Little White Earbuds February Charts


Chart courtesy of the Economist

01. Burial, “Kindred” [Hyperdub] (buy)
It was a storm so big you could see it coming for miles. For a week after Burial’s Kindred EP, debuted on Hyperdub’s site (smart move, by the way), the music press gushed torrents of praise usually reserved for Radiohead albums. Now that most publications have gotten it out of their system — and as a great admirer of this EP — I’ve pondered why Burial’s work triggers such effusive reviews. Thinking back on his catalog, the answer is not exactly a secret: with nearly every release, Burial tends to flip switches in listeners’ brains, awakening them to musical possibilities not yet considered. The Kindred EP manages to flick many such switches. Three suites composed of movements are bridged by perfectly integrated vinyl crackles and dropouts that create a distinctly physical aural experience in a digital-only format. Burial expands on what many expect from dance music structures, perhaps most successfully on the title track. Despite legions of producers who’ve adopted his signature pitch-shifted vocals, his are so masterfully chosen and arranged in the echoing, ethereal atmosphere they feel renewed. Churning inward as if made of flowing lava, its bass tone emerges from static as if it were a growling guitar tone pushed through a blown full stack. The thoughtful clatter of his signature percussion bridges the movements, even if faintly in the wispy last third. This blurb could have just easily featured the more house-compatible “Ashtray Wasp,” but in truth it’s the whole EP that’s worth listeners’ time. Don’t let a deluge of hype keep you from enjoying one of 2012’s early highlights, because it’s likely to maintain that position for the rest of the year.

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02. Blondes, “Business” (John Roberts Remix)
[Rvng Intl.] (buy)

Over the last year or so John Roberts has exercised his creative voice through remixes rather than original material, although the stunning results were far more original than remix. My desire to hear new material from him (which is apparently on the way) is only strengthened by the inventiveness of his remixes. His latest is of Blondes’ “Business” from their remix album, and it’s a rhythmically challenging jaunt which emphasizes his clever arrangements and utterly vivid tones and timbres. The remix manages to seem so loose with its hand drums tumbling outward and phantasmagorical melody shifting front and center, yet its impeccable timing and judicious use and spread of elements feels utterly controlled. It seems purpose built for that blurry-eyed hour at which reality has faded from view and its untraditional patterns snap things into focus. Join me in anticipating John Roberts next record with this aperitif.

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03. Huxley, “Let It Go” [Hypercolour]
When you consider the sheer volume of releases coming from Hypercolour and its always growing family of sub-labels, its managers Alex Jones, Jamie Russell, and Ste Roberts have an unusually high batting average for quality. The latest to arrive on Hypercolour proper is by their compatriot Huxley and was apparently signed on its performance inside an ice cream truck to five people. “Let It Go” is, of course, even more impressive in proper settings, including headphones. Its sound design, cut up by expertly timed hi-hats and tom programming, feels full when the vocals move into the foreground. Yet when the charging bass line moves forward to be its partner there’s ample room for its swollen notes, making the whole track feel bigger and more commanding. And when taken with the lusty delirium of the vocals, it’s one of those tracks that brushes aside whatever’s playing in your head to take its place. I give it a month before another Hypercolour release is vying for that same place.

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04. Sanys, “Ice VII” [Downfall Theory]
Although his name won’t ring a bell for most techno fans, Sanys Etiku plays many roles in Russia’s techno scene. As the proprietor of online shop bassbin.ru and the record labels Etiku World Recordings and Downfall Theory — not to mention the main artist on the latter — he’s catering to Russian techno nerds from every angle. Sanys’ music, however, has a more universal appeal, in particular the “Ice VII” from his Daily Situation EP. Clawing its way out of the grimiest St. Petersburg basement with hissing ride cymbals between its teeth, its enervated melodies are rendered both as slapped out percussion riffs and a roiling synth tone that rears its head like a cobra, ready to strike. Hurtling along at a rigorous pace, this peak-time monster evokes the physicality of Marcel Dettmann cuts and the buzzing timbres of Morphosis sides; it could very well reside in either man’s crate. It’s a combination that ought to pull Sanys onto the international stage.

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05. Rivet, “Sleepwalker” [Kontra-Musik] (buy)
That Adam Rivet made his debut on what appears to be another sub-label of Frozen Border, the naughty Naked Index, speaks to both the nature and quality of his tracks. Brought back again for its third release, the UK producer set the tone: his music bears the flinty toughness of Frozen Border’s techno but it has a housey swing and makes more allowances for overt melodic passages. After finishing the year by appearing twice in Scuba’s DJ-Kicks mix, Rivet makes a strong mark on 2012 with Amid The Roar for Kontra-Musik. My favorite cut is the anything-but-somnambulant “Sleepwalker.” Its floor scuffing percussion digs in deep but is leavened by subtle hand drums and ducking bass lines. It rears back when an apparition-like melody drifts into frame, vaguely shaped to resemble voices, or perhaps a string quartet — too removed from reality to tell and too arresting to care. Comparisons will be made to Burial, but that’s only because like that revered producer, “Sleepwalker” moves a person in more ways than one.

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06. Obsolete Music Technology, “Mmmmmusic” [Emphasis Recordings] (buy)
07. Maxmillion Dunbar, “Polo” (Extended Version) [Live At Robert Johnson] (buy)
08. Demdike Stare, “Ishmael’s Intent”
[Modern Love] (buy)

09. Objekt, “Cactus” [Hessle Audio] (buy)
10. Ital, “Privacy Settings” [Planet Mu] (buy)


Staff Charts:

Nick Connellan
01. Pittsburgh Track Authority, “Untitled” [Pittsburgh Tracks]
02. Steve Moore, “Ancient Shorelines” [Long Island Electrical Systems]
03. Omar S And Ob Ignitt, “Wayne County Hill Cop’s” (Omar S Mix)
[FXHE Records]
04. Frak, “999” [Kontra-Musik]
05. Burial, “Loner” [Hyperdub]
06. Vince Watson, “The Journey” [Everysoul]
07. Darko Esser, “Slightly Disturbed” (Sandwell District Remix)
[Balans Records]
08. George Lanham, “Cambridge Offensive” [Pareto Park]
09. October, “String Theory” (Legowelt Remix) [Simple Records]
10. Voices From The Lake, “S.T.” (VTFL Rework) [Prologue]

Steve Kerr
01. Shed, “RQ-170” [50 Weapons]
02. Conforce, “24” (Gesloten Cirkel Remix) [Clone Basement Series]
03. Blondes, “Wine” [Rvng Intl.]
04. Actress, “Actress Meets Shangaan” [Honest Jon’s Records]
05. San Laurentino, “Forbidden Fruit” [Live At Robert Johnson]
06. Alfabet, “Too Shy” [Rush Hour Recordings]
07. Najem Sworb, “Particules” [Métis Recordings]
08. Juju & Jordash, “African Flower” (Cosmic Dub) [Dekmantel]
09. Cabaret Voltaire, “Invocation” [Mute]
10. Geeeman, “Fire Extinguisher” [Clone Jack For Daze Series]

Chris Miller
01. Maxmillion Dunbar, “Polo (Extended Version)”
[Live At Robert Johnson]
02. Demdike Stare, “Dauerlinie” [Modern Love]
03. Shed, “RQ-170” [50Weapons]
04. Peter van Hoesen, “Transitional State 2” [Time to Express]
05. Slant Azymuth, “Gray Equidae” [Pre-Cert Home Entertainment]
06. Conforce, “24” (Gesloten Cirkel Remix) [Clone Basement Series]
07. Yør, “ABCM” [Purple Maze]
08. Vapauteen, “Mediate” [L.I.E.S]
09. Mark Ernestus presents Jeri-Jeri with Mbene Diatta Seck, “Dub Dafa Nekh” [Ndagga]
10. Todd Terje, “Inspector Norse” [Smalltown Supersound]

Jordan Rothlein
01. Maxmillion Dunbar, “Polo” (Extended Version)
[Live At Robert Johnson]
02. Burial, “Ashtray Wasp” [Hyperdub]
03. Pittsburgh Track Authority, “Untitled” [Pittsburgh Tracks]
04. Eamon Harkin, “Rigor Music” (Roman Flugel Remix) [Throne of Blood]
05. James Mason, “Nightgruv” (Unreleased Longer Edit) [Rush Hour Recordings]
06. B-Tracks, “Come Back” [Supply Records]
07. Kyoka, “HADue” (Atom™ Remix) [Raster-Norton]
08. Secret Circuit, “Nebula Sphynx” [Beats In Space Records]
09. Simoncino, “WereHouse” [Echovolt Records]
10. Omar S And Ob Ignitt, “Wayne County Hill Cop’s” (Omar S Mix)
[FXHE Records]

Harry Sword
01. Voices From The Lake, “Twins In Virgo” [Prologue]
02. Krisp, “Lovestomp” [Sex Tags UFO]
03. Shed, “The Praetorian” [50 Weapons]
04. Ugandan Methods, “Beneath The Black Arch” [Ancient Methods]
05. Actress, “Actress Meets Shangaan” [Honest Jon’s Records]
06. David Cain, “April” [Trunk Records]
07. Hype Williams, “Hype Williams Meets Shangaan Electro” [Honest Jon’s]
08. Mark Ernestus presents Jeri-Jeri with Mbene Diatta Seck, “Mbeuguel Dafa Nekh” [Ndagga]
09. Objekt, “Cactus” [Hessle Audio]
10. Guido, “Micro X” [State Of Joy]

Joseph Hallam  on March 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Sleepwalker is very strong.

kuri  on March 4, 2012 at 1:39 AM

Sanys tearing it up on this 2nd Downfall Theory. And that Roberts remix might be the best thing he’s done yet.

Rod  on March 15, 2012 at 5:43 PM

WOW! didn’t know that there’s a new Burial out. GREAT. thanks a lot for this hint. it’s a must.

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