a thematic or at least a musical consistency and that are listenable in other places than a club too.
These days, mainly due to the emergence of the digital market and a change in the ways of music consumption, the album format has generally lost its importance to the single. One could easily expect dance music producers leaving the effort of creating an album and concentrate on a condensed output format. But this isn’t the case at all and the release of several interesting albums during these weeks confirms this point in a way.
Swedish producer living in Berlin Patrik Skoog just brought out his first album under his own name on Third Ear Recordings. The man’s long discography, starting at the end of the previous century, is a proof of his diligence and experience but until now, “Who Made Up The Rules” on Josh Wink’s Ovum Records (2011) was the only album on that list. It was released under his alias Agaric which he has been using most during the last years of his career so the fact that “Exit Earth” was done using his proper name is noteworthy.
Skoog now made use of a thematic approach: not only all track titles but also his sound palette reflect the topic of NASA’s two Voyager space travel projects in the 1970s. Of course the exploration of the cosmos is a classic techno idiom and possibly “Exit Earth” could have done without all this. On the other hand it neatly ties everything together conceptually.
The album contains slower, dreamlike tracks like “Inside Jupiter’s Eye” and the beautiful “Cluster 34”, dance floor material such as “Cygnus A” as well as some experimental parts as for instance “Voyager 1” or the closing “Radio Emissions”. Yet it never loses touch of its self-imposed running thread. Furthermore two specific characteristics stand out: firstly, the inherent emotive force of all tracks and secondly Skoog’s meticulous production technique and finishing which make “Exit Earth” a powerful whole.
In lots of ways the German duo Snuff Crew stands for (a certain) tradition and the continuation of it. Having always stressed the heavy impact and influence which 1980s Chicago house, acid house and early techno had on them, their output – be it as producers or as a live act – has continuously been an emulation of those genres. The fact that they keep their identity hidden is in this respect in line with a certain custom in the scene and the title they chose for their third album, released by BPitch Control, refers to this.
However, “Behind The Masks” is not a true revelatory affair per se. The real names of the creators aren’t mentioned in the sleeve notes and that these personas stand for a flaming passion for old school house and techno had already been made clear. However new is for instance an abundant use of piano parts and, more generally, a recurring song-based structure. Take for instance “New Life” which is an utterly sweet Balearic tune, poppy even, featuring a good vocal by Rachel Low and totally having the feel of early 1990s Ibiza hit material.
The appearance of several top contributors is another remarkable feat. Kim Ann Foxman stars in “Tearing Me Away” while Chicago house legend Tyree Cooper completely gets down on the hip house party blaster “Work It Out”. Last but not least, Venetian male diva Hard Ton demonstrates on the catchy “Let Me Be the One” that he is most certainly one of the best house vocalists of today’s scene. Apart from these tracks, Snuff Crew also included decent stylistic exercises in acid – “Bass!” – as well as in electro – “What Is Electro?”.
But while the twosome’s production resulted in an album that, all its imperfections aside, has a very polished sound it is exactly this cleanliness that can be bothersome. As Snuff Crew proclaims to search for the perfect jack and appraises rawness, it is a pity this isn’t expressed more on a recorded album like they seem to manage perfectly while playing live. Also, their quest sometimes brings into being a fairly generic type of house; it works but may lack a face. Masks or not.
Geneva-based David Mendo might not be a top name in house (yet), nonetheless he is a exceptionally skilled dj who has released a long list of 12inches, some on big labels such as Groove, Defected, Get Physical, Cadenza and Rekids. Now he presents his debut album entitled “Avalon” on his own Clarisse imprint. As Mendo is of Spanish descent, quite some of his influences, samples and rhythms are derived from Latin music. The combination with house has been tried and tested many times in the past and Mendo doesn’t really present us something radically new, yet the examples on this record testify that the concept still works, given that production is done properly.
Mendo shows he can take care of that. A piece like “Abstract” is a case in point: here, a good groove is accompanied by the melancholic Spanish vocals of Carla Krevey, an intense piano part, a well-placed guitar sample and some percussive sounds, creating a warm atmosphere. The mastery is definitely in the timing and in the auditory details which are a constant throughout the record. Some tracks give the impression of simplicity but after listening more often and/ or more closely their refinement becomes apparent.
Certainly, “Avalon” includes a few outstanding, restrained and balanced pieces such as “Libellule” and “Waterborne” but the Swiss also put in some floor bombs: “La Krika” and “Les Clochers de Belarus” are packaged as late-1990s deep house anthems and “Fever” is based on soulful but grooving disco. It is without doubt “Everybody Love” though that has the most explosive potential with its pure peak-time power and precision. But “Avalon” is all together a quality album which I certainly recommend.
Something quite different is the work of Boris Bunnik, known for his deep alternative techno as Conforce but also for his unremitting work ethic – which I don’t believe is because he’s from the northern Netherlands but more because he’s really passionate about producing. With “Kinetic Image”, his third album, he steers away from beat-driven and dance-inducing music and explores a domain of his musical realm that is darker and more subdued.
As Bunnik uses several artist names to distinguish between the different facets of his music, it is significant that he chose his Conforce moniker for this release on Delsin Records, perhaps indicating that he will take this part of his oeuvre into a new direction. Indeed, “Kinetic Image” isn’t a record you skip through, it demands complete immersion. Yes, it’s best to make time for it; most of us create a right setting and make accommodations for watching a movie so why not do something similar for certain music? I bet some people occasionally do and Conforce’s latest certainly asks for it.
During the trip he is offering, sounds are sparsely distributed along subterranean passageways. Once in a while wobbly and dubby patterns appear while high pitched bleeps are omnipresent. However sober the arrangement, it manages to evoke a thick cover; eccentric yet comforting. Conforce has created an all-encompassing experience in the form of a music album. It’s not fast and flashy, superfluous nor flimsy but it surely presents a treat for the mind.
Patrick Skoog – “Exit Earth” is out since October 25th
1. Cluster 34
2. Saturnian Acid
3. Stereo/ Waves
4. Voyager 1
5. Voyager 2 (digital only)
6. Inside Jupiter’s Eye
7. Stay In Orbit
8. Time Won’t Come
9. Cygnus A (digital only)
10. Death Of A Pulsar
11. Radio Emissions
Snuff Crew – “Behind The Masks” is out since October 25th
02. New Life feat. Rachel Row
03. Move Me
04. Let Me Be The One feat. Hard Ton
05. Jack My Heart
06. Tearing Me Away feat. Kim Ann Foxman
07. Work It Out feat. Tyree Cooper
08. What Is Electro?
10. Joy Of Jealousy
Mendo – “Avalon” is out since November 4th
2. Abstract feat. Carla Krevey
4. Everybody Love
9. La Krika
11. Rising Sun
12. Les Clochers de Belarus
Conforce – “Kinetic Image” will be out on November 18th
1. Excess Mortality
3. Temporary Reversals
4. Semantic Field
5. Scientific Trajectory
6. Underwater Settlers
7. Formerly Programmed Decisions
8. Abundance Of Selves
9. Optimum Pace
10. Anti-adaptive State
The holidays are over and as the music industry follows a cyclical movement, we can rely on the fact that a torrent of new releases is coming out in the current aftermath of Summer. After having survived all festivals, gigs, parties and concerts, it’s time again to focus your attention and spend your money on records and digital music files! I realize it’s been a while since I reviewed some new techno material, so here are some suggestions and more will follow before long.
First I would like to mention the fourth instalment in the ‘Black Series’ of the label Authentic Pew. This modest record company was initiated at the beginning of 2012 in Chemnitz, Germany by Perthil & Aerts. The duo has been playing extensively in their home country and is getting more and more attention abroad as well, which I believe is completely justified. The ep consists of three original tracks of different artists (in fact all but one are collective efforts) and one remix by Perthil & Aerts themselves. Two producers from Paris working under the name of As Patria are responsible for ‘Arcan’ which is based on a singular, atmospheric groove that never gets boring thanks to the addition of several deep and haunting sounds.
Tomohiko Sagae’s ‘Chloroform’ on the other hand is not your typical sensation blocker. Au contraire, it’s an industrial assembly of pounding beats, synchronised screeches and abrasive noises, generating a bodily response without fail. On the A-side you’ll find a piece by Attac, a collaboration of Mallorca-based Angel Costa and Spanish twosome Attemporal, which is simply named ‘01’ and can be described as very decent though rather archetypal techno. Authentic Pew’s honchos reworked it into a metallic monster, all shiny chrome with well-polished details. ‘Black Series 004’ might not consist of the work of the most familiar names in the scene but it is nonetheless an outstanding ep.
Now that I’ve mentioned Spain, I should also bring up the large amount of quality releases that has come from the Iberian state during this year. A key in this tendency is the label PoleGroup which was set up by Oscar Mulero, Christian Wünsch, Exium and Reeko. Earlier in 2013, PoleGroup released an interesting album by Exium, a duo that normally produces and plays uplifting techno. For their ‘A Sensible Alternative to Emotion’ they experimented with slow tempos, dub inspired sounds and ambient-like backdrops. A short while ago the label issued another long-player from one of its founders: Juan Rico.
Rico produces under the guises of Reeko and Architectural and this record is taken as a collaboration of these alter egos. I believe this is quite a peculiar concept and since I loved Reeko’s ep ‘Passage #17’ that came out in February on his own Mental Disorder, I was curious to hear what ‘The Blue Album’ as it is called, would be like. All in all it is a very solid record, indeed combining slow-burning and atmospheric parts with traditional techno structures and feats. It may not contain the most original or stunning tracks in the genre, it still serves as an example of the merging of functionality sonorous beauty that techno at its best can achieve.
One could certainly say that ‘The Blue Album’ is tied together by a narrative structure while alternating between pumping dance-floor material, most often dark and even brutal such as ‘Force Carrier’ or ‘Startling Idea’, and cuts that expose a tendency towards refinement and ambience, like ‘Sex on Kepler-22b’ or the end-track ‘The Universal dream’. The successful juxtaposition of these elements, which can be reduced to the musical essences of Reeko and Architectural, in this unifying arrangement of a kind of concept album, is exactly the record’s strength.
V.A. – “Black Series 004” is out since September 2nd
1. Attac – 01
2. Attac – 01 (PertHil & Aerts Remix)
3. As Patria – Arcan
4. Tomohiko Sagae – Chloroform
Reeko w/ Architectural – “The Blue Album” is out since September 16th
4. Sex on Kepler-22b
5. Force Carriers
6. String Theory
7. Startling Idea
8. The Universal Dream
Internasjonal, one of the labels spearheaded by Prins Thomas, aims at quality house and has recently hit the target twice with splendid releases. First there’s “Tembezi” by Ackin’ featuring M. Akamatsu. I must admit I don’t know a thing about the artists but the original track is simply gorgeous. It’s a deep house tune with a typical afro house beat, warm layers of sound, an African chant and lovely, elaborated pieces of jazz piano on top. Upon hearing it the first time, I was glad this kind of very musical house is still being made with conviction.
The Norwegian disco prince himself made a remix that is slower and more dreamlike. While he kept the piano parts he also added a live guitar and live bass. As a side note, a few weeks ago an odd Norwegian national obsession got media coverage all over the world: the ‘National Firewood Night’ celebrated the art of making a fire with wood with a twelve-hour long theme night on television. No less than twenty percent of the population watched it. Only, the show brought forth a discussion about whether barks should be placed face-up or face-down and because it truly is an important matter to most Norwegians, it kind of divided the country. Whatever the nature of that debate, I can perfectly imagine sitting with a group of friends around a fireplace in a cosy setting while communally enjoying this version of Prins Thomas. Marcellus Pittman on the other hand puts in some of his trademark impassionate synth drones and makes “Tembezi” sound deeper than Sognefjord.
This cherishable record was followed by an ep by the Australian duo Bell Towers, on which you’ll find two original songs as well as remixes by Idjut Boys of the title track “Tonight I’m Flying”. The latter has some good elements such as the wobbly disco slabs and the overall space disco mood but lacks a good structure that keeps one’s attention all the way. The London-based, famed freak disco dons Idjut Boys do what they do best: their “Bell End Dub” is a slow-paced trip, induced with auditory hallucinogens while the “Idjut Boys Seepage” is another kind of a dub where parts of the original ooze through to form a most ecstatic listening experience – brilliant!
Further, I’d like to dwell on a current evolution in electronic dance music. That is, for some people house music – and especially its deepest variant – has returned in full glory though others will claim that it never vanished. One can anyway argue that a younger generation has learned to love it and started producing top house tracks at that. Some do this in a manner that adds a few interesting elements to the already existing basics while there are also producers that seem to go for an identical duplication of earlier house styles.
The fact is that this is actually neither new nor limited to dance music. For instance there are at this moment quite a few rock bands that reproduce the late 1960s, early 1970s hard rock and doom genres. There’s a slight difference in production and the same mainly goes for all electronic ‘retro’ waves. Here, it is substantially a rather important distinction since software emulates the hardware from around the beginning of the 1990s so that it is relatively easy to produce the same kind of house from that period.
Personally I never held much to the idea of newness in contemporary arts. Not that I’m utterly pessimistic about culture in our day and age but since the first decades of the twentieth century, with the introduction of the ready-made and found sounds, everything goes and up to this point almost everything has been used in creative processes. In my opinion, this doesn’t mean that artists cannot use the same building elements in a creatively fresh way. But somehow I think one can always make references to older forms when considering present-day cultural expressions.
As for these retro sounds, I reckon they come into existence because of multiple reasons. For example, a young artist may discover an old genre, takes a liking to it and will try to copy it – which is a valid part of an artistic learning process. Or it might be that someone feels a certain genre has been forgotten for too long which as such is a basically nostalgic move.
It may even be that a younger artist is partly or more or less oblivious to previous sounds that resemble their own; I recall an interview with twenty-something dj and producer Maya Jane Coles in relation to her podcast for the website Resident Advisor, where she is asked about a possible influence by MK and the early 1990s house sound and where she states: “To be honest I wouldn’t say MK was a specific influence as I was only familiar with a couple of tracks of his [..]. Obviously after the comments I checked out more of his stuff I can see why people would make the link. I respect his work a lot and can see that he’s definitely carved a strong sound in early house. […] Even though I’ve never been a hardcore follower of ’90s house music, (mainly because it was just a little before my time) I’ve always liked and respected the early sounds of house. I appreciate the simplicity yet effectiveness of early dance music […]”. Negatively, copying previous work or genres can simply stem from a lack of inspiration.
In any case it is quite hard to evaluate such exploits without knowing the motivation of the artist but I do not deem them less valuable per se. And to make this debate concrete I’d like to put forward a release by a young producer from Munich called Lionne. His latest ep “Composure” on Filigran Records features music that is clearly inspired by and copied from the New Jersey house sound of for instance David Camacho, 95 North and Mood II Swing. Coincidentally Lionne is a drummer just like John Ciafone, which is obvious from his beat patterns and rhythmic approach. His music is a flourishing, warm variant of garage.
But apart from that, there’s a more pertinent reference to New Jersey house. That is, the track “In And Out Of My Life” includes a vocal line of the same-titled track by Adeva from 1988, which is a true classic. As a consequence the sample is immediately recognisable but of course that’s not problematic at all; it has been used in several other songs as well, for instance one by Eric Prydz. Unfortunately I can’t help hearing the line going out of sync a bit after a short time, which spoils an otherwise fine track. In “Composure” Adeva’s voice appears again but cut in a different manner and integrated better. Turkish producer Ave Astra reworked this piece of full-on party garage into a deep dub wherein the use of the vocal is sparser. “Anytime” is Lionne’s best effort in my ears. It has a very catchy cadence and is better balanced production-wise. The whole ep is a good take on the said genre and proves that Lionne has potential but I only hope he’ll continue working on his own mode.
Ackin’ feat. M.Akamatsu – “Tembezi” is out since March 4th
2. Tembezi (Prins Thomas Version)
3. Tembezi (Marcellus Pittman Remix)
Bell Towers – “Tonight I’m Flying” is out since March 18th
1. Tonight I’m Flying (Original Mix)
2. Theme From Bamboo Musik (Original Mix)
3. Tonight I’m Flying (Idjut Boys Seepage)
4. Tonight I’m Flying (Idjut Boys Bell End Dub)
Lionne – “Composure” will be out on March 29th
1. Composure (Original Mix)
2. Composure (Ave Astra Remix)
3. In And Out Of My Life (Original Mix)
4. Anytime (Original Mix)
Popperola has been quiet for a while. This was due to the fact that I was moving house but now I’m fully settled in my new home, it’s again time for some writing. So here are a few reviews of notable records (and more will follow very soon).
Firstly I’d like to mention a new ep by Dutch producer Conforce, a man glowing with great talent. On his recently released “Time Dilation EP” on Delsin Records you’ll find four high-quality techno tracks that represent four different takes on the genre. Opener “Embrace” is a beautifully worked, otherworldly piece, coming along as a quasi-archetypical example of deep dub techno. “Last Anthem” then consists of warm, subaquatic tones contrasted with high shrieking sounds and a few underlying melodic synth lines on a simple, even substratum of beat and hi-hats: a configuration aimed at a trance-induced dance. Melody has been cut from “Receiver”, a darker and more metalloid fabrication. Lastly, In “Nomad”, the consistent beat pattern has been replaced by a more complex percussive structure which forms the basis for a track that seems to convey an introvert yearning. Striking and moving, to say the least.
Now, I must admit that I’ve always been quite a fan of Vince Watson’s work which, as you might know, is a personal variant of classic Detroit techno with an accumulation of lush, harmonic lines and endowed with great melodies. The man recently was given the opportunity by Pyramids Of Mars to draw attention to a different aspect of his oeuvre. P.O.M. is a fresh enterprise of Matt Edwards (Radio Slave) and thus a little sister of his Rekids that seeks to combine an output of left field music with design and art. Since Watson’s music was used in “Mad Dogs”, a British television series on Sky1, the Scottish-born producer has set out to explore the combination of cinematic art and music further under his full name Vincent I. Watson.
The result is the album “Serene”, a collection of ambient tracks that indeed would go well with moving images. Seemingly, it is made with a similar modus operandi as Watson’s techno material: gradually well-chosen layers of sound are woven into a mesh of almost sublime splendour. The thrusting beats and percussion have evidently been left out but the usage of hardware that is typical for Detroit techno and early electronic popular music is still a basic premise. Also, the man’s talent as a piano player often comes to the fore more noticeably. Moreover, what connects this material perfectly to film and television is that it evokes a narrative structure including elaborated build-ups and fragments of tension release. In short, this is an album that’ll let you blissfully float in the vast territories of your fantasy.
At the present time the label Mote Evolver continues to deliver high standard, proper techno. A new release is due in a few days and is in fact a collaborative work of two producers on their peak, namely Silent Servant and Lucy. Their ep “History Survivors” contains two tracks of relatively long duration that reveal the distinctive treatment of noise and weird, industrial sounds of the first as well as the latter’s capacity to develop arresting arrangements. So in its length of thirteen minutes, “Dormancy Survivors” does not fail to keep attention focused, its storyline remaining haunting and edgy. “Victors History” on the b-side has a distinct percussive quality and is more hypnotic by nature. While bleeps and shrieks reverberate, some stretched synthesizer notes bring emotion into play. Anyway, it’s a superb record that I’d like to recommend.
Something of another kind is the work of the Austrian band Elektro Guzzi. They can be considered as the main protagonists of what is called live techno, by which is meant techno performed with real instruments, other than live sets done with hard- and software by producers. Elektro Guzzi’s merit is that they play exceptionally tight, so that the warmth and organic sound of their analogue instruments fall together with their mechanical precision. Often this brings to mind other styles that heralded techno, such as krautrock. Their latest ep, which will again be released by Macro and is produced by their compatriot and techno veteran Patrick Pulsinger, features three pieces or, to be precise two tracks and a reverse version of one of these. “Cashmere” itself is, well, live or not, a thriving piece with a certain drama that is as captivating as it is hot. The reverse version (on the B-side of the vinyl version) is just what it claims to be: the same structure but re-written and played backwards, which the band delivers as an equally great song. “Crack Fox” has a stirring quality, mostly because of the wobbling, repetitive guiding sounds that are topped up by short, drone-like horn touches and a guitar part that sounds similar to a new wave lick. Indeed, Elektro Guzzi once more made a record with a lively and warm sound and well-balanced in recording and production that proves their status.
To conclude I’d like to point out a remarkable release by Dinos Chapman, one of the Chapman brothers, a British visual art duo that, since the early 1990s, drew a lot of attention because of the shock value in their oeuvre. Mind you, this is hardly ever without purpose and they keep succeeding in asking relevant questions. To work independently from one another is very unusual but now Dinos Chapman has conceived a music album called “Luftbobler” (on The Vinyl Factory) full of weird and extraordinary electronic music. In several instances, this works quite well. I’d suggest you check it out yourself; you can find some tracks here, and you might as well read this interesting interview with the Londoner in The Guardian, where he discusses the idea behind the making of this album, his musical influences and the work he does with his brother Jake: www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/feb/19/dinos-chapman-first-album-luftbobler.
Conforce – “Time Dilation EP” is out on vinyl since February 4th
3. Last Anthem
Vincent I. Watson – “Serene” is out since February 18th
1. Hidden Behind The Eyes
6. Out of Reach
7. Celtic Beauty
10. Open Your Eyes
Lucy & Silent Servant – “History Survivors” will be out on March 4th
1. Dormancy Survivors
2. Victors History
Elektro Guzzi – “Cashmere EP” will be out on March 3th
2. Crack Fox
3. Cashmere (Reverse Version)
Dinos Chapman – “Luftbobler” is out today
1. So It Goes
2. Whatever Works
4. He Has No Method
6. Where’s The General?
7. Pizza Man
9. Cool Operator
11. Enrich Zann
12. Sun Lounge
The year is coming to an end and perhaps the whole world too, on Dec. 21st. Perhaps you still have a small budget left after buying presents for your beloved ones, to spend on new music. Or maybe you still have to hand over your Christmas wish list to your relatives. Or you simply want to squander your last money now since the Earth will cease to exist in less than two weeks. Whatever may be the case, here are some suggestions.
The Italian label Bosconi, based in the beautiful region around Florence, has already released some prime records from quite a few top international artists. Their latest ep comes from none other than A Guy Called Gerald, a Mancunian by birth but he has lived in several other big cities such as Berlin. Really, I do not deem it necessary to introduce him to you, because in the course of his career (which span over a quarter of a century already), he has written music history. Indeed, if someone took it up to compile his memoires, he/ she would easily fill several hundreds of pages. But why commence such an affair, as Gerald Simpson is still very active in the scene? This three-track record again demonstrates his ongoing zest and his boundless experience.
The title “How Long Is Now” is taken from a drawing and inscription at a wall of the Tacheles block in Berlin, the famed building on Oranienburger Straβe housed by artists of all sorts and where Simpson had a studio. The structure has only recently been closed down. The same titled first track is soaked in deepness and perfect for the moment when dawn creeps in; its slow pace and pulsating sounds have the capacity to prolong the night vibe. A similar profundity and unhurriedness is present in “The Groove Of The Ghetto” though here Simpson has added typical house elements such as black vocal samples, congas and a guitar lick which work just right. Lastly, “202” seems to be more rudimentary though it is equally well-crafted. But it is the overt contrast between fat, low pitches and high tones that makes for an interesting and apparently scouring texture.
And if the Earth hasn’t blown up because of some Mayan curse, Shifted has made sure 2012 ends with a blast. Luke Slater’s Mote Evolver just brought out a new ep by this talented, London-based producer consisting of four expressions of pure electronic savagery. You can notice how the man has evolved in a more consisting and more distinctive direction, although his debut album (on the same label) from earlier this year already proved his potential. Shifted‘s tracks remind one of the works of the big names in British techno but they do have a particular individuality as well.
I do not say this unthinkingly. Listening to “Bloodless”, I could not help recalling productions from the U.K. from around 1998: it has a similar looped structure, rather uncomplicated beat pattern and metallic sounds on top. Moreover, it openly flirts with an industrial (let’s just call it warehouse-like) sensibility, which obviously makes it appropriate for a certain kind of techno venue. The beat in the opening “Razor” is in its turn more thudding; it substantiates an admirably efficient piece of hypnotic repetition.
All of the pieces can be played relatively slow to really fast. In the first case, the intoxicating effect will be pertinent, in the latter case these will be menacing mischief-makers. Think about it, the Mayan jinx may have come in the form of dark techno.
A Guy Called Gerald – “How Long Is Now” is out on vinyl since December 1st (vinyl) and will be out on December 24th (digital)
1. How Long Is Now
2. Groove Of The Ghetto
Shifted – “Razors” is out since December 10th