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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


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


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