Archive for December, 2010

Winter mix 2 : What lies beneath icebergs…

December 14, 2010 4 comments

In the sleeve notes of Vladislav Delay’s first and only album on Chain Reaction, entitled Multila, and released in 2000, one could read : “life films us exactly. Our experience of it, though, lies beyond images and descriptions. Emotions, coming in irrational flashes, are non-figurable. We lose our little connection to them very quickly. We look for forms with this in mind : that they can take us to meet the subconscious.”

Multila’s construction was heavily influenced by glitch techno, dub and ambient. And so is the second volume to my mix series Winter mix which is also principled this way. Winter mix 2 : what lies beneath icebergs, I hope, captures fragments of an iceberg drifting at sea and moments without definition or localisation that are captured within tiny fragments of time and then within one’s mindspace. Both during and after its recording, Winter mix 2 has been for me a personal experience to learn about the state of the environnement, and the landscapes that surrounds us. Last august, I finded myself taking a stroll nearing St-Laurent’s river, listening to those tracks unmixed in my I:pod, then hoping to give the listener the impression of rising to the surface from the oceanic depths as the tracks were mixed altogether in the studio afterwards. As Stl starts to flow in, you will perhaps find yourself immerged into eerie wind blows, and Galerie Stratique’s Frozen lakes is just one of the best winter ambient tracks I have ever heard. There Charles-Émile Beullac tried to recreate the glossy feelings of the first snowdrops of the year. Afterwards, you might want to dive at sea underneath water with the Dreamfish album and Underwater, a track that submerges you deep under water. The journey then goes to minimal techno à la Plastikman then ending up with the superb opener on Bola’s first album Soup, a landmark of the IDM genre, called Glink. Strange and beautiful ambient washes ride effortlessly over an odd, meandering bass sequence yet subtle with deep and slow rhythms. I think it’s important to play this mix on a decent system so you can really hear and feel the interactions between the bottom end and the sounds that envelop it. I hope it will feel like you’re floating while this mix is being played.

Winter mix 2 : What lies beneath icebergs…

1) Reload : The Enlightenment
2) Stl : Atmospheric illusion
3) Alva Noto : X-rox monophaser 2
4) Galerie stratique : Frozen lakes
5) Pheek : Ouverture (Le jeu des yeux)
6) Dreamfish : Underwater
7) Steve Hillage & Evan Marc : Intention craft
8 ) Plastikman : Cor ten
9) Porter Ricks : Port gentil
10) Deepchord : Vantage Isle (Spacecho Dub II Mix)
11) Yagya : Ringing sex
12) Mateo Murphy : Blue
13) Photek : Trea’non
14) Bola : Glink


Top 10 things I liked from 2010…

December 4, 2010 3 comments

I thought about writting a sort of résumé of the things I noticed musically in 2010. So what the fuss was 2010 about ? Well personally, I’m more and more interested into nu-disco, the return of interesting electro sounds into the likes of Tensnake, the whole Todd Terje crew and less and less interested into house music apart from the Revenge. Not only does it goes along with getting older, but also more interested into dubstep and interesting pop electro fusions like the last Trentemoller’s album, present in my top 10 things I liked in 2010…Perhaps you’ll find my top 10 highly focused into electronic music, but it’s a personnal top 10 mind you, not a statement of the truth!  Here is a bunch of records I very much liked in 2010, be be it leftfield house, electro, ambient, dubstep, progressive or nu disco.

10) The ambient soudscapes of Millimetrik’s on Mystique drums

Mystique drums is the fifth album by Millimetrik a.k.a. Pascal Asselin, who hails from Quebec city (And so am I…) but it’s not the reason why I’m reviewing his album since a lot of readers of my blog are from foreign countries. I’m not too fond of chauvinist people who praise music for their origins or city. It’s not because it’s from Berlin, Detroit or London that the music is automatically interesting. Whilst it’s fair to say that Mystique drums is the work of someone who’s manage to keep himself up to date in the realm of electronic music with dubstep and breakbeat beats spliced together with amazing soundscapes, I think what I liked the most about Mystique drums is the fact that this album has a lot of what dance & electronic records seems to be somewhat lacking these days : emotions. Danse rue de Chabrol danse almost got me confused with Boards of Canada, for its sheer emotional content. It’s music with depth, with an evolving lullaby, a rhythm that never gets tedious, and that seems to glide along with the listener into a peaceful and yet engaging landscape…Chilled and with energetic rhythms, tracks like Quebec city mountains maintain a dynamic presence of elements interacting with each other especially in the rhythm area as Asselin, a former drummer for Below the Sea, also played drums on some of the tracks such as Outhouse / I Wish You Will Never Leave and Gong Fu Cha. As a matter of fact, the only complaint I have with the album, is that I wish some of the tracks would last a bit longer. Listening to Mystique drums is such a pleasant journey, one you’d wish would never end…Bravo Pascal !

Millimetrik : Danse Rue De Chabrol Danse : 2010 / Make mine music

9) Funky germans à la Brandt brauer Frick & DJ Koze

As a total devotee of German culture, and especially electronic music coming from Berlin and Frankfurt, I have over the years amassed a vast array of records from Deutchland that ranges the gamut from deep house à la Isolée, early techy house stuff such as Losoul, minimal à la Maurizio & Basic channel or almost glacial ambient structures such as Monolake. However, one has to admit that the vast majority of German producers are more known for their techno or electro side than the funky side of house music. Despite the fact that Germany was known to have a vibrant psychedelic scene in the late 60’s and a burgeoning jazz-fusion scene (Think Klaus Doldinger of Das boot OST fame) Germans have never really been associated with a keen sense of funkiness especially in house music. However, the last decade has seen Uwe Schmidt delve into funky lounge covers with his Senor coconut project and more recently in Mutek of june 2010, I have been mesmerized by a new project called Brandt Brauer Frick. Three young musicians joining forces together for this exciting acoustic techno project, as Daniel Brandt and Jan Brauer, made a team with Paul Frick, who has studied classical and modern composition with Friedrich Goldmann at Universität der Künste Berlin. With prepared piano, vibraphone, drums, various percussions, brass and string instruments, rhodes, bass guitar and analogue synthesizers the trio creates textures that may bring to mind Steve Reich as well as the oldschool loop techno. Experiment meets deepness, complexity meets minimalism. The generation of the sound is mostly acoustic – even the bassdrum. Only few electronic instruments complete the sound. Brandt Brauer Frick also succeeds live as a thrilling synthesis of club and concert hall. On both platforms they present themselves, getting percussive with energetic sounds out of apparently harmless classical instruments. Yet they sound incredibly funky. Those Germans would make George Clinton proud.

Brandt Brauer Frick : Iron man / Tartelet records

Hamburg’s DJ Koze (aka Stefan Kozalla) has slowly established himself as one of the most distinct and respected DJ/producers on the international scene today. Getting his start in 1998, Kozalla began moving toward the inner circle of German techno in 2003, when he recorded his first single for the venerable Kompakt label. 2005’s “Kosi Comes Around” album established him as one of the most multi-dexterous and talented of Kompakt’s new generation of acts, and from there he continued to issue single after single that elevated his reputation even higher. This trajectory culminated in 2008 with “I Want To Sleep”, which was voted as the top single of that year by influential electronic-music website Resident Advisor. Apart from DJ Koze, Kozalla is also active with such aliases as Adolf Noise and the more pop-inflected group International Pony.

DJ Koze : Blaume der nacht / Pampa records

8 ) Agoria’s sublime & eclectic mix for the balance series : Balance 016

French producer and DJ Agoria has been tapped to mix Balance 016. In following with the series titular theme, Agoria diversified not only his track selection, but also his mixing style. Disc one Aller Retour starts off in ambient. A minute later and Agoria’s taken the vibe into the eery stripped back techno world of Arandel with a superb transition between the two tracks. That for me sums up the style of both discs with Agoria’s ability to stitch contrasting tunes together in a masterful and effortless motion. At mid-disc peak he meanders back into a groovy cosmic disco finish with Todd Terje and Prins Tomas. As with previous installments of Balance, the compilation is a multiple disc affair, with an emphasis on variety. Like a lot of good compilations the first play didn’t leave me convinced but after several more plays it’s grown on me immensely and it’s worth checking if you’re on the prowl for a mixed cd.

Agoria : Balance 016 : CD 1 :  Aller Retour [EQ Recordings : 2010]

01. Gregg Kowalsky – Ashes From Evermore
02. Alva Noto – Monophaser 2 ++ DJ Koze – Lords of Panama
03. Mark Pritchard – ?
04. Manvoy de Saint Sadrill – Soeheniona
05. Tosca – Joe Si Ha
06. Emiliana Torrini – Gun
07. Agoria – Parasite 2
08. Arandel – inD#5
09. Justin – Columpnam
10. 19.454. – When I Think Of
11. Pom Pom – 10
12. Agoria – Altre Voci
13. Glimpse – Train in Austria Part 2
14. The Field – Over the Ice (Live mix)
15. Olibusta – La Pazz
16. Cubenx – Mis Dias Y Tus Noches
17. Felix Laband – Whisitling in Tongues (Todd Terje remix)
18. jozif – Back 2 My Roots (jozif’s 5o’clock Fabric Shadow edit)
19. Bibio – Jealous of Roses
20. LCD Soundystem – 45:33 (Trus’me remix)
21. Boozoo Bajou feat. Rumer – Same Sun (Prins Thomas Diskomiks) ++ Oxia – Less Time
22. Hatikvah – Synchronicty (Block Barley & Engin Ozturk Holmby Hills Remix)
23. Rio en Medio – The Last Child’s Tear
24. Tipper – Just as the Sun Went Down
25. Gregg Kowalsky – Ashes from Evermore ++ Alva Noto – Monophaser

7) The emerging talent of Eitan Reiter on Places I Miss That I Haven’t Been To

Eitan Reiter is a genre-crossing artist from Israel. He’s producing all sorts of electronic music. As a part of the Unoccupied duo with Nadav Katz (Cuts) he produces and write electro acoustic music, and as half of Loud with Kobi Toledano he releases psytrance. Under his own name he also produces minimal techno music and also psychedelic chillout and downtempo electronica. He also collaborated with and remixed some well-know artists such as: Shulman, Bluetech, J.Viewz and Perfect Stranger, among others. Eitan also writes and produces music for film and other soundtracks. His debut album on Aleph Zero Records, Places I Miss That I Haven’t Been To is packed with very deep and very psychedelic soundscapes, hovering pad sounds and seemingly infinite reverb spaces. The mood [is] dreamy to sentimental but … keeps changing during the entire album…It’s clear that Aleph Zero is trying to push the envelope of the psychedelic ambient scene. They did a great job with this album that works like a musical journey that progresses unself-consciously through some very personal musical territory, full of pleasant wonderment and unfettered by genre distinctions.

Eitan Reiter : Eggplant week – Places I miss that I haven’t been to (Alpha Zero records)

6) The second endeavor of Danish producer Trentemoller : Into the great white yonder

The Danish producer has released his second album last june, since I wrote in may on this blog that I’ve been listening to the Last resort to death for the last 5 years and that the first single, released a few days ago, and called “Sycamore feeling” had a lot of interesting pop elements I think it’s still fair to say that his latest endeavor is nothing short of a masterpiece. When I heard those spaghetti western guitar again à la Ennio Morricone which grabbed me again and made me thinking oh no he did again…It kinda sounds like his song  The Very Last Resort which is my all time favorite song of the last few years as you remember I’ve mixed it the Winter mix I kept thinking, how should I describe it ? New order meets glitch ? Islandic pop à la Sigur ros meets classical music ? I think it’s time to stop comparing Trentemøller to anything from the 80′s or the 90′s whether it’s my bloody valentine, or else. This artist has a sound of his own and this time it sounds a lot more pop and organic. It may have pop elements with the vocal, but this time the electronics are very low key and a wonderful bassline makes the whole very live, and the drums too. His album experiments with analog textures, live drums and so far has been of my favorite albums of 2010, but it has also been one of the most challenging listening album I’ve recently came upon. It sounds very cold wave, the rhythms are slower than before, even though Trentemoller hasn’t been know for its thumping beats but the more mellow side of minimalistic ambient. Oh and Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!! Is one of the most devastating tracks on the dancefloor that there is. Genius indeed.

Trentemøller – Silver surver ghost rider go [Into The Great Wide Yonder : 2010]

5) John Digweed is back : Bedrock 12 indeed rocks!

To celebrate Bedrock’s 12th anniversary, John Digweed has compiled 21 outstanding exclusive tracks and remixes from established and new artists to form Bedrock 12. Bedrock is synonymous with releasing the highest quality forward-thinking electronic dance music and has enjoyed a highly successful year so far and this new compilation will further cement the label’s reputation around the globe. Not only does the album feature a host of established stars – Robert Babicz, Quivver, King Unique, Christian Smith, Nick Warren, Digweed & Muir – it also showcases new and upcoming talent like Maetrik, Wiretappeur, Max Cooper, Wehbba, and others. And the music is quite stunning…This is top quality and worth every penny. I have downloaded various albums this year ranging from Anjunabeats and many others and they are all good but, this is my favourite right now in progressive house. The sounds and beats of this album wash over you seamlessly and whilst not anything like chillout music, it can be relaxing, uplifting, inspiring and just about anything you let your mood dictate whilst listening to it. Mr Digweed is to be heartily applauded for a perfect piece of work here. John Digweed is a master and the guy never fails to impress, there are some amazing tracks here, Bilder by John Digweed and Nick Muir being one of them. Fantastic album by a legendary DJ.

John Digweed & Nick Muir : Blider [Bedrock : 2010]

4) The soulful and dubstep sounds of King Midas

King Midas is a dubstep project composed of Kevin Martin and London/Trinidad poet Roger Robinson. Martin has stated that his influences are Adrian Sherwood, Lee Perrey and Public enemy. King Midas sound is my absolute stroke of genius for 2010. So far, King Midas Sound has made an amazing dubstep album that combines the Hyperdub sound with soundscapes reminescent of Massive attack’s soul sensibilites. Think Massive Attack at their most sinister, their most fluid – the heavy ganja vibes of Inertia Creeps mixed with the ethereal drift of 100th Window, perhaps – and you’re halfway there.. I honestly haven’t heard such amazing qualites in a long time in a new record. Some people complained that the album was too quiet. I would like to point out that it is much challenging to make something sounds sultry as much as King Midas. You don’t start doing tracks as these from the get go, you nurture this type of sounds as Dubstep doesn’t necesserely has to be the next drum and bass trend i.e. loud. Therefore, Martin’s production forgoes the stereotypical dubstep war of bassbin attrition to let the beats glow instead of flash, and even when it approaches an actual heavy knock, like the underlying dancehall bump of “Outta Space” with the smothered Mantronix boom-clap. Waiting for you has plenty of chilled vibes and this is dub production submitted to a solid structure as if he wants to tells a story about the final reverberations of a deserted cityscape. This is infused with a crumbling low-end bass that seems to give birth to the songs. And the voice decorates it like a spiderweb : fragile in appearance, but accurately strong enough to hold a flow against the rhythm. Every strength this record holds draws off the symbiotic relationship between Martin’s beats and Robinson’s voice, which adapt well to each other. It’s definetely work that stands as above average. Maybe it has just been waiting for you…

King Midas sound : Waiting for you (Hyperdub : 2009 : Waiting for you)

3) A cool dude…nicknamed Tensnake

You follow electronic music and you don’t know Tensnake. First of all are you really sure you’re into it ?! And second of all, there is nothing wrong about admitting your wrongdoing only if you correct them after all ! Enters Tensnake, a Hamburg-based producer and founder of the label Mirau and glossy Music and his music is deeply influenced by the early 80’s Italo Disco Boogie and early Chicago house. And Tensnake brings the joy once again into dance music. Coma cat, one of the top record of the cosmic disco genre, and of 2010, sees the very gifted Tensnake use a melody and bassline ripped from Anthony & The Camp’s 1986-Jellybean-produced “What I Like” to veer towards “modernized” early Chicago and Italian piano-house territories with his typical savoir-vivre that make him modestly adjust his awesome production skills in benefit of pure feelgood, shiny, colourful dance music. The climax is a pure moment of bliss, combining the old (spirit, melodic touch) with the new (production dynamics and voice cut-up techniques) and is so marvellous and generous that you feel teleported in a fantisized open-air party in Ibiza circa ’87 with DJ Alfredo at the decks and wigged-out, happy mutant creatures all around.In a recent interview, Tensnake emphasized on being above all a “pop” artist and indeed one can say that, even sampled, his hooks show a proper, high level pop music sensitivity in an open-minded acceptation of the word. I would say that Tensnake is a mellower, more feminine, subtle and relaxed response to other german wonder Boys Noize, who in his best remixes (Feist, Sebastien Tellier, Gonzales) has also the golden touch for impossibly catchy, dramatic, joyful “pop” hooks. Dance music needs more Tensnakes!

Tensnake : Coma cat (Permanent vacation : 2010)

2) A remaster of the universe named Todd Terje

The remix is by no means a particularly modern phenomenon. In fact its roots can be traced all the way back to the Baroque era in which the great J.S. Bach offered listeners arguably the most bumper remix package of all time with his Goldberg Variations—30 different mash-ups of a repeated 16-bar chord progression. One shudders to think of the pressing costs had Bach been around during the vinyl heyday when disco pioneers Tom Moulton and Walter Gibbons were busy cutting tape and looping beats in order to create the dance remix as we know it today. Those early efforts of the late 1970s were intended simply as a way of extending popular tracks by honing in on more hypnotic rhythm sections (or “the breakdown,” as that practice would eventually become known) to feed the insatiably heady appetite of New York’s burgeoning club scene. In the 30 years that have followed, the discipline of the remix has evolved into a broad school where artists are invited freely to reinterpret the work of others, often laying the cornerstone of a record’s success; and in 2010, if ever there were a pretender to the throne of Remaster of the Universe, Todd Terje would most certainly stake a claim.

Alongside compatriots Prins Thomas and Hans-Peter Lindstrom, he has spearheaded the Norwegian-nuanced disco sound (dub-pop, nu-Balearic, cosmic-Kraut—whatever you want to call it) that proved so popular towards the end of the last decade,; yet the versatility and repeated success of his remix output alone evince that, as the brouhaha surrounding that particular scene begins to wane, Todd Terje looks set to maintain his ubiquity.

If healing the world is indeed Terje’s raison d’etre, he has certainly been making a fairly decent stab at it so far, as illustrated by the impressive CV that forms the basis of this two-disc compilation. Remixes for Jose Gonzalez, Antena and the now almost-canonical rework of Dolle Jolle’s “Balearic Incarnation” have provided some of dance music’s most blissed-out, loved-up moments in recent years, by now that any further discussion of their musical merit here seems like a waste of time. It’s space, it’s beach, it’s cosmic, man. But moreover, it’s good.

The nine stand-alone tracks, however, featured on disc two are arguably his finest efforts : the aforementioned “Balearic Incarnation,” last year’s crack shot at Shit Robot’s “Simple Things” and his seemingly evergreen, pumped-up version of Lindstrom’s “Another Station” are undoubtedly the highlights. An unreleased rework of a forthcoming Mungolian Jet Set track also keeps the carrot dangled in typically madcap fashion and shows why many an artist will be sad to learn that Terje has, at least for now, decided to hang up his remix boots.

Much as the suggestibly fickle and rapidly transient taste of the dance music world is to be decried, one cannot help but feel that the space-cadet sound from the North is past its peak and as such this compilation can at times feel like treading already well-trodden ground. Though these feelings can be readily countered with the assured knowledge that, of everything the Balearic breeze washed up on our shores over the last few years, Todd Terje’s oeuvre is among (if not) the very best, and I can take as much pleasure counting this record as part of my collection as I can looking forward to the fulfilment of that press-release promise. Take M’s Pop musik here remixed by Terje, I must say I haven’t heard anything from Scandinavia that funky : 10 minutes of grooves with a lovely acid flow. 

M : Pop Muzik (Todd Terje Remix)

1) Getting flabbergasted by Daft Punk and the Tron legacy soundtrack

The new sound soundtrack of the Tron legacy movie, to be released in december 17th, has one word written all over it : maturity. The original soundtrack for the first film was by Wendy Carlos, of Switched On Bach fame. Unlike electronic soundtracks of the time from Giorgio Moroder (Midnight Express), Vangelis and Tangerine Dream, Carlos’ mission was to create a score that was made via synth but had the layers of an orchestral composition.

Unless you’ve been living under the internet’s equivalent of a rock you’ve no doubt been waiting for the moment when we got to hear something new from Daft Punk, even if it was in the form of a movie score. But after our first flavor of the TRON Legacy soundtrack a while back when we first heard “Derezzed” (check the edit here), we were pretty stoked to hear more. That track was a marvellous piece of brooding electro with a really heavy bassline. As a DJ who loves electro & techno, it’s granted to rocks the dancefloor. That being said, when you decide to give this a listen, just keep in mind that it’s the soundtrack/score for a movie, so you’re definitely not going to be dancing your ass off the whole time nor will it happen most of the time. It’s pretty orchestral as most movie scores are, and pretty much nothing about it screams Daft Punk, but there’s no denying that it’s insanely beautiful. This is perhaps, in some ways, the type of music Kraftwerk should be doing if they weren’t so perfectionist. There’s nobody out there that doubts that Daft Punk can get anyone to shake it in just about any situation, but I don’t think there are many of us who thought that they had this kind of musical composition in them, and while chances are I never would have listened to a movie score from start to finish if it didn’t involve the words “Daft Punk”, I just listened to a movie score from start to finish, and I liked it a lot. Some tracks like Arena and Armory have beautiful low frequencies in them coupled with twisted yet impressive analogue like soundscapes. God, I just wish Daft punk would make the whole soundtrack for an ambient movie…

Like most movies and stories in general, there is typically a huge buildup and climax, and this soundtrack is no exception. There are definitely some points in the middle when things sound distinctly Daft Punk (mainly the aforementioned “Derezzed” and “TRON Legacy (End Titles)”), but overall the amount of genuine composition in them is really impressive. This is an incredible movie score to a movie that has epic potential written all over it.. And while it doesn’t happen too often, there are times when the orchestral sounds are married with the electronic, and that is when it’s pure bliss. Now we just have to wait for the December 17th release date of the film to see how perfectly the sound matches director Joseph Kosinski’s vision. Yet every time I listen to the whole soundtrack, I just keep being mesmerize again and again by the synthetised work and the orchestral chords. It’s called being flabbergasted…

Daft punk : Tron legacy (Crydaluv rework)

Daft punk : Arena

Daft punk : Armory (Tron legacy official soundtrack : Walt Disney Records)

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