What a wild couple of days! Went to New York to hear Digitaline and Luciano do sets at Cielo, paid a visit to Halcyon, and then hiked uptown to see the fantastic Gordon Matta-Clark exhibit at the Whitney. Worth mentioning that I'm doing a bit of writing for Big Shot Magazine now, and you can read my review of the Cielo sets here.
As promised, this post deals with names that need little introduction: Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano.
If you were to hear our first track with no previous knowledge of it, you'd assume it to be some wildly minimal track from early 90's Detroit, and you'd be mistaken: it is the 1995 work of Roland Leesker (aka DJ Carrera) and Ricardo Villalobos. Taken from a forgotten DAT and re-released in 2005 by the mysterious ER und ER label (uh, guess who?), the track utilizes an incredibly simple and distorted descending bass loop for its entirety. After beginning with this loop, the track layers high-frequency harmonic stabs, hi-hats, snares, and hand-claps to build to a nice peak around the two-minute mark, when it becomes a real banger. Also punctuating the track throughout are piano strikes reminiscent of Derrick May. The only quiet moments arrive when a sample from Le Petit Prince is brought in sporadically. It is quite hypnotic, and certainly gives some insight into Villalobos' later work, particularly his more soulful tracks. Another thanks to the lfam for this great slice of history.
R & R- L'Essentiel
The next track is on a bit of a chill-out tip: a demo version of "La Ondita," a collaboration between Luciano and Cassy Britton that originally appeared on the Blind Behaviour record released on Peacefrog in 2004. The track highlights what makes both of these artists so special: their versatility. Luciano can pack a dance-floor as well as he can create dubby, slow sex jams, and Cassy's superior DJing skills are mirrored by her mysterious, gorgeous singing voice.
"La Ondita" is marked by the high-frequency, watery squelches that Luciano is known for, along with a smooth, muted bass-line. Occasional bells, claves and wood-block hits emphasize the sweltering and tropical feel of the track. The differences between the demo version and the final cut are subtle, yet I believe that they render the demo version a bit more sexy. Other than track length (the demo version is almost two minutes longer), the essential difference between the two is found in the vocals: the demo version contains sublime moments when Cassy's voice is overdubbed, creating harmonies, and Luciano himself joins in on the track's chorus. It is this juxtaposition of male and female vocals that eroticize the demo version to a point that the final cut doesn't reach. Of course, the version on Blind Behaviour is excellent, but after hearing this demo, I'm sure you'll agree that the track could have remained more as it was in its infantile stages and been much more effective upon its eventual release.
Lucien-N-Luciano (featuring Cassy)- La Ondita
Look out for the next post, which will yield some great newer tracks for your listening pleasure.
Oh, would I were there for the festival season and sunny, grandiose views. Not that things are that bad here in the US-- DEMF went off well from all accounts, and lots of great music is coming to New York this summer. Anyway, to explain my brief absence: I just got back from the small town of Oberlin, Ohio, where I DJed some great parties during Oberlin College's commencement week. Good on you, Oberlin kids, for getting down to Reinhard Voigt, Dandy Jack and a load of other stuff I thought you'd hate!
Today's post deals with some of the current heavy hitters on the European scene, and particularly with some of the more elegant sounds that evoke the greenery, the cobblestones and the sunny bliss of summer in Central Europe.
Interestingly enough, the first track comes from a name usually associated with dark, brooding, hallucinatory techno. Yes, Pom Pom 29 has recently been released, and while some of the dark edge remains (especially on B2), the release is brighter than any previous Pom Pom effort. Leaving behind the mystery of who exactly Pom Pom is-- some guess Justus Kohncke, others that Pom Pom is really a catch-all for a secret multi-artist re-edits label-- let's get to the meat of the A-side of Pom Pom 29.
Unlike many of the more recent Pom Pom releases, the track begins without percussion, opting instead for a fantastically spacey arpeggiation loop. The beat arrives soon enough in typical banging, well-padded fashion. Some twinkly harmonies later, a demented harpsichord synth arrives. That's right, HARPSICHORD on a Pom Pom release-- believe me, it is something for the ears to behold. Eventually, the track resolves with some serious synthy octave whooshes in the background, the arpeggiation loop still going strong. As a major fan of Pom Pom, I must say that this release surprised and delighted me more than almost any other I've heard-- if I didn't know who it was, I'd guess something like Lindstrom or even Minilogue. Strange how the ears can deceive! (Special thanks to one of my closest friends and collaborators, the lfam, for bringing this to my attention).
Pom Pom- Pom Pom 29 (Side A)
Next up is an older track from one of the big names of the past year, Ame. Their new record Balandine, out now on the Innervisions label that they run with Dixon, is an exercise in dark, deep house. In this sense, its tracks are quite different from last year's slow burning "Rej," which was blasting at nearly every club everywhere at the time.
The track below is taken from the 2004 Sonar Kollektiv release, Mifune/Shiro. The latter track begins with a steady deep house beat and a low bass progression. After this backbone has been set, a high and simple synth loop comes in, eventually combining with piano strikes reminiscent of Henrik Schwarz and a slowly creeping guitar-y synth line. When the beat finally drops out, the bass keeps it moving whilst a new, ethereal synth line brings one up into the trees. The elegance and grandiosity of this particular line makes the track-- it instills head-shaking and whoops of ecstasy from the dance-floor. So check out this older treasure from Ame, and make sure to see them spin if you get the chance-- it's well worth it.
The next post will concern itself with some rare and lovely gems from two of minimal's favorite sons: Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano, so visit again!
There is no trail and the green is deep and murmuring. Eyes at your back. Len Faki- Mekong Delta.
Find out more at Ostgut Ton.
The whistling rush thumping in your temples. A numb sprint amidst the roaring. Daze Maxim- Mathematical Breakfast.
Find out more at Daze Maxim's site or Harthouse Records.
An escape, a view of the sun. Heiko Laux- SenseficTion (Surgeon Remix).
Find out more at Kanzleramt.
The greenery is finally out in full bloom here in Philadelphia. In the spirit of the season's lushness, this post concerns itself with three tracks full of deep, balearic sounds.
The first comes off of the Morpheus 12" of 2003 from Hallucinator. On Basic Channel's Chain Reaction sub-label, the record is an adventure in truly deep techno-dub. While its four tracks are all stellar, the standout of the record is "Reverie (Edit II)," a hypnotic, Indian-flavored number. While the sitar and tabla samples are intoxicating enough, the heavy dub beat thuds with stomach-churning power. If an MC spat some lines over it, it would be blasting out sub-woofers and rattling windows in no time. What's more, the high-frequency washes toward the track's end lend it a sublime and beach-like feel. Can almost feel the sand between your toes, right?
If you're a fan of Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound and have not been introduced to the fantastic stuff on Chain Reaction, I highly recommend downloading this track (mastered by Moritz von Oswald himself) and looking into some Fluxion, Substance, as well as more Hallucinator. All of it is available here.
Hallucinator- Reverie (Edit II)
A few months back, I was browsing around Halcyon, and one of their friendly workers handed me a Japanese Synchro System record called A Day in the Life. Having never heard of the group, I put it in my enormous 'to-be-listened-to' pile. Almost immediately after dropping the needle on the 12", I took it off and put the record in the 'definite purchase' pile-- it sounded so good, I didn't need to hear any more of it in the store. Since then, the record has been a constant on my decks. Its melancholy organ loop, jazzy piano and high-frequency synth twistings caress and ride up the spine. The undeniably sexy male vocals, slow-bumping deep house beat, and delayed flute make the track even more narcotizing. Not for the dancefloor, to be certain, but unbeatable for a spring afternoon or a nap (or the evocation of such).
Worth mentioning that "A Day in the Life" (on Life Line Records) is not emblematic of the Japanese Synchro System sound. In fact, finding a definite 'sound' of JSS is quite difficult: Kazuyuki Shimizu and Kiyoaki Fukagawa, the dudes behind JSS, are extraordinarily eclectic in their productions. Their first full-length is freakishly lush Detroit-style techno, and their newest has everything from cosmic bangers to a loungey, synth-drenched cover of "I'm on Fire." Fukagawa and Shimizu definitely deserve more renown, a fact made more apparent in their beautiful website. Check out the audio samples to hear what I'm saying.
Japanese Synchro System- A Day in the Life
The last track of this post is another mystery along the lines of Villa Savoye (see first post below). Who are Groove 2? Sure, they put out a single record on the urban/deep house label Strictly Rhythm in the early 90s, but alas, no other information on the production is available. The track posted below, an instrumental mix of the horrifying vocal house of "Originality," sounds almost like a Jan Hammer production-- if you close your eyes, you can see Don Johnson making the moves on some hot Miami babe on his boat deck. The smooth jazz sax is theatrical to the utmost, and the pan-flute samples that eventually harmonize with the sax are rich and quite high in the mix. It goes without saying that the bass-line is cool, simple and resolved to get some action.
Yeah, the sound is a bit dated, but no matter: the beat and the synths are darkly sexy, and there is a muggy catchiness to the track that render it as irresistable as a cocktail on a warm evening. Speaking of which...
Groove 2- Originality (Rolling Around to a Sax Sound Mix)
A few eccentric but really astounding tunes for you this post.
First, we have a tune by Vince Watson under his Nico Awtsventin moniker. Mr. Watson has been garnering some real praise for his recent RA podcast, and he deserves it: the mix is lush, full of pulsing synth lines, well-padded Detroit beats, and some truly wonderful moments that make one go: "Ahhhh." Like that. The track below is from his Tranquility 12", released in 2002, and will give you a bit of insight into his sound (and love of flute samples).
Watson's most recent single (under his own name) is excellent, and came out on Carl Craig's Planet-E label late last year. Coming soon is a 12" on Submerge, one of the more venerated techno labels about. It will include a remix by none other than Los Hermanos, aka Gerald Mitchell, so look out for that.
Nico Awtsventin- Eccentricity
Speaking of Submerge, they put out a great compilation last year featuring a track by one Orlando Voorn, among the early techno and electro pioneers. Working under the name of Fix, this is some sick-ass electro-funk with a deep, throbbing bass beat that could kick the shit out of any cocaine rap. Ahem... also works well mixed with cocaine rap.
Finally, the anomaly of the post. Imagine Poland. Lots of apartments like the one above. Actually, the one above is quite nice, but many are awful, poorly-constructed, International Style, modernist vomit.
Despite these and other problems of being a former Soviet state, Poland has quite a bit going for it. 1) It is cheap. 2) One is still hard-set to find lots of vomiting British tourists everywhere, which one can't say for Prague. 3) The musical traditions of the country are astounding.
During the late 70s, a group of studio jazz musicians who were interested in world music got together and began recording under the name of Ossian. They played mostly 'ethnic,' acoustic instruments during their sessions. All of these were originally released on the Poljazz label, and only recently have they been re-released and re-mastered on CD.
If you know who Atman or the Magic Carpathians are, then you are associated with the type of sound that Ossian bring us: proggy, psychedelic folk music with an excellent percussion section and an undeniably organic feel. Below is the third track from their Ksiega Chmur LP, which translates to "Book of Clouds" (fyi: it is pronounced "k-SHENG-ah [c]h-MOOR). Its summery, ecstatic tones are exactly right for this time of year, so point those speakers out the window, turn them up and bliss out.
Ossian- Rodzial III