10.04.2008

Five like the Jackson Five, know what I'm saying?

Behrouz-Pure Behrouz NYC 2xCD (Nervous)(US)
Nervous Records returns with a high quality mix from the always versatile DJ Behrouz-who on this double disk collection shows off his solid technical skills and deep, deep crates. Beyond being smoothly mixed Pure Behrouz NYC is a textbook example of how to play great house music that combines elements of old and new while still keeping a big room vibe, yet perfectly suited for home or car stereo listening.
In terms of programming, disk one focuses on subtlety, building slowly. It perfectly captures the club zeitgeist of the moment-imminently groovy bass lines alongside rich melodies that owe nothing to the much-maligned trance era's simpleton bombast. Instead think of Buzzin' Fly, Manuel Tur, or Milton Jackson in terms of comparisons with the same use of dubby bass lines, deep house filters, and memorable melodic hooks tying them all together. On disk two Behrouz flies the techno flag without abandoning his obvious love of melody established on the first disk. That helps to tie the mixes together and make them part of a cohesive whole, something most DJs (even the big names) are just too lazy to attempt and yet adds so much. The mix itself is minimal but housy with some slight Miami and Latin house flavor. Again if you are fishing for comparisons look to Luciano or Joris Voorn, both of whom make an appearance here.
What really seals the deal on Pure Behrouz NYC are how easily the tracks fit together and grow on you without being cheesy or obvious, the sugary melodies that never get overplayed or nauseating, and how nicely both disks work on the dance floor as well as in the headphones at home. This is a well-crafted mix in era that doesn't show much concern for such things and for that alone I say thanks.

Howie B vs Casino Royale-Not In The Face (Howie's/Fabric)(UK)
To give you a little background, Howie B. is a Scottish mega-producer who has produced Bjork and U2, to name two of his biggest clients. His work is always jaw dropping, transcending dub, downtempo, trip hop, electronica or any other silly labels folks have tried to yoke the guy with. Casino Royale is a five piece combo that is very popular in Italy, Howie first met them back in 1997 while touring with U2 (the group was the opening act in Italy) and found immediate kinship in their fusion of sound-a mix of ska, funk, and drum & bass. In 2006 he produced an album by the combo entitled Reale, which spanned the group's two decade long career. Knowing full well the album was made for the Italian market, Howie nonetheless contacted the band after Reale's release and asked them about radically re-conceptualizing the album with a bit of the Howie B. signature flare and the results were this album, Not In The Face. The album is instantly likable with Howie's recognizable dark dub and scratchy electronics taking center stage. However what elevates the album is the source material from Casino Royale who somehow manage to balance what my German friend Harry used to call "gypsy jazz" (i.e. the euro equivalent of the Dead) with a sort of Captain Beefheart post-everything sensibility. It's fun, it's weird, and best of all Howie B. manages to capture that spontaneity for something a little different.

Tussle-Cream Cuts (Smalltown Supersound)(Norway)
Imagine a bunch of stoners raised on a steady diet of krautrock's fascist tyranny-of-the-beat machinations and the kind of lo-fi post punk epics that Killing Joke used to put out way back in the day and thus creating (or should I say stumbling into?) some sort of modern day redo of PiL's seminal mid 80s classic Flowers Of Romance. The tribal percussion is certainly there but the use of electronics suggest these were kids who emerged after the acid house explosion and not holdovers from the punk/guitar era. It's dance-rock but only in the extreme sense, the wife says it's too lo-fi while I say an injection of a little poison in the system certainly couldn't hurt as an antidote to all of the clean analog crispness of the mnml movement. There is hardly any indie rock inspired lameness here as I am reminded that at the height of grunge in the mid 90s, dance music was also hitting it's high water mark in the States too with one scene acting as a rejection of the other. In this case, mnml and dance-rock are also reaching their zenith's but here both scenes borrow liberally from each other with a combo like Tussle cleverly spanning the two genres as a sign of the times. The combo's influences seem a bit fey and indie rocker-ish so there is a good chance they could blow this new groove by the next album just like Radiohead did.

Asia Argento-Vs. Antipop, Archigram & Friends EP (Milan)(US)
Asia is the daughter of the legendary horror film director Dario Argento and a semi-respectable actress in Italy and Hollywood. Here she adorns the EP with a scary ass self-portrait that should have had her wearing some make-up and shaving her hairy pits. The cover art is tough enough to swallow so knowing that the tunes on this EP are a bit on the fluffy, used-to-be-cool electroclash tip like Ladytron, I find the whole thing a big turn-off. The best mixes on this disk are the ones by Inflagranti ,who take the weaker of the two songs on the EP, "Vampy" and makes it something a little more dance floor friendly while Scratch Massive actually carve a credible peak hour cut out of "Someone". Everyone else comes up short on some pretty thin source material. Not sure if this was really necessary.

D:Fuse-Thanks For Listening (Lost)(US)
It's a damn shame that D:Fuse and production partner Mike Hiratzka make such terrible, disco-lidded cocaine cowboy club music because they are both so incredibly talented and have produced a ton of singles and remixes to great success over the past decade. Sadly, the melodies are laughable and the progressions so dated it was almost impossible to make it through the whole thing with a straight face. The best way D:Fuse could have done here instead of thanking me was to not making me listen to this. Precious minutes were lost that I will never gain back. That's not a thank you, that's more like a sharp stick to the eye.

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