Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jeff Mills - Something In The Sky Part 5 - 7/10

"Something In The Sky" series has reached part five and sticks to the enigmatic concept we know from previous issues. After having torn tens of shrink wraps from Axis's or Jeff Mills's records, the question is if the magic is still there when I push the "play" button.
Like other Something In The Sky (SITS) releases, the current one offers transparent and dynamic no-frills techno where the best is for the start. A1 is a monotonous track full of hidden force and good for any peak time DJ-set. Space signals and subtle beat come in A2, a composition I would call power ambient. Unfortunately the B-side is quite average and both tracks that move in upper spheres are not inspiring. 
Critics say that Mills's newer releases are reproductions of a few well-working tracks with slight alternations and the statement could be even true in this case. With the 6th SITS record in the pipeline, the question is if one can maintain the freshness in a concept expanding to a total of 24 tracks, at least, without suffering of fatigue.
As a long-time Mills fan, I can say it's another good research in ufology with familiar loops and effects but not from the most innovative end of his creations.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ancient Methods - Fifth Method (AM-5) - 10/10

The walls of Jericho are shaking again when hit with the sonic assault by Ancient Methods (AM). Baeks and Trias, two masterminds behind the act, are on the move in heavy armor, again in the crossroads of darker techno and industrial.
A1 goes off with a raw and energetic sequence pumping like, I would say, a rave track. At mid-track the tempo is reduced, rhythm altered and what follows is AM's trademark diesel beat. A2 is a five-second clip of disco, like a mastering mishap.
On the flip of marbled vinyl, B1 is a robust stomper with distorted voice sample and full of amazing power, reminding of some Subhead releases.B2 keeps the standard with basses challenging the needle, the track complemented by funkier beat.
Seems that now defunct Zhark and Possible Records have donated some organs to AM. It's cyborgian techno, on foundations of early-90'sound, but also with a spirit of older times when men were made of iron and ships of wood.
Since 2007 AM have done only five releases on their own platform, the fact speaks of professionalism and quality. Brilliant continuation of the series with AM-5.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bam Bam - Where Is Your Child (Tresor 10165) - 8/10

This should rather belong to the Dust-Off category because the original "Where Is Your Child" was released in 1988, in the heyday of the acid house. Now it has seen the light of the day again, as a reissue by Tresor.
Fellow Chicagoan DJ Rush has put his naughty fingers on the track and filled the A-side with an harder take, allowing closer to the end an acappella section on bristling hi-hats.
While the title track boasts a classic and fat bass line, the sound of breaking glass and crying baby deflates the overall impression. Yes, the underlying idea is to warn parents about hazy pastime of their kids, but desperate moaning Where is your child? is disturbing. The theme of do-you-know-what-your-kids-do? has been used also in other productions, drop me a comment about this.
For the end "Give It To Me", a solid acid house trip, as another proof of Chris Westbrook's skills. Without a crying baby it were 10/10.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Svreca - Obscur (Semantica 18) - 9/10

Limited edition of 100 and handmade details are only secondary factors why to get excited about this record that is my first encounter with Spanish outlet Semantica and the work of the label head Svreca, by the passport known as Enrique Mena. Those seeking loud techno bangers on the release should look at somewhere else. Towards the end the hardness comes up but in an intelligent and mystic way.
The title track, "Obscur" is a floating drone signaling the eternal emptiness. Then Regis's remix of "Utero" is atmospheric electronica with mystic background voices and reminds of earlier Aphex Twin and, more exactly, of Passarani's LP "22nd Century".
Change of mood awaits on the B-side: "Erosion" is a rhythmic tribute to Torsten Pröfrock's T++, with subtle breakbeat and dark stabs. The rest of the B-side dips into claustrophobia and sinister deepness with "SS10" and "AW09", the latter a bit reminiscent of Jeff Mills's SITS series and being my favourite here. Both of them bite like outer space insects.
All tracks are in one go. The liner notes explain that Obscur is a gloomy-looking Swedish garment label that has two of the collections named called like to last two tracks of this EP.
Along with Exium, Sverca and his label are another proofs of Spain being on top of the current techno world, with a big chunk of innovation.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dave Clarke @Korter, Tallinn

Yesterday Tallinn's club nation had something to choose from: King Britt at the Club Privé, Leo Young at Mutant Disco in Sõprus Cinema and in the Korter Dave Clarke, the fixture for all "tech heads and electro whores" (quote: krtr.ee). Rotermanni area in the Tallinn city is becoming an artery of social life and there is also Korter running a mixed selection of club nights.
Around 23:00 the music was already flowing with local Anders Melts AKA DJ 4-Got-10 at the controls. Being the front man of Estonian industrial band Forgotten Sunrise, his fondness of EBM and machine sounds was clearly audible. The set was very energetic, occasionally close to electroclash.
Then another local, DJ MRDS, had his turn, mixing (minimal) techno with several dub techno tracks and, for the cheering crowd, I-F's classic "Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass". During his set a lady with different gadgets started to fiddle on the equipment, to set up the stage for the night's star performer.
Dave Clarke started at 1:30 immediately stepping on it with heavy bangers, creating a stark contrast with MRDS's dubby finale. It felt like at the peak of a hard techno set and no time for a warm-up was given to the enthusiastic crowd. DJs travel lightly nowadays and also Clarke's "record case", i.e notebook, carried an illuminated apple sign - it was a surprise that he did not use any vinyl. The mixing was seamless and almost none of the tracks, or even cuts, lasted more than one-two minutes. He processed the material perfectly and put a lot of energy in to the set, allowing some sample flashbacks to his own productions.
Clarke's set was harder than expected, although calmed down a bit after a storming introduction. Some bits of Basic Channel tracks and electro passages offered some change. It was nice to hear him again and thanks for coming to the North.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Various - Sügis (TCD0102010) - 7/10

The sound of facial hair and piercings on the first of three compilations, dedicated to new Estonian rock and other non-electronic music and presented in an home-made collection titled "Sügis" ("Autumn").
Industrial group Forgotten Sunrise does a few contributions but the vast majority is guitar-based fare, among the total of 22 tracks.
Modern bards Orelipoiss and Contra make a poetic and obscene - for those who know the language - introduction, as short as your breath. The next 14 tracks are focused on noise and furious guitars, ranging from insane punk to mature rock. Good finds are Highmachine ("Hookers From The Swamp") and heavyweight droning works by Melmac ("The Storm") and Talbot ("Pick-Up Lane").
Tolmunud Mesipuu comes with a lo-fi guitar attack and smashing live group Zahir surprises with distorted country hooks in "Bring Me The Head Of Gwyneth Paltrow (In Mind Condition)". A poppy contribution by Leslie Da Bass ("Trans") is a rare bird in this noisy and menacing company. "The End" by Sinine is an heavy rock ballad reminding a bit of Nightwish. Insane guitars and white noise in "Black Christmas" by Edasi that redefines Season's tunes. Aforementioned Forgotten Sunrise has remixed heroic rock group Loits ("Tuleristsed") and then concludes the comp with quiet "In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)".
Would have expected more lyrics in Estonian and stronger input of industrial music but it's an honest collection of harder rock from the country in the shores of the Baltic Sea. Compiled by Trash who runs a music and movie blog where you find also the full track list.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Martyn - Remixes by Ben Klock / Illum Sphere (3024-007) - 10/10

You bright guys have known it since January: the release is just brilliant. Two takes from Martyn's album "Great Lengths", starting with "Is This Insanity?". Yes, it is insane.
First we find us in a vacuum where clonking and creaking beats are the only companions, till Spaceape enters the stage with suggestive voice to grab all attention. His MC qualities are just amazing and if somebody might say he apes Maxi Jazz of Faithless, it's not true. Without his vocal, the remix Ben Klock would have been a well-working but quite ordinary techno track. Now the best ingredients of the original have been crystallised into the remix of the year.
On the B-side, Illum Sphere's workout of "Brilliant Orange" is floating dubstep electronica, a nice one too. Worth checking is also another record of Martyn's remixes, done by Zomby and Redshape.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Various - Tropical Discotheque EP (SOFR002) - 8/10

The heat is on at Sofrito; after vintage afro club funk of "Soweto Disco" they come with a 2010 repress of "Tropical Discotheque EP", carrying the same power and emotion as known from Sofrito's previous releases. No artist credits but four edits or reworks of thriving floor tracks: A-side is filled with two quite similar versions of "African Disco Power", with male vocal backing. On the B-side tempo is reduced in Caribbean-sounding "Calypso Path", while "Disco La Calle" goes a bit cosmic, being the best track of the EP.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Uku Kuut - I Don't Have To Cry / Vision Of Estonia (UQ 001) - 10/10

For a review about Uku Kuut's album "Vision Of Estonia" (2012), please click here.

You may think it's vintage funk and soul from an American metropolis like New York or Chicago. The sounds are right and go under the skin. But Peoples Potential Unlimited (PPU), a label from Washington DC, has found an hidden gem produced in Sweden by two exiled Estonians in 1984, Uku Kuut [oo-cooh cooth] and his mother, in 1984.
The title track, "I Don't Have To Cry", is cozy synthesizer funk with smooth vocals and slight vocoder. Even more I like jazzy funk instrumental "Vision Of Estonia" on the B-side that has a cool and composed Nordic feel, with homesickness of people starting a new life abroad. 
Uku was born in 1966 in Estonia, that time part of the Soviet bloc, and emigrated with mother Marju to Sweden and later to US to pursue their search in music to find real soul. Marju was a well-known singer before leaving the country; however since the beginning of 90's she and Uku have been living in Estonia again.
Uku tells the story behind the record in his blog. While still an active musician with own studio, he is also determined to find working formulas to enter the world of wine with Estonian produce.
Great idea by Andrew Morgan of PPU to share these excellent tracks. I believe it will be a revelation not only to Estonians, how already in mid-80's US-minded funk was done by the Kuut family. Hope there will be UQ 002 and even more.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Omar S - These Complimentary Track'x (AOS432*16 RE-1) - 7/10

Omar-S is a real Motor City man: Produces rough tracks and has a proper day work in automotive industry, at the Ford Motor Company. Been very busy this year and may have needed extra night hours to keep up with the publishing schedule. Now simultaneously with "All I Do", a collaboration with Roy Davis Jr, a new four-tracker called "These Complimentary Track'x"  is out on his home label FXHE.
Having recently done his first acid record, he continues where he left off: "Solely Supported" is clearly following the lights of Chicago and sounds like warehouse acid. "Under Jamaica" has furious drums and wicked programming of ghetto tracks, a noisy affair. On the B-side, melodies remain detached in "Columns" that is the closest to Omar-S's "ordinary" tracks - a long composition of dry beats and growling synths. For the end a surprise with "Boot Hill" that is a 78-second outerlude of disco soul, like a field recording featuring a portable radio left on the beach.
Omar S has been a wicked kid of the new Detroit wave and does not look getting tired; however this release will not exactly match his best ones.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The return of living cassettes

Mp3 and FLAC are taking over the world and it makes to believe that the future of music lies in digital format. Retailers are struggling with CDs, tagging the them with new and new "sale" labels. Laser disc seems to be the biggest loser as the vinyl output is steadily on the climb and worshippers of pure analog sound are increasingly numerous.
Good, e-music is sweeping all over the place. But with a trend comes anti-trend - to become later a trend itself. Now, when browsing new arrivals at the web shops, I have had a feeling that some of the new electronic and rock music is released on cassette exclusively, often as limited editions and special artwork.
You need facts? When tracking down Donato Dozzy's new album I looked at the website of Seattle-based Further Records, just to see that in 2010 they have had several cassette-only releases by Anders Ilar, Shemale, Public Safety and others.
Also a number of specialized labels have sprung up, for example Scotch Tapes. Today I learned that "10.10.84", a recording by Tangerine Dream founder Conrad Schnitzler, is exclusively out as cassette-only on Mirror Tapes.
For a while I have considered buying a tape deck, preferably with USB slot, to digitize some dusty MCs from my archives. The resurgence of the format thought to be obsolete means that tape equipment would also have use for new music. After all, tapes could provide rather good sound quality and depending on the style, a lo-fi feeling would not do any harm.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mark Ernestus Vs. Konono N° 1 - Masikulu Dub (CNG 2) - 10/10

The first release of the label Congotronics was day and sun, this is night and moon. Much darker atmosphere here as Hard Wax head honcho Mark Ernestus has filtered original Congolese composition by Konono N° 1 into pulsating drum tracks.
Psychedelic voices decorate the dub version on the A-side while the flip ("Masikulu Rhythm") is reduced into dry and percussive loops. Dubbed out growling on knocking percussion paints a picture where sharp-eyed hunters of the tropical rain forests are at large to get your attention. This is a kindred spirit with "Wireless" by T++ and the work of Harmonious Thelonious. Warrior sound with a pleasant touch of innovation.

Masikulu Dub
Source: www.honestjons.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Various - Mukuba Special / Rubaczech (CNG 1) - 9/10

"Rubaczech" may sound like surname of a Czech ice hockey player but the foundations of this release lie elsewhere, in the lands the humanity derives from. "Rubaczech" is a creation of Konono N° 1, a congolese collective that mixed native and electric instruments with sounds of old car parts.
Konono N° 1 was widely unknown till Congotronics album in 2004 and a LP-box of the same name this year, that featured several acts from the country walking along the thin line between tribalistic folk music and electronica.
Now the track has undergone a treatment by Nonplace Urban Field man Burnt Friedman who largely maintained the textures of original's soft electronica. On the A-side delicate percussion and warm voices characterize Shackleton's take of "Mukuba Special", made by another African combo Kasai Allstars. It's a track deriving from Black Continent's heritage full of rhythms and in the same bearing sunny smoothness. The second half turns more psychedelic with mingled chaotic voices and an array of stingy percussion elements.
Both sides lean towards reduced dubstep and give a promising start to a new label that essentially helps to coin a new style called "congotronics". Calling it just "tribal" would be too simple and even misleading. Nice African-European bridge built here.


Friday, November 5, 2010

DUST OFF: Dave Clarke - Archive One (Deconstruction - 1996)

After spotting red-black posters in Tallinn, announcing Dave Clarke's gig in the club Korter on 19 November, it's time to recollect some impressions and emotions related to the guy.
In recent years I've lost somehow interest in his doings, but it was ACV's "Alternative Current" compilation where I heard D.C. first time, contributing with raw and pounding "Winter" and "Autumn". And in November 1994 he played in the club Berlin in Helsinki, at a warm-up party for the event Weekender next day. It was a devastating experience - a rather tiny and dark room flooded with hard acid techno and by far too many decibels, with a cute girl dancing on the table, sweat dropping from the ceiling. It took some hours before my liver and guts settled to places they were supposed to be.
Speaking about his music, Clarke's trilogy "Red" and album "Archive One" were landmarks of techno. Yesterday, after a longer break, I put the needle on the LP and was happy to rediscover the sounds that have meant so much. Very diverse tracks: Starting with almost symphonic "Rhapsody in Red", then his trademark backspins in "Protective Custody" and "Wisdom To The Wise". From the harder edge came "Storm" and really explosive "Thunder". "No One's Driving" is an hip-hop instrumental, one of my faves of this album, and concluding "Splendour" is just beautiful slow tripping with vocals of Laura-Jane. Definitely a classic release.
http://www.krtr.ee
http://www.daveclarke.com

"Thunder"
Source: www.juno.co.uk