Author Archive: Chris Burkhalter

Resoe, Magnolie EP

Though Resoe is his primary musical outlet, Copenhagen’s Dennis Bøg also makes up one half of Pattern Repeat where, as diligent LWE readers can tell you, he teams up with Echocord head Kenneth Christiansen. Little surprise, then, that the latest Resoe record — for his own Baum Records — deals in the sort of burly, Chain Reaction-inspired dub techno that’s earned labels like Modern Love, Statik Entertainment, and of course Echocord their many dedicated followers. A-side “Cosmic Blast” is all chunky bass, chiseling high-end percussion, and blurred, wet chords. But where a lot of the deeper end of techno seems to be courting a more meditative listening experience, “Cosmic Blast” is stern and propulsive – destined for club use. If, however, you take your washes of delay with a little more “numb,” you’ll find a deep track for late morning in “Dusty Grounds.” It’s makeup is much the same, but more about atmospherics than thunder. Of course, neither track is going to shock you. Naysayers will groan that they’ve heard this before. Myself, I’m content to enjoy this sturdy example of the genre.

Odd Machine, Phase In

It’s always seemed to me that Tobias Freund’s Non Standards Productions have been more about sessions than tracks, and Odd Machine’s “Phase In” is no exception. For the second Odd Machine release, Freund pairs up with his old friend, Uwe Schmidt. Like many of this duo’s past collaborations (from back when Freund’s business cards still read “Pink Elln”), this session is characterized by live improvisation within established technical boundaries. Freund unsurprisingly clings to his Roland TR-808, while Schmidt gets comfy behind a vintage Linn 9000/LM2 drum machine and one of those newfangled, Lite-Brite-looking Yamaha Tenori-On machines. Get “Phase In” spinning and the first thing you’ll hear is the voice of Roger Linn giving a cook’s tour of the drum machine he designed — a telling sign of things to come.

Alex Cortex/DJ Stingray 313, Soliton/Null Physics

Alex Cortex has recently announced his exit from techno music, citing (among other reasons) a lack of gigs and cool label interest. Don’t blame Dan Lodig or Art Vega, though. Three of the last five releases for their Pomelo imprint have showcased the diverse Cortex stylings. The latest of these finds Cortex working alongside kindred spirit Sherard Ingram, here assuming his DJ Stingray 313 handle.

Darkstar, Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer

For those keeping close tabs on Darkstar, Hyperdub, or the broader “dubstep etc.” community, there’s a sense of “it’s about time” in the ship date of “Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer.” Landing in shops this month both on Hyperdub’s fifth anniversary compilation and as the advance single of an eventual Darkstar album, the track’s been floating around on Internet and radio for some time. If you’ve not heard it already, count on more of the bouncy bass lines, spare percussion, 8-bit keyboards and digitized vox that made the duo’s woozy, chilly “Need You” a crossover hit last year. Brace yourself, though, for a sweeter and much more melancholy pop song this time around — albeit a cool, depersonalized one.

A Work in Progress, Untitled EP

New releases from Yore always catch my attention. Some days you’ll get a fresh release from a revered veteran like Alton Miller, while on others you’ll find something unexpected from an artist you’ve never heard of before. The “Untitled EP” from A Work in Progress is a little bit of column A and a little bit of column B. The single’s two metropolitan house cuts come from Priceless One, described by the label as “a club kid from Detroit,” but also boast contributions from deep house royalty Chez Damier.

Talking Shopcast with Yore Records

In the interview below, Vaz discusses Yore’s goals and values, minimal and deep, and the potential value of adding friends on MySpace. To “deepen” your understanding of the label, we’re extremely pleased to host an exclusive mix from Kez YM, featuring music from Yore comrades, influences, and contemporaries.

A Made Up Sound, Rework/Closer

After falling under dubstep’s spell, Dave Huismans was, like a lot of people, eager to get his hands dirty and produce some tracks of his own. However, situated as he was in the Hague — well outside the South London epicenter of the day — he was hesitant to jump into a genre whose impact, at that time, had a lot to do with the insular vitality of its scene. He finally gave in, though, by embracing his outsider status. Banking on differences in background, geography, and taste to, in his words, “add a different sound to the spectrum,” his early forays into dubstep found a distinct voice that, among other things, drew heavily on techno. In turn, the more overtly techno productions he’s recorded since then for his A Made Up Sound project have tended to sound gripped by an enthusiasm for dubstep, which, interestingly enough, has made him something of an outsider in techno as well. It’s a status he seems comfortable with, allowing the AMUS brand to operate outside any scene narrative or, for that matter, pat auteurist line. It hasn’t stopped these records from finding an audience, either. Indeed, there’s been enough interest that Huismans has dedicated a new label to A Made Up Sound. “Rework/Closer” is its first release.

Motor City Drum Ensemble, Raw Cuts #5/#6

I don’t have strong feelings either way about Motor City Drum Ensemble’s “main line” releases for Four Roses or, most recently, 20:20 Vision. But I can’t help but adore his off-the-cuff “Raw Cuts” records. Hastily produced by design, Danilo Plessow tries not to over think the music. His goal is to take just two hours to assemble a track from samples of soul, funk, and disco and his own custom beats, slam down the hood, and put them on the road. If it’s just mucking about in the shop for Plessow, though, last month’s Resident Advisor charts indicate DJs are all too happy to field test the results. And it’s easy to see why — these deep, soulful tracks are hugely infectious, backing uptempo immediacy with what seems (at least so far) to be a lasting shine. Though the “Motor City” of his chosen moniker also refers to the German auto mecca Plessow calls home (that’s Stuttgart), there’s no denying a certain Detroit classicism on these records. From the well-insulated thump of the kick drum to the velvety organ chords, Plessow certainly isn’t hiding his Moodymann CDs in the glove box.

STL, The Unseen Voyage

2009 may go down as the year of the private press, but STL (aka Stefan Laubner of Bad Harzburg) has traveled this hand-paved road for six years with his Something imprint, issuing scuffed-up house and techno tracks, field recording collages, and numerous combinations thereof. The best of these come off as soft-spoken bedroom curios, but garner enthusiastic support as potent groove tracks. Juggling a prolific release schedule and bankable quality control, STL’s steadily amassed a loyal fan base. Farming out the occasional release to Perlon can’t have hurt either, but it’s a new alliance with Smallville, bringing with it the overwhelmingly embraced “Silent State” EP, that’s really raised STL’s profile this year. Yet his in-house press is as busy as ever. Arriving in June, “The Unseen Voyage” is familiar, steadfast STL, a sign perhaps that neither “Silent State” nor the increased attention have disrupted the Something agenda. Don’t mistake it for a retread, though.

Hauntologists, EP1/EP2

Though it surely wasn’t the only limited-run boutique techno label launched last December, the Hauntologists imprint garnered plenty of interest and, naturally, speculation. The only concrete information provided was that the EP was recorded in Berlin and Düsseldorf, and that it was linked to Berlin’s Hardwax record store. The colonialism-chic of the the hand silk-screened record sleeve teased hints of African drumming from the reduced rhythms (for instance, the opening track), and of course there was that name, “Hauntologists.”

Mass Prod, Deeply Cooked Music

Italian-born, Switzerland-based analog fetishist Mass Prod made the jump from net labels to pressed wax only recently, but he’s already caught the keen eye of Sweden’s Kontra-Musik, whose records I make a point of keeping tabs on. The catchy melody of “Focaccina,” the summery house track he’s delivered to the label, comes courtesy of a Moondog sample, while much of the credit for the track’s sunshine rhythms presumably falls on the 909 Mass Prod’s nicknamed “The Fox.” Relaxed, gently cheerful, and a bit deep, “Focaccina” is feel-good house and solid early-morning fodder. There’s some build late in the track — keyboards gathering around the sampled melody, and a hail of cymbal kicking up the intensity — but “Focaccina” maintains a light touch and a smooth flow, more interested in winning approving smiles than hands-in-the-air screams.

Soulphiction & Move D, In The Limelight

Having already crossed paths a couple times on wax, by way of splits and remixes and label connections, the team-up of collabo-keen auteurs David Moufang (Move D) and Michael Baumann (Soulphiction/ Jackmate) doesn’t come as much surprise. The first fruits of their labor (with further releases already mooted) find the duo mining a shared musical heritage for a miniature set of mild-tempered, organic house.

Scott Grooves, Classic 909

Earlier this year, Detroit mainstay Scott Grooves launched a series of records in homage to the Roland gear crucial to the fertilization of techno. February brought the first installment, DeTRoit 808 — the best record I’ve heard all year. In its original version, “808” drew from both the retro novelty of its creation (produced on the titular analog drum machine) and the fluid funk streaming from Grooves’ mind. A technical demonstration from a producer of truly singular sensibilities, “808” was simply stunning. A pair of “Dub Delay” mixes, credited to Panther, teased a breaking-dawn mist from Grooves’ pads. Though Panther’s modifications owed little to what’s typically called “dub techno,” their bottomless-abyss echo and windswept textures were just what I hope for whenever I encounter the genre tag. The second installment (of a planned trilogy) takes on the twenty-five-year-old Roland 909.

Marcello Napoletano, A Prescription Of Love

The catalog of Mathematics Recordings could be reductively portrayed as doggedly flying the colors for a very particular template of analog house sounds while, ideally, asserting new and distinctive individual artistic visions. A mix of seminal pioneers still plugging away and fresh faces mining similar territory, this Jamal Moss-operated label has always, at the very least, been one worth keeping tabs on. New recruit Marcello Napoletano’s background includes some left-field jazz piano, but his new record’s title hints at a far more apparent antecedent: vintage Chicago house from the likes of Ron Trent et al. However, Napoletano’s sound has a raw, unprocessed quality that owes as much to the likes of Adonis or Steve Poindexter (two of the aforementioned pioneers on the Mathematics roster).

John Roberts, Mirror

Though he sports one of the less memorable names in house music (as compared to, say, “Black Jazz Consortium,” “Mr. Fingers,” or “Sascha Dive”), John Roberts possesses one of the most distinctive and individualistic sounds of the moment. His tracks are wonders of acoustic sound and digital grid structure, of quirky detail and suffusive mood, of widescreen scope and hand-lettered modesty. All of which has made him the torch-bearer of the day for Hamburg’s Dial Records. “Mirror” finds that torch in good hands indeed.

BBH: Various Artists, The Airbag Craftworks Compilation

With Workshop’s thin run of singular tech-house releases really blossoming into something special over the last couple years, I suspect I wasn’t the only person who hit up the Discogs and MySpace info pools to figure out just how long Lowtec had been so weird sounding, precisely who Da Halz was and how much more Move D the hard drive could hold. Fortunately, Leipzig’s now-dormant Out To Lunch offers insight on all those inquiries and more. Effectively a “pre-Workshop,” there’s a sizable overlap in roster, which might be because they happen to be operated by the same dudes. In this discography, you’ll find records by the likes of Lowtec, Even Tuell, Alex Cortex, and Seidensticker, as well as a handful star-studded compilations. The most invaluable of these is 1999’s Airbag Craftworks Compilation, so named for Paul-David Rollmann’s line of bags and shirts.

Steinhoff & Hammouda, Touch

As one of the founders of the Smallville Records retail store and record label, Hamburg’s Julius Steinhoff has a proven ear for quality when it comes to forward-thinking dance music. The same refined taste can be detected in Steinhoff’s handful of collaborations with Abdeslam Hammouda (and, in this case, Dionne as well). Last year’s “Tonight Will Be Fine” EP was built of cottony hums, cascading melodies, and patient grooves. Their sophomore EP offers warm, deep house to get lost in — a perfect compliment to the immersive, deep techno of the year’s other Smallville release.

LWE Podcast 25: Peter Van Hoesen

His name on the tip of many a techno aficionado’s tongue, Brussels’ Peter Van Hoesen is accountable for quite a few of the year’s most heart-racing records. With their reanimated bass lines, unremitting kick drums, and penetrating atmospherics, his productions have a functionality that can’t be denied and a presence that can’t be shaken — the perfect pairing for the “dark, sweaty venues” he mentions in the interview below. Meanwhile, choice remix recruitment and the recent release of Donato Dozzy and Cio D’Or collaboration “Menta” have upgraded his fledgling Time To Express imprint from Van Hoesen home base to a growing leader in harder techno. The busy producer, DJ, and sound engineer generously took the time to talk with LWE about his label, his work with Brussels’ contemporary dance community, collaborating with Donato Dozzy, and his upcoming album. Our 25th podcast, meanwhile, offers an exclusive example of Van Hoesen’s propulsive live sets and an ideal primer on the producer’s latest work.

Bsmnt City Anymle Kontrol & Kyle Hall, The Perfekt Sin

You’ll find Kyle Hall’s records filed under “house,” but the music of this protégé of Rick Wilhite, Mike Huckaby, and Omar S has just as much to do with funk, jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. An unkempt braid of diverse influences and bright-eyed talent, this record — Hall’s second release for his own Wild Oats imprint and his fifth overall — resists categorizations as pat as “deep house.”