New reviews round three

Nicolas Matar & Willie Graff-Cielo: Playtime 2xCD (Tommy Boy)(US)
Oh man is Ben Watt over at Buzzin' Fly gonna be pissed when he hears this double disk companion to the hot NYC club Cielo. Why? Because this offering from big fish label Tommy Boy is pretty much a major league absorption of his deep, commercial tech-house sound right down to using tracks by BF artists like Rocco and the Lovebirds. But what a sweet waste of time this collection is- with the masterful Cielo residents Nicolas Matar & Willie Graff controlling the action with supreme skill. That's basically what divides this mix from the countless others like it, sure there's the house standards-Kerri Chandler, Kings Of Tomorrow, Barbara Tucker- but who friggen cares? If I did I'd run right out and buy a compilation on crappy old Nervous post haste. I don't-but sandwiched in-between all of that predictable cheese are some stunning cuts like Roberto Rodriguez' "Besomebody" that make you sit up and take notice and make the weaker material on the first disk just a little bit better.

The second disk entitled "Nu-Classic" is the real attraction on this mix with a mix that focuses on heavier, more late night kinda deep weirdness. I love deep weirdness, especially when there's a lot of good vocal action in there and there certainly is here. It's what makes me go crazy for cats like Manuel Tur, Move D, and Henrik Schwarz and they're all in here-always a good start. Not sure if I need to ever hear "Diva" again but let's all admit Mobilee is on a roll and be thankful that people actually like good music like this as opposed to say- Tiesto. Color me surprised on this one!

Here's a 30 min preview mix for you to sample:

Various-Black Rio 2 (Strut)(US)
This collection, compiled by London club night Batmacumba's resident DJ Cliffy, is a loving tribute to Brazilian soul music which struggled to emerge there in the 1970s there. As with all Brazilian music from this turbulent era, it's political-much like the Tropicalia movement of the Sixties that spawned weirdos like Os Mutantes. Unlike that movement though, the soul explosion exploded from the favelas and from disenchanted and powerless black youth-meaning it was nearly invisible at the time. However, that vacuum is what makes these tracks so great, they are unencumbered with weighty messages and filled with friggen rhythms to make you dance instead. Brazilian soul is a potent elixir made of samba, batacuda, and gritty Stax soul with enough percussion to be sampled to fire the imaginations of a thousand new house & techno tracks. However, deep inspection reveals this sound to be the precursor to Brazil's disenchanted ghetto music of today-baile funk-much as James Brown ushered in the rap era here in America-making this an important document. Amazingly though, this music still sounds as fresh and important as it did 35+ years ago.

Manuel Tur-0201 (Freerange)(UK)
I simply cannot believe that Manuel Tur is just 22 years old after listening to his debut album 0201. Other than the album's goofy title relating to his hometown of Essen's area code you'd think this guy was easily 35 plus years old with his front and center love of 70s disco. "Stay" with Larissa Kapp's sultry vocals is exactly what I am talking about in terms of Tur's musical maturity belying his actual age. It's- unbelievably- a mid-tempo disco thumper envisioned by a kid who's grown up in German's equivalent of West Virginia-the sounds are sparse and lonely with just a twist of "Trans-Europe Express". And who knew that Mark Bell aka Blakkat had such a soulful set of pipes? Apparently Tur did and in turn creates a futuristic Al Green soul soundscape with him on "Golden Complexion". Sometimes it feels as though older cats like DJs Harvey or Garth are the pulling the strings on this one. I mean who doesn't think that "Pastelize" isn't just antoher Greyhound single in disguise? You'd be hard pressed to tell the difference unless someone told you beforehand. But instead of just releasing a stack of dancefloor singles like so many other big artists have done Tur stretches to make a true artist album. There is a much wider range of sounds on here than stony disco with a focus on actual songs. It's such a nice change of pace to see such an artist overreach their capabilities on a debut album and in turn create something in dance music that stands up and even invites multiple listens. The scary thing is that this kid is only 22 and he's already a 6 year veteran.

Kevin Saunderson-History Elevate 2xCD (KMS)(UK)
Kevin "Master Reese" Saunderson is one of the big four Detroit techno innovators-his status as a pioneer in electronic dance music is unquestioned. You know it, I know it so let's not belabor that point. This collection is sort of a Columbia House budget priced greatest hits package spread over two disks-no frills and no surprises but still a nice way to fill that hole in your collection. The first disk here is all about Saunderson's greatest remixes: some like the Wee Papa Girl Rappers are painful reminders of how bad dance music once was while others like Cerrone's classic "Supernature" just the opposite. There's some new stuff too but none of the material is anywhere near as good as Saunderson's own material. The second disk is other people remixing some of Saunderson's work-modern guys...white bread guys. It's kinda limp because where this collection could have relied on more soulful guys like Carl Craig, Green Velvet, Terrence Dixon, Kenny Larkin, or Patrice Scott instead opted for the usual suspects. Makes it about as much fun to me as a new release on Perlon. I wish this collection could have been better with Saunderson's status and all but it's a little flat despite the strong source material.

Rocket From The Tombs-The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs (Smog Veil)(US)
This is actually a 2002 release on Smog Veil but I just came across this via Pere Ubu's Hearpen website as a download. Considering how hard it is to find any newly discovered Peter Laughner, Pere Ubu, or Dead Boys material I figured this collection of demos and live recordings was worth a little ink. This curious little band was important not just because it featured future members of the aforementioned bands or that journalist cum songwriter Laughner is something of a cult hero-with even Wilco paying homage to his words on "Misunderstood" off of their debut album Being There. These guys were the missing link between the Lester Bangs/Peter Laughner vision of rock n roll revisionism circa 1975 -a wall of psychotic Sixties reactions and Yardbirds affectations converging with the coming sleazy blitzkreig pop nihilistism whose doors the New York Dolls and David Bowie had just kicked open a few years earlier. Hard to miss that on the covers of the Stooges' "Search & Destroy" and "Raw Power" that bookend this collection. Everything else is here too-the Ubu songs in their original form, the Dead Boys classics, and Laughner taking the guitar player for a ride played with a ferocity that none of those folks ever attempted again after the 'Tombs imploded. This simply put is a final ride into the heart of darkness and punk rock that never sounded so dangerous and fresh-if only they had known that their hard work would be squandered on Green Day they would have all done themselves in.

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