30 December 2010

2010 Newcomer: Bakey Ustl

1. Bakey Ustl
Not an unbiased decision to select Bakey Ustl, native Estonian, the Newcomer of the Year. But it's not far-fetched because of his storming solo debut on Unthank, a twisted view on deep house. Also my blog statistics and Juno's sales chart (his EP in the 6th position of the last eight weeks) are clear proofs of the excellence of this release.
2. Raime
Missed the vinyl version of his debut, "Raime EP", that was followed by another strike of gothic electronica in "If Anywhere Was Here He Would Know Where We Are", with a Regis version. I'm expecting more of it in 2011.
3. Svreca 
Despite of an earlier co-release with Oscar Mulero, the year 2010 marked his strong arrival in the techno scene; "Obscur" is brilliant and Semantica is among the labels to watch.


28 December 2010

Preview: Shackleton at the Club 2011 launch in Tallinn (1.1.11)

shackletonIn 2011 Tallinn is European Capital of Culture and a lot will happen on the club and music landscape. On 1 January 2011, for those who have recovered from the New Year's Eve, a new event series called Club 2011 is kicked off. Headline performer is Skull Disco founder and dubstep hero Shackleton, definitely a genre-expanding producer and sound wizard whois a much anticipated guest at any event.
Also from local perspective the line-up is impressive: live performance by a trio composed of Rainer Jancis, Rasmus Merivoo and Joel Tammik. On stage also eccentric Andres Lõo, techno-acid-electro-mix-up team Sex Drive Live, Mustad Noodid plus DJs Raul Saaremets, Rhythm Doctor, Siim Nestor, Jaagup Jalakas, Kreck a.o.
The venue is Metro Plaza, a chic office building in Tallinn City, turned into club for that particular night. Tickets €10.00 at the door and please remember that euro is the official currency in Estonia as of 1 January. You can spend your kroons too if any left.
http://www.plektrumfestival.ee/2010/12/23/660 (in Estonian)

27 December 2010

2010 Best Record Shop: Decks.de

2010 was full of great music and I would like to give props to some excellent sources for obtaining it. The lion's share of the stuff was bought from online stores that top the ranking but I hope that physical record stores remain in business, being also great meeting points and arteries of social life.
1. Decks.de
A regular for my record purchases with vast selection and customer-friendly interface. Allows omnibus orders, i.e. to collect an order during 30 days before shipped. Prices are ok and shipping charges do not hurt - they even offer UPS for €10.90 (to Estonia, delivery time around one week). Decks.de sells only what they have in stock. As a downside some items become available a few days later, rarely never, than at competitors but it depends on the distribution companies. Does not sell digital releases. Launched Decks Classix, a platform for repressing 1990's gems (Blake Baxter, Moodymann, Jimi Tenor, DJ HMC, etc.).
2. Boomkat.com
The best address for limited-edition and cutting-edge records from really deep from the u-ground, in addition to a superb selection of electronic music chart-runners. Boomkat really knows the trade and in reviews they do stunts with words. Reliable expert advices and recommendations for exploring minds. In addition to hard copies offers also digital formats, including FLAC. Would be the best record shop if they only would drop discriminating shipping charges to Estonia.
3. Honestjons.com
Found it in 2010 and immediately did some orders. Affiliated with the record label of the same name, it offers a quality selection of deeper-minded and exploring releases. If you are into Angolan funk or Turkish chant, it's your place. A kindred spirit of Hard Wax crew and a foothold of Berlin's deeper scene in London. Friendly and personal service.

Hard Wax - a classic and a place to visit in Berlin. Mail order offers opportunities to grab Hard Wax exclusives, in addition to usual suspects across techno, house, IDM, dubstep and, of course, reggae and dub. Occasionally items are out of stock, after the order being submitted.
Clone.nl and Rushhour.nl - the Dutch can do it. Both are distributors too and offer many delights, Clone being more focused on electro, wave and nu-disco stuff while Rush Hour keeps the house, funk and soul alive. But you find much-much more at both. Essential places for stocking up the collections; Clone has a digital shop too.
Juno.co.uk - seems to have all the world's music, huge selection and provides that you know what you are looking for.
Rubadub.co.uk - have heard many good words about it and might discover it in 2011.
Stupido-Shop - sprung from an independent record label. I don't challenge the statement "simply the best record shop in Finland". Enthusiastic and friendly owner and a well-stocked place to drop by in Helsinki. Has e-store too.
Sister Ray - still alive and kicking on Berwick Street, London.

Rahva Raamat - a books and media chain in Estonia that courageously stocks a good selection of actual vinyls. In Estonia Lasering is a good choice too.
Ebay - offers tend to be overpriced but sometimes good finds. I used for stocking up with 90's hardcore and acid classics, thank you Electryx!
Discogs.com - in 2010 tried first time the marketplace, it has virtually anything and prices range from bargains to silly rip-offs. 
Used clothing - if lucky the boutiques sporting this name and sign can stock even records. More likely, in second hand outlets that sell used household stuff and in Tallinn some have several boxes of vinyl too. 95 percent of the stock is uninteresting but in 2010 I found Carpenter's "Escape From New York" soundtrack, some italo things and 90's house.

18 December 2010

Blastromen - Human Beyond (Dominance Records 044) - 9/10

Ambassadors of blue light have descended on Earth. They glimmer, they roar, they vibrate behind the controls and are full of microchips, delivering a message of electro. No sterile gloved research in a secluded lab but a spectacular demonstration of blazing energy to the world.
The first album of the Finnish Blastromen ignites a party and captures the floor with vocoded vox, melodic layers and hectic breakbeats. Cold and beautiful title track "Human Beyond" sets the agenda, then the pace is upped in "Battlenet". Vocoders speak and machines breathe in oriental-sounding "Follow The Command" and in heavier "Computer Simulator". "Sky City 1000" would sound well in an après-ski party in the Alps. No really weak links among eight tracks, but some do stand out and therefore EP format with less tracks would have worked well too.
Blastromen will have a lot of dedicated fans who appreciate its live performances, as seen on Youtube. Electro is music with attitude and can be either expressed with motionlessness, like Kraftwerk or Dopplereffekt, or with rocking live sets, like Auxmen or this same Blastromen.When I look at them it's like Batman and Robin in futuristic outfit driving the crowd mad. These Finns with illuminating epaulets have style.



14 December 2010

2010 Best Artist: Ancient Methods

Medieval techno funk duo Ancient Methods tops the Best Artist  category. For every listed artist I added a track that impressed me.
1. Ancient Methods "Untitled: B1" (Ancient Methods)
2. Stingray 313 "Sentiment" [Naked Lunch]
3. Delta Funktionen "Please Identify" (Ann Aimee)
4. Marco Bernardi "Msry" (Dirty Planet Recordings)
5. Mark Ernestus Vs. Konono N° 1 "Masikulu Dub" (CNG)
6. Svreca "AW09" (Semantica)

Almost as great artists and tracks, in random order:
Robert Hood "Omega (End Times)" (M-Plant)
Nuel "Untitled: A1" (Aquaplano)
Speedy J "Armstrong"
Bakey USTL "Heroin" (Unthank)
Mensah "1986 Was The Future" (H.E.N.C.H.)
TV Victor "130509" (Non Standard Productions)
T++ "Dig" (Honest Jon's Records)
Blastromen "Human Beyond" (Dominance Electricity)
Uku Kuut "Vision Of Estonia" (People's Potential Unlimited)
Emad Parandian "Scud" (Haknam)
Cologne Tape "Render 2 (Magazine Edit)" (Magazine)
Mr Raoul K "Mystic Things" (Baobab Music)
Female "Regis Edit" (Sandwell District)

    11 December 2010

    2010 Best Label: Honest Jon's

    1. Honest Jon's Records
    Might be a surprise to learn that London-based Honest Jon's Records (HJR) is the best label in a techno-focused blog. A surprise not because of Damon Albarn, former charts star of Blur fame, who co-runs the label and does it very well. It's because of versatile catalogue, where in 2010 T++'s doublepack "Wireless" and "Splazsh" by once-promising soccer player Darren Cunningham AKA Actress were among few releases categorised as techno or electro.
    HJR is becoming an institution of higher music education. It doesn't shy to release music made in Istanbul 100 years ago or folk techno from South Africa. Plus attract an all-star-band called Moritz von Oswald Trio to its roster and co-operate with human drum machine Tony Allen. A label to watch in 2011 too and good luck to Honest Jon's record store, a place with great selection and friendly service. 
    2. FXHE
    Detroit is still doing it and evidently FXHE Records is among those injecting funk to the floors. Omar S., the hard-working man behind the label, provided both quality and quantity in 2010. Raw house tracks with  strong techno feel still characterise label's output but we also heard acid and deep house, with guest appearances by Gunnar Wendel, Roy Davis Jr., Kai Alce. For many still has a cult status. 
    3. CLR and Ostgut Ton
    Two German techno factories share the third position. Although I still haven't found alleged excellence in Shed's releases, like recent "The Traveller", Ostgut is a strong platform with artists like Dettmann, Klock, Prosumer and others. They just keep driving and understand what's en vogue when published compilation "5 Years In 60 Minutes" in cassette format. Speedy J's "Armstrong" was a highlight on CLR and later volumionus remix series of Traversable Wormhole appeared. Chris Liebing keeps the label on steely tracks.

    A good year had also: 
    3024 - combined deepness and dubstep
    Ancient Methods - only one but mindblowing release
    Congotronics - building a bridge between Africa and Europe
    Diskant - hypnotic drum rituals from Germany
    Mathematics - scouting new talents and keeping the Chicago legacy
    M-Plant - Robert Hood's renaissance goes on
    [Naked Lunch] - DJ Stingray was pure excllence
    Sandwell District - really, where next?
    Semantica - high-quality intelligent dark techno
    Something In The Sky - buzz and beats from outer space
    Tresor - several great reissues
    Umblu - house and dubstep from Estonia
    And many more...Thank you for the music!

    2010 Best Remix: Is This Insanity? (Ben Klock Remix)

    1. Martyn Ft. Spaceape "Is This Insanity? (Ben Klock Remix)" -
    Martyn was a big name for 2010 and when Ostgut stalwart Ben Klock placed his hands on the track the outcome was superb. On top of that hypnotic vox contribution by Spaceape. Undisputed winner of the remix category.
    2. Marco Bernardi "Giro (Exium Remix)" - Bernardi's excellent EP was refined by a thriving remix of Spanish duo Exium. Solid techno for the floor that was picked up by Surgeon for his Fabric mix-CD.
    3. Cub "C U 1 (UST Remix)" - dark and mysterious trip with a treatment by UST - could be acronym of Ugandan Speed Trials.

    Worth a mention are also Svreca's "Obscur (Regis Remix)" and Luke Slater's remix of Lucy & Ercolino's "Gmork".

    08 December 2010

    2010 Favourite Media (online): Intergalactic FM

    This is the category that could be described "too many to list". I have listed in my profile the blogs and sites I follow, and as you may guess, these are not the only ones.
    Although charting the favorites is a challenge, there are some that I would like to present. Excluded is discogs.com, a daily tool, that is anyway in own league.
    1. Intergalactic FM
    A treasure box for anyone into electro, techno, italo, horror movie soundtracks and whatever else can be found on earth. Or will be found soon. The streaming site was initially set up by I-F as Cybernetic Broadcasting System but later relaunched as IFM. The hardest stuff comes on Channel #1, under the code name MurderCapital FM. Look for archives and great mixes you find there. I should remember my donation to the site.
    2. mnmlssg
    It was a mix by Hauntologists Vs Cheap And Deep that took me to the website. Initially thought it's "just another blog" but discovered how consistently the site is run. The best feature are the DJ-mixes, ranging from Luke Hess and Kassem Mosse to Silent Servant and Ancient Methods. Great articles about current state of electronic music and party reviews. mnmlssg produces a lot of tweets too.
    3. Soundcloud
    For sharing music and inviting people to buy records. It may host also some pirate files but it's a trustworthy source for finding sound clips uploaded by artists themselves. This platform will see another growth year in 2011 and hopefully also many archives, not only new releases find their way to the site. Just a good example for other labels: The Vision's "Detroit: One Circle" can be found at Soundcloud.

    And then there are Ebay, Youtube, all great online record shops, and sites like Planetaryfunk, Moth, Heliori, POPOP, Trash Can Dance - to name only a few.

    07 December 2010

    Donato Dozzy & DJ Say - Your Transparent Eyes (Attic Music 006) - 7/10

    Donato Dozzy, who released his sought-after first album "K" this year, remains true to the tradition to team up with other producers. Two-track release on Attic Music is his second collaboration with DJ Say, after an EP on Mental Groove.
    It smells like dub techno but it is not. Mid-tempo "Your Eyes" opens the game with destructive bass and flashing synth effects. It stays very intense until a bit cheesy phrase something (?) in your eyes, surrounded by echoes, emerges from the background. Recurring sample adds hit potential but starts to annoy when the track progresses. Also a lower voice would have worked better.
    Even deeper "Transparent" pumps off with effects and bubbling sequences and can't be distracted from its straightforward path. Something for the moments when you watch stars and dream about extraterrestrial beings. Two pretty decent cuts from Italians, without breaking into new territories.


    06 December 2010

    2010 Favourite Music Media (offline): De:Bug

    It's time to wrap up the year 2010 and the first category is about the media that is available in hard copy. The paper is not searchable and takes up some room in the shelf but I prefer these mags in old-fashioned way. Needless to say that like other traditional media publications, they have websites too.
    1. De:Bug (D)
    Published in vibrant Berlin, De:Bug covers elektronische Lebensaspekte that do not only encompass modern music but also gadgets, technology, media and society. The party guide tells the best on offer in Berlin and beyond. Elaborates various aspects of the electronic world and comes with a number of professional reviews - where you see that every second critic by Bleed starts with Tja. Open-minded in exploring different genres and sub-genres to educate readers. De:Bug would make some people learn German.   
    2. Wire (UK)
    Something for expanding your musical horizon. Anything about Tuvan throat singers, Portuguese experimental noise or contemporary minimal classics, while also having some words about electronica and dance tracks. "Wire Tapper" compilations come free with the magazine a few times per year and summarize what has been under Wire's magnifying glass. Exceptional writers with deep intellectual approach to the music and world.  
    3. Groove (D)
    From Frankfurt am Main and has been in business for 20 years, a surviving contemporary of the legendary Frontpage mag. The layout and format are undergoing constant change but the contents focuses on music we find at DJ charts of Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin, DJ T and many others. A CD compilation comes as bonus with every kiosk issue. In recent years has published many interesting feature stories about the music history, e.g. Tresor, Patrick Cowley, Eastern Germany's electronica, italo disco and many more. Many reviews.

    05 December 2010

    Bakey Ustl - E.P. 1 (Unthank 001) - 9/10

    Stop fiddling with your goddamn radio, d'ya hear? Turn it off! It's late night at the campus, thin walls don't isolate the sounds coming from a room. It's not a radio, it's a disciple of  professors Theo P. and Kenny D. who has well progressed in Deep House Research.
    The outcome is in front of us: Filling the A-side, "A Tender Places" is a juicy and stripped-down deep house track that tells how to engage in different carnal activities, all night long. At 2:22 we encounter a sudden break and some empty grooves but the same track goes on with accelerating rhythm at the end.
    On the flip, deep grooves persist in more ordinary "Nose Candy" before all changes in "Heroin". The B2 track is just audio arts with kaleidoscopic noises and samples chasing each other. "Heroin" is like a movie by Iñárritu and in stark contrast to suave deep house cuts.
    Timo Rohula works under the cryptic moniker of Bakey USTL. He comes from a place called Vändra in Central Estonia and currently studies audiovisual arts at Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. "E.P. 1" is Bakey's debut single, after tracks in two Various Artists releases of Estonian label Umblu (recently "Kila Kola"). Impressive start with Moodymann-style deep house, not to to speak about the experimental B2 track. 


    03 December 2010

    Various - Generator: Broadcast In Hi-Tech (Generator 031) - 7/10

    After a hiatus of almost 15 years, if not to count some occasional releases, Detroit's Generator Records is trying a new push. The label presents a compilation that contains both seasoned and rookie producers. In total eight tracks of tech house mainly, with some deviations to harder or jazzier sides.
    A tougher start when Abstract Science ("The Grinder") debuts with a brave techno groover, followed by Andy Rantzen's ("The Kiss") commonplace tech-house with jazzy angle.
    The label boss Alan Oldham contributes, in addition to sleeve illustrations, as T-1000 with chords driven tech-house ("Detroitism"). Terrence Dixon, master of minimalism and monotony, drops sure-handed loops on heavy bass in "Daily Routine" and it's the best track here. Obsolete Music Theory's track ("Past Virtue") is medium-paced shuffling techno like from the funkier part of Detroit's textbook.
    Plural ("07") goes off intensely and then turns into a deep house cut. Jamal M. ("Fine And Mellow") drops his trademark quirky, filtered funk with slight late-night house feel and Windimoto ("Friday Night: UBQ") is also among the new ones, doing easy tech-house for the end.
    The compilation has a great significance for keeping the Detroit spirit alive but does not offer any sensations artistically. Though it's a solid package with a few highlights and worth to find a place in your record case.

    Clip: DJ T-1000 - "Detroitism"


    02 December 2010

    Afrobeat's Tony Allen coming to Tallinn


    Tony Allen, a long-time companion of afrobeat icon Fẹla Aníkúlápó Kuti and drummer in his bands, does a gig at Rock Café in Tallinn, on 9 December. Along with Kuti, Allen has been a great influencer of African modern rhythm music. In the same, the gentleman who turned 70 this year, has spread the afro message in the European music scene and beyond.
    It's a pity I have only fragmented knowledge of Allen's productions, essentially limited to one CD I would like to share with you before the concert.
    Issued in 2008, the compilation "Lagos Shake: A Tony Allen Chop Up" (Honest Jon's Records) summoned many musicians who are fond of Allen's talent, to contribute with new versions or remixes of Allen's songs.
    One can't deny album's sunny atmosphere that attracts people the fill the floor with dancing feet. Closer to Allen's roots are the versions by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Wareika Hill Sounds and some others, while we also hear samba and genuine West African party rhythms.
    Detroit producers are represented by Carl Craig who did a jazz-house-sounding interpretation of "Kilode". Hard Wax man Mark Ernestus added Basic Channel's delicate dub to "Moyege" and the same did with "Ole" Moritz von Oswald, stretching it to a 11-minute dub techno piece. Grime and electro treatment was given by Newham Generals.
    A bright-sounding but also deep record that pays tribute to Allen's and afrobeat's heritage.

    Newham Generals: "Tetsuya's Theme"
    Source: www.juno.co.uk