Monday, March 22, 2004

With just about every electronic music aficionado seeking a turn behind the decks, it increasingly helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Norwegian Erlend Øye, of Kings of Convenience fame, seems to have found one that works. Øye takes the microphone out of the hands of the MC and adds his unforgettable croon to instrumental tracks. Though the thought of a singing DJ might conjure up visions of mobile discos and Bar Mitzvahs, it works well in this context. His taste in music isn’t half bad either; the tracklisting features gems from Jurgen Paape and Ricardo Villalobos. The mix doesn’t dwell on one genre however-- The Rapture bring the punk-funk revelry and Morgan Geist brings immaculately produced downtempo to wind things down. Highlights include Øye’s emotive acapella of The Smiths' “There's a Light That Never Goes Out” over Silicon Soul’s remix of “Poor Leno” by Royksopp and Erlend’s own track, “Sheltered Life.”

Here Comes Love

Forthcoming on

Superpitcher (aka Aksel Schaufler) is best known for his prolific string of warm, emotive and often melancholic singles and remixes on, among others, Cologne’s Kompakt label. Here, he releases his debut album; a perfect fusion of techno, pop and perhaps the most emotion of any electronic release this year. It’s a strong testament to the possibilities that exist when techno comes up for air and into the sun, while retaining a bit of its dark, intense edge. Kompakt has been doing it exceptionally well as of late (ie: Heiko Voss, etc), and this record can be seen as the crown jewel of said subgenre.

The album opener, “People,” starts with a warm vibraphone loop, interspersed with crunchy synth stabs over a stomping 2/4 beat. Best described as dark tech pop, it’s warm and lush, contrasted with undertones of paranoia and isolation. Schaufler’s vocals over the track take the undeniably strong groundwork and round things off perfectly. “The Long Way” is the album standout -- its crisp, slightly off kilter schaffel beat and acoustic guitar loop continues for several bars before a lovely piano line takes over. Towards the end, the drums drop out and the track gradually builds in intensity as strings swell and Schafler breaks out of verse.

The album’s strength, aside from just how well-produced and beautiful the tracks are, stands in Schauflers’ masterful embrace of various styles, whether its the aforementioned schaffel, downtempo on “Sad Boys”, or ambient, as is case on the heavenly second half of “Angels.” As noted electronic music writer Philip Sherburne puts it so well, “[Here Comes Love] is like moonstomping in a mattress factory while every steeple in town chimes out the hour.”