Your five picks for the week
Nickodemus-Sun People (ESL Music)(US)
Hard to believe it's been two and a half years since the Turntables On The Hudson mastermind dropped Endangered Species for Thievery Corporation's ESL Music label. That album contained all of that ponytailed hipster world music pretentiousness TC is best known for but instead of sucking, Nickodemus made the sh*t rock and subsequently created a new genre I like to call klezmer funk. His latest Sun People is a summertime themed update of the klezmer funk he explored back in the oh-six even bringing back some of the previous album's cast of characters including producers Quantic and Zeb for a familiar feel. But that is where comparisons end as Sun People spends a great deal of time exploring latin and African rhythms ala J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science, whose 2008 album Soul Vibrations, Nickodemus owes some sort of debt to in terms of influence. The production here is unbelievable, tunes are actual songs with catchy hooks, and it still manages to be funky as a mofo. It's hard not to smile everytime I hear this album, for me this album will always be inextricable linked to summertime-and who ever said that was a bad thing?
Alland Byall0-Brick By Brick (Nightlight Music)(US)
Okay, let's call this review one of the few exclusives you'll ever peep on this blogsite as it is the first review of Alland Byallo's debut album. He and his publicist will probably kill me for this early leak but following in true Oscar Wildean logic-I believe all press is good press-especially when it is good press. This particular album is a culmination of Byallo's many years of hard work as a member of San Francisco's [KONTROL] crew as well as personal artistic statement. I don't want give too much of this album's twists and turns away (and give away free fodder for journalists lazier than I to crib) but usually these passionate explorations of minimal and deep house are total snoozevilles for me. That is not the case here, Brick By Brick, is filled with a surprising amount of stripped down honesty and actually has tracks you can remember, and not just a bunch of well-sculpted bleeps and bloops whipped in a maelstromic blender. It may be too early to call but this could be the first major signpost of the emerging SF techno scene, if not, it's still pretty damn good and I'll leave it at that for now. You'll make the final decision when the album drops on August 27th.
Jay Haze-Fabric 47 (Fabric London)(UK)
American DJ/producer Jay Haze is the kind of artist I can really get behind, super low-key and uber talented he simply rolls up his sleeve and gets things done. Whether it is with his TuningSpork or Contexterrior imprints, his production work under the alias Fuckpony (or otherwise), or his expansive tastes as a DJ this guy always lets the music do the talking and leaves the ego at the door. Hence, this installment of the Fabric mix series is all about the music, in this case ghetto-y tech house with a stamp of good ol' American muscle to keep it interesting. Mostly focused on his own productions and label output, this mix succeeds where others who've charted this course for a Fabric mix have failed because Haze knows a good tune when he hears it. There are bundles of them on here, I have my favorites and you will have yours but what is important to note is the volume of quality American artists Haze showcases. I can't help but feel good about that and hope to see this trend continue.
Steve Bug-Collaboratory (Poker Flat)(Germany)
Poker Flat jefe Steve Bug's fourth full length doesn't bear out as an insta-classic like some of his previous works upon immediate preview. But over time, as I dug into the eleven tracks I discovered that much of what I considered collaboration anxiety (seven tracks on this album feature a vocalist or production partner) was really a metered intricacy that took some time for my feeble brain to register. There are the obvious one like "Swallowed Too Much Bass" which plays more for the novelty crowd and slow groovers like "Trust In Me" which the wife says sounds an awful lot like "Wishing On A Star" (like a Smith & Mighty comparison could ever be a bad thing?) It is Bug's production duets with Simon Flowers and Donnacha Costello, however, that steal the show here and probably the main two reason most folks will be checking this album out anyway. They are both moody and sensual within the constraints of a moving dance floor- as is most of the album. And while both tracks are great movers it's a good thing the rest of the album is a pretty great supporting cast of characters allowing it to breathe and expand otherwise this would all be a damn shame. Also nice to see Bug branching out and trying out some new ideas, always appreciated.
D:Fuse & Mike Hiratzka-Clubbing In Lost Angeles (Vol. 1-Early Hours)(US)
It's dismal to think that the only guys in this biz who move units are, in my opinion, some of the lamest cats around musically churning out oodles of pedantic sh*t. For some reason, Los Angeles along with Las Vegas, have deemed only the fluffiest crap of the trance and progressive strain as the appropriate form of electronic dance music to be consumed in the US. LA artists D:Fuse & Mike Hiratzka definitely fit that billing, putting out loads of crap over the years and yet there has always been something about them, as they are both excellent musicians and sterling producers. I've always had the feeling they were holding back, allowing commercial forces dictate their artistic choices and that cutting loose was strictly verboten. Clubbing In Lost Angeles (Vol. 1-Early Hours) pretty much confirms my theory with the duo moving in new directions that includes a lot of live instrumention and interplay between the two and sounds loose and spontaneous. The mix is still fairly rooted in the progressive world but manages to stretch out and incorporate much of the rich and languid elements of the tech-house explosion without sounding like they are jumping on the bandwagon. There is a feeling of depth not usually present in this type of music which caught me off guard, as if the two were really letting go and trying something new. It worked, although there are far too many hands-in-the-air moments for my tastes and I shudder to think of what that means for Volume Two, I can honestly report that D:Fuse & Hiratzka combined to create something worthwhile on Lost Angeles. I always knew they could.