Spectrum – Brazil
Following on from the David Morley mix of Kinetic, here is one of Morley’s early productions for R&S (in conjunction with Renaat Vandepapeliere, who is somehow my “friend” on Facebook), from 1990 and much less ambient than that Kinetic remix.
This is genre-defining Belgian Techno that absolutely rocked the clubs at the time. It’s got everything you could possibly want from a Belgian anthem:
BIG STABS! – MONSTER BASSLINE! – WHISTLES! – HANDCLAPS! – SIRENS! – HUGE CLUB ATMOSPHERE!
It featured on Reactivate Volume 1 – The Belgian Techno Anthems – yet another great compilation LP… seems to be all I bang on about these days! It was big with the Cardiff crew back then, and you can see why – every track is an absolute belter. If you dig this sound then go out there and get yourself a copy.
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Pigbag – Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag
The recent outbreak of ‘swine flu’ had me thinking about pig-themed tracks and to be honest, I couldn’t think of many good ones. Pink Floyd’s “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”, despite a welcome dig at Mary Whitehouse, is the weakest track on their Animals lp and the Beatles’ “Piggies” is a similarly duff component of the ridiculously uneven White Album.
Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is classic heavy metal, but a bit too much for 8.30am on Sunday morning.
And so I was left with Pigbag – a short-lived early 80s British funk outfit who achieved huge success with this single in 1982 before splitting up the year after. The 7” mix of this is reasonably easy to get hold of on umpteen “best of the 80s” compilations, and the reissue of Pigbag’s album Dr Heckle and Mr Jive on BMG in 2000 featured the 7” mix as an extra track. But I’m not sure if the 12” mix is still available elsewhere. Which is a shame, ‘cos it’s great.
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Ray Charles – It’s Not Easy Being Green
Here’s a lovely, soothing number from Brother Ray to ease you out of the weekend. No points for guessing that this is a cover of the Kermit classic. However in Ray’s hands, this kid’s song is transformed into something truly beautiful. One can only guess at what motivated him to cover it. Whether you hear it as a song about the environment, or about prejudice or simply about being a frog, its certain to give you goosebumps, and perhaps even bring a tear to the eye.
The album that features this track is entitled ‘Renaissance’. It also has a great versions of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Living For The City’ and the Randy Newman song ‘Sail Away’. As far as I’m aware the album has never been reissued on CD but Hal and I were lucky enough to come across a vinyl copy at record fair last year.
Sweet dreams everyone….
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Minimalistic Source – Minimalistic Overboost
I find Easter a good time for dusting off some of the old early 90s hard trance-techno and banging me head a little. Here’s something from the early days of Pete Namlook’s Fax label, based in Germany. I’ve previously featured only the ambient side of Fax – which is the majority of the label’s output – but it started life doing more beaty forms of dance music. A lot of trance from the early days of the genre, when it was (IMHO) at its most exciting (Sequential, 4 Voice etc.) plus some harder stuff like this.
‘Minimalistic Source’ (possibly named after the Moog Source synth? Specialists will spot a pattern here in the names like Sequential, 4 Voice etc.) comprised Pete Namlook and the oddly named Pascal F.E.O.S. They only released about 3 twelve-inch singles and never made it to a long player. Still – excellent stuff from the early days of the label.
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Lazer Worshippers – Lazer Worshippers Theme
Some Monday Morning Mellowness for you here to ease you into the week, although this track is really better suited to the kind of early morning you have after being up all night! From back in 1993, the tune opens with ethereal melodies and whalesong before a lovely laid-back breakbeat drops.
And that’s about all there is to it, really – the spacey ambience is layered with strings and various nice sounds, the beat drops out and comes back in again a couple of times and the whole thing is very pleasant indeed.
The Housemaster Boyz and The Rude Boy of House – House Nation
Just got a mo to drop you this classic Chicago house track from way back in 1986. Sparse, deep and dark, House Nation had the dubious honour, (along with M/A/R/R/S’s Pump Up The Volume) of being one of the tunes they played during the “speed session” at Cardiff’’s now no-longer-extant Ice Arena back when it first opened. (The “speed session” was when anyone in the hired blue welly skates had to leave the ice for a bit while all the big lads with hockey skates went round fast and pulled spray-stops at the crowd.)
Despite being a totally tough and underground-sounding track this made it to number 8 in the UK charts in 1987. And despite from the name of the artist you would think at least three people contributed to the making of the track (one would imagine at least two “Housemaster Boyz”, plus one “Rude Boy Of House”), according to Discogs it is the work of just one – Keith Farley, better known as Farley “Jackmaster” Funk.
Acid Scout – 4 Degrees
I was talking in the pub earlier this week to Alboy about a record he bought a long time ago by Acid Scout, the recording pseudonym of Richard Bartz, who according to discogs.com:
became one of the founders of “Munich techno” – a powerful, groovy, and highly influential variant of what was then called “funky techno” and is nowadays established as “minimal”.
The Acid Scout release that Alboy had at the time (this would have been 1994 or thereabouts) was (I think) the 12” release of “4 degrees”. Back in ‘94, the name “Acid Scout” seemed amusing – still does, in fact. Not quite sure why. I liked the track back then because it had a slightly naive, old-school feel to it, whilst still kickin’ hard at high bpm.
If the truth be told, this week was the first time I’d thought about Acid Scout in many a year. On return from the pub to my computer, an optimistic search for “Acid Scout” on emusic produced the album Safari – containing said “4 degrees”. No idea if this is the same as the 12” mix but it is enough to give you the general idea of what was doing it for us 15 years ago.
I like it.
And the rest of the album is very good too!
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Just a little review here of a great album, of which I feel compelled to write …... the album being Rebecca Closure’s (Wikipedia Entry) “Bonio Bonio Bonio”, an album so good she named it thrice. It’s due out on iTunes shortly, and you can listen to most of it on the Rebecca Closure Last.fm page here and Bonio Bonio Bonio Last.fm page, and also the MySpace page
So, anyway dissecting Bonio x 3 … the album starts with the fiery “You’re So Cheap”, an electro-latin curiosity that lets you know what you’re in for, the album keeps up with the good shit from then on. Next track “40,000” will please fans of Kenny Larkin or any early Detroit techno from the late 80s, and “Dangerous I Know” has shades of Juan Atkins/Model 500 “No UFOs”, albeit with its own more, how shall we say, specific and inimitable Rebecca Closure stamp…
“Face is the Place” keeps up the halycon-days-of-house feel, the lyrics being loud and clear about the location of where to put one’s booty. “La La La” kicks booty, rather than requesting where it’s put – a top track that’s aggressive but grooved-out in equal measure. Following, “Dirty Jungle Ginger” encapsulates the album cover concept, and has some of the finest examples of Closure’s trademark ‘cresto’ lyrics (‘cresto’ being the term for the invented vowel/consonant rhythmo-language that she uses in her music)
“Captain Bailey” is the crowdpleaser, complete with Black Lace-esque ‘come on, row!’ call to arms in the lyrics. The water’s rushing in, so you better row … especially once the Van Halen-esque-with-bongos ending comes in…(!)... and, once you’ve finished your rowing, have a rest and listen to the more 1990s referencing ‘straight up’ old skool dance track, in the form of “Fool”...which sets one up nicely for the luminous icing on this particular sonic cake, closing track “Key Largo” with it’s MONSTER Kraftwerkian keyboard riff, which evokes carefree dancing into the night on a Florida beach at sunset. YEAH!
So, if you like originality with specific reference points (hey, if that makes any sense, which it doesn’t), from Black Lace to Black Dog Productions to Willie Colon to Siouxsie Sioux, then by all means do yourself a favour and pick up “Bonio Bonio Bonio” when it comes out on iTunes!
also…further to this… you can…
(a) still buy the old Hotklub EP on iTunes here
Peace out peeps!
Mental Cube – Q (Santa Monica Mix)
BREAKING NEWS… BREAKING NEWS… BREAKING NEWS…
Great news! Our very own P.Rice & Doodle D this morning became parents for the second time – they have a new little girl, although I have scant information for you beyond that. I’m sure everyone will want to join me in sending them Congratulations and all good wishes!
And so to commemorate the occasion, a tune that captures the kind of elation they’ll be feeling once they get over the initial tiredness (so probably in about 18 years or so!), and one of the Future Sound Of London’s finest moments (albeit under a different pseudonym) – the enigmatically titled Q. I’ve gone for the Santa Monica Mix, perhaps against my better judgement as the original totally kicks. This mix doesn’t differ hugely, but has brighter production overall, most notably sharper sounding bleeps.
Either way it’s a stone cold killer techno/rave track that still gives me goosebumps when I hear it.
X-103- “Thera” and “Eruption”
Prompted by my weekly broadcast from HQ at Tresor, on stardate 15.12.08, Probe Alboy01 was plotted on a trajectory to planet ICA to collect data from the audio/visual transmission of X-102’s X102 Discover the Rings of Saturn and research Jeff Mills- the extra-terrestrial life form responsible in part for it’s weird emanations.
(Basically, I went to a posh art cinema to watch the new X102 movie and hear what the inestimable Mr Mills had to say about it)
The movie was very fine- lots of great shots of the ringed giant and obviously a killer soundtrack. Forgive me banging on at considerable length about all this, but Jeff Mills is a personal hero of mine, and I believe most of the rest of the crew here at DC- he co-founded Underground Resistance records, and has blown my mind more consistently than any other techno dj/producer (with the possible exception of Mad Mike, UR’s other founder). If you like techno, and dont have the album, you need to rectify immediate-like. I’ve seen him play many times, but it was pretty awesome to see him just chatting about what he thinks about music and things.
So to report a bit about that…
The after-film interview was kind of bizarre, carried out as it was between a high art commentator (whose name I didnt catch), Jeff and a bunch of lairy low-brow ex-Lost techno-heads in the audience. The interviewer painfully over-theorised and neologised his way through the intro, dialogue and q&a, with much talk about the relevance of space travel and alienation in afrodiasporic music- citing Sun Ra (fair do’s) and Hendrix (who was pretty spaced out, but never wrote about no space travel as far as I know). Our Jeff needs little encouragement to wax opaquely about the theories behind his music, so the result was completely befuddling for everyone involved, including Jeff, but with the possible exception of the interviewer, who nodded and mmmm’d enthusiastically throughout (but was probably blagging it), proceeding as it did along the lines of Jeff’s earnest but often baffling sleeve notes, eg:
“As barriers fall around the world, the need to understand others and the way they live, think and dream is a task nearly impossible to imagine without theory and explanation. And as we approach the next century with hope and prosperity, this need soon becomes a neccessity rather than a recreational urge. Theories and subjects of substance is the elementary element that fuels the minds within our AXIS.”
The whole bit combined to make little or no apparent sense until about 10 mins in, when asked about the concept behind the piece, Jeff said “the rings of Saturn, kind of look like a record”. Relieved at having heard something that pretty definitely did make sense, the crowd cracked up laughing. Most likely having thought that he’d been making sense for some time, Jeff looked a bit taken aback.
Turns out that they took this looking like the rings of saturn pretty seriously- Jeff revealed that much of the X102 record was made using manual tape edits to create the abrupt transitions within many of the tracks, to reflect the transition between the rings. Imagine that nowadays- actually cutting a magnetic tape with a razor, sticking bits together and then etching it onto vinyl! It also prompted them to play around with locked grooves on the vinyl.
My favourite bits of the interview shed some light on who did what:
X-102 was Rob Hood, Jeff Mills and Mad Mike Banks. X-103, whose track is posted here was just Hood and Mills- you’ve got the beautiful title track Thera, followed by the brutal, pounding Eruption. They dont come much tougher than that- apologies for the skippage at the end, but my copy is mashed from over-use :)
All the information on Saturn was researched by Jeff- he explained that Mike sent him down the local library, because they didnt have the internet in them days. Crazy to think about all that’s happened just over the last 15 years, and the wealth of info we can now access just sitting on our butts (see the links below). All Jeff could find at the time were a few pictures and high school science books. He said they had to use their imagination to fill in the gaps- which seems to have worked out pretty well.
In terms of the composition, Mike did all the “proper” keyboard arrangements, and Jeff did all the out-there stuff. Rob had “a load of little boxes”, but no real idea about how to compose, so they just had him do the minimal tracks and make spacey noises.
The film is actually called “X102 rediscover the rings of Saturn”, and was inspired by the landing of the Huygens probe on the moon Titan- which if you think about it, is pretty inspiring. Jeff and Mike and Rob got together again to make some new tracks to “process the new information” and the film was put together too.
In typical style (any idea how he got his nickname?) Mad Mike called one of the new tracks- the only one not to directly reference one of Saturn’s moons or rings- “The Grandfather Paradox [Dr Mallet’s Theory]”. When asked about the origins of the name, Jeff started out all confident like, but halfway through realised that although Mike had explained it to him and it had made perfect sense at the time, he actually had no real idea at all of what he was on about. Having looked it up, probably fair do’s (see links below).
My absolute favourite moment of the night was when Jeff- who really is one of the sweetest, most approachable of all the techno originators- was asked why he was messing around with film in a cinema, and not making us dance, which is what he does best. He explained that he had spent an awful lot of time with most of the people in the room and felt that we were all “somewhat connected”- he wanted to try something different out for us, to take us in a new direction.
Having spent a fair few hours in Jeff’s company myself, I really appreciated the sentiment and the man’s all round humbleness, the inspiration he draws from heaven and earth, and his honest, unpretentious ambition to continue to innovate and explore.
All power to your elbow, Jeff- as stars go, youre an absolute super-giant.
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