Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

Howl at the moon

The blog Gapers Block recently honored lil’ ol’ LWE by including us in a round up of favored Chicago music blogs. Thanks to Graham Sanford for the nod.

LCD Soundsystem, “Sound of Silver” (C2 Remix Rev. 3) [DFA/EMI] (buy)
Whereas Carl Craig has been techno royalty for many years, it’s only within the last year or so that he’s broken into the indie-dance consciousness. It helps that remixes for the Junior Boys, Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom and now LCD Soundsystem have ranked among his best work in the same time period. On “Sound of Silver,” Craig cheerfully and deservedly discards all but the vocals and builds a roiling synth monster to breath melodic fire upon the dancers. With the vocal stutters of “Like A Child” and the drawn out construction of his Kevin Saunderson and Siobhan Donaghy remixes, it’s not a hugely surprising redux, but it’s just as effective. Expect to hear this caned in parties where pajama print hoodies and tight, sleeveless shirts share the dance floor. Maybe they’ll even bond over some E!

Michael Jackson, “Thriller” (OOFT Music Phazed Edit) [Five20East] (buy)
The always generous Five20East sent me their new release, L.E.S.S. Productions’ Forever In Their Death, which features new work from Harri, The Revenge, the Alessi Brothers, and OOFT Music, including this edit of “Thriller.” In case you were in need of a great track for that Halloween party you’re DJing, this is it: looping the Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton’s sinuous core groove throughout the track’s extended length (with an extra “woo-hoo” for good measure), OOFT preserve the track’s forward motion and make it friendlier for DJs to mix. Download it while you can. Keep your eyes on Five20East for forthcoming material from Harri & the Revenge, who put together the stellar “Tunar Tune” earlier this year.

Solomun, “Samba” [Dessous Recordings] (buy)
It seems fitting to write about Solomun’s new single in the same post as C2’s LCD remix, as they both employ the same understated method of constructing their tracks. More minimally-inclined than “Jungle River Cruise” for liebe*detail or his work with Stimming, “Samba” (for Steve Bug’s deep imprint, Dessous Recordings) is all about ostinato and legato progressions bouncing happily atop sustained tones. It might take a few spins for this one to sink in, as the real action showing up in the second half of the 10 minute song, and even then, there’s not much of it. Though it’s nothing close to a samba, this reserved production could raise heart rates a few BPM without so much as batting a lash if deployed effectively.

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Something is getting us at least a couple places

Sure, Guns N’ Bombs single “Nothing Is Getting Us Anywhere” came out months ago, but titled as it is, fans may forgive the lateness of its requisite music video. Shot with a video camera either rescued from a dumpster or an uncle’s basement by Senior (of the Junior/Senior duo), the blurry vid is choppily and looped for maximum laughs and creepy moments. As puerile as it is, watching Filip flop to the ground five times straight or Johnny Love striding across a field in Echo Park like a hipster flamingo is entirely fitting of both the group and the tune’s resigned theme. Hopefully they can muster the effort to put out another single sometime soon.

Also, I wrote a review of Justice’s recent live show in Chicago which is now up on RA, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Radio Slave @ Vision Nightclub

Quite often it seems producers need only a few powerful singles on well-rated labels to have their name uttered in adoring tones. Matt Edwards, on the other hand, has not been one to rest on his laurels for even a moment. Since forming Radio Slave in 2001 with Serge Santiágo (who quit in 2002), the British producer has maintained a chained-to-the-synthesizers prolific release schedule. Edwards is perhaps best known for his seemingly endless vault of wall-crashing remixes of his techno peers (including Trentemoller, M.A.N.D.Y. and Audion) and pop stars (such as Kylie Minogue and Elton John) which have kept him in high demand. And he’s no slouch on his own productions either, as evinced by his twisted electro-house banger, “My Bleep,” and “Made in Menorca” album.

Although Edwards adopts new monikers for subsequent projects and also makes up half of the beardo-disco duo, Quiet Village Project, the sounds he emits often return to the same principles: dark, nearly subterranean atmospherics, dense arrangements, tidal-wave riffs and extended-track lengths. Edwards is also doing his part to hold up the UK dance market with his label, Rekids, which has released tracks by up-and-comers Spencer Parker, Toby Tobias and Matt O’Brien. Chicago is the last stop on his first full-fledged North American tour; and if his tune “Next Stop Chicago” is any indication, he’s got nothing but love for our fair city and might well pull out all the stops.

Radio Slave performs with Monologic (live) and Hac Le at Vision, 632 North Dearborn, on Saturday, October 20, at 10 p.m. $15, $10 before 11 p.m. with RSVP at visionnightclub.com.

Bring on the dancing horses

Nick Solé, “World Dubbing” [Mojuba] (buy) (buy)
Mojuba, the label which brings this gargantuan record to your hands and ears, has stratified its vinyl fetish into different degrees of obsession, with a regular version, a limited edition regular version, and a “hurry the fuck up” limited color vinyl which is never to be touched — never. “World Dubbing” expands on the deep house aesthetic Solé has built with tracks on Mojuba and his own label, Nick Solé Trax, but on a planetary scale. Its mind-expanding dubs wash up against open-air synths with minor variations, a few more urgent elements stopping by to keep the 14-minute long behemoth moving including ethereal female vocals and distant crashes. A fine recliner would be a better place to hear this than a club, but that doesn’t make me like it any less. On the reverse is “Children,” a more mobile but just as lumbering track, all of which builds on a melodically palpitating bass line with viscus effects bouncing off its sides. It’s a bit spare, but a nice splashy track on a huge cannonball of a record.

Peter Grummich, “Another Day EP” [Sthlmaudio Recordings; out soon]
Grummich is hardly a new jack on the scene, having already released for Kompakt, Spectral Sound and Shitkatapult, but he’s still new to my ears. The title cut from his forthcoming “Another Day EP” for Agnes’ Sthlmaudio pushes a tight needling pattern through some fawning deep pads and occasional digital claps for a nice push-pull effect. “Another Day” is fine a building block for a modern deep house set. Its flipside, “What’s Up Adults,” is a bit too itchy and scratchy for my taste.

Uusitalo, “The Korpikansa EP” [Huume] (buy) (buy the album)
Sasu Ripatti has been rather prolific this year with new albums out as Vladislav Delay and Uusitalo, though it doesn’t seem his packed schedule has negatively impacted his work. The “Korpikansa EP” offers four club edits of tracks from his Uusitalo album, Karhunainen. Both the “Karhunainen” and “Satumaa” are smothered in warm-blooded pads and Ripatti’s characteristic sample kinks, though the former stands outs for its near-Italo arpeggio riff and the dense latter has the charm of a house track cranked out on vintage gear and pots and pans. Though the other two tracks struggle to live up to “club” designation, “Karhunainen” and “Satumaa” make the EP a valuable addition to a DJ’s bag. [Upon further investigation, it doesn’t seem as though the version I received was the final. Beatport’s “Korpikansa EP” includes three tracks, with “Karhunainen” missing and “Nälkälaulu” replaced with “Himo Perkele.” Though I can’t vouch for the whole album, that’s where you’ll be able to find my favorite cut on the EP, “Karhuaninen.”]

Justice & friends live* on Jimmy Kimmel

Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay of Justice have shown yet again why they’ve risen to the top of the nu-rave pile with their recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. While the duo recently started actually performing live (as opposed to DJing), the sight of two Parisians staring down a table full of knobs, faders and keys doesn’t exactly an exciting live experience make, especially when it needs to translate into a TV viewer’s living room. “D.A.N.C.E.” was directly inspired by and written for Michael Jackson, so what better time to blatantly acknowledge some of their main inspirations than with a souped-up live show? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, with celebrity impersonators. After Augé and de Rosnay tune into the correct frequency on a boombox (sound familiar?), Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Rick James, Prince and M.J. doppelgangers all “jam out” to “D.A.N.C.E.” played off a CD, breathing fresh, goofy life into the tune. More electronic artists need to be this bold and creative in live settings.

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Gaiser, “Withdrawal” [M_nus] (buy)
As the soulful shades of deep house again find their way into many releases this year, the still thriving industry of minimal techno has responded, in some ways, in kind. Whether it’s the melodically blushing simplicity of Efdemin and his work as Pigon; or perhaps the echo-eco-system of Deepchord and his Echospace project; or the human focus and perspective of more functionally minimal tracks, such as “R U OK?” by Ambivalent: Minimal techno has played a bit more with its heart on its sleeve, or at least acknowledged the organ beating in its chest.

Gaiser has long been an expressive member of the Minus stable. But never before has the 26-year-old Grand Rapids native been as sonically candid with fans as on “Withdrawal.” Gaiser brandishes an overlord voice which menaces audiences, “I know that you were planning to disconnect me.” In an increasingly plugged in society, I’m going to have to ask him to be more specific: is it our endless technology that keeps us constantly “in the loop” or the drugs which render the loop more dangerous? Regardless, Gaiser gurgles on and reveals his most unabashedly beautiful arrangement, softly pondering a piercingly lucid three note melody. Flanked in signature percussive timbres of window-washing whirrs and gulps, the track suddenly takes on a new dimension – it’s the minimal gaze of a lobotomizing central riff. Its gauzy texture conjures the calming atmosphere of an intensive care ward, moments after some sort of crash – you decide. It’s a bold but simple move which injects a bit of commercial solvency into the mnml brand and is there for audiences, 5:30 am on the third day of raving on, to share in their epic come-down. I, for one, am craving another listen.

Double Dragons

My interview with Henrik Schwarz is now up on Resident Advisor. I’m rather proud of the dialog we had and I hope you get a kick out of it, too.

Little White Earbuds September Charts


I, for one, will redouble my efforts.

01. Stimming, “Funkworm” [Diynamic Music] (buy)
Have another look.
02. Len Faki, “Odyssee I” [Podium] (buy)
An offshoot of Faki’s own Len Series label, the fourth Podium continues to deliver absolute quality in the form of “Odyssee I.” Swimming in an analog sci-fi flavor, the tune’s warm launch is propelled by Detroitish arpeggios and a downright pretty motif at its core. Intense without being overblown, this track is for the cusp of peaktime, when you want to make sure all are aboard.
03. Lucy, “Glass Computer” [Perspectiv] (buy)
I love it when a song inspires visualizations which match the sound and the title; “Glass Computer” is no exception. Its tuneful beeps light up the circuitry inside the reverberating atmosphere, shooting sparks in the final minute or so. Backed with two impressive remixes from Mark August and Masaya, Lucy’s debut is nothing short of impressive. Another fine signing from Perspectiv. (Runner up for this spot was another Perspectiv: Ripperton’s delicate remix of Laurine Frost’s “Papillion.”)
04. Al Usher, “Here Today” [Misericord] (buy)
Like his Partial Arts partner, Al Usher is known largely for his remix work. But on his solo debut, “Here Today” shows he’s no slouch in originating tunes. The tune morphs several times in its length and sounds as organic as it does brilliant. The pitter-patter strings and ringing percussion boil over as a gigantic bass line throws the whole thing into a new swaying rhythm. The other tunes on the release (the one and only Misericord) aren’t quite as stunning, but “Here Today” alone makes it worth picking up.
05. Arto Mwambe, “Mudhutma!” [Brontosaurus] (buy) (buy) (buy)
Have another look.
06. Kevin Saunderson, “Till We Meet Again” (Carl Craig remix) [Planet E] (buy)
Have another look.
07. DJ Gregory, “Elle” (Âme Piano Mix) [Defected] (buy) (buy)
I must profess ignorance of the original “Elle,” but I know Âme’s revision is a large departure from the classic tune (thanks to the magic of online shops’ samples). Very much in the vein of their rated “Baladine” single, their mix is superbly constructed and loaded with sound. Rendered tense with persistent scratching, tingly guitar(?) touches and gaseous tones, the tune really hits its stride at the introduction of a vaguely arabesque synth motif which wriggles like a snake possessed. Leave it to the Âme boys to take on a classic and come away with the superior take.
08. Manuel Tur & Dplay, “Black Label #23” [Compost Records] (buy)
Compost Records has long been one of my favorite labels, and its Black Label series efficiently highlights otherwise passed over or rising artists. This is Manuel Tur & Dplay’s first effort together (though two more have soon followed it) and it’s a fine study in contemporary deep house. Sounding a bit like a stripped back Âme, Tur & Dplay grab for simplistic chord stabs and a light string haze on “Move” and just let them roll. “Clock Work” is a bit more refined by still Âme-esque, concocted with a bobbing chord pattern flecked with claves, and is kept moving by synth builds and plucked string releases.
09. Tadeo, “Fractal” [Cray1 LabWorks] (buy) (buy)
This quick-paced track is delightfully percussive and emotive at once, its plumes of string-led anxiety suppressed only by even more restless percussion. I credit “Fractal” with spurring my greater interest in Tadeo; no mean feat with all the great releases vying for listeners’ attention this month.
10. Jamie Lloyd, “What We Have” (Is A Zwicker remix) [Future Classic] (buy)
On first listen it’s a bit indie rock in tone for most dance floors, but additional spins unwind the merits of Jamie Lloyd’s smoothed over vocal swells and Zwicker’s deep housed additional production. A nod in Phil Sherburne’s direction for turning me (and hopefully many others) on to this tune.