April 2005 Archives
Saturday 2nd April 2005
Troy, Hoxton Street, Shoreditch, London
One of the criminally few minimal house / techno parties available to Londoners beyond the walls of Fabric. Sud Electronic operate a simple policy: change the venue each time, keep the music minimal, keep the numbers restricted. The low-key approach to promotion and house party vibe means that it works every time.
The simple rough'n ready feel of Troy in deepest Hoxton offers a perfect platform for likes of Lump. A crazy bespectacled Finn living in London was warming up the sound system with some northern bleep. Early Nightmares on Wax, LFO, that sort of thing. Previous PR pusher, now champion of click, Nick Craddock drove deep into the history of Perlon, Playhouse, Kompakt etc., serving up more treats than a Berlin warehouse party.
PTR aka Planning to Rock. Digital cabaret from Bolton via Berlin. Woman wailing like a banshee in front of timed projections. Genius. Had all the house purists grumbling. Their loss.
After the most wobbly set from Lakuti (nice selection of tunes, just a lack of slick segues), Portable fired up his laptop and tiny mixer. The music veered from African drum workouts to 4/4 at full motorik pelt. Rhythmically dominant, it lacked the warm melodies and playful basslines that Nick had served up earlier. Still, it did the business on the floor.
Next one is on the 7th of May in Shoreditch. This time with my one and only Swiss friend Radovan playing live as AM/PM. Don't mess and don't miss.
Music for tube and home....
Lawrence: Swap (Novamute) - 12"
A beguiling mix of midnight-drawn vignettes and hazy deep house. Hushed, understated and evocative. This'll have me reeling out cliches till the morning so I'd better stop.
Take two: 5am, in a car, on the M4 towards Heathrow....
Gentle, considered passages of toybox melody bookend moments of bass propulsion. The twilight-techno of 'Swap' and 'Cab Driver' pack a real kompakt punch. 'Attracted By Fire' flickr'd perfectly in time to the motorway lights. On the 12" Carsten Jost's re-jig of 'Swap' offers nothing remarkably new. But Serafin's mix is right on the money; mysterious as minimal dictates.
Music for airport journey's. Lights out for the territory.
As Karl Soul Jazz succinctly put it: "Nice melodies, crap lyrics. What more do you want?"
Words about the forthcoming album 'Everything Ecstatic' soon, but just grab the promo or proper 12" currently doing the rounds. Seasonal music perfectly timed with the visual changes that Spring delivers. Agree with all the muso's saying this is the best thing he's ever done and you'll be in good company. Incidentally, check the bittersweet video for the single, my mate Mark and his daughter Flor are in it. He's a comedian don't you know.
Whilst we wait for his infamous 'Nevertheless' LP to be given a proper release, here's White's second release for Michigan's Spectral (the first being the equally excellent 'Ince' EP). Once again, his fondness for looped guitar lines is evident. None more so than on 'Guitarjacked': unfortunately the least effective of the three tracks on offer. Instead, head for the rapid-fire rain-drop rhythms of the title track, sounding as polished as techno could ever get. 'Scillecta' is sub-bass driven electronics, beats moulded from metallic rust and melodies made of popcorn.
Beautifully presented heavyweight 10" from this relatively new Swiss label. Peddling the sort of music that gets me moist. Puma's 'Acid Honey' tacks bubble'n squeak basslines down to a disco beat. Agnes' effort on the other side ('Seaside') strafes and chafes its way to the dancefloor. Making suggestive gestures on the way down.
From a weekend of introductory lessons in grime to a German and a Midlander unaware of the current musical climate for today's vinyl-centric youth....
Toastyboy: Too Hot / Guesswork (Storming Productions) - 12"
Horrified to hear the intro of 'Too Hot', it's as if the ghost of LTJ Bukem had reared its ugly head. But this quickly settles into a staple grime groove. Maybe not as nastier as some of the other cuts in this posting, but just enough to please the bass fiends.
DJ Distance: Replicant (Boka) - 12"
Anything with 'Blade Runner' samples in gets my vote. Sounds and sci-fi motifs previously reserved for dark electro get re-pasted onto an industrial dubstep rhythm. The searing B-line in 'Replicant' dominates, but the real find here is the understated mantra of 'Dark Crystal'. Tense as fuck, grime gets African.
Skream: Angry / Traitor (Ital) - 12"
Possibly the most sophisticated and minimal slice of grime I'll hear for a while. Give it six months before everyone else is catching up. Please purchase.
Vex'd: Canyon / Pop (Subtext) - 12"
Vex'd: Ghost / Lion (Subtext) - 12"
Vex'd: Function (Z-Audio) - 12"
Get the first two Subtext releases for sure, but skip the Z-Audio one (not exactly grime, more of an interesting breaks rhythm). 'Canyon' and 'Pop' go for the jugular with no build ups or breakdowns; just a continuous groove that's easy on the ear. 'Lion' on the other hand is just one big build-up with the most effective drop. Even if his debut album for Planet Mu is utter gash, at least he'll have this.
DJ Charmzy: R-Ha (Black Op's) - 12"
Roughly produced, this is a simple, sparse, effective rhythm; melody alternating between deep synths and violin strings. Reminds me of early darkcore, where jungle started to integrate an unsettling filmic vibe.
DJ Eastwood: Regime (Black Majik) - 12"
DJ Eastwood: Elastik / The Tunnel (Black Majik) - 12"
'Regime' and its 2004 remix are pretty standard, flat exercises, best used as DJ tools. But the B-side of 'Aftershock' reveals a drum-heavy variant on the dubstep riddim. But arriving further down the line and showing off a more intricate and complex approach, 'Elastik' sounds like Dynamix 2 doing dubstep; electro's New York rhythms made to move to a London beat.
DMZ 001, 002, 003 - 12"
Both Loefah and Digital Mystikz are given greater visibility on the second Grime compilation on Rephlex, but just as essential are these releases on Digital Mystikz's own DMZ label. Uncompromising / unrelenting, these explore the darker end of dubstep.
From the three twelves, you will comply with my selection of 'Chainba' (DMZ001), '10 Dread Commandments' (DMZ002) and 'Da Wrath - Souljah VIP mix' (DMZ003)....it's when they stray from the dancefloor that I start to tune in.
Background: Berlin-native Lars Fenin has been peddling dub reggae since the mid-nineties. Has released dub techno music on such labels as Echocord, Meteosound, Textone and Shitkatapult. Those are very good labels. He is a very good artist. This is his debut album.
Yes: The noticeable thing about this album is that all the tracks have a propulsive kick. Sculpted from refined bass tones and clean sinewaves. Bookmark 'Konstrukt' for maximum minimal push media. 'No CIA' has such an addictive pulse to it, you can't help but bounce. 'Got It' is the darkest moment here whilst 'South' is music to read end film credits by.
No: Cliched lyrical matter (full of positivity about being 'up') slightly marrs the rhythmical progress of some pieces. 'Stony Road' sounds as ineffective as its title; short but pointless. And how did 'Aware' make it to the final track-listing?
Soundbite: The near-perfect marriage of dub-driven techno and pixel-pop.
The trouble with this is that it sounds great until you stick her previous album on. Clearly nowhere near as inventive as 'Berlinette'. 'Thrills' is certainly reflective of the current grime and grey of Berlin. The constantly shifting landscape, like Ellen herself on the cover art.
Opener 'Come' is a worthy introduction, but compare it to the stunning 'Alles Sehen' for evidence of my first statement. 'Your body is my body' is refined sounds and dense rhythms merged to create an audio tropical heat. A fondness for all things electro results in up-tempo numbers such as 'Naked Rain' and 'Down'. But efforts like 'Washing Machine is speaking' just sound like Radioactive Man rejects.
I'd have preferred it if she'd laced more of her sequences with vocals ('The brain is lost' seems to be the only exception). As a result, this is a foreboding, ominous electronic album. A very dark and masculine piece of work, whereas 'Berlinette' was feminine; brightness, colour and light.
Ask me again, in a years time, once i've managed to separate the two works apart. But for now, this certainly isn't lacking 'thrills', just ideas and finesse.
It struck me as being odd, these compact nuggets of music represented by the 3" CD. Their absolute refusal to appear on sale to public at 'normal' music outlets meant that word-of-mouth, particularly if it was good, was essential for any form of existence.
Punk or plain stubbornness; these were flights of fancy by artists and labels. One-offs, destined to be heard by those willing to take a risk via black-and-white ads in the back of The Wire. So it was that a sizable amount of these releases made their way to Absorb Towers. I had difficulty in writing about them. And more often than not, i simply didn't.
Spring clean had arrived and I was determined to move these CD's onto a better home. But not before you're made aware of them. Bear in mind throughout that all of these releases ride the outer limits. I suffered listening to these and so should you.
Bridle Wire: Damper String (Scarcelight)
Accelera Deck: Ski (Scarcelight)
Shark, shark, shark: Ride the Rainbow (Scarcelight)
EBSK: Secret Highways / Wobbly (Scarcelight)
Label run by Accelera Deck peddles a wide ranging palette of audio abuse. From EBSK's surprisingly accessible lo-fi pop to Shark, Shark, Shark's maudlin exercise in skin-tearing glitch. Bridle Wire wins out with a stunning piece of sample manipulation and Accelera's own contribution might have been decent too....except I lost the CD. (scarcelight.org)
Massimo: Hey babe, let me see your USB and I'll show you my Firewire (Mego)
The title and cover art really say it all. Terrifying. (mego.at)
Team Shadetek: Natural Selection - MD Sessions (Nonresponse)
The most friendly of the selection we have here. NY's finest bump'n grind up against some max patches and come out spitting dancehall algorithms. (nonresponse.com)
Ascoltare vs Keith: Drugs (Dubbel)
Ascoltare: Mutiny in Stereo (Dubbel)
Plunderphonics made fun! Hip-hop via Kool Keith and R'n B via Aaliyah forced to suck on some DSP until they choke. (tripelrecords.com)
Powerbooks for peace : Everest / Aleph-Null (Alku)
Team Doyobi: Empire (Alku)
Edwin van der Heide: Touch.2 (Alku)
Beige: I'm only in it for the money (Alku)
Wobbly: Regards (Alku)
Opopop: Juicio Final (Alku)
Yasunao Tone: Wounded Man'Yo #38-9/2001(Alku)
For the most part, these will test your patience and your playback device. But the Heide effort is the sound of two hydrophones rubbing against each other. For twelve minutes. And its ace. Wobbly forces pop CD's to do naughty things. But this paragraph really belongs to Tone. (http://personal.ilimit.es/principio)
Bulbul: Velo (Trost)
All sounds sourced from the sounds of bicycles formed into cyclic loops of metallic ambience sounding like a distant power station shutting down. (trost.at)
AGF: delayONmyPILLOW (Stitchting mixer)
This effortless single 18-minute piece just confirms AGF as one of the great modern practitioners of laptop music. Perfectly judged mix of found sounds, synthesis, intimate voice and digital creaks. Overwhelmingly beautiful and quite difficult for someone like me to describe into words. We are simply wavelengths apart. (stichtingmixer.nl)