Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Mental Universe - Artefakt (Delsin)

Title: The Mental Universe
Artist: Artefakt
Label: Delsin
Cat Number: DSRC 8
Genre: Techno

1: The Mental Universe
2: Tidal
3: Mirage (Original Mix)
4: Mirage (Rework)

Power and benevolence, darkness and light; these are implicit in Artefakt’s work and, with the exception of the two minute long ‘Tidal’, are abundantly evident. It’s spacey, powerful stuff that is as appropriate for a lone strobe sweat pit, as a sunrise greeting, hands-in-the-air bash in healthier surroundings. The tranced-out, analogue underbelly is done very well in ‘Mirage’, and reminds me of raves gone by, while the percussive title track is an exercise in suppressed potential.  The weather’s getting cold now and this is full of northern froideur, but it thaws at the right moments.

Expanded Consciousnness - Komarken Electronics (Brokntoys)

Title: Expanded Consciousness
Artist: Komarken Electronics
Label: Brokntoys
Cat Number: BT15
Genre: Electro

1: Early Mornings
2: Bubble Theory
3: Expanded Consciousness
4: Early Mornings (Delta Funktionen Remix)

So I’ve only just got around to playing this, having bought it a week or so ago. Such is life and the nagging sense of disorder that currently surrounds mine. Downstairs the kitchen and dining room are being put back together, (at last), while I’m holed up in my bedroom listening to a backlog of stuff. This is a good place to start, as electro is making its presence felt once more and in the right hands, is as emotive as it gets. This release however, although satisfying, doesn’t contain any surprises, feeling more than a little derivative, with ‘Bubble Theory’ being the most. It’s ok, but the Delta Funktionen remix takes things in a straight up stomping direction and is my favourite bit here, its sonic layers subtle and beguiling.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Acapulco - BXP (RA-1)

Title: Acapulco
Artist: BXP
Label: RA-1
Cat Number: RA-1-002
Genre: Techno

A1: Acapulco
A2: Acapulco Basement
B1: Acapulco Basement (D’Marc Cantu Beachfront Mix)
B2: Acapulco Basement (D’Marc Cantu Rainforest Mix)

No matter how much I receive, I’m always grateful for free music. However, filters do need to be deployed to catch the crap, which is around 75% of what arrives in my mailbox. ‘Acapulco’ however, is not crap at all. The name is intriguing, but superfluous, but the title track itself is a stringent piece of atmospheric techno which works wonders with a handful of raw elements. ‘Acapulco Basement’ develops its predecessors template to a more restrained, but higher level, while the two excellent mixes by D’Marc Cantu occupy a different region of the astral plane. All in all, really good.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Stating The Obvious

It’s something that I constantly reflect on, and it bothers me, even if it doesn’t lessen my regard for the music I love. However, it’s good to think out loud occasionally. Throughout its various incarnations, house and techno have been with us for almost forty years but, apart from the obvious advances in studio technology, their blueprints have remained relatively unchanged for the last thirty. Maybe I’m taking a narrow view of things, but every time I hear of diggers digging, and twenty year old tracks by 100hz fetching thirty or more pounds on Discogs, I return to my youth and the time I first got into record buying, when ‘Rock Around The Clock” would have only been twenty odd years old, but sounded as ancient and hackneyed as it’s possible to be, next to what I was buying at the time. It could be because now I’m not listening to the music in its most advanced form, but that’s subjective. Whenever I hear what is supposed to be something “pushing techno forward” it’s either A) shite, B) the same as it ever was, or C) trying too hard. Although I like to moan I’ll still gladly accept the status quo as long as the quality control is high. I suppose this situation is what pushes DJs to try too hard themselves, to play eclectically in order to stand out. I never used to get it when reading reviews of sets by Derrick Carter, hearing about how he would fearlessly blend house and techno so that you couldn’t see the joins. I saw him many times but never really got that aspect of it. That’s not to say he didn’t, or still doesn’t. However, my most crystal clear memory of his style was the ability to effortlessly involve anything at his fingertips and spontaneously create what amounted to live re-edits with vinyl. I never found him to be eclectic, just someone who played house and didn’t mind what was thrown into the mix, unless it didn’t conform to a four-four. This sounds like I think he is limited . . .  not at all. He’s the best, most entertaining and technically proficient DJ I‘ve ever had the pleasure of dancing to, but I feel, stylistically mislabelled when he first broke through. The tech-house collectives of South London were, and still are, a similar case in point. Magazine articles would loudly proclaim their sound to be a druggy, groove-laden soup into which anything went. It was never that varied, unless it was house and techno though, just as well the church is broad. Tech-house has become a dirty word, corrupted by the Beatport generation, but in its purest form it’s still the sound of the metropolitan underground, twenty odd years after the first Wiggle. Practically every underground party which adheres to the four four blueprint takes its cues from the original tech house template . . . It’s extremely laissez faire as long as there is a flow into which anything, within reason, can go.  As has been touched on in these very pages before, starved of innovation, today’s selectors are mining the past in the same way northern soul DJs did, picking out the obscure, and reinvigorating it by simply playing it in well chosen spaces under the vinyl banner. We have entered the twilight zone, whereby the desperation for something new has given way to the repackaging of the mundane. That’s not to say that it isn’t interesting in itself; DJs playing all vinyl sets now being subject to a similar scrutiny as Youtube videos, and all that their viral reappropriation bring: picked up by tastemakers, the creation of new, self-generating communities. It’s out in the open here though and in its search for that certain je ne sais quoi, takes us full circle to the past.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

DJ Mixes Revisited: Claude Young DJ Kicks

So, if ‘Live at the Liquid Rooms’ was a seminal techno DJ calling card, this was another. Coming out in the same year as Mills’ masterwork, this is, arguably, just as good and, as far as track selection is concerned, more daring. Young eschews his own productions, except as strategically placed bookends and peak, whereas Mills’ productions dominate his mix, as they tend to when he plays any set. Apart from this, we get the obvious deck skillz that Young possesses, coming on like techno’s Hendrix in an age when bouncing two copies of the same release was commonplace. Who’s to say he’s not crossfading with his mouth as well? A true DJ can get you dancing to stuff you either wouldn’t expect to like, or dislike, adding a new dimension as he/she does; and Young is adept at constructing something new and different on the go. Closing with one of Planet E’s finest moments, two tracks from Clark’s ‘Lofthouse’ EP, preceded by Dopplereffekt, before descending into his own piece composed for the occasion. This is real.