Ewan Pearson-Piece Work 2xCD (!K7) (US)
Thank god for Ewan Pearson, this guy is not only genuine and articulate, his broad tastes in music seem to do nothing but help him when it comes to his remixes-a true innovator. Piece Work serves as a bookend to Ewan's 2001 remix comp Small Change and culls more recent tracks from some 58 remixes he has done in the last six years. Hot on the heels of his recent Fabric mix (also reviewed here by yours truly) Ewan rolls out a diverse roster of talent and shocking amount of originality in his approach to each re-rub that makes all twenty-one tracks on this two disker real dancefloor gems. All feature Ewan's signature 80s Shep Pettibone re-edit approach and lots of bells- the guy loves bells. My personal favorite is his remixes of the Chemical Brothers/Flaming Lips collabo "The Golden Path" but every track is great and I demand you rush out and buy this and decide which is your favorite and write me back.
Here's a recent blog posting from the writer Ewan Pearson. I especially love his obituary for Tony Wilson. Well said...
2. Mugwump - Boutade [Misericord] So, it's time for Misericord release number two. Hot on the heels of Al Usher's mighty "Gnanfou", Mugwump deliver their finest work to date I reckon, a 107BPM club monster (for us Balearic grandads this is not a contradiction in terms, kids) called "Boutade". It may be slow but it's already proving massive with the likes of Ivan Smagghe, Ata and Pete Herbert. Marcato strings and timpani build the drama until a massive bassline drops and everyone goes nuts. On the flip, myself, Sasse and Naughty turn in a chugging Prescription-esque dub for good measure. If you have the guts / sense to change the pace a bit you will be mightily rewarded. Once again, it comes in a beautifully-sleeved vinyl-only limited run too. Slowly, surely!
3. Radiohead - In Rainbows [Radiohead] Very motorik / kraut. Very lush / stringy (verging on Robert Kirby-esque on "Faust Arp"). Very warm / gorgeous. And so much better than the frankly knackered-sounding "Hail To The Thief". "All I Need", "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" and "House of Cards" are up there with the best they've ever done, but it seems a shame to pick tracks out when the whole album (and it really feels like an album) is so very very good. All that and something to chew on as regards the whole issue of distribution, ethics and how we value music in the digital age. As you may have already guessed, if you choose not to pay anything you're churlish in the extreme, I reckon. Especially for something this great.
4. Partial Arts - Telescope [Kompakt] The follow up to "Trauermusik" is coming soon (once I've tracked down our errant remixer... luckily he's just moved in up the road). 11 minutes of lush kraut-disco, all badly-played live synths, marimbas and wonky FX, anchored by the steady pulse of The Rapture's fab drummer Vito Roccaforte. And hopefully backed by a cracking Radioslave remix, once I've been round to Lychenerstrasse with the boys to sort him out.
5. Swayzak feat. Cassy - Smile and Receive [!K7] / Jori Hulkonnen - Crowd, Get Ready To Be Jammed [Turbo] There's nothing better than a great dance record with an imperative in the title. And this week we get two at once. The lead single from the new Swayzak album is a moody Basic Channel-ish track with a wonderful vocal from the nicest woman in house, Cassy. You won't get the ascending chorus melody out of your head once you've heard it (the Germans call this an Ohrworm). Plus there's a fantastic electro remix from Richard Davis which re-harmonises the melody and makes it even catchier for some end of the night action. And then Jori Hulkonnen's new single for Turbo is acid burn with mellotrons and quite fab indeed. Repair to the dancefloor, forthwith.
6. Radioslave - Bell Clap Dance [Rekids] I'm not going to tell you just how very good this is until Matt's delivered his remix for us, dammit.
7. Ada - Barren Space [areal] At long last a new single from the first lady of Cologne to keep us going while we wait impatiently for the new album. Like last year's wonderful "Living It Up" the B-side here is as strong, if not stronger than the A. "Barren Space" is a techno-house stormer, all stuttering sampled detroit chords and fat claps. (Ada has also done a wonderful remix of Tracey Thorn's "Grand Canyon" which you should check on Ms. T's myspace site).
8. Maps - To The Sky (The Loving Hand Remix) [Mute] Tim Goldsworthy provides a very beautiful chugging acid disco remix of Mute's Maps. Mixes very nicely with the Prins Thomas remix of Hatchback too.
9. Poni Hoax - Antibodies [Tigersushi] Another corking Joakim-produced single from Poni Hoax. Comes in original no-wave disco versions and a fantastic Chateau Flight remix.
10. Supermayer - Save The World / The Art of Letting Go (Remixes) [Kompakt] / Rufus Wainwright - Tiergarten (Supermayer remix) [Polydor] I'm slightly taken aback by the reaction to the Supermayer album in some quarters. It seems for some Kompakt fans to have been interpreted as some cruel practical joke or worse a plain act of betrayal. Where are the epic emotional neo-trance stormers? Why is Michael Mayer singing? And is that a trumpet?!? Well, I for one am glad that they've eschewed the po-faced and grandiose, and gone for a mix of wonky pop, wit and drama. It sounds like a record that was enormous fun to make, but is great fun to listen / dance to also. Not to mention that it contains a couple of almighty club bangers; 'Two of Us' and 'Planet of the Sick' which haven't left my set since I got my promo CD. Anyway, I'm on the payroll so what do I know?* Just that if I didn't love this record I would be keeping mighty quiet about now. If you've already decided to hate it I'm not going to change your mind, but it's really really worth ignoring the naysayers and making your mind up for yourself. Those same people will probably hate the Supermayer remix of Rufus Wainwright's "Tiergarten", which starts with 3 minutes of crooning vocals and harp arpeggios, like a beautiful Christmas movie, before settling into another 10 minutes of atmospheric indie-bassed spook-house with plenty of Rufus vocal in there. Their loss. * I've just remixed 'The Art of Letting Go' for the next single. It comes in two flavours; a re-edit which ups the International Pony wonk-funk-boogie quotient with piles of overdubs, and at the other end of the spectrum a deep acid dub, which verges on the Bar25 afterhours-tastic. I'm not using the m-word though. No sirree.
11. Chloe - The Waiting Room Whilst Supermayer's LP is all smiles, primary colours and daft funk, Chloe's first album is icy, crystalline, Parisienne alt-cool. The monochrome wood cut of an ice-cave on the cover should have given that away I guess. Anyway, it's another wonderful electronic album to add to this years bumper crop.
12. Raudive Everything Oliver Ho has put out under the Raudive alias has been mighty good. I'm still playing "Here" (Msr. Smagghe's top tune of 2006) and "Turn If Off" regularly and this year we've had great releases on Musicman and Poker Flat too.
13. Leftroom Hands down the dancefloor label of 2007 as far as I'm concerned. 4 or 5 tracks in the set for the last 3 months at least. Marcashken, Matt Tolfrey, Ito and Star, Szenario, Glimpse, Andre Krom... Hit after hit after bloody great hit.
14. PJ Harvey - White Chalk [Island] / Linda Thompson - Versatile Heart [Rounder] / St Vincent - Marry Me [Beggars Banquet] There have been glut of great albums from female artists of late. Just in case you haven't heard it yet (are you crazy?) the new PJ Harvey album is stark and staggeringly good. Played mostly on piano, an instrument that she's only recently learned to play, and sung in a much higher register than usual, it's all the more haunting for its austerity. Records like this remind one how very thankful we should be for the few artists of Harvey's calibre we have, never content to settle on formula, instead constantly remoulding themselves to breathtaking effect. I grew up on a lot of English folk/rock music, in particular the amazing records that Linda Thompson made with her husband Richard. She's only released three solo albums since their parting at the start of the 80's, two of those in the last five years. The new CD "Versatile Heart" features many of the extended family that made "Fashionably Late" so good; Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Martin and Eliza Carthy, plus the likes of Robert Kirkby and John Kirkpatrick (not a bad troupe to have at your disposal?). And Thompson's voice is as affecting as ever. The standout moment is "Nice Cars", a brilliant song written by her daughter Kamila, who's inherited a bit of her dad's black humour as well. Last but not least comes perhaps my favourite album of 2007 so far. A solo record from Annie Clark, former guitarist for the likes of Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree, it's a fantistically assured debut album that runs from muscular art-rock to more beautiful introspective pop. Characterful without being kooky, never twee, and executed with incredible musicianship and immaculate production. We're harassing the record company to let us have a pop at a mix. Fingers crossed.
15. Tony Wilson 1950-2007 This is my first blog since the death of Tony Wilson in August and I wanted to write something in memoriam (don't worry - obituaries aren't going to turn into a regular feature). But as this page is called "Enthusiasm" it seemed appropriate. Wilson was many things - idealist, entrepreneur, fabulist, gobshite - but above all he was an enthusiast. An apparently effete Cambridge-educated TV journalist he was energised by punk, he embodied its transformative will-to-power - you don't have to stay as you've been labelled - and its first and only law: getting sufficiently excited to get off your arse is the only permission you need to participate in the popular culture. And he did that; alongside the other Factory heroes Rob Gretton, Martin Hannett, Peter Saville and Alan Erasmus he was a catalyst in so much amazing popular art that it beggars belief. Wilson simply got on with it and worried about the consequences later. He 'put everything down to praxis. We'll just go ahead and do it and steamroll along and afterwards we'll think about why we did it in the first place.' * In an age which rewards the likes of Simon Cowell - pop moguls who've made millions sucking the marrow from popular culture, inviting the bewildered onto our televisions and ridiculing them for entertainment - Wilson was the opposite. He was the TV guy in love with pop who put himself up for ridicule, who told people he thought had talent what they were capable of and made them believe him, and allowed us to believe them. A hero for me is someone who does, who adds, who makes, or creates the conditions for exciting new things to be made. Someone who inspires and makes you re-consider what you're capable of. Tony Wilson really was one. At Creamfields Andalucia on Saturday 10th August, told that I had 4 minutes left, I pulled the plug on some stomping Kompakt trance record and played "Love Will Tear Us Apart" to a couple of thousand bewildered Spaniards. A small thank you to someone who'd changed my and many others lives for the better before we'd even realised it. * New Order's Stephen Morris on The Late Show, BBC2 August 9th, 2007. 16. Also new and damn good. Luke Solomon - Demons In The Disco (Brennan Green remix) [Crosstown Rebels], Kaorulnoue - The Secret Field / Todd Terje remix [Mule Musiq], Jori Hulkonnen ft. John Foxx - Never Been Here Before (Sasse remix) [fcom], TG - Test It [Infant], Rework - So Cold (Jackmate and Losoul remixes) [Playhouse], GTA - Keep Moving [Persona], TG - Undertones [Fundation].
Justin Martin-Chaos Restored (Buzzin Fly) (US)
Last year Justin wowed me with his half of OM Records Winter Sessions compilation. It was fun and bouncy and definitely signaled that fun times were ahead and that the focus was going to be squarely on San Francisco in 2007. Justin didn't prove me wrong either... But after so much Justin Martin saturation in 2007 I didn't expect him to be able to do anything but repeat himself on subsequent mixdisk releases. Chaos Restored is Justin's first mix CD since his big breakout last year and it's appropriate that it is on Ben Watt's (Everything But The Girl) Buzzin Fly imprint. It was Buzzin Fly who first discovered Martin's classic "The Sad Piano" and turned it in to the dancefloor classic it has become. This mix starts off with a slew of cuts from Martin himself along with help from Dirtybird allies like Spincycle and Tanner Ross. The inclusion of Martin's latest hit from the Utensil imprint "Ghetto Train" was welcome and gives the mix a nice kick albeit a highly derivative one. Martin however quickly switches gears and goes all European minimal in the middle of the mix with some great results due to some quality cuts from 3 Channels (under their Catz N Dogz alias) and Sebo K's hijacking of Martin Landsky's super deep "Let Me Dance". This section of the mix drags a little in spots but once again shows Martin's versatility and will mostly appeal to listeners feeling the eurovibe. Martin changes things up again near the end of Chaos showcasing Dirtybird's 2007 sound: A mix of bouncy minimal and booty with some dope cuts from Worthy, Tricky Disco, and Justin's brother Christian-once again all Dirtybird allies. A nice follow-up from Martin proves that he has what it takes but it does lack the immediacy of last year's OM mix.
Kaskade-Bring The Night (Ultra)(US)
A surprisingly tough and satisfying mix from SF's Kaskade, a real lightweight artist generally. This mix is Kaskade's first since joining the Ultra Records roster and is probably one of the best things both artist and label have ever put out. The first two tracks are breezy vocal cuts that are utterly disposable but once the D.O.N.S. kick in with their dirty house remix of Inner City's all time classic "Big Fun" (the first Detroit techno record to hit in Europe) you know "sh*t just got real". Even the stuff that is supposed to be bad like Kaskade's remix of Nelly Furtado or even Dirty South's reworking of his own "Sorry" are surprisingly great, which makes tougher cuts from the Martin Brothers, Troydon, and even creaky old Armand Van Helden that much better. Kaskade slows things down and gets soulful at the end of the mix to mixed results but overall this is one of the better night-at-the-club mixes of '07 right up there wth Lee Burridge's Balance 012 mixes.
Oscar G-Nervous Nitelife: Space Miami (Nervous)(US)
An excellent high profile return for both Murk's (and Miami's) Oscar G as well as Nervous Records, once one of house music's biggest labels. Much of what Michael Weiss has been up to label is juts as bad as what he was up to when the label shut its doors earlier this decade but this mix is rooted firmly in the underground. 17 upfront promo of bangin Latin tribal house with some serious modern edge courtesy of cats like Sebastien Leger, Stryke, and Oscar's partner in crime Ralph Falcon. The sound is live complete with crowd noises and just like Moonshine Music's Mixed Live series- dodgy in places. The energy is definitely there however and the tracks are dramatic and funky this mix will surprise you and have you falling in love with house music all over again.
Gabriel & Dresden-Toolroom Knights Vol. 2 2xCD (Toolroom)(UK)
First off thanks to Sian at Toolroom for always sending me superior promos all the way from England. The ones I get from the publicists here in the States are always so cheap and flimsy so thanks for spending the money, it's been duly noted. Just a few years back this SF duo was some big time glowstick-y trance dudes but now they have "graduated" to minimal and granted their are some good techno tracks on this mix (Thomas Schumacher remix of the Knife's "Like A Pen", James Holden, Dubfire, all of the cuts on Toolroom) these guys just can't seem to shake the trance. Littered with 80s power ballads so bad that even Mr. Mister wouldn't touch them (but perhaps Kaskade???); it's hard to take this mix seriously when G&D play some bone crunching techno right up next to one of the crappy trance ballads. These guys were just named the number one DJs in the world at this year's IDMA which only proves mine and Danny Howell's point about dance music being some sort of crappy popularity contest where the most hyped always prevail over the most talented. Let's face it G&D are VERY talented studio rats but hardly DJs. The two barely know how to mix and programming seems like a foreign concept to them as well. Hard to find fault with Toolroom though, they put out mixes by high profile jocks and use them as a commercial platform to load them with their own high octane singles, some of the best you'll find all year, and probably sell a truckload of both mixes and singles in the process. Once again mixed results for me with the Toolroom Knights series.