Friday, March 13, 2009

S├ębastian Tellier - Sexuality (Record Makers)

Sebastian Tellier's genre hopping ways has found him here, at erotic, sleazy synth pop. I say sleazy, but in truth the album contains just as much dignity, emotion, and creativity to render this much more than a gimmick of any kind. The album (produced by one half of Daft Punk) kicks off slow and sexy, and doesn't let up from there. Tracks like Kilometer and Pomme take the erotica one step further even, fashioning choruses or background out of female moans, caught in the middle of some sonic orgasm. Changes in the album occur infrequently, but when the do, as with the longer, more dance oriented number Sexual Sportswear, it is quite noticable. This is most obvious with the final beatless piano piece L'Amour Et La Violence, that starts out innocently enough with a meandering almost tunless piano, which quickly evolves into a heartbreaking melody that comes to ground Tellier's sweeping vocal that slowly builds and builds until you find yourself suddenly looking up to the speakers out of curiosity to what has made these tears well in your eyes so unexpectedly. Tellier sings of his passion for both love and violence in our modern world, perhaps a commentary for our violent, yet peace obsessed world, but this particular album, it's all love.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ricardo Villalobos - Vasco EP (Perlon)

What aching brilliance is this? The ultimate in minimal techno, Ricardo Villalobos yet again blasted expectations and the walls of techno for his lone release in 2008. The two part Vasco EP was released with 3 original songs, and a remix for each. The CD version collects the three originals and an extra track, minus the remixes. While the release is flubbed, the art itself is stunning. We open with Minimoonstar, appearing here in it's complete 32-minute glory. It begins with strange patterns of ethnic drums and synth trickery and eventually these ambient electronic choirs come in and every five minutes it never sounds like the last five minutes, actually, these songs are almost impossible to describe due to their abstract nature. Just know that Minimoonstar is a work of stunning artistic brilliance and beauty, with Electronic Water not falling too far behind. Amazordum is a more straightforward affair, and is therefore the least interesting of the tracks. Bonus track Skinfummel however is also hypnotic, due mostly to its vocal sample. The remixes are unavailable to the mp3 world due to Perlon's beliefs, but one is widely found in illegal format, and luckily it is the important one. Shackleton's remix of Minimoonstar is from another world. It sweeps the already brilliant tracks out of the way and is the star of the show. It is one of the best remixes I have ever heard. You would be forgiven for believing that the apocalypse was upon you as you listened to its percussive workouts, doom and gloom ambience, creepy vocals, and goddam massive kickdrum in the latter half. Anyone who appreciates electronic music in any form deserves to hear this masterpiece of modern music. So what are you waiting for?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Soundboy's Gravestone Gets Desecrated By Vandals (Skull Disco)

This is the the final release for us as the Skull Disco label comes to an untimely close after only 10 releases. This double CD compilation gathers the final 5 vinyl releases, and remixes for each of the songs as well. The first disc rounds out the originals. The lone track by label co-owner Appleblim is quite a standout, strange considering he always felt limp compared to label co-owner Shackleton's forward thinking work. It ticks along with a great bassline and microscopic percussion that creates a dizzying effect. Appleblim also makes two other appearances on tracks coproduced with Peverelist, and they seem to have the most traditional sound. Highlight is the utterly lush and beautiful intro to Over Here that eventually blossoms into a wonderful track. Lastly there are five Shackleton works that are the stars of the show. Shackleton continues to explore very intricate and sparse middle-eastern rhythms with rumbling liquid bass beneath, however, they are taken to creative extremes here. Each boasts incredibly detailed beats, wonderfully disturbing vocal samples, woozy bass, and great melody. Best are the complimentary tracks, The Rope Tightens... ...But the Branch is Weak. On the other disc is a remix for every song on the first disc. Most remarkable are Peverelist, who takes the dub/techno crossover far to one side with his predominantly 4/4 remix, and Badawi, who stretches his work into a 12 minute clattering opus. I was dissapointed by the much talked about T++ remix of Death is not Final, which psychadelically skitters along on top of sub bass; it is quite effective but never is lifted to the much praised heights it was given. Skull Disco is in my opinion, the most effective dubstep label ever, and it is sad to see it go so quickly, but we are left with this ultimate requiem.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mr. G - Makes No Sense (REKIDS)

It has been a while since we have seen Mr. G on the famed Rekids label, not since the devestating super-hit "U Askin?". Mr. G has established himself as a necessity for the Rekids label, he is simply a perfect example for their sound. The track begins with hypnotic repetition that slowly builds through the course of it's 10 minutes. Nestled in between are twangy synth stabs, and a dub-style vocal sample. It may be a steamroller, but the first notion you have is that it lacks the charm and funk that made "U Askin?" so successful. On the other side label-owner takes the remixing duties, and it fares much better. As per usual, Matt Edwards takes a very deep and hypnotic beat and simply rides it through the song's length. Good thing this is one of his best he has done. The beat takes a large kick and tribal drums and makes something unsensibly funky and danceable. Riding over that beat are swirls of jungle sound effects like leaves rustling and birds chirping, given much reverb to make a dark, druggy feel. It is very silly that people seem to be giving Matt Edwards a hard time with this release due to his likely ability to do a remix very easily due to their repetitive simple nature when he has released remixes like the Dead Souls remix, or the Ralph Falcon remix which sounded like he didn't even take the time to compress his work due to the bad static sounds in the track. Both sides seem to be taking cues from the recent dubstep/techno crossover, but veteran Edwards wins out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What the Fuck, Pitchforkmedia?

Since the nineties internet music trendsetters Pitchforkmedia ( have continually exhibited extremely eloquent writers, impeccable taste, up to date news and relevant columns. Since it's origin in 1995, the site has gained readership to lofty levels, making it now the most read internet music magazine. Along with the readership came an expansion of features. In 2003 they introduced Best New Music, a gallery of sorts for the most adventurous and artistically inclined music of our age. Not long after came Recommended, where albums that were worth seeking out but that didn't quite make the cut were showcased. Also there was the features section which included interviews, live reviews, lists, and columns from their best writers. Relatively new to the site is the Forkcast, where a constantly updated list of streams, videos and mp3s relevant to the average pitchdork are made available. All good things must come to an end, I suupose. In the last couple of months the updates to the website's features section has become erratic at best, completely omitting everything except interviews and the occasional special column. Gone are the monthly music columns that explained what is going on in various important genres of music such as Dubstep, Grime, and Techno, each of which has literally it's own world that simply cannot be taken care of by the main site. In other words, there is basically no more information to be found on these genres at all on the website. Gone are the heartfelt personal columns by writers such as Mark Richardson's always ridiculously interesting Resonant Frequency. Mark Richardson's prose is completely and utterly unmatched by any other music critic that I have ever read. They are so personal but completely void of any form of arrogance, they are eloquent but coloquial, they are beautiful but relevant. The Recommended section is completely gone, it is only survived by a review simply marked "recommended" on the day of its publication only. There is no way to see what they recommend unless you write it down in a list throughout the year. Same almost goes for the best new music section itself, which can no longer be archived, meaning we no longer can look at past inductions, only a recent few. I address these problems as a disheartened fan, not as a sneering disbeliever. I only want the best for my own and others' musical interests. I hate to see the ultimate in music criticism slowing sinking in the murk. I have no explantation for these follies either, since no information on the changes was posted on their website, and they have refused to answer the two concerned e-mails I have sent them. Is it laziness? A lack of funds? Are they planning to shut down? I wish I had an answer, but I seem to be faced with a music source that is utterly not concerned with their viewers. I suppose I am a geek, but having said that, music is my ultimate source of joy and pleasure, and yes, for the most part that does require Pitchfork. Their tastes match my own to an insane degree, and they usually recommend music that would otherwise completely go unnoticed, not to mention they house the best music critics known. Does this arise questions of our new reliability of the internet? Perhaps so, and I'm not afraid to admit that I completely rely on the interent. Why shouldn't we? I feel confident in being interested in the music itself, not in the culture surrounding it. The blog world has created such a hostile battlefield for the quest of becoming the most relevant person in the world that it is hard to not get caught in a shitstorm (see Hipster Runoff's dismal Animal Collective post, the blogger manages to say absolutely nothing about the music, but instead bullshits endlessly about the internet's influence on a band). I just want the outlet for my passion back to the way it was.

STP - The Fall Remixes (Subsolo)

STP, better known as dubstep/techno producer Shed orders up a prestigious pair of remixes for the first release on his still quite new Subsolo label. First up is the recently famous (due to his much heralded reworkings for the infamous Skull Disco) T++. The remix kicks off immediately with squelchy patterns over a 4/4 beat that still retains most aspects of dubstep's rhythmic sensability. On top of the kick is what seems to be a live bass drum that gives it a more immediate pounding feel. The beat itself never really changes, but instead periodically and litterally drops out of audibility every now and again leaving simple amience, until slowly morphing its way back into line. It's a work of beauty that confuses its listener's sense of time and perception with its ever changing sound. On the other half is equally famed (if not even more so) Peverelist. It has all of the producer's usual sounds: colorful ambient washes, a light beat that eventually gives way to something deeper, smirking hats, and playful reverb. While this marks no new territory for Peverelist it shows extreme consistancy in beauty and clattering precision. This release also finds T++ dangerously pushing the boundries of dubtechno into abstract fields, and that makes it all the more exciting.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ruede Hagelstein - Dog Vs. Dog IV (Lebensfreude)

As per usual, Ruede Hagelstein finds cavernous and dark reliability with his latest in the Dog Vs. Dog series on the Lebensfreude label. Side A bosts a wonderful grooving beat that carries his trademark ethnic sound effects effortlessly, inluding a glorious blaring horn that seems to call forth the spirits of the Underworld. However, this exact sound was used to a much more devestating effect on his last single, the sadly overlooked (much like Ruede himself) Modest Theme. Surely there is an unspoken rule that an artist cannot use the same gimmicks twice, a rule that must also be unknown to Dominik Eulberg whose digital-only remix of his own latest single, Eucalypse Now! featured a sound effect previously utilized on his (utterly wonderful) 2007 remix of Riley Reinhold's Light in my Eyes. On the flip however is a dark tribal infested journey through murky water that fares even better. It begins with a pulsing kick that sets the undertone for all sorts of growling vocals, tribal percussion and synth stabs. It rolls along on the relenting groove until everything drops out of sight, and a massive and terrifying metallic screech hauls the breakdown into place. It calls back to mind Hagelstein's peak work, Der Kamblasser from his last Dog Vs. Dog EP. Ruede Hagelstein exhibits stunning consistancy, although this release is certainly no crest on the line of his work, perhaps because it echoes too much of his earlier, greater work.

Please take note that this is a radio edit of the original 10 minute piece.