Five Live, No Jive
Booka Shade-DJ Kicks (!K7) (US)
An oddball mix from Germans Arno Kammermeier & Walter Merziger, who together comprise the uber-successful Booka Shade production duo as well as the label of the moment-Get Physical. If you ever wondered what made Get Physical tick or what the inspirations for tracks like "In White Rooms" were then I suppose this disk is an excellent collection of source material. While that might sound like another one of those "Back To Mine" DJ noodlefests Booka Shade manages to keep everything on the up & up at least in terms of quality on their installment of the classic DJ Kicks series. Weaving a mix of Eighties synth-pop (Heaven 17, Yazoo) along with more obscure electronic classics by Cerrone and the Passengers the guys keep things interesting and at times cheeky (John Carpenter and Brigitte Bardot contributions amongst others). But crucial new techno/electro from Carl Craig and Matthew Dear (the brilliant Hot Chip remix of "Don & Shari") ensure that this disk's feet are planted firmly in the future. While perhaps not a dancefloor rocker the solid track selection makes this perfect for home or car stereo listening. Score another for Berlin.
Sander Kleinenberg-This Is 2xCD (Ultra)(US)
I really thought I would like the latest offering from Holland's Sander Kleinenberg a lot more than I actually did. Always one of the better DJs and producers way back in the progressive house days, here we find him trying to reinvent himself ala James Holden or Chris Fortier as some sort of tech house kinda guy. Sadly disk one starts out with much promise including Bad Mouth's infectious "Anymore" but devolves back into the Dutch DJ's trance roots so quickly with generic cuts like "Moscow Never Sleeps" and "Dancing With Strangers" that I barely had any time to reflect on Kleinenberg's big transformation. To his credit, Kleinenberg tries to pull it together at the end of the disk with Gui Boratto's remix of Robert Babicz's "Sin" and Boratto's own "Beautiful Life" but haven't we all heard these tracks enough? Disk two starts off well enough with some Basic Channel but musters little excitement until the very end with Smith & Selway's mighty slab o' minimal entitled "Transit Time". Lotsa big bangers of average quality, but I gotta say do we really need to be listening to Quivver in 2007 with so much other good music out there? I'd have to say no....
DO (Day Off)-Day Off EP 2 (Six Degrees)(US)
Another downloadable release from Six Degrees' Emerging Artists series, this time featuring new Latin music from from longtime contributors Omar Sosa & Greg Landau. Landau has worked with members of Buena Vista Social Club while Sosa is a two time Grammy nominee and a genuine Cuban piano star. This four song EP covers a wide spectrum of Latin sounds giving them all a modern electronic twist that has a little more edge than a Putamayo compilation. The highlight is DO's take on the traditional ballad "Llorona" which keeps the mournful qualities of the song while embellishing it with subtle electronics giving the song the faintest hint of rain (tear?)drops.
ZAMAN 8 & Hafez Modir-Suryaghati EP 2 (Six Degrees)(US)
Like many other labels confronted with the closings of real record stores SF imprint Six Degrees launched a digital only release series to capitalize on the growth of personal MP3 players as well as an effective way to keep fans current with new developments in the genre. In this case the genre is downtempo, one that is much more removed from the dancefloor and generally appealing to older, wealthier, more sophisticated audiences. As such I have long felt that many of the releases were a little bit on the twee yuppie or (gulp) new age'd hippie tip for my likes. No longer tethered to the costs of manufacturing a tangible product the label has really outdone itself with its Emerging Artists series and none more outta leftfield than the two EPs from Persian-American artists Zaman 8 & Hafez Modir. This EP combines the energy of western African rhythms with the throbbing drone of tablas from the Subcontinent and the mysterious allure of Persian music. These five songs are actually kinda like Iran, traditionally a crossroads between the East and the West, a hybrid of Eastern and Western modes never fully surrendering to either side.
ZAMAN 8-Sani (Saturn) MP3
Chris Fortier-Remix EP 1 (Fade)(US)
This two tracker has two wicked corkers one from Alexi Delano ("Taste It") and the other from SF's Freaky Chakra ("West"). Both of these are textbook examples of what's going on with house music in Brooklyn and a huge influence on what Fortier's doing as a producer and as a DJ. For lack of a better term I've been calling it emo-house but I think Freaky Chakra has a better name-emotronics. The sound is a mix of minimal, new romantic, and even gothic that gives the music its signature kinetic, emotional charge. "West" is culled from an obscure 2005 single and given the drippy drums and chunky bassline treatment from Fortier who turns it in to a 4AM monster. "Taste It" comes from Brooklyn's up and coming new imprint Railyard, who along with Fade, are churning out the emotronics by the bucketful and Fortier simply reworks an already strong track to fit his needs. Both the original and remix are good but neither are essential (unless you're really into this emotronics sound).