Goldfrapp, eh? Despite having more conceit and front than virtually any artist living today, what with their pseudo-electro-s&m dance routines and dogged pursuit of the mainstream, sometimes you've just got to hand it to them...Alison G is a fantastic vocalist, and though their original productions are invariably one big horsetail-swinging cliche, they're nonetheless remarkably lean and melodic and lend themselves amazingly well to remixes. Take the singles from the recent LP: 'Ride A White Horse' was stripped down into a nu-italo barnstormer by Serge Santiago while Ewan Pearson constructed a richly detailed, four-tiered 'disco odyssey' from the same raw materials, and Tiefschwarz rescued 'Ooh La La' from the mobile phone ad ghetto and plonked it into finessed, glam electro-house territories, full of the amazing builds and energizing drops which the 'Schwarz seem only intermittently capable of getting right these days (though it's the unreleased vocal mix, rather than the ubiquitous dub, which is the one you really want). Anyway, I respect Goldfrapp and their management for all this, because while some of the more adventurous remixes they commission don't even make it onto official pressings, wilfully subordinated as they are to cock-house workouts from the likes of Benny Benassi, the fact is that they actually pay up flat fees to quality producers to turn out versions, give them something shiny and pliable to work with, and give the fanbases of these remixers, if not the fanbases of Goldfrapp, something to delight in. The reason I mention this is because the new Goldfrapp 12" has hit stores this week, and features three absolutely stunning mixes from C2 (aka Carl Craig) and DFA. Most of you probably heard, even if it was in poor-quality ripped form, DFA's epic rendering of 'Slide In', with its masterful collusion of prog-afrobeat stylings, straight-up glitterball disco and explosion-in-a-drum-shop punk-funkery. Everything that the Pearson remix wanted to be, basically, but wasn't. As for Craig's two versions, the second of which is essentially a compressed, re-ordered dub of the first, well, we're talking more or less 'Relevee' Pt. 2 - don't get too excited though, because while the Detroit don's treatments of 'Fly Me Away' are unassailably superb, they don't even begin to rival the monolithic majesty of the Delia & Gavin piece (which, incidentally, is finally available on 12" today). Still, Craig is working from the same sound palette on this release, so we get another mini-symphony of analogue crescendos, tough kicks and speaker-slicing echo effects, but with the not-at-all-annoying vocal jostling for centre stage with the tres demented acid waves. It's a good nine minutes long, but there's so much going on - fat robot synth stabbage, duelling basslines, delicious harmonies and significant debt to that much maligned but enduring genre acid techno. Allow me a reminiscence....
When I was 16 or 17, having just finished my A-levels, myself and a few friends went to Cornwall for a week of stoned, quintessentially boyish tomfoolery; on the third or fourth day we were there, we descended upon the pub we felt we'd made our own over the preceding few days (it's amazing what hubris possesses the young...) and got on with the seriousness business of drinking ourselves into oblivion. At some point during the night, when I was just outright retard drunk, one of the most bewitchingly beautiful girls I've ever seen happened to sit opposite me. Buoyed by the false confidence that anyone who has been a 16-year-old on the piss will know intimately, I attempted to talk to her, almost certainly thinking that she was definitely going to shag me once I'd initiated her in the workings of my quicksilver wit (this remains one of the most ludicrous hopes I've ever clung to in my life. It was never going to happen...). Of course, I could barely speak, I mean I was really off the scale, but she was smart as hell and sort of listened to me with the pained pity and interest that one would normally afford a 100% genuine village idiot. I was trying everything, but I don't think my brain has ever let me down as it did then. We got onto the topic of music, and God knows how naive, presupposing and arrogant my contribution to this part of the conversation was (as of about a year ago, one of my golden rules for life has been that I NEVER NEVER talk about music seriously or intimately with strangers, unless I have some confidence that we will share a more or less identical outlook on things. That sounds very self-limiting, I know, but come on, what's the point in talking about Radiohead or The Shins with people? I fucking hate it, even though I like the bands. So rather than being snide and obnoxious, I nod, I agree, talk about 'em for a couple of minutes then change the conversation topic as smoothly as I can. I don't trust myself any other way...)
Anyway, so I'm talking to this girl, this fit as hell girl who still haunts my more salacious flights of fancy, about music, and God knows what I'm smugly ranting about - hmm, round then it was probably Wilco or something like that - and, seeing fit to interrupt one of my characteristic monologues, I ask her what her musical poison is? 'Acid techno,' she says. 'Acid techno?' says I. At this stage, remember, my acquaintance with so-called 'dance' music extended about as far as the Chemical Brothers and Tricky. I can't remember what more I said, but I know it was bona fide mortifying, and that I don't ever want to remember. I do remember, though, being completely perplexed and amazed by her tales of raving in Berlin, ecstasy and the general madness of the acid techno scene, blah blah. I think she was modelling or something back then, God knows what she's doing now - junkie? Anyway, by this point I'm really fucking trying to lay it on thick, but being too young to have learned even a cursory smoothness, my only weapon was gags. And when you've drunk twice your weight in weird-coloured booze, you're never quite as funny as you think, are you? This one-sided romance came to an abrupt end when I, purely by chance, said something which had her, up till that point stony-faced and incredulous, almost on the floor in hysterics. I was feeling tremendously gratfied as a result, and casually reached for my drink to down what was left and ask if she wanted another one. And what happened? I picked up the half-full glass of beer that we'd all been using to put out our cigarettes, and basically tipped it down my throat. And did I swallow it and carry on as if nothing had happened? Did I fuck. I puked it all over myself and in front of her, before virtually crawling on my knees to the bathroom to spend the next hour doing the same thing. When I came back, needless to say, she wasn't there.
Coda: Since then, there have been two occasions that I think quite possibly I have seen the same girl, or some spectral reincarnation thereof: 1. In my second year as a student at Bristol, my room looked down on our neighbours' gardens, and when the heatwave hit in May I found myself spending a lot of time, alone or with Carnage, sat at my window getting high and staring out of it. A couple of houses down, I kept seeing this girl sunbathing, and being as punked as a skunk, convinced myself that she was that self same Acid Techno girl. Whether she was or she wasn't, a wonderful symmetry with that frist fateful encounter came about - a couple of days later, having spent a sublime evening in the pub (this was high summer, remember) drinking sambucca and popping a brace of very fine pills, we heard a party raging away at the end of our street, and decided to pay it a visit. I saw the sunbathing girl, and after some drunken procrastination, decided I should talk to her. Rather than saying, 'Were you the girl I virtually puked on after drinking an ashtray in Cornwall three years ago?', my stupid fucking brain, suddenly giving way to an ear-popping MDMA rush, impelled me to say instead the equally unforgivable 'I think I know you...I've been watching you sunbathing from my window, I think I recognize you from that...' Literally, I have no idea what the fuck I was saying, something as spectacularly ill-advised as that if not more so, and I was met with the same incredulity and disdain I was those three years ago, but this time without the friendly undertow. After excusing myself (I don't think I even gave a fuck at the time, what with being so fucked and it being a fairly sick party), I went off to mess around with my people and generally revel in my mental incapacitation, but I do remember being sat a couple of hours later on the floor in her living room, my head so messed up that I actually thought I was serving a customer at the pub I worked at, when I was really just gurning gibberish to myself. My friend Kelly vividly recalls me asking myself if I'd like a pint of Fosters. Christ. Needless to say, when I snapped out of it, I looked up to see that the girl had been listening to everything I'd said with unqualified disgust. Shit really does happen. Anyway, I also thought I saw her at the blistering Tiefschwarz gig at The Key two years ago, dressed like the Nazi-electro-porno-biker girl of your dreams, but I didn't go near her because she was flanked by a miserable looking black man who was either her boyfriend or her bodyguard. But I'll shut up about this; I guess the point is, words have very particular associations for particular people, and when ever I hear, or think, the words 'acid techno' all of the above comes flooding back to me in a rush of embarassment and nostalgia.
Why am I telling you? Because I've finished my exams and can write for as long as I fucking like. Yeah....so ignore me, and just download the C2 Mix 1 of 'Fly Me Away' here, and pick up the 12" for the top-notch, instrumental Mix 2 and the DFA's glorious version of 'Slide In'. God, I'm exhausted by my recollection. Forgive me for all that.
Goldfrapp - Fly Me Away (C2 Remix 1) // Mute
The next track I have for you is the B2 from the latest release on Huume by Uusitalo. Better known as deep house cosmonaut Luomo and scattergun beat-merchant Vladislav Delay (check his recent mix of Rhythm & Sound if you haven't yet), this release goes into ludicrously pleasing dub techno territory, full of echo and, er, delay but with some tough 4x4 drops and bassline funk to lift it out of the downbeat doldrums. This is proper proper proper and I heartily recommend you download this tune then sniff out the vinyl, which harbours three other sound-as-a-pound low frequency excursions.
Uusitalo - Tulenkantaja // Huume
Personally, I don't think Kompakt has quite done the business this year, at least not yet (they may be holding back some gems for the summer season); but along with the reliable K2 stuff, one of the highlights of their '06 catalogue has undoubtedly been Oxia's 'Domino' - the one which wholesale ripped off Chardronnet's 'Eve By Day'. My affection for the tasteful trance tones of'Domino' prompted me to finally shell out for a copy of Patrick's tune, released last year on one of Europe's most promising young labels, Connaisseur. Since then, I haven't felt once compelled to listen to 'Domino'; 'cos 'Eve By Day', for this listener at least, is TT at its uncompromising best and not even a sumptuous imitation like Oxia's comes close. Simon Rigg from Phonica, who was guest DJ at TAPE's birthday party in November, finished his excellent set with this tune; it sounded delightful then, but listening to it now fills me with intense ennui: because that was the penultimate TAPE ever, before we got kicked out of the venue under a cloud of potsmoke and false accusations, and the last TAPE I ever attended. So the track which is basically the perfect tune to an end a set with unwittingly became the perfect tune to an end an era with. TAPE (the night) may be dead, but the spirit lives on in our new venture MUTANT POP. After a blistering opening night, and a second session headed up by militant minimalist Butane, it's the turn of local broken beat and deep tech maestro October to play for us, this Friday 2nd June. It's all going off at the Arc Bar, Bristol, so if you're in town make sure you pay us a visit. Anyway, back to 'Eve By Day'. Basically, it's a rising, stripped down trancer lent a genuinely celestial edge by the marvellously restrained programming; it's genius is to let the bassline build and build for a good 6 mins before introducing the the twinkling keyboard melody, itself basically the harmonic mirror image of the devastating bassline. And, in a true Kompakt vein, ambient synth sounds throughout provide the balance you need to get your body dancing while your cortex is trancing. It's a fucking classic, up there with 'Phonix' in my opinion, so you know what to do....
Patrick Chardronnet - Eve By Day // Connaisseur Recordings
You may remember my having blattered on about the Burial CD over the last couple of weeks, and I'm not about to stop now. It feels ridiculous to isolate a track from the album for download, because the record is really the sum of its parts, and no one track gives you an indication of what a tonal masterpiece it is. And I don't want to post more than one track, because I want Burial to get some cahsmoney for his efforts - despite it being killer stuff, I can't imagine a huge number of people are going to be buying it (and I don't want to reduce that number any further). Still, the abstract beat patterns, lo-fi, fuggy production and unremitting dub sensibility of this track, 'Southern Comfort' should tell you all you need to know. Seriously, buy the CD, I can't recommend it enough....
Burial - Southern Comfort // Hyperdub
That's your lot for now.