31 August 2010

Various - Soweto Disco (Sofrito Super Singles 001) - 8/10

Recent soccer tournament made the world think that for South Africans vuvuzela is the only instrument they know - definitely a grave misinterpretation. As a recent example of successful South African music, take Elvis Maswanganyi AKA DJ Mujava and his "Township Funk". Or from earlier times, minimal and micro house artist Portable, in addition to the local rap scene. I believe there's still a lot to discover as the music from the Southern tip of Africa.
"Soweto Disco" is a 12-inch full of party feeling, offering a modernized collage of South African shaking disco and funk from late 1970s to early 1980s. A collective called Teaspoon & The Waves delivers two tracks - starting with "Oh Yeah Soweto" that moves masses in a vein of disco's pioneer years. The opener is also the most average track of this release.
On the A-side follows funkier "Saturday Night Special (Sofrito Vs. Kilombo Edit)", assisted by an energetic electric guitar, creating a mild and concrete atmosphere in the same. Sounds like "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone", more precisely the version by Was (Not Was).
B-side is brilliant: Blessed with Nzimande Allstars and "Highway Sporo Disco" that is along and rolling jazz funk fitting well to the mirror-ball-decorated rooms. A tricky electric organ launches the party, guitar squeaks in almost oriental mood and horns screech like elephants. Makes wait for Sofrito's next releases.

---Nzimande Allstars "Highway Sporo Disco"---
Source: www.juno.co.uk

26 August 2010

DUST OFF: Hexagone - Burning Trash Floor (Djax-Up-Beats) - 9/10

Ludovic Navarre, once front man of the late Fnac Records, achieved world fame under St Germain moniker with smooth and jazzy house ("Boulevard", "Tourist") that was enjoyed millions of times in living rooms and lounges around the world.
Although being influenced by Detroit, Navarre did his only acid record for Djax-Up-Beats in 1994, and it was unforgettable one. The 10-minute-long original of the "Burning Trash Floor" is also on Djax's bubbling label compilation "Mission Underground", along with Planet Gong, Random XS, Purple Plejade and others. Corrosive matter.

TV Victor - GRV Vol. 1 (NSP 08) - 9/10

Repetitio est mater studiorum, repetition is the mother of learning. The introductory lesson lasts 10 minutes 46 seconds and is titled "130509". A blunt, even too blunt loop keeps going like D***cell bunny, only the whole experience is not as soft and furry. It's self-confident sterile techno that advances in a majestic way, free of any rush. Hints of dub have been added, but the track bears only slight resemblance with Basic Channel or Chain Reaction releases.
Darker feelings on the B1 or "010709". It's droning and thumping, more minimalist track from the hidden spheres of mind. The most recent release of Non Standard Productions concludes with ambientish sound collage, TV Victor letting loose his experimental urges. "100609" features hangman's drum and random noises dragged to the daylight from remote corners of the universe.
Udo Heitfeld, the man behind TV Victor, is close to Hardwax camp and has published several records on Tresor. His CV includes also Gagarin Kongress, a project for techno floors that was found in a recently reviewed 90's compilation ("Astralleib", remixed by Joey Beltram). "GRV Vol. 1" is a solid pack showing a somewhat elitist face of the contemporary techno. The first track is in a freund-ly way edited by Tobias Freund, having recently put his talented fingers also on Margaret Dygas's "Frankly".
The minimal and messy artwork and first sounds of this record tell what to expect and the expectations are well met.

---TV Victor "130509"---
Source: www.juno.co.uk

24 August 2010

Frente Cumbiero - Pitchito / Ananas Tornillo (NYCT-7005) - 9/10

Cumbia is hugely popular folk music in Colombia, an ever-present soundtrack for village parties and beyond. In the same, latin music is an immensely abused genre with different lousy and cheesy interpretations pounding in all those dance bars and BBQ joints across the globe.
But this one plays in a league of its own. A cooperation of Bogotá soundwriter Mario Galeano and NYC label Names You Can Trust has peaked in a seven-inch filled with contemporary and stylish dance music that will speak also to those who necessarily do not stand "latin thing". Drums are working, horns tooting and antique electric organ gives out cool sounds. ¡El Disco es Cultura!
"Pitchito" is partly reminiscent of Los Hermanos's "Quetzal", a maya-inspired track of Detroit's latin tech masters. This undulating and rhythmic track could be of assistance when charming a rattlesnake, if anybody dares. Except a brief song episode in "Ananas Tornillo", both sides are filled with rolling instrumental music that current house and tribal producers could learn from.
As a flashback: In the beginning of 90's, Italian act Ramirez swept over the semi-underground dance floors, with "Hablando" being their greatest hit. Accordion and a native Colombian on vocals helped to coin the genre techno cumbia, but it's a different story.
More about Frente Cumbiero tells this great interview.
Frente Cumbiero - Pitchito

22 August 2010

DUST OFF: The Vision - Spectral Nomad (Metroplex 025) - 10/10

This music is painting pictures: Dusk has settled over the city around the Renaissance Center whose contours raise prominently to the sky. Elsewhere, a lonesome sad figure is dragging a grocery cart on cracked concrete that once was called a street, but now screams of decay. The city in the twilight. But then, you catch a suggestive and encouraging phrase Detroit, Detroit, put on spiraling rhythms.
It's difficult to find a match to "Detroit: One Circle", to capture as precisely the soul and passion of Motor City techno. This track gleams like chromed bumper of a 1977 Chevrolet, but also bears indefinite sorrow you encounter in the eyes of a veteran who lost his leg in Vietnam.
The medium-paced track starts with underwater signals and flows in a convincingly minimal way to the last grooves. "Explain The Style" is like a twin sharing the same hypnotizing rhythm and the rule of machine. "Spectral Nomad" that opens the record is entrancing techno jazz and "Modern And Ancient" a more experimental outro, all in uncompromising quality.
The Vision is Robert Hood and "Detroit: One Circle" has many common features with his "Rhythm Of Vision", also from mid-90's, the latter having just higher BPM rate. This one here fits perfectly to the futurist label of Juan Atkins. Just indulge yourself with a classic.

18 August 2010

Michael Black Electro - Michael Black Remixes (Team Acre 004) - 7/10

Well, the artist name could have been smarter. But here we have Michael Black Electro or Mr Janne Hyttinen from Finland, on the crossroads of electro and hip hop, the latter dominating on this record.
Author's fellow countrymen hit with four remixes of MBE's album tracks, full of rhymes and beats. A-side opens with Desto's take of "Agape", a tense hip hop with a sensible angle and like wanting to get closer to R'n'B.
Then two versions of "Mustang" - artist called Clouds kicks off with piano and then slow but dull working-class rap starts rolling. Teeth's version on B1 is more steely having well-known dubstep and electro lines, and a darker and repetitive vocal part. RPK' s remix of "Helicoid Trajectory" concludes the game with thundering bass, vocoded lyrics and flashing synths.
All ingredients are there for creating a rocking record, but the interpretations are quite alike. Good average that asks for turning up the volume for full enjoyment. The original version of "Agape" follows here.

16 August 2010

Moha! to release "Kriiskav Valgus"

German label Le Petit Mignon is due to release a 7-inch by Moha, carrying an Estonian-language title "Kriiskav Valgus" ("Screeching Light"). According to Discogs the band MoHa! consists of two Scandinavians, Anders Hana and Morten J. Olsen. They have performed at Odessa Pop party in Tallinn and might have been inspired by local language when doing their next record.
Le Petit Mignon.

14 August 2010

DUST OFF: Vainio / Väisänen / Vega - Endless (Blast First 147CD) - 9/10

VVV - vicious, vibrating, volcanic. A joint ritual of Alan Vega, former vocalist of protopunk combo Suicide, and Finnish industrialists of low frequencies Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen, better known as Pan Sonic. Caution: Listening to this could harm your artificial pacemaker or other electronic appliances.
A nasty start with "Medal", that despite signalling pacifism sounds like an armada of armoured vehicles attacking. The pressure goes on with witch dance in "Incredible Criminals", where roughly yelling vocal and darkly hammering machine music try to extinct each other. "Motor Maniac" roars like a large American vehicle - no, not a Cadillac-type street cruiser, but a 1000 HP pull-race tractor. Cylinders and pistons are sighing with Alan's voice, ready to make a dash with a heavyweight trailer attached.
"No Home Kings" and "Outrage For The Frontpage" are experiments of distorted mind and sound, while slower and easier "Endless" gives your breath back. Mad power returns in "Fun In The Wonderland" where Vega spits and bares his teeth like a cornered werewolf. The CD's tenth track starts with sparse percussion, but with echoed voice it grows to a haunting meditation called "Baby Lips". "Sick Sick USA" is another demonstration of power and in "Disgrace" Vega's suggestive vocal rules, on almost imperceptible minimal rhythm patterns.
The creations of Vainio's and Väisänen's freaky brains have taken a central position in my all-time-top. Cold and steely machine music is their passion and it's no wonder when the internal urge to do a "song record" hit, Vega was taken aboard - it makes "Endless" a special release. In 2005 the same team published another album, "Resurrection River", on Mego.

---"Sick Sick USA"---
Source: www.juno.co.uk

12 August 2010

DUST OFF: Various - Minimal Techno (Fairway 034135) - 9/10

Now for something really dusty, on a cassette: The mother of all techno compilations of the mid-90's. No time to lean back, it's a full-on jaw-dropping trip with pulsating and pumping techno.
Dating back to 1996, this compilation features landmark techno from many legendary artists and labels like 7th City, Synewave, Kanzleramt, Tresor, Missile and others. They all have a well deserved place in the techno's Hall of Fame.
The highlights are Joey Beltram's rumbling remix of Gagarin Kongress' "Astralleib" and "Scissorhands", a dizzying percussive inferno by Tim Taylor and Freddie Fresh and elegant movers by Substractive Synthesis (Damon Wild). Impressive are also Heiko Laux' "Tundra Effect", an acidified banger with hints of hard trance, and his classic "No Gain No Pain". Acid evangelist Woody McBride hits with "Basketball Heroes" that does not need any introduction. If you find any of these on vinyl, get them.
Don't be misled by strange artwork, the compilation put together by French producer Guillaume La Tortue is a valuable history lesson for all techno heads. Although there are plenty of mistakes in crediting the artists and labels, it does not spoil the overall picture. All this beauty is also available on double-CD with even more striking stuff by Regis, Surgeon, Neil Landstrumm and others.

---Tim Taylor & Freddie Fresh: "Scissorhands"---

09 August 2010

Villa Nah - Running On (Moshi Moshi 29) - 7/10

1980's coming back again, signals Villa Nah, a Finnish duo to support Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's comeback gigs in the UK this autumn. Group's first album, "Origin", is just out and current seven-inch gives a taste of the larger format, both songs found also in the album version.
A-side's "Running On" is a new wave song with soft pads and simple arrangements. The singer tries too hard to impress with charisma but does not sound very convincing. Instrumental version would sound pretty good, was my conclusion when the singer took a break and let the synths play.
On the flip, "Ways To Be" is not new and was released at Villa Nah's home label Keys of Life in 2009. Technically an "old" song but very enjoyable for anybody who values OMD, Heaven 17, Blancmange - you name them all. Here the vocalist goes really under your skin in a right-paced and catchy composition. Can be danced cheek-to-cheek.
As a full Finnish affair, the band is co-produced by Jori Hulkkonen who also before has flirted with 80's (as Zyntherius, performing "Sunglasses At Night" with Tiga) and has turned more into synth-pop in his recent creations.
Villa Nah: "Ways To Be"

Dom Thomas - The Exploding Disco Inevitable (Brutal Music 02) - 7/10

After a diving session in the deep waters of exotic disco and funk, Dom Thomas has brought to the daylight a selection of more and less glittering corals. It's not the return of golden oldies but a parade of unknown cuts and edits mainly smelling so end-1970's.
The man from Finders Keepers camp kicks the party off with tikka masala flavour in "Karma Sutra Vocal" and India sends greetings also in Bollywood-sounding "Disco Bomb". Oriental side is further represented with two tracks full of ample oriental funk, titled "Eastern Fractal", and extra-drums cut "Pictures Of Phuket".
Like from the workshop of Black Devil or Cerrone comes space disco jam "Synths Under Paris" while "Will You Spare The Words For Me?" is a deep female vocal contribution (who is she?). "Gin And Tonic" is a rolling tune with Swedish disco singing and large funky orchestration. Despite guitar and violin playing main role in "Electronic Dance", this vaudeville is about fabulous...electronic dance.
"Flight 3", my favorite, carries psychedelic atmosphere with tight funk and space drone, and extended "Disco Workout" is painted with echoing voices and familiar samples. "Monolythic Drums", a heavy percussive jam, and a folk-minded noisy composition called "Kazoo Minus" conclude the story.
This compilation is a smart reuse of classic dance sounds to show how multi-colored the world of disco was.