Thursday, July 31, 2008

back on beat

ok, back to the beat. normally i find myself cycling through sets at a very quick rate. it seems like most barely keep my attention for more than a week or so... recently, there have been a couple that have been on repeat. first, is the guido schneider set i posted earlier. if you didn't take my advice and grab it then, do so now. second, the DBX livepa and discussion got me in the more for some more bell, so i tracked down this oldie. and it is simply superb.

daniel bell @ star club, detroit 2001

and i know i post quite a few move d sets - and this one has been doing the rounds - but seriously, if you haven't heard this recording from his doing his sunday best in NY, do so. now. this is really sublime dj'ing. have been listening to this daily. life is a bit rough these days and D has been helping me through some really long days.

move d @ sunday best, NY 2008

keeping on the house tip, here is something from the dutchies - jacking house with a great feel to it: boris werner & lauhaus @ club 11, amsterdam 2008

i am sure there was another set or two i meant to post, but can't remember them now, so that'll do. been listening to quite a few mix cds and albums, will report on them soon if the chance presents itself. enjoy the sounds.

Monday, July 28, 2008

luv DBX

some comments in response to the previous post reminded me that i needed to share this little beauty with everyone. it is 30 minutes of the livepa daniel bell played at 5 days off. there is a bit of crowd noise, but the recording is good enough to listen to, and to hear what we are all missing out on. and we are missing out for sure. DBX is playing a select series of live shows and that's it, back to dj'ing after that. and while his dj'ing his exceptional, well, his productions are truly special. i would happily sell an organ or two to see DBX live. unfortunately no one has offered me that deal, so i'll have to make do with this recording. and hope that he changes he mind and plays live again someday, when i can see him. and a bit of advance warning, the recording finishes while 'losing control' is still going. ouch. but we do get the full version of 'baby judy' and that is pretty awesome.

DBX livepa @ 5 days off

Saturday, July 26, 2008

stinky or just dinky?

someone i am still really trying to figure out is dinky. she first made a name for herself with the excellent 'acid in my fridge', but since then it seems she has presented herself more as a dj than as a producer. i may be wrong this front, especially as she has a new album coming out on vakant in a few months... regardless, i can't quite decide what i think of her as a dj. while i haven't seen her live, the sets i've heard always frustrate me: they have some really brilliant moments and inspired selections, but more often than not the overall mix lacks enough coherence for my liking and doesn't sit well. i am not sure whether this opinion is because of a personal preference for mine, which desires a high level of coherence in a set (admittedly this may come at the price of variety). regardless, i find it a bit strange that dinky markets herself as a dj primarily, when her stronger suit is definitely her productions. she has done some really great stuff on her own horizontal label, and i'm very interested to see what the album is like. i think it might have some real gems on it. anyway, i'd be keen to hear others thoughts on her djing. i am not sure why it frustrates me so. most likely because her sets almost always include some really inspired moments. the problem is they are moments. here is a new set from dinky that got me thinking, plus some other ones:

dinky july 2008 mix
dinky RA podcast march 2008
dinky @ club mio, moscow, december 2007

also, dinky has made her mix cd on crosstown rebels from the end of last year available for free download. right when it was released, the distributor went under and her mix never saw the light of day. dinky presents get lost 03

ok, there are some recent examples of her dj'ing. if you want, tell us what you think...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

mnml ssgs mx08: Jasper TX

The latest ssgmx is an ambient collection of gorgeous drones, guitar tones and neo-classical swells courtesy of Swedish artist Dag Rosenqvist, better known to the listening public as Jasper TX.

Rosenqvist’s guitar-based explorations have drawn comparisons to Fennesz and Oren Ambarchi. But while these artists are most definitely touchstones for Rosenqvist, he has developed a style that is distinctly his own, both melancholic and uplifting, swinging between beautiful melodies and warm haunting drones.

A prolific artist who is showing no signs of slowing down, Rosenqvist has released five full-length albums since 2005, with his very latest ‘Black Sleep’ having just been released on the Miasmah label. (A label worth keeping an eye on, by the way.) He also produces more “traditional” indie-rock sounds with his band De La Mancha.

Rosenqvist kindly answered a few of our questions, talking about the mix, his music and the importance of hope.

1. How did you make this mix?

I made it using Pro Tools. Since there are little or no beats to this kind of music I just wanted to get the tracks flowing seamlessly into each other.

2. Why did you choose these particular tracks?

Well first off I wanted to include one of my own tracks, just as a small introduction to what kind of music I make. It might not be 100% representative of my overall sound but I think it’s a sweet little gem of a song. The rest of the tracks are basically divided into two different categories. Songs by artists that I have been inspired by, and songs from artists that might not be that well known. I realize of course that none of these artists are that well known, some of them are just slightly bigger fish in our little pond. I just felt I wanted to introduce you to some of the smaller fish too.

3. Are there any particular emotions or feelings you would like to express with this mix?

I wouldn’t say that there are any particular feelings I want to express. My intention with this mix is rather to shed some light on the kind of music I like. I think a lot of people out there think of this kind of music as kind of depressing and inaccessible. But to me that’s just not the case. To me this is really uplifting, warm, embracing music that makes me feel very good. I want the listener to have an open mind when listening to this music and really give it a chance.

4. Are there any particular emotions or feelings you would like to express with your music as Jasper TX?

Each song is an attempt to express emotions, feelings, dreams, hopes. A lot of my songs start out as snapshots in my mind. What I then do is try and transform these images into music. Always aiming at coming as close to that initial snapshot as possible.

5. I'm curious about the name Jasper TX. Does it have any special meaning?

In 1998 an African American man named James Byrd Jr. was killed in the city of Jasper TX. On June 7, 1998, Byrd, 49, accepted a ride from three men named Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John William King. Instead of taking him home, they beat him up behind a convenience store, chained him by the ankles to their pickup truck, stripped him naked and dragged him for three miles. Although Lawrence Russell Brewer claimed that Byrd's throat had been slashed before he was dragged, forensic evidence suggests that Byrd had been attempting to keep his head up, and an autopsy suggested that Byrd was alive for much of the dragging and died after his right arm and head were severed when his body hit a culvert.

So I decided to take the name Jasper TX for my project, so that we never forget and to remind myself that the world can turn into a horrible place if we don’t try and change it. This is why I try to fill my music with hope. Because the last thing that abandons us is hope. Right?

6. Now that ‘Black Sleep’ has just been released, what are you working on at the moment?

I finished an album a while ago that is set for release early 2009 entitled ‘Singing Stones’. It’ll be released on the Swedish label Fang Bomb. I’m also currently working on a follow up to ‘Black Sleep’. I have two or three finished tracks for that one but as of now I have no idea when or where it will be released. All I know is that it’ll be dark and very, very good. Aside from these releases I have a 3” CD coming on the Norwegian label Fenetre Records this fall and I also have a song on a compilation and a split 7” on the Australian label Sound & Fury. Be sure to check by my Myspace frequently for more info and news.

1. Jasper TX – Better days to come (Lidar Productions)
2. Mountains – Sewn two (Apestaartje)
3. Anthony Burr & Skúli Sverrisson – Except in memory (The Workers Institute)
4. Machinefabriek – Somerset (Lampse)
5. Jóhann Jóhannsson - The Sun's Gone Dim And The Sky's Turned Black (4AD)
6. Cerberus Shoal – Omphalos (Temporary Residence)
7. Tsukimono – Gathering heavy breathing (Kalligrammofon)
8. Wouter van Veldhoven – First simple song (Eat This Media)
9. Eluvium – Everything to come (Temporary Residence)
10. Jacob Kirkegaard – Church (Touch)
11. Erik Enocksson – The lingering procession (Kning Disk)

A few technical notes about downloading the mix:

direct download here

Also, the podcast should (hopefully) be working again, so if you would like to subscribe to the ssg cast please do so here.

Jasper TX’s Myspace site

And, finally, a huge thanks to Dag for providing us with such a beautiful mix … and some hope.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We Were Never Mnml (Inpress Column, July ’08) [Techno: it's just not cricket...]

Melbourne is a very rockist city, in case you haven’t noticed. Oftentimes, my fretting fellow acquaintances of the ‘3000s’ will ask me, at a complete loss, ‘Just what is it about techno that you like?’ Okay, sure. I can understand why rock kids are puzzled by techno. After all, rock has a force and immediacy that has seen it become hugely popular the world over. Without a doubt, a big part of its strength and appeal is its ability to generate powerful recognitions and identifications: listeners know the words, they can sing along, and not only that, the singer is crooning or yowling about something (usually love or lust) that makes fans feel better about themselves. The rhythms are strong and simple, the melodies big and memorable, and if the musicians are any good, then the timbres they generate can be quite interesting. It’s just a shame that, for the most part, there’s been very little stylistic or technological innovation in rock in the past ten years. Don’t believe me? Tune in to JJJ or MMM – it’s still 1995.

It’s also true that, to a person whose ears are finely tuned into all the things that make rock ‘tick’, techno is… arid, to say the least. This is music (if indeed it is music), that has been shorn of almost everything that’s considered ‘musical’ by most traditions. Au revoir my sweet chord progression; farewell my cherished verse/chorus/verse; goodbye my lovely lead singer (and your hairdo and abusive personal life); so long my sweet, phallic props.

There’s nothing of that in techno. Even among other forms of electronic music, there’s not much to cling on to. Trance, at least, has huge melodies, harmonic progressions and roller coaster breakdowns; house, meanwhile, has funky basslines and vocals – when we surrender all this, what are we left with? No human voice, no songs, no hooks, very little melodic development, and almost no audible ‘human’ musicianship. Just endless sets of incessant machine-generated drum patterns cycling for hours at allegro-ish tempos between 125-140 BPM, almost none of which stray far from the basic pattern of four crotchet kicks to the bar interspersed with snares and hats every second or fourth beat. Yes, you’re right, it really is mostly just ‘doof doof doof’. So yeah – just what is it about techno that I like?

Well, I like it for all the features just described: the inhumanity, the aridity, and yes, the repetitiveness. Techno is repetitive, but all rhythm is repetition. And by getting rid of almost everything else, we can get deeper into the deep, incessant joy of the groove – the very same thing that made James Brown squeal and call for his cape. As Berghain’s resident DJ Marcel Dettmann said, all a good techno track has to have is ‘character, soul and a kind of hypnotic, industrial feeling.’ You surrender almost everything else, and in return, you get ‘clarity, deepness and simplicity.’ It’s simple, no mistake. But that’s what’s good about tracks – what’s good about sets, sequences of tracks that go on for hours and hours and hours. Isn’t it repetitive? Doesn’t it get boring? Well, yes and no – maybe to you… what’s good about it is actually very similar to what’s good about test cricket.

A lot of people in Australia – mostly the kind who find techno deadly boring – spend their summers giving their passionate enthusiasm to watching the tests… events which, like techno sets, are considered baffling, boring or even downright stupid by many. Let’s just say you’re a pole-vaulter from Bratislava on holiday in Melbourne over January and you turned on the telly of an afternoon – I’m sure you would wonder what the hell was going on. Why is everyone standing around? Why do they perform the same action over and over and over, where are their poles… and when is ‘it’ going to happen?

What the Slovak with the penchant for bendy staves would be missing is the fundamental enjoyment of test cricket, a pleasure that it shares with techno. A test match, like a good set of techno, is an epic, one that unfolds on a grand scale. On this kind of massive canvas, you have to surrender your desire for instant gratification, in exchange for the thorough and complete ‘testing’ that comes out in the slow unfolding of strengths, movements, flows and impacts. Be patient, keep watching, have a beer, talk to your friend, and slowly but surely, the accumulation of numbers slowly turns into results: things shape up, and gradually this determines the outcome of the match or set. Your enjoyment is only limited by your lack of knowledge of each of the elements, your lack of awareness of the skills with which the person delivers them, and your ignorance of what came before. As when you enter a nightclub at 2am (no mean feat in the 3000s of ’08), turning on the cricket at 2pm every day with the ignorance of a Slovakian pole-vaulter would reveal a spectacle that appears to be always the same – unlike a marriage or an assassination, there’s never one decisive, irreversible moment that changes everything. In a way, ‘it’ never happens. But in another way, this is just because it’s always happening: it’s not about the moment, it’s about the movement. Techno sets, like cricket matches, are a sustained, gradual, accumulative and almost inexhaustible polyrhythmic revelation of a group of enthusiastic, skilled people’s most continued and attuned engagement with their instruments. If you know the rules, the skills, the state of play and the personalities playing it, there are few things more rewarding or entertaining.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

tune in, drop out.

a bit of live blogging action for everyone out there. if you happen to read this now-ish (sunday or monday), i strongly suggest tuning into the bar25 stream. i've been thoroughly enjoying it so far. i have no idea who is dj'ing but the music is good and that's enough for me as i sit in my office on a sunday afternoon trying/failing to work. i would record the stream, but i can't be bothered and my work computer is crap. so tune in or miss out. click *here* to start the fun.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

again. berghain. again.

i'm hoping to do a longer post in the next few days on some thoughts i've had coming out of philip sherburne's (or sherbs, as we have titled him) worthwhile piece at pitchfork, but that'll have to wait until i get a bit more time. for now, just a couple more sets from two of our favourite berghainers. the nodge set is brilliant. i think we will be seeing a lot more of him in the coming years. presents norman nodge, podcast # 12 /2008/
1. Martyn – Vancouver -3024
2. Shed – Another Wedged Chicken -Ostgut
3. Substance – Relish (Shed Remix) – Scion Versions
4. Mossa – Body Selector -Complot
5. Kevin Gorman – SevenEightNine (Marcel Dettmann Remix) - Mikrowave
6. Function- Disaffected – Sandwell District
7. Technose District – Untitled – Technose District
8. Octave One – The Neutral Zone – 430 West
9. Phase – Morodem (HTS Mix) - Token
10. Arthur Oskan – Flashback - Matrix
11. UR – The Final Frontier – Underground Resistance
12. Tsui Baalbek – Slim - Grade
13. Silvershower – Ice Fractions I – Plus 8
14. Van Rivers – Spaces II - Stockholm
15. Alex Cortex – Reticarga Pt. 4 - Klang
16. Regis – S/He 1 – Downwards
17. Hrdvision – Playing For Keeps – Wagon Repair
18. Petar Dundov – Oasis – Music Man
19. Donato Dozzy & Nuel – Untitled – Aquaplano

and two more, these ones are live recordings from the klock rocker, one old, one new:
ben klock at pulp mansion berlin 20.01.2007
ben klock @ ALRT eindhoven 05.17.2008

enjoy. more soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

digging deep

i was in the mood for some tobias yesterday (whom, by the way, i'm tipping to be producer of 2008, but we'll leave that debate for another day), and headed over to pacotek's website to download again this livepa of tobias' from may last year. while i was there, i did a bit of digging and came across a 20 minute recording simply entitled 'live act'. having listened to it, my guess is that it is part of the livepa prosumer, murat tepeli and elif did at pacotek in february. *check it*

as for other sets i've been digging, i've been reminded that mnml ssgs isn't the only blog providing some quality mixes. at LWE nick höppner has put together some lovely sounds, breaks sl has done the same for the frenchies at boing poum tchak! and not to be outdone, random circuits goes deep and dark with samuli kemppi.

what else? two from producers i am not completely sold on, but they come up with the goods here. par grindvik delivered a pretty serious set at awakenings, while guido schneider has proved to me that his dj sets are not nearly as dry as his productions. i am really, really digging the guido set. great flow and energy.

also, for those who like afterhours fun, remember to tune in and drop out at bar25, which has livestreams for all their parties. i've been enjoying the streams on sunday and monday over the last few weeks and the lineup for this coming sunday looks enticing, with both of the mountain people being amongst the djs spinning.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

mnml ssgs mx07: Jackmate (Philpot, Phil e)

Well, it never rains it pours. Hot on the heels of the SSGs' last two mixes (both fantastic) comes another doozy, this time care of Michel Baumann. Baumann is perhaps best known as Jackmate and Soulphiction, but also works as Supatone and is a member of the League Of Ordinary Gentlemen and Manmade Science. Oh, and he runs Philpot and Phil e. A busy lad. I first got hooked on Baumann's sound with his Soulphiction track 'Phake and Phoney', which appeared on a compilation of minimal house called Inhouse Volume 1 - Modern House Sounds From Deepest Germany. After that, it was his Jackmate track 'Ghetto of My Mind' – sampling Gil Scott Heron – that won me over. But more than anything, it's been Baumann's recent tracks that have been mindblowing, and whether it's sonorous Detroit-y house, slamming, rolling minimal techno or atmospheric, finely-crafted tech-house, Baumann's productions manage to be both reverential toward their influences and full of their own character, detail and life – they're classic and personal. A mantra of mine in all things work-related is this: 'Attend to your work with passion and care.' All of Baumann's work contains a similar ethic – he gives a fuck, and it shows in everything he does, whether its the crafting of beats, the development of one of the best catalogues of any label, or DJing. As for this particular mix, what we have here is... one of the best sets I've heard all year (okay, I'm not disinterested but all the same), one that effortlessly, intricately weaves together European and American sounds and styles, old and new. Some of my favourite tracks are here: Sensorama's evergreen 'Harz' (which is thirteen years old and still sounds fresh), Isolée's great remix of Lawrence, and the everdark beauty of Aphex Twin's ambient imagination. This is everything good DJing should be: intelligent and historically-engaged track selection, deft programming, and mixes that show the inter-sympathies of each tracks as well as revealing something new about both in the slide of the fader. Lad(d)ies, you're in for a real treat. Nuff preamble – here it is.

1. rod modell - aloeswood
2. sensorama - harz
3. claro intelecto - gone to the dogs
4. robert hood -
5. dave angel - tokyo stealth fighter (carl craig remix)
6. dennis ferrer - buzz beatz
7. patrick russell - love spray
8. lawrence - titel 3 (isolee Remix)
9. burial - night train
10. martyn - vancouver
11. yennek - without house
12. patrice scott - visions of mantada
13. md3 - face the nation
14. dp 6 - hungry look
15. jackmate - earthtones dub
16. quince - for my mr.
17. ur - amazon
18. osunlade - my reflection (deetron mix)
19. dop - i..m just a man
20. dj koze - i want to sleep
21. aphex twin - slaw2

direct dl

shareonall dl

more infos about jackmate at his myspace

Friday, July 11, 2008

SSGs are givin' you High Fives

A note/disclaimer before we begin: we individually compiled our lists without any cross-consultation. All the lists therefore represent our idiosyncratic tastes... and this goes for the layout. Okay, here goes – SSGs' top 5 albums for 2008 so far:

PC's take:

I think this year's been an interesting one so far. We've seen a lot of high-quality material; several perfectly-executed simulacra of classic styles; a whole lot of forgettable Abletonised drivel; and some other works that defy easy categorisation, or even cognition. It's the last bunch that have really moved me. These are the works that nothing could have prepared you for – the albums that 'fell to earth'. So my top five is as follows:

1) Move D and Benjamin Brunn – Songs from the Beehive

I've already reviewed this puppy for RA. A lot of (ahem) people didn't like my high-falutin' language and overly-intricated descriptions. Who could blame them? ...Me! No, 'but seriously', this was an album that sent me into all kinds of rhapsodies. It's one of those great works I try to foist on people, including my classical and jazz friends who 'don't get' electronic music. I bought a new pair of speakers the other day (Dynaudio Audience 42s to replace my aged KEFs) and after I forked over the money, they let me upstairs to the 'silly room' where the dreams of middle-aged middle-class men come true. I listened to D/Brunn's 'Radar' on a 20,000 system... wow. I think the guy in the shop was bored by the slowly developing track, but for me this is just a superb piece of music, and on the ridiculously expensive speakers, it was like getting licked, hearing liquid, and having goosebumps all at the same time.

2) Matmos – Supreme Balloon

Everything is analysis, process and rule-governed 'projects' to Matmos, which can be incredibly stifling. But as a research student, I can kinda dig it. This album is supposed to be them 'letting go'... except that it's still totally rule-governed: it's *all* made with vintage synths. As such, there's a lot of Raymond Scott here, a lot of Peter Thomas, a lot of Tangerine Dream... maybe a touch of Vangelis? Then a healthy dash of Switched on Bach and so forth... Man, it's just amazing how cool all this vintage gear sounds, and it's so easy on the ear! Much nicer to listen to than so much of the compressed-to-shit, clean melodic tech-house that's about (which I like too, but it wears me out and can be very mono and dull). This project would be just a folly (tra la la), but then there's the title track. FUCK ME. This is easily one of the coolest compositions I've heard all year. Can't stop playing it.

3) Kangding Ray – Automne Fold

Ray (or just Kangding to his mates) is fantastic: imagine monolake learned how to write songs – imagine Apparat learnt the beauty of restraint. This album manages to be 'high-concept digital minimalism' as you'd expect from Raster-Noton, but it's also warm, soothing, and 'well played'. Took it home from the pub the other night on the headphones, and (with the help of maudlin-ising liquor) I got all teary listening to this. It's bleak, it's dark, but it's also fragile and warm and expresses a lot of vulnerability. Turns out his last one's just as good, too, if you can't get enough.

4) Kelley Polar – I Need You to Hold on While the Sky is Falling

KP is just so hyper-melodic. Virtuosity often leads to dubious music (BT, Steve Vai), because quite often (usually? always?) taste and style is more important for expression than technique. It's true – think about people who 'can't sing' like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. Would you rather listen to them, or a 'technically gifted' nightmare who looks like a trussed-up whippet in a cocktail dress... you know who...
These are great songs, and actually far more new wave and less disco than they appear. My ipod kept on bringing on John Foxx after Polar (who understands the logic of the pod's 'random' function?) and, aesthetics aside, there was a lot in common. But that's not the main thing, which is the incredible colours of the melodies, and the way they lift you. Listening is like the aftermath of good loving – you'll be humming all afternoon.

5) Jacaszek – Treny

Nothing's better than this one for a sadsack, cold afternoon watching the grey clouds drift by. Very Murcof-y – and if you dig Max Richter, Rune, Colleen, or any other such tones and timbres, you're likely to be as enchanted by this as I was.

Runners up? Lots, and many of these didn't make the cut simply because although I enjoyed them immensely, they lacked originality and/or were simply collections of previously released EPs. And with the Four Tet, the disqualification is on a technicality: it's an EP.

Syclops – I've Got My Eye On You
The Mole – As High as the Sky
Osborne – Osborne
Prosumer & Murat Tepeli – Serenity
Four Tet – Ringer

There have also been some outstanding EPs, mixes and recent promos/leaks, but we'll have to save them for another time. Okay, over to Dave.

Dave: Thus far 2008 has been an excellent year for albums. Probably the best for the last 2-3 years. However, it's been the non-techno albums which have fared best. Therefore many of the albums on this list are of a non-techno nature.

1. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing

I've often felt that the glitchier side of mnml sounds like musicians making accidental noise. However, Fuck Buttons sounds like noise artists making accidental music. Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung started out as straight up noise artists who specialised in brutal live performances but as they moved into a studio environment rhythm, melody and even traces of song structure started to enter into the mix. The end result is an album which takes elements of drone, ambient, techno, psychedelia, shoegaze and noise. It's probably the most original sounding album i've heard since Mu's "Afro Finger and Gel" and a great example of how a different approach to music can yield fresh ideas.

2. Rhys Chatham - Guitar Trio Is My Life!

While I found the recent detroit debate rather interesting, it wasn't something i contributed in as i find it pretty much impossible to classify what techno is. Also, i'm pretty sure whatever my classification is wouldn't be shared by many others. I believe Radiohead's "Kid A" is a techno album as is PiL's "Metal Box" and Pansonic's "Kesto" To me techno is more about philosophy than just sound. It's about taking minimal mechanical structures and electronic tones and creating something falsely human from them. So this is probably why i think this is the best techno album of the year so far. Rhys' guitar trio project involves a drummer, a bassist and several guitarists who are instructed to play the same chords/rhythms for a set period of time with an initial buildup followed by a breakdown then one final wall-of-guitar onslaught. Spread over 3 hours is 10 performances of the same song only with different players who are each allowed to add their own subtle styles to the mix. So each performance takes it's own shape with the guitars combining into different amplified shapes and textures. Despite the minimal approach and strict limitations in structure, and sounds Guitar Trio Is My Life manages to be highly engaging and expressive over 3 hours. It's like the guitars take on their own personality and i get the same "falsely human" feel i'd get from traditional techno. Oh yeah and it rocks too.

3. Move D and Benjamin Brunn - Songs From The Beehive

Everyone has labels or sounds that they struggle with getting into. Dial has always been a label i've wanted to like but just can't get into. It always sounded nice enough and I know it's skillfully produced but it always left me cold. However, i find Move D and Benjamin Brunn's added analogue warmth and squelches really engaging. As Pete said in his RA review, Songs From The Beehive is able to transport you to another place. It's a feeling i haven't had so intensely from a techno album since Wearemonster.

4. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

So this is an album that takes New Order-esque pop and adds elements of electro house, indie and 90s techno-pop. This has been attempted so many times before and before In Ghost Colours i honestly didn't think it would be possible to pull this off so well. So where exactly does Cut Copy work where so many have failed in the past? Simply because of some excellent song writing and the midas touch of DFA's Tim Goldsworthy. This is a superbly crafted pop album which is well paced, cohesive and full of catchy hooks. What more could you want from a pop album?

5. Paavoharju - Laulu laakson kukista

I've always loved Finnish Phych-folk but only in small doses as it was a little to abstract. But for their latest album Paavoharju have inserted bursts of pop amongst their psychedelia. The album sounds like an old dusty mix tape with moments of staticy folk interspersing moments of europop, straight up fold and piano ballads. With such a wide range of sounds squeezed into a 35 minute album Laulu Laakson Kukista really should sound like a mess but it sounds anything but.

it really was hard to keep this list down to just 5 so here's another 10 that missed the cut:

Kangding Ray - Automne Fold
Raster Notion micro-glitch with an infusion of pop

Times New Viking - Rip It Off
Noisy lo-fi art punk with great energy and hooks.

Soulphiction - Do You Overstand
Beautifully executed soulful house music from Jackmate

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Dig Lazarus Dig
Cave strips back his sound and comes up with his best work in years

Syclops - I've Got My Eye On You
Maurice Fulton doing his thing with predictably awesome results

Maju - Maju-5
5th in the excellent series of ambient soundscapes from this Japanese collective

Growling - Lateral
Largely guitar driven ambient drone

Hercules & Love Affair - S/T
Yes it's not as consistent as i first thought but still a great disco-pop album regardless

Portishead - Third
The fact Portishead was able to reinvent themselves so effectively after such a long absence is probably the most pleasant surprise of 08 so far

Yellow Swans - At All Ends
Doom metal meets dark ambient drone in all its sinister glory

Cam's take:

1. Jacaszek: Treny (Miasmah)

On ‘Treny’ Polish artist Michał Jacaszek deftly blends classical elements with electronic manipulations, crafting 11 pieces of hauntingly beautiful melancholia. There’s a touch of gothic here, with operatic female vocals gently floating through the tracks that are slightly reminiscent of Dead Can Dance. There’s a hint of Murcof too, with subtle micro-edits and subterranean sounding bloops appearing here and there. A layer of gauze is thrown over the album, with crackles, static and hiss evoking hazy feelings of nostalgia for times long past. The atmosphere is funereal, but unlike some artists on the Miasmah label Jacaszek refrains from taking proceedings into areas of unease and dread, and actually turns up the lights (slightly) for the album’s final track. With every track locking together perfectly to create a fully realized vision, Jacaszek has produced not only the best neo-classical release of 2008 (so far), but also one of the best I’ve heard in the past few years. This is nothing short of brilliant.

You can listen to the first three tracks of the album over at Jacaszek’s Myspace page, and you can see an excerpt from a live performance here.

2. Move D & Benjamin Brunn: Songs From The Beehive (Smallville)

With Pete’s rather excellent review for RA perfectly capturing the feel of Move D and Benjamin Brunn’s second full-length collaboration, I’m not sure I can add anything more. But I’ll give it the old ssgs try.

For me, the pleasure of ‘Songs From The Beehive’ comes from enjoying the ebb and flow of the tracks as they take their (ahem) sweet time in gradually unfolding, tracing lazy circles as they do so. This is particularly true with the album’s four longer tracks, with the shortest of these almost 12 minutes long and the longest clocking in at just over 20. Despite their length, the tracks are not “epic” or “huge” in feel; instead, with the palette of soft, smoothly flowing sounds that D & B employ, the tracks are gentle and comforting, washing warm waves of aural honey over the listener. Yet as Pete pointed out in his review, there’s groove here too, which is essential for sharpening the tracks (ever so slightly), giving them structure and drive. The result is one of the most sublime albums of the year so far … I cannot recommend this highly enough.

You can preview the tracks over at Smalleville’s Myspace (you’ll need to scroll down a bit to the “whatpeopleplayer”). And massive props to Smalleville for securing such an amazing album for the label’s first full-length release.

3. Kangding Ray: Automne Fold (raster-noton)

For those who’ve come to know and love (or perhaps loathe) raster-noton’s experimental/digital aesthetic, Berlin-based artist David Letellier’s second album for the label as Kangding Ray is something of a surprise. Melodies. Vocals. Organic instrumentation such as violins and a detuned piano. Song structures. A lyric sheet in the CD. Hang on – this is a raster-noton release, right?

Indeed it is. Letellier combines these elements with many of the hallmarks of the label’s sound, as he deploys crisp digital beats, higher-end frequencies and rhythmic bursts of hiss and static to create an album that feels very clean and pristine, yet also very warm and organic. It’s this contrast that makes ‘Autumne Fold’ such a fascinating album, and the way in which Letellier so perfectly marries these seemingly opposing sounds is amazing.

Of course, the raster-noton label has seen melodies and organic instruments before, most notably on Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s absolutely brilliant collaborations. Yet the extreme restraint and austerity of those albums made them difficult for some listeners to approach. With ‘Autumne Fold’ Letellier has crafted an album that is both extremely interesting and extremely accessible. Amazing stuff, and another feather in the cap for raster-noton.

You can listen to five tracks from the album over at Kangding Ray’s Myspace, and check out more sound samples at his website.

4. The Mole: As High As The Sky (Wagon Repair)

Ladies and gentlemen, The Mole hereby presents the feelgood summer album of 2008. Incredibly fun, funky and infectious ‘As High As The Sky’ is packed full of highly danceable disco/house tracks that are positively loopy. Yes, I am indeed making a groan-worthy pun here, because one of the great joys of the album is its many loops that spin around and around and around. I know that sounds rather simple, but as with many things that seem simple (there’s actually a lot going on under the hood in these tracks), that’s why it works. As Hot Chip once sang, “Over and over and over and over and over … the joy of repetition really is in you.”

You can listen to some samples here. Also, please note that while the above Discogs entry I linked to is for the double vinyl, there is indeed a CD version of ‘As High As The Sky’ with 11 tracks including an edit of ‘Baby You’re The One’. (The CD version hasn’t been listed on Discogs yet.)

5. Peter Broderick: Float (Type Records)

I was starting to worry a little about Type Records; after releasing some amazing albums in 2006 and 2007 they had fallen silent. Thankfully, the label has finally come out of hibernation with Peter Broderick’s debut full-length ‘Float’, a lovely neo-classical album. The album’s ten tracks are built around piano, augmented by strings and other instruments (including a theremin and a banjo, both used to great effect). The arrangements are simple and uncluttered, allowing the instruments and the sweet yet melancholic melodies to come through loud and clear. However, there are some subtle treatments applied to some of the tracks, and there is a highly effective use of field recordings (which in the case of the album’s centerpiece ‘Stopping On The Broadway Bridge’ reminds me slightly of Rachels). At the tender age of 21, Broderick will no doubt be someone to keep an eye on in the neo-classical scene over the coming years.

You can hear two tracks from the album, along with some other tracks, at Broderick’s Myspace.

And the runners up:

Christopher Bissonnette: In Between Words
I’m not as enamored with ‘In Between Words’ as when I first heard it, mainly because while the six tracks are all excellent, they don’t fit together to create a cohesive whole. That said, the final two tracks are especially worth checking out.

Philip Jeck: Sand
Avant turntablist Jeck takes dusty and discarded pieces of vinyl and transforms them into engrossing soundscapes. Some may find the sudden bursts of noise off-putting, though.

Alva Noto: Unitxt
The most rhythmic Alva Noto release in a while. Yes, you can dance to it. Kinda.

Paavoharju: Laula Laakson Kukista
Wonderfully weird Finnish folk/pop with lovely orchestral interludes, all coated in a misty haze.

back to PC:
That's all from us listwise, but stay tuned for my mouthpiece/rantpiece about some recent trendencies. That on Shunday, Shimon.

...and here's the rantpiece/thinkpiece, as promised. NB, this was written mid-June, and since then I've heard a lot of amazing albums. Cheers, PC:

We Were Never Mnml – June 2008

We’re now approaching the year’s half way point, and for me (and a lot of you I guess), it’ a time to sort through piles of papers and send off tax returns, as well as dust, stack and file the massive piles of books, CDs and records that have accumulated over the past six months. June’s a time for reckoning, for straightening, and for reorganising, so given that I’m doing a bit of summing up, looking back and re-focussing, I thought I might give some time to going back over a few of the albums that have popped up on our mutual radars since January, reassess their merits, and up or downgrade them, depending on how they’ve come out in the wash.

Generally, I think you’d have to say that 2008 has been a weak year for electronic albums, so far. A number of the well-received albums so far this year have been re-presentations of old formulas, and very few people have offered anything that’s bold, fresh and totally unexpected. A few of the best in this vein: Syclops’ I've Got My Eye On You, The Mole’s As High as the Sky, Prosumer & Murat Tepeli’s Serenity, Osborne, and Soulphiction’s Do You Overstand?!. Each of these are a great ride and all of them are worth checking for the charming, well-executed interpretations of house music they’re offering. But all the same I wonder: are any of them offering anything truly singular, anything really outstanding? Maurice Fulton’s Syclops album is made fresh by the maestro’s unique production style and recording techniques, his live drum sound and his wild, impressionistic piano playing. Even so, I've Got My Eye On You contains several tracks that were released as early as 2005 – so as great as it is, you can hardly call it a new album of originals. The Mole’s effort is a wonderful piece of long tripping easy listening tech-house with some very well utilised disco samples, but again, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done as well elsewhere many years ago. Serenity, likewise, is great, but here things are even more straight up retro – in fact, the album is more about producing ‘that feeling’ (ie a perfect simulacra of 80s house) than it is about exploring new possibilities. Do You Overstand?! is extremely well put together, but there’s a little too much cribbing of late 90s Detroit house going on – again, like Serenity, it’s a very well made simulacra of the ‘original’, with a wee something extra. Same goes for Osborne too, really, and, like Syclops, most of the best of it was previously released – so it’s a re-packaging of a re-presentation of the classics – a second-order simulacra. To the broad, reflective, and perhaps unanswerable question that considering this provokes: what does this say about where we’re at? What further innovations are possible, given the ‘rules of the genre’? Is it time to break a few of them? Or even abandon them all together?

I’ve mentioned both Luke Solomon’s Difference Engine and Kelley Polar’s I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling at length in this column in previous months as original albums that are doing something new, and while I’m not quite as enthusiastic as I was about them a couple of lunar cycles back, I maintain that both, in their own way, are attempting something original and interesting and are still definitely worth checking out. The same can’t be said for the big over-rated albums of the year: Claro Intelecto’s Metanarrative and Hercules and Love Affair. With the former you could almost feel people straining as hard as possible to like it, like the trick of squinting at a painting in order to try and finally see ‘it’. But is anyone still listening to it now? It sounded nice, but there was actually very little to really grab on to. In fact, I’d even say it’s the dullest thing he’s done, and a big disappointment. And as for Hercules, well, apart from Blind, is any of it really all that? Take that one sublime track out and it’s a three star album, at best. I tried to listen to it all the way through the other day and got so annoyed by the sixth track I had to can it.

In fact, of all the touted albums of 2008 so far, I’ll wager that only Move D and Benjamin Brunn’s Songs for the Beehive will make it into most people’s End of Year lists. Where does that leave us then? Well, either the best albums have yet to drop (a large possibility, given a whole six and half months to go), or we’re this year’s shaping up to be a fairly average crop full of well-made but unadventurous albums, most of which are overwhelmingly looking to the past for their inspiration. ‘From innovator to imitator/from imitator to respirator…’ But, of course, it is only June.

The same can’t be said for EPs though. I feel like it’s been a good crop, and a recent few have been truly exceptional. Alongside the Namlook/Pepe Bradock Subatomic Atoms EP and tobias.’ I can’t Fight the Feeling, The one I think of immediately is Ricky V’s new Vasco EP PT I double for Perlon – and speaking of Perlon, isn’t their consistency – or, as they would say, ‘superlongevity’ – incredible? I’m astonished that they’ve been able to keep the quality this good, without deviating from the label’s fundamental sound, for so damned long. Ricardo’s newie, being the latest of these, is hardly likely to convert ardent doubters, but for me this is real (if subtle) development of RV’s unique sound signature, with more sub-bass, more percussive detail, and a more thorough integration of the melodic elements with the rhythm than in recent ‘dissociative’ times. Most importantly, there’s something surprising about these tracks – you couldn’t listen to the first four bars and predict what’s going to go on for the following three hundred, unlike his Enfants, which was an extremely dull record that few people made could make work in the mix. As far as Vasco goes, the moody beast that is Electronic Water is really outstanding, but the best track on the whole thing is Shackleton’s remix of Moonstar, which straightens the rhythm and introduces a great vocal sample. Without a doubt, Shackleton, along with Peverelist and Appleblim, are three producers who are pushing something fresh, new and exciting, and their productive association with the minimal/house/techno spectrum is a welcome direction. Here’s to more of that in the coming months.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

i have been set up.

ok, well i haven't been set up. but i have been busy. no time for proper explanations, but these are some sounds i've been digging lately:

tinman live. the ever-reliable peeps at hardwax tell us: "long acidic trippin’ retro tracks - TIP!"

more on the old school tip, an amazing old school mix based around the classic X-mix series. a seriously impressive mix this one.
red kite presents 10 years without X-mix

and a reminder of what richie sounded like when he still cared. this mix is so good. what happened? lets not start that again.
richie hawtin @ breezeblock 12.6.98

for those of you who loved the luke hess ssg mix, he is another great mix from the man.
luke hess @ radio grenouille 2007

another ssg favourite, this klock knows the time.
ben klock - bodytonic podcast 17 (24-06-2008)

who is adriaan vankeerbergen? he likes ben klock. we like him. and he has put together a really nice mix of dubbed out deep techno.
adriaan vankeerbergen - elevation mix

and last two treats i came across today:
first up, plenty of good records and a nice vibe throughout this mix. tastes good.
sweet'n'candy @ PB afterhours 6.7.2008

second, new sounds from the one man production machine. keep 'em coming. go deep.
mikael stavostrand @ kontrol 5.7.08


Monday, July 7, 2008

mnml ssgs mx06: mike parker

ok, sorry for the radio silence peeps. but what better way to make up for it than a new ssg mix. the latest installment is from mike parker. to be honest, we came across mike's work reasonably recently. we noticed a common theme in quite a few sets from donato dozzy and cio d'or - the best moments in these mixes were coming from records by mike parker. after a ssg reader noted that parker is a bomb dj, we decided he was definitely worth approaching for a mix. and luckily he agreed. the result is exactly what we hoped/expected: deep, dark and hypnotic. this mix is very reminiscent of steve bicknell's lost/cosmic soundscapes. unique and special music that very few are capable of producing and providing. so grab this mix and get lost...

mnml ssgs mx06: mike parker

1. Mike Parker / Substratum (Foundation Mix)
2. Lustmord / Heresy Part I
3. Steve Bicknell / How Can We Know? (A2)
4. Sleeparchive / Meson
5. Apathism / Ten
6. The Source Experience / Universal Energy
7. Paul Horn / Vibrations
8. Stanislav Tolkachev / Rudiment 4
9. Samuli Kemppi / Neliöavaruus
10. Solieb / Plastic Facility
11. Steve Bicknell / Spirit (A2)
12. Emptyset / Isokon
13. Sub Space / The Voyager
14. Unexplained Transmissions / Airlock
15. Donato Dozzy & Nuel / Aguaplano 000 (B2)
16. Jack Dangers / Burbidge Chain
17. Damon Wild / Travel
18. Jeff Mills / Intruder Alert
19. Jack Dangers / Pinwheel Galaxy

big thanks to mike for taking the time to contribute to our series. for more info about mike, check his homepage and myspace.