Riot near the Palace
Rafael Toral: Sound Mind, Sound Body (Moikai) - CD Originally released 1994, reissued 2000
I've had this on pretty much every day since the start of the year and I'll forever struggle to apply any meaningful words to it. Amazing to think that this originally came out way back in '94 on Portugal's AnAnAnA label. It's since been re-issued by Jim O'Rourke on his marvelous (but defunct) Moikai imprint and it's easy to see why: this is an extremely beautiful record.
To Rococo Rot: Hotel Morgen (Domino) - CD Released 2004
Always have had a soft spot for TRR's unique brand of polymath-pop. Ever since their first release way back in '95, they're one of those bands that seem to ooze unquestionable confidence. Music whose paths, to the trained air, could be easily plotted. Before an unexpected melodic, rhythmic, textural or spacial shift will suddenly see it spiral off into unknown trajectories.
'Hotel Morgen' was their first release for Domino and it sounded like the trio from Berlin had obtained even sharper lenses. Some genuinely beautiful moments arise from the deft meshing of the unusual and the familiar. The trance-like pulsing rhythm that underpins the guitar picking on the gorgeous (but criminally short) 'Tal' is one such example. Elsewhere, the lure of the dancefloor is never far away and the sublime New Order-ish 'Miss You' sounds like the sort of haunted disco that would sound perfect in an abandoned Hacienda.
Third Eye Foundation: I poo poo on your Juju (Domino) - CD Released 2001
Despite the other-worldly and mystical connotations perpetuated by the name, artwork and track titles. Matt Elliot's long-running project has always lived within the realms of earth-bound realism. His palette exudes an overwhelming sense of decay and history, of time and location, of narrative and story. And this, his last release for Domino, showcases his obvious talents as an accomplished remixer. From the woozy piano lament of his Yann Tiersen (he did the 'Amelie' soundtrack) remix to the heart-slowing drip-hop of a Tarwater track. These interpretations feel like they actually existed long before the originals. And like most of his work, it'll either engage in full or sound terribly portentous.
The Slackers: The Slackers and friends (Special Potato) - CD Released 2004
Oddball ska / reggae album from NYC's The Slackers. Collaborations from the likes of Cornell Campbell and The Congo's are the most successful. Their lyrical dexterity glosses over the pedestrian production. But elsewhere there are some real misfires from the likes of Ari Up (ex The Slits) and the two terrible contributions by Chris Murray. I've never been a fan of ska and everything on this album just reinforces all my suspicions.
Skugge & Stavöstrand: Gräns (Onitor) - 12" Released March 2005
Hugely enjoyable slab of precision-cut technodisco. Onitor have since ceased activity, which is a shame because they were one of the more interesting labels to ride the click-house / minimal wave. Opener 'Friday Mission' wastes no time in laying down the blueprint for the rest of 12" to follow; deep kicks and crystalline melodies. And the ride-out of 'Mind Blaster' blips and burps in an agreeable manner. Also be sure to listen to their brilliant 'Humla' long player; filled to the brim with unusual variations on the house theme.
Kaman Leung: Idioms (Lacerated) - 12" Released March 2003
I hope I didn't buy this and got it sent as a promo. I couldn't find a press release for it and nothing in my e-mails mention Mr Leung or his (now defunct) Lacerated label. It must have been one of those 'sounded great in the Soho record store for about five second' moments. Actually, that's a bit harsh, there are some quite interesting bits on this 4-track 12" (might have been during 'Simplify'). But on whole it left me hating instrumental hip-hop just that little bit more. To read something that's the total opposite of my cutting analysis, go check Boomkat's gushing review.