Five and a good night to you
The Orb-The Dream (Six Degrees)(US)
For the first time since the UF. Orb elpee (1993 to be precise) Dr. Alex Patterson (aka The Orb) teams up with longtime friend and Orb cofounder Youth for The Dream, the first album for the Orb since 2005's Okie Dokie It's The Orb on Kompakt. And while it goes without saying that a release by the Orb is always something worth giving a good listen The Dream was even more acutely anticipated and for good reason, Youth's addition helps to evokes memories not only of the early Orb works but also the chaotic spirit of the early rave scene where producers wore their influences on their sleeves for all to see. For those who say that techno music was delivered from the future with no influences other than itself the early Orb music and also that of the KLF challenged that notion and ideal. On The Dream as with the other seminal works of the Orb there are those influences-old school hip hop, Z-grade film dialog, dub, and the mega-mixing style of legendary NYC radio DJs like Shep Pettibone. Just hearing a track like "DDD (Dirty Disco Dub)" is a step back in time to the old school vibe of presenting as many musical globe-trekking voyages and sub-voyages as possible in the course of the night. Of course, Youth & Patterson were clever enough to realize they were playing for crowds of Ecstasy reduced mush mouths and that was reflected in breakthrough hits like "Little Fluffy Clouds" that enlightened the drug addled mind rather than tormented. Sadly there are no "Clouds" to be found on The Dream being mostly a nostalgia trip, albeit the best one I've heard in ages, there is still a vitality in hearing interesting music that isn't condescending to the listener. While most DJs these days have set the controls for blast off pigeonholing themselves into short time-slots and monolithic music programmed for the most lumpen of masses the Orb still believe and, more importantly, are still capable of creating playful but challenging music for the masses after all these years.
Mark Farina-Fabric 40 (Fabric)(UK)
Something about doing a Fabric mix brings the best out in DJs and Mark Farina is no exception. Regular readers will know that I haven't been down with the last trio of Farina house mixes for Ministry of Sound and OM respectively. Having seen Farina live a few times I know that he's seriously holding back on disk especially with the spate of quality Chicago/SF house records coming out these days choosing fluffier, more commercial tracks instead. On Fabric 40, Farina pulls out all the stops and drops a good, memorable house music mix. I knew he still had one left in him and this 21 cut sleeper does not disappoint with a track selection light years removed from those previous mixes I dissed on. Sure these Chi-town cats have to get beyond the formulaic drum patterns and cheesy dialog samples that are ruining the genre and that's why this got a #2 slot instead of a vaunted first prize but there are still more winners than duds and for a Farina mix these days that speaks volumes.
Cedric Gervais-Space Miami Terrace 2xCD (Yoshitoshi)(US)
Disk one of the latest mix from the Yoshitoshi imprint doesn't fall far from the Deep Dish tree-too bad that shipped sailed right around 2002. Trancy progressive house complete with snapping drum roll build-ups is fairly played out at this point so why bother with another compilation? There are few moments of anything better than unbearable on the the first disk including the intro with a handful of superstar DJ schmos wishing Gervais their best in one of the cheesiest self-hyping moves not culled from a Spinal Tap or Wayne's World film. Disk two opens with that snippet of vocal dialog from that Prince Quick Mix track of yesteryear about a working girl hooked on smack, selling shotguns, and being busted in the street with no shoes used to great effect by James Holden on his legendary Balance mix. Here it is used as an acapella introduction into the dark and sleazy world of Miami house, the 4AM tribal kinda Miami house. Relentless is the best way to describe disk two and that kind of Miami house, Yeah Gervais isn't the greatest DJ in the world (average is about the best I can muster) he at least redeems himself on the second disk of this mediocre comp by showing he can rock a crowd as good as the Murk boys and does know of other genres besides trance. That's more than I can say for Armin Van Buuren and he's supposedly the #1 DJ in the world.
Kate Lawler-Screw You EP CD single (Leaders Of The New School/Toolroom)(UK)
The Leaders Of The New School series from Toolroom is really starting to forge its own identity with more distinctive looking sleeves and music that is moving away from the core of what Toolroom does best-which is polished more commercial progressive and UK house with a rougher and rawer sound. Kate Lawler appears to be a Mancunian whose tastes are on the Pete Tong tip as evidenced by the two weak b-sides of trite progressive but really scores with the A-side "Screw You" and it's pelvis grinding bassline recalling those old psy-trance monsters of the mid 90s but is instead hitched to an energetic minimal techno beat. The combo is dynamite and even the white noise breakdown isn't so cliched that it bogs the track down. The energy levels are high but Lawler doesn't go all in and that's what saves this track from becoming one of those annoying Renaissance approved anthems and I appreciate her holding back and credit her with a fine debut if only for one track.
Steve Mac & Paul Harris-You CD single (Toolroom Trax)(UK)
Steve Mac is one of those guys who has been around but has worked more in the commercial world than the underground and Paul Harris' post Dirty Vegas work for Toolroom has been pretty sub-par. Here they team up to create something for more modern tastes. Their original mix is pretty dreadfully commercial with the unbearable vocal snippet "You" being used as a dramatic pause and pop hook. The Tom Novy mix does little to help things along with Novy once again using the same bassline he stole from Mousse T 15 years ago. The results are lackluster at best and just plain tired as far as I am concerned. Toronto newcomers FPS haul out the big guns with one of the darkest and techiest prog house cuts ever. You can practically see the grime pouring out of the speakers when it's played. Obviously FPS hated the vocal hook as well because they strip it down to white noise and that's what makes this remix doubly great.