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Record Reviews

by Phil Thornton

Cheers as ever to Jonas at epm for promo copies

Prins Thomas presents Inter Galactic Prism (Eskimo)


Last month I asked why the fantastically gifted Lindstrom & Prins Thomas were remixing their own back catalogue on the admittedly fantastic ‘Reinterpretations’ LP. Now I know why. It must be time consuming being the Kings Of Cosmic Disco and if they’re not rehashing old material (Lindstrom’s ‘It’s A Feedelity Affair’ etc) or remixing tracks from a multitude of other ’Scandilearic’ (copyright my ma) artists then they’re cobbling together outstanding mixes such as this and Lindstrom’s ‘Late Night Tales’ compilation. The foundations of Prins’s unique sound are exposed here beginning with celebrated British production maverick Joe Meek’s astonishing ‘I Hear A New World’ displaying that dissonant, otherworldly yet always engaging production style the man has made his own. Taking in everyone from Area Code 615, Holger Czukay, Carlos Hernandez, Boards Of Canada, Hawkwind, The Salsoul Invention and Parliament with more typical cosmic disco grooves along the way, on this form Prins Thomas will soon be crowned emperor of the frozen north and Viking sagas will be told of him by generations yet unborn.
Swine Rating - 5 Pigs


Now three from Rephlex.


D’arcengelo - Eskel ( Rephlex)


Music for airports is a bona fide proto-ambient classic. This collection of tunes by Fabrizio and Marco D’Arcangelo could be described as music for space stations. The cold vastness of the sound is hinted at with opening track ’Empty Freezer’ and with titles such as h13, Saturn, Sundart and Distant Sound Of Nothing More, this is a voyage through distant galaxies fuelled by warm electronic grooves. It’s so very lonely, we’re 2000 light years from home. Cosmic disco-tech ambience for men in ill-fitting space suits.
Swine Rating - 3 Pigs


Dopplereffekt - Calabi Yau Space (Rephlex)


Some more songs about space. Not outer space or inner space but the space between thought and action, between good and evil, between rationality and superstition. OK, that’s enough bollocks for one review. Calabi Yau Space is not so much cosmic techno as the sound of machines fucking each other in the future. OK, that’s more bollocks. How about this; Dopplereffekt make Autechre sound like Abba. Titles;
Calabi Yau Manifold
Hyperelliptic Surfaces
Holomorpic n-0 Form
Compactification
Mirror Symmetry
Non Vanishing Harmonic Spinor
Hypersurface
Dimension II
You know the dance!
Swine Rating - 3 Pigs


The Tuss - Rush Up Edge (Rephlex)


The Tuss. Who are The Tuss? What is The Tuss? Is it, as some people have deduced yet another nom de plume for Richard E. James, another one of his hilarious pranks with which to fool the industry? Whether or not The Tuss is infact Aphex, Rush Up Edge, a six track demo, has more ideas and energy than anyone on Rephlex has displayed for many a year. Harking back to the classic years of early electro and techno and updating them for a new technological and cultural landscape, The Tuss offer atleast a glimpse of the funky intelligence that is so often missing from contemporary electronica, including sadly much of that released on this label. Remember when it was FUN?
Swine rating - 5 Pigs

DJ Spun - This Is Rong (Rong)


One of the San Fran beach bum DJ elite, DJ Spun expertly spins together some of the best moments from his Rong label’s back catalogue with a superb mix that never lets up, fusing modern ‘cosmolearic’ (TM my aunty Shirley) beats and in yer face punk funk grenades with effortless chutzpah. Now THIS IS FUN! This has more to do with punk and acid house in terms of attitude and creativity than a thousand boring rehashes and karaoke revisionist charades. Recorded at APT in NYC, Jason Drummond aka DJ Spun marks out the path to the floor. Get into it or fuck off home. With the likes of Rub n’ Tug, In Flagranti and Harvey finding a home in the US for their no holds barred brand of freestyle fusion and the Scandinavians leading the way in Europe, surely it’s time British Djs and labels upped their game before it‘s too late.
Swine Rating - 5 Pigs


Stephan Bodzin - Liebe Ist (Herzblut)


Minimal Teutonic tech verging on (argghhh) ’Trance’ but don’t let that put you off. Liebe Ist is a great record, albeit one that takes a few listens to grow on you. The trance like construction of the tracks, the gradual slow burn build ups can take a while to get going but once they hit, as with the monumental title track, they really deliver. I almost put my hands in the air at one point.
Swine Rating - 4 Pigs


Aril Brikha - Ex Machina (Peacefrog)


Another Scandinavian, another cracker. Assyrian-Swede Aril Brikha’a ‘Ex machina’ puts the funk back into deep-tech with 11 grooves that glide past the window in hi-def slo-mo; drum patterns rumble and fart, synth lines chug and bubble, times flies by when you’re the driver of a train, one of those dead fast Japanese bullet trains that take you back to the future; Detroit 1987. Berlin 1997. Stockholm 2007.
Swine Rating - 4 Pigs


Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur (Ninja Tune)


I really wanted to like this LP and maybe in time it’ll grow on me but for now, this fleur needs watering before it wilts. There’s no denying the musical and aesthetic charm of J. Swinscoe’s project. It’s all very tasteful and expertly played, sang and produced, however, the LP never really gets going but becomes a series of mood music mantras. The first track ‘To Build A Home’ sets the tone with a beautiful vocal and piano from Patrick Watson who re-appears on both ‘Into You’ and ‘That Home‘ sharing duties with Lou Rhodes on Music Box. Lou also sings on ‘Time & Space‘. Former CinOrch collaborator, Fontella Bass provides vocal duties on the lo-fi ‘Familiar Ground’ (‘how near, how far?’ being the endlessly repeated question. About fifteen miles as the crow flies I‘d say) and ‘Breathe’ but neither provide the raw emotional impact of the haunting ‘All That You Give’ from the band’s previous collaboration with the soul siren. ‘Child Song’ is the only track that breaks into a shuffle for the chicken heads to nod along to with a fantastic fender solo from Steve Brown. Melancholic, minimal soul-jazz it may be and Ma Fleur is indeed a beautiful orchid but one only really blossoms in the wee small hours (Ok Thornton, enough of the horticultural analogies already!)
Swine rating - 3 Pigs.
 

 

Midnight Mike - Midnight Karaoke (The Republic Of Desire) 

Flesh Records head honcho, Midnight Mike takes the ironic cover version concept to another level with this collection of sometimes silly, sometimes sinister tunes. Beginning with the sultry French voice of Marie-Louis Stoffel’s breathless version of Gene Vincent’s ‘Be Bop A Lula; followed by Yakayo Akiyama’s marvellous slow-mo electronic re-working of Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love?’ it’s a great start. Midnight Mike himself provides vocals on a straightforward version of Throbbing Gristle’s ’United’ before Hazel Robinson does the impossible and makes Sabrina’s dreadful europop anthem, ‘Boys’ sound even worse than the original. An instrumental take on Devo’s politically incorrect masterpiece ’Mongoloid’ followed by a New York style no wave version of Dire Straits ’Money For Nothing’ sang by someone improbably called Juice Windscreen (who’s dick and not his chicks are for free). Midnight Mike returns for another moody David Sylvian doing Ferry (Ok Sylvian did Ferry any way) vocal on Roxy’s ’In Every Dream Home A Heartache,’ and then Suzy Silver does a clippetty clop job on Elvis’s ‘All Shook Up.’ Mike pops up again to mutter through Snatch’s laff-a-minute but essentially ‘armless ‘Amputee,’ Virginia Falcone’s pleasant checkout vocals give INXS’s lustful ‘I Need You Tonight’ all the allure of a night out collecting with the Sally Army. Mickey Moonlight (they’re making these names up surely) makes Third World’s jolly disco stomper ‘Dancing On The Floor’ sound like Leonard Cohen meeting Alan Vega on a daytrip to the local cancer ward. Midnight Mike’s truly off-kilter closer ‘Tip Toe Through The Tulips’ provides a suitably disturbing way to end an interesting album of crackhead karaoke that could well be one of the weirdest things you’ll hear all year.

 

Hot Chip - DJ Kicks (K7) 

Hot Chip have perfected their electro-geek shtick to a fine art over the past few years and with only LP of admittedly great tunes to their credit, it’s perhaps surprising to see the band offered the chance to do their own DJ Kicks compilation so soon into their ‘career‘. Yet even though they let us know that they’ve not included any of their primary influences here on the sleeve notes  - ’No Prince, no Devo, no Eno, no Wyatt - and a desire to provide a mix where ’digression replaces progression’ to produce ‘a compilation of joyful, unresolved and abiding confusion’ Hot Chip certainly deliver on their promises.  From the soulful opener, Grovesnor’s ’Nitemoves’ the mix covers hip hop, disco, techno, pop, soul,  minimalist house and experimental electronica from the likes of Gramme, Tom Ze, Etta James, New Order, Wookie, Noze and er, Joe Jackson for your eleven quid, so there’s no complaint here from me. Now if only the Chippies would tone down on their studied Napoleon Dynamite meets David Byrne act perhaps we’d take them a bit more/less seriously.

 

 The Glimmers - Eskimo Vol V (Eskimo)  

Ghent’s Glimmer Twins have rightly been lauded as one of the most gifted DJ/remixes/production teams in Europe over the past five years or so. Now guaranteed sell-outs all over the world, the duo have returned to their Belgian roots with this magnificent mix for their hometown label, Eskimo. Beginning with Primal Scream’s ‘Loaded’ segueing perfectly into the dub version of Shirley Bassey’s version of ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ the mix goes from the dubby electro of LCD Sound system’s ’All My Friends’ and Herb Alpert’s ‘Bullish’ through the straight ahead go-go of Mac Attack’s still awesome ‘Art Of Drums’ to the mesmerising Turkish folk funk of Dissidenten’s ’Fata Morgana’  the afro-disco squelch of Cultural Vibe’s ’Ma Foom Bey’  the new wavey ’J’aime Regarder Les Filles’ by Patrick Coutin to the haunting desert boot boogie of The Caravan’s ’Somewhere In Arabia.’

A fine mix that demonstrates that while the UK got lost along the way, in Europe the original Balearic spirit never really went away.

 

 

Jean-Jacques Perrey & Luke Vibert - Moog Acid (Lo Recordings) 

Moog Acid teams up two genuine electronic music pioneers, French Moog madman, JJP and Cornish synth crank LV on this startlingly original collaboration. As JJP’s intro informs us; ‘moog acid means a lot of work from Luke putting zeze sounds togezzer and making zis fantastic music and a lifetime for me to make zese sounds.’ 

 

Schwing’s bass heavy bop seques into Analog Generique’s ambient trippy vibes. Dream 106 has a hip hop backbeat, ‘eurggh’ rap chants, sitars and JJP telling us that his favourite colour is blue. Frere Jacques takes the nursery rhyme and twists it into a creepy dislocated slice of quack-tech.

JJPLVDNB (get it?) is a comic cosmic drum n’ bass tour around Moog Moomin Land (it IS silly! Luke admits at the end). Ye Olde Beatbox is a gorgeous trippy hoppy jog around Jodrell Bank whereas Vision For The Future gets funky with electro licks and techno washes. Messy Hop’s orchestral organ-ic grandeur stands in contrast to  White Knight (Black In The Day)’s  boop-de-doop 70s sci-fi theme. Closing track,  

You Moog Me  is a suitably funky end to an LP of interesting sound collages from the past, present and future of electronica. Vibert has used his considerable skill as a ‘composer and producer’ to update Perrey’s now anachronistic experimentalism into the here and now with mixed results. Whilst it’s always playful and interesting, Moog Acid often feels a tad too in-jokey for its own good.  

As the master himself once put it; Moog Is Moog but then he also said Moog Mig Mag Moog so we shouldn’t take everything JJP says at face value.    

 

 

 Laurent Garnier - Public Outburst (F-Comm) 

Those Frenchies sho dig their jazz non? Techno grande fromage, Garnier returns with his long-time collaborator, keyboardist, Bugge Wesseltoft to bring a collection of tech-jazz tremblers from a variety of live shows across Europe. Now ‘jazz’ is a swear word amongst many music fans, bringing to mind interminable solos and instrumental self-indulgence. Public Outburst does have moments like this. Opening track the minimal noodlefest, 63 being a good example. Butterfly begins in the same vein before fluttering into skittering, skuttering life after a few minutes. M-Bass is a soundtrack fusion that builds into a relentless techno-rap assault. Controlling The House melds a latin house flourish whereas The Battle welds a chunky Detroit bounce to the clarinet meanderings. First Reactions is a live dn’b style backbeat with crazy psyche-out spoken word and proggy interludes and to close, Barbiturik Blues  takes the pace back down to a barbiturate pulse. As a man once said…’niiiiiice!’

 

 

 

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