Monday, July 24, 2006

TUNETOURIST podcast 02

The second TUNETOURIST podcast takes a trip to Melbourne indie institution, Missing Link, where the soundtrack takes in everything from extreme hardcore crust through to pretty but always smart indie pop. Rather than upset any delicate sensibilities, we avoided the former but did find space for a track from ace metal revivalists, Early Man, culled from their shelves. Other artists include New Young Pony Club, The Sleepy Jackson and Minimum Chips.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Atlantis To Interzone

First encountered Klaxons at The Core Club in Brighton a few months back and they are without question a LOT of fun. One reservation though, whether all this Indie Disco shenanigans – Cut Copy, the Merok and Kitsune labels, SebastiAn and Justice remixes, Crystal Castles, Modular – will be reflected on with any more affection in a couple of years time than the universally reviled Big Beat.

Indie disco never works does it? Or are the old rules finally changing as we prepare for a forwards march into a brave new future of dance, eased into this seismic cultural shift with the helping hand of every NME cover band of the last few years from Franz Ferdinand to The Rapture. If so, “Atlantis To Interzone” will be its… I’d like to sat “Voodoo Ray” but in truth its more “Charly”. Or “The Bouncer”, as The Klaxons made abundantly clear with their equal parts sneery/affectionate cover of the Kicks Like A Mule, er, classic.

The comparisons with rave all seem a bit disingenuous though, given that acid house was the last truly spontaneous youth cultural upheaval of more innocent times. The acts we’re talking about here are all a bit too knowing to compare. There are, however, some extremely ravey sonic elements creeping into the productions of recent stuff by Simian Mobile Disco (“Hustler”), Digitalism (take a listen to “Jupiter Room”) and Justice (“Waters Of Nazareth”).

So, the kids are dancing again and there are French electro producers making quite good music once more. It’d churlish to write it all off just yet.

Ed Banger Records
Crystal Castles

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Time: The Donut Of The Heart

On their excellent Def Jam debut, "Game Theory", The Roots pay homage to sadly departed hip hop Renaissance man J Dilla with verses on perhaps the finest beat from his "Donuts" LP, "Time: The Donut Of The Heart". If it's occasionally been a little baffling when the man formerly known as Jay Dee is frequently held up as rap's greatest producer, a few days in the company of "Donuts" sets things straight. No one turns a soul sample like Dilla. Of contemporary rap's recent hitmakers, he is perhaps the one with the most understanding of hip hop and its relationship to the music that went before it. Just listen to the above track or "Two Can Win", "Anti-American Graffiti", "Gobstopper", "One For Ghost"... I could go on.

But The Roots know what they're doing plucking "Time..." from amongst all this lush, soulful, life-affirming hip hop goodness. It’s in the way that the vocal emerges from the sumptuous repetition of the slowed-down motif. It just breaks free to fly with strings, harmonies and the voice only to be snatched away just as abruptly. And that's an object lesson in sampling and hip hop production. At its most simple: taking the best bit and getting it again and again but not so often that greed for the hit becomes indulgent, bloated.

The Roots' track is called "Can't Stop This" and sees Black Thought delivering genuinely moving tributes in the most fitting way possible, by bringing a fine beat to life with a rhyme. Surely Stones Throw have to commission a tribute version of "Donuts" with guest emcees let loose on this beautiful raw material. Start drawing up your dream list...

The Roots - "Game Theory" is out on Aug 28
J Dilla - "Donuts" is out now

Thursday, July 13, 2006

See Mi Yah Remixes

Already picked up a couple of the twelves that preceded this album-length collection of remixes via Hard Wax Records but this delivers on the missing pieces of the puzzle. Compiled from four Rhythm & Sound releases, it brings together two versions of "See Mi Yah" with nine other reworks of Basic Channel's well-known Berlin dub project, all featuring the usual Burial Mix verbals from Paul St. Hilaire, Ras Donovan, Ras Perez, Willi Williams and others.

It's the remixers that really excite of course. Along with Basic Channel themselves (with a trademarked dub techno refix), there are versions from Carl Craig, Ricardo Villalobos, Soundstream, Sleeparchive, Vladislav Delay, Francois K and others.

Villalobos turns in a mashed up, slow and druggy take on "Let We Go" which confirms he's sliiiiding ever-further from the confines of so-called minimal. Soundstream - the Hard Wax-affiliated disco cut-up operation produced by Soundhack - somehow manages to make Rhythm & Sound come across all deep house dubs. Sleeparchive reaches for the folders 'bleep' and 'reverb' as usual but keeps things at a dub pace.

The winner though is the absurdly on-form Carl Craig. "Poor People Must Work" has the clubby drive of his mix of Theo Parrish's "Falling Up" but keeps the dynamics much more subtle, working in some head-mangling echo, delay and stupidly hypnotic straight-up repetition. It's the sound of the machines taking over for one final party as Lee Perry torches Black Ark studios.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Welcome to the TUNETOURIST podcast

Rather than bite-sized samples of all this global record shopping goodness, here's the official TUNETOURIST podcast, part one.

Some June highlights

It’s been a quiet month in the worldwide record shopping stakes but I’ve got some major hauls coming in over the next couple of weeks, including that Gamelan consignment so I can come good on the promised primer very soon. Below is a quick summary of some of the best stuff of the last few weeks:

Graffiti Rock – Raydar Ellis (Fat Beats, New York)
Hip hop keeps turning out that classic ‘95 sound with all the usual references intact. This ode to the writers rises to the top.

Vomit – Parallel Thought feat. MF Doom (Fat Beats, New York)
Dark and Doom-worthy, Parallel Thought strings together a disorientating beat that lurches around the steady vocal with an uneasy push/pull dynamic.

Reality Check – Verbal Threat (Fat Beats, New York)
Primo. And it’s one of his best since AZ’s “The Come Up”.

Sides Of Space – D5 (Hard Wax, Berlin)
10 minutes of blissed out free falling Detroit-style techno somewhere between classic Ron Trent and Carl Craig.

Digitalis – Zombi (Missing Link, Melbourne)
As the name suggests, devotees of Italian prog soundtrack maestros, Goblin, and specifically their synth-heavy score for Dawn Of The Dead (“Zombi” in its Italian release).

Bedre Tider – Gorilla Angreb (Missing Link, Melbourne)
Good old fashioned punk rock from Denmark, innit.

Losing The Will To Survive – Findlay Brown (Pure Groove, London)
Confusing its Richard Thompson with its Doobie Brothers, this is a fantastically assured debut, disconcertingly (un)familiar.

Five Minute Wonder – William (Pure Groove, London)
The best one this month from the usual glut of angular UK bands with a bunch of Sonic Youth LPs lying around their Depford bedsit.

Fools With Money – Luke Toms (Pure Groove, London)
Marvellously eccentric Brit songwriting in the finest of traditions turning Beatlesesque pop upside down with a Victorian twist.

Waters Of Nazareth – Justice (Pure Groove, London)
Inescapable this summer in all likelihood, this really does mangle early Daft Punk into impossible shapes. Especially impossible if you’re Daft Punk.

Pinheiros Message – Reminder (Reckless, Chicago)
Unwieldy Portuguese raps that could be lifted from a Baile Funk track against a brutally hand-crafted beat. Taken from the album on Eastern Developments by Joshua Mikah Abrams.

Flechte – Datasette (Small Fish, London)
Crunchy electro like a less nimble Windowlicker, retaining plenty of classic techno elements.

R y F1 – Damian Schwartz (Vinyl Club, Ibiza Town)
It’s been said before but Sleeparchive’s guiding sound is all over this. Damian Schwartz, like his sometime labelmate Alex Under manages to invest the sound with considerably more groove though.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Two from Vibert

Luke Vibert, the ultimate electronic jack of all trades is back in August with two simultaneous album releases on Rephlex. One under his Kerrier District disco moniker and the other a tussle between his drum'n'bass alias Amen Andrews and grime/dubstep nom de plume, Spac Hand Luke.

Kerrier District 2 first: another doff of the cap to Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani's Metro Area project drawing on elements of Italo disco and even classic house. Unusually for Vibert, this stuff occasionally sounds quite like contemporary club music - "Robotuss" could be a slightly groovier M.A.N.D.Y. remix. Still there's never any suggestion that he's looking for affiliation to the dance music club on this second installment, like his contemporaries – Aphex, Squarepusher and Mike Paradinas – he’s still fundamentally Cornish in his resistance to trends.

Flipping to the Amen Andrews vs. Spac Hand Luke release, the complementary release date makes a clear statement about this willful disregard for the conventions of consistency and scenesterism. That or he just came across a bunch of good tracks from his old PC and couldn’t resist dropping a few into the line-up. Certainly, some of the Amen Andrews record sounds like an outtake from his earlier Plug releases.

Of his appropriation of all these styles - with the exception of disco all of them ‘authentically’ birthed in the inner city - it’s hard to decide if ‘homage’ justifies the project. Unlike Squarepusher, who sneers a little too much as he’s programming a 2 step beat, Vibert’s creations are always crafted with the loving attention of a genuine fan, even if some of the genre conventions – rudeboy raga samples on his jungle tracks for example – are comically exaggerated. Being free of all the rigors of affiliation though, Spac Hand Luke gets to push the grime/dubstep (usually closer to 2 steps’s proto dubstep darkside) template into interesting shapes which would never be allowed within these scenes' micro-fixation on the month-to-month sound trend.