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"KNOW YOUR ENEMY"

The uprise andinternational recognition in the last decade of music scenes in placeslike Chicago, San Francisco and Berlin has all been due to a multitudeof factors. I attest their success to seemingly fearless efforts madeby small startup record labels, releasing as much music as they can,with bands integrating as much as possible. I know from my own personalexperience living in Boston that things are tough here despite the fewexamples of some excellent bands. So few groups actually pay attentionto each other, as everybody seems to want to be stars on their own andmake it big somewhere else. With that in mind, big fuckingcongratulations go out to Rick Webb of Archenemy for compiling thiscollection: 20 tracks from Boston and Boston-friendly artists. In theyears I have personally known and worked with Webb, we have had greatmusic discussions, each of us respecting each other's musical knowledgeand taste very much. "Know Your Enemy" features Neptune, Mistle Thrush,Freezepop and many other acts you've never heard of, who have neverheard of me either however. Whether it's the serene electronica wash ofIntelevision or the J-Pop of Freezepop, the 80s retro-trashy tune fromThe Mourning After, the punchy aggressive distorted homemade metalllicsounds of Neptune, or the embarassing cover tune of "To Love Somebody"by The Boy Joys, the heart-felt delivery is genuine all around. Thepackaging is such a stunning reflective multi-fold digipack that itcan't be scanned properly on a scanner, the production varies due tothe multi-genred experience, but it flows quite nicely and I'll standby Rick even if I'm not crazy about all of these bands! Other pastefforts from Boston labels have had a mix almost too homogenous for itto be taken seriously outside of the area: something like this—cleverlypackaged and not presented as a "Boston thing"—works perfectly.
3529 Hits

Kriedler

The eponymous thirdfull-lengther from Kreidler is almost a futuristic nod to theinnovators of 70s Kraut Rock. The disc is nearly all instrumental, savetwo tracks with vocal contributions from artful indie clown Momus andArgeninian pop star Leo Garcia (not to be confused with the Dominicanbaseball player, professor, Wyoming politician, classical guitarist, orSalsa dance instructor). The quartet is down to a trio since theirbassist departed as his side project, To Rococo Rot become more of amain outlet. The bass lines are beefier than ever however, and whetherthe songs are serene throbbing electronic easy listening gems like"Bewitched", a Can-like vocal tunes as "Mnemorex" or a Kraftwerkianhook-based ditty like "Do It", the production is slick and inviting.Kreidler's tunes are pretty damned catchy and their generally jovialfeel suggests these Germans are undoubtedly having fun. Put yourlaptops down and start having fun.

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3877 Hits

M2, "KOPYRIGHT LIBERATION"

With almost no down timefrom cross-continental touring and releasing albums as Panacea andDisorder, Matthis Mootz has released this scarcely limited mini-LP onAnt-Zen. Limited to 680 copies, "Kopyright Liberation" is built fromsources from the now legendary Kopyright Liberation Front, a.k.a. theKLF. While this 40-minute mini-LP is rather tributal in nature—withtrack titles "Trancentral," "Ru Con," and "Reefer Spin,"—a scatteringof micro elements have been recycled in an entirely new surrounding.The record strays from the more minimalistic tendencies of the firsttwo m2 [pronounced and sometimes listed as Squaremeter]releases (three if you consider Brasilia). Mootz weaves an intricatetapestry of low end rumblings, NASA beeps, clicks for measure and tempomarks, and speech samples with spacious effects. For a man known in thedrum and bass world for his lengthy intros, some of these songs cantake up to six minutes before every individual element introduced beginto play with each other. This could possibly be my favorite Squaremeterrelease to date.

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4349 Hits

"DOCKING SEQUENCE: BSI CAMPAIGN VOL. 1"

This is what all variousartists compilations should be like: 70+ minutes of nothing but solid,exclusive tracks reasonably priced at $12 post paid. "Docking Sequence"is the fifteenth release and first compilation from Portland, OR basedlabel BSI Records. The cd (and double LP which features 4 extra tracks)brings forth just about every flavor of (mostly) instrumental, moderndub imaginable - digital/analog, programmed/live, hip hop, noise,ambient, experimental, whatever - from peoples, places and studiosworldwide. Names that will likely draw you in are Muslimgauze, TheRootsman, Twilight Circus and DJ Spooky, but the playing field isevened out by the full roster. Black Faction brings the Afghan front toManchester with mellow Middle Eastern backgrounds and smooth beats.Sweeping strings and bird calls permeate a brief but stunning untitledMuslimgauze track. He-Man growls ragga styled vocals over string samplestabs and snare rhythm on "Killer". Phase Selector Sound lay down anindelibly deep ambient bass groove with "Sky Cup". Sound Secretion's"Perpetual Next..." is an onslaught of scratching, cut-up rap samplesand massive beats. Drifting female sighs are the perfect touch toJ-Boogie's laid back "Gemini Dub". Alpha & Omega conjure up KingTubby with generous helpings of melodica in "Wicked Man Drop". TwilightCircus present an even deeper mix of "Depth Charge" from the recent"Dub Voyage" album. Raz Mesinai's (aka Badawi) "Excerpt from TheUnspeakable" is a tense stringed nightmare. Onry & Oldominion's"Jezebelian" begins and ends with a hilarious list of shout outs and asuper smooth sample and double MC flow sandwiched in-between. Otaku's"Patterns.." slices and dices with serious drum 'n bass fills. And lastand least, the oh so over hyped DJ Spooky wraps things up with a ratherdrab dub collage. Altogether "Docking Sequence" is a crossbred success.As much as I'm looking forward to a 2nd volume, I need to do some catchup on many of these bands back catalogs first.

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9353 Hits

Boards of Canada, "In a Beautiful Place Out In the Country"

After a year full of unpronounceable non sequiturs masquerading as album titles, Boards of Canada bring us the most aptly named release in ages. "In a Beautiful Place out in the Country" is exactly where Mark Eoin and Mike Sandison intend to take you with this new EP, and they succeed admirably.

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4052 Hits

THE CLIENTELE, "SUBURBAN LIGHT"

The band that has wowedcollectors and critics alike has compiled their first 7" singlereleases onto one charming compact disc. The disc collects theirrecordings which stem back to about 1998 but omits the tracks whichappeared on this year's earlier CD EP release, "A Fading Summer." Italso adds a couple new, previously unreleased songs. The Clientele isone of my favorite new groups to emerge in the last couple years. Theirmusic has a heavy feel of 60s indie-pop. The sound is melodic with abasic usage of drums, guitar and bass. Primitive home studio electronicgear gives a sort of charm that translates well to their original vinylreleases. Subject matters revolving around rain, darkness and love,clearly displaying the group can only be English, almost dreaming of aday when they could have easily filled the opening slot on a mid-60s UKtour of Gerry and the Pacemakers. With songs as sugar sweet as "(I WantYou) More Than Ever" and "Saturday," prolonged listens may result indental work. The instrumental competancy of the group is something thatis witnessable in their live performances, while the members can beobserved with playing unobtrusive melodies using the entire fretboardsof the stringed instruments. Bass lines are melodic and gentle, asJames isn't copping out by playing root notes of chords while thedrummer has an undeniably talented balance of control and subtledelicacy. Charming ballads and blissful love songs are not a bad thingif they're done with sincerity, and I think the group are doing a finejob of mastering the art.

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4378 Hits

TROUM, "SEN"

The latest release fromStaalplaat's prolific Mort aux Vaches series comes to us from theGerman drone outfit Troum. Much like their previous incarnation MaerorTri, Troum are masters of the slow progression, be it in terms ofintensity, volume, style, or all three, as in the case of this release.Sen, which consists of one hour-long track, begins quietly withdelicate reverberations and soft metallic ringing: sonic architectureso subtle that one might not even notice the gradual accumulation ofthe duo's trademark sound. Troum's skill as artists in field of dronestruly lies in their ability to craft them with such beauty. All toofrequently are we besieged with power electronics artists who employthis technique in ways that are either overwhelming or boring. Bylayering dones with wistful electronic spirals, Troum lends them anundeniable prettiness. It isn't until twenty-five minutes into Sen thatthese almost gossamer soundscapes give way to the throb of atranslucent beat, which in turn melts into rhythmic patches ofdistortion as the album takes on creepier, harsher textures. Thesetwists and turns are, however, not ungraceful in the slightest, butdissolve into one another with fluid ease. Finally, stripping down to asolitary, nearly inaudible echo, Sen fades to an end just as gently asit began.

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4070 Hits

Sad Rockets, "Transition"

The transition has indeed been made from the hip yet relatively obsure Chain Reaction label in Germany to the international powerhouse known as Matador for this, the third full-lengther from Andrew Pekler, a.k.a. Sad Rockets. While the output may be labeled as a medium-paced modern dub hybrid, the inputs are almost completely organic, reminiscent more of the older school masters than many electronic contemporaries.

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4012 Hits

Microstoria, "Model 3, Step 2"

Jan St. Werner (of Mouse On Mars) and Markus Popp (of Oval) have cooked up a third offering of glitchy, cryptic ambience for us, this time without all the rhetoric about music as software and digital revolutions in musical composition.

 

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4666 Hits

Tosca, "Suzuki"

Richard Dorfmeisterteamed up with Rupert Huber for a fine selection of loungey trip-hopworthy of prancing around with bell-bottoms in. Sure, something likethis can sit very well along with Kruder & Dorfmeister projectslike Peace Orchestra, but the difference in this one is more emphasison a deeper soul. Female vocals are introduced in the form of samplesto give it a little more human and less mechanical spirituality thanthe typical white German electro dubtacular sound. If it were 1992,this would be labelled as "chill out room music." Serene andgalactical, this would provide a great soundtrack to lying in your roomwith your friend or lover, staring up at the glowing stars stuck to theceiling. Illegal substances optional of course.

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4060 Hits

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO, "ECCENTRIC OBJECTS"

Fucking incredible! JackDangers has a clever way of teasing his fans. Once an album has soakedinto the culture, imitators spring up and fade away, only shortly afterpeople stop listening to his album, unexpectedly something pops out ofnowhere that reminds us all how incredible he really is. "EccentricObjects" is no exception. The record comes as a 12" single withflexi-disc, orderable through Sputnik7.com only, all four tracks on the12 are some of his finest stuff, bringing in the crashing breakbeats,organic sounds, thunderous effects and driving basslines that are sodamn signature Jack Dangers material. This is the stuff many peopledream of while sitting in their rooms, watching mind-numbing televisionshows and getting fat on cheese. "Hey wouldn't it be great to do musiclike this...?" Little do they know it's been happening for many manyyears. The strength of these tracks stand well completely on their own,while making any fan salivate just thinking of a future full-lengther.For a limited time, a flexi-disc with two bonus soundscapes isincluded. The ever entertaining "Peristaltic Wave" and "My Shorty" usecollected sound samples from strange archives of the 50s and 60s. Getthis while you still can, while these songs may be compiled onto afuture release, the versions will probably be altered while theflexi-disc tracks will probably never resurface.

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3713 Hits

TINO'S BREAKS VOL. 5 - "DUB"

For the last three years,Tino has been serving up two slabs of hot wax with breakbeats galoreand sample tracks collected at the end. It was looking like this yearwas going to squeak by with only getting one slab, but fear not, Tino'sBreaks volume 5 is a two-record set full of dub gems led by one of thebest drummers in the world, Tino. Following last year's release ofMambo and Christmas, Dub carries on the style of some fat cuts andbreaks, familiar samples, and beats amusing and exciting to listen toand mix in with your favorite breakbeat needs. I don't smoke pot, butif I did, boy would this be a great slab of wax to chill out with. Forthose not in the know, the core of Tino Corp is Ben Stokes (from DHSand H-Gun), Jack Dangers (see previous review) and Mike Powell (formerMeat Beat Manifesto member). Learning the drums is easy and when youlike the dub it's fun too! These vinyl-only releases are essential forany MBM fan as well as any fan of dub and latin-influenced breakbeats.

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4242 Hits

BLIXA BARGELD "RECYCLED"

Blixa Bargeld is frontman for Einstürzende Neubauten, member of NickCave's Bad Seeds, occasional actor and contributor to various plays andsoundtracks. For Maria von Heland's German suspense thriller "Recycled",Bargeld composes nearly all of the soundtrack, as arranged andorchestrated by the Tim Isfort Orchestra. Unlike Bargeld's previous solowork "Commissioned Music" this music is not as minimal and emotionallysparse. Isfort's large orchestra, undoubtedly influenced by classiccomposers such as Morricone, provides a rich classical palette to paintBargeld's various moods. "Küss mich wach" ("Kiss Me Awake") begins thedisc vocally as Bargeld and Amanda Ooms solo and duet German lyrics oversweeping strings and a light piano and beat rhythm. Ooms also speaksGerman text on another brief track. The remaining 19 tracks areinstrumental pieces, ranging 9 seconds to 4 minutes, obviously meant tocorrespond with the events and moods of the film. "Mr. Aloha" by Carnivalof Souls is unexpectedly tacked on to the end but it's charming waves ofpedal steel work well. What's important here for me, as a fan of Bargeldand someone who will likely never see the film, is that the soundtrackholds up on it's own. And that it does, very well. The sound is fulland varied and the flow is very comfortable. "Recycled" is a beautifulwork completely on it's own and well worth the $15 import price.

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6660 Hits

N.U. UNRUH "EUPHORIE IM ZEITALTER DER DIGITALEN INFORMATIONSUBERTRAGUNG"

N.U. Unruh is percussionist for Einstürzende Neubauten and "Euphoria inthe Age of Digital Information Transfer" is, surprisingly, his first soloalbum. Unruh's idea was to compose sequences entirely from the sampledsounds of various digital devices to give musical life to everyday itemsnot normally heard in that context. The audio library is extensive:motors, oscillators, alarms, beepers, phones, toys, video games, doorbells, office machines, etc. provide all sorts of beeps, blips, tones,drones, lo-fi animal calls and human voices. Each of the 26 tracks, mostin the less than 1 minute to 3 minute range, are a whirring din of theseaudio bits arranged into multi tracked mini symphonies. Cheesy sounds andplayful melodies are plentiful and the most promising tracks tend to bethe shortest and least developed. The final "Appendix" sample trackprovides most if not all of the samples one a time in succession. Bythis point it all seems rather silly, tedious and pointless ... much likea room full of toddlers feverishly banging away at the sound triggeringbuttons on their toys while others simultaneously play video games. Andconsidering that I'm pretty bored with and/or annoyed by most of thesesounds in my day to day life, they don't do much more for me organizedinto less than interesting 'songs'. "Euphorie.." will be filed away andmost likely never listened to again.

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3619 Hits

ADD N TO F√ú(X)A

An unlikely combinationpairs the British analogue whore, Barry 7 with the blissfulMichigan-based soundscapist, Randall Nielman for a 20 minute two-trackEP. While it's more endearing than the recent release from Add N to(X), the Füxa contribution can't save it enough to justify the price ofadmission. Track one starts out promising, even Christmas-sounding, butvery little changes throughout the entire piece. It sounds completelyout of tune and too repetitious. Once again, the mundane repetitionkicks in with track 2. "And Another Thing!" is far too dull and at 13minutes it carries on for what seems like an eternity. Ow, this isgiving me a headache!!! Sorry, I really did have hope.

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3745 Hits

KIT CLAYTON, "REPETITION AND NONSENSE" / "NEK SANALET"

One of the most accomplished electronic musicians to emerge from the American underground in the last couple of years, Joshua Kit Clayton has honed his deft skills on a series of singles touching on a variety of musical styles, but these two album length releases focus mainly on the minimal, dub-influenced sounds that seem to have become his forte of late. On Repetition and Nonsense, most of the material rides on a nervous tech-house groove, with tracks like "A Choice of Words" and "M-Shape" having an edge of off-kilter funkiness. Overlaying it all is a murky dub filter that inspires mild comparisons to the sounds of Pole and the Chain Reaction crew.
These influences are even more prevalent on nek sanalet (which is fitting since the ~scape label is run by Pole's Stefan Betke). While Repetition is painted with a thin coating of watery dub production, this album is completely submerged in a sea of slightly sinister loops and echoes. Subtle beats flow from side to side as minimal bleeps and stomach-churning bass wrestle in a venue drenched with reverb and washes of ambient sound. If any record deserves the Betke-coined tag of "modern urban dub", this enveloping and addictive disc is it.
4563 Hits

MOUSE ON MARS, "INSTR√úMENTALS"

Two of my favorite MouseOn Mars releases were initially released through Thrill Jockey in theUSA on vinyl only, this one and 'Glam.' For years now, Glam has beenavailable on CD as an overpriced Japanese import, but it contains someof their best recorded stuff ever along with a few bonus cuts for goodmeasure. Now, after a couple years, 'Instrumentals' is available on CD.With only 7 tracks, this disc clocks in just comfortably over 18minutes. The tracks are closer to a 4/4 electronic style the grouppursued years ago, slick and smooth, serene and delicate, with superbglitchy sounds coloring the beats. At this time, Mouse on Mars wasworking delicately with songcraft along with developing their ownsounds to sparkle the spectrum. These recordings are collected between1995 and 1997 but are virtually timeless. When the 'intelligent dancemusic' moves onwards to the next trend, this album will still be onethat's excellent every time you pull it from the shelf. If youabsolutely must have everything, the Japanese edition has one bonustrack.

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4200 Hits

PIZZICATO FIVE, "THE FIFTH RELEASE FROM MATADOR"

The ever-effervescent Japanese duo Pizzicato Five is back with yet anotheralbum chock full of kitschy goodness. Elements of lounge, cabaret, and retro60s TV-show theme songs abound once again, but what is so impressive about P5'slatest foray is the arrangements and orchestrations of real instruments asopposed to the band's usual heavy reliance on samples (although of these thereis no shortage!). Horns, strings, piano and woodwinds artfully accompany livedrums and guitar, producing a much more sophisticated all-over sound comparedto previous efforts. The tempo is upbeat and rousing for most of the songs,and either sexy, funky, trippy, or frenetically paced ("Tout, Tout Pour MaCherie" is borderline techno anthem); although the last handful of songs have amuch more laid-back vibe. Additionally, two of the songs, "Darlin' ofDiscotheque" and "A Perfect World (Album Version)" are actually remixes of twoother tracks on the album ("Wild Strawberries" and "A Perfect World,"respectively). As much as I've always loved Pizzicato Five, one issue withtheir music has often been the hit-or-miss quality of the albums: one half ofthe songs on a record will be impeccable, but the other somewhat weak. Fifth puts anend to this trend with consistently good production and songwriting.

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8072 Hits

LUOMO "VOCALCITY" AND UUSITALO "VAPAA MUURARI LIVE"

Two new offerings under two new pseudonyms for Finland's Vladislav Delay,the 3rd and 4th full length albums released this year alone (see alsoVladislav Delay "Multila" and "Entain"), both under the Force Inc. MusikWerks umbrella. "Vocalcity" collects together all of the tracks from the3 Force Tracks' 12"s onto one convenient digital platter. LUOMO sees Delaydive head first into house, surprisingly enough. The term 'house music'has always been a bit of an oxymoron to me since it usually conjures upthe stereotype of cheesy, unimaginative dance floor shite. Delay,unsurprisingly, does it with much style and skill. The 6 tracks, most ofwhich are in the 12-14 minute range, fuse minimal deep house rhythms withbits and pieces of Delay's trademark sound fragments, diva vocal loops andspacious atmospheres. It's a soulful, mildly deconstructed mix of funk,dub, ambiance and electronic groove in a creatively conventional package.As with everything Delay does, attention to detail is crucial as eachtrack slowly unfolds, changing colors like a chameleon and mesmerizing atgreat length. "Vocalcity" is primo house that should appeal equally tothe discerning IDM elitists and the masses that just want something coolto dance to.

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"Vapaa Muurari Live" picks up where "Entain" left off with 71 more minutesof Delay fashioned electronic explorations. The disc is titled and indexedas 14 tracks but is actually a continuous mix in four distinct, extendedmovements. Each of these sections draws a bit more of an influence from aparticular style, such as dance, dub and jazz. All of the usual Delayelements are here: a churning sea of sound granules, mostly indiscerniblehuman sighs and mutterings (as well as a relatively long dialogue passagefrom "Eyes Wide Shut"), deep dub and club informed rhythms, seeminglyrandom audio events, dense ambient environments and an overall gradual(d)evolution of sound and groove. This is chaos in expansion. This isthe birth, life, death and afterlife of beauty. This is electronic musicfrom the human soul. Can you tell yet that I love everything by this guy?His music is utterly gorgeous. I will continue to joyfully soak thesediscs in while awaiting the next round. You should too ...

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4462 Hits

KIRK LAKE

Remember when you'd rush out and buy all the new releases (even by unknownbands) on Factory, Mute, 4AD or some other ultra-cool indie label becauseyou felt they'd earned your trust? Well, may I recommend Dreamy Records?Dreamy is home to the brilliant bands Arco and Tuesday Weld, whoserecordings are fragile, understated and almost painfully intimate. Andlyrical is a way that seems utterly radical in the face of our current top40 plastic teen pin-ups and rap-metal cartoons. Like his labelmates,artist/author/musician Kirk Lake can spin an epic poem from the smallestgesture; with this disc, however, he's left his bedsit for a little strollout into a wider world. If you like your dreampop melancholic and largelyacoustic, you'll love the first half of the album—songs like "A BeautifulEnding" and "Nothing to No One" are Glider-perfect. The second half is moreadventurous: Fantastic cuts like "The Wedding Song" and "The Adventures ofan Abstract Detective" recall The Flying Lizards' brilliant aural hi-jinksand reveal Lake's inner dada; while "Morphology" and "Everyday Lingers"cruise boldly down David Lynch's lost highway.
3758 Hits