Let we go
It's telling that all my posts seem to start like this these days, but: God, it's been far too long since I last posted. In fact, I think it's fair to say I've been purely fucking lazy. It's been a tough ol' week, but Mr Soft's weeks are never that tough, so I can't use that as an excuse....
I ran out of money again yesterday (a biweekly experience), and having fielded a call from a bank woman who, from her cubicle on the other side of the world, was actually ANGRY (whatever happened to service with a smile) that I'd run £100 over my overdraft limit. I mean, it's not like it's her money. Anyway, I think I'm going to have to tie myself to the mast and get another credit card (the last one I got I haven't used for two years, and I'm still paying 'em back £15 every month). I'm quite drawn to Egg. They have a cunning marketing strategy dictating that everything from their name, right down to the fonts they use and imagery they employ, is unremittingly cutesy - I mean, faced with a picture of an adorable-looking frog in a business suit, speech bubble proclaiming 'It's so easy to apply', kind of obscures the fact that Egg, like every other bank and credit company in he known universe, is run by very UNADORABLE frogs in business suits, in their boardroom, spending more money on their morning espresso than I'll spend on my first house (that is, if I can ever afford one). Still, financial injustice rants are boring (this is boring), and, you know, one should hate the player, not the game. My EggCard application has been delayed by some vaguely-defined server problem (prolly another system overload brought on by wave after wave of bone-idle 22-year-old idealists demanding 'free' money), so my financial woes remain as yet unresolved. The question is, if and when the card arrives, will I have the good sense to put my 'credit' in the tills of grocery stores and not in the pockets of dealers or the digital coffers of the Kompakt mp3 shop? I wish I even remotely trusted myself.
Let's put aside my fiscal worries and deal with our man Villalobos. It's not just the mindbending, endlessly complex music that he seems to toss off like so much lonely manjuice, it's the fact that he manages also to maintain his gallavanting, drug-guzzling, Hawtin-assisted lifestyle AND spend so much time on his hair (check the picture above left) which posits Ricardo as a true visionary. So this week I came across two new tracks from the Chilean multitasker extraordinaire, as well as reacquainting myself with the giddy highlights of Achso. I was on about the Isolee 'Super Disco Edits' EP which is headed our way soon, and which will feature mixes by Luciano (posted below somewhere) and Dixon. It was Luciano's mix that stood out immediately, but it's Villalobos's job on 'Djamel et Jamshid' which has found its way to the top of the pile over the last couple of days. Picking up from the Achso psychotropicalia (or whatever - you know what I mean - makes me think of smoking opium on a leafy veranda in rural Chile or, for some reason, in the China of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon..) sound which seems to have found favour with all of us, there's intricate drum patterns, plaintive keys and heavy bass stabs galore, entrained by a delicious, understated melody which takes me right to that veranda I was on about. Have we reached the apotheosis of psychedelia here? I mean, how can it get, er, deeper or more organic than all this stuff? Truly we are privileged. Here 'tis:
Isolee - Djamel Et Jamsid (Ricardo Villalobos Remix) // Playhouse
Next up is Ricardo's long-awaited version of 'Let We Go' by Rhythm & Sound. I've been very excited about this, not least on behalf of Puffin Jack, what with it uniting (with equal authenticity) two of his most vigorous interests: the vanguard of minimal techno and the sound of authentic, old-skool Jamaica... Retardo keeps the original's fantastically demonic, dissolute vocals (courtesy of Ras Donovan & Ras Perez) and the hoarse horn stabs (sounding as if played by an old trumpeter with emphysema. They probably were.), adding one of his almost painfully deconstructed 4x4 lines (the kind that underpinned much of The Au Harem D'Archimede) to the brew. The end product is really, really nasty and really, really good - a raw, sinewy example of the kind of fruitful cross-genrification which seems to be the new order of the day. Definitely one for the heads.
Rhythm & Sound - Let We Go (Ricardo Villalobos Remix) // Burial Mix
I pick up my strangled narrative after a night which was grimly typical of my recent weekends - yet again I found myself at an utterly gash (sausage) party, drinking paint-stripper tequila, being abusive to loved ones and strangers, sustaining all manner of ghostly knocks and bruises in the process. My mood today has lightened somewhat at the prospect of a trip to the museum to look at some shrunken heads and other artifacts of lives lived closer to the hilt than my own (I can't even remember what 'to the hilt' means...it sounds right). Not only that, but my virtually worn out copy of 'Polar Shift' is spinning on the plate, reminding me of all that is good about the series of inhalations & exhalations that we call life.
And so to Booka Shade (pictured above), last year's all-slaying Berlin-based producers. I doubt an introduction is necessary - but if it is, let's just say that 'Mandarine Girl', 'Panoramic' and 'Point Break', not to mention their numerous co-productions with M.A.N.D.Y., DJ T and Williams, were the official soundtrack to 2005. The Get Physical stable truly raised its game last year, and with it the electro-house/minimal/disco bar, so it's by their own standards that Booka Shade's new stuff will be (inevitably harshly) judged. A new EP, Night Falls, is on its way and while the title track doesn't seem to even tickle the dizzy heights reached by 'Mandarine Girl' (I mean, what could?), instead opting for a return to the future disco sounds that characterized Memento, I'm mightily impressed by the B-sides, particularly 'The Spectralist'. This track showcases everything I like about the 'Shade - heaps of melody, perfect beats, trancey chord progressions, acidy squiggles and druggy, emotive synth lines. This will find favour in my box and, no doubt, the boxes of many others, and will almost certainly slay the 'floor...Likewise 'Trespass 06', where a ravey, Dahlbackian motif is the central feature. It's another example of what Booka Shade do so well: use their time-honoured pop nous to smuggle Eurotrancey melody into minimal house productions of almost limitless sophistication. It's a winning combination, pitched at a mythical halfway point between James Holden and 'Encore Une Fois!'. Sort of. So. I started off the year querying the fate of Get Physical in 2006; we've not even reached the end of February and they've given us a clever but uninspiring DJ T record, Jona's colossal (and criminally underrated) 'Learning From Making Mistakes', Hell's first top-notch production in 50 years (on that Chelonis single) and a stonking EP from Booka Shade with a misleadingly dull lead track, not to mention some fine releases from GP protege Williams. Not bad going, eh? I don't know if they're going to sustain this form across the year, but in all my Physical-related naysaying, I guess I'd forgotten what good producers Booka Shade actually are. Their LP's leaked as well, so more on that another time...
Booka Shade - The Spectralist (Studio Version) // Get Physical
Booka Shade - Trespass 06 // Get Physical
I maybe don't pay as much attention to MBF as I should...Last month a new 12" turned up on the label, courtesy of Ulysses & Nickelcat, and very strange it was too. 'Make You Feel Good' is, more than anything, mercilessly quirky and mercilessly addictive. There's a vast number of conflicting ideas in its four minute duration, but they hang together perfectly and things don't end up sounding overcrowded. Essentially a rather camp pop song rendered in hi-fi lo-fi electro production, words are failing me, so you should really just download it & see. You might not be staggered initially, but believe me that in time this tune will have you scratching your head and tapping your foot and putting the needle back to the start for more. Jesus, I've played it 5 times in a row while I've been writing; it's got minor classic written all over it. A clever, clever record.
Ulysses & Nickelcat - Make You Feel Good // My Best Friend