Author Archive: Peder Clark

Newworldaquarium, The Force (Âme Remixes)

A fellow LWE contributor, writing for a rival website, admitted to initially questioning the wisdom of tasking Âme to remix Newworldaquarium. Dismissing much of their output as merely “a number of decent house records”, the charge leveled at Messrs Kristian Beyer and Frank Wiedemann was that they lacked the caliber to add any new perspective to NWAQ’s singular vision. While most impartial observers may not share that particular view, the match up did seem a little curious at first glance. The German duo’s work is frequently characterized by its almost fussy nature; every element is finely tuned, layer upon layer, until the track resembles a bespoke, intricately designed coat in which every pocket, flap and button is immaculately detailed. NWAQ’s pieces are no less luxuriously made, but its more about the cut than the material; endlessly looping soft-as-cashmere grooves that you’re happy to listen to, well, endlessly. Certainly conflicting approaches, and to stretch the clothing analogy to fraying point, as head-scratching a collaboration as the recent A.P.C. x Supreme hook-up.

Patrick Cowley & Jorge Socarras, Catholic

To Italo disco and Hi-NRG heads, Patrick Cowley will always be revered for his definitive remixes of “I Feel Love” and CBS favorite “Hills of Kathmandu,” as well as megahits such as “Menergy” or Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” Despite this cult status, Patrick Cowley’s music hasn’t received the critical acclaim afforded to a certain other disco auteur. The reasons for this are quite apparent; while Cowley and Arthur Russell’s back stories are superficially similar (experimental backgrounds, disco and Larry Levan, tragically young AIDS victims), their music is not. Cowley’s music seems too epic, too gay, too flamboyant, or even too “disco” for hipster appropriation; I mean, you’ve seen your uncle dance to “Do You Wanna Funk” at a wedding, right? All that may be set to change now that the good people at Macro have unearthed Cowley’s incredible, late ’70s new wave project, Catholic, made with Indoor Life singer Jorge Socarras.

Jacob Korn, I Like The Sun (But Not On LCDs)

Gerd Janson first heard Jacob Korn’s “I Like The Sun (But Not On LCDs)” almost two and a half years back at a Red Bull Music Academy gig in Toronto. Not that you would know it, as the three tracks on the latest Running Back still sound box fresh and, in fashion-editorial speak, “on trend.” What that says about how far ahead of the curve Running Back are, or how retroactive house music is these days, or even how laborious the process of signing, pressing and promoting a track is, are matters best discussed elsewhere. What matters here (this is a review, right?), is that eventually the music got released, and it’s really rather good.

Audision, Surface To Surface

Among the Vince Watsons and Arne Weinbergs that slot comfortably into the “Neo-Detroit” section on the Hardwax website, Audision are probably one of the less well known. “Gamma Limit,” “Vanish” and their exceptional, bass-heavy remix of Tensnake’s “Around The House” are all minor classics in their hometown of Hamburg, but the pair have struggled for recognition elsewhere. This may be because they wear their influences so shamelessly on their sleeves. Why buy the copy when the original is easily available? Even their press blurb admits Niko Tzoukmanis and Tobias Schmid bonded over a shared love of Basic Channel and classic Detroit techno, inspirations that are frequently all too apparent on debut album Surface To Surface.

Various Artists, Total 10

It’s astonishing to think Kompakt is a mere ten years old. The shadow they have cast over the contemporary house and techno scene, not least through their distribution, never mind label releases, is gigantic. For younger DJs and fans, it’s hard to think of a world without the dotted imprint. Their Total series is a case in point: a summer without the compilation and accompanying party is difficult to contemplate. For casual fans, the CD issue offers the opportunity to catch up on the year’s hits, while the double, and now triple vinyl packs satisfy DJs with exclusives cuts and some venerable smashes of their own (Superpitcher’s “Mushroom,” DJ Koze’s “Mariposa,” and Jürgen Paape’s “So Weit Wie Noch Nie” for starters). They also illustrate the broad taste of the Kompakt collective, with tracks ranging from campy electro pop (Justus Köhncke, most likely) to teeth-grindingly hard techno (step forward Reinhard Voigt). This eclecticism is both Kompakt’s greatest strength and their weakness. Their determined and democratic stance that if any one of the label heads (Michael Mayer, Paape and Wolfgang Voigt) likes a track enough they will release it, means occasionally real stinkers can slip through the door that ruin things for everyone. Throughout Total 10, the suspicion that this hardly stringent quality control is set to an all time low is hard to shift. When Total 10 is bad, it is very bad. And when it is good, it is still far from producing any classics to rival those listed above.

Dimi Angélis & Jeroen Search/Lowtec, Our Life With The Wave/Meandyou.dub

Hype-mongers have been talking up Smallville Records recently as label of the year based on a mere two releases, “Silent State” from STL and “Touch” by Steinhoff & Hammouda. Not that they haven’t both been excellent, but it seems some are only just realizing what long term admirers have known ever since the first hand-stamped release in 2006. Unlike that other famous record shop cum label, Smallville haven’t embarked on the empire building Kompakt had achieved at the same point, but nonetheless they’ve left quite a mark on the techno and house landscape. With distinctive artwork provided by Stefan Marx and a quiet, unassuming air in keeping with their name, Smallville have steadily built up an extraordinarily back catalog that features, among others, Move D & Benjamin Brunn, Sven Tasnadi and Sten. Celebrating five years of the record shop, Smallville now showcase these talents across four slabs of vinyl and eventually a CD entitled And Suddenly It’s Morning. The compilation’s title gives a clue to its intentions — music so entrancing it becomes possible to lose all sense of time, until the dawn light begins to seep through the blinds. This split, between Lowtec and Dimi Angélis with Jeroen Search, is the first installment, and fully delivers on that promise.

Little White Earbuds Interviews Luke Slater

Luke Slater is, as they say, a man who needs no introduction. A stalwart of the international electronic scene for almost 20 years, much of contemporary techno owes Slater a debt of gratitude. Without his mid-90’s releases as Planetary Assault System, it’s hard to imagine the output of labels such as Sandwell District, Ostgut Ton or Do Not Resist The Beat! sounding quite the same. His shadow looms large over Toby Frith’s recent list of 20 classic UK techno records for FACT magazine, and his new album under the PAS moniker Temporary Suspension is a blistering tour de force; so it’s an apt time to ask Slater a few questions about his new album, his renewed love for DJing, and his future ventures into the world of ballet.

Bodycode, Immune

Alan Abrahams has the rare gift, at least in house and techno circles, of making music that sounds like no other. As Portable or Bodycode, his sound is instantly recognizable. A unique and often thrilling fusion that embraces 80s Chicago, 90s rave and 00s clicks ‘n’ cuts, Abrahams’ albums have nonetheless often struggled to produce the adrenaline rush that accompanies his jackhammer live show (ably documented in LWE Podcast 22). Indeed, having such an individual signature sound brings its own problems; once you’ve heard one track, you may feel you’ve heard them all. Familiarity breeds contempt, and his last album as Bodycode, The Conservation Of Electric Charge, and as Portable with Powers Of Ten, both sounded uncharacteristically flat. Abrahams’ solution to this malaise was to take to the microphone, and reinvent himself as a latter-day Jamie Principle. The move obviously worked, as last summer brought the veritable smash “Release” on Perlon, followed by the similarly provocative “The Emerald Life” for Musik Krause. Both were released under his nominally less floor-orientated Portable alias (tell that to the people dancing), but evidently the introduction of vocals has also reinvigorated his Bodycode moniker, as Immune is the finest record of his career.

Planetary Assault Systems, Temporary Suspension

A few years back, you couldn’t go to a club without seeing a “Rave Strikes Back” sticker on a DJ’s record box. An initiative set up by Freude-am-Tanzen, the idea was to revolt against the ahistorical “mnml” of the time and bring back “rough, unpolished techno,” in the words of its creators. On the website, they invited a number of Germany’s pre-eminent DJs (Robert Johnson’s Ata, Michael Mayer, DJ Koze) to chart their favorite rave anthems. Superficially, the planned revival appeared to have little tangible effect, save the unconnected splutterings of a D.O.A. scene in the less salubrious parts of south-east London (thanks, Klaxons).

LWE 2Q Reports: Top 5 Breakout Acts

One of the great joys of going to your local record shop (or, er, scrolling through menus of WhatPeoplePlay) is the anticipation, nay, expectation of discovering something or someone you had never hear of before. As Innervisions boss Dixon says of their bright young hope, Culoe de Song, “Sometimes tracks appear from somewhere you would never expect.” So far, 2009 has been no different, with a host of fresh and (more often than not) astonishingly young talent breaking through. Narrowing it down was a tough job, but here are five artists that have sent our radar haywire in the last six months.

Ada, Adaptations Mixtape #1

Back in 2004, Ada’s Blondie was the go-to album to persuade your girlfriend or boyfriend that techno really was “okay.” Borrowing from pop-house veterans Everything But The Girl (via a cover of “Each and Everyone”) and indie-rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs (“Maps”), Michaela Dippel broke out of the Cologne techno ghetto to achieve crossover critical, if not commercial, success. That’s not to say that she left behind her Rhineland roots — every one of Ada’s solo releases has been on a hometown label; and with frequent remixes from the cream of the Kompakt label, it was inevitable that one day she would release on the venerable imprint. Her music is a perfect fit for Kompakt with it’s emphasis on somehow euphoric and melancholic melodies, pastel-coloured but chunky bass-lines and cute pop-culture references. It’s a move that should ensure her the wider audience she deserves, and, as the title intimates, Adaptations Mixtape #1 is intended as an introduction from a trusted friend, but it’s a shame it’s such a collection of warmed-over odds and ends.

Norm Talley, The Journey

Norm Talley, along with “Beatdown Brothers” Delano Smith and Mike “Agent X” Clark, has been waiting a while for the world to catch up with him. Inspired and mentored by legendary Detroit disco DJ Ken Collier, Talley and his friends started spinning in the mid-80s, but somehow remained unknown outside the Motor City until the early 00s, when London-based label Third Ear Recordings released a compilation of their productions under the iconic title Detroit Beatdown (Volume One). Of course the remix package that followed spawned the massive Carl Craig remix of Theo Parrish’s “Falling Up”, but it also resulted in a Wax Poetics feature, appearances at Fabric, and influential European DJs such as Efdemin repping the warmer, slower Beatdown approach to house music.

Various Artists, In Loving Memory 4:4

The title of Styrax’s In Loving Memory series is both intriguing and provocative. Is the compilation intended as the final epitaph on techno’s gravestone? A nostalgic tribute to the pioneers of all things deep and dubby? A signpost to the mournful nature of much of the music contained in the four volumes? Or just a Moodymann reference?

Dplay, Huub Sand

Running Back, managed by journalist, DJ, occasional producer and all-round good guy Gerd Janson, had a great 2008, cherrypicking three superb records by Mark E, Move D and Radio Slave. Quality over quantity seemed to be the year’s motto, but in 2009 the Frankfurt-based label has managed the trick of combining the two, with four fine releases in the first half of this year: The Melchior-esque “Forward Snipping” by Robert Dietz, the frankly ridiculous limited edition “The Voice From Planet Love” from Precious System, and a forthcoming disco smasher by Hamburg’s Tensnake all have their merits, but the real pick of the bunch has been Dplay’s “Huub Sand.”

Tony Lionni|Radio Slave, Berghain 03|Part 1

The first extracts from Len Faki’s curate’s egg of a mix CD showcases an established figure, and a relative newcomer. Radio Slave falls into the former category (if you haven’t heard one of his pounding remixes in the last couple of years, you haven’t been near a nightclub), while Tony Lionni is the fresh face in the Berghain finishing school.

Culoe De Song, The Bright Forest

The back story to Culolethu Zulu’s debut release reads like a (energy drink sponsored, house music) fairytale. An eighteen year old kid who had previously never traveled outside his native South Africa, Culoe rocked up to the Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona with a bunch of his Afrobeat-infused deep house tracks, blew the competition away and returned home with a contract with one of Germany’s premier house labels.

Shake, Levitate Venice

Anthony “Shake” Shakir told Detroit’s Metro Times in 2002 he sometimes felt “like the invisible man of techno.” This rueful admission may well be partly true. While Shake’s first track was included on the compilation that coined the genre name (Techno: The New Dance Sound Of Detroit), he’s never had the high profile other Detroit first wavers have enjoyed. This outsider status is in some ways self imposed. Shake’s music has always been too idiosyncratic, too eclectic, too damn futuristic to fit in with any hype, trend or zeitgeist. Compare this to the single-minded approach of peers such as schoolmate Mike Huckaby or fellow drumming student Robert Hood, and it’s apparent that maybe a lack of a signature sound resulted in this long-term under appreciation. A typical Shake release, if there is such a thing, traverses genres, tempos and moods without even blinking. So it is with “Levitate Venice,” his first record for some four years.

Ben Klock, One

The early bird hype on One hinted it was very self-consciously an “album.” Some suggested Ben Klock had discarded the Berghain-tested stompers that made his name for a more mature sound, perhaps even an attempt at a grand artistic statement. Alarm bells rang: What this often means is an album with a couple of killer tracks at best and a lot of filler. Surely Klock hadn’t gone soft and released an album of downbeat noodlings and scrappy experiments?