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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