Tagged: beats

Maximal Xaxim

I always think Tumido are a modern Latin American band, a gross error based on the quasi-ethnic imagery on their album covers, when in fact they’re an Austrian trio who create a fascinating beat-heavy racket enriched with guitar noise and trumpet playing…we last heard them with their excellent Nomads LP in 2015, and now they’ve taken one track from that release and had it remixed by various prominent Euro-glitch maestros. Just four tracks on xaxim (INTERSTELLAR RECORDS INT040) but it’s a very entertaining record of super-intelligent modern techno-inflected electronica. The remixers are Nik Hummer, who along with Tumido’s drummer Bernhard Breuer plays in Metalycée, and creates a joyous bouncy version for your next party; Stefan Németh from Radian, who’s all about grisly loops, slow beats, and a dark minimalist atmosphere; and Elektro Guzzi, calling himself Buenoventura, who turns in the most conventional and unexciting version here, aimed at the dancefloor with its synthesised paradiddles occupying every available space in the rhythm. Lastly the band themselves deconstruct their own track, evidently determined to rethink it as a doomy industrial odyssey through an echoing metallic plain. This release hasn’t quite got the fizz and sparkle I recall from Nomads, but these are radical remakes by serious creators, showing what the art of the remix can really do in the right pair of paws. From 21 November 2016.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Stray Dogs
And The Days Began To Walk
UKRAINE KVITNU 48 CD (2016)

On paper there’s not a lot to distinguish the murky, downtempo minimalism of Belgian post-techno duo Stray Dogs (Frederik Meulyzer and Koenraad Ecker) from peers such as Raime and Emptyset in that well-eked theatre of interstitial operations, though they do show gratifying humanity where po-faced aloofness is often the norm. Their take on industrial techno subordinates the pre-sets to man-ufactured polyrhythms that see muscular limbs reaching through perpetual darkness; tribal drums clattering through cinematic synth-scapes and dub effects echoing the much-loved motif of urban decay. Constant tension between these dynamics amasses a potent, ritualistic energy.

So, while And The Days Began To Walk is likely to please many a serious and sedentary listener, messrs Meulyzer and Ecker often write with choreography in mind: their work over the past few years has included commissions for theatre and contemporary dance as well as more standard AV collaborations, and on this occasion choreographers Ina Christel Johanneseen and Stephen Laks benefit from their competent composition. One earlier video shows the pair blasting live cello and drums onto a set piece that sees a sea of lithe bodies contorting like molten rubber zombies in one turmoiled tableau after another. The musicians remain partially veiled throughout, as if to blur into uncertainty their diegetic relationship to this frenzy. Thus this album slots easily into the ‘soundtrack without a film’ category and it might have been a contender for a place on the new Blade Runner soundtrack, were that not already taken. It might even have had a cleansing effect on such doggerel as the ‘rave’ scene in Matrix Reloaded, though this association would probably have killed the duo’s credibility altogether.

Interpretation Game

Daniel Ruane
The Interpreter
UK THE SILENT HOWL HOWL011 CD (2016)

The Interpreter is full of contemporary dance music of the leftfield kind – and of a very high quality from this young Manchester, UK-based producer. Owing to Ruane’s attention to the material’s superb low-end, this is great-feeling electronic music. Made by young people for young people – I know; it’s a competitive market, so how do you stay ahead of the game? Personally, I really have very little idea as it was possibly as long as fifteen years ago that I last stepped into a “nightclub” for the purposes of entertainment, but I suspect Daniel Ruane knows.

Tracks 1 to 6 are remixes by Ruane of other artists’ material, while tracks 7 to 10 showcase Ruane’s own recordings. There is possibly some evidence of cross-pollination with some of his labelmates of which lots of names are new to me: Martijn Comes, Trinkkets, Inverchoulin (not a type of single malt whiskey), Kumiko, Fred Thomas, Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, and Shay.

“Lace” starts off like something you would have heard in a dark disused light industrial unit or in a field in the middle of Oxfordshire in the early 1990s. All those fields are gone now it seems; victim to the insane appetites of the construction industry and central government’s new housing quotas. Kumiko’s “Triple Word Score” is a bit like sub-par trip-hop meets brutal techno beats. Mogadon Gabba, my mate called it. Fred Thomas’ “Partita In C Minor” starts as a drone treated to some slow tremolo effect. Then Ruane, firmly ensconced in his studio with a nice cup of tea and a couple of garibaldis no doubt, adds some nearby heavenly synth. This is probably the stand-out piece on The Interpreter for me. Sounds that could be roadworks vaguely intimidate in the background, but when the volume is boosted, the gristle of granular synthesis and Terminator-style anvil stabs are heard. Meanwhile, a Shermann Filterbank (or digital equivalent) opens its savage maw in time-lapse like a rare Amazonian flower. Intrigued, after some time looking for some more information about Fred Thomas on the internet, I found his personal website and not much else. Here, I learnt that he has several releases on The Silent Howl imprint, as well as with Loop Records and F-IRE. His area of interest seems to be contemporary classical and/or jazz, but there are no soundfiles of any type online to audition that I could find, so I could be completely wrong there.

Moving on. “Leaf” is fairly generic but not unpleasant. Its sophisticated Euro break-core will bother your bass drivers quite nicely, while “Tranquiliser” which is remixed by Shay, is more laid-back, summery even; I would say going for a more sedate Ninja-Tune vibe, perhaps. “Switch” is a functional club edit – it does what it says on the tin, and “Tranquiliser” – as remixed by Trinkkets – is more like a massive deconstruction of the Shay version, which is what I like in a remix. This album plays more like a compilation than the work of one man, but that’s not necessarily a criticism – you could say it shows Ruane’s versatility.

Death Knell

Ilpo Väisänen
Syntetisaattori Musiikkia Kuopiosta
UKRAINE KVITNU 49 LP (2016)

Unfortunate is the timing of this new arrival from Ilpo Väisänen – former Pan Sonic partner to the recently and sadly departed Mika Vainio – which, through no fault of its own, renews the sting of that prodigiously prolific ex-cohort’s death. Compounding this exceptional timing is the rumour of its being Väisänen’s first solo work in 16 years, though such pretensions to the momentous are quickly thwarted by the facts of a) his solid cohort of contemporaneous collaborations (many, poignantly, featuring Vainio) that show his to be a similarly workhorse constitution; b) it isn’t his only solo work: the recent I-LP-O project features a solid lineup of Ilpo, Väisänen and himself; the trio but a masquerade. What’s more, Syntetisaattori Musiikkia Kuopiosta is but a mini album and not a game-changing one, but I think I’d best move on lest I talk readers out of reading on.

‘Osat’ parts 1-9 cover some ground. Though much less abrasive than many of Pan Sonic’s balls-out blitzkriegs, in a blind-test situation Väisänen’s restless yet understated rhythmic peregrinations would still draw comparisons to the ‘other’ act. ‘Osat 1-5’ pushes pattering, pulmonary palpitations that murmur like muffled machinery in an envelope of escalating hum, setting up a spell of car-sickness-inducing arrhythmia in its final lap. Flipping over, ‘Osat 6-9’ pulsates with Porter Ricks-style nautical dub and the squelchy gibberings of dolphins deftly navigating the sweeping bleeps of depth-sounding technology. Lacking both Pan Sonic’s napalm distortion and military stamina, movements are brief and sufficiently well-blended to keep ‘the rut’ at an ever-comfortable distance and ensure a taut and enduring freshness in even the dourest and most impersonal moments.

Jamka
Inter Alia
SLOVAKIA URBSOUNDS [/]031 LP (2016)

Keeping Pan Sonic firmly in mind (and in recognition that those operations were long-closed before Vainio left us) is this brief blast of dread-inducing drone techno, responsible for which is Jamka aka Slovakians Monika Subrtova and Daniel Kordik, who have issued a steady trickle of such artisan efforts in the last decade and a half. Tracks like ‘Patemp’ and ‘Anazmo’… well, this whole album… makes liberal use of panic-inducing drones and dub-flavoured attack formations of sinewed and bludgeoning beats; making a virtuous show of punishing discipline; exhibiting fewer of the excesses of distortion and over-production than those Jamka model themselves on – your Regises and Techno Animals – not becoming over-repetitive, though breaking no rules either. This is ‘clean’ techno for clubs where the only hint of danger is the smoke they pump in to make punters thirsty, but it’s ideal for those who prefer home-listening to the slap of recognition that one is at least a decade older than every other tight-assed white-boy doing the dancefloor indie-shuffle.

Wings Of Fire

Loopy electronica, wild noise, insane illogical beats and coarse sounds abound on Phoenixxx (PLANET MU RECORDS ZIQ383), a sprawling experiment which comes to us from the East, concocted by three youngsters from Russia and the Ukraine calling themselves WWWings. Heck, the oldest member here is 25, so they seem largely untroubled by draggy things like fitting into categories or providing any kind of continuity with the past, and in places seem intent on applying a punk rock-inspired tabula rasa attitude to everything they do. It’s also notable that the band seems to have come together through the internet and social media networking, rather than more conventional old-school methods.

WWWings are massively disaffected and frustrated by everything they see around them, and given the state of the world today, who can gainsay them? “Struggle with real life in almost totalitarian countries affects us,” they snarl at the world, in between mouthfuls of a dead rat they’re roasting over a makeshift campfire in the middle of a bomb site. “I think that’s why most of our tracks sound disturbing and depressive.” This alienation, and it’s not too strong a word, carries over into their personalities and prompts them to work under alias names which distance themselves from the so-called “real adult world” and bring them closer to a cyber-world of tags, avatars and forum names, a world which they own and understand, and have completely colonised, hence ‘Lit Internet’, ‘Lit Eye’ and ‘Lit Daw’. To say nothing of the colourful characters who collaborate on the tracks, with names like Born in Flamez, Gronos1, Chino Amobi, Endgame, Ebbo Kraan, and DJ Heroin.

The game plan for the modern world proposed on Phoenixxx is a simple one – burn everything down and (probably) don’t bother to rebuild it. This is reflected in track titles issuing simple instructions such as ‘Pyro’, ‘Ashes’, ‘Melt’ and ‘Ignite’. I can get that, for sure. While the name Phoenixxx implies a rebirth from the flames, I don’t think WWWings have written that part of the plan yet. Until they do, grab that can of gasoline and box of matches, and get stuck in. From 3rd October 2016.

Otho The Android

Pretty good muscular electronica from Redukt, a duo of tough guys from Moscow named Alexander Vasiliev and Nikolai Turchinski. Well, one of the pair looks a pretty rough customer, with his shaved head and arm tatoos and fairly powerful forearms. The other has glasses and a more presentable hairstyle and, despite geeky appearances, may act as the “brains” in this gang and plans the bank robberies which the other mug has to execute. They make their music on Otho (KVITNU 46) using analog synths, drum machines, and “computer hard drives with pickups”, the latter suggestive of some sort of digital input to the overall production.

I’m sure there’s plenty more threatening and aggressive music being made in the name of Dark Techno or Black Reverbo-Feedback just now, but what I enjoy about the five tracks on Otho is the relentless hammering of pulses and beats, which are used to drive home a near-blank statement, a reflection on the world that refuses emotional attachment and is pretty much numb and deadened to a very extreme degree. To put it another way, Redukt don’t care about anything or anybody, and are prepared to propel the steamroller of indifference over all the good things in this world, flattening out all the distinctive qualities in the process.

To further advance this thesis, let me point out that all five track titles are simply anagrams of the same four-letter word ‘Otho’ – ‘Ooth’, ‘Tooh’, ‘Otoh’ and so on. I note the care with which they avoid the only permutation that would form an actual word ‘Hoot’. This demonstrates two things: (1) Redukt understand that language is just becoming monsyllabic gibberish these days, as demonstrated by 99% of what passes over people’s mobile phones and texting devices; and (2) they appreciate that everything we say and do is now treated as signs of equal value, in a post-modern world where skills, experience, intelligence and discrimination count for nothing.

I regard this release as a strong metaphor for what is happening in the world today, and suggest that Redukt are skilled at depicting a general emotional crippling of our minds, bodies, and senses. Issued in a very fine die-cut sleeve designed by house artist Zavoloka; the colour part of the artwork is inserted inside a window-mount, effectively. From 3rd October 2016.

The title of this post is a reference to a character who appeared in the adventures of Captain Future, a pulp sci-fi classic from the 1940s.

Secret Reproductive Plant

Enjoyable set of entertaining distortion, noise, electronics and rhythmic pulsations from The Miz’ries, on their EP Complete Control Of Your Vehicle (BELTS & WHISTLES B&W005). They’re pretty much a trio operating in New York, featuring Quinn Collins, Jeff Snyder, and Leila Adu, though on this outing they’re joined by Crosslegged who I think is Keba Robinson from Split Level Records and is known as a mover and shaker in Brooklyn music circles. Miz’ries create a nice surface sound, using loops and malfunctioning turntables pushed through pedals and distortion effects, and their own brand of cracked electronic blurpage some of which was invented and built by Jeff Snyder – he even calls it Snyderphonics, perhaps in homage to The Simeon of Silver Apples.

On top of their barely-working layered stew of avant-pop rhythms, Leila Adu adds her poised and mannered soprano vocals – now singing, now humming background tunes, or in one instance muttering snippets of nonsense in the studio, which have been further cut up and redistributed as needed around the track. She’s also pretty mean with her drum pad playing, deliberately missing the beat and contributing lopsided time signatures. On paper, this may sound like a recasting of the Portishead set-up, but in a less polite and more angstified arty mode; The Miz’ries are certainly darker and troubled, sometimes with a vaguely political edge (Adu’s songs are supposed to contain elements of politics and ballads, though I can discern neither), and will never settle for anything that resembles a familiar sound, note, or vibe in their quest for surprising aural goodiness. They also see themselves as a pop band, working within three or four minute boundaries, instead of extending these workouts into something three times the needed length (which PAS Musique, fellow Brooklynites, would not hesitate to do).

As to their intensive working method, which involves improvisation in the studio, much distortion and effects, editing and composing from tapes, it’s clearly paid off in this instance, even if some of the experiments misfire slightly. The press notes compare this method to Miles Davis (presumably they mean Teo Macero rather than Miles, but fair enough) and Can, but if we’re namechecking krautrock bands I think Faust’s method is more apposite…From 22 September 2016.

Press Play Stop Eject

Working in the 1980s, A. K. Klosowski produced music and noise with his largely hand-operated methods of pressing buttons and depressing keys to get playback from a bank of eight Walkman cassette tape players. He also used a drum machine and some effects. “Intuitive and spontaneous control” are the operative words for this practice.

He hooked up with Kurt Dahle, a member of the Dusseldorf synth band Der Plan, a record appeared in 1985 called Hometaping Is Killing Music (Dahle appeared under his Pyrolator name). I never heard it, but the present LP A. K. Klosowski Plays The Kassetteninstrument (GAGARIN RECORDS gr2035) predates that session, and is done solo.

Reading about it may be more interesting than hearing it; it’s certainly a great way of working, and while the album contains an entertaining and inventive set of tunes, it doesn’t go much beyond a primitive sampling set-up with added noise and beats. A.K. doesn’t push it far enough; or the set-up itself is limited. Klosowski manipulates his device, and his sounds, like modelling clay. It results in lovely imperfections, rough edges, things not matching, which I like. I never liked that school of thought that spent ages crafting a “perfect” loop or sampled beat, an approach which kills spontaneity.

Other writers have picked up on the theme that this represents an early pre-digital approach to sampling, and invoked Cabaret Voltaire and The Art Of Noise. I like this better than Cabaret Voltaire (who were too arty, and trying to tell us something) and The Art Of Noise (who were too synthetic, too layered with intellectual pretensions.) Klosowski has a directness – his noise is noise – and it may start with tapes, but doesn’t end there. His actions are imprinted instantly onto the record without studio “diddling” before and after. It may even be closer to the “art” end of early sampling, for instance Steve Reich.

Not every track here is “abrasive disco”. ‘Lamento’ is a very nice use of strange loops, mostly voices and strings, and not too far away from Canaxis (‘Boat Woman Song’). And ‘R H 2’ is as close as he comes to producing chaotic industrial noise.

Let’s not forget cassette tapes are at the heart of this inventive noise. Label owner Felix Kubin doubtless approves; his love-affair with the cassette tape was wittily and passionately expressed on his Chromodioxgedächtnis box set, which we noted in 2015.

From 31st August 2016.

Diabolical Insight

Continuing their mission to bring us the finest in far-out and eccentric obscure music, and then press it on vinyl, Feeding Tube Records bring us the work of Teddy Fire and Iguid Fidd on the LP Chastity Revolution And The Submachine Girl (FTR 245 / P&R-LP-004). The music, originally recorded in the mid-1990s, was made by the DJ and record-collector Pablo Yglesias and featured his teenage brother Teddy on vocals; they did it using a home recording studio and oodles of attitude and wild imagination. Supporting them are the band Iguid Fidd, including pro musicians such as the guitarist Bond Bergland from Factrix, plus Miki Navazio, Fritz Fox, and Phil ‘Nordit’ Scher. But it’s safe to say that Pablo Cuba and Teddy Fire are the stars of this particular wayward entertainment.

Cuban-American Pablo is an expert in Latin and funk music, and is also a writer and historian besides being a musician. Latin and funk aren’t quite in my line (although I do frequently indulge my taste for Funkadelic), but I can groove on the sheer weirdness and vitality of Chastity Revolution. The vocals of Teddy Fire hit me first…abrasive and mean on opening track ‘Howlin’ Ham’, I soon learned to love his endearing semi-innocent manner of vocalising, and even the press notes invite comparisons with Jad Fair. He raps in a fetching non-professional manner, by which I mean he’s not trying to sound like a million other 1990s hip-hop rap artistes, nor engaged in a competition to pack as many words as possible per square inch into the vinyl. There’s something about his delivery I can’t cheap kamagra 100mg tablets shake off; he walks a knife-edge between insouciant cool and impassioned pleading as he struts his way through these surreal raps.

Speaking of which…as a feat of writing alone, the verbiage on this release ought to be nominated for some sort of special prize for warped street poetry. No wonder a printed lyric sheet has been included. T. Wulff and P. Yglesias have written some memorable mind-curlers, each one a compelling comic-strip vision of bizarre proportions, and people by such madcap characters as Harry Comatose, the Jello Girl, and Frank The Lima Bean Boy. I’m wondering if these raps began life as comics, or drawings. “Why don’t you say the rest?” “Well, I can’t, it’s a drawing, but I’ll try.” That’s from ‘Electrical Smile’, one of my favourites on the album, which comes close to creating a snapshot of a film noir nightmare that even surpasses Tom Waits.

There’s a lot of guitars on this album, along with the beats and distorted production, which may be because of the number of guitarists in the band (assuming they’re not all part of a hoax). I’m no expert but that is some funky, greasy guitar work. The press notes point out the way a track can shift from psychedelic freak music to R’n’B without batting an eye, which is true, but I’d like to add rockabilly to that mix, even if it’s inappropriate to do so. It’s all that reverb, you see. What an oddity…and a delight. The record is a joint release with Peace & Rhythm, Pablo Cuba’s vinyl label. From 17 May 2016.

Drei, He Said

At first glance, the European trio Bader Motor may appear to be offering us nothing more than a very knowing take on Krautrock records, with their obvious quotes from Kraftwerk and Neu! LPs, and probably other Germanic references too. However, I’ll forgive any project which has Fred Bigot as a member, considering my fondness for his solo records where he mixes electronic noise with rockabilly in a highly enjoyable manner. not to mention the unusual Melt Famas record with its over-amped guitars and drums. Bader Motor are Bigot with Arnaud Maguet and Vincent Epplay – the latter played with Jac Berrocal and David Fenech – and the three have appeared together before on Musique Pour Les Plantes Des Dieux in 2009. This record, Drei drei drei (VEALS & GEEKS VAGO17 / LES DISQUES EN ROTIN REUNIS LDRR #056), not only has the clever Krautrock pastiches assembled by these French wags, but also offers their slightly sardonic version of electropop, disco, and general Euro-murk – the sort of banal aural wallpaper that might blight your continental tour at any point between the airport, the shopping mall and the cafe. This may be what the threesome have in mind when they speak of “a new class of space [rock] and Riviera Krautrock”. Riviera Krautrock?! What does that even mean? I can’t think of anything worse than experimental music recast as another consumer / lifestyle option for the “Riviera set”, those rich buffoons wearing expensive sunglasses and swimsuits, if indeed such a thing even exists any more outside of 1960s travelogue movies, but I’m prepared to believe Bader Motor are up to something vaguely subversive and sarcastic. As it turns out, this LP is an enjoyable listen with its edgy mix of user-friendly beats and melodic drones combined with odd, queasy noises, rough textures, and outpourings of filtered glorp. From 12th August 2016; available as an LP or download.