Thursday, January 19, 2006

A spin-off

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

dance music?

The Necks' Hanging Gardens (one of the few of theirs I hadn't heard until today), why did no one tell me this sounds like the breakdown on a '97 Metalheadz record stretched out for an hour? Deep bass and scrunched up hi-hats circling like spider's legs...a certain type of person (namely me) keeps wating for that BOOM-CLACK two-step to drop. Some of those watery moog chords and pensive Rhodes notes could be easily ripped off a 2004 Paradox record if they hadn't been layed down by three people in a room in Australia in 1999. An enterprising drumfunk DJ needs to get on this now and thank me later.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mid-January Chart

01. Water Lilly - "Dissidance [Tomas Andersson Remix]" (Lasergun)
02. Fairmont - "Let's Stay Young Forever" (Echocord)
03. Electric Rescue - "Rough Auss [Bastien Grine Remix]" (Scandium)
04. Jonas Bering - "Luna [Ari Bau Strawberry Fields Reprise]" (Less Iz More)
05. Chateau Flight - "Superflight [Maurice Fulton Remix]" (Versatile)
06. Arp Aubert - "Actress [Lawrence Remix]" (Mirau)
07. Bastien Grine - "Where R U?" (K2)
08. Omar-S - "In Side My Head" (Fxhe)
09. Matthias Tanzmann - "Bulldozer [Robag's Herbstmoosmutzel Mix]" (Moon Harbour)
10. Gaiser - "Pandrip" (Minus)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Everybody is a Tsar

Now that we've cycled through half a dozen fads since Hypercity, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the early 00s Force Tracks catalog. Everyone's got new crushes (James Holden I luv u boo). But I feel like FT, for a moment held up as being important as Kompakt by certain people, shouldn't go down in history as "Luomo's label." I'm gonna dedicate this one to my man Achim; keep yr head up homie, and everything will right itself eventually.

MRI - Rhythmogenesis: holds up surprisingly well, though after about the fortieth minute of itch and tickle and swirl I admit I had to switch on 92Q for a few songs just to remind myself what harmony was.

Crane AK - Pink Eyed Pony: as glassy and impenetrable as I remembered it, the equivalent of an Etch-a-Sketch being shaken back and forth at 130bpm, fine as DJ tools but sounding positively cavernous and blank now that everyone's all about the bongos and boogie basslines.

MRI - All That Glitters: much more varied than Rhythmogenesis, some of it sounding surprisingly wack now, though the best bits ("Deep Down South," "Tied to the 80s") are the spangliest, wooshiest moments in the catalog, house pieced together from each refraction of a mirror ball.

Data 80 - Data 80: is this forgotten enough already to call it a lost (minor....we're talkin topaz here, not a diamond) gem?--relistening to this made me fantasize about a parallel Nuggets-y universe where everyone flipped out over Discovery instead of the Yardbirds.

Dub Taylor - Detect: surprised by how vocal this was, rather deep house-esque (cue ILM conspiracy theory about this being why it didn't get much love from the blogs) but, if I hold myself to a certain standard of honesty, naught special really.

Benajmin Wild - With Compliments: ditto this, finely functional tech-house perfect for caulking the bathtub but not a mindblowing revelation...someone's gonna pop up in the comments box making a case for this and the Dub Taylor as the real FT gems in the now established, if hotly contested, HIAF style. (Vahid, call your office.)

But--and the reason for this post in the first place--the record I ended up enjoying the most is the one that has been erased in the great electro-house pogroms: SCSI-9 - Digital Russian. What a great record! Wholly unassuming dancefloor-pitched tech-house. No stylisitc deviations, cutesy vocoders, staring-into-the-eye-of-the-speaker minimalism, Nuphonic-cribbing drum patterns, or Italo. (Or, sorry, what are we calling it this week? Cosmic? Space disco? Bullshit?)

The sound of tracks like "Deep and Fax" bound up neatly in their titles: the swish of tech repetition married with the wombing glow of deep house. Not quite Blaze or Pepe Bradock, but c'mon...what do you expect from two cosmonauts transmitting from the tundra of the former USSR? SCSI-9 are doing the same thing today, right up to their excellent single on Kompakt last year, "Everything's Gone Green"-era New Order at modern club tempo.

Records like these are tough to write about. Someone like V. Delay obviously possesses some kinda "heightened awareness" to get all genius-not-scenius on yr asses. SCSI-9 would never try something like the smeared wax keytar solo on "The Present Lover," nor do they have Luomo's sense of texture, space, or ear for a pop hook. They're working from a basic set of assumptions about what should go into their records, basic enough to dare you to write about it without resorting to the cheap armor of other artist and label names.

I suppose here I should also mention the first Digital Disco comp, corralling nearly every leftfield house and techno move from 2000-2005: Data 80's cheeseball winking populism, Metro Area's classicist italo, Akufen's twitch-and-bump (remixed by Herbert), Luomo's proto K-house, Swayzak's wireframe minimalism, MRI's main room neo-trance, King Britt covering fuckin Nu Shooz for chrissakes. It's this unexpected multiplicity, especially on Digital Disco, that makes today's competing tribes (beardy space disco vs. goggle-eyed Germanic minimalism...fite!!) feel kinda deadlocked.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hi-Phen Pile Up! Smash! Oh Noes!

Bit behind the 8-ball on this one, an 05 mix of tracks largely from 04: picked up for a steal at the January sales, Hi-Phen Pile Up Volume 1: A Crash Course In Dance Sequences is like the perfect generic electro-house mix. It’s producer Mugwump AKA Geoffroy mixing tracks taken mostly from his Hi-Phen label, a “Belgian deep house” label its website sez, but it’s about as much deep house as, say, Playhouse or Music For Freaks (which it frequently resembles) are . Deep house may be in its blood to be sure, but this stuff couldn’t be more capitalist ploy electro-housey if it tried. And when I say electro-house I mean electro-HOUSE: monstrous sultry percussion on display at every turn, uniting the divergent trips through tracky Cajual-style US house, brazen italo revivalism, bracing Vitalic-style stomp, post-Jaxx cut-up Prince action, eerie space disco... It’s like early Get Physical with all the influences and sonic affectations yet to be digested and reconstituted, swirling round at the back of your throat with a crude and chewy flavoursomeness.

Too many highlights here: Mugwump’s remix of Jeff Bennett’s “Sitting Bull” (all bouncing electro bass and skanking synth chords) is like DJ T’s “Time Out” soaked in Jamaican rum. The Artifical Arm’s “Welcome To Planet Funk” is shamelessly monomaniacal italo-disco, closer to Mixed Up in the Hague populism than Metro Area precision. Optimus’s “Deadly Dub” delves into continental shelf bass rumbles to uncover the fossils of first wave Chicago house percussion. Mugwump’s “Mudcleaner” is an uptempo number in a musical starring two mainframe computers serenading each other in morse code. Abe Duque’s remix of Chloe’s “Take Care” can’t decide whether it wants to indulge in remorseless body pummelling or starry-eyed space exploration. Rob Mello’s remix of Silent Partner’s “Down By Dub” has no greater ambition than to bustle cheerfully in the magnificent shadow of Patrick Cowley’s remix of “I Feel Love”. And, fittingly enough, this drifts into Lindstrom’s stately, expansive “I Feel Space” (beloved of Elijah), sounding even more like a lonely windswept peak-time record than usual. Not a record for those who like their DJ mixes epochal, but highly recommended to everyone else.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Elijah's Year in Dance

While on vacation over the holidays, a relative dragged us to an unnamed indie rock concert. We remained planted against the back wall until we noticed a Musik Krause logo on the chest of one of the smaller attendees. Suddenly alert, we approached the youngster, figuring he might speak the same language as us. The youngster turned out to be a man -- Elijah Wood, famous actor and voracious music fan, who claimed to be "enamored with dance music" of late. Later that night, he was gracious enough to sit down with us and discuss some of his favorite dance tracks of 2005.

I would have to start with something off the Isolée album. That's just tremendous stuff, really dense and tight with a lot of little details. They're like the Boards of Canada of dance music because you know it's them right off the bat and they have a distinct sound that nobody else has. I guess I'll go with "Schrapnell." There's something very pure and honest about it and it sort of reminds me of the Von Bondies or screwed and chopped Gas Huffer.

One of the songs later on in the Kelley Polar album, which I think is really amazing and heartfelt. "Black Hole" -- I think that's the one. He has a precious indie voice but it doesn't bug me, you know? It's not annoying, like Postal Service. I swear to god I will strangle the next person who plays that garbage in front of me [clenches fists]! And it sure as hell is not like Sean Lennon. Now I love the Beatles, and I love John Lennon, and even some of Julian's stuff -- and come on, some of Yoko's stuff is bananas -- but I'm certain Sean must've heard the Langley Schools stuff before making that Grand Royal album. He ruined Grand Royal for me. I can't even listen to Luscious Jackson because of him. So, yeah, anyway, where was I? I have to mention Kelley Polar.

And while we're talking about Kelley Polar, I have to mention Metro Area. Not many people got into the EP they put out this year, but I like it a whole lot. I think it's called "Honey Circuit." It's kind of quirky for them, but it's not like "Caught Up."

The Field, "Love vs. Distance," on Kompakt -- my new favorite label! This is so much more euphoric and exciting than that MFA track that everyone put in their year-end lists instead of this. Come on, people -- that MFA track is so wack, and it didn't even come out in 2005, and it's like this one old Moose song with a dance beat underneath it! Moose! "Love vs. Distance" is like the best Seefeel track ever being shot through the huge marshmallowy clouds!

Bringing up "I Feel Space" by Lindstrøm might be pretty obvious at this point but I can't deny that I must have played it a hundred times. [Checks.] Yep! It's my second most-played song after Kevin Ayers' "Stranger in Blue Shoes"! What's funny is that "I Feel Space" is basically a fast instrumental remix of this one song off a Mike Oldfield album from the late 1970s that Jeff Goldblum gave me while shooting Chain of Fools.

Jan Jelinek's not really dance, at least not the album he put out this year. It makes me think of a Black Forest Tortoise. There's a weird kinda-dance track with "disco" somewhere in the title, so I'll go with that one, whatever it is. I was playing it in my trailer the other day and Nick Cannon came in while scratching his nuts and said, "What the fuck is this -- crazy cracker computer shit?" Then he ran out.

For some reason that's all I can think about right now! Sorry! I've also been playing the hell out of this CDR of Sa-Ra Creative Partners that Woebot sent me. That's not really dance in the sense that we're talking about but I was playing it the other night for some friends and we were all getting down -- well, if you could call it that. They're so weird and out there. Laurence Fishburne told me it was alright and that what I really needed was this song by a group called Kleeer titled something like "Taste the Music." I don't know. I'll probably pick it up when I can, or get it off Soulseek.