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20.12.04


best of 2004:

1.) michael mayer / fabric 13 / fabric
listen: heiko voss / i think about you
listen: richard davis / bring me closer
listen: m83 and benoit villeneuve / run into flowers

2.) loscil / first narrows / kranky
listen: sickbay
listen: emma



3) deadbeat / something borrowed, something blue / ~scape



3.12.04


Tunes Have Become The Big Priority For Swayzak
by martin turenne



30.11.04


over-looked ablums of 2004:
*credit to a friend
reviews courtesy of www.boomkat.com

ricardo villalobos / the au harem d'archimede / perlon

Yes, Villalobos is back! Following on from what must surely count as one of the largest and most highly regarded House albums of the last few years (the supremely sexy Alcachofa), Ricardo is back with another mighty collection, this time for the foremost purveyors of minimal cool – Perlon. “The Au Harem D’Archimede” is another epic succession of long tracks and divine instrumentation – Villalobos manages to make his percussion sound complex and terrifyingly funky at the same time, while the melodic arrangements are often brooding (Murcof-esque harp cascades grace the haunting “Hireklon). Villalobos is a master of the slow build up, taking you from looped malfunctioning machinery to twilight loveliness without you really noticing how you got there. Album closer “True to Myself”, meanwhile, throws caution to the wind and heads for the minimal disco with some unhinged vocals thrown in for good measure – like a tanked up Theo Parrish. Magnificent.

robag wruhme/ wuzzelbud kk / musik krause

From the plethora of artists, labels and parties associated with Cologne's mighty Kompakt crew one can safely say that Musik Krause and the hugely talented Robag Wruhme have been the most consistantly evolutionary and enjoyable operators of the bunch. Mr Wruhme has crept up in our estimation with every 12” issued by the label, from the ace ‘Backcatalog’ to the bumping ‘Kopfniker’ ep and recently to the jacking tech house of ‘Polytik’‚ each 12" has delivered top quality tracks with a twist and has served to expand an ever growing fanbase spanning the spectrum from diehard Fabric practicioners through to Giles Peterson's massively influential playlist. "Wuzzelbud KK" sees Robag joyously tweaking and perfecting his glittering blend of microscopic house chops, jazzed-up vibes and late night airy beachside lullabies. He manages with a wink to equip a whole sound, a unique, forceful, tech-minimal-house with substantial bass, twists, tension, longing, felt all over and throughout your body. If you like your chopped-up house innovative, involving and advanced, at times diving into sun-drenched climes, at others even lending some deep Aphex melodies for inspiration, look no further. Awesome.

frivolous / somewhere in the suburbs / karloff

A compilation of the two Karloff 12”s plus a couple of bonus cuts are available for the first time on cd. It’s easy to see why Karloff issued this cd as it flows brilliantly, showing off of the varied talents of Daniel Gardner under his Frivolous moniker, from the cut up 80’s tracks on ‘Born Out Of Beta’ which uses a speeded up early hip house accapella and mashes the beats, drops vocoders and other vocal samples for a quirky early house mash up, to the ace deep cut, ‘All The Comforts of Home’ that hits the more left of centre with its deep groove and almost operatic vocal samples that mix with the subtle drums and club led edits. The bonus cuts are excellent, ‘Fredrick Cokanose’ skims the spectrum of dance music with abandon, from stripped acoustic guitar samples to rough ass 2 step bass and drums, with all manner of electro house and techno sounds and influences in, a little schizophrenic, but in the best mash up way. ‘Every Day Of My Life’ hits a deeper note with lush chords following a superb jazz double bass line that’s almost freestyle under the minimal house beats and lush noises. Unique and challenging material from Frivolous, well worth a check.

new:

styrofoam / nothing's lost / morr

Belgium producer, songwriter Arne Van Petegem, aka Styrofoam has done it again with his latest release Nothing's Lost. Styrofoam caters to the electronic heads with crunchy pops and textures while still giving the indie lovers their melodic soothing sprays of warmth. This could be Styrofoam's best album to date especially when it comes to his collaborations with Death Cab for Cutie's artist Ben Gibbard, Lali puna's vocalist Valerie Terebljahr and Notwist's Markus Acher. This album is dynamic and layered in ways that keeps you craving more.
listen: misguided
listen: couches in alleys
listen: ticket out of town





17.11.04


dominik eulberg / flora & fauna / traum



Flora and Fauna, Dominik Eulberg's new album on Traum, is full of deep throbbing tracks peppered with all kinds of familiar sampled sounds (a shutter clicking, water drop, etc.), but the samples are not in the Matmos/Herbert, found-sound style. Some are found sounds digitized with effects, and some are digital versions of familiar sounds (a door closing, an echoing snare crack). Though the sampled bits and subtle deepness of the tracks set it apart immediately, it's the unique tweaking and placement of each sound that push the album into the "special" category. Finally, another new techno artist has emerged with a signature style.

Though the album is deep, there is a subtle hint of hardness (i.e. propulsion). Speed and softness combine with a feeling of depth that sounds as though all the sounds were encased in a glass container, or more likely, as if they were recorded outdoors amongst the Flora and Fauna.

Do you remember Marcus Guentner's last album? The general depth of the tracks is similar to that but a little less "minimal" and altogether more complex. On top of that, add a bit of genuine German acid funk with new not retro sounds and you have a refreshingly good and unique techno album.
listen: brenzlich, brenzlich' dachte der feuersalamander
listen: das roehren der rotwildbrunft



10.11.04


ada / blondie / areal

Ada, aka M. Dippel, has released her debut LP Blondie on the up-and-coming Areal label. Besides releasing 12-inch tracks on Areal, Ada's "Blindhouse" appeared on Triple R's Friends mix. (A remixed vocal version is featured on Blondie.) Areal has been making waves as a new label offering clubby yet poppy and abstract tracks with Ada being one of their standout artists. Her album is a nice surprise, offering more than a few potential (abstract) club hits.

While so much techno released this year prior to Fall 2004 has been just more cookie-cutter set-fillers, Ada has managed to make a listenable album, with a variety of danceable tracks (i.e., she's not just obsessed with one type of beat/melody or track style). It's saying a lot, and may sound like an exaggeration, but she comes across very much like a mix between Ellen Allien and Michael Mayer: deep and emotive, with a pop sensibility that has a nice rockin' feel with well-placed female vocals, and without trying too hard. Some of the tracks have a groovin' German club disco feel, some are poppy and bouncy like Bpitch stuff but with a softer, deeper feeling.

Though I don't guess that this album was painstakingly produced (many sounds/parts on this album sound very 'familiar', either directly sampled or otherwise borrowed), no matter what (I personally don't care, I just dig the tracks), Ada's tracks still stand out for using these sounds in very unique ways and in unique arrangements. (Which should serve as a point of advice to the Techno Producer Boy's Club out there: It's not about being Mr. Glitchiest-of-the-year. It's more about showing that you have an 'ear' connected to your heart with whatever means you have at your disposal -- which is what Ada ends up doing.) At the end of the day, seven out of 10 tracks on this album would get me on the dancefloor, and for different reasons. Altogether this is a solid album. You'll hear a lot of this one while out this fall.      
listen: cool my fire (i'm burning)
listen: eve

khonnor / handwriting / type

Khonnor's Handwriting is the work of 17-year-old wunderkind Connor Kirby-Long who created this record in his bedroom with an old PC from the '80s, a free microphone that he acquired from a Spanish tutorial, and one single computer speaker. Khonnor takes his cues from shoegaze-era Creation records (especially Slowdive), Fennesz's Endless Summer and the Morr Music roster, and what he has created is unlike anything else around right now. A song will have a traditional start and then all of the sudden it is bombarded with beautiful digital noise (ala Fennesz). From there it will twist and turn into an acoustic ballad reminiscent of Bright Eyes' finest material, only seconds later to morph into a beautiful shoegaze anthem...and yes, it all works. Handwriting is an incredible debut and one that will introduce this emerging talent to the world -- and I say emerging because he is only 17.

Khonnor's lyrics are that of lost love, longing, confusion about the world, and everything else in between. At times they are quite naive but I have to say that it is definitely part of the charm. This album is a treasure filled with lush beautiful sounds and rich textures that will appeal to anyone that is a fan of the aforementioned artists, and music that wears its heart on its sleeve. Gorgeous!
listen: daylight and delight
listen: a little secret




5.11.04


triola / triola im fünftonraum / kompakt

Triola is the one and only Jorg Burger, the man from Cologne who records under almost as many aliases as Wolfgang Voigt. You may have just heard of a few of them; does the Modernist, Bionaut, Autobianchi, Burger/Ink, ring any bells?? Yes, Jorg Burger is all of them and more, and now he has recorded one of the most brilliant records that Kompakt has ever released. Triola Im Fünftonraum is right up there with Dettinger's two full-lengths. It is that good, and takes us back to the classic days of Kompakt, before Schaffel, before Pop Ambient, when a techno record was filled with all of the elements that I love in electronic music. Downtempo beats collide with lush synths and the tracks build slowly with some of the most gorgeous melodies I have heard in some time until they climax and everything drops, fades and the next track does exactly the same thing -- it totally blows you away. This album is fantastic, and definitely one of Kompakt's finest hours.
listen: neuland
listen: wanderlust

various artists / but then again / ~scape



Well, right off the bat, the first thing I noticed was that this album sounds AMAZING. The tracks feature ultra-dynamic sound positioning and pin-point melodies that linger so far from the speakers that it resembles the effect of someone behind you beatmatching his ringtone to your stereo. (Check the last section of Cappablack's "5th Dimension" with its Brigitte Fontaine loop.)

While previous ~scape releases focused on dub, glitch-hop and, minimal soul, "But Then Again" displays a wide yet focused sense of variety that shows the label successfully branching out while still remaining true to its minimal, textural, high fidelity aesthetic. The melodies are more pronounced but without just being one-finger, 'naive' melodies. They remain somewhat 'serios' and complex, sitting in some less-explored space between dancetracks and ambient tracks. (Check John Tejada's "And Many More," Jelinek's "Western Mimickry" and J. Burger's "Neuland".) Some tracks touch on the indie/melodic electronica leanings of Morr Music, Karaoke Kalk and maybe even Intr. Version (Headset and Soulo, Epo etc.), but again, without ever becoming too obvious or 'cute.' Bravo to Stefan Betke and all the artists involved and happy fifth year anniversary! Recommended.

andrew pekler / nocturnes, false dawns and breakdowns / ~scape

Former member of Sad Rockets and Bergheim 34, and current Heidelberg, German resident (by way of California), Andrew Pekler began recording on his own in early-2000. Nocturnes, False Dawns and Breakdowns continues where 2002's Station to Station left off, exploring the possibilities of combining programmed digital-scapes with acoustic improvisation. Precise shifting tones of delicate electronic textures combine with bleeps and pulses coming in, seemingly from all directions, while multiple layers of dense and diverse percussion and vibes work with and against each other to create a sonically rich tapestry of sound. Recalling everything from the electro acoustic funk of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Sun Ra to the spacial dub/jazz explorations of Burnt Friedman, Four Tet, Tortoise, Cinematic Orchestra and As One. The interesting thing is that Nocturnes manages to keep it all together in a way that gives his music a very evenly balanced weight and feel to it, never pushing so far out that it disrupts the overall character of the whole. Recommended.
listen: stardusting
listen: sleepless

soft pink truth / do you want new wave or do you want the soft pink truth / tigerbeat6



With last year's fantastic micro-funk masterpiece Do You Party, Matmos' Drew Daniels showed us that when he wasn't busy sampling the sounds of liposuctions and rat cages, he likes to get down and dirty. For his second solo release as the Soft Pink Truth, Daniels throws us another curve ball transforming old-school American hardcore and British punk songs into techno music. He covers bands like Angry Samoans, Die Kreuzen, Crass and Minor Threat reinterpreting their anarchist classics through house, acid house and booty bass grinders. Features vocal guests like fashion designer Jeremy Scott, Vickie Bennet, Blevin Blectum and Dani Siciliano.
listen: out of step
listen: kitchen



28.10.04


Jacked In
by Martin Turenne
A look into the Vancouver electronic music scene



27.10.04


various artists / speicher cd 2 / kompakt

Michael Mayer is here to demonstrate, once again, his skills of big-room, crowd-pleasing quality control. While Speicher 1 was a bit hard and trance-y for some (well, at first, since so many Kompakt-heads came around to digging it eventually), Speicher CD 2 is the ideal mix of the deep, classic Kompakt-style techno naturally evolving into new hard, double A-side Speicher-style rockers. (With a lot more of what I can only describe as Mayer-style tracks and mixing -- throbbing, smart tracks with new twists on classic ideas and lots of personality...and of course so well placed in a way that resembles an ideal live set.)

As a CD it sits somewhere between Speicher CD1 and the Mayer Fabric 13 mix. Musically it's starting deep in classic Kompakt-style, going into long rocking tracks with lots of beautiful atmosphere, then ending with some big-room Schaffel jams.
listen: x - michael mayer
listen: kontakt - reinhard voight

stephan mathieu / on tape / hapna

With On Tape (recorded on the occasion of a live performance at Fylkingen, Stockholm in Febuary of 2004), Stephan Mathieu could have very easily done a conventional remix of Tape material using the various filtering and processing techniques that he has become so comfortable with over his extensive back catalog. Instead, this release marks a new direction for Mathieu. Sidestepping his usual approach, On Tape sees him concentrating solely on the editing and layering of the source material. Rather then obscuring the origin, Mathieu uses the unprocessed source material supplied by Tape, saxophonist Magnus Granberg, and along with some of his own percussion, to create a slowly evolving mass of sound. It's a deceptively simple and extremely rewarding approach that hones in on each minute detail breaking each sound and event down to its core before bringing it back into the whole.

Over the course of 30-minutes Mathieu transforms the piece from seemingly incidental sounds to almost ephemeral harmonics and back again without ever seeming too complicated or forced. Beginning with a swell of electronics and gradually adding tiny quiet events and layered saxophone and harmonium loops, the piece illustrates itself through such a natural evolution that the listener becomes less concerned with the overall process and simply focuses on the moment. An exceptionally fulfilling release that may take a little while to sink into, but given the time, will reward tenfold.
listen: on tape




30.9.04


akufen / fabric 17 / fabric

Two years ago, Mark LeClair (aka Akufen) raised the bar for tech house with his funky, micro-sample packed "My Way," a truly classic genre-defining album. Rumor has it that LeClair is getting ready to record its follow-up, meanwhile his DJ contribution for the latest installment of the Fabric club/label mix series will hopefully tie us over until then. Most of the 21 tracks which the Canadian producer selected are by artists that are friends of his, and recorded in just one take, there's a great live DJ set feel to the compilation.

Kicking off with a mash-up between Philippe Cam's "LFO Drive" and the Pantytec re-mix of Matthew Dear's "Dog's Day," Akufen hits the decks running. LeClair is instinctive in his track selection, knowing when to take a small break from the minimal house and interject a little fun, like when he comes out of the Rip-Off-Artist's glitch filled "Little Tiny 1/8" Jack" and into Senor Coconut's cha-cha cover of "Smoke on the Water." Akufen also seems to be drawn to tracks that mirror his own micro-sample aesthetic -- from the stutter beats in Pantytec's "Alabaster" to the super tight edits throughout Crackhaus' "Ample Stacks." But for 73 minutes, he keeps the mix interesting and flowing, with selections from Ultrakurt, Matthew Herbert, Serafin & Luciano, and Horror Inc. (to name a few more) and fittingly sends us off with Steve Beaupre's vocal sample heavy "My Old Lady." Definitely a fun mix and one of Fabric's best installments, although Michael Mayer's Fabric 13 is still number one in my books.
listen: lfo drive" / "dog's day" philippe cam / matthew dear (pantytech remix)
listen: little tiny 1/8 inch jack" / "smoke on the water" rip-off artist / senor coconut

signer / new face of smiling / carpark

For the last two years, many a laptop producer has tried his hand at crossing over into vocal territory. Unfortunately, too many are just album-long essays that could be entitled I Heart My Bloody Valentine. Or even worse, I Heart Two Songs by My Bloody Valentine Way Too Much. Signer's follow up to Low Light Dreams is a successful step into minimal vocal pop that has an actual variety of influences and elements that are used in a sincere and heartfelt way. And unlike some of the crossover attempts I mentioned earlier, Signer's tracks had a songlike quality from the start that always had room for vocals but didn't necessarily need them. Track two, "Hurricane or Sunshine?" has a beautifully deep, Marz / "Chelsea Boys" feel. Track one, "Low Light Sleep" has a neo-electronic Tortoise-with-vocals feel which breezes into a Swirlies' slow dream pop drone. Track three, "I Was Dressed as the Ant..." has a synth filled, electropop (not clash), Kings of Convenience -esque (though more subtle) indie synth pop thing going on.

Another thing: This guy likes his guitars and his synths and his beats equally. The songs on this album alternate all over the place without losing focus -- electronic beats ease into live drums and back seamlessly. Track eight has the slow build of MBV but with a well-placed glitch beat that some 30-something-year-old shoegazers haven't even heard the likes of yet. Well, not like this anyway. It seems Signer also loves My Bloody Valentine, but he actually does his homework and demonstrates his love for you too. Maybe you'll love him back for it. Recommended.
listen: hurricane or sunshine
listen: your ears across the fences
*performs in Toronto Nov. 15 / 2004 @ the Drake



20.9.04


manual and syntak / golden sun / darla

On Golden Sun Manual and Syntaks have created the perfect combination of IDM influenced hip hop, Creation Records-era shoegazing bands, and traditional Middle Eastern music. The album is split into two halves; the first half, titled "Nissarana," relies more on the hip hop sounds of Prefuse 73 and Muslimgauze, while the second half, called "Sundazed," takes cues from shoegazers like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. This album is definitely one of Manual's finest hours and is easily as good as his Morr Music debut Until Tomorrow. This is a must for fans of blissful melodic electronics. Beautiful!
listen: golden sun
listen: inez



15.9.04


fourcolor / air curtain / 12 k

Keiichi Sugimoto has now released 4 albums in half as many years with his groups Minamo and Fonica and on his own as Fourcolor. Water Mirror, out earlier this year, was a gorgeous experiment in guitar processing. His new album Air Curtain, released by Taylor Deupree's 12K label, takes narcotic digital serenity to a whole new level. The fragile, glassy drones remain in full effect and, while there were very subtle rhythmic pulses on the first Fourcolor record, a couple of the tracks on this one build to moments that sound like they could have been produced by a narcoleptic SND. Air Curtain is melodic perfection.
listen: ae
listen: cloud whereabouts

various / morr music japan tour 2004 / morr

What's not to like about unreleased Morr label tracks.
listen: styrofoam (cover of Elliot Smith's "between the bars")

hey & múm / dreams never die (book + cd) / fatcat







25.8.04


b. fleischmann & herbert weixelbaum present duo 505 / late / morr

The interesting pairing of B. Fleischmann and classically trained guitarist Herbert Weixelbaum actually goes back a few years ago to what at first was to be a one-off live performance at a Berlin street festival. The two share a common love/hate for the Roland MC-505, better known as the Groovebox -- a fairly inexpensive workhorse sequencer/arranger that became a staple piece of gear in '90s-era electronic music. In lesser hands, I'd expect lo-fi attempts at crafting modern electronica out of dated sounds and beats; but if a Groovebox is capable of overheating, Fleischmann and Weixelbaum set it on fire.

The two split songwriting duties; in fact, almost every track is one man's musical response to the other. The two wring every ounce of sound from the machine, manipulating many recognizable tones in ways that I never would have imagined to come from the MC-505. Above the industrial-lite beats of "Facing It," robotic sequences chirp around somber synth melodies while the duo drives the Groovebox far past its limitations. And though most of the sound sources may be emanating from a singular device, the material on this album is pretty diverse. "LSDJ08" is super-playful and bouncy while Fleischmann's romantic closer "Disko+Bett" is full of saturated drones and a micro-tech pulse.

Through the years more than a few Groovebox themed records have been released, Late stands-out. Here, Fleischmann and Weixelbaum's tracks are multi-dimensional and at many points, transcend the novelty of the concept.
listen: b. fleischmann & herbert weixelbaum present duo 505 / toru okada
listen: b. fleischmann & herbert weixelbaum present duo 505 / facing it

radian / juxtraposition / thrill jockey

Viennese experimentalists Radian are back with their third proper album, and they've refined their approach without straying too far from their trademark sound. The group seamlessly intertwines buzzing, humming and throbbing ambient electronics with dubby live bass and drums, creating constantly morphing soundscapes that follow their own internal logic. This time the group carefully constructed sizzling electronic beds at their home studio in Vienna, and then took the tracks to John McEntire's Chicago studio to lay down the instruments. Elements of jazz, dub, and laptop electronica bubble to the surface on this ear-tickling headphone experience.
listen: radian / ontario
listen: radian / transistor





13.8.04


Bjork performs "Oceania" during the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.



“I am incredibly honoured to have been asked to write a song and sing it at the Olympics. The song is written from the point of view of the ocean that surrounds all the land and watches over the humans to see how they are doing after millions of years of evolution. It sees no borders, different races or religion which has always been at the core of these games.”

ellen allien / my parade / b-pitch /
out August 16th, 2004



8.8.04


björk / september issue




30.7.04


medulla:

+ collaborators
. beats - Rahzel, Shlomo and Dokaka
. vocals - Björk, Mike Patton, Robert Wyatt, Gregory Purnhagen, Tagaq, Icelandic + London choirs
. songwriters - Björk, Sjón, Olivier Alary, Tagaq, Jórunn Vidar & Jakobína Sigurdardóttir, E.E. Cummings
. programming - Valgeir Sigursson, Mark Bell, Little Miss Specta, Matmos, Jake Davies, Olivier Alary, Björk

+ tracklist
01____________Pleasure Is All Mine
02____________Show Me Forgiveness
03____________Where Is The Line?
04____________Vökuró
05____________Öll Birtan
06____________Who Is It
07____________Oceania
08____________Submarine
09____________Sonnets / Unrealities XI
10____________Desired Constellation
11____________Ancestors
12____________Mouth's Cradle
13____________Mi©£vikudags
14____________Triumph Of A Heart

+ facts
. a limited edition of "Medúlla" will have expanded artwork and a 16-panel poster.
. the Japanese release will feature a bonus track.
. Öll Birtan means 'All the light', Vökuró means 'Vigil'.
. Sonnets / Unrealities XI is based on a poem by E.E. Cummings.
. a special is on the way!



15.7.04


matthew dear / backstroke / spectral

The ultra-prolific Matthew Dear has released a new mini-album just seven months after his fantastic Leave Luck to Heaven; Backstroke picks up where he left off. On the last album there were a few tracks that featured vocals ala the incredible Prince inspired "Dog Days." This mini-album takes what was first started there and raises the bar. Most of the tracks on Backstroke are vocal driven, danceable pop gems that can be played both in the club and in a live setting. The track "Tide" features a funky shuffle beat with Matthew's deadpan vocals singing over the top and it is well worth the price of this album alone...truly amazing! Track 4, entitled "Grut Wall," could be mistaken for a song off of the Junior Boys album; it is a perfect electronic pop song. Matthew ends the record on a high note with the eight-plus-minute house jam "And in the Night," which starts like the perfect tech-house anthem. Then Matthew pulls a 180 and the song transforms into the weirdest pop track of the album with vocals and beats going every which way; it's hard to keep up. Matthew, you have done it again!!
listen: matthew dear / grut wall
listen: matthew dear / and in the night

lali puna / micronomic ep / morr

Lali Puna have released a five-track EP of their single "Micronomic," and it also includes a video of that song. "Micronomic," from the Faking the Books album, has a definite indie rockist feel...laptop (early) Blonde Redhead? Almost. It teeters nicely between having bursts of driving guitars, swelling keyboard drones and worn-out sounding snare hits and having skittering guitar melodies and driving loops. Speaking of teetering, it sounds like they are over standing politely behind their instruments. It's easy to imagine them flailing and thrusting guitars all over the stage. The Boom Bip remix is very nicely constructed of small chapters. Small acoustic loops segue into a slowly rising groove that peaks with a distorted crackly, overdriven sample of the chorus, "Where do you want to go…?" Track 3,"The Daily Match" and track 4, "Alienation" (Alias remix) are a return to Tridecoder form -- introspective, sweet, lilting and melancholic.
listen: lali puna / the daily match



9.7.04


junior boys...

Junior Boys skyrocket in the blogosphere
Last Exit a fab first outing



21.6.04


various / kompakt 100 / kompakt

Kompakt celebrates its 100th compilation by remixing the best classic tracks and making it fucking unbelievable again.
listen: pensum
listen: radeln
listen: zu dicht dran
listen: megamix

murcof / utopia / leaf

In 2002, Fernando Corona's debut as Murcof marked a major stylistic departure from his previous project, and Martes was hailed as a favorite of the year by many electronic music fans. As Terrestre, he had displayed a funky fusion of electronic and traditional music of his homeland, and received acclaim as a part of Tijuana's Nortec Collective. But as Murcof, Corona made a surprising change exchanging booty-shaking Tech-Mex for a more minimal direction merging modern classical and compositional elements with organic, atmospheric electronic soundscapes.

The Leaf label has just released an essential collection of the Mexican producer's more recent Murcof tracks, culling together two magnificent 12" singles -- 2003's "Ulysses" and this year's "Utopia" -- with exclusive new songs and also featuring a varied roster of re-mixers. The almost 76-minute collection begins with a flurry of strings; with its subtle orchestration and slow electronic swells, album opener "Ulysses" could have been part of a dark soundtrack for a Stanley Kubrick film. Later, Helge Sten's Deathprod remix gives the track a deeper, more ominous tone with a spacious wash of sounds, while the Fax rework (first heard on the "Utopia" 12") adds a pulse of clicks and cuts.

Each re-mixer puts their unique stamp to Murcof's organic compositions, from Jan Jelinek's grainy gurgles to Icarus' digital glitches and backwards manipulations of a piano. (Both producers rework the "Maiz" track.) Colleen creates a haunting ambience in "Muim" as the washed-out crescendos of strings and piano are stretched into minimal pulses of sounds that almost seem to breathe, while Sutekh's reworking of "Memoria (also featured on the "Utopia" 12") is an indescribable collage of organic tones and skittering techstep. Of course, the two exclusive Murcof tracks, "Una" and "Ultimatum," prove Corona to be a master of creating cinematic electronica. During the latter, the factory-like churn of electronic beats further magnifies the almost silent spaces between the piano and strings. Quiet and often disquieting, there's plenty of room for your imagination to take hold.
listen: memoria
listen: una



16.6.04


junior boys / last exit / kin



Junior Boys are the next big electronic pop sensation. Jeremy Greenspan's songwriting is heart felt without appearing cliché, his voice is soft/waspy sexy. This is one of the best albums of the year.
listen: junior boys / birthday
listen: junior boys / high come down



14.6.04






13.6.04


fourcolor / water mirror / apestaartje

Keiichi Sugimoto had two great records out in 2003 with his groups Minamo (on Apestaartje) and Fonica (on Tomlab). The majority of his fantastic new solo album as Fourcolor was created using only the guitar as source material. He processes his instrument as if it were going through the phase changes of water, making it virtually unrecognizable as a string instrument. You can practically hear the sounds freezing, slowly melting, then evaporating, and finally condensing back into a liquid state. The compositions develop gradually and take on a gentle, barely perceptible pulse. Like a lot of the best electronic music, it's deceptively simple.

The final track is a twenty-three minute long soundtrack to Jun Miyazaki's award-winning short film Frontire, which screened in competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The piece is more or less in the same vein as the music before it, but it also incorporates heavily-edited field recordings and found sounds to tremendous effect.

Water Mirror is subtle, gorgeous, and hypnotizing. Its warm and resonant tones will fill any room in which it's played. Those of you who are already familiar with Brooklyn's Apestaartje label know that their releases don't disappoint, and this is one of their finest yet. If you liked the latest albums from Fennesz or Mitchell Akiyama, you're going to love Fourcolor. Water Mirror is an absolute necessity for anyone who enjoys minimal electronic music.
listen: thomas fourcolor / dip
listen: fourcolor / stream



26.5.04


thomas brinkmann / tokyo + 1 / max ernst



Another magnificent release from Brinkmann, this time he's exploring the textural urban landscapes of Tokyo + 1...Greece.
listen: thomas brinkmann / mate song
listen: thomas brinkmann / e-bar



16.5.04




13.5.04


hollAnd / i steal and do drugs / teenbeat

After more than three years with no releases, hollAnd is back with a two-disc CD/DVD that is beautiful in both the simplistic yet dynamic way that he approaches both music and video. The DVD, with scenes shot in Iceland, England, and the USA is part music video and part art film. Consisting mostly of shots like a face, horses fighting (or courting?), highway traffic, a single tree, or the ocean with ever so slight digital manipulation, it brings to mind some of the shots from the movie Lost In Translation in the way you feel disconnected but intimately involved in each shot. The music on the other hand is as warm and personal as anything he's ever done. Using simple tones and with a finely tuned sense of melody, hollAnd creates music that bridges the gap between pop and electronica not unlike the artists on the Morr music roster. Although the album mostly uses synth tones, an occasional guitar or voice slips through (except on "Softcore War" where the guitar and voice are prominent). Recommended for fans of Manual, Isan, or even Mark Robinson's solo work.
listen: holland / an empire, a sit-com set
listen: holland / perfect lineage saved

bjork



5.5.04


múm / summer make good / fat cat

If you've heard Múm's excellent pair of Fat Cat albums, Yesterday Was Dramatic, Today Was OK and Finally We Are No One, you should have some idea of what to expect from Summer Make Good: songs that stray a bit from traditional form, yet retain an internal sense of structure; a panoply of instruments, real and virtual; a uniquely Icelandic sense of innocence and melody counterbalanced with dangerous swaths of noise and chaos; and a nearly comprehensible yet slightly alien title.

But while the album has plenty in common with its predecessors, Múm is working on perfecting a mode of expression rather than being stuck in a rut. Its choice of instruments has become more subtle, even while the range expands--most of these songs incorporate some form of guitar or piano, but you're just as likely to hear a bit of banjo or glockenspiel played against a MAX/MSP patch. The various elements are interwoven so as not to call undue attention to themselves for eclecticism's sake. Kristin Anna Valtysdottir's delicate, childlike voice whispers simple, poetic lyrics, but her twin sister has moved on from the group, leaving her tiny voice alone among the waves of music crashing around it.

Summer Make Good might be a maritime concept album, as well, as titles like "The Island of Children's Children," "Oh, How the Boat Drifts" and "Abandoned Ship Bells" are hard to miss. Where Múm's music used to reflect the cold-yet-bright contradictions of Iceland, on Summer Make Good it seems to have sailed off into some dark, mythic Nordic sea, and these songs are the half-remembered sea shanteys of a vessel long gone.

Grooves
Rob Geary
listen: múm / the ghosts you draw on my back
listen: múm / the island of children's children


thomas brinkmann / tour de traum / traum

For Tour De Traum, Kompakt's sister label and its owner Riley Reinhold open the vaults and let the one and only Thomas Brinkmann in to do what he will with them. And that he does. Brinkmann takes his favorite Traum tracks and mashes, splices, fades and overlaps them in a way that only he can. In the first song alone, he melds four tracks into one 3-minute segment that not only adds a bit to each of the individual songs, but he has created something new and all his own. Thomas is never one to make things easy on himself for he has reshaped and interpreted eight of the 13 tracks contained herein, tweaking some ever-so-slightly but still adding his personal touch -- one that is both bass heavy and dubbed out. On this CD I have to say that Thomas Brinkmann has had excellent source material to work with (probably some of the best that Cologne has to offer) and he has created an impeccable mix that lives up to the standards of himself, Traum and I am sure, you, the listener. This is one of the finest mixes that I have heard in some time and it has a surefire place in my CD changer for months to come. Recommended!
listen: thomas brinkmann / surface + today
listen: thomas brinkmann / polar 1: 21: 31



22.4.04


lali puna / faking the books / morr



With Faking the Books, Lali Puna have finally come into their own and released their most cohesive and confident album to date. This album screams maturity and growth. The songs are slightly more catchy, the guitars and keys turned up in the mix, and the real standout here is Valerie Trebeljahr. All of those live shows and tours abroad seemed to have given her voice power and you can tell there's a newfound confidence that really makes her stand out as a proper front-woman. All the while the band has come up with the songwriting that allows her to shine while they create their trademark sound with bedroom electronics, analog keyboards, live drums, bass and guitars. Lali puna has created a great pop album by a band who has defiantly reached their full potential. Recommended.
listen: lali puna / micronomic
listen: lali puna / call 1-800-fear

mitchell akiyama / if night is a weed and day grows loss / sub rosa

Montreal resident Mitchell Akiyama's name should be familiar to anyone who has been following the undercurrents of contemporary experimental electronic music for the past several years. Having released several solo albums on labels such as Raster Noton, Alien8 and his own Intr_Vrsn label, Akiyama has somewhat quietly made a name for himself alongside Tim Hecker and some of the more beat driven (think Akufen, Deadbeat) electronic producers currently coming out of Montreal. While much of Akiyama's recent solo work can easily be compared to many other excellent post-Fennesz guitar and computer inspired projects, he continually manages to stand out with his almost classical approach to song structure and hazy production. Although he often works within rather specific aesthetic restraints he has always had an individual approach that is rare in such narrow quarters.

Consisting of mainly heavily filtered and repeating guitar and piano fragments that project through layers of hiss and static, If Night Is a Weed... has the overall effect of an underwater symphony. Melodies drift in and out as waves of static and hiss slowly grow into swelling masses of undulating texture. Akiyama's warm almost fuzzy production style lends itself well to his extremely stylized compositions. With a healthy dose of reverb and some light distortion, Akiyama's work has as much in common with fellow Montreal residents Do Make Say Think as it does with more digitally inclined producers. I was a little unsure of the blatant Steve Reich tribute "With Hope That" (think piano phase), but it's so well done that it's hard to hold it against him for giving a nod to those who came before. If Night Is a Weed and Days Grow Less is an extremely promising album with a range and depth that becomes more expansive with each new listen. Highly recommended.
listen: mitchell akiyama / with hope that
listen: mitchell akiyama / if day wins, night could fail

tape / operette - opera remixes / cubicfabric

The best of the best in minimal electronic music come together to pay tribute to Sweden's incredible electronic/acoustic innovators Tape, whose two recent albums have been big hits with OM's customers and staff. The remixes on this collection are built almost entirely from tracks on the group's first release, Opera. Oren Ambarchi, who has collaborated in the past with Tape's resident acoustic guitar/harmonium master Johan Berthling, offers one of the record's most compelling interpretations with his guitar accompaniment played over a loop of one of Tomas Hallonsten's amazing melodica lines. Hazard's remix adds a subtle pulse to a track that otherwise sounds relatively unchanged, and the minor change in instrumentation takes the song in a surprising and interesting new direction. Other notable contributors include Apestaartje artists Minamo and Anderegg, drone guru Stephan Mathieu, and Pita on one of his most subdued and pleasant compositions ever. Like the music on Tape's studio albums, everything on here is highly melodic, relaxing, hypnotic and just simply beautiful.
listen: oren ambarchi / summa afrique
listen: hazard / noises from a hill

dogville / lars von trier

DOGVILLE is an amazing portrayal of the extremities of humanity. Lars Von Trier's masterpiece and depiction of one town could not be more truthful about the beauty and ugliness of humanity. The acting is superb, that you actually forget you're watching characters set on a stage. The narrator couldn't be more effectively used to describe the story where words from the script / book speak louder than any movie. The act of story telling this simplistic yet complicated tale could not have been delivered better. Truly a highlight compared to any movie watched prior. Highly recommended.



15.4.04


ellen allien / astral / bpitch *out May 2004

vladislav delay / demo(n) tracks / huume

Vladislav Delay returns with his first album on his Huume label. After exorcising his house demons with the recent Luomo LP, our favorite Finnish producer brings us 13 tracks of digi-dub, ambience, and minimalism.
listen: vladislav delay / kohmeesa

funkstorung / disconnected / k7

After four years and 15 remixes, the duo known as Funkstorung return with their new full-length, Disconnected. This time around they've expanded their palette inviting tons of collaborators which include trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, vocalists Erik, Lou Rhodes (Lamb) and Sarah Jay (Massive Attack), as well as rappers Tes and Rob Sonic, and essentially a live band (piano, electric and acoustic bass, cello, acoustic drums, guitar, DJ). Tired of making purely instrumental music, on Disconnected they showcase their producer skills turning themselves into a downtempo soul/electronic pop/hip-hop collective a la Massive Attack, Telefon Tel Aviv, Lamb, DJ Krush, Vadim, or Scott Herren. Not just simply tracks, this one has 'songs' which blend their trademark snap-crackle-pop rhythms, and cut-up, time-stretched snares and cymbals that made them a name to mention. But there is also a newfound taste for the classic feel of vocal music, be it rapped or sung. Overall, this one is more for the beach rather than the dancefloor with enough bite to keep you out of the chill-out lounge. Full of warm, spring infused vibes and varied moods, Disconnected is urban, digital, soulful and tropical, tastefully crafted with if you will, a gritty beautifulness.
listen: funkstorung / sleeping beauty
listen: funkstorung / moon addicted



7.4.04


deadbeat / something borrowed, something blue / ~scape

The timing couldn't have been better for this album to come out. These days, "digi-dub" conjures up the sound of dark and heavy-lidded, surface-noise filled beatscapes. Don't get me wrong, I still love Pole, Rhythm and Sound, Kit Clayton etc., but I'm not excited about the prospect of hearing just another version of the aforementioned artists.

Deadbeat's new album, his second on Stefan Betke's Scape label, IS a solid member of the "digi-dub" family, but it manages to stand on its own, deftly avoiding falling into digital dub cliché. For one thing, the album is not another track-to-track exploration of the same theme over and over. From the first note the album opens up slowly and evolves, slowly introducing shifts in rhythm and melody that follow alternately open and song-like structures. Killer warm bass is woven into directed ambient moments that progress into nicely developed songs. Good old-fashioned quality "songwriting" that's well sequenced to create an "album" feel. (It sounds like I'm grasping, but I'm not, trust me.)

This album also successfully uses its dub roots as a launch pad instead of an anchor. In other words, it takes its dub inspiration and moves away from it to become something else enjoyable in its own right rather than sounding like a looped tribute album. Sounds easy, but as I hinted at in the "timing" comment earlier, these days that counts for a lot. I've been recommending this album left and right as a downright solid new electronic album. It might not change your worldview, but you'll definite play this one over and over.
listen: deadbeat / fixed elections
listen: deadbeat / white out



30.3.04


New Discoveries on Fallt

Maybe one of the reasons that 'space' is such an important quality in the music I love is that I've always linked the sounds I hear to geographical images. Someone out there might be able to psychoanalyze that, who knows.

Anyway, today, February 23rd 2004, a cold wintry day in Newcastle upon Tyne under a big blue sky. Whilst I work away on my PhD I have been engaged in some headphone listening to two of the most beautifully realized records I've heard in ages, music so attuned to the gentle frostiness outside that they may as well be an extension of that very environment. Both come courtesy of Northern Ireland's Fallt, a brilliant, under-exposed label that is as much about the visual production of its releases as artistic artifacts as the music.

The discs in question are, firstly, Komet's "Arc, Live", a recording of a gig in 2000. Frank Bretschneider (for it is he) originally turned me off big style. I thought his bleeping minimalism was about as interesting as a vinyl test tone. Now, though, I've well warmed to it, and this subtle, almost-invisible funk music is like tiny icicles forming at the far edge of a tree branch. Delicate though it is, at high volumes one imagines Bretschneider would shake the very walls of the venue with reverb.

The real find, though, is a live set by Hard Sleeper (the project of Dubliner Peter Maybury), an artist of whom I knew absolutely nothing prior to listening. Maybury is a friend of Donnacha Costello's and there are similarities between their music. Neither is interested in mathematical abstraction, using minimal approaches instead to tour the more melancholic side of the psyche. However, whilst Costello has a tendency to go for the gut in his wrenching instrumentals of a love lost, Maybury constructs something altogether more ethereal and sublime from tiny fragments of melody of detritus. His music brings to mind Shuttle358, but at a point where the music almost hovers on the very edge of existence. Tiny pops and crackles start to emerge from a bed of poignant tones in their very twilight, there-but-not-there, spectral apparitions of song. At the 11-minute mark a more profound melodic line starts to emerge, adding weight to, but never disrupting, the carefully crafted sense of serene stillness that characterizes this exceptional release.

Always great to come across someone unfamiliar and to fall in love with their music there and then. Particularly when the low sunbeams shining through the blind in the room seem utterly at one with the sounds in one's ears. After retreating back into near-silence, the piece comes alive again towards the end.

John Gibson
grooves / senior editor
2004-02-23



24.3.04


broken social scene / bee hives / arts & crafts

Like Broken Social Scene's first album "Feel Good Lost", "Bee Hives" is calm and most of the time ethereal reflecting the group's more quiet explorations. Not a must-have for the casual fan only acquainted with "You Forgot It in People," there is still a sense of continuity throughout this collection of b-sides, some dating back to earliest incarnation of the band, as well as a few new tracks. Most songs are instrumental, stretched out with long, shimmering drones occasionally offset against minimal playful skitters - the pastoral bedroom electronics of "Ambulance for the Ambiance" could easily pass as a Mum outtake. Without breaking the quiet melancholy, a few of the tracks are a little more formed; "Lover's Split" is a brooding, piano driven song with a beautifully somber vocal melody. Though not a proper album, anyone who loved Broken Social Scene's recently re-issued "Feel Good Lost" will definitely enjoy the subtle ambience of "Bee Hives."
listen: broken social scene / ambulance for the ambiance
listen: broken social scene / lover's split

triple r / selection 2 / trapez

Trapez is known for their long, often full-sided deep techno house groovers. Not as much techno/house as techno-with-house. These are smart, minimal club tracks with that classic "track" quality, tracks you can ride forever till the end, or use as transitions within a mix. Maybe that's why the beginning of the first half of this mix, though well mixed, has a bit of that "warm-up" quality. Each track explores a different theme from the track preceding it. A deep driving, slightly epic track like Dialogue's "Boulevard" will mix into Akufen's cutup, bouncing funk ("Psychometry 2.1")

Things kick into gear at Track 5 with Rheinhold/Barnes' "Count", and really get running by track 8 (Oliver Hacke's "Vampir Von Dusseldorf"). This is almost like Rheinhold's version of a "club mix" in comparison to his "Friends" mix. It's still deep, melodic and poppy, but it's more driving (without ever getting nearly as hard as Mayer's "Speicher" mix) with only a few vocal bits here and there to accent the beat.

During tracks 8 through 15 is where Triple R shines. This is where he laces the melodies and beat textures from one track to the next and achieves that "floating" quality in his mix. Standout tracks from Oliver Hacke, M. Rahn, M.I.A. and Sarah Goldfarb.
listen: matthias rahn / reflections
listen: pleitte / pleitte



21.3.04




Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind



18.3.04


manual with jess kahr / north shore / darla
*see 'darla' link for review and mp3

elektronische musik interkontinental 3 / various artists / traum

Yet another brilliant release in the Elektronische Musik series for Traum Schallplatten. "Interkontinental 3," compiled by Traum/Trapez co-owner Richard 'Riley Reinhold' (aka Triple R), continues to bring us the finest in warm bubbling techno from every hemisphere known to man. Germany, England, Ireland, Australia, Argentina, Japan, they're all here. Volume 3 is full of bright, poppy, dance-floor material properly balanced by deep, dreamy, minimal activities for the late-night; and it all grooves. Process and Oliver Hacke deliver, as usual. Donal Tierney and Jorge Gebauber each introduce some of the finest tech-house this side of that new rock beyond Pluto, Sedna.

I'm telling you, it's all here, and thankfully, the vinyl release this time round is only a 4 track 12" featuring a few club friendly tracks from the CD. It includes the Broker/Dealer rmx of French band Margo's "La Baumette," Popnebo's "Of Course She Does," a different killer from O. Hacke than appears on the CD, and Michael Fentum's "Warm Hands," which are actually lush strings that evolve into this static-laden montage. There's even a QuickTime video on the CD by POLAR called Occupy set to the music of Victor Bermon rmx of Fotel Folyamat's "Love Streams." Like I said, it's all here.
listen: adam kroll / klostergarten
listen: donal tierney / text xxx

pantha du prince / diamond daze / dial

Pantha Du Prince (aka Gluhen) takes his personal palette of sounds and applies them to new minimal techno structures. After falling for the Gluhen LP, I didn't know what to expect from this one. I half-expected off-time, deep shuffle techno with noise clusters here and there. What we end up getting is deep minimal techno with the classic Dial beauty and sophistication devoid of any straight up, generic sounds. Every element - bass, melody, hi-hats - is given a custom tuning to make it unique, stark, grey, and full of beauty.

Pantha Du Prince blends the dark brooding drive of Carsten Jost, the heavenly lift of Lawrence, and a tech/house structure similar to the Traum label injected with impeccably chosen/arranged sounds. While Jost tends to push forward with dark, sharp sounds accenting the beat, Pantha Du Prince has more of a driving (yet still sophisticated), dark funk. (See "Eisregen and "Circle Glider") Side C's "Sad Saphire" is like way deep Basic Channel taken out of the dank basement and placed in the clouds. Another step forward in the dark beautiful world of Dial records and another favorite LP. Recommended.
listen: pantha du prince / circle glider
listen: pantha du prince / butterfly girl

fennesz / venice / touch

One of the few truly original voices in contemporary electronic music, over the last nine years Christian Fennesz has created and refined a signature style that effortlessly combines dense, noisy digital fragmentation with a warm almost subliminal pop sense. As with pretty much all his releases, "Venice" sees Fennesz focusing on the sound of the electric guitar extending its palette through various digital processing techniques.

Although the album is less cohesive and overall developed than his last album 'Endless Summer" (or even the singles collection "Field Recordings"), in some ways its sketch like quality is its strength. Less conceptually oriented, the album comes across like a personal document of a time, an idea or perhaps a place. While "Venice" may not be as immediate as some of Fennesz' previous efforts, its combination of somber haunting melodies and grainy texture illuminates a space where simple somewhat catchy guitar playing wontedly coexists with the din of contemporary computer manipulations which is further illustrated by Jon Wozencraft's beautiful cover photographs documenting human interaction and manipulation of nature.

A somewhat mournful and generally subdued affair, "Venice" shows an artist reflecting on his craft rather then trying to force himself into a new direction. Highlights include "Transit," a stunning collaboration with David Sylvian that continues where their fantastic duo track on Sylvian's recent album "Blemish" left off. Situated directly in the middle of a mostly subdued listening experience "Transit" literally bursts out of the speakers accentuating the album's more pop like characteristics as well as its more restrained moments. Here's to hoping for an album's worth of Fennesz vs. Sylvian.
listen: fennesz / the point of it all
listen: fennesz / transit




25.2.04


luomo / the present lover / kinetic

It seems that Vladislav Delay has always wanted to make a pop album. From his tracks on the last Electric Ladyland compilation, and his first album under Luomo entitled "Vocalcity," he has shed his clicks and cuts image and was on a mission to make the perfect house record, one that combined the elements of experimental electronics with mainstream house hits like Kylie Minogue. I can tell you that Vladislav Delay sweated over these tracks for months, reproducing, remixing, and rerecording to eventually produce "The Present Lover."

The man has completed his mission, for "The Present Lover" is a superb house album that can be listened to just as easily in the club as it can in the home. It is superbly produced, but still contains elements of his experimental works; there are still elements of electronic dub, glitches and vocal cut-ups. Many have dismissed this album as his bid for commercial success but really it is just another face of this extremely talented multi-faceted artist. Mr. Delay did not "sell-out," this is just his attempt at making the perfect house album, and once again he has given us an incredible listening experience. A must have for fans of Vladislav Delay You will here this everywhere in 2004... from mega-clubs and lounges, to dinner parties and shops.
listen: luomo / talk in a danger
listen: luomo / the present lover

pass into silence / calm like a millpond / kompakt

Pass into Silence has a new EP on Kompakt and the label seems to be stepping out of its mold a bit with this one. The sweet/pop/austere formula that most "Pop Ambient" releases are known for is beginning to stress the "austere" part a little less. The five track EP is mainly built of electric piano, angelic female vocal bits (minimal Enya on track 1) and glacial atmosphere. There is a definite regressive, almost indulgent childlike vibe, track 3 sounding like an electronic soundtrack to a children's storybook. Little Nemo (the boy, not the fish) maybe? What may come across as Kompakt going "light" is saved by the always-impeccable production. The most "aggressive" track is a revisit from the "Pop Ambient 2004" track "Sakura" followed by a blissed-out remix (of "Sakura") that trades its slow moving melody for what seems like a slow, cloud-filled, descending melody accented by distant harps. In the remix, 3 minutes and 30 seconds ends way too soon.
listen: voices
listen: sakurare remix

skyphone / fabula / rune grammofon

Norway's always-incredible Rune Grammofon label starts off the year 2004 in fine form with the debut album from a Danish trio called Skyphone. The best recent point of reference for this group is another Scandinavian trio that seamlessly blends acoustic and electronic elements: Tape. While Tape has a more direct approach to song structure, Skyphone's loose, almost dreamlike compositions still retain a strong sense of melody and form. A lot of bands like this tend to go overboard with their arrangements, but the members of Skyphone never allow too many things to happen at once. There must be a million different sounds and samples spread throughout "Fabula," not one of which is ever lost or buried in the mix.

Skyphone probably have more in common with Phonophani than with anyone else on Rune Grammofon, but the extensive use of acoustic guitar and the influence of dub and minimal techno in their incredibly subtle, sometimes almost inaudible beats set them pretty far apart. Fans of Boards Of Canada and Kompakt's Pop Ambient Series will most certainly dig this incredibly beautiful, understated, and mature record. Perfect late night headphone listening, or for closing your eyes and relaxing on the subway ride home from work.
listen: skyphone / monitor batik
listen: skyphone / airtight golem



12.2.04


listen: the mole/ back to the endless
listen: the mole/ grinder review



11.2.04




contact: basic_sounds@yahoo.ca

isan / meet next life / morr

It's been over two-and-a half years since "Lucky Cat," ISAN's last full-length, and not much has changed in the world of these Morr Music staples. Their ultra-melodic brand of warm analogue electronica is still here but this time out there is a slight twist. Robin Saville and Antony Ryan have for the first time added organic acoustic instruments into the fold, and what comes out is a beautiful amalgamation of both the traditional and the modern. Downtempo beats are the backbone, while spacey analogue synths float by, electronic blips and bleeps add some texture, and various acoustic instruments like acoustic guitars, hand percussion, glockenspiel, and many more flesh out the songs. The one thing about ISAN is that their tracks are meticulously composed, even though the melodies are extremely simple with each miniature part an essential to the whole. Once again, ISAN fail to disappoint and "Meet Next Life" is another exquisite album in their almost flawless discography. Recommended.
listen: isan/ birds over barges
listen: isan/ one man abandon

casino versus japan/ hitori + kaiso 1998-2001 / attacknine

Casino Versus Japan drops a bomb on us this week. Milwaukee's Erik Kowalski gives us 29 unreleased tracks that he recorded between 1998 and 2001. Why these songs didn't make it onto any "official album" is beyond me because they are far from "throwaways" as one might expect. All of these tracks are stunning, right from the very start of Disc 1. Album opener "Buried" is a lush downtempo jewel that could compare to any of the amazing tracks on Boards Of Canada's "Music Has the Right to Children"... yes, it's that good. The first disc is comprised of mostly upbeat and lush sounding songs with some of the more ambient pieces left for Disc 2. Freescha and your Attacknine label, I thank you; for if not for them "Hitori + Kaiso" probably would have never seen the light of day, and that would truly be a shame. By the way this is a 2-CD for a single CD price, and well worth it.
listen: casino versus japan/ buried
listen: casino versus japan/ bound by your smile



5.2.04


ellen allien / remix collection / bpitch

Ellen Allien continues to leave her "electro" peers behind with a collection of remixes that, like her album "Berlinette," moves toward pop without losing a bit of her punch and danceability. While some of her album tracks may have suffered from pressure to "have a message," the "Remix Collection" displays all her new wave, glitch-hop, acid, pop-house styling, without any excess baggage.

Tracks range from broken beat glitch-hop ("Let's Get It On" rmx impossibly creates a song I like out of a Gold Chains song) to new wave acid pop house (tracks 5-7, including a B. Morgenstern remix-excellent, and an Ellen Allien remix of her own "Alles Sehen," and "The Way We Have Chosen" by OMR) to full strength club rockers like Ellen's remixes of "Bullet" by Covenant and "Butterfly" by Gut-Humpe.

The collection is rounded out by a fine, dreamily glitched up remix of Golden Boy with Miss Kittin's "Rippin Kittin" -- a successful redefinition of an already flawless club pop hit. You will ask and re-ask yourself, "How does she make solid tracks where others would just make frivolous electro pop?" Again, all her strengths witnessed on her first album, "Stadtkind" through to her "Berlinette" LP are showcased here, unadulterated. While others seem to be stepping back to avoid the trend-end backlash, Ellen Allien seems to be intent on moving forward. Recommended.
listen: ellen allien/ let's get it on
listen: ellen allien/ uus heiterem himmel



21.1.04


best of 2003:

1.) ellen allien/ berlinette / bpitch
listen: ellen allien/ abstract pictures

2.) t.raumschmiere / radio blackout / novamute
listen: t.raumschmiere/ the game is not over
listen: t.raumschmiere/ monstertruckdriver



3) polmo polpo / like hearts swelling / constellation



michael mayer / fabric 13 / fabric

Michael Mayer has created a beatmatched "Back to Mine/Another Late Night" style "listener's/taster's choice mix" that trades his driving abstract momentum for contrasting blends that allow for full appreciation of the nuances of each individual track. There is a decidedly friendly and soft song-style techno (not necessarily all with vocals) throughout most of this mix. Inviting melodies move through H. Voss' "I Think About You (rmx)" into R. Davis' "Bring Me Closer" cresting with Westbam and Nena's(!) "Oldschool, Baby", full of disarmingly festive, yet still minimal, club piano melodies!

Track 5: Wruhme and Wighnomy's "Killerteppich" into T.Schaeben's "Busted" is where Mayer begins to lay into his abstract funk a bit, but the mix suddenly eases down to Villalobos' "Easy Lee" which clears the palette for my favorite part of the mix...

From there, Magnet's "Abendstern" climbs infinitely into space, full of small beautiful details, becomes Superpitcher's "Mushroom" and blossoms into Jackson's remix of M83's "Run into Flowers."(This track will put a lump in your throat.) This section is full of contrast and detail that underscores Mayer's statement that "Fabric 13" is not a "clubset" and that he prefers mix CDs to "be intimate" and "to tell a story." (Although describing a DJ mix as one that "tells a story" might sound cliche', Mayer does NOT delve into pacifier/glowstick territory.)

Finally, after a short, two-song detour into more killer funk (Le Dust Sucker's "Love Me" is a bit SICK), Mayer frames the mix with a re-visitation of H. Voss' "I Think About You", this time, with the original version. An infinite variety of tracks, arranged primarily for appreciation (melody driven, rather than beat driven) as opposed to moving the dancefloor. Another facet of one of the best.
listen: michael mayer/run into flowers
listen: michael mayer/love me