Miscellaneous Music Reviews One

A collection of electronic music reviews.

Various - Sound Information Collection

Packaged in a black metal box, on German (dub?) label Echo Beach, this comp is the follow-up to 1994's excellent Sound Info Volume 1, which appeared on Universal Egg. Sound Information are a label/collective fronted by Path/Sounds From The Ground, and you'd be hard pressed to find better ambient dub anywhere on the planet. 77 minutes worth of it here, the best of it being four new and impressive tracks from SOUNDS FROM THE GROUND.

Planet sees them taking their interlocking and hypnotic keyboard lines and creating a fairly chilled mood --the surprise comes when the rhythms enter, and the track reveals a fairly high bpm; a slow minimal bass anchors the groove, while the drums fly all over the place. "Treasure" is a more rootsy skanking groove, with a serious backbeat to it --warm, evocative, layered dub. "Layer" is really the key word here, as every track SFTG produce always seems to open up to reveal some more sounds underneath. Maybe that's where their name comes from . . . PATH (also featuring Elliot from SFTG) contribute two tracks: "Seahorse (Journey)" revives a wonderful B-side from a long-out-of-print Sound Info 12" -- a good thing too, as my copy was played to death. The original mix was a perfect example of incorporating the rhythms of dub with the soundscaping potential of ambient. With the remix, they use a dholak loop to drive the piece home, as sweeping analog pads take you into a realm of alien chants, howling winds, gongs, and vast open space. HARPY's "Lend Me Your Clothes Please Mary" is some really twisted vocal-harmony-drenched, almost Love-influenced (really!!!!), ambient sugar-pop --never heard anything like this before; sweet, strange, but it somehow works. 'This is my heaven' is even stranger, completely abstract --tinging bells, backwards voices, clouds of whooshing sounds, whispers, snatches of melody, it could even be a remix of "Lend Me Your Clothes”, couldn't tell, but really trippy and creative mixing on display here.

DUPONT turn in a mysterious piece of deep, lush electronica-- Inoue fans take note. Supposedly these are the same people (Funki Porcini, Eric N4) behind that delicious PURR ep on Ntone. Waves of highly filtered analog, strange plunking droplets of sound, barely identifiable environmental sounds, sudden up-front cloudbursts of chords -- brilliant soundscaping. All in all, there are one or two weak moments, but as far as comps go, this is about as strong as you can get. Quite diverse --ranging from the totally abstract to the quite groovy-- but an excellent example of dubbed-out organic electronica. Look for it. My only complaint was that it wasn't a double-CD.

Dr. Rockit - The Music Of Sound

Have you ever been out wandering around on a nice day and been really struck by a sound you heard while on your little journey. Maybe while you walked around the sound repeated itself in your head and made a neat little riff. Perhaps, as you walked, another sound wheedled it’s way into your brain with the first sound and made a funky little track. If this happens to you then you should listen to "The Music of Sound" the latest release from Dr. Rockit, aka Matthew "Herbert" Herbert.

This is a brilliant record that takes what you might consider ordinary sounds and makes extra-ordinary songs from them. imagine footsteps as a shuffling beat: or cutlery as a kooky percussion instrument. Take the noise of a model rocket being shot in to the bright blue sky; or the sound of a person eating a perfect apple. If any of these things appeal to your senses or to your imagination then Dr. Rockit is for you.

I think "The Music of Sound" is a record that utterly defies any sort of classification or style. This is a Dr. Rockit record and to me it doesn’t have to be anything more. Simply brilliant. This is, to me, one of the best records i have heard in a very long time and I think when all the crazes and flavors of the month have melted and gone away, the good doctor will still be operating business as usual.

Various - The Detroit Techno Album

Well, a lot has been said about the city of Detroit and its musical output. Nothing sums it up better than this amazing compilation for React Music. This is a 2 CD set of some of the finest work by some of the trail blazers that put the city of Detroit on the techno map.

It's pretty common knowledge that the term "techno" was coined by "Magic" Juan Atkins in the Motor City and that Juan and his contemporaries of the time, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson invented the style. In the years that followed other like minded people started releasing music into the Detroit underground. Some of these pioneers were Blake Baxter, Kenny Larkin and Eddie "Flashin" Fowlkes. Of course, there is a reason for the history lesson. All of the aforementioned artists have new or previously unreleased tracks included on this stellar release. As well, tracks appear by Drexciya, Stacey Pullen, Claude Young, Anthony Shakir, Alan Oldham and Tom Barnett. 20 tracks appear on these two discs and I have to say, not one of them is bad. In fact they are all really incredible.

If you are curious about Detroit's musical community, then you have to pick this up!.

Speedy J - Ni Go Snix

Hailing from Rotterdam, Jochem Paap, aka Speedy J has been knocking out his own warped take on dance music for the past few years. A couple of albums for Plus 8, 'Ginger' and 'G-Spot' only hinted at his mammoth potential for warping the dance blueprint. Now teaming up with NovaMute, Speedy has the base to launch his latest, extremely idiosyncratic project.

Ni Go Snix' throbs like a migraine. A compact, claustrophobic track that leaps from the speakers kicking and punching like a tough street fighter, the single offers no respite. With a hard hitting distorted electro beat, Speedy develops the track from this solid base adding layers of fucked up sounds from electronic stabs to washes of noise resembling radio wave interference. The track ends in an appropriate fashion, sounding like a television set malfunctioning and closing down, 'Ni Go Snix' is pure distilled electronic music in it's hardest, roughest, most metallic form.

The single is stretched further into electronic hell with Speedy's reinterpretation of the track on the 'Snix' mix. Introducing waves of electronic noise resembling the sound 1000 Marshall amps feeding back, the 'Snix' mix makes Ultraviolence sound like Take That. Mike Paradinas interpretation introduces the distant sound of what appears to be a fairground organ into the equation adding a further bizarre twist to the tale that's already stranger than a night out on the moon. Just when you thought things could not get any weirder, Like A Tim weaves the sound of guitar strings cut free from the body and played with a boxing glove. The single will appear on 12" carrying the above mixes, an exclusive additional 2 mixes of the track 'Hayfever', taken from his forthcoming album 'Public Energy No 1' due for release on April 21, will be added to the CD release.

Underworld - Pearl's Girl

The "Pearl's Girl" EP represents a collection of remixes and extra tracks not on Second Toughest in the Infants and first released as a three-single import series. Of the four previously unreleased tracks, "Puppies" and "Oich Oich" reflect the moody, quieter Underworld, but in spite of trademark Karl Hyde vocals, seem half-developed; "Mosaic" is a pleasant, trance composite of different elements heard on Second Toughest; "Cherry Pie" is the best of the four, a slow-building, downbeat instrumental track with a warm string harmony, active percussion, and noodling little arpeggios.

The most satisfying of the "Pearl's Girl" mixes is the "Tin There" mix, which takes a cue from last year's "Carp Dreams" mix and pushes into pounding, faster territory with an uplifting string melody. If all these mixes seem like overkill, select track seven, the original album version, and be reminded of what all the fuss is about: an unquestionably classic track.

Vangelis - Oceanic

Many composers of modern-instrumental music dream of breaking into Hollywood. They believe their cinematic soundscapes would be the perfect backing for movies, breaking the mold of cookie-cutter orchestral scores. But it rarely happens and when it does, they usually get co-opted like Mark Isham, or marginalized like Ry Cooder.

Nevertheless, the dream persists and one of the artists that film makers look to is Vangelis. His scores for Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner and Missing gave synthesists everywhere hope.

His latest album, Oceanic (EastWest) might be mistaken for a film score with its sweeping strings, glissando harps and occasionally treacly melodies, where Vangelis fights with the worst of his classical yearnings. But when he gets the sequencers cranking, as he frequently does, Vangelis paints the kind of cinematic canvas that can only come from the mind's eye and a spirit looking beyond the surface of soft-focus romanticism.

Björk - Telegram

A few years ago I would have passed this off a a collection of mere remixes, but remixing for the dance floor has become recognized enough as an art that this can be hyped as radical reinterpretations of songs from Björk's last album Post, to the point where Björk tracks new vocals for them.

Some of the more extreme remakes include the Brodsky Quartet, remember their string quartet version of Purple Haze, who do a chamber music version of the lovely Hyperballad, and Outcast who do a grinding techno version of Enjoy. Dobie has thrown in a reggae dub into the middle of a loping I Miss You.

Evelyn Glennie and Björk collaborate on a percussive new song called My Spine, which is mostly charming for the novelty of the percussion featuring exhaust pipes of all things and Björk's spontaneous enthusiasm. Among the other remixers are Mark Bell from LFO, Eumir Deodato, Graham Massey, Dillinja, and Finnish techno band Metri.

Dillinja revs up "Cover Me" with a big drum and bass sound that takes the original hanuting piano line and makes it really catchy.

In the end I find the remixes interesting but ultimately inferior to the original mixes. Björk comments "Post has a lot of different emotional angles on it... I flirt with this idea, but on Telegram I gave myself liberties to go all the way with that." and its true. I think these remixes are best heard as remixes and not as an intro to either Björk or these songs. In stretching for emotional extremes the songs on Telegram often become one-dimensional. The net effect of listening to this record was to make me go back and listen to Post.