Sorry I've been quiet, been immersed in, and seriously wounded by, the World Cup, whilst seeing off people as term ends and I enter into the wide and unwelcoming wilderness of (un)employment. Still, I have a few dead weeks to kill while I pursue proper work, so I say (not without reservation) that posts here should become healthier, larger and, above all, more frequent. I still haven't done my Sonar diary yet, which is pretty ridiculous, but I just haven't had the energy and I'm sure its anecdotal impact won't be lessened too much by the passage of time. I hope. Ever since I got back from Barcelona with, like, one endorfin to my name, I've felt no compulsion at all to listen to anything but the most reflective and emotive of indie and electronica, so it's only in the last few days that I've got back on the wagon and realized there are tons of good records coming out at the moment. Here, then, is my current top 10....
Softie's Current Top 10 (02/07/06)
1. LB DIVISION – RHYTHM DIVISION / HOW YOU PLAY IT // MOTE EVOLVER Now this is what I’m talking about. What a release. The A-side is low-slung techno, stripped down but somehow fat-as-you-like and peppered with little percussive and melodic flourishes which refuse to let you get go ‘Zzz’. The B-side is a slightly more rolling, fluffy and finessed affair, making me think of the mighty Alex Under’s Apnea releases. But I’ll say it again – the A-side, ‘Rhythm Division’ is total killer, it will lock you into its groove and you all want a copy right now yes you do. Wow. .
2. TOBY TOBIAS - A CLOSE SHAVE (PRINS THOMAS DISCO-TEK MIKS) // REKIDS I’ve got an obscene amount of love for Prins Thomas (pictured above) at the moment. Hell, I may even go the whole hog and get a tattoo of his face on my chest and mail my pubes to him in the near future. Alas, I haven’t got time to do the whole psychotic stalker thing properly as right now I’m too busy lapping up this gnarly version which, as its title contends, truly puts the ‘tech’ back in ‘discotheque’ (even though yes, spelling enthusiasts, it strictly speaking was never there). Another cosmic corker, but tough as nails, and while the fine original makes more, if not better, use of the fat analogue riff I’m with Prins all the way on this one. I think Rekids is on the rise.
3. TRES DEMENTED - SHEZ SATAN // PLANET E COMMUNICATIONS Everyone’s all like ‘It’s really cool, but I can’t stand the vocal’ and, I’ll admit, first time I heard it I was in stern agreement. Even now, depending on the scenario, I’d probably play out the instrumental over the voxed version, but come on: how can you not fall for (or should that be up?) the big C2 talking woman-hating nonsense like a cracked-up Green Velvet in a Darth Vader mask? I mean, what’s not to like about that? Well, whatever you think about that I think we’re all agreed that the music itself – pure grotty, electronic stomp – is unassailable and essential. For what I fear won’t be the last time this, like, month, Mr Craig: we salute you.
4. MOXIE - TRANSFIGURED & TORMENTED // MOXIE There’s so many disco edit 12”s being released these days that I can scarcely be arsed to listen to any of ‘em. A welcome return, then, for Moxie - who serve up two sides of disco hotwiring which you know’ll be good before you even drop the needle. ‘Transfigured and Tormented’ is proper cosmic tackle, calling to mind Terje’s mix of ‘Another Station’ but a wee bit rawer. On the flip, ‘Baby Cage’ heads down a more abstract, dub-infused route and believe me it’s just the shit all we heads cream our ash-stained jeans over. Buy it.
5. MARTIN LANDSKY - 1000 MILES (ORIGINAL & LOCO DICE REMIX) // POKER FLAT I must say, I'd started to worry a wee bit about Poker Flat - after last year's epics 'Sei', 'Polar Shift' and 'Love Dose', my expectations were perhaps unreasonably high. Still, I should've known that I could rely on one of my favourite producers, Martin Landsky, to turn the tide and come out with a moody, hooky tech-house cut that'll turn the Fabric dancefloor to liquid and bears not just a passing resemblance to 'I Feel Space'. Loco Dice does as Loco Dice does, draining off some of the fat and installing his own idea of minimalist drama to produce a track that alone would make the 12" worth buying. Both sides work, but the beefier original's what gets me going.
Martin Landsky - 1000 Miles // Poker Flat
6. SKREAM/DISTANCE – TECTONIC PLATE 1 It’s not just random that Skream (pictured above), however modestly, is the one dubstep artist to have crossed over (though the ‘Mystikz release on Soul Jazz perhaps suggests there’s a convoy a-comin’) – it’s because he’s a proper good, and extremely distinctive, producer. Where recent bits I’ve liked from Pinch, Shackleton, Burial et al have been notable for their tension and claustrophobia, Skream is all about cleanliness and space, and giving the percussion parts room not just to breathe, but to bellow. He also loves a good garagey/ravey hook, and ‘Bahl Fwd’ is no exception – an instantly memorable, faintly Eastern melody riding the best tabla line I’ve heard this side of Bombay. Fuck me, the boy has talent. On the flip, Distance goes for a more off-step rhythm, with moody synth-strings and a plaintive, ever-so-slightly menacing sitar drifting through the fug. Buy this fucker, seriously.
7. ETIENNE DE CRECY – COMMERCIAL EP1 // PIAS Nothing too clever (alas) from the Super Discount fella, just beefy discofied electro-house with that brassiness and plasticity that only the French do right. Home-listening will make you feel like a moron who should be into Shostakovich instead, but hearing it out on the pingers will have you licking the ceiling. Which, to some extent, is no bad thing.
Etienne De Crecy - Suck // PIAS
8. RYAN CROSSON – GOTHAM ROAD // TRAPEZ LIMITED Love this: fabulous and slightly tedious (in the right way), everything you could want from a minimal record. Quirky effects, plenty of bounce and unusually padded percussion seal what was already a pretty much done deal.
9. COBBLESTONE JAZZ - DUMP TRUCK EP / THE MOLE – IN MY SONG // WAGON REPAIR Make no mistake, Wagon Repair is one of the sickest labels around today, and though the A-side on the Mole's release is good only in that standard Wagon Repair ‘It’s really weird and I really like it but I wouldn’t play it out unless I was a LOADS better DJ’ kind of way, the B-side is an unexpected and rather welcome foray into mid-paced trippy disco. Albeit in that standard Wagon Repair ‘It’s really weird etc…’ kind of way. Worth your pennies, though, for sure. Mathew Jonson's electronic jazz collective make pleasant noises on the Dump Truck EP, noodlesome keys given purpose by heavy live drums processed to perfection and hefty synth stabs. Really nice, actually.
10. ALEX SMOKE – SNIDER // SOMA I can’t believe I’ve ever had doubts about Alex Smoke. Casting my ear back over his now fairly extensive oeuvre, I’m inclined to think that he might well be my favourite producer out there. The depth and variety of his catalogue speaks for itself, going from twitchy dubscapes to tracky minimalism via neo-trance and cinematic tech-house. I need to get into his LPs, I think. For now, I’m well into the new Soma, which sees Smoke coaxing a warmth of sound out of his studio that I didn’t think possible. Seriously, as soon as you put this on, you’ll hear speakers sigh with quiet delight…
Alex Smoke - Snider // Soma