31.8.09

Milk Crate Crawler: Tirk Recordings


Tirk Recordings, a U.K.-based independent, is one of those labels that is really good at spotting musical trends and digging up new talent, but not the best at extending careers much past a 12" or two. For instance, Tirk's biggest success in a way was signing New Young Pony Club―one of their first acts―and putting out their debut single, "Ice Cream" (a song that now finds itself being licensed to a myriad of commercials and soundtracks). They also put out Fujiya and Miyagi's breakthrough album, Transparent Things, and the seminal Greg Wilson edits compilation, Credit To the Edit. Taste-makers, yes; big-time capitalist business men, no.

Tirk is renowned for their edits and disco-leaning acts, though, too, and today I present you with a nice slice of their choice material that doesn't have to do with fictitious Japanese kraut-rockers and common desserts.

First is Architeq, a "space dub" one-man act who will spook you out just as much as he will soothingly hypnotize you. "Bird Of Prey" is certainly his best song, but I also quite like "Packard," a slightly heavier jam off of his Birds Of Prey EP. I also really enjoy the Kelpe remix of "Birds Of Prey," which can be found on the Birds Of Prey Versions EP.

I also recently grabbed Tirk02, a retrospective compilation of the label's best stuff since 2006. Arcade Lover's "Fantasy Lines" is a standout disco foot-tapper for sure; the Hercules and Love Affair remix of Chaz Jankel's "Get Yourself Together" is a beautiful, funky soul tune that will definitely remind you of Michael Jackson's better material; D-Pulse's "Highway to Heaven" is an invigorating yet mesmerizing disco swirl; and Toby Tobias' "Chick Chick" is a sexy, seductive after-hours minimal club jam that will certainly turn you on.

Sift through the back catalogue and grab some wax right over at Tirk Recordings' homepage.

Architeq - Birds Of Prey (Original Mix)

Architeq - Packard

Architeq - Birds Of Prey (Kelpe Remix)

Arcade Lover - Fantasy Lines

Chaz Jankel - Get Yourself Together (Hercules and Love Affair Hercbump Mix)

D-Pulse - Highway to Saturn

Tobias Toby - Chick Chick


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30.8.09

Sorcerer Works His Magic


Let's go back to Balearic once again, alright?

Sorcerer―an S.F. native who works with Hatchback under the alias Windsurf on occasion―is probably the best artist within the so-called "yacht-rock" offshoot of swirling, cosmic Balearic jammin'. The truly magical musician doesn't solely work with electronic―a huge refreshment to say the least―making sure to sample loads of guitar, bass, and analog synths he himself has recorded, and positions his tunes as less of an homage to early innovators'―who were essentially making more chill and meandering kraut rock―and more of an aural illustration of what today's meditative, peaceful, and relaxing music ought to be. I must say that he's made quite a good case for his style over the course of his two-album career that's been generously sprinkled with collaborative side projects. Buy his stuff over at Tirk Recordings.

But before you shell out a couple dozen bucks, check out three instant classics from Sorcerer's latest full-length, Neon Leon. Each has a different character of its own, but boy is the LP a homogenized journey through soul-soothing psychedelic wanderings.

That guy's done a few computer-generated videos that look sort of like step-cousins of Tron. Watch the ones for "Chemise" and Push 2 Freeze right now!

Sorcerer - Ride the Serpent

Sorcerer - Shaolin Style

Sorcerer - El Condor


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29.8.09

Milk Crate Crawler: Mule Musiq


One of the hippest parts of Tokyo these days is the relatively subdued, quiet, and absolutely beautiful Nakameguro, which is smack-dab in the middle of Meguro, a district to the southwest of Shibuya. The Meguro River is one of the area's landmark destinations for its cherry blossom-lined banks. Being in Nakameguro isn't like being in the rest of Tokyo―it's too consciously, deliberately placid; it can honestly be quite jarring upon your first arrival. No wonder Cornelius made it his base-of-operations after the Shibuya-kei scene effective died.

One musical entity that truly internationally stands out that just so happens to be based out of Nakameguro is Mule Musiq, a four-year-old minimal techno-leaning label founded by Sapporo native Kuniyuki Takahashi. Takahashi has released a lot of his own stuff on M.M. under the names Kuni and Kuniyuki, but he's also released stuff by Mock & Toof, Force Of Nature, DJ Sprinkles, Isolée, and, believe it or not, Lydia Lunch. Their stuff is distributed through Kompakt, so if you'd like to browse through the catalogue, head over here to do so. Mule Musiq also has two subsidiaries: Mule Electronic (the label that dropped International Pony, for example) and Endless Flight (Betty Botox, I'm Starting To Feel Okay Vol. 3).

I've been a fan of Mule's for a while now, but it wasn't until I met DJ Cosmo that I finally decided to write something on the label. Cosmo appears on I'm Starting To Feel Okay Vol. 3 as Wild Rumpus, a duo comprising of the current Londoner and the ex-Captain Beefheart guitar god Gary Lucas. Download their hypnotic, psychedelic jam "Kazan" below.

I'm also giving you all a few samples of what September holds. Mark E's "Gunstone" is the b-side for an Endless Flight 12"; Ribn's consuming minimal ditty, "Lum Lum," is the b-side for a Mule Electronic 12"; and Culoe de Song's more tribal banger, "Inspiration," is the b-side for a Mule Musiq 12". How's that for a September sample pack!?

Wild Rumpus - Kazan

Mark E - Gunston

Ribn - Lum Lum

Culoe De Song - Inspiration


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26.8.09

I Got A Fever


I posted about Rekids a little while ago, but I thought it'd be fun to bring up the wonderful Cabin Fever Trax 12" series that's put out by their unofficial sub label, RKDS. Each single includes "revamped" edits of old, obscure house jams, and they seem to be doing pretty well as the sixth installation just came out in June (buy it at Phonica).

House is a genre that fades in and out of favor with me... I think this is largely due to the fact that it tends to be pretty heavy-handed and aggressive whereas something like disco (oh, how vague you are) necessitates a certain amount of organic warmth and elasticity. House, when done well, can be really engaging in a natural, almost psychedelic way, though, and when I get tunes of that variety, I can only love them to pieces.

Here's the b-side of Jacques Renault's Cabin Fever Trax Vol. 6 12". It's more of a after-hours comedown chiller, but there's still loads of rhythm in there to keep you spinning on the dancefloor in the middle of the night as well.

Jacques Renault - Cabin Fever Trax - Let's Play House


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25.8.09

LCD Soundsystem's Jogger Jams, Remixed


Before I begin this post, I must tell you all that it's my 1,400th. Without realizing this, I decided to write about LCD Soundsystem's 45:33 Remixes LP today. The significance? I've professed my love for James Murphy, DFA Records, and everything its adherents and associates touch since, well, the beginning of BBBD, really. (I just searched through the archives and found dozens of mentions of his name dating back to 2005, my first year.) Coincidentally, I chose to write about one of my faves for this landmark post!

45:33 Remixes is, as you've probably guessed by now, a remix album/compilation of the jogging "soundtrack" Murphy and company made for Nike. Editors include Runaway, Prins Thomas, Theo Parrish, Padded Cell, and Pilooski, so know that you're in for a good one here.

Each artist pulled whatever they wanted from the three-quarter-hour jam and produced a slimmer edit that embodies their personal style while retaining a good chunk of LCD. The Prins Thomas version is a spooky, deep house foot-tapper that will wholly hypnotize you; the Padded Cell mix cleverly incorporates J.M.'s vocals and is much more invigorated yet still pretty shimmery, spacey; the Pilooski one is quite deep as well, but bouncey and somewhat humorous. I'll keep the rest a surprise for you folks.

LCD Soundsystem - 45:33 (Prins Thomas Diskomiks)

LCD Soundsystem - 45:33 (Padded Cell Remix)

LCD Soundsystem - 45:33 (Pilooski Remix)


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24.8.09

Milk Crate Crawler: West End Records № 1


I've talked quite a bit about record labels in my artist-focused D posts, I've noticed, so it only makes sense to commence a new series of pieces that centers on those companies instead of simply dwelling on the singers and groups that resided on their rosters.

While I'm starting with a disco label, I can't promise I'll stick to that genre or even the broad category of dance music. Bear that in mind.

West End Records was founded in 1976 by disco pioneers Mel Cheren (R.I.P.) and Ed Kushins who named it after the area in which their office was located (the Manhattan theater district). (Strangely enough, many disco "institutions" were located in or around the building West End operated out of, most notably Studio 54.)

The label is typically―if not famously―associated with two things: First, the great DJ and producer Larry Levan, and second, the popular dance club Paradise Garage. Levan produced, mixed, remixed, and edited for all sorts of people in the 70s and 80s (Salsoul Records' artists being one of his main clients), but West End historically comes off as being his home―so let's start with some Levan!. [Note: West End Records only officially closed its doors in 2007 after Cheren's unfortunate passing. Legal and personal arguments, inner-turmoil episodes, and general disagreements, though, crippled the company through the 80s and 90s.]

With W.E., Levan did a load of work with Taana Gardner, a disco singer who had a slightly thinner yet throatier timber than most vocalists of the time who used their talents in flashier ways, whipping notes all over the place and adding frills to just about every syllable. Two of my favorites are 1979's "Work That Body" and the buttery 1981 jam "Heartbeat." Gardner's material tended to be of the slower variety, which I think is great considering the fact that so much of 1970s disco tends to be of the hyper-active variety. Gardner's stuff is normally (always?) below 100 bpms in terms of tempo.

Karen Young was another W.E. singer who actually scored the company their best-selling 12" with "Hot Shot," a much more rhythmic, pumped-up, bass-heavy all-night-boogie-inducer that will get in your ear and never leave. I love how it incorporates this really unusual swing jazz instrumental track. It's no wonder that it sold over 800,000 copies. (That's a lot for a disco single, but many, many singles hit that mark over the years. You can guess why so many record stores, garage sales, and thrift shops are absolutely loaded with disco!)

I'll sign out for now, but rock the Mondays away to these four tunes and expect more West End samples soon enough.

Taana Gardner - Work That Body

Taana Gardner - Heartbeat

Taana Gardner - Heartbeat (Party Mix)

Karen Young - Hot Shot


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20.8.09

Tally-ho, Balihu!


Daniel Wang―an out-of-this-world DJ, producer, and vintage synth/studio gear nerd of epic proportions of Taiwanese descent―has been pumping out some of his best work ever over the past few years ("Berlin Sunrise," "Echo By Midnight," "Roller Giggle") on various labels (notably Ghostly International), but his earlier works―the stuff he created in the early 90s through the turn of the millennium―is often overlooked. Fortunately, thanks to the forthcoming release of Daniel Wang Presents Balihu: Rush Hour that will no longer be the case.

Way back in 1993, the soon-to-be-NYC-dweller started Balihu Records in an effort to combat the "increasingly unmusical soundtrack of modern nightlife" and put out his own material. (Balihu's discography is 90% Wang's work.) The lanky DJ is often described as being a disco producer, but I find his tunes to be a little too atmospheric, refined, and house-leaning to confidently dub him as such. His music flows like a misty seascape at night (or, in the case of "Berlin Sunrise," lifts up into the sky like a consuming, fiery sun over a urban sprawl on the verge of a morning's bustle); but it's just too clever and purposefully crafted to be lazily confined to disco crates.

That said, some of his stuff―like "Dancing With the Best" or the infamous "Like Some Dream"―tend to veer pretty near to being straight-up disco. Fat bass riffs; spacey, sometimes tribal rhythms; and ear-catching synth hooks make for some great discotheque dance floor jams.

Here're a few tunes from Balihu: Rush Hour. Enjoy and be sure to reserve a copy today.

Daniel Wang - Dancing With the Best

Daniel Wang - On the Moon


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19.8.09

"Ground Control To Major Tom"


We need more fun summer songs that aren't by idiot Top 40 artists. I think James Curd is one such genius.

Signed to DFA, he, with the help of one hell of a wonderful vocalist, pumps out some of the most exhilarating hip-hop disco (or whatever the hell you want to call it) you can imagine. The sultry yet energetic funk bass drives along with the syrupy lyric flow making for an incredible modern tip of the hat to a style of music we've not seen for decades. "We Just Won't Stop" is one of Curd's less deep housey jams, and that's a good thing. "Boom," for example, is a decent tune, but it's too light on the vocals for me; "Buffalo Girl" is way funkier for sure, but it's still a little too finicky, jumpy.

That was a short one! Grab the 12" at DFA's Web store or at the Amazon.com MP3 shop.

Oh, and yes, this song is on the last BBBD mix.

James Curd - We Just Won't Stop


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18.8.09

BBBD Mix: "081809"


I'm returning to the 1s and 2s, people! (No, that most definitely doesn't merit a round of applause.)

I'm playing around with some new, updated software that allows for me to mess around more with actually editing music. Now, instead of simple beat-matching; occasionally looping; and trimming or changing highs, mids, and lows, I can manipulate audio in numerous, diverse ways. You'll hear what I mean soon enough.

I made a few goofs on this ons, but its light years ahead of last night's attempt. This one's about 35 minutes long and features quite a few choice selections from DFA Records' roster in addition to a couple weird old jams. I bungled the Unlimited Touch song a little... my apologies for that.

(1) Bottin, "No Static (Club Version)"
(2) James Curd, "We Just Won't Stop"
(3) Traks, "Long Train Running"
(4) Walter Jones, "Living Without Your Love"
(5) Unlimited Touch, "Feel the Music" → "I Hear Music In the Streets"
(6) Hercules and Love Affair, "I Can't Wait"
(7) Runaway, "Putting In the Overtime"
(8) Lullabies In the Dark, "Iridium"

Nik Mercer - 081809 Mix (YouSendIt)
Nik Mercer - 081809 Mix (ZShare)


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17.8.09

Ze Turns 30!


2009 marks the 30th birthday of Ze Records, a label founded, well, actually technically back in 1978 by Michael Zilkha and Michel Esteban (I bet your detective skills will lead you to unearthing why it was given its name!) Zilkha's father was a U.K. record industry hotshot; Esteban was the owner of a Parisian punk shop and magazine; and together, they formed one of the most seminal NYC dance labels. Strangely enough, John Cale was the fellow that connected the two idealists. Roster members included Lizzy Mercier Descloux, James White and the Blacks, Was (Not Was), Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Suicide, and many more.

Zilkha (now a Texan in the renewable energy industry) and Esteban wanted to release records that illustrated the merging of art, music, fashion, literature, and film that the 70s saw (think Richard Prince and Glenn Branca and Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman and David Salle and Glenn O'Brien and all those arty New Yorkers of the era that acted as cultural catalysts, bringing together seemingly disparate worlds in new and creative ways). Ze did pretty well through the mid-80s until its 1986 demise thanks in part to a distribution deal of some sort with Island, and, of course, the quality of their represented artists. The musicians signed to Ze tended to extend disco to the post-punk of the era or the other way around making for especially exciting, funky, foot-tapping singles and full-lengths alike. Artists like Descloux (who happened to be involved with Esteban) incorporated Afro-beat and various form of world music into their compositions to further enhance their sound; some, like Kid Creole, buttered their stuff up with plenty of Latin swagger; others, like James White (James Chance), looked to the world of free-form jazz for inspiration (White continues to be an established saxophone improvisationalist... now he's less violent, though); and most of them hung quite tightly to the No Wave movement that was sweeping the city.

Below are a few jams from the 30th anniversary compilation, Ze 30: Ze Records Story 1979-2009. Some of them (the classic "Tell Me That I'm Dreaming") you'll probably recognize.

Was (Not Was) - Tell Me That I'm Dreaming

Don Armando's Second Avenue Rhumba Band - Deputy Of Love

Lizzy Mercier Descloux -- Hard-Boiled Baby

James White & the Blacks - Contort Yourself

Kid Creole & the Coconuts - Something Wrong In Paradise

Suicide - Dream Baby Dream


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16.8.09

D18


The Michael Zager Band is a shimmering example of what I'm now dubbing (not uniquely) "white boy disco."

One of the interesting, possibly funny aspects of disco is how it, like various forms of jazz, was―and continues to be―racially segregated to an extent. (I'm not attempting to begin some sort of race argument here―I'm merely shedding light on a trend, an observation.) "Black" disco tends to have a heavier, funkier edge to it, and this rawness isn't unexpected―the genre was created by African-Americans who came from R&B and soul backgrounds after all. "White" disco tends to be of the, may I, cheesier variety. The tunes have a lot more treble going for them, goof around with more electronics and synths, and seem to place great importance on The Hook rather than The Vibe.

Michael Zager―defintiely a white boy (he looks sort of like Phil Collins)―epitomizes this sort of "white" disco. He worked with numerous award-winning blacks in the 70s and 80s ( Whitney Houston, Cissy Houston, Gladys Knight), but, through all his interracial activity somehow maintained this really... well, white aesthetic. The songs he wrote, recorded, produced, and performed with his own outfits (the Michael Zager band and the Afro-Cuban Band) are pretty glitzy, pretty schlocky. That said, they are indeed infectious. "Let's All Chant" is a classic by all accounts―a hook like that doesn't come along too often. (Oh, and a wonderful video doesn't either!)

White musicians―as usual―copped an African-American form of dance music and conformed it to their lighter sensibilities. Think Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" here...

While Zager is indeed a spectacular musician who has been widely lauded in both the creative and commercial worlds (he did TV commercials and soundtracks, for example), he remains an illustration of how the American majority swipes what the marginalized minorities concoct and formulates it into their own creation. Jam out... but with a little hesitation, maybe.

Michael Zager Band - Let's All Chant (12" Version)

Michael Zager Band - Music Fever


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Rekids, Records, Rekids...


London record labels intimidate me to no end. Hell, London music collectors intimidate me to no end as well! The whole business of records― producing, releasing, distributing, buying, collecting―throws me off over there because of its seriousness, its severity. That's not to say that American labels can't be just as intense as British ones, but for some reason, I get especially fidgety when the conversation makes the leap across the pond. Maybe this somewhat irrational fear is based more in ignorance than anything else.

Anyway, stupidity aside, I'll attempt to forage ahead with a Rekids Records dialogue.

Rekids, a London-based company, has been pumping out 12" after 12" since their 2006 debut dance hit, "My Bleep," by Radio Slave. The bulk of the stuff they put out is by five or six masthead roster members that I honestly don't care for all that much as they've a penchant for producing rather aggressive techno that I can only listen to for so long. (They also put out tunes by my New York buddies Runaway, though, so they're not all heavy-handed rave-ready material.) Luke Solomon is probably my favorite regular. In December of 2007 he dropped The Difference Machine, a glistening example of minimal techno with a funky, creative twist. The below two songs come from that LP, actually, although I pulled them from the Rekids Revolution compilation that came out a few months back. "Martin, A Cello & Me" is a wonderful jam that, yes, incorporates a cello, while "Spirits" is a more progressive fist-pumper that has been reworked by Prins Thomas here. Enjoy both!

Luke Solomon - Spirits (Prins Thomas Disko-Tek Miks)

Luke Solomon - Martin, A Cello & Me


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13.8.09

Hercules and Love Affair Catch-Up Q&A


I just did a really fun catch-up interview with Andrew Butler from Hercules and Love Affair for Anthem magazine that I highly recommend you check out if you're a fan of the band.

They've got some incredible stuff up their sleeve, from going in a more techno pop direction to bringing on two new vocalists to adding a psychedelia bent to their work.

It's not unexpected for you to make this leap from disco to techno pop kind of stuff, but... I'm curious as to what prompted the shift. Did you wake up with the urge to start doing techno pop or was it more organic... ?

A.B.: To be honest, the closest people to me in New York, I realize they're so rooted in house. They're younger, they're a bit more rooted in house music, and we share that love for the community feel of early house culture and rave culture. There's a sincerity to it all. Optimism. Utopianism. Some of the kids that really inspire me in New York are house. It's almost a lifestyle.

That's not to say there isn't any disco on the record―there definitely is―but, like, my favorite parties to DJ over the past couple of years had a lot of classic house, and the kids that came out were really into it, vogueing and dancing. It felt like the old way again. Late 80s New York, early 90s trippy house music on the West Coast―all that stuff is speaking to me currently. I had been collecting disco records for, like, 10 years. I was really into that sound and I still am―I love going to an all-night disco party like Horse Meat Disco or something―but there's a little bit more of a throw-down when it comes to house music. Your guts are a little more out there with the harsh claps and big vocals and all.

Read the full interview.


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12.8.09

Double Fantasy


I must confess that I was inspired to write this post because of a very in-passing post published to the wonderful ALAINFINKIELKRAUTROCK blog. Alas, my inspiration did not come from some higher power, foretelling dream, or anything of that variety. Regardless, I think this is a good one... and something pretty unusual.

"Balearic" is a term that's often tossed around these days, but neither the word's users nor its recipients seem to really get what the heck the term means. (No, dofus―saying "it refers to the Balearic Islands of Spain" doesn't count!) Just about everyone in the cosmic disco or kraut worlds seem to have been, at some point, dubbed Balearic because of their penchant for utilizing atmospheric synth and guitar washes that mimic the soothing, subdued ebb and tide of a placid evening beach scene you might find in Spain (or, for that matter, on an episode of Bay Watch). Yes, despite the fact that high-brow innovators like Hatchback, Sorcerer, Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, and so many others have been categorized as being of the Balearic breed, none of them exude the innate cheesiness that the word traditionally embodies.

Anyway... let's get back on track here!

Sometimes the best way to understand what's going on in today's world is to look to the innovators of the past and understand what they were up to, thereby awakening yourself to the realities of today. I won't attempt to delve into the studies of Balearic disco or anything of that variety (I can hardly profess to know anything!), but I will point you in a compelling direction: Double Fantasy.

The 80s duo (comprised of Charly McLion and Robert Schröder) specialized in playing incredibly chill, wafting jams that absently, easily drift off into the sunset from whence they came. When you listen to their stuff, time either stands still entirely... or it passes at a syrupy-slow rate (one hour becomes five). Schröder, a German-born guitarist, was behind a number of pre-Double Fantasy projects through the 70s, but it wasn't until he met Tangerine Dream's Klaus Schulze that he finally readied himself to, eventually, become a part of D.F. Schröder, both a guitar geek and electronics nerd, seemed an obvious signee to Innovative Communications as he represented the middle ground between the mind-bendingly meandering works of Tangerine Dream and the more robotic experiments of numerous 80s electronic musicians.

Schröder and McLion put out two Double Fantasy LP's (Universal Ave. and Food For Fantasy) before breaking up. McLion seems to be currently doing stuff under his own name (investigate with caution, please) while Schröder appears to be attempting to revive the D.F. brand under the moniker Food For Fantasy. Allegedly, his new solo work is reminiscent of the Universal material. We shall see.

Since I don't care much for Food For Fantasy I give you three jams from LP1. Maybe this will shed some light on what exactly folks are talking about when they go into some unwarented, confusing Balearic spiel.

Double Fantasy - Endless Running

Double Fantasy - Lost Control

Double Fantasy - Strangers In Space


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10.8.09

D17


Believe it or not, I've not published one of these "D" posts since February. Time flies right on by...

Today I present you with Unlimited Touch, an not-quite-disco outfit from New York that manifested itself twice, once from 1980–81 and again from 1983–84. (Artist/management disputes can be a pain!)

During U.T.'s first incarnation―in which they dropped an eponymous long-player―the group distinctly veered to the R&B side of the spectrum, utilizing straighter bass lines than most disco outfits, jazzy keyboard and synth hooks, and verse-chorus-verse stylings that sort of mimic the African-American songwriting of the 60s more than the 70s or 80s. In their post-first split/pre-second breakup period, the outfit drifted way more to the 80s synth-pop dance genre while still maintaining a pretty decent amount of soul and boogie funk. They just grew quite accustomed to goofing around with chintzy synth melodies and atmospheric washes that you'd be just as likely to find in, say, a Madonna song here or a Cyndi Lauper jam there. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that Factory's 52nd Street looked to them for inspirational cues around the same time...

Now for the songs! "I Hear Music In the Streets" (from LP1) is, hands down, the group's most famous jam; it's played at pretty much every disco party you'll encounter these days, and you may recognize the hook from Biz Markie's stop-the-East-Coast-West-Coast-drama flow "I Hear Music" and Faith Evans' "All Night Long." "Happy Ever After" is a smoother cut from the same album that has an undeniable R&B ballad tilt to it, epitomizing why Unlimited Touch is oftentimes dubbed a "post-disco" ensemble. "In the Middle" is the triumphant, sing-along finale to Unlimited Touch.

From LP2, Yes, We're Ready, I've got the electronics-heavy eight-minute boogie "Yes, I'm Ready" and the more sensual yet oddly wacky (hear those Y.M.O.-esque synth whirls?) "No One Can Love Me (Quite the Way You Do)."

A little after Yes, We're Ready, U.T. dropped the infectious "Reach Out (Everlasting Lover)," which served not only as their last release but also their first through-and-through jerky, robotic synth-pop effort. I'm not totally sure what happened to the rotating cast of characters that comprised the NYC outfit, but I think it's fair to assume more internal and external problems led to their final dissolution.

Unlimited Touch - I Hear Music In the Street

Unlimited Touch - Happy Ever After

Unlimited Touch - In the Middle

Unlimited Touch - Yes, We're Ready

Unlimited Touch - No One Can Love Me (Quite the Way You Do)

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7.8.09

Studio Production



It need not be said yet again that I'm endlessly obsessed with Sweden's mysterious dubbed-out, Balearic-leaning electronic outfit, Studio, so let's not even go into their greatness right now. The one big problem with holding awesome talent and vision is that your equity necessitates you release new material on a relatively regular basis lest you be forgotten, seen as one of those artists who only has a song or two or maybe a single full-length.

While Studio isn't dropping new jams while we wait for Yearbook 2 (what I'm dubbing LP2), both members―Rasmus Hägg and Dan Lissvik―are plenty busy with production gigs and, in the case of Lissvik, solo material. It's not quite as good as being blessed with new and original Studio songs, but hey, it's something. At the very least, when artists decide to openly take up sound board duties, they offer the public a different view of themselves. In ideal scenarios, such endeavors are credibility-building.

In the case of both Hägg and Lissvik, it's dauntingly clear that they are some of this era's most talented and visionary producers. Both have a keen sense of how to record (everything they touch is clean as a fresh pair of underwear; layering is never overdone and avoids overwhelming the core themes, riffs, or hooks of a song), how to spin others' work with their own personal flavor without forfeiting the merits of said person, and how to breed unparalleled originality from a relatively limited palette. (That is, when you're working within the dub or cosmic disco or whatever genres, you generally stick to the same BPM, instrumentation, and arrangement... but let's not get into that right now.)

Okay, so now I deliver some of the pair's latest efforts.

First we've got El Perro del Mar's grandiose "Change Of Heart" from the Love Is Not Pop EP. It's a seductive, somewhat psychedelic ballad whose key asset―aside from the silky vocals―is the weighty, mesmerizing bass line. The EP is the handiwork of Hägg, the less prolific side-work member of Studio (which is probably a good thing here as you can really tell that he absolutely slaved over these arrangements, recordings, and masterings).

Lissvik has been keeping busier. Most recently it was announced that he lent his talents to Taken By Trees' forthcoming East Of Eden long-player; "Watch the Waves" is the first song to infiltrate the Internet. The pairing of Victoria Bergsman and Lissvik is a little tough for me to personally justify as her thin-yet-somehow-husky voice seems a little difficult to merge with his bass-heavy, fantastical melodies. Indeed, on "Watch the Waves," Lissvik finds himself playing with sharper rhythm section beats and a somewhat off-putting flute. You ought to certainly get psyched for East Of Eden, but let's wait for more tracks to appear before wholeheartedly endorsing the collaboration.

Lastly, Lissvik recently started his own "band" with the Embassy's Fredrik Lindson: the Crêpes. As the name implies, the duo is indeed of the sugary sweet pop persuasion. The pair dropped their debut, What Else?, just a week or two ago, and the 300 limited-edition vinyl discs have already sold out! (Good news for Information, Studio's own label that put out the LP in question.) The whole thing is absolutely dripping with summery yet strangely melancholic hooks, Burt Bacharach-esque 60s lounge pop tips, and a decent dose of Latin influences like, say, bossa nova. I personally can't get enough of What Else?, but, as is the tradition here, you ought to decide if the Crêpes are worthy of a spot in your music library.

El Perro del Mar - Change Of Heart

Taken By Trees - Watch the Waves

the Crêpes - Love You All the Same

the Crêpes - Sugar


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6.8.09

Relax



It'd be cute and fun to publish this post with a triumphant "I'm back," and while that's sort of what this appears to be, I need to clear the record―I never left you, my dear readers!

For numerous reasons, I had to take a break from BBBD (we've already gone over all of that), and I can't, at present, promise that I'll be back in the way I once was. Blogging about music just doesn't do it for me like it once did... and the omnipresent constrictions the format intrinsically has built into it make me uninclined to really push anything forward.

Anyway―just know that I will always love BBBD (my firstborn) and will start writing posts with some regularity starting now. I assume I'll return to the "D" series, but again, I can't say for sure.

For now, just enjoy this 1990 A Certain Ratio gem, "Won't Stop Loving You (Extended Mix)." 1X years into the Factory Records band's career, they seemed to have encountered a bit of an identity crisis because of three main influencers: (1) the continued success of New Order, (2) the trippy acid rock of Madchester pioneers the Happy Mondays, and (3) the general public's overwhelming embrace of house music. This A&M Records release is dripping with insecurities derived from a combination of this trio; but in a charming, almost doe-eyed fashion, "Won't Stop Loving You" feels like a statement on Factory's morph from a more innocent, fun-loving label to one overrun with financial problems, corruption, and nonexistent creative progression/development.

A Certain Ratio - Won't Stop Loving You (Extended Mix)

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