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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


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


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


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