The three men of Cobblestone Jazz have always been great producers, but I haven't necessarily always been as enthralled with their sound as other minimal minds out there. Their big hit of last year, "India in Me," had much going for it, admittedly, but lacked a certain drama that I like in my techno. Understanding that their tracks are great to mix with, I always kept them in mind as a group who did some great work but who weren't exactly my cup of tea-- "Dump Truck," for example, is a lush little collection of organ synths and blips that could have been released in mid-90s Detroit, but the lack of punchy beats in that track always bothered me enough that I found it hard to play that often.
Well, my mind has been changed by their new track on the Cocoon Compilation G, entitled "W". The beat is round and full from the get-go, the bass-line is a nice 1-2-3-1 loop, and the melodic line is hypnotic as any could be. After hi-hats and the idiosyncratic heavily-filtered and delayed vocal bits come in, the track takes off: congas subtly slide into the mix, and the melodic line is augmented by a soft-synth counterpart, leading to a break of spine-riding synth drownout. When the beat comes back in, it isn't a surprise, but a wonderful supplement to the overwhelming synths. Along with little background bits that sound oddly like a jew's-harp, the track resolves with none of the elements evident at its beginning. It is, in many ways, a perfect six minutes of dreamy, dancefloor-ready techno. On Sven Vath's Cocoon Recordings.
Cobblestone Jazz- W (Original Mix)
Tomorrow's post will dish out a track from the excellent Brendon Moeller EP, Space Jazz, along with a special revisiting of Cajmere's "Percolator."
Sorry about the wait.
Tonight's first track is a recent remix from Switzerland's Lazy Fat People. The pair consists of two names coming up a lot recently in techno, Mirko Loko and Raphael Ripperton. The latter's recent mix of Beanfield's "Tides" has been getting quite a bit of love, in headphones and on dancefloors. The two have just released a record on Planet-E, and both are playing out quite a bit this summer.
The remix of the Viewers' "Blank Images" remains faithful to the original track in many ways, yet the melodic elements and beats are altered enough to make it Lazy Fat People's own. Rather than rely on a steady deep house beat the entire time, the pair start the track more slowly, but get to the melodic meat of it in a much more timely manner than the Viewers. The original line is brought up in the mix, and this punchier sound is only punctuated by a more rounded take on the high-end arpeggiation notes. The bass line could use a of a boost in the lows, but otherwise, the track is a nearly flawless piece of tech-house that could be played alongside Ame or their compatriots in the resurgent deep scene. On Audiomatique Recordings, a Poker Flat sub-label.
the Viewers- Blank Images (Lazy Fat People Remix)
This next track is sort of silly to post, as its ubiquity in the early 90's makes it one of the most popular "New Age" tracks to grace the radio waves, but nonetheless, I think it is so awesomely grand that I couldn't resist posting about it.
I first heard Enigma's "Return to Innocence" in the car when I was in 3rd grade, and I remember this moment because that track imprinted itself on my mind immediately-- the solo chanting, chill-out electronic beat, and foreign female vocals sort of took my nine-year-old breath away. The song was played on the radio quite a lot, and so I could enjoy it pretty regularly without knowing much about it or its origins: I always knew that the song was by Enigma, but only recently would I have thought of buying an Enigma record. Well, I found a great Enigma record the other day, and it has been driving itself into my skull ever since. I don't feel that strange about liking this sort of stuff (especially when it comes to Enya), mostly because the synth work is excellent and the samples are gorgeous. Additionally, it is as catchy as any pop song from its era, which is saying quite a bit-- remember when house and chill-out were all over the radio? What strange days.
Enigma- Sadeness (Extended Trance Mix)
(It is not a trance track, for those uninitiated-- trust me).
The final track of this concerns Japanese producer and composer, Shunji Moriwaki. In 1998, Moriwaki put out a fantastic record on Empire State Records called "Shirushi-O-Chodai," an awesome slab of minimal tech-house. The beat is a rumbling thud, the delayed vocal sample of a child eventually swirls about the track, and almost four minutes in, a melodic line reminiscent of second wave Detroit comes in. In some ways, it sounds like a Japanese Basic Channel, minus some of the more lush moments evident in BC's work. Stumbled upon in a clearance bin, I was astounded that nobody had bought the record when it was first released, but then again, who could have said in 1998 that minimal would be the next sound to really explode in the the world of house? Inserted into a contemporary minimal set, it would hardly raise an eyebrow, which is most certainly a good thing.
Shunji Moriwaki- Shirushi-O-Chodai
(I was interrupted by a power outage last night while typing up this post-- sorry again for the wait! More new tunes on their way on Saturday).
Hi all, here for a quick update before the post proper, which shall be up later this evening. My review of last Saturday's Demon Days party can be found here, and while Craig and his crew aren't too happy with it, I stand by what I wrote and my take on the evening.
However, I'd like to say that Carl Craig is among my DJ heroes and favorite artists. His off-nights really do beat most good DJs' on-nights, and his talents as a producer and remixer are unparalleled in the DJ world. So please, do attend future Demon Days events and continue to appreciate Craig's work for what it is: techno mastery.
Watch out for remixes from Lazy Fat People and some more great techno tracks later this evening!
As promised, four tunes for you today, and not only are they all fantastic, they're also remixes-- two newer tracks and two classics.
First off, we have one of Carl Craig's remixes of a 1994 Tori Amos single, "God," which has held up nicely over the years. Unless you've been in a cave for the past year or so, you know that Craig has recently been releasing remix after remix, all of them hypnotic, spacey, and for lack of a better word, slamming. His treatment of Tori is a bit more mellow than this recent output, but still is evidence of Craig's magic at work: the unusual vocal and piano rhythms of the original are left relatively intact, but a muted kick is added, along with some excellent Amazonian floor-tom action. Handclaps punctuate peak moments, and eventually, Tori's voice trails off and soft, Detroit synths take over. The effect is quite mesmerizing, and while it has a few too many breaks and freak-out peaks to be effective on the dance-floor, it has an addictive power nonetheless.
Also worth noting that Carl Craig is presenting the third installment of Demon Days this summer, with three set dates in the US. I'll be at his set at Studio B this Saturday, with Mirko from Lazy Fat People opening up the night. If you've never had the pleasure of attending a Craig set, I'd highly recommend it-- he is truly a master among DJs.
Tori Amos- God (Carl Craig's Rainforest Resort Mix)
Our next track is a crowd-pleasing, banging, unreleased remix of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." The boys of Minilogue take the original and kick it up about a zillion notches-- the kicks and bass are loud as hell, the verses are cut completely, and all that's left is the classic three-note synth line and cut-up samples of Jacko singing, "Billie Jean is not my lover, she's just a girl who thinks that I am the one." Along with some spacey lazer stabs and echoey washes, what was a great song to dance to becomes a great song to lose yourself in. Another plus is that the beginning seconds of the track fool people into thinking it's the original, but when it really starts pumping, they're almost happier that it isn't something they've heard before. (By the way, some of the leveling is a bit weird at certain parts, perhaps explaining why it is rare and unreleased? Nevertheless, it is an excellent remix overall, and well worth playing out).
Michael Jackson- Billie Jean (Minilogue Remix)
I recently interviewed James Lavelle of UNKLE for Big Shot Magazine, and while you might have thought UNKLE didn't do anything after "Rabbit in Your Headlights," you'll be surprised to learn that Lavelle and Co. are coming out with a new album this July. Remixes of the first single, "Burn My Shadow," are already kicking about, and more (including versions by Radio Slave and Richie Hawtin) are in the works. While Sasha's progressive house remix of the track is getting pounded into X'ed out brains in Asia and Latin America, I think that the minimal remix by Dan F really hits the spot in a much more palpable fashion. It takes the elements I love best in the original-- the low, almost-Georgian vocal humming, the strings, and the quick acoustic guitar strums-- and samples them in such a way that it is hard to imagine a better minimal mix of what is inarguably a pop-rock track. The beat is heavy yet bouncy with little 'tinks' on every fourth, and the aforementioned hums ripple throughout, later punctuated by soaring, reverb-soaked strings. Handclaps, a near-constant loop of bells, and occasional snippets of a heavily cut/processed Ian Astbury also make their way into the track. The peaks and valleys are perfectly timed and executed-- the track is regal without the grandiosity of the original. While you might not be into the new UNKLE album (though I must say, from an objective viewpoint, it is quite well-done), definitely check this and the other remixes of "Burn My Shadow" out, as they're sure to be pleasantly surprising and danceable.
UNKLE- Burn My Shadow (Dan F Remix)
Finally, we have a reworking of Black Devil Disco Club's "I Regret the Flower Power," by the deservedly-hyped Quiet Village Project. To expound upon Bernard Fevre's disco genius would be almost silly, as it has been done quite well elsewhere, but what is most interesting about Fevre is his recent re-workings of tracks from 28 Later with contemporary groups. For one, they've been overwhelmingly dubby and unlike the originals, whose old-style disco beats with bongos have been pleasing dance-floors since their release last year. For example, the mix that Fevre worked on with In Flagranti is virtually beatless and groundless, using the wonderful arpeggiations of "Coach Me" to create a swirling pseudo-cacophony. Similarly, the track below has little in common with the original, but instead, Quiet Village Project give Fevre's track the slow, deep, tropical treatment that they are known for-- deep bass and percussive elements, majestic synth samples, delayed vocal bits, and peaks that are about as euphoric as peaks can get. In fact, I would venture to say that this is one of my favorite remixes of the year, not only showcasing the greatness of Fevre's synth work in his Black Devil project, but the untouchable style of Quiet Village Project in their remixes.
Black Devil Disco Club & Quiet Village Project- I Regret the Flower Power (Remix)
Next post will contain reports from Demon Days and some new tracks by Lazy Fat People and others, so visit again soon!
So, a little history: I got decks and a mixer just recently. I've put together a few mixes, but on many of them, I "cheated." That is, they weren't proper-- there was a lot of cutting out, inserting random sounds to make things appear seamless, etc. Sure, some parts of them were pretty dope, but other parts were lacking. A week or so ago I started working on a proper, beatmatched minimal mix with my (admittedly) limited selection of records. Some things need a bit more tweaking, but at this juncture, I think I'd like some feedback and tips on it. So leave some comments or e-mail me letting me know what you're thinking.
Summer Hiss (Mixed by trees)
1. Tupperwear- Gas USA
2. Gez Varley- Violator
3. Donnacha Costello- Grape (A)
4. Luciano & Pier Bucci- Amael
5. Sabu Martinez- Disko 3000 (Sabu Sabu Rugged Mix)
6. Agnes- Fresh Blood in Clubs
7. Dominik Eulberg- Der Buchdrucker
Not two, not three, but FOUR tracks coming by Wednesday.
Woo, sorry it's been a while since the last post, but even this one shall be brief. You see, I've been working on some articles for Big Shot Magazine, and have also been looking for a "real" job. That finally came today, so the stress is off on that front. Problem is that I've had little time to work on that mix I promised in the last post-- should be tweaked and ready by Saturday or Sunday, so check back then for a great all-vinyl minimal mix and a tune or two!
If you're hungry for a good mix right now, though, you should go to Resident Advisor and download the Efdemin podcast. It is almost two hours long and has a wonderfully effortless quality about it. It also showcases recent developments that are linking new deep house and new minimal tracks. Very diverse!
Finally, here is a gem of the past. It is certainly one of my favorite songs of the moment. Not much else needs to be said about it, so just click, listen, and enjoy.
Arthur Russell- Springfield
One quick note before the post proper: turn UP the lows on that Quenum & Lee Van Dowski track below. There's a great deal that emerges-- subtle bass tones and some nice hidden percussive bits.
Idjut Boys are among those groups that can do no wrong, in my book. Everything I've heard is fun, funky and makes me want to dance 'til I'm beat. Along with their originals, their remixing capabilities are well-known, especially among the disco and beardo crowd.
The first track is a remix from the Idjut Boys' most recent 12" on Bear Funk, a label with quite a bunch of heavy hitters in the disco-house arena. (Check out the Lexx 12" from 2006). The original mix of "Laisn" falls more on the deep, soulful side of things, and Kalabrese takes this and tears it open. What is revealed is a dub-house world of delayed vocals, echoey synths, lazer-like high-pitched stabs, and Muddy Waters samples. It is, at times, a highly disorienting sound, but the conga-supplemented house beat always keeps the hallucinatory aspects from reaching too far into dub's dreamland. Very playful and very funky, this track is sure to please dancers as much as those chillers who like to sit on the side during sets with their eyes closed. So get to it.
Idjut Boys feat. Rune Lindbaek- Laisn (Kalabrese Remix)
The next Idjut Boys track is a bit older, but was re-pressed on vinyl again at the end of 2006 by Headinghome Recordings. "Smokin' Balls" is a floor-stomping disco house track. The bass-line gulps relentlessly and the superbly catchy rhythm guitar descends in a loop throughout, but the epic lead guitar samples move the track and lend it a sweet immediacy. Of course, there are bells, whistles, vocal snippets and loads of other delayed clicks & clacks here and there, so that there's no mistaking that the Idjut Boys are here to make you dance AND make you feel very high. Dudes are definitely smokin' something, right?
Idjut Boys- Smokin' Balls (Original Mix)
A mix and a new track in the next post!
Sometimes, it feels like us in the US are more than a bit separated from much of the activity surrounding the current techno scene. This is not to denigrate the many great records put out by US producers, but rather to acknowledge that Europe's robust techno culture beats ours by many miles (or kilometres)-- why else would DJs like Sean O'Neal (aka Flowchart) be moving to Germany in droves?
Despite these obstacles, it's still possible to get a taste of what is being spun (or Abletoned out of its mind) at the clubs we only wish we had. Here are two recently released gems from the other side of the pond (or in it!), both of which are almost guaranteed to hit dance-floors quite a bit in the coming months.
First, we have a noisy, bang-up number from Tupperwear, a group hailing from the gorgeous Canary isle of Tenerife. On Klitekture, "Kleen" begins with feedback hisses, clicks, and a pulsating bass that is massive from the beginning. It slowly builds into a floor-shaking track, the feedback hisses, echoing and layering making for quite a "lushly minimal" sound. However, almost as soon as it erupts, "Kleen" backs off a bit, descending into low-level atmospherics, with the addition of marimbula-like samples providing some nice bits of melody. Then, like a nuee ardente, the track explodes again, and everything is brought to the fore. The aforementioned marimbula-like samples become high in the mix, and the track is transformed into something bordering on tribal. The sound of "Kleen" ends up being incredibly organic, a surprising quality given its hissy beginnings and face-pounding minimal techno beat.
This is the A-side of the first single from Tupperwear's new album (also on Klitekture), which is among the most fantastic experimental techno albums to be released this year, along with Luciano's new double-LP.
Our next track is from two well-known masters of minimal, Quenum & Lee Van Dowski. On the fledgling 60 Sec. label from Switzerland, the tracks from this newest EP follow the sound that Quenum and Van Dowski have given us before, but... they're more minimal?
Yes, they are. No lush synths riding above the 'bom bom bom' here, only little mid-range clicks, murmurs and high-pitched, spacey, acidic lines. What really makes this track is the funky bass & perscussion progression-- it lends the track a bounce that slowly reveals itself, so that as the track moves along, the desire to get down increases. Secondary percussion sounds are often distorted, delayed or otherwise tweaked, giving the track a slightly hallucinatory feel: "What WAS that SOUND?" I think you'll feel the same, and will certainly want to hear this on a truly big club system as much as I do. (I have a feeling that one Mr. Villalobos is certainly going to incorporate it into his sets, so if you get a chance...)
By the way, 60 Sec. released one of my favorite singles of last year, Agnes' Girls on Drums. It is a label to watch out for-- for a young label, the track record has been astoundingly stellar.
Quenum & Lee Van Dowski- The Moon Above Mario's Blast (Original Mix)
Next time, the focus will be on the disco/beardo house faves, Idjut Boys-- two great tracks!