First reviews of the year
Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia-Pain Disappears (Buzzin Fly)(UK)
A much anticipate full length from the French duo of Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia that is melancholy while oozing a musky sultriness beneath the layers of ennui. Garcia and the mademoiselle conjure spirits of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox with a sincere nod to 80s electro-fied influences like the Eurythmics. Nice mix of styles, as this is a true stab at crossover material, that defies the typical French insistence on bombast in their musical diet. The two actually conjure something more along the lines of the new Swayzak and Underworld artist full lengths. Here were two albums that were dark and club friendly while drawing on many other styles and influences. It's really hard to pin down any specific track as being great on Pain Disappears, it's all quite nice afterhours party mushed-mind music with the ubiquitous Ewan Pearson giving "Always You" a re-rub adding some dancefloor venom to the lethal dose of saccharine and cloudy skies.
Ursula 1000-Undressed... Remixed (ESL)(US)
Last time we heard from Alex Gimano aka Ursula 1000 was back in 2005 with the album Here Comes Tomorrow-which scaled new heights in the melding of go-go with electronic dance music (and just about every other genre in the process). It should come as no surprise that the remixes of the material on Here Comes Tomorrow would express much of the wacky sonic diversity of that album. Breaks producers Deekline & Ed Solo add little beyond bass to the opener "Step Back" while we are subjected to yet another appearance of Skeewiff's remix of "Boop", which is good but most definitely overexposed. Robosonic and Product.01 turn in some surprisingly techno remixes with Ladytron and Jstar also on the memorable contributions. Everything else on here is solid and definitely on par with the source material in terms of quality. I'd call this a successful return for Ursula 1000.
Chris Joss-Teraphonic Overdubs (ESL)(US)
You can always count of Thievery Corporation's ESL imprint to deliver the goods when it comes to interesting twists and turns in underground dance music. Not everything they do is chin-stroking lounge ala T.C., some artists like Chris Joss are championing whole new genres like the one I like to call - go-go tech. Heavy with the stompy on-the-one breaks synonymous with go-go dancing Joss synthesizes elements of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Exist Dance, and Tito Puente -often in the same song. This whole album is fun, top to bottom, without ever having to pander to the dancefloor or any conceptions of what dance music should be. Kudos to Joss for taking some chances and not sounding too ponytailed out in the process.
The Flight Orchestra-The Military Of Fatima (Breathing Room)(US)
Delicate laptop IDM/indie shoegazer in the vein of newer WARP Records artists (think Grizzly Bears). Interesting mix of DJ Shadow-style beats being warped with an early 90s Creation Records level of tension being generated. Walls of grunge rise ala My Bloody Valentine and collides with that sickening emo earnest that the Postal Service is drenched in. It all reeks of one thing-Radiohead. Expose yourself at your own risk.
Armin Van Buuren-Universal Religion 2008 (Ultra)(US)
Anyone who calls their mixdisk Universal Religion is usually opening themselves for the poison pen as it is. But why is it then that the music is always such garbage on these pompously named comps that I don't even have time to take note of the pretentious titles? Dutch DJ Van Buuren (now the number one DJ in the world according to the DJ magazine poll) seals his own fate on this disk that starts off at least moderately ok with a mix of melodic progressive house and minimal but seems to run off the rails after Dubfire's "Roadkill" and whose last three tracks are so predictable and bad I nearly killed myself before the CD even finished. File this one under-Why even bother....?