Wheels of Steel – Pt.11

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »
Mark Rogers “Twilight For Some” [Freetown Inc.]

Nobody would probably expect anything else than deep emotional music on a label run by Robert Owens, but what Mark Rogers of Hollywood Beyond fame comes up with on the sublime “Twilight For Some”, is even more. Despite the gentle tone of the music and the understated vocal delivery, not too many vocal house tracks are as touching this. The lyrics are very melancholic, offering little relief to the troubled people they address, and the music is a companion that stresses rather than distracts. Everytime I listen to this, and the track fades out to a loop of the words “identity, identity, identity…”, I can’t help wishing this experience would last much longer, and more often than not, I put the needle right back to beginning.

Cabaret Voltaire “Searchin” [Parlophone]

A track lifted from the album “Groovy, Laidback and Nasty” from 1990, that most of the fans and critics of the UK electronic pioneers dismissed as mere attempt to cash in on the increasingly fertile house sound. Worse than that, nobody was really willing to accept Cabaret Voltaire venturing into musical terrain that was nothing else than pure pop, with one of post punk’s most recognizable voices crooning blissful melodies with uplifting messages, and one of post punk’s most adventurous experimentalists gladly supplying the according tunes and harmonies. But Cabaret Voltaire enlisted Marshall Jefferson at the time of full creative swing for the production, and he made this song his very own, even bringing in Paris Brightledge, on of Chicago’s most wonderful voices, for the background vocals. So this might be not the most original Cabaret Voltaire record, but they had proven their merits enough before and after, and I am really thankful that they took the chance of doing this album. Maybe imagine this track not being sung by Stephen Mallinder, but Brightledge all alone for instance, and not being by Cabaret Voltaire, but by Marshall Jefferson, and house’s history books would treat it like a bona fide classic. I at least do, no matter what constellation.

Shades Of Rhythm “Exorcist” [ZTT]

Shades Of Rhythm were better known for their rave anthems, filled to the brim with crowd noises, joyful diva vocals and plenty of pianos. And while there is nothing really wrong with that (but admitted, on many occasions it IS really wrong), they were also capable of doing something completely different. “Exorcist” is a pitch dark beast that establishes a really intense mood on nothing more than the basis of a break beat in moderate tempo and a plethora of sinister sequences that seem to spiral into the ether. This still makes any room go boom.

I-F “Energy Vampire” [Disko B]

Now that the UK bass elite is embracing an electro tinge to their latest dubplate, it is maybe a good time to drop a reminder for the Dutchman who already seemingly could look well into the future when he released a series of relentless and uncompromising classics in the past. The moody stop-and-go groove of “Energy Vampire” would not look out of place on a post-dubstep production of 2010, yet it already appeared on I-F’s album “Fucking Consumer” in 1998. Things go in circles, as they say, and the robots shall have the last laugh. And if sometime the italo disco groundwork will seep through the bassbins of the younger bass generation as well (there are already hints that this is not as improbable as it sounds), there is a good chance that I-F will be involved in something else entirely, and equally influential.

Cybersonik “Technarchy” [Plus 8 Records]

At a time when they had no interest in minimalism, conceptualism or fine wines, Daniel Bell, John Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin released “Technarchy” in 1990, the year their imprint Plus 8 came into being, and properly illustrated that techno could embrace the sound heritage of the pioneering industrial artists, acid house, and the emerging Detroit sound at the same time. The devastating result hinted at the hoovers, cornfields, and love parades to come but back then nobody would have predicted all that. What this record confirmed, however, was that there was a potential for all that. From the introducing metal beats, building a harsh yet funky groove, to the 303 squelches, and then, of course, to one of the most bone-crushing bass breakdowns in the history of club music. Most DJs playing the record at the time when it came out even emphasized the experience by turning up the bass even louder when the kick drum came to a halt and just the bassline was rummaging around in the intestines of the floor, but then again it was already doing its work untouched by any mixing antics. In any case whoever heard the track unprepared and for the first time in a club, would possibly never ever forget it. I certainly did not.

Whatpeopleplay 11/10

3 Things

Posted: January 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The Oliverwho Factory “Past, Present & Future” Madd Chaise Inc

Ever since I came across their releases a while ago, I’m a fan of this elusive couple from Detroit. Were their previous tracks often weird and wild, heaping ideas on top of each other that could supply other current house (and techno) producers with a year’s worth of material, this EP is rather smooth, even if some of their earlier tracks already showed their skills in that area. Subjective as it may be, on these tracks they manage to utilize elements that usually put me off house records right away: nujazzy offbeat rhythms, afro percussion, synth noodlings, this harmony singing that Blaze once brought into the scene (but it certainly wasn’t their fault, bless). In short, I have a whole range of unpleasant associations I normally connect to this certain kind of “spiritual” house that was predominantly championed in the New York scene of former years. That kind of house that wants to lift you up with its soulfulness, when it actually drags you down with weak songs, stereotypical arrangements and deepness by numbers. It speaks a lot for Oliverwho Factory that they take exactly these ingredients and make them shine in a different light, whilst maintaining their own way of establishing their signature rough moods and original details. Judging from the variety between house, techno and beyond they have covered so far, they are definitely on the surprising side of club music, and I trust them to stay there.

Anthony Shakir “Frictionalisms 1994 – 2009” Rush Hour

Where other Detroit originators struggled to keep up their standards for whatever reason as time passed by, Anthony Shakir never failed to deliver releases full of stunning ideas and sounds, rhythmic complexities and style-bending adventurousness. Nevertheless a lot of his output seemed to fly underneath the radar and so a bigger spotlight was long overdue. And like with Daniel Wang before, Rush Hour did a spectacular job in switching it on. There are many more gems to explore in Shakir’s back catalogue, but I can’t imagine a better place to start from than this retrospective (even if admittedly there is no other available anyway). I bet a lot of people will discover blueprints for other success stories in house and techno while hearing this, and it sure does no harm to point in the direction they’re coming from, and lick the funky emotions in the process.

nsi. “eitherway” non standard productions

Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer surely have enough talent and vision to get away with borrowing from Haruomi Hosono for their brand name. With this EP they pick up where “Squelch” left, again eliciting an interesting plethora of sounds and rhythms from their presumably vast supply of machines, and arranging them like only those can do who invest a lot of thought and experience in what they do. Preset-free experimentalism with production values that shame most laptops into implosion, and truly in a league of its own. I really wouldn’t mind more current electronic music daring to take chances the way this music does, but I also absolutely don’t mind listening further into their space while waiting for that to happen. Non standard productions indeed.

Whatpeopleplay 01/10