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Techno Diary, Installment 2. My listening has been bipolar lately, alternating between fairly pristine German minimalist house and florid, funky, latter-day manifestations of kozmigroov.
In the former, stripped down vein, I recommend 3 recent mix compilations: Michael Mayer's IMMER (Kompakt), Steve Bug's The Flow (Cocoon Recordings) and Swayzak's Groovetechnology v1.3 (Studio !K7). All are DJ'd by musicians who also make their own tracks, and all have a strong point of view. "Self styled dub techno house blokes" David Brown and James S. Taylor (aka Swayzak) have assembled cuts with an audible bearing on their own music, with hints of electro, reggae and postpunk (e.g. Wire) sniggling in and around the mid-tempo beats. Some of my favorite tracks are Wolfgang Voigt (as Studio 1) doing robot Bob Marley on "Lila," the 60-second moogasm of CIM's "RNA," and the Mike-Ratledge-on-Angel-Dust keyboards of Pile's "World Record Holder." On the Bug CD, I like the rave-up ending of Hakan Libdo's "Kiki de Montparnasse" fading into the pulse of Antonelli Electr.'s "Nachtclub Pavement," the cheerfully out-of-phase wah-wah of SWAG's "The Soundworks," and have even grown to like Marshall Jefferson's spoken-word account of playing "tongue hockey" with an unknown female while on 'shrooms. On the Mayer comp, A Rocket in Dub's "Rocket No. 3" (that's Antonelli under another name) flanges along nicely, and John Selway's "Flying Far" is ecstatic and poignant without getting corny. The only track I DO NOT like is Phantom/Ghost's "Perfect Lovers (Unperfect Love Mix)": "Ve are 2 perfect lovers/besides zuh fect dat ve're not there..." UGGGH. One more techno CD (not a comp) that should be mentioned in passing: Bolz Bolz's Human Race is a complete hoot. The spirit of Krautrock thrives in these chugging analog loops and goofy samples ("take a walk/take a bath/take pains/to take an exam"), but this is nevertheless not what I would play if I was trying to turn someone on to recent electronic music. It's pretty close to metal.
On the Nu-Kozmigroov tip (my own coinage?) I recommend Cardiology, by Carl Craig protege Recloose (Planet E), AtJazz's Labfunk (Mantis Recordings), and every volume of Michael Reinboth's ongoing series The Future Sounds of Jazz (be sure it's on Compost, not the other label doing a series with the same name). This is music to make street-purist Simon Reynolds curl up in the fetal position, but f*ck it, I'm older than he is, I collected a lot of Kozmigroov the first time around, and I'm really excited it's back and being done so well. A fundamental, keystone work for these recordings, IMHO, is Herbie Hancock's Thrust, augmented by new loops-and-breaks technology, so if you're into that Rhodes/Clavinet/Bass-synthesizer vibe, and wonder, like I do, how jazz kept taking wrong turns after the '70s (first fuzak, then the formaldehyde classicism of Wynton Marsalis, et al), you'll be glad to know that there's a new crew breathing life, energy, and science into the form.