DJ Fluid-OM Miami 09 (OM)(US)
Here's a compilation from OM Records that really feels on point. Previous installments of this series have been bland in comparison and hard to distinguish from comps on corporate house behemoths like Defected. Last year's OM Miami installment hinted at some nice underground moments whereas the '09 edition makes techno its showcase. To the point where the label puts a good chunk of its own work on the sidelines in favor of what's hot and right now (mostly German house-btw). What makes this one noteworthy opposed to series predecessors are not the Get Physical tracks (that Laurie Anderson remix was seriously unnecessary, why oh why?) and Sebo K's ubiquitous "Diva". Happily enough many of the gems also come from the label's own roster but tucked away in between the techno anthems. Guys like Pezzner transform old goats like Mark Farina into dark, late night warriors and Lance De Sardi drops a tech house bomb called "repeat: reform" that is totally unexpected from him. Intersperse that with soulful house interludes mostly from the always funky Fred Everything and you suddenly have a mix that covers a lot of ground. It's a bold move but one that provides some fresh perspective on an old label.
Meanderthals-Desire Lines (Smalltown Supersound)(Norway)
The Meanderthals are a clever pairing of the UK house duo the Idjut Boys and producer Rune Lindbaek of Norway. The results are a delicious combo of the sweet Balearic sounds that make me go gaga for Ewan Pearson and the beardy disco sounds of old timers like DJ Harvey. Toss in a pinch of the Flaming Lips' cosmic goofiness and the yearning heights ascended by the band Ride and well-the description sounds about as good as ice cream and beer. It is true that Desire Lines has a rather unconventional approach but as such comes across as one of the better downtempo albums in many years. The jams are expansive but always keep the groove going like a good Prins Thomas DJ mix. The melodies are memorable and create solid hooks for each track without anyone having to actually get around to singing. Tracks like "Bugges Room" evoke more feeling than even a thousand emotive vocal tracks and convey a sense of musical "oneness" being achieved.
Various-Freerange Colour Series-White 06 (Freerange)(UK)
This one took a little while to grow on me as it is little bit more on the chill side of house music and the tracks here tended to be more unobtrusive than those of other compilations. Overall, I am finding the UK house imprint Freerange's releases to be in the same vein as Buzzin' Fly with nice pretty sounds and a hint of sublime sophistication. But this comp also takes in elements of pioneering early AM tech house labels like Glasgow Underground and Plastic City. Tracks like "Silk Drive" by Langenberg & Manuel Tur and Roberto Rodriguez' "Be Somebody" remind me a lot of the kinds you'd find on one of the Timewriter's seminal Deep Train mixes. While cuts from Pezzner and Lars Berenroth are just good solid deep house with some nice techno sounds conservatively interspersed to give it an edgy feeling without losing the soulfulness. Summarily that also describes the vibe of this entire compilation making Freerange one of the better labels out there right now.
Various-5 Years of Great Stuff-The Birthday Remixes (Great Stuff)(Germany)
Here's a nice gem from German label Great Stuff marking their five year anniversary. Part of a double disk collection this portion focuses on remixes of the label's top releases to date. Most are high quality peak hour German tech house cuts from some of the genre's best. There were quite a few less memorable ground breakers than I really wanted or expected. However, Great Stuff's floor friendly sound is definitely showcased on label head Rainer Weichhold's remix of the reggae classic "Push Push" as well as Ramon Tapia's mega-smash "Can You Dig It".
Moderat-S/T (Bpitch Control)(Germany)
Moderat are Modeselektor and Apparat, clever eh? This is the debut album following up the 2002 EP "Auf Kosten der Gesundheit". Interestingly enough this album was recorded at the same Hansa Studios where David Bowie cut "Heroes" and the now commonplace process of "gating " was developed. Kit Clayton was also called into develop a reverb algorithm as a part of the intricate sound design behind this album. All beginning to sound a lot like ELP? Well it did and it does. Like the prog rock dinosaurs of old few of this album's tunes have any sort of a discerning hook despite all of Apparat's fancy studio work used to disguise the fact that these guys all went into the studio with a satchel full of half baked ideas and few actual songs. Modeselektor's contributions all sound like they were surgically inserted Frankenstein style via Protools files emailed to them in the middle of the night. Vocalist Paul St. Hilare shows up for "Slow Match" which has the most of the urban maximal feel you'd expect from Modeselektor. Except imagine Radiohead's pilled out cousin sitting at the Ableton console "re-editing" MS's boompty while downing pints of Sierra Nevada. I think my wife called it when she said most of the album sounded like bad New Order with just a twist of Modern English. Ironically the album's one truly shining moment "Out Of Sight" with its icy electro and melancholy wistfulness comes at the very end of the album. Had there been three or more of these kinds of finely layered techno pop tracks I would have really enjoyed this album but as it stands I find it to be a whole lot of potential wasted.