Queen of Japan is a synth-pop band known for its cover versions of songs of the 70’s and the 80’s. But unlike Nouvelle vague, their versions are more drawn towards electro than downtempo. Their version of “I Was Made for Loving You”was featured on the award-winning short movie Icicle melt. They have also covered songs by Soft cell, The Who, Marvin Gaye and Frank Zappa. One reviewer noted :
Queen of Japan […] manage to inject their brand of sleazy sexuality into this revivalist template. I can’t say this is original stuff, but in all its worrying energy and zany spunk, it’s actually quite a lot of fun.
Taken from their first album in 2002, called Headrush, I was made for loving you manages to surpasses the original track by KISS (it’s not a big challenge mind you lol) it actually goes from transformed and slightly creepy 80s origins into erotic electric pop masterpiece, the Kiss cover becoming one of the greatest cover songs I’ve ever heard. And one of my secret weapon while DJing, and that is not likely to change.
Queen of Japan : I was made for loving you [Hausmusik : 2002]
Making an album is a tough business. For an artist to convey their very musical fibre on an 80-minute or less canvas, it takes a great deal of vision and knowing the idiosyncracies of their genre that they chose to operate within. I chose 5 albums I’ve listened to it in constant loop, rediscovering them all the time. Joris Voorn took the trouble of melding over a hundred tracks on his effort for the Balance series, a mix I will surely listen to this amazing mix with repeated listenings in the future. In other words, the Resident advisor’s Podcast are now essential and easily the best mixes covering the spectrum of electronic music (that is for serious afficionados and record collectors, not trendy teens who’ll stop listening to electronic music in 2 months ;-)) as well as the Beats in space website. So, here’s 5 albums I’ve especially enjoyed :
1) Joris Voorn : Balance 014 (EQ)
Joris Voorn changed the way that we think about mix albums in 2009. It’s territory that had been explored before, most notably by Richie Hawtin, but Balance 014 and others felt a bit like a sea change, as though we have finally entered into an age where DJs will no longer be able to get away with two turntables and a mixer on officially released compilations. Welcome to the future. My complete review here.
Joris Voorn : Balance 014 (EQ) – CD 1
2 & 3) Intrusion : RA.153 / Beat pharmacy : Wikkid times (That was one was released late 2008)
Some great collections that explores the realms of dub techno, dubstep and minimal, and contains household names from those areas. I have to admit not being the greastest fan of Dubstep but slowly I am getting to like it more and more as I am a dub devotee. Brendon Moeller has always pushed at the outer reaches of electronic dub with his Beat Pharmacy outfit. On his last album, he looks to have side-stepped the traditional and forged something wholly unique with the help of some of the best poets in the business : it’s dub, yes, but these dub-wise protest songs cut deeper than your average bass lick. Playing across rhythms like techno, reggae, folk, and minimal soul, the music is loosely etched in digital rhythms, dragging you deep, deep down into your subconscious. And of course hiring a Jamaîcan vocalist like Paul St Hilaire doesn’t hurt either. Soul for the 21st century music.
Intrusion meanwhile, offered one of the most solid mix in the RA series delievering afro beat like Tony Allen next to german dub staples like Maurizio, and Detroit techno legend Juan Atkins with his Model 500 imprint here remixed by Echospace. Produced and engineered with minimized to maximized sounds, these albums opened a new chapter in experimenation with synthesis and sound design.
Intrusion : RA.153 / 2009
Beat pharmacy : Nuclear race – Wikkid times (Deep space media)
4) Sebo K : Watergate 04 (Watergate)
Sebo K, who’s been active on the Berlin techno scene for almost 20 years now, begun his career from playing drum and bass in a team with Alec Empire, but his musical path lead through breakbeat, electroclash and house, too. Currently Sebo K, beside Anja Schneider, is the biggest name of the Mobilee record label. His latest DJ mix is however going out on Watergate, the label run by owners of a club in Berlin of the same name. On Watergate 04, he mixes mostly deep house with a touch of funkiness enough to make you tap your feet at the floor but also to maintain an interesting vibe throughout. I especially liked Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts and the track The pussy shepherd which contains a sample of Isaac Hayes’s Hot buttered soul track By the time I get to Phoenix. The way Sebo K has mixed the record up may not be easy to call a top notch technical mix but the power of the mix sits first and foremost in the throughoutly planned track selection and smartly placed accents.
Sebo K : Watergate 04 mix (Watergate)
The third album from the French band that conquered the world with Bossa-nova covers of Punk and New Wave classics. Features guest vocals from Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen), Barry Adamson (Magazine) and Terry Hall (The Specials/Fun Boy Three). Led by producer/arrangers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux and sung by a revolving cast of chanteuses, the group’s first two albums have sold well over half-a-million copies. On 3, gone are the Reggae and Bossa-nova interpretations. Instead, the songs are inspired by American Country music and Bluegrass. This time around, Nouvelle Vague reinterpret Talking Heads’ ‘Road To Nowhere’, Psychedelic Furs’ ‘Heaven’, Gary Numan’s ‘Metal’, Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save The Queen’, Plastic Bertrand’s ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’, Soft Cell’s ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ and many more, making this Nouvelle Vague’s strongest album to date !
Nouvelle vague : Ça plane pour moi ( 3 : Peacefrog records )
Compilation of the year : The Grandfather Paradox whose tracklisting is kind of mind-boggling. So many mixes trump how wide-ranging their sound is, but Henrik Schwarz, Âme and Dixon took the cake in 2009, finding the place where Moondog, Steve Reich, Liquid Liquid, Yusef Lateef, Ø, Raymond Scott not only make sense together, but combine for one of the smoothest rides of the year, blending effortlessly into one another. Check out the tracklisting if you don’t believe me.
Shawn Lee is an American musician and multi-intrumentalist from Wichita. On Hits The Hits with his Ping Pong Orchestra he does tunes by Gwen Stefani, Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears, Blur, Badly Drawn Boy, Justin Timberlake, Outkast and many more in his own unique style. Putting his over-stuffed studio to the test Lee pulls out all the stops on an album that includes a surf guitar-driven cover of Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On” (already selected by taste-maker producer/DJ Tom Middleton for one his compilations). Lee’s sound, which started as a take on old-school library albums and has grown into a sound of his own is made possible by his ability to make music in an insanely overpopulated studio. A 1940’s early proto-synth called a Clavioline, a 100 year old Marxophone zither, a 1950’s Virginal Harpsichord, a 1950’s Xylophone, a rare 1967 Vox guitar that has Fuzz, Tremelo and wah-wah built in, a 1930’s Double Bass and an early 1900’s keyboard called a Dulcetone all reside within the walls of Lee’s facilities.
As a multi-instrumentalist and singer Shawn Lee has played and recorded with a diverse range of artists including Psapp, Coldcut, Leeann Rhimes, Martina Mcbride, UNKLE, Tony Joe White, Chateau Flight, The Dust Brothers, St. Etienne, Jeff Buckley, Bomb The Bass, The Spice Girls, and Natasha Atlas – not to mention solo records for Talkin’ Loud, Wall of Sound imprint We Love You and BBE. He is also known to breaks n’beats collectors as the man behind “The Ape Breaks” and “Planet of the Breaks” series which were sampled by everyone from Guru to The Gorillaz. Music by Lee has been used in commercials for BMW and Jaguar, in multiple TV shows, and in addition to the Oceans 13 movie. He also did music for CSI Miami, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Nip tuck and Ugly Betty. Quite majestic grooves from the mighty Shawn Lee, all put together with a brilliance to rival the best soundtrack and sound library work of the 70s! Funk for the 21 st century my friends.
Shawn Lee & his Ping pong orchestra : Get UR freak on [Missy Elliott cover : Ubiquity : 2007]