Almost Anonymous-v. 2.0 (email@example.com)
It's hard to believe that nearly a year has passed since v. 1.0 but the Almost Anonymous duo keeps churning the mixes and gigs out developing at an exponential rate. What makes these guys so good isn't the solid mixing that everyone keeps claiming is the key. To me that's a pretty shallow assessment of AA, there is certainly more to their growing popularity than solid mixing. These guys are selecting good tracks but playing them well together at a time when not a lot of that is going on in the dance music industry as a whole. Sad as that may be for the guys making money, this duo is actually outscoring its professional rivals by putting together entire sets of solid material that encompass many sounds and elements along the way. While AA may not venture far from their comfort zone at least they've managed to avoid the trance bug everyone has caught this summer. The euro epic melodies have been mind numbingly awful and found on single after single in 2008. AA fly the funk flag high and keep West Coast house music front and center as always but in a bummer move pass on the techy breaks that have crucially defined some of their best mixes and live sets in favor of a proggier sound that does well in the club but bogs down in places on disk. Even with that criticism withstanding this is still one of the best disks released this year hands down. Why? Because these guys haven't forgotten what it takes to make people dance. It's more than just great mixing, it takes instinct to play the right music at the right time. AA happen to be the perfect combo for the right time in our little part of the world and their music has an air of authenticity and distinction.
APPART aka Parisian Anthony Rochier covers the dynamic spectrum of flamenco music, already known as a music of hybrids, with a pastiche of electronics-another music of hybrids. The results are surprisingly uncheesy and in reality sophisticated compositions that bring the best of both genres together instead of the typical world-music-enhanced- by-electronics pedantry found on these kinds of fusions. APPART's success here is found in keeping the flamenco elements most prominent while working in a wide range of styles instead of the per usual lame flamenco house attempts to cash in on an Ibiza summertime club hit. APPART weaves his magic but effortlessly sewing all of the tempos, source materials, and changes in styles together into an album that flows. The thing is that this sonic alchemy was not easy and Appart's nearly limitless bag of tricks on Flamencotronics makes it an album that cannot easily be ignored.
Alex Moulton-Exodus (Expansion Team)(US)
It takes a lot of balls to put out an album with cover art with such bad 70s Earth, Wind, & Fire sci-fi connotations but after listening to Exodus, I'd have to say the whole album including the artwork not only makes sense but is also amazingly good. Getting past the awful artwork was no easy feat but the whole thing was done to lovingly reproduce the 70s concept album theme down to the dust jacket on the CD to simulate a paper slip cover. The album is full of Rush-like Dungeons & Dragons and Star Trek like chronicles but set to vintage analog disco beats and boy does this album get funky like a mofo. Actually chuck that comparison to Rush, a better one might be David Bowie in his 70s Thin White Duke plastic soul period with elements of the Berlin trilogy (especially Low) and the sci-fi apocalypse bent of the Ziggy Stardust era. The reason I say Bowie is because the presentation of the music (which does have some tendencies to get a little too Daft Punk-y in places) is erratic, drowned in it's own pomposity but is big and glamorous in clever and unimagined ways that make Exodus great. Moulton really stretches out here creatively and manages to score more hits than misses when things do get bumpy and creates an album that seems a bit unstuck in time. File this one under guilty pleasure, right next to ABBA's Greatest Hits.
Kudu-Back For More: A Remix Collection (Nublu)(US)
Nothing new to report here from the latest retro rehashing from NYC, once the center of regular international cultural zeitgeists now reduced to warming up previous musical inventions in the hopes of rekindling that creative spark. Hey wait is this New York City or the New York Yankees I'm talking about, these days it's easy to get confused? Kudu is yet another one of those clever NYC groups to hijack the 80s post punk/proto electro sounds and call them their own. The results are about as predictable abd contrived as you could possibly imagine but some of the remixes are clever like the exotica reworking of "Back For More" by Hess Is More and Curtis Vodka's unexpected leftfield cosmic techno tweaking of "Hot Lava". Too much of this album is focused on style not enough substance to distinguish it from the hated (and dated) electroclash sound of the early 2000s.
Fred Everything-Lost Together (OM)(US)
Man does Fred Everything have a Prince fixation, even more so than Miguel Migs, to whom Everything's music bears more than just a striking resemblance to, the Purple One as I said also plays a heavy hand on the latest artist album from Everything-Lost Together. About the only things on here that don't sound like Prince outtakes are the tracks featuring Lisa Shaw and N'Dea Davenport respectively. Shaw is wasted on "Here I Am" which is little more the standard OM approved San Francisco house while "Don't Nobody" featuring former Brand New Heavy Davenport is as soulfully smooth as R&B snuck into a deep house cut can possibly get. This one track amounts to a very solid moment on an otherwise run-of-the-mill funk affair that is bound to catch the interests of hardcore Prince fans.