Monday, May 31, 2004

A version to appear on

Two Lone Swordsmen's new LP, From the Double Gone Chapel, sees the duo genre hopping from their familiar leftfield electronic productions into lo-fi rock band territory with undertones of gothy dub and punk tinged with occasional synth grumbles. Sans Mr. Weatherall, Swordsman Keith Tenniswood, known also for his Radioactive Man alias, brings forth the sub-bass electro assault at Rothko for the album launch party. Also, new Warp signees Home Video, fresh from their excellent 10' release, "That You Might," perform live. They're supported by sets from Germany's Mr. Negative on decks 'n fx, Alex English, and the consistently rocking James F***ing Friedman and Ben "Dirty Dirty" Dietz. (CJN)

Monday, May 24, 2004

Sonar Kollektiv

Forthcoming on

Jazzanova have made quite a name for themselves as remixers and producers over the past few years. 2002 saw the release of their debut LP, In Between, to critical acclaim worldwide. It put a blend of composition skills, programming talent and a wide-ranging musical background on display for mass consumption. On the LP, you’d swear some of the crisp drums were played live, but in fact, many times the breaks were painstakingly assembled in a studio with an astounding human element. The release of In Between also injected a new vitality into a genre that, while extremely strong in pockets, was sometime reduced to background music for cocktail consumption in trendy bars and outdoor cafes.

On the record, Jazzanova employed several guest vocalists and session musicians, including Vikter Duplaix, poet Ursula Rucker, and jazz legend Doug Hammond—names sure to resonate with fans of the nu-jazz, broken beat and soul genres. In addition, a high level of musicianship is on display: an example of this seen on the track, "Hanazono,"where the tempo changes from 11/12 to 3/4 to 5/6 in less than five minutes. Jazzanova aren’t just cratedigging cut and pasters —they have the theory and musical knowledge down to back it up.

After extensive DJ’ing and live tours around the world before and after In Between, they saw it fit to put together a proper mix of records they play out. This release also marks Jazzanova’s move from their longtime home at Compost Records (under their sublabel JCR—Jazznova Compost Records) to their own Sonar Kollektiv imprint.

In some ways, …Mixing is your average parabola-shaped DJ set. In their own words its “warm up, prime time, thanks – it was nice with you.” However, what makes this mix different is the stunning level of ecclecticsm. You can practically hear the collective shriek of delight emanating from the throats of Gilles Peterson Worldwide devotees, as so many genres get equal play in the mix, all with the same jazz and soul undertones tying things together.

Like Mr. Peterson himself, Jazzanova skillfully go from soulful R&B, hip hop and house to broken beat, jazzy breaks and synth heavy funk before taking the tempo back down again to finish things off. They don’t get bogged down in long proggy mixes, but rather focus on songs, sometimes using tools and samples to segue between one tempo to another when beats can’t be squared up. And their taste is precdictably stellar. Cuts from Philadelphia’s Jill Scott, an acapella King Britt’s Oba Funke psydonym and a few exclusives are on display, including Jazzanova’s cover of a Patrice Rushen boogie track from the 70’s. Also, former Mo’Wax artists Attica Blues appear with an excellent unreleased remix by Dixon.

…Mixing has something for everyone—from the most hardened trainspotter to the casual listener. The exclusive tracks and mixes will whet the appetite of those faithful to the scene, and on the other side of the spectrum, the mix will equally engage the casual listener with the sheer quality, rhythm and dancability of the tracks. It goes to show that a DJ mix doesn’t have to be one tempo gradually building into a throbbing cresendo, but rather it can be a celebration of ecclectic music culled from several genres.
Dykehouse- Midrange
Ghostly International
a version to appear in

Going from an album of bleeps and blurps on the leftfield Planet Mu imprint to dark shoegaze pop with lovelorn, naive lyrics like "Now I'm chain smokin' 'cos my heart's broken" certainly defies convention. But Ghostly's Mike Dykehouse has done just that; on an Imac in his bedroom, no less. Midrange is an MBV/Jesus and Mary Chain-inspired album of layered guitars and electronics that walks the line between sing-along accessibility and experimentation. Highlights include "Burden of Proof," Kevin Shields' signature tremolo sound melded with beats and vocals reminscent of Depeche Mode, and "Chain Smoking," a thick, crunchy slice of summertime pop that won't leave your head anytime soon. (CJN)

Friday, May 21, 2004

Kid Spatula
Planet Mu Records
Released May 11, 2004

Forthcoming on

Having also recorded on leftfield imprints Warp and Rephlex, Planet Mu label boss Mike Paradinas here assembles a smattering of archive material under his Kid Spatula moniker. The tracks, recorded from 1994 to 1998, are astonishingly still relevant and not as abstract as one might expect, given the amount of groundbreaking yet difficult music of the time period. Artists like Autechre, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Luke Vibert and many others went into full-blown experimental mode, sometimes eschewing melody and any semblance of accessible rhythm. It was a rebellion of sorts from mainstream electronic music, one that actually ended up pushing things forward for all sorts of genres --Outkast’s Andre 3000 recently, and rather unexpectedly to most, namechecked Squarepusher as a major influence.

Meast is a comprehensive trawl through the DAT archives, 34 tracks in all. Pretty much every permutation of so-called IDM is on display, from frantic drum and bass breaks to largely ambient contstructions. An absolute standout is “It Starts With Bongos,” where mid, low and high percussion tones dance over a basic kick/ snare beat, augmented by synths that wash over the entire composition. It’s dripping with melody and rhythm, in stark contrast to the syncopated chaos of tracks like “Off Lemon.”

On occasion, some elements haven’t grown old well, “Further 2” being a prime example of such. It’s essentially glitchy drill n’ bass, with samples that betray their age and synth tones that sound extremely dated-- obviously one of the oldest tracks in Paradninas’ back catalogue. Yet, despite this criticism, you still have to consider the fact that this was made in 1994, over ten years ago.

A further example of Meast’s ecleccism comes with Tugboat, which takes a mid-ninties Ninjatune-esque jazz break and adds the characteristic synth washes and bass blurps, which was a bit more forward thinking than anything that was done in the sample-based (dare I say trip-hop) scene from the time period. It’s as if Paradinas was observing the unfolding scene from a completely different perspective, and decided to dip his toe in—in turn adding quite a bit of his own musical character. The only real point of reference to this breaks/ experimental synth hybrid sound is Luke Vibert’s early productions under his Wagon Christ guise.

All in all, Meast is an interesting overview of a forward thinking producer’s work. Its astonishly prescient at times, somewhat dated in others but overall, a highly engaging and comprehensive release for fans of the leffield genre.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Ellen Allien
NYC DJ Set @ Apt. preview

a version to appear in

On occasion, an act is capable of preaching the virtues of electronic music to the unconverted--think Underworld, Leftfield or most recently, the DFA production duo as prime examples. Now, add Berlin’s DJ, producer and BPitch label boss Ellen Allien to the list. While techno has a notoriously cliquey band of devotees, Allien’s approach to it is anything but alienating. In her sets, she effortlessly blends driving breaks and huge electro basslines with lovely melodies and undeniable pop undertones. She’s also equally comfortable rocking the floor at Berlin’s Tresor or making the New York rock kid off the street come in and dance. Techno populism.  Who would have thought?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Vladislav Delay
Demo(n) Tracks
Huume Recordings
Forthcoming in

After Luomo’s detour into dub basslines and comfy house sensibilities, Vladislav Delay returns to the more experimental territory he explored on his first releases for the Mille Plateaux and Chain Reaction labels. Here, he eschews traditional structures, opting instead for more freeform experimentation. The compositions gradually unfold and end up in a different place from where they originate. There are no familiar loop-based constructions, but rather an unpredictable decent into deeper and more fragmented tiles and layers of sound as the tracks progress. An excellent example comes on Kotilainen, an ambient piece that slowly decays into gently distorted, delicate beats with light static hiss. Ontolla has a distinctly submerged feel to it, with echoing synth blurts fluttering like bubbles to the surface. One of the album’s highlights, Kasvot Uivat, vaguely brings to mind Aphex Twin’s Select Ambient Works, only with more details, textures and small shards of sound embedded around the ethereal tones.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Putsch 79
forthcoming on

I tried to find this record in every shop on and around Berwick street in London a few months back, only to fail miserably and end up spending too much cash on nerdy minimal house records. This friends, is quite the opposite--a stellar helping of the synthy 4/4 squigglefunk from Sami Liuski (Bankok Impact) and Pauli Jylhankangas. The sound? Think Detroit techno and electro coupled with rubb'ry basslines from the finest days of NYC disco with a dash of Chicago house. Highlights? Confession is an excellent overview as to the talent of these two while Asian Girls is pure dancefloor hedonism--string stabs and all. Man Enough is more restrained while still retaining the underlying absurdity that makes Putsch better than most of the other disco-derivitive releases out there. The original pressing was quickly snatched up out of my reach and championed across the board, from Tiga and Tiefschwarz, to Richard Dorfmeister all the way down to Sven Vath, oddly enough. If you liked Mr. Vibert’s Kerrier District LP and the recent re-release of the Black Devil Disco club 12’ on Rephlex, you’ll be all about this.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Doctor Rockit
The Vinyl Resting Place
Accidental Records

Forthcoming on

Having recorded under a number of pseudonyms including Radio Boy and Wishmountain, Matthew Herbert here retires the Doctor Rockit guise on his Accidental label. The Vinyl Resting Place is a presentation of long-unavailable tracks originally released in 1996 on the Clear imprint. In the mid-nineties, Clear was part of the movement away from club music and towards an electro/jazz hybrid, with the first release coming from soon-to-be luminaries Mark Prichard and Tom Middleton under their early Jedi Knights moniker. Knowing what we do now about Herbert’s socially/ politically charged themes, Doctor Rockit is important, as it provided the first nom de plume for these ideas to develop – the first being commentary on Rupert Murdoch and the global news industry. In addition, this release is a good overview of Herbert’s sampling and production techniques in their embryonic stages—and they still manage to upstage most releases in the genre today.

Cameras and Rocks shows the now familiar found samples used as rhythmic elements and 4/4 kick augmenting a jazzy keyboard line. Tape Measure expands into more midtempo breakbeats with ethereal tones punctuated by crunchy, menacing bass swells. On the flip, Hi-Speed Rockit is a the most cheeky offering on the release, with booty bass drums, simple, old-school hi-hats and a simple sample loop. How Do You Do is mid-nineties Mo' Wax -esque downtempo breaks distinguished by a warm synth line and the ever-engaging clicks, pops and hisses that Herbert has gone on to make a signature element of his sound. Finally, Runner on Hastings Beach is the most experimental offering: a gorgeous, richly textured ambient track.