#019: Flab-Stripped and Fatter
eatz By The Pound’s numerical tribute to Paul Hardcastle includes new reviews of My My, Hieroglyphic Being, Baby Ford, and Gus Gus, plus takes on new stuff from Planet E, Get Physical, Mobilee, Sender, and Echocord. And waiting for you at the end of all the reviews is a new minimal DJ mix from Peter Chambers. Also, if you haven't done so already, be sure to check out this week's featured article: Todd Burns' interview with Force Tracks' Unai. But first, Nate DeYoung’s profie of the Italian label Elettronica Romana.
There have been more than a couple reviews of Elettronica Romana releases that describe the label’s sound as “intelligent techno.” As much as my knee-jerk response is to shun, shudder and/or scream at such terminology, the tag might still be at the very least pointing in the right direction. What’s missing, though, is the velocity. The one consistency of the label through the high-end of Giorgio Gigli’s trance inflections to the low-end of Maurizio Cascella & Joe Casagrande’s dub marches, is how each single becomes utterly cerebral. But as far as descriptions, cerebral is definitely not precise enough. Founded under foundations of arpeggiated analog synths, Elettronica Romana’s discography reveals a roster of artists willing to hypnotically bridge the divide between a caress and a shove.
Although the label’s blurb of a biography pinpoints its origins to Remix, a famous record store in Rome, it also leaves out just enough for a little free-form techno bollocks mythology to maneuver. Sure, Donato Dozzy has bounced around with Berlin labels like Lan Muzik and Orange Groove, but he’s an exception to the rule. Both Modern Heads and Giorgio Gigli have blossomed primarily on Elettronica Romana. Their contributions have given the label a novel spaced-out form of trance that’s alien to current cinematic stabs found on the Border Community label or other under-currents that are polyrhythmically bouncing around Berlin. With eight releases in the past two years and three currently in tow, Elettronica Romana has culled together a very strong base to a sound that’s bound to go further into the black hole of “more deep/space/trance.”
Giorgio Gigli - Geometrik Forms EP [e.r. 002]
From the first kick-drum, it’s apparent that the Geometrik Forms EP chugs along with a complete disregard of pit stops. Gigli’s endurance is fuelled by a healthy dose of Kraut- the EP’s two sides take all the vibrant atmospheric arpeggios of trance, discard the anthemic traps, and then coast into a hypnotic stretch of motorik rhythm.
Donato Dozzy & Brando Lupi - Destination: Eskimo EP [e.r. 003]
Hypothesizing a mash-up of Monoton and your favorite Italo-disco track, the first part of this single (done solo by Dozzy) could birth a new bastard genre: claustro-disco. Following the famous German group’s predilection for huge analog synthesizers, Dozzy might want to consider renaming his instrument the Seekrank synth; the track’s arpeggiated line wobbles in disorienting extremes, leaving many hunched over the side as the ship presses onward.
Modern Heads - Paper Toys EP [e.r. 008]
Paper Toys' final track, "Puzzle" might find the group sculpting the airy expanse usually reserved to DJ jet setters like the Wighnomy Brothers, but the rest of the EP's path is far more grounded. Perhaps even underground, as "Cartoon" burrows into the paradox of being equally antiseptic and damp, and "Toy" applies both vantages, using and leaving micro-house in the dust.
Butterflies and Zebras
Aus / AUS0602
After their debut release, "Klatta," on Playhouse, Panoramabar resident Nick Höppner teams up again with Watergate DJ Carsten Kleeman and Lee Jones as My My. The result is a truly blissful piece of ambient house with sustained, ethereal tones floating and modulating over a buoyant bass groove. Recorded on the fly, the trio also brings in just the right dose of percussion nestled in the back of the mix to engage and keep you from floating away. For the remix, John Dahlback toughens things up, leaving only skeletal elements from the original and adding dark synth stabs, an angular kick and razor sharp snares for a floor-oriented counterpoint to the original’s spacey haze. Not to be overlooked is the third track on the 12", “Moneybowl,” a liquid, minimal cut that could easily be a standalone release.
[Colin James Nagy]
Full Clip / Programmer
Planet E / PE 65287-1
Martin Buttrich may be better known for his production and engineering work for the likes of Loco Dice and Timo Maas, but his first single for Carl Craig’s Planet E imprint shows that he has a few tricks up his own sleeve. “Full Clip” builds from minimal beginnings to a buzzing climax in a few minutes, then drops the bottom out, only to build it all up again with even more layers and sounds to great effect. With a clear Detroit influence (dig those synth sounds and Craig-esque percussion) and a slightly mellow late-night feel, the cut is dynamic as hell without being too dense or busy sounding at any point—no mean feat. “Programmer” kicks in with some foreign language female vocal samples and a rubber-band bass, a suave collection of beats and handclaps, and those classic Motor City keyboard washes, building up to a relentless groove that never gets stale despite its epic length. Hopefully Buttrich will step out from behind the curtains a bit more often, because if these tracks are any indication, the guy could be doing a lot better for himself than remixing Tori Amos.
The Acid Test Pt. 1
Mathematics Recordings / Mathematics 002
1998 / September 2006
Originally released in 1998 as half of a limited-edition double-pack and now available on its own, these five cuts represent the first recorded work by Jamal Moss under his Hieroglyphic Being moniker. As the title might suggest, these are stripped-down 303 monsters that, thanks to their timeless sound, don’t sound dated in the least-or perhaps that should be impossible to accurately date, as they sound like they could have been made anytime after the initial acid boom in early-80s Chicago. With acid suddenly coming into vogue again of late, the reissue couldn’t be more timely, and these tracks will mix well with anything from DJ Pierre to Adonis to 2 AM/FM. The three tracks on the A side are a bit formulaic: lay down a sick bassline, add beats, tweak knobs, repeat. But on the flip, we’re treated to the longer and far stronger “Rational Expression,” wherein Moss gives things a bit more time to develop by upping the length and spacing out the grooves a bit more. The palette is verrrrrry familiar by that point, but Moss hits some new octaves and percussion sounds in there, and even messes with the volume a bit. But then again, if you’re into acid sounds, repetition is never a bad thing. Final track “Ellipse” is the most experimental and most frenetic, but also the shortest. There were far, far better things to come from Moss later, but those looking for some fun and funky acid tracks could do far worse.
Pineapple / PINE002
There’s nothing trendy about this trance, as Gus Gus go all “Energy 52” on us. The melody is hypnotic, and euphoria abounds. The great thing about this record is that, unlike the slew of electrohouse producers and funky house refugees who have finally realized that trance is back, Gus Gus have followed the pop-trance template to the letter. In doing this they’ve come up with a record that doesn’t sound like new-trance, but rather exactly like the greatest and most celebrated moments of the genre. There’s no need for anyone to explain or apologize. “Mallflowers” is trance, pure and simple. It is also a majestic and wonderful piece of dance music.
M.A.N.D.Y. vs. Booka Shade
Body Language Remixes
Get Physical / GPM 051
The minimal equivalent of “Drop the Pressure” now has these remixes, so long after its original release that nobody, anywhere, ever wants to hear the original melody again. It’s a shame then that Sterac’s remix provide a glimpse into a parallel dimension where 20/20 Vision wrote and released “Body Language,” and humans survive this boring reality by eating grey sludge. Jona provides a far more interesting rework, keeping the original melody. If Booka Shade’s machines got the hiccups, they would sound like Jona. But it’s Radioslave who steals the show with a deep driving mix, wearing his Carl Craig influence on his sleeve as ever, while still retaining plenty of his own fingerprints.
Mobilee / mobilee014
Mobilee take a more proggy melodic direction, again, with this nice track from Britain’s Sleeper Thief. Produced by the increasingly prolific Audiofly/Rekleiner crew, both sides are deep melodic electronic house music proving that minimal labels don’t always have to be minimal. “Chasing Rainbow” is a bumping set starter, while “Full of You” is more peaking. Perhaps less jawdropping than you’d expect from Mobilee, but every great label needs these fire stoking releases, plus this is still far more interesting than the vast majority of British produced dance music, in whatever sense it can be called that.
Spaceships & Pings
Items & Things / IT01
By using a decidedly more minimal range of sounds, all four tracks here update and/or emulate current electro house trends. Konrad Black kicks it off with “Coma Couch Surfer,” a sliver of a stompy, spaced-out track, which may be uncharacteristic of him but also ends up being the least interesting of the bunch. With “Black Leather Wonder,” Magda seems to take the lead from her buddy Troy Pierce by serving up a slightly malevolent track that successfully borrows as much from Booka Shade as it does from a more aggressive Wax Trax cut. Ever reliable, Marc Houle bumps, bleeps, and chirps minimal electro in all of the right ways on “Kicker,” perfectly merging the two genres. Macabre crooner Gibby Miller lends vocals to Troy Pierce’s Horror House epic “The Day After Yesterday.” Possibly the strangest piece on this comp, Gibby’s soulful, eerie vocals and the melodies employed by Pierce present something truly fantastic.
Kid606 feat. Johnny P
Seaya Face and P.J. Body
Shockout / SHOCK12
MC Johnny P disses Jamaican women who keep their skin brown but bleach their faces to look "pretty," but his message will likely be lost on the dancefloor. Not that many THC-clogged minds would ponder our man's critique of post-colonial fallout in the first place (the "P.J. body" is of black PM P.J. Patterson and the "Seaya face" is inspired by Caucasian PM Edward Seaga). Johnny's baritone accent is so thick and rapidly spat in a typical raggacore fashion that most listeners will more inclined to nod along to instead of fully absorb. That being said, this is Kid606's strongest excursion in dancehall to date. He delivers a faithful dubstep groove that tick-tocks to an ace Middle Eastern poly-rhythm and synth growls that resemble a lazer gun shooting blanks (I assure you that they got funk). The fact that this track is produced by the same mastermind behind the vandalistic Ma$e remix, "It'll Take Millions in Plastic Surgery to Make Me Black" has left me a little mystified though.
Chrysalis / 12CHS 5161
Apparently some people think this is the worst song ever made. I wouldn't know, since the twelve doesn't have the radio edit, nor would I care, since the Robbie Williams saga of popular disappointment and considerable national embarrassment was not on my soil or in my internet. Flogging or praising this guy, who was something of the shit in the early 90s I'm finding out, would be no cap-feather of mine. All I know is that the Chicken Lips remix has the monstrous helium-balloon synths and patient disco thrash that all the best CL/Emperor Machine remixes have, and if their "Rudebox" had had one of those naked funk outros a la their "What Else Is There?" remix for Röyksopp, it might have been their best. Chalk up another win for Riton, meanwhile, who put himself back on 2006's map with that acidfreakout re-rub of "Angerman" and keeps himself on with this vicious maximal groove/minimal melody hard techno remix. Riton's "Rudebox" could cousin-kiss the Cajmere remix of Juan Maclean's "Give Me Every Little Thing," especially given how both turn sung vocals into hoarse, robotic shouts. If you dare: Do the rudebox.
Lindstrøm & Christabelle
Music In My Mind (DJ Harvey Remix)
Wax Records / WAX 012
DJ Harvey adds some BPM to Lindstrøm's original a/k/a "Chaka Khan and Rufus Go to Space and Play Slow Jams," and that's about all I can hear as for a difference, though at this speed Christabelle does sound more like Nina Hagen than CK. But simple fixes like this, frankly, are a nice change of pace in the current 12" climate, where "remix" typically means My Whole New Track With Your Incongruous Vocals. Listen to early extended 12" funk remixes and there's mostly just more instrumentation in the mix that the producers left out of the radio edit, lest they scare the radio-edit-listening populace. For good reason, the show's called Nip/Tuck, not New/Face.
Baby Ford & Mark Broom
Pure Plastic / PP064
Here’s some “well proper” deep minimal techno for you, flab-stripped and fatter than your mum’s bassbins, jamming the groove into your ear, little by little. Ford and Broom’s work always works by feel, substituting studio trickery for a touch and swing that far busier, more obviously “tricky” tracks lack. It is what it is folks, the sounds of hot motherboards and tweaked knobs on the wrong side of sunrise – veering close to the atmospheres of some of the deep, proper bleepers on Cassy’s recent ‘Panorama Bar’ mix. “Tightrope part-one” could be the perfect tool to lend some big teeth to the martini microhouse that aint quite biting on the other deck, while “Part Two” adds some slurred vocals and a warm bassline to another repeatscape which is (again) perfect for those who like to keep the mix layered and open. While none of the material here will attract ‘big choon’ hunters, those game for the gains of those “little somethings” should find an enduring place for it in their party-packed jacking box.
Black and White
Echocord / echocord20
For a couple of years now, Echocord has been thee flag flyer for the vague territory between dub, minimal, and techno—something only occasionally and flirtatiously claimed by Kompakt or Shitkatapult. Compared to the label’s other stalwarts (icy) Anders Ilar and (melty) Mikkel Metal, Fenin’s records have a straight purposiveness to them. Where Anders deals in atmosphere and Mikkel writes disguised pop tunes, Fenin is a tracksmith. Unfortunately, on “Again and Again,” Fenin appears to have been smoking the same bad batch that Meteo did before producing his weirdo Peruments album, and as a result Fenin’s fine formulas have gone mong. As we all know, too much of the bad stuff will give you palpitations, or arrhythmia—go easy, kids. “Chewing Dub” is a club tune from a blunted world, but (as such) lacks any sticky parts that might attach to or gum up your imagination. “In Between” lowers the tempo and the tone with a lackluster beatscape, while “Tallyman” gets us back to house without ever seeming to find its home in a mode of being which might make it musical or interesting. Ho hum.
B_Movie 6:00 AM
Sender / send059
Peter Chambers: Sender have always been the hard-edged moon to Areal’s messy sunbeams and within the label’s imaginary, Misc. represent the warm force of jet-propelled acceleration, the heat of a turbine’s exhaust switched to rave-mode and turned on the dancefloor. At their best, Christopher Bleckmann & Hannes Wenner’s work is devastating—their brittle percussion and knarzing basslines will growl and stab mayhem out of even the most indifferent dancer. “B-Movie 6AM” is simply the latest update in this tried and true trick—don’t expect to hear any tones or textures you haven’t. But even if no ground’s been broken, the floor’s still shaking. The title track is the biggest winner, with (surprise) a B-movie sample right in the middle that hints at the existence of a humour that the gravity of this “serious body music” might otherwise indicate. If the best bits on this EP don’t approach the highs of “Rocket Control” or the versatility of their fantastic “Trash Talk” EP, it functions nicely as another hit in the knarz-addict’s arm.
Hector Rodriguez: Although a tech house record in name, Misc.’s latest bears a striking resemblance to much of the harder edge of Detroit techno from the preceding century. In an earlier time this might have been considered techno funk and filed with Sterac or Drexia, but today as the multiplicity of subgenres continues to grow, a gem like this is likely to get lost in the space between. The title track is a gloriously dark banger perfect for a 3 AM spin on the dance floor where you can get lost in the saw tooth bass line and menacing beats. “Among Thieves” complements the EP as well: still dark, but without the menace of the title cut, it’s sure to get the booty bumping.
In the Mix: Nativespeaker [Peter Chambers]
36 degrees Celsius (possible thunderstorm)
01. AM/PM – No Matter Whether [Dreck]
02. AM/PM – The Ends  [Dreck]
03. Lawrence – Teaser [Kompakt]
04. Carsten Jost – Krokus [Superpitcher mix] [Dial]
05. James DinA4 - ??? [Esel 03]
06. Luomo – The Right Wing [Force Tracks]
07. Oxtongue – Delight [Voight & Voigt mix] [Kompakt Pop]
08. Mark Henning – With the Folks [Freude am Tanzen]
09. Guido Schneider – Long Distance Runner [Pokerflat]
10. Dublee – Eleven [Mule Musiq]
11. Noon(at – 780km nach osten [Salo]
JPLS - Program [Minus]
Marcel Dettman – Radio [MDR 1]
Dapyak - Uma [Mo's Ferry]
Andre Chrome - Bodenturen [Leftroom]
The Knife - Like a Pen (Heartthrob remix) [Rabid Records]
Audion - Mouth to Mouth [Spectral]
Heartthrob - Baby Kate (Konrad Black remix) [Minus]
Frankie - Hunt [Frankie Rec]
Acid Circus - Minimal Junk (Jason Emsley Remix) [Droid]
Reagen - Dirt [Unreleased]
iO - Claire [Cheap]
Michael Ho - Frisky [Tuning Spork]
Sleeper Thief - Chasing Rainbow [Mobilee]
Octave One - DayStar Rising [430 West]
Los Hermanos - Freedom Dancer [Los Hermanos]
Donnacha Costello - 6.1 [Minimise]
M.I.A. - Schoolcraft Bump [Underground Resistance]
Marc Houle - Bay of Figs [Minus]
Miss Fitz - Plak Du Jour (Mossa Remix) [Archipel]
Dominik Eulberg - Bionik [Cocoon]
Misc. - Among Thieves [Sender]
Silicon Teens - State of Shock [Mute]
Partly Clouded [Fucked]
Extrawelt - Doch Doch [Traum]
Heartthrob - Baby Kate [M_nus]
Dominion - The Light of Day [KK Records]
Heroin - Meaning Less [Gravity]
Coil - The Snow [Wax Trax!]
Martin Buttrich - Full Clip [Planet E]
Troy Pierce (feat. Gibby Miller) - The Day After Yesterday [Items & Things]
Michael F. Gill
The Creatures - Believe In Yourself [Teldec]
Kasso – Walkmen [Rams Horn Records]
Evelyn “Champagne” King - Love Come Down [RCA]
Mystic Merlin - Just Can't Give You Up [Capitol]
M.I.A. - Safe Night [Sub Static]
Max Berlin - Elle Et Moi (Joakim Remix) [Eighttrack Recordings]
Likwid Biskit - Sound Orgy [Dynamite Joint / People]
Baby Ford & Mark Broom - Bubble Bath [Pure Plastic]
Plaid – Squance [Warp]
Craig David - What’s Your Flava? (Akufen Remixes) [Wildstar/Atlantic]
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-09-15