Falty DL – Atlantis 12″ – Ninja Tune

Somewhat of an originator when it came to this loose, sample-heavy, slowed-down house groove (Gerry Read, Youandewan, Red Rack’em, etc), Falty DL returns on the mighty Ninja Tune and re-establishes his mastery of the art.

While it’s not as frenzied as some of his album work, the music here is characterized by a constant motion throughout the course of each song.  The title track is straight ahead house by Drew Lustman standards, Can’t Stop The Profit takes it down a notch in tempo and adds in the vocal play familiar to fans of his Phreqaflex EP, but then changes up the tempo and cadence a couple times later on in the track.  My Light, My Love gets full on wonky funkadelic and then he closes out strong with the sliced garage stylings of The Sale Ends.  It’s a varied ride and a clear reminder of why this producer is in demand from some of the most established labels in edgy electronics: Rush Hour, Planet Mu and now Ninja Tune.

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We Are Not Alone 12″ – Inimeg

Second release for the fledgling Inimeg sticks to the plan: futuristic melancholy label art paired with three tracks from Joey Anderson and an underground heavy-hitter cameo.  On the first release, the special appearance was from DJ Qu, this time around it’s Jus Ed.  And as in the last edition, the high quality is consistent throughout the release.

Opening the release is Jus Ed with a track that’s restrained even for him, pastoral chords over a purring bass and some 808 beats.  Following that up is a gritty house track from Anderson, with a punishing midrange and an alien jazz chord-progression.  On the flip, the other two tracks stay dark and gritty but with washes of beautiful melody, often in dissonant contrast to the rest of the track.  Overall it is compelling, oblique, original work that carves its own path, it’s easily heavy enough for club play and will appeal to fans of Fred P, Kassem Mosse, and DJ Spider.

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Kassem Mosse – Enoha 12″ – Nonplus

Gunnar Wendel’s KM guise is hitting while the iron’s hot, and shows no sign of running out of material soon.  Here with his second EP for the detail-oriented and eclectic Nonplus imprint, he comes with a couple of skeletal electro tracks, a reverberant slow-house joint, and one straight up heroin house groover.

Opening with the long-running house beat of the title track, he returns to the theme that worked well for him on the FXHE-tipped 576 and his “Untitled” on Laid, but this time focusing on the bass and reverb interplay rather than bringing in the melodies of those earlier works.  GS02 likewise eliminates all but the drum programming, leaving a clattery robotic hodgepodge that would do Andrea Parker proud.  Inswanns is the “slowhouse” beat mentioned, though it’s more evoking that vein through the halting filter-happy beat and spacious atonal chime melody than the well-over-120 BPM.  Closing the EP, Sleepworking is an uneven half-beat electro wobble that will appeal to Chicago fans of Dreamlogicc’s sub-heavy PAs.

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Franco Cangelli – Embrace 12″ – Machining Dreams

Hakim Murphy’s gear-oriented Machining Dreams imprint branched out from his original work with this interesting signing. The depth and drive of Franco Cangelli’s title track handily demonstrates the qualities that have seen him releasing arbiters of underground quality like Sushitech, and Seventh Sign in addition to his own Mowar imprint. On the flip side he strips down the production to a more dry, drum-box powered Detroit-style, always inflecting the tracks with detail and hints of melody.

Releases like this have paved the way for Machining Dreams to feature artists like DJ Spider, Amir Alexander, and Chicago’s Steven Tang under his Obsolete Music Technology moniker.  Certainly a stamp-series joint worth checking out while it’s still possible to find a copy.

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WAX – 20202 12″ – WAX

Opening with a thoroughly fragmented rhythm, Pinch’s rework falls close to the blueprint of Shed’s rugged techno breakbeat.  It’s a pummeling uptempo big-room approach with Shed’s piano stabs duelling a growling soundscape and kinetic breakbeat, a clear move away from Pinch’s lighter garage / dubstep “underwater dancehall” stylings on Tectonic.  On the B side, Elemental goes full cut-breakbeat sound, almost certainly a cut that will be in rotation for Martyn and the like.  The twist is that the last third of the B side cut takes a sharp turn into a shuffling revamp that even reminds me a bit of some adventurous moments on the Traum label.  This remix pack is a worthy addition to the WAX stamped-series catalog and is worth a listen for the dubstep / techno crossover DJs.

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Mario & Vidis – Staar Wars 12″ – Best Kept Secret

Falling somewhere between John Tejada and Lawrence territory, this new 12″ should appeal to fans of either, as well as to followers of Endless Flight, Future Classic, and Best Works. Those happen to be the other imprints that have released records this year for the suddenly prolific Lithuanian duo.

Kicking off the newly founded Best Kept Secret sublabel with a full-cover art EP, the A side has a pair of uptempo numbers that have the melodic flourishes of Plaid while staying straight-ahead enough for a deeper dance set.  The B side is a contrast, hitting the downbeat house groove on both with a delicate melody for the first track and a seductive female vocal for the final cut.

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Marko Furstenberg – Selected Remixes 2 12″ – Ornaments

The always elegant presentation of Germany’s Ornaments label is paired with similarly elegant productions on this remix compilation of previously digital format-exclusives.

Marko Furstenburg’s usual near-transparent studio technique is brought to bear first on D.Diggler’s Nitronome, the original bouncy deep tech-house released on the 2006 album Empulse.  Furstenberg’s submerged interpretation integrates many of the original sounds, but squares up the beat to make it a little more driving for the club.  Continuing on the sonic theme of underwater grooves, the 20000 Miles Below remix is culled from the a 2009 digital compilation on the consistently excellent Zeecc label.  Again, the rework ups the intensity to a level that would fit well with Heiko Laux’s Kanzleramt catalog.  Finally, the long side is devoted to a remastered version of Gabriel Le Mar’s 2009 Thinner release.  This is the standout on the release; with heavy melancholy chords taking center stage towards the end of the track it’s a good show of Furstenberg’s underutilized strength in writing compelling melodic developments.

In light of too-common discussions of release format competition, it’s encouraging to see these songs bridging the divide for new availability on a physical release.

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Gift Ideas: Some new threads available at G-phone.

Theo Parrish should give me one of these $43 Ugly Edits t-shirts for writing about them on facebook. I wear a smedium, dude! “$43??!!!!” you ask? well, $42.99 + tax, really. Rahm gotta get his cut, too, joe! If it’s like anything else Theo does, it’s limited. And face it, you probably made enough to buy 20 of these things and have plenty left over from selling your Theo Parrish records online. Am I wrong? Thought so. Support your boy. He’s worked hard for it.

side note: Theo, I charge $1 per word for write-ups. That’s $153 worth of words. Plus the picture is worth 1000 words.  That’s $1153 you owe me, good sir.  Just give me a shirt and we’ll call it even.

side side note: I don’t get paid to write at all. Sorry for lying. It would cost me a week’s worth of Gramaphone wages to get one, even with my discount. Just give me a shirt.

That says”Hi-Fi”.  Can you see it?  No?  Tilt your head to the left and connect the boxes in certain places with your huge and imaginative brain.  See it now?  Ha. Yup.  Took me a minute, too.

Chicago House icon Ron Trent got these bad boys printed up.  Maybe your familiar with his Africa Hi-Fi parties and brand?  If not, get acquainted.  It’s one of the finest parties in this faire city of Chi.  And it’s all about great music… just like Gramaphone.

 

 

Remember cassette tapes?  I still got ALL mine in a record crate.  Love them shits.  So many memories.  Heard that they’re coming back in a niche kind of way.  Our friend Ross Kelly owns a vintage shop Kokorokoko in Wicker Park.  He said kids buy up all the cassette tapes and walkmans pretty quick.  Maybe Gramaphone will start selling cassette tapes again?  I’ve definitely noticed a lot more folks coming in and asking for cassettes!  Hmmm.

Enough of my tangent!  This is the backside of Ron Trent’s Hi-Fi shirts!  Show all the cool kids you know what’s up, too.  $20.99

This cat creature is cute, but i swear he really wants to eat my face!  I’m happy that he has no way to achieve his goal.  He is limbless.  And a cartoon.  So, I just laugh at him.  Stupid cat guy.  Fuck you!

Aside from his blind hunger for human face flesh, he makes for a pretty sweet t-shirt design.  Just don’t let your loved one lay his or her  or his/her head upon your chest while wearing this.  He may mutilate them!  Unless that is your intention, of course.  If you try to purchase this shirt and I sense your evil intent, I will deny you the sale!

This is a Candy Talk t-shirt from Gramaphone alumnus and OM Recording artist DJ Colette’s new clothing line.  It’s cute.  And it don’t really wanna hurt nobody.  Mens & womens sizes.  $25

So, I hope I’m not the little boy who cried wolf, or something… but… uhhh… this  guy really wants to hurt you.  He’s a gotdamm coyote wielding  a huge sharp knife of the murderation sort.  MURDERATON!

Coyote Cuts is a Chicago Jack House label brought to you by the Flapjack & Spatula City folks.  Right now I’m listening to Wattie Green’s Blastoff EP to acquaint myself.  Now I understand.  The coyote isn’t trying to murderate anyone in a literal sense.  He’s trying to kill the dance floors of the world with his brand of funky jazzy jacking house magic!  Go, coyote, GO!  KILL THEM ALL!

DJs, grab the records from this label to kill dance floors.  Gentleman, wear this t-shirt and become a lady killer.  What lady doesn’t love sweaty dudes in t-shirts?  Available in gray and blue.  $18.99

Maybe you’ve seen this logo popping up around Chicago?  What is it?  Pac-man, beware… Chicaghost.  Clever, no?  You know you want one.  Git git it.  Mens & womens sizes.  $22.99

 

 

 

 

Hey, Mike!  Boss man!  That’s 752 words and 6 pictures (worth 1000 words each) at $1 per word.  In an ideal world you would pay me $6752 now.  Sadly, this world is far from ideal.  I wrote this for minimum wage, which I’m not complaining about.  Maybe you, the reader, could make this world a bit more ideal for us all, including a loved one, by purchasing a fresh t-shirt for him or her or him/her, which would increase sales at the humble record store of my employment, Gramaphone Records.  That could possibly lead to me getting a raise and adding some meat to my nightly meal of Top Ramen.

Thanks for reading this long ass shit.  Happy Holidays.

Soul Capsule – Seekers 12″ – Trelik

This is not a new release, but the recently reinvigorated Trelik label is still wandering its way to outlets around the world (including Gramaphone) so I thought this gem would be worth a late mention.  Thomas Melchior and Peter Ford team up for another subliminal loopy session under the Soul Capsule guise.  The original is all deep reverberated moans and repetitive vocal bebop over a classic rolling tech-house beat.  It’s so straight-ahead and sub-driven that it seems primarily intended for club play, but it’s heady enough to demand a special moment even there.  On the flip, they’ve enlisted Ricardo Villalobos for a rework.  His entry is fairly conventional for those familiar with his catalog, this time he throws in some moody keys along the lines of his Heiko Laux remix and reduces the vocals to subtle wisps playing against some loose background snare jabs.

If you follow Perlon, you already know what they’re up to here.  Well established as they are, it’s not groundbreaking but they still set the standard.  And of course it’s great to see Baby Ford‘s Trelik imprint (most active from 1995-2001) back on the map again.

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Plaid – Scintilli 2×12″ / CD – WARP

Plaid are still off in their own exquisite world.  They seem to have invented a personal language, and continue to develop its vocabulary through this latest, long-awaited full-length.  In the half-decade since their last WARP releases they have provided feature film soundtracks for Heaven’s Door and Tekkonkinkreet and this may have helped to further develop the already cinematic vision present in their earlier work.  As with the tangled origami artwork on the cover, their results are both striking on first glance and illuminating upon further investigation.

Songs like the triumphant “At Last” and Danny Elfman-esque “35 Summers” show a dream-like charm in their composition.  Elsewhere, they utilize the extended format to stretch their precise sonics and intricate rhythm programming; moments in “Talk To Us” harken to LP5-era Autechre, while the tricky time signature work in “Tender Hooks” and “Missing”, proto-dubstep of “Eye Robot” and playfully rocking shuffle of “Unbank” hint at their enduringly, endearingly adventurous approach.

Even as Plaid has been heavily imitated and inspirational to the swath of musicians and programmers left in their wake, the British duo is still singularly distinctive and original.   For the fans out there, this will also serve to tide you over until (hopefully) the eventual physical release of their score to Tekkonkinkreet.

[edit: Tekkonkinkreet did get a physical release on Japan only CD, and was just this week released internationally for download on Bleep.  Still waiting on the vinyl & international CD versions, though…]

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Tobias. – Leaning Over Backwards 2×12″ / CD – Ostgut Ton

Leaning Over Backwards is Tobias.’ debut album. Kind of.

Since his recordings as part of Hypnobeat in the mid-80s, he’s worked with Atom Heart as Sieg Uber Die Sonne, released a solo album as Zoon in the mid-90s, done extensive work as Pink Elln both in collaboration with Atom TM and solo albums and singles for a wide variety of labels, and of most recent notability, recorded as 1/2 of Non Standard Institute with Sun Electric’s Max Loderbauer.  Not to mention his extensive studio work… but about this album.

It’s heavy, refined, often restrained, propulsive techno that has an air of ease and playfulness about it.  This unassuming spirit shows easily in the vocal samples, but there’s a fresh quality to the tracks and the various abstract tangents that sounds like he was having fun with the production.  Leaning Over Backwards is a subtle, strong release from start to finish both as a listening album and as clubbing material.

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John Heckle – The Second Son 2×12″ / CD – Mathematics

Only the third artist to have an album released on Jamal Moss’ Mathematics imprint (not counting those under The Sun God‘s various aliases), John Heckle more than meets the high expectations involved.

The album’s strength lies in its ability to jump from one style to another while remaining confident and commanding. On “The Charge,” “The Second Son,” and “Healer’s Charm,” John evokes a heavy retro-Chicago sound that has been so influential for the M>O>S and Rush Hour camps of late; on “Analog Bulldog” and “Atomic Response” he delivers straight acid jack tracks; on “The Rise Of The Believer,” “Atmostheatre,” and “Interstellar Light Collect” he seems to channel the convoluted cosmic gyrations of the Hieroglyphic Being himself. Taken together, The Second Son has been a critical darling for good reason.

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Echologist – Subterranean CD – Steadfast

Brendon Moeller, recording here under his more frequently techno-oriented Echologist alter-ego, releases the first album on his own Steadfast imprint.

Subterranean is groundbreaking.  It is immersive, experimental, textural journey.  Through it, the artist has seemingly distilled his techno work to solely the atmospheric elements.  This process is most transparent on tracks like “Slowburn (Filter Dub)” where he takes already familiar material and refocuses it as a pulsating soundscape.  It would be misleading, though, to describe this as a purely ambient, beatless collection, because while it is superficially lacking the standard reference points of techno: the kick, snare, hat underpinning, it is a heavily rhythm-driven excursion.  The syncopation is continuously flowing, with one groove seamlessly, subliminally giving way to another.

But it’s a unique work, and in that respect indescribable.  The melodic key seems to remain the same throughout but with shifts in the emphasized chord, the tempo seems to remain the same throughout but the cadence and accent is constantly re-invented.  Think of it as the humidity of Monolake‘s longform ambient naturalism combined with DJ Koze‘s playful spontaneous manipulations, Alva Noto‘s frequency manipulation and Surgeon‘s compelling gravity; all oppositional, seemingly contradictory perspectives coming together to crystalline effect.

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Marcellus Pittman – The Midwest Advocates 12″ – Unirhythm

Marcellus Pittman of Three Chairs fame presents the Midwest Advocates EP Part One, hopefully in earnest because it certainly deserves a continuation.  These are raw-as-nigiri drum machine workouts.  The two cuts’ skeletal vision is to Detroit house what Jeff Mills‘ The Drummer series was to techno.

They’re excellent tool tracks that manage to eke a surprising amount of personality out of the unadorned rhythm work.  Not hedging at all for the home listener, these are aimed straight at the dancefloor.

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D. Shettler gets his Hot Burrito out.

So, oddly enough, I went to school with Dave Shettler. Well, to be more accurate my younger brothers were good friends with him and I knew him through them. We played in bands in the Detroit area at the same time and are Facebook friends. Needless to say, I was surprised when I looked at the label on this Hot Burrito #1 release from M1 Sessions and saw his name. I know that a few years back I saw he had got into synths and I guess this is what he’s been working on recently.

“Hot Burrito #1″ is some pretty straight up, Detroit styled deep house with some loopy analogue synth lines, and filtered disco sounds beneath some compressor pumped drums. There’s a tension that builds around the rise and fall of the rhythms, wobbly synth melody and knob twiddling that never reaches a fevered peak but never lets you down either. On the flip is “Hot Burrito #4″ which is a short, loopy, stripped down yet funky number featuring the sounds of some decaying analogue sounds over the top of a lo-fi bassline and sparse 4 to the floor drum programming.

A nice first release from Shettler and the M1 Sessions label out of Detroit. I’ll be curious to hear what they both have to offer in the future. For now, I suddenly want mexican food.

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Chicago’s Ricardo Miranda twists things up on 102point7

2011 has seen some nice releases on Hour House Is Your Rush and Noble Square from Chicago’s Ricardo Miranda, and his debut for the Stilove4music label continues that journey. The title track “102point7″ is built around a running, jagged sawtooth synth line and serious claps. The track grinds and jacks relentlessly on its sparse, overdriven sprawl.  On the flip “Rotary Cells” goes deeper with a 909-led track full of sub bass augmented by a woozy vocal asking “Do you know the emotion and the feeling that rages through my body as I listen to true Chicago House?” The mental jam level is turned up even further by “Greenline”, a stripped back cut with running hats, flanged claps and the kind of mind-bending synth melody that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from Jeff Mills or Claude Young. This is excellent dark, raw and pulsating dance music.

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Mr. Fingers White Label Reissue of “Moonglow”

Mr. Fingers "Moonglow" (whitelabel)

Previously only available on 1993’s Lost Trax compilation, this is some amazing work by Larry Heard that should never have been “lost.” Built around a foundation of shuffling beats, excellently programmed toms, some jazzy keys and some amazing etheral synth melodies this one is a sure fire floor filler. I only wish the quality were better and the track didn’t just run out at the end, but beggars can’t be choosers right? I’ll still be playing it late into the night. This one’s a big pretty and deep middle finger to all the newbies who think Chicago house is one dimensional.

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Area – Dogs & Flies 12″ – Mindshift

This four track EP on Chicago’s Mindshift Records shines as an excellent example of an ideal marriage of house and techno concepts. The A side dives deep into some lush, dubby and reverb soaked sounds that immerse the listener yet doesn’t drown them. There’s plenty of tension in the tracks to drive a dancefloor as Area and Hakim Murphy both deliver really nice deep cuts. On the B side Murdoc takes a turn at remixing the title track delivering a bit more driving take, with rhythm structures that call to mind early Carl Craig productions and some nice stuttered editing. The last track “Powder Burn”, also by Murdoc, is a tracky affair with microhouse influences and sounds reminiscent of Matt John’s releases on Perlon or Underl_ne. Definitely one for the deeper and headier house & techno set.

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Levon Vincent – Impression Of A Rainstorm 12″ – Novel Sound

Levon Vincent’s increasingly infamous Novel Sounds imprint, an outlet devoted to his solo releases since 2008, drops another likely limited, stamped whitelabel edition to close out 2011.  If you’ve been following his progress, this release will come as no surprise, but rather as a welcome addition to his steadily building catalog.  (Well, steady save for his studio hiatus in 2010.)

For his new listeners: this New Yorker produces a distinctive blend of deep techno and Chicago-style warehouse music.  His is a brand of pseudo lo-fi that gives the impression of grubby, overdriven amps and crackly speakers yet is meticulously arranged for heavy impact and sonorous clarity.  In essence, these are prime dancefloor movers for the deeper set.

 

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The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble – Mr. Machine 2×12″ / CD – !K7

Indie heavyweight Studio !K7′s latest signing, The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble, comes on strong in the recent tradition of Francesco Tristano and Christian Prommer (another !K7 alum.)  This is a fully-realized,  largely acoustic recording, which while taking some loose inspiration from the language of electronic music, doesn’t stay in loop-oriented territory for very long.

The downtempo “You Make Me Real” is reminiscent of Plaid‘s Rest Proof Clockwork album, with its evocative use of acoustic texture, almost ominous tension in its delicate crescendos and taut patter of percussion, harp glissando and plucked melodies.  Following that immediately is BBF’s rework of Pretend, released earlier this year on Emika’s EP for Ninja Tune.  The version here is a different revision though, where the Ninja Tune version of the track drew electronic material from the synthetic original, the sprightly acoustic album rendition contents itself to recreate the melodies and structure of their rework with more classical instrumentation.  It’s a remarkably worthy revisit.

The studio team no doubt bears mentioning on this package, the studio recordings were a collaborative effort between Jazzanova’s Axel Reinemer and Dubplates & Mastering’s illustrious Rashad Becker, the latter also being credited for the final mixing and mastering.  Foremost an immersive listening experience, Mr Machine is a crystal-clear, precisely orchestrated recording that should interest audiophile listeners, dance music and downtempo fans, modern classical and jazz heads.

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