August 31, 2007

False – False

There comes a time when a musician is capable of shitting gold and Matthew Dear has released an album titled 2007 to mark his. It takes a certain grace to make defecating metal sound like a talent, but it’s the same grace that makes Dear’s missteps sound just as captivating as full-strides. Thankfully, 2007 is full-stride, especially when placed next to the scattershot Asa Breed. Working under his minimal moniker, False, must be a liberating change of pace for Dear—2007 has none of the gratingly earnest pop-impulses (found under his birth name) or earnestly abrasive big-room techno (as Audion). Instead, 2007 is all burned-out ambience—the sound of a post-metropolis slowly ebbing away.

2007 is not just an album. It’s not just a mix. Somehow it gets to be both—it’s made up of all new material from Dear and fashioned into one giant smorgasbord. There’s none of the pomp you’d expect from an actual album and none of the tastefulness that you get from a mix. 2007 is a sleight of hand. A magic trick that begins off in the horizon with the rumble of distant cars (“Indy 3000”) and ends with a way-out-of-body blur of voices (“Forgetting”). To describe how 2007 travels between those points should include an important tangent—Dear sees his music under the False moniker as “clinical and mysterious.”

Which are an evocative pair of words and ones that describe a chunk of 2007‘s label, M_nus. With their finely-honed textures and considered slabs of minimal techno, “clinical” could be as succinct of mission statement as M_nus deserves. Although 2007‘s drizzle of percussion has been quantized good and proper with M_nus’ weapon of choice, Ableton, Dear’s compositions still find a way to drift, wallow, and entropy. It makes sense that 2007 is the result of a spring cleaning of Dear’s hard drive. Songs are an accumulation of forgotten tidbits and 2007 is an unwillingness to let dust lie.

And there’s little dust left in the nooks of the album mix—from Dear’s swallowed gulps of “shout!” on “Dollar Down” to the fidgeting synth that bridges “Timing” to “Alright Liar,” Dear isn’t able to stay still for long. Which is a welcome surprise from Dear’s last mix for Fabric—something that could charitably be described as static. Dear freely ditches rhythms for swaths of fuzz on “Disease/George Washington” and peaks with a swarm of bees on the single “Fed on Youth.” With each of album’s sixty minutes, there’s a compulsion that drives the mix with no hint of a resolution around any corner. For an album as porous as 2007, each track sounds opaque, calcified.

With those shards, Dear captures the sound of a city worn down not by time, but by disuse. Recurring throughout 2007 is the Doppler effect of cars racing past and sandpaper kick drums. Both sculpt an uncompromising environment of main drags and barren lots. But as willfully dark as Dear makes 2007, there are glimpses, like the low-lit chimes of “Face the Rain,” that make the album live-able if not understandable. And for an album as obtuse as 2007, the fact that it can be loved instead of just respected is reason enough to follow Matthew Dear like a gold claim.

M_nus / MINUS 55 CD
[Listen]
[Nate Deyoung]


August 30, 2007

Brendon Moeller – Jazz Space

12"2007DubTechno

Beatz regulars might be familiar with my rendering of “Abletonitis”, the disease which seems to infect every promising Ableton-arranged track with the “limitations of almost infinite possibility”. Somehow, in being able to do almost everything, the program seems to prevent most people from doing, well, anything. Instead of painstakingly hand-programming drum patterns, writing hooks, and making sure the phrasing of all the instruments swing together as one on the one, you just stretch, mute, transpose, and if things are getting boring, drop in a ping-pong delay. Presto! The recent release of Robag Wruhme’s The Lost Archives function as Exhibit A in showing the corrosive effects of this sickness on talented producers, showing how lazy, formulaic and FX-dependent so many interesting music makers have become due to such “amazingly streamlined workflow” and the “incredible drag and drop VST plugins”.

Moeller’s Jazz Space should be just another victim of this epidemic, but somehow, the EP is more like the soundtrack documenting Moeller’s overcoming of the illness by doing pitched battle with several bouts of its symptoms. Sonically, we’re very much in the territory of T++ and Monolake, with dry, granular, and planar sounds rolling through spacetime, their flow interrupted by eruptions of parameter-tweaking breakdowns, which are kept in check by big, deep, round basslines.

“Pink Noise” reaches such proximity to Momentum-era Monolake that you’d have to flag a co-write on it, while “Jazz”, with its warm, friendly micro-boompty feel sidles up very close to Robag’s work on Vakant. But it’s “Space” which goes someway toward staking out Moeller’s very own place on the moon, working intimations of early new-millenium Force Inc into something approaching its own musical identity. While not nearly as accomplished or atmospheric as some of the recent Deepchord material, Jazz Space lays out a musical question-mark that flags the possibility of another talent taking their dub-tech workflow all the way to the cold satellites (and back), in a way that entertainingly re-frames the tried and true template of this narrow but seemingly inexhaustible sound-vein.

Third Ear / 3EEP 068
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


August 29, 2007

Osborne – Outta Sight

12"2007AcidHouseSpectral Sound

For a guy who has done slice-n-dice jungle under the name Soundmurderer, Todd Osborn doesn’t seem to be possessed by much rage on “Outta Sight.” In fact, this single shows he’s more likely to be throwing down some loved-up house vibes than fragmented epics. I’m all for it though – if we’re heading into the last days of summer, then by all means let it be soundtracked by shimmering piano-house.

The individual ingredients on “Outta Sight” aren’t the most innovative – you could dine on the flirting piano melodies, Latin rhythms, over-enthusiastic bassline, and sampled vocal quiver for your next assembly-line meal. But Osborne teases each out, making such potentially hackneyed elements sound current for 2007. Along with Sly Mongoose’s “Snakes and Ladders” and the forthcoming single from Still Going, “Outta Sight” makes a great case that there’s a piano-house revival afoot. On the flip, “L8” (produced with Tadd Mullinix) provides the necessary jacking foil – 303s, cowbells, and 909s need not apply, as there’s more than enough to go around.

Spectral / SPC-45
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


August 28, 2007

Future Loop Foundation – The Sea and the Sky

12"2007HouseNeo-Disco

The introduction of the operatic to the electronic is invariably a mixed moment. For Mark Barrott (aka Future Loop Foundation), this moment may tremble full of horns, strings, and soaring spirits, but it also shivers in the fear of past monsters, which the same arrangements of instruments and intentions often produce. Heaven and hell: think Moby. Think BT – late career BT. Are you inspired, or afraid?

Speaking of inspiration, the writer Paulo Coelho also seems to be a latent influence here, as there is something in Barrott’s music that strives to “overcome adversity”, “discover its true self”, and “become one with the infinite spirit,” all in the space of nine or so overblown minutes of symphonic dance. I remember a co-worker (who happened to be a BT fan) lending me a copy of Coelho’s The Alchemist. He kept badgering me: “What did you think? Didn’t you think it was wonderful?” I found myself at a loss. I thought it was one of the worst novels I’d ever read, but I also understood this as being in no small measure due to my hard kernel of cynicism and atheism, and I could also see just how much the book meant to him. “It was…good,” I said, “I think it taught me something new.”

Likewise with The Sea and the Sky: somebody’s going to get…something from all these swooshing strings and bombastic drum breaks. The original twists and builds to a rousing climax, like a sunburst (in extremely poor taste) that makes you think, “It’s coming, it’s coming!” Ashley Beedle’s remix re-structures matters within an epic house frame, offering patterns and repetitions that would make it the perfect incidental music for one of those highlight montages sports programs show during the Olympics. The Padded Cell remix dries things out a bit with a spare electro-disco re-slap, which, once the choir and the horns comes in, is the manic bearded other to Tolga Fidan’s depressive, clean-shaven horrorcore minimal. It’s actually not bad. Finally, TG’s “Angry Trucker Mix” offers up a very prog/minimal mix, replete with metallic tear-outs and a mids-heavy bass riff.

So, what can I say? Do you like BT? Do you like Paulo Coelho? Do you like your house painted in Wagnerian strings? Well then, maybe this one’s for you.

Louisiana Recordings / TAT 004V
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


August 27, 2007

Ghettotech

Another Monday, another bluffer’s guide! Be sure to check out Gavin Mueller’s guide to Ghettotech on the Stylus main site.


August 24, 2007

Charts: August 23 2007

Michael F. Gill

Kettel – Marliesje [Marguerita Recordings]
San Serac – Fairlight [Frogman Jake]
The Replicants – Club Para (Matzak Instrumental Remix) [Gobatcha]
Paul Murphy – Withnail & I [Routine Records]
DMX Krew – Snow Cub [Breakin’ Records]
Rideout – Someone Special [Enterprises]
Cellophane – Music Colours (Parts 1-3) [Did Records]
Jones Girls – You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else [Philadelphia International]
Phortune – String Free [Hot Mix 5]
Fly Guy – Fly Guy Rap [P&P Records]


August 23, 2007

Will Saul & Lee Jones – Hug the Scary

Best served with a sigh, the “micro-epic” genre is as microscopic and widespread as a virus. It’s an oxymoron, but if I’m allowed to be so blunt, such fucktard names are known to have staying power (hello IDM!). And that doesn’t account for the reserve force of progressive house rejects like James Holden and Minilogue, who lovingly craft odes against the law of normal distribution – think minimal and maximal squashed together.

If there’s one image and tone that seems to inspire these folks, it’s that of looking straight up – either as becoming bubble-laden dolls stuck in bathtubs or fluorescent skies. The latest of these neck-breakers comes from Aus label-boss Will Saul and Lee Jones (of My My fame). While “Hug the Scary” might have the bleary-eyes to run into flowers, the track also has a gravity that won’t allow it to expand and contract as far as pulling muscles.

I’d be hard pressed to mistake “Scary” for cotton candy despite its flickering arpeggiator and billowing melodies. Instead there’s a grace to the track that hits tempered minor keys as well as blistering swells without sounding disjointed for a second. Which is as good of a description as any for Partial Art’s recent single, “Trauermusik.” Partial Arts, aka Ewan Pearson and Al Usher, do not derail the momentum of the title cut, but they streamline it and add enough fizz to leave you hiccupping.

Aus Music / AUS0707
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]


August 23, 2007

Pikaya – Cambrium

I recently rediscovered my CD copy of Gescom’s Minidisc. To those who are unfamiliar with the album, it’s comprised of eighty-something short tracks: rhythmic loops; spooky atmospheres; crunchbeats – the building blocks of an Autechre album laid bare, and a view onto the unarranged organs of a functional set. It was originally designed to be played on shuffle with a minidisk player, which meant that the album never played the same way twice, producing thousands of combinations of mixes. iTunes has given this album a new lease on life, because not only does it randomise the tracks and mix them gaplessly, it can also fade them into each other, resulting in both amazing and awful mixes. The only problem is the arrhythmic flam that you get when one beat crosses another out of phase…but once Apple releases a version of iTunes that can beat match, it’s bye-bye DJ.

I’ve done a similar thing with my collection of Cadenza EPs, which I play in a similar fashion, leaving the 4.6 hours worth of material on at low volume in the background and letting them randomise and waft into each other. The open structures and aleatory nature of Cadenza’s tracks (avowedly so in the case of Digitaline) mean that the music seems to take pleasure in its own meandering. Needing no intervention, it scribbles and squiggles away the afternoon in its own way. It’s my very own automatic etch-a-sketch, and it draws monochrome flowers.

The playlist is evolving with every Cadenza release, and with the addition of this new Pikaya EP, it’s grown in dub and daub, adding ornamental flourishes and deep-thrown effects to the labels’ prototypical boom-click/plip-plop skeleton. Pikaya’s debut on Cadenza came with “Grüne Raufaser” the b-side on the split they shared with Andomat 3000 and Jan’s more boisterous and successful “Entr’acte Music”. It was a track that always hinted at introducing a major theme, but never really delivered on this tease. Both “Fango” and “Jedi” offer the similar sense of imminent drama (which never quite materialises, it’s stuck teetering on the verge), and at high volumes they provide useful tension as foregrounding tracks to be mixed in before “Mr Big Hooks”. At low volumes (when the tracks return to being my living room wallpaper) this also works as part of the overall Cadenza strategy. This is not house so much as the ivy that clings to it.

Cadenza / CADENZA 17
[Listen]
[Peter Chambers]


August 22, 2007

Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 03

2007Mixes


VARIOUS ARTISTS – FREESTYLE ESSENTIALS 03
Mixed by Michael F. Gill

It’s not that there weren’t big freestyle singles during the first few years of the ‘90s. It’s that the majority of what was being produced wasn’t moving beyond the established template. The closest freestyle got to progressing was by adding more house rhythms and modern sounding hip-hop loops into the mix.

01. TKA – Maria – Tommy Boy Music 1992
02. Sa-Fire – Don’t Break My Heart – Cutting Records 1986
03. Jaya – If You Leave Me Now – Lefrak-Moelis Records 1989
04. Cynthia & Johnny O – Dreamboy/Dreamgirl – MicMac Records 1990
05. Lil’ Suzy – Take Me In Your Arms – High Power Records 1991
06. Collage – I’ll Be Loving You – Viper 7 Records 1993
07. Laissez Faire – In Paradise – Metropolitan Recording Corporation 1992
08. TKA – Louder Than Love – Tommy Boy Music 1990
09. Cynthia – Change On Me – MicMac Records 1989
10. Judy Torres – Love you, Will You Love Me – Profile Records 1989
11. George Lamond – Without You – Columbia 1989
12. George Lamond – Bad Of The Heart – Columbia 1990
13. George Lamond – Where Does That Leave Love – Columbia 1992
14. Lisette Melendez – Together Forever – Columbia 1990
15. Corina – Temptation – ATCO/Cutting 1991
16. Two Without Hats – 3 On The Mic – MicMac Records 1991
17. Rockell – In A Dream – Robbins Entertainment 1997
18. Jocelyn Enriquez – Do You Miss Me – Classified Records 1996


August 21, 2007

Beatzcast: Freestyle Essentials 02

2007Mixes


VARIOUS ARTISTS – FREESTYLE ESSENTIALS 02
Mixed by Michael F. Gill

It’s not an exaggeration to say that almost every freestyle song deals with variations on love lost, love found, love lost again. But what sets the genre apart in this regard is how literal the emotional appeals are presented: no matter how overwrought and dramatic the vocals may seem, there is no winking or irony to be found on these records.

01. Debbie Harry – In Love With Love (Heart Of Fire Mix) – Geffen 1987
02. Connie – Funky Little Beat – Sunnyview Records 1985
03. Sly Fox – Como Tu Te Llama? – Capitol Records 1985
04. Noel – Silent Morning 4th and Broadway – 1987
05. Giggles – Love Letter Cutting/Atlantic – 1987
06. Will To Power – Dreamin’ – Epic 1987
07. Sweet Sensation Hooked On You Next Plateau 1986
08. Trinere – I’ll Be All You Ever Need – Jam Packed 1986
09. Sweet Sensation – Victim Of Love – Next Plateau 1987
10. TKA – Come Get My Love – Tommy Boy Music 1986
11. Pajama Party – Yo No Se – Atlantic 1988
12. Nayobe – Second Chance For Love – Fever Records 1986
13. Latin Rascals – Arabian Knights – Tin Pan Apple 1987
14. Sa-Fire – Let Me Be The One – Cutting Records 1987
15. Cover Girls – Because Of You – Fever Records 1987
16. Trinere – How Can We Be Wrong – Jam Packed 1986
17. Stevie B. – Dreaming Of Love – Lefrak-Moelis Records 1988
18. Stevie B. – In My Eyes – Lefrak-Moelis Records 1988
19. Johnny O. – Fantasy Girl – MicMac Records 1988
20. Stevie B – Spring Love – Lefrak-Moelis Records 1988


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