Sunday, September 23, 2007
Mahjongg's is a creativity that’s unlikely to grace your stereo for eons, with a combination of purpose, musical know-how and the production smarts to seamlessly fuse 70's lo-fi guitar, polyrhythmic drum explosions and fuzzed-out bass lines. But it's not just an insightful collection of what's come before. They've got tones, bleeps and beats too. Just like the genreless melee Black Dice or Animal Collective craft so effortlessly, Mahjongg take that initiative and coincide it with some well sourced cohesion. In short: RaYDONcoNG 2005 is a contemporary masterpiece.
Mahjongg are not about hype, they're about music, and challenging your perceptions on music. They might be about to take over the world, but really - who cares what they're doing unless they're on a plane right now to play in your living room and change your life. Short of that, at least RaYDONcoNG 2005 exists, right?
Montreal’s Montag (a.k.a. Antoine Bédard) charts a new direction on his third album Going Places. Overhauling his delicate touch with vintage instruments, and transforming his sound into explosions of incandescent electronic pop, Montag fleshes out his lush sophisticated songs with guest appearances from musical friends Anthony Gonzales (M83), Owen Pallet (Final Fantasy), Amy Millan (Stars), Au Revoir Simone, Victoria Legrand (Beach House) and Ghislain Poirier.
Moving through the personal, Montag visits his lover in a pop anthem (Best Boy Electric) and the transformed ghosts of his family with nostalgia both sublime (Hi-5 au DJ) and ironic (Alice). Singing in English and French, the solo artist also forays into the social, imagining uprisings on Vancouver’s troubled streets (322 Water) and the eager compliance of a young battalion (Mechanical Kids). From blissful orchestrations (Safe in Sound, No One Else) to a sparse, boy-on-boy duet (Softness, I Forgot Your Name), Montag’s Going Places allows passage into landscapes full of color and contrast, at once vivid, intimate and other-worldly.
This is Paul Dickow's second full length for kranky and third as Strategy. He is extremely busy running the Community Library label, which will be releasing a 12" version of this album's title track, while also collaborating in the trio Nudge, and recording and performing solo work.
Three years have passed since Drumsolo's Delight, and Strategy finally comes forward with a new full-length. His third album to date, Future Rock focuses Strategy's diverse interests into a single point, while still drawing directly from the dense, shimmering sonic language established on Delight.
Based on a refined studio process that incorporates multi-tracked live instrumentation, archaic synthesizer equipment, archived recordings of improvisations and band practices, digital sound design, and sound of non-musical origin, the album is a polyglot solution of genres. Musical quotations, discrete sonic jokes, and skewed musicological impressions are blended into a dream-like, impressionistic musical composite which confounds and compounds music's past, present, and future. A gauzy, vibrating curtain of sound, much like the one that made Drumsolo's so distinctive, ties together all the songs as do the signature Wurlitzer electric piano and old-school spring reverb.
Incorporating compositions that have taken years to develop, a handful of close collaborators (including his cohorts from the band Nudge), and using source material that dates as far back as 2000, Future Rock is easily Strategy's most complex, narrative, ambitious and overtly "pop" record to date; as well, it's practically a thesis statement for his vision of a genre-free musical world. To date you've heard Strategy dabble in everything from headphone-oriented ambient music to house and dub; this is the work that brings it all together.
Justus Kohncke is a sponge and seems to have soaked in the whole history of pop music with all its inherent, structural beauty and styles. Five years after his debut album of cover versions “spiralen der erinnerung” and two years after his album “was ist musik”, Kompakt deemed it high time to wring out the sponge - filled with impressions collected during Justus’ numerous spectacular freestyle dj-performances all over the world. Combining Kompakt's techno message with disco jewels of the last three decades the man is full of knowledge and somewhat prone to regular, scientific analyses of his all-time, most favourite songs. Fighting on the front line of new club sounds Justus' track “timecode” was by consensus one of the biggest hits of 2004 - yet he plays the pop card so unashamedly, killing two birds again with one stone. “Schwabylon” is hard and elegant cruising disco funk Daft Punk would have loved to add to their recent album; “herz aus papier” is a cosy ballad called made in cooperation with Barbara Morgenstern; and there is the intoxicating, exotic and psychedelic version of “the answer is yes” and of course Kohncke‘s famous brand, his german electronic pop music for the charts of tomorrow (“wo bist du”, “alles nochmal”). The heart of the cd album is the 10-minute disco track “elan”
Rod Modell is a sound designer / electronic music producer from the Detroit area. Began producing music in the mid-80's using analog synthesizers and drum machines. To date (July 2007), Modell has about 60 releases to his credit. Rod's work was focused on elecrto-acoustic experimentation in the early years, making musique concrete compositions with a 4-track cassette machine and field recordings, then branching into industrial soundscape work. More recent recordings utilize more structure and beats, but still retain the atmospherics that Modell is known for. Mood is of paramount importance in a Rod Modell recording (often created with field recordings). Sadly, this element seems to be lost in much of the clicks+cuts DSP music of today. One of Modell's favorite pastimes is making middle-of-the-night recordings with his portable DAT machine and dummy-head microphone. In the mid-90's, Modell started Deepchord Records (w/ Mike Schommer) in Detroit, as an outlet for his music. Deepchord has experienced tremendous popularity (some say cult status) within the dub-techno world. Formed in the mid-90's, DC was one of the original perveyors of this sound. Hordes of immitators came in the following years after DC, but DC's status as one of the originators is firmly embedded in musical history. Somewhat similar to the mid-90's Berlin sound, but with warmer sensibilites... seeming to pull more elements from Chicago's house and Detroit's techno heritages, while avoiding Berlin's more metallic edge. Someone recently described Berlin's sound as Black and Grey, and DC's sound as Brown and Red.
After four sellout twelves and a barrage of critical acclaim - Deepchord's full length Echospace excursion "The Coldest Season" is at long last available on CD and Download - featuring material not featured on the EP's and different versions of familiar tracks - all expertly blended and mastered by Rod Modell for your enjoyment. Produced using nothing but vintage analog equipment : Roland Space Echo, Echoplex, Korg tape delay, vintage signal processors, noise generators, Sequential Circuits 8 bit samplers & numerous analog synthesizers - this project goes back to the heady days of Berlin-based proto dub/techno variations, recorded and produced in Detroit and Chicago. Three of the worlds most important Techno cities colliding to form a whole that perfectly bridges the gap between The Motor City's emotive arrangements, The Windy city's percussive robustness, and Berlin's life-altering Basic Channel continuum. Listened to in one sitting, "The Coldest Season" chooses a different arrangement and track selection to slowly build up momentum and space - taking in the muted steppers reduction of "Abraxas" and the icy soundscaping of "Ocean Of Emptiness" before reaching a crescendo of sorts with the radiant techno of "Elysian" and the majestic dub killer "Empyrean" - the most revered track on board bringing this 80 minute album to a perfect close. Where Echospace go from here only time will tell - but for the moment "The Coldest Season" is a perfect distillation of dub techno and BASS reductions for 2007 and beyond.
From George Clinton and De La Soul to Ornette Coleman and Frank Zappa, a lot of great artists haven't hesitated to be self-indulgent. It's a question of how self-indulgent an artist chooses to be, and on Psychoanalysis (What Is It?), Prince Paul is much too self-indulgent for his own good. Known for his membership in the group Stetsasonic and for producing De La Soul, Queen Latifah, and others, Paul has an impressive resume. But this unfocused, incoherent CD wasn't his finest hour. Though it contains a few worthwhile rap tunes (including "Psycho Linguistics" and "J.O.B. -- Das What Dey Is"), Psychoanalysis isn't a rap album so much as a collection of soundbites, samples, and dialogue played over tracks. Overall, the album is pointless and serves no purpose other than Paul's desire to amuse and entertain himself. He may have gotten a few laughs out of it, but listeners will be left out in the cold and find themselves asking if there is a point to all this.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
after their homage to their moms and the digestion of piled up experiences of their musical freshmen years, the arts-and-crafts duo modeselektor will now release their second album �happy birthday�.
the record is once again a description of the state of mind of the little buggers from berlin-wedding. the constant state of mind is definately clear: hanging out together all the time. not only professionally (tours, studio ...), but now even more in their privat lifes to. because, smart asses will have reasoned already, both will become fathers very soon, almost simultaneously. happy birthday!
but back to their labor-pains: after 111 slashings and burnings of the dancefloor from sydney to iceland last year and driven by the ungovernable spirit of gold-diggers, gernot and szary holed up at their mobile airstream caravan recording studio in order to give birth to �happy birthday�.
the conditions of production were - and no flattering here - adverse. but thanks to digital transfer technology and a mild winter in berlin, all came together nicely in the end. thank god, because the album is supposed to release modeselektor�s monkey of success, its joy and energy and was supposed to also be a celebration of themselves - yeah!
there was of course spoken support in the past, and some of it turned into a musical one: thom yorke, maximo park, puppetmastaz, paul st. hilaire (of course!), otto von schirach, siriusmo and the french rap gang ttc.
the repertoire of �happy birthday� goes from hard rap à la french to the term dubstep in the broadest sense. new urban word scraps buzz around all the time to descripe modeselektor�s style: eurocrunk, continental grime, tech-rap ... the list is long. mr. bronsert and mr. szary don�t like to post a genre sticker on their music anyway, so they don�t really care. they just do great music, no matter what style.
and another good thing - their tendency to not take themselves seriously is unbowed and so this album is great fun for everybody - moms, dads, sibblings, grandparents ... �happy birthday� seems to be a bit more mature. maybe. but nonetheless not less attractive. like the two gentlemen themselves ....!
The term Krautrock gets bandied about pretty loosely, and it has been used on more than one occasion to describe this 1973 effort by the little-known Sergius Golowin. Looking at its vintage and its cast of players, it's easy to see how it earned that label: members of the band had recorded with such legendary Krautrock ensembles as Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, the Cosmic Jokers, and Wallenstein. Nevertheless, Lord Krishna von Goloka is probably a little too ambient to qualify as rock of any kind. It is, however, a pretty tripped-out affair, and one that is likely to satisfy fans of early-'70s kosmiche rock.
The album is divided into three long tracks, but it would be wrong-headed to discuss these as individual "songs." Rather, the three pieces exist as atmospheric soundscapes, each sharing similar terrain. Folk, classical, and Eastern elements bump headlong into more psychedelic components, provided largely by Schulze who contributes everything from electric and acoustic guitar to organ, Mellotron, percussion, drums, and electronics.
Throughout the proceedings, Golowin serves as a sort of German Timothy Leary, gentling imparting his wisdom on all things mystical. He speaks, whispers, and sighs, but never sings. In short, it's all laid on a bit thickly. Fortunately, the genuinely intense musical performances cancel out the more indulgent moments, ensuring that the album never devolves into period camp.
"Migrations, Emanuele Errante's debut album, is a perfect choice to inaugurate Apegenine's Chapitre, a series dedicated to ambient music, field recordings, and modern composition. Migrations' eight electro-acoustic settings are soothing, multi-layered fields of loops that sit naturally alongside the similarly pretty recordings of Marsen Jules, Gas, and Kompakt's Pop Ambient installments. Errante's wide-ranging instrumental palette adds contrast with the harp plucks and strums that dominate “Rugiada” followed by the strings and piano of “Nubes.” “Calabria,” with its surging waves, Gas-styled strings, and repeating piano ping, is as moodily atmospheric as the fog-drenched moors of Wuthering Heights, while “Wheels” is equally motorik and hazy, as its layers blur into a repeating mass that vaguely resembles Reich's Music For Eighteen Musicians. The words contemplative, ruminative, and serene come to mind while listening to this accomplished collection of lulling ambiance. ."
Nonloc is the solo guise of Mark Dwinell, the guitar-slinging ringleader of East Coast spontaneous trance rockers Bright. When composing on the spot with Bright, Dwinell directs the minmailst, krautrock inspired jams into melodic and sonically layered songs, draping over it impromptu vocals in a manner loosely akin to any number mid-70's Kraut legends, or the philosophies of Damo Suzuki and his instant compositions. Nonloc takes direction from the Bright model, but springboards away with a more refined perspective. Between Hemispheres, the second solo album for Dwinell as Nonloc, is a heady excursion into repetition and the unyielding strength of unrepentant melody.
Fascinated by minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley, Nonloc seeks to focus on the microtonal universes and hypnotic netherworlds minimalism awakens from repetition, while constructing ivory towers of melody enveloped top to bottom with softly barbed hooks. Acoustic and electric guitars provide focus instrumentation, but the elaborate color accumulation of Between Hemispheres is dominated by alternate layering of acoustic instruments such as piano, accordion, mandolin, and cello. Whereas Bright will use vocals sparingly as instrumental color, Nonloc spices up the instrumental forays by peppering tunes with lyrics that are direct and at times strikingly personal.
Impeccably recorded, Between Hemispheres is a long-playing lullaby for intimate, contemplative twilight stares into candlelight.
Monday, September 03, 2007
A Place To Bury Strangers have often been called "the loudest band in New York". This may very well be the case, but unlike much so-called "loud" rock and roll that's out there, APTBS is not loud simply for the sake of it. The sonically overdriven sound they've accomplished is no clumsy accident, but a carefully cultivated and well-maintained entity all its own, fostered by an unbridled passion that's clearly evident in every live show they play and each recording they make. A Place To Bury Strangers does not so much play songs as allow them to pour out. They are songs about longing, heartbreak and confusion played extremely well and at a passionately loud volume.
While there are obvious reference points: Pornography-era Cure, early Ride, My Bloody Valentine, and pre-1990s Jesus and Mary Chain, the sound is all their own, in part due to singer/guitarist Oliver Ackermann's day job of building custom guitar pedals (see deathbyaudio.net). Coupled with the solid bass of Jono Mofo and the relentless drumming of Jay Space, the APTBS team is a force to reckon with.
These ten songs have been floating around for years on CD-Rs sold at shows and MP3s circling around the Internet, but are presented here uncompressed in their full glory, professionally mastered for CD. From the time that Killer Pimp first approached APTBS to release these songs until the time of the release, interest in the band has exploded, they have played South By Southwest, and have been offered recording deals with bigger sized labels.
At the time of release, many of these songs are being given new treatments for a wider release on a larger label. This disc serves as a document of the songs dirty and raw early incarnations and will no doubt become a collectors' item over time.
The origin of the band's name is biblical.