Ame-Fabric 42 (Fabric)(UK)
Here's a fine collection of tracks and acapellas from the German tech house duo Ame, the cats responsible for THE track of 2005 -"Rej". There are some great moments on Fabric 42, enough to make it the pick of the week, but hardly enough to make it a contender for a year-ender list. The problem here is that despite some great contributions from Henrik Schwartz/Ame/Dixon (teaming up again for some house music gold), Matthew Styles, and an amazing reworking by Johnny Fiasco and the mysterious Thomos of Armando's acid house classic "Don't Take It" this installment is fairly derivative of other recent Fabric releases which prevents this whole mess from catching fire despite the oodles of good tracks. Undoubtedly, there are some chestnuts that keep things fresh like the classic Basement Boys "American Poem" spoken word bit over a newish more techno oriented white label or the off kilter monologue of Moondog colliding with the stout techno of Jens Zimmerman for some freaky results. But despite the strong house vibe in the middle of all of that Teutonic techno thump their is little difference from this one than any of the other recent Fabric mixes by zee Germans. It really doesn't matter whether it is Luciano, M.A.N.D.Y., or Steve Bug none seem to be set any trends seemingly content to follow the pack leaving listeners unable to distinguish their house from their techno. So even though there are some great moments of deep and chunky zulu house action on #42, the duo does little to make it a special one and does nothing to distinguish themselves from the competition.
Radioactiveman-Growl (Control Tower)(UK)
Keith Tenniswood, he of Two Lone Swordsman along with Andrew Weatherall, returns with a third dose of UK techno under his Radioactiveman moniker. OK, you've probably noticed our correspondent across the pond Mark Barker already reviewed this release and I've certainly come to a lot of the same conclusions that he did but I also realize as an outsider that I don't like the bangin' UK techno as much as Barker, preferring the subtle nuances of Detroit and American techno instead. In that respect Growl really hits the mark with some serious moodiness and a timeless minimalism that owes more to the late 80s and Detroit electro (think Juan Atkins) than any of Basic Channel re-treads passing themselves off as "minimal" right now. Besides some obvious dancefloor choons like "Pieces of Eight", "Kristiina", and "Dalston to Detroit" there is also some inventive song-based material like "Nothing At All" with Dot Alison and Andrew Weatherall on the dark "Double Dealings" that sound fresh and highlight some new sonic ideas from the always restless Swordsman Tenniswood.
Lindstrøm-Where You Go I Go Too (Smalltown Supersound)(Norway)
The latest from Norway's darling boy Lindstrøm takes his noodling excesses to the logical extreme by paring his quirky chord changing meanderings down to three stretched out and sonically dense excursions that are at the very least interesting and well-worth the wait in my opinion. However your patience with Lindstrøm's antics may vary so proceed with caution. The half hour title track opens the new disk with a fusion of Vangelis, Cerrone, and Pink Floyd that is pretty bong-rattling but look out if you aren't a pothead as you are just as likely to float off on some pompous euro-ephemera as to talk with a mythical Smurf on this one. At ten minutes "Grand Ideas" is the best cut of the three with Lindstrøm's idea of a less-is-more attitude hitched to a good groove. It seems that when the guy doesn't stretch out the tracks he seem more brilliant. "The Long Home" checks in at fifteen minutes and for me vacillates between irritating and brilliant with some good elements along and some god-awful wankery that would even have Jerry Garcia shuddering.
Tittsworth-Twelve Steps (Plant Music)(US)
The B'more scene for most of the decade has always been on the verge of catching fire but has never quite gotten there. The scene is currently wilting under the weight of the dubstep explosion which has appropriated many of the booty elements and added them to a much more sophisticated production style and interconnected DJ scene. There is no doubt booty is making some serious in roads against the euro-bloc that has been dominating dance music for most of this decade but after hearing the latest from D.C. producer/DJ Jesse Tittsworth I'm convinced the revolution won't come charging out of the 410 anytime soon. Why? These productions are cheap and throwaway, it's obvious that the dude comes from the world of hip-hop where producers have perfected the disposable production ("use just once and destroy") and he's trying to make waves in the world of dance by jumping on the Ed Banger bandwagon-another safe harbor of cheap ass productions. There are some good maximal tracks that tread lightly in the world that Modeselektor lives in but there is no way a track like "B-Rockin'" is anywhere near the same caliber as MS. Just listening to that thin production is like listening to the truckloads of poor quality Miami bass wax back in the early 90s. It's like it never left and that's not something I can condone.
The Presets-Apocalypso (Modular)(US)
Another electro-rock duo, oh yipee! The Presets hail from Australia and join the growing list of these types of artists as they are rapidly becoming as ubiquitous as the girl bass player was back in the 1990s. Apocalypso is all pretty thin and 80s retro in a bad way and not that far removed from Justice, Daft Punk, or Hot Chip. A modern version of the irritating college rock band trend (e.g. the Pixies, Camper Van Beethoven, REM, et al) if you allow me the comparison. But for me re-doing Yazoo and New Order with a modern electro trance twist isn't all that exciting as it's already been done, and in the case of the Presets-much better. At first my thought was they were doing the best they could with the talent allotted (all in all is all we are and all that) but when you here a track like "Yippiyo-ay" with it's edgy dancefloor beats, solid hook, and catchy vocal you know the two Aussies are holding back on us. That laziness is exactly what hold Apocalypso back, repeat listens expose the Presets to be slackers who could have given us a better album than this one.