Posts filed under ‘dance’

Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Live in New York (Honest Jon’s) 2LP+CD

Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Live in New York

Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Live in New York

As one half of Basic Channel/Rhythm & Sound and a co-founder of Berlin’s legendary record-cutting studio Dubplates & Mastering, Moritz Von Oswald is already an electronic music legend. Not one to rest on his laurels, Von Oswald has recently been creating some of most alien and perplexing music of his career in a live, improvising trio with Vladislav Delay and Max Loderbauer.

Live in New York is a high-quality audience recording taken from one of the Trio’s rare public appearances. This particular set extrapolates upon material from the band’s debut album, Vertical Ascent, with a little help from guests Carl Craig and Francois K. The presence of these heavyweight collaborators fleshes out the material a little, making it somewhat more approachable. But this is still startlingly odd stuff. It’s pretty strange, in particular, to hear the New York crowd whooping and cheering along to the group’s extra-terrestrial synth chatter.

Still, the enthusiasm is well earned. With its mechanistic live percussion and stern, dissonant keyboard drones, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio sounds like a malfunctioning cyborg jazz band from a novel Philip K Dick never got around to writing. It always sounds wrong somehow but it never fails to satisfy. Take a listen to this extract and once you’re inevitably convinced that you need to own the whole deluxe 2LP+CD package, go buy it from Forced Exposure.

The Moritz Von Oswald Trio will be playing in Seattle on Sunday, September 26th, as part of the Decibel festival. If you’re there, be sure to do a lot of whooping and cheering. You might end up on the next LP.

August 26, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Not Me – “ntm (One Pad Mix)” (CSAF) download

Not Me - "ntm (One Pad mix)"

Not Me - "ntm (One Pad mix)"

Not Me’s “ntm (One Pad Mix)” is the latest in CSAF’s 10-20 2010 series of free MP3 downloads. Here’s what the label has to say about it:

“A hypnotic dub-techno epic. Recorded live in one take, using a half-finished Max/MSP patch, with only minimal post-production. All glitches are… if not exactly intentional, certainly welcome. Produced by connect_icut.”

You can download “ntm, (One Pad Mix)” for free, right now. You lucky bastards!

August 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm Leave a comment

Actress – Splazsh (Honest Jon’s) 2LP

Actress - Splazsh

Actress - Splazsh

Album of the summer!

This summer, Splazsh – the second album by Actress (aka Darren J. Cunningham) – seems like the ideal solution to the same summer itch that The Field’s Yesterday & Today scratched in 2009. Like Yesterday…, this album offers a highly cohesive collection of deliciously immersive, subtly innovative tech-house, ideal for blasting out of open windows on hot, sunny days.

Sonically though, Actress doesn’t really have the same wide-screen vision as The Field. Indeed, he seems determined to narrow his focus into a wilfully compromised frequency range. Cunningham is the man behind the Werk Discs label and – as such – he is commonly perceived as an adherent to the teachings of UK bass music’s broad church. But there’s not much bass here, just a grainy mid-rage that sounds like it might be emerging from an iPhone across the aisle of a London bus.

Even more than Hazyville (Cunningham’s excellent debut album), Splazsh is an exercise in digital lo-fi, the like of which has rarely been heard since the heyday of glitch, circa 1999. Sounds are down-sampled into dessicated, rubbery strands then time-stretched until the holes start to appear. All the annoying detritus we normally associate with 128k MP3 and laptop speakers is marshalled in the service of an uncannily ear-catching and  shamelessly contemporary sound.

The glitch comparison is apt because what this album perhaps most recalls is the psychedelic sample-splicing of glitch-associated techno producer Akufen. Cunningham has talked inspiringly about using sampling to capture the abstract essence of one’s favourite tunes and deploys this methodolgy to absolutely stunning effect throughout Splazsh, using all the DSP tools at his command to trip almost-recognizable fragments of music into stuttering abstraction.

Still, whereas glitch highlighted the deficiencies of digital audio, with a clear critical agenda in mind, Actress just revels in the decrepitude. And sometimes, it can get to be a bit much. For instance, he harnesses the overuse of compression (a common complaint about contemporary audio production) and channels it creatively into dense tracks that sound fit to burst. But sometimes, as on the “Bubble Butts & Equations”, everything just sounds deflated, with quiet bits that won’t shut up and kick drums that just won’t kick.

For the most part, though, it works wonderfully. There are so many great moments on Splazsh that it’s hard to pick favourites but “Hubble” and “Maze” are particularly tasty. Also, the fact that Honest Jon’s has a policy of getting its vinyl cut by the great Moritz Von Oswald helps to considerably soften the hard edges of Cunningham’s productions. Listening to the MP3s on headphones will probably give you a headache but buy the vinyl at Forced Exposure and throw your windows open and then… well, then you’ll really be making the most of your summer.

July 24, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

The Miracles Club

The Miracles Club

The Miracles Club

The Miracles Club is a new project helmed by Portland’s Honey Owens, who you may know as Valet or from her work with Nudge and Jackie-O Motherfucker. The concept behind this particular project seems to be a lo-fi take on the early house music of artists like Mr. Fingers.

This may be another example of the US avant rock underground desperately trying to explore every nook and cranny of ’80s music or it could represent a more intriguing trend towards noise-oriented artists becoming enamoured with the early history of electronic dance music – also suggested by Carlos Giffoni’s No Fun Acid project (as Philip Sherburne has previously noted) and Josh “Magneticring” Stevenson’s recent excavation of an acid house track he made on his Commodore Amiga, back in the day.

In any case, tracks like “Light of Love” and “A New Love” are pure win, with Owens’ deliciously cracked voice floating atop blissful synth-piano vamps and pattering four-to-the-floor beats. This is improbably brilliant stuff and you are strongly encouraged to seek out the Light of Love EP, which is available now through iTunes and which might possibly be appearing on 12″ in the near future.

April 9, 2010 at 2:00 pm 5 comments

Deadstock – Deadstock (Internal) LP

Deadstock - s/t

Deadstock - s/t

Deadstock was a mid ’90s UK post-rock/electronica combo featuring Ian Hicks aka Baron Mordant of arch hauntologists Mordant Music. Those of you who enjoyed Mordant’s excellent 2009 album SyMptoMs would be well advised to dig up a copy of Deadstock’s one and only LP, from 1996.

Essentially, SyMptoMs expands upon “Fallen Faces” from  Mordant’s previous, mostly instrumental album, Dead Air. Like “Fallen Faces”, SyMptoMs prominently features Ian Hicks singing scabrous couplets of Internet-age ennui and anomie. Much of Deadstock prefigures these developments.

The album is divided between instrumental and vocal tracks. Deadstock’s instrumentals haven’t stood the test of time terribly well, bearing many dated hallmarks of the “intelligent techno” featured on those early-’90s Trance Europe Express compilations.

The tracks with vocals are another matter altogether. Songs like “Monophonic Man” and “Nobody” are strongly redolent of Bark Psychosis’s electronically-enhanced swan song, “Blue”. These are infectious urban nocturnes, which powerfully evoke the mood of their time, not just its lesser musical trends.

Deadstock is worth picking up just for highlights such as these. Luckily enough, you should be able to get a cheap copy of the LP via Discogs Marketplace, without too much trouble.

February 18, 2010 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

The Field – Yesterday & Today (Kompakt) 2LP + CD

The Field - Yesterday & Today

The Field - Yesterday & Today

The Kompakt label seems to have a limitless supply of nominally left-field but fundamentally lightweight electronic dance music. Over the years, the label has touched upon everything from house, techno and electro to ambient and even glam rock. The vast majority of its output exists in some rose-tinted hinterland between fluffy and downright irritating. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that Kompakt was founded by Wolfgang Voigt – he of the monumental Gas project.

In many ways Axel Wilner – aka The Field – is a very typical Kompakt artist. His epic minimal techno constructions gush cascades of sugar-water samples over bouncy, up-tempo tech-house grooves. The tunes on his much-loved debut album From Here We Go Sublime are exceptionally formulaic – each track modulating insistently between two equally heady chords until pop-ambient nirvana is achieved.

So, what marks The Field out from the Kompakt pack? Why is Wilner so much more critically acclaimed, so much more popular and – frankly – so much better than most of his peers? In a word: intensity. If Wilner was not so utterly dedicated to his aesthetic and mission, his tracks would fall flat, like so many here-today-gone-tomorrow Kompakt 12″s. Instead, the effects of his music are positively ecstatic – a cynicism-destroying flood of good vibes.

Wilner doesn’t depart much from the standard Field formula on Yesterday & Today but he does renew his commitment to flirting with disaster. Each of this album’s minor innovations could have resulted in utter calamity. Instead they’ve resulted in one of 2009’s most consistently satisfying long-players.

Doing a full vocals-and-all cover of The Korgis’ soft-pop chestnut “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime” is objectively a terrible idea. But Wilner’s realisation is utterly ingenious – as intense as anything he’s done but in a new slow-burning tempo. Elsewhere, he brings in (shudder) live musicians – including John Stanier, drummer with Warp-signed avant rockers Battles. On tracks like the predictably epic but surprisingly mid-tempo closer “Sequenced”, Stanier confounds expectations (or prejudices, at least), managing to build up a level of organic momentum that Tony Allen himself would be proud of.

To top it all off, Yesterday & Today come housed in a lovely matte gatefold sleeve, which includes the vinyl and CD versions of the album. You can have it all when you buy it from Insound.

November 26, 2009 at 9:00 am 5 comments

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