Butch-Papillon 2xCD (Great Stuff)(Germany)
It's nice to hear some German techno that isn't Poker Flat, Bpitch Control, or Cocoon for a change. Okay, granted Steve Bug's imprint is still putting out an endless supply of great material but those other two labels are way past prime and have entered the much hated noodly progressive phase. At this point something new (and good) from that part of the world is warmly welcomed. Butch aka Mainz-based DJ/producer Bulent Gurler is definitely upping the ante in Deutschland with this amazing double disk affair on Great Stuff entitled Papillon. There is no proggy noodling to be found on disk one, the artist album, just a solid diet of house, techno, and even some urban sounds that recall Gurler's humble beginnings as a turntablist. It's tough and tight with certified bangers like "Wet N Tight" and "Osiris" but there are also some good listening tracks that straddle the line between home use and dance floor madness such as "Jazzy Belle" and "Soul Train" and conveniently there is a cool little tool as well if you are paying attention. "Bad Weed" is short and does little but mixed with the big hit of the same name (and vocal sample) by ATFC and you have a versatile DJ tool, not sure if that was intentional but thanks nonetheless dude. The second disk is a mix from Butch of his productions and remixes ala Argy. It's a nice mix that takes equal parts M.A.N.D.Y. and Steve Bug while toning down the melodic cheesy and funky house tendencies of those two artist respectively for a classic German sound that is also imminently new and fresh. One of the year's better artist albums fo' sho.
Guy J-Esperanza (Bedrock)(UK)
By now most of you reading this know that I am no fan of John Digweed nor his Bedrock label in any way. There are a laundry list of reasons why but without going into detail I think that his music is too boring, too proggy, and too overrated. Because of that bias I was very skeptical about the debut album from Guy J simply because he had appeared with some weak tracks on Digweed's annoying Transitions 4 mix a few months back. Those tracks were some of the worst examples of this summer's trance revival that I keep complaining about. However, extricated from Digweed's clutches and his mashed-up DJ experiments Guy J sounds more like Guy Gerber-a fellow artist from Israel-and that is a good thing. Israeli's (like Guy Gerber) have extracted all of the elements of progressive and goa trance they liked-rolling basslines and deep, techno influenced noises and added a minimal dynamic and buckets of melody and Guy J is no exception to that rule either. Surprisingly there are beautiful melancholy melodic progressions from the Middle East devoid of the bombastic Euro elements I normally associate with such prominent melodies. And some of the tracks on Esperanza get extremely dreamy and expansive as well which to me is strange. Why would Bedrock would take such a big leap of faith for an artist so far from the label's core strength in such a weak market. On the other hand it is so rare for anyone these days to be doing something so different from everyone else so why argue with a fresh sound on an album that does its best to keep interest levels high?
Jason Short was just here last weekend and he gave me this CD in person. Things start off slow on this one and take a long time to get rolling as Short moves through his label's roster of deep, minimal techno. But as things get pumping near the end of this mix Short shows us why his label is becoming the cornerstone of the growing SF scene with some quintessential techno workouts from Alland Byallo, Kenneth Scott, COTK, and of course Short himself. The only thing missing from this beautiful mess are a few less abstract track-mode cuts in favor of something more musical with a vocal or two in there as well.
Mike Monday-Songs Without Words Pt. 1 (OM)(US)
Songs is UK producer Mike Monday's US debut for the OM label. Monday is best known for his pseudo-progressive sunrise classic "The Tooting Warrior" and some of the better material on Songs is inspired by that mood. He also employs some tasteful acid ala Keith Tenniswood along with a penchant for glitch which adds some toughness to an otherwise cheeky album. Because, sadly, Monday also has a sweet tooth for kitsch and way too much of this album is devoted to light songs and saccaharine daydreams that effectively bury the brief moments of inspiration on Songs Pt. 1. Here's hoping Vol. 2 is better, we know you have it in you Mike.
Stanton Warriors-Sessions Vol. III (Punks/Fabric)(UK)
On the third installment of the Stanton Warriors Sessions series the popular UK breakbeat duo drop the rare 2x4 mixdisk laying down as many as three tracks at once in the mix for some turntable trickery. Occasionally the duo brings the same kind of booty bass intensity they showed on their Fabriclive mix for Sessions III but more often than not the Warriors let the car slide into the dreaded man breaks ditch. Despite all of the turntable trickery in the world this one the boys disappointingly fail to rise above humdrum on their latest. File this next to the Plump DJs in the "Who gives a sh*t?" file.