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Techno Diary, Installment 3.
Here's a list of music I picked up today at Throb, an excellent dance disc shop in Manhattan specializing in electro and tech-house tracks:
Drexciya Grava 4 2LP. Electro, begat by Kraftwerk and Afrika Bambaataa and New Order and still thriving in the digital age, is dance music at its most defiantly synthetic (as Kodwo Eshun puts it, "there are no snares--just waveforms being altered. There are no bass drums---just attack velocities"), and Drexciya is the Detroit variety at its most beautiful and pure. The following may be the world's wordiest sample: "Use the star chart to fix the celestial navigation point and from there you should be able to plot a path back to earth using rudimentary astronomical guideposts." (From the track "Astronomical Guidepost.") Amazingly, the Drexciyans make this sound incredibly funky.
DJ Assault Jefferson Ave CD. Not as hard-sounding or vital as the singles in Belle Isle Tech. A kind of studio concept album, with skits, like a potty-mouthed 3 Ft High and Rising. The sexual imagination on display is strictly Vivid Video, and the misogyny wears thin, but there are nice melodies sprinkled throughout.
Herbert Bodily Functions CD. More lovely vocals from Dani Siciliano. I'm indifferent to Herbert's clicks and coughs and clattering dishes as percussion, but they don't ruin his music for me either. I like 1998's Around the House better as a whole, but both that and this one are worth owning.
Ultrasound, Hospital Records compilation CD. Jazz hooks intertwined with drum-and-bass beats in this 1997 collection of UK artists: predominantly tracks by London Electricity and The Peter Nice Trio (how could anyone dislike something called "The Peter Nice Trio"?). I go back and forth on this stuff: when it sounds like fuzak (or has flutes) I hate it, but when it's a nervous, staccato, techy retake of Canterbury-style riffs from the early '70s (Soft Machine, Hatfields, Caravan) (which is often), I'm on board.
Volumes C-D, G-H of Berlin 2001 Compilation Bpitch Control label (2LPs). Speaking of electro, here's some great Berlin variants. Favorite tracks so far: White Dolemite "Nice Acid (2001)," Toktok "Sekker," Barbara Morgenstern "Dr. Mr." (the latter with Michael Nyman-esque strings--most odd).
Marin-Go-Round. Derek Marin "Inhale/Wanna Get Wit" EP. Marin works at Throb and also djs. He's got the tech-house thang down cold. Not sure if Lap Dance Records (with graphic of dancer losing bikini bottom) is the right look/label/image for sounds this lofty. Platonik "Don't Look" EP. Marin again, on Intrinsic Design, a label whose previous releases include the "Galactic Schematix" EP by Entity (aka Lucas James Rodenbush aka EBE). This is total class. Here's what djonline.com, out of the UK, had to say about the disc: "This torrid tech houser comes from Derek Marin under the Platonik moniker. Here are three bonafide stompers that will fire up your dance floor in a hurry. "Don't Look", "Skeptic (Was It Good For You?)" and my personal favorite, "Friction" should be included in ANY dj's set. Deep, dark and tribal...doesn't come any better." Clock Punchers "In-Just" EP. Marin and dj/fellow Throbster Carter Reece remix tracks. I really like Reece's contribution. Very minimal; kind of simple and mysterious at the same time. it makes me think a bit of Trike's "Country 3000" but with a lot more pep.
[Addendum: Here's a review I found (cached) from the "starbass" website describing the Clockpunchers disc--I love this writing.]
carter reece and derek Marin (known for his work as platonik and modest d on the plastic city, intrinsic design, red menace, and a touch of class labels) drop their latest release supplying three cuts of potent tribal tech-house. the ep kicks off with a full-sided mix that works a driving progressive house edge as resonant percussion and bass-driven atmospherics intertwine to form a building, flexing groove echoed with hypnotic vocal snippets in a heavy 4/4 flow. the b-side kicks off on a morphing liquid tech-house tip rippling with dubby fx and tuned log-drum percussion, finishing with a slick minimal thumper building up a focused percussive format and layers of radiant loop manipulation.
Please note that future posts about electronic dance music will appear at my newly-created weblog technodiary.