God, have there been some tiptop tunes coming out in recent weeks or what? For once I'm going to dispense with my usual solipsistic musings and talk plainly, in so far as I can, about what my ears have been cocked to of late....First up, although we've all been digging it for ages, that 'India in Me' by Cobblestone Jazz. Though Audion’s ‘Mouth 2 Mouth’ gives it a decent run for its money, ‘India in Me’ – released on Wagon Repair, arguably the most consistently original and effective label out there – has been THE heavyweight club anthem this autumn, and its creators, them clever Canucks Cobblestone Jazz, one of 2006’s hottest properties. The brilliance of ‘India in Me’ is all the more startling for the fact that it follows hot on the heels of ‘Dump Truck’ – another bona fide classic from the Cobblestone stable, and stylistically a totally different beast to the proggy monster in question. No, wait. The REALLY startling thing about ‘India in Me’ is the fact that it was improvised straight-to-tape, using outboard equipment only. Mere mortals like me can only wonder how such a feat is possible; our time is probably better spent popping this 12" on the turntable (the A-side mix is more ponderous, the B-side trackier and more club-ready), cranking it up, and marvelling open-mouthed at the talents of Mathew Jonson, Tyger Dhula and the other guy whose name, quite rudely, escapes me. Warped, pinging, sonar-like noises herald the arrival of a faintly Eastern-sounding minor-key progression, but it’s the heavy bass bumps and sleek snares (straight outta ‘Marionette’) that take this tune to the next level. What to say? If you haven’t heard this record, well, your life must be pretty shit. Sort it out. And instead of giving £7.99 to some talentless minimalist schmuck whose name you can’t pronounce, give it to these crackpot sound scientists. Dubby, proggy, psychedelic, functional, experimental – what more do you want? This is heads-down shit of the highest order. Look out for our interview with Mathew Jonson, landing on this site very soon indeed, just as soon as the man takes five minutes out of making obscenely shithot records.
If you’d asked me a few weeks ago if I wanted another techno mix CD, I would’ve hit you and told you to fuck off. But I’ve found myself making exceptions this month. First up, the don Michael Mayer, who breaks a bit of a quiet spell release-wise with the sequel to his still-fresh-sounding Immer comp (Kompakt). Well, as anyone with a spot of German will know, ‘immer’ means always – and Mayer, on this CD, just as the last – is true to his word. Though some of the tracks here are pretty obscure (what’s the point in a comp if you know everything on it?), there’s nothing on here that doesn’t sound pretty timeless, or at least hold up to fairly heavy scrutiny – and there are a few curveballs, e.g. Terje’s colossal mix of ‘Another Station’,that fit perfectly in the mix while quietly reinforcing the fact that this is not a selection for militant ketaminimalist swine. SCSI-9 and Justus Kohncke make welcome appearances (I can’t believe I failed to register previously quite how phenomenal ‘Advance’ is - the way that guitarry disco chug gives way to those trancey builds and I, for one, feel like I'm going to implode...), and the epic ’18 Years’ from Crowdpleaser & St Plomb (surely one of the tunes of the year and a Carnage fave to boot) launches things into those giddy stratospheres we all love to float around sometimes. What binds the album together, quite apart from Mayer’s skill at weaving a musical narrative, is the fact that every track and/or transition has that quintessential Kompakt lushness, all in the pads and washes of ambient synth, like a fucking welcome tongue in your ear. And, of course, Mayer’s DJing style is refreshing in a climate of quick cuts and micro-editing – he lets every track play almost to completion before smoothly bringing in the next, spot-on harmonics n'all. If you buy one mix CD this autumn, make it this one. Actually, if you do buy only one mix album this autumn, better make it Alex Smoke's new mix CD on Soma. It can’t be easy stepping up to lay down the third installment for the pretty heavyweight Sci:Fi:Hi:Fi series, especially Ewan Pearson and Luciano have delivered the preceding two chapters. A bit like hooking up with a girl whose past boyfriends include Brad Pitt and Hugh Grant, or something. Still, perma-tracksuited Alex Menzies is a talented motherfucker in his own right, and acquits himself here admirably - taking us on a nocturnal tour around the grubbier backstreets of post-rave dance music, where the ghosts of Detroit (Model 500) mingle with dubstep’s doomy portents (Burial) and Basic Channel’s hydroponic house before giving way to sinewy, roughneck minimalism from the likes of Troy Pierce, Gaiser and Smoke himself. Recorded live using (predominantly) vinyl, this is a masterclass in sustaining mood and power even as you dart between genre, era and speed. If you’re into the dubbier side of techno, this CD will make you cream your pants – no question. Smile-inducing anthem of the month has been, for me, Dibaya's 'The Truth-Blending Consortium', on Plong!. Plong! is not a label I’ve kept up with in the last couple of years – have they even released anything since Le Dust Sucker’s so-rubbish-it-was-actually-quite-good ‘Meanboy’? Well, who cares, because Dibaya, who has previously recorded for Gigolos, has come up with an effervescent banger that’ll put some life in any box suffering from skeletal-groove syndrome. Garish, loud and spectacularly unsubtle in the way that all good 2003 house records were, this would not get away with its own silliness if it wasn’t driven by the most charming and unforgettable riff I’ve heard in a FUCKING long time. I talk all the time about hooks, but seriously, Dibaya is like the Crocodile Dundee of electro to me now ("You call that a hook? THIS is a hook"). Not one for the tokers or chin-strokers but definitely worth checking out – joyful, unabashed and, above all else, completely retarded. Next up, a double CD package from Bristol’s finest, DJ Pinch. The first disc assembles, unmixed, the finest tracks to have emerged thusfar on the Tectonic imprint – including Skream’s devastating, anthemic ‘Bahl Fwd’ – the one with the breakneck tabla line that could launch a thousand ships. Distance, Loefah, Mark One, Hijack all make welcome appearances. Meanwhile, on the second disc, Pinch goes way deep with a painstakingly processed mix that takes in newbies and exclusives from fresh talent and dubstep’s most high-ranking commandos. If you’ve been hearing about dubstep this, dubstep that, and don’t know what the fuss is about, buy this and you’ll understand. If you’re already switched on to the sounds, well, you know what to expect – the business, basically. Well, taking the same format, but very different musical tack to the Tectonic CD, is the new compilation from Anja Schneider’s Mobilee Records. Handily for all us cheapskate DJs out there, this release basically collects Mobilee’s hottest catalogue shots and lines them up, unmixed and ready for downing. If you’ve been up a really crap tree for the last year-and-a-half and haven’t yet feasted your ears upon Schneider & Sebo K’s ‘Rancho Relaxo’, well, Jesus, stop reading this nonsense and get shopping - it's a stone cold Cologne classic. Also on Back2Back you'll find Prosumer & Sebo K's deep-deep-deep, Detroit-indebted 'Moved' and, as I say, a fuckload of remixes and tracks by the likes of Pan-Pot and Gummizh. A lot of is take-it-or-leave-it material, but still, the hits kind of justify the misses. Two tunes out on Crosstown Rebels in recent weeks. First up DJ Silversurfer's 'Ace of Spades' which, if I'm honest, I thought was dated, electro-house-by-numbers tosh until I heard it out at the weekend, whereupon its catchy riffage and dumb slow-motion breakdown sent my booze-bathed brain aspinning. I still haven't made up my mind; but, while it's not all that tasteful, fuck it, I'm humming it under my breath as I write this, so it must have something going for it...Also, Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia's 'Far Away' which has been doing the rounds for AGES, but finally appears, with minimal fanfare, backed by that spidery Mathew Jonson mix (which has divided opinion: I hear Smagghe and Pearson rate it as Jono's best work, but others are less convinced...) and the more up-for-it, straightforwardly narcy version by Jennifer Cardini and Shonky. For me, it's worth your dollar primarily for the original - tight, wistful electro-pop that proves Crosstown will always take a worthwhile punt on a vocal track ('Speechless', 'Safari', etc). Oh shit, there's more Crosstown. Latex's 'The Porcupine' on Rebelone. I assume this is by Locodice (I haven't bothered to confirm either way) and, frankly, it's the kind of epic deepness only a fool would argue with. Like Martin Buttrich's mighty 'Full Clip' on Planet E, you kind of have to give yourself over to it, lock into the groove in order to fall under the spell. What about that Buttrich tune, eh? Fuck. I'd more or less completely ignored it til it popped on my headphones as I rode the tube the other day, and had my mind blown accordingly. It's all in the snapclaps, I tell you, which is also true of Gabriel Ananda's latest smasher, a remix of 'Kookaburra' by Thomas P Heckmann and Andreas Kauffelt on AFU Limited. As if you needed proof, after 'Lauschgoldengel' and 'Doppelwhipper', that this guy's a total fucking talent, you get it here - a sticky, tribalist workout that really is Michelin-starred food for the minimal-inclined stomach. Also big at the moment is Guy Gerber's 'Sea of Sands', put out by Cocoon and kind of straddling that line between proggy yawnfest and absolute classic. Right now, the twinkly piano motif is proving pretty addictive, but I'm not sure we'll be talking of this tune in hallowed tones come next year. But fair play, it works, and it's got a great sleeve, so....Oh lord, who on earth would've imagined Hot Chip remixing Booka Shade, especially 'Darko' of all tunes? Who would've wanted to imagine it? I get more terrified and excited at these kinds of zeitgeisty pairings (who remembers Noel Gallagher's remix of Beck back in the day?), so I'll reserve judgement on this til I calm down. The 'Shade also provide their own 'Funk Da Funk' version of the track, which is all cool, but I mean, really, what are they doing it calling it 'Funk Da Funk'?? I know you're German guys, but come on, it's turns of phrase like that which stop me answering 'techno' when a girl asks what music I'm into. Don't forget Axel Bartsch's latest offering for Kompakt's Speicher series - after a few dishwatery 12"s on the offshoot, and the rise of K2 (where the hell is that right now?), Speicher's stock seems to have fallen over the course of 2007, but don't let perception overrule fact - the Sportclub boss's new tracks are thoughtful and fearsome and highly worthy of your attention. From Kompakt sublime to Kompakt ridiculous, as the irrepressible Rex The Dog returns to the fray like a, well, like a big, dumb dog eagerly licking your face. The thing is, Rex's productions are so deliberately and unashamedly coarse, it's counterproductive to criticize them too much on those grounds. The tracks on 'Maximize' are definitely worth hearing but, I wouldn't play 'em out. Would you? It's a toughie, 'cos one can only ever dimly estimate how far one's perceptions are governed by pretention. Blah. Anyway, you know what to expect, extremely chunky production that'll go down like a treat, or like dogfood, depending on where your tastes, and your dancefloor's, lie. Craig Richards will not be playing it on Saturday. What else? Fucking hell, there's so much. Jimpster's recent productions have been sweet, and that jacking mix of Deepchild (fucking hell, first 'Funk Da Funk', now 'Deepchild' - why oh why?) under his Audiomontage guise, with its rolling sub and hectic clicks, is pretty irresistible. Lindstrom's 'Contemporary Fix', and its panoramic, spaghetti-western pluckings (not to mention that chugging riff a la 'I Feel Space') is finally out properly, and if you're on the ball you may've already picked up a white of Skream's long-awaited LP on Tempa, charmingly entitled Skream! - nothing too revelatory going on there, especially if you picked up both volumes of Skreamizm, but worth a gander nonetheless. Other stuff I've been enthusing about in the past few months that's finally turning up for kosher purchase? Well, you should give Erol's wide-eyed, trancey version of the new Scissor Sisters a listen, even if you suspect it's not going to be up your strasse at all. It's not as subtle or as rewarding as his 'Boy From School' edit, but it's still a significant and interesting departure from the loud-and-proud bangers with which he's made his production name. The kids are going mad for Switch's mix of Spank Rock, but frankly all that Baile-Funk-Balkan-Beats-CSS stuff goes right over my narrow-minded head anyway, and I don't really go in for that Dubsided sound at the best of times ('Warehouse Shit' and 'You're All Over My Head' obviously excepted) . And while enough people love this for me to question my values, it's not enough for me to change 'em. The DFA Remixes Chapter 2 LP is a noble addition to any collection, but to my mind, even God himself couldn't make Chromeo sound good. The majestic re-imagining of Tiga's 'Far From Home' appears in its vocal version, but we all know it's about the instrumental so...Still, it's worth grabbing a copy to get a decent-quality recording of the 'Slide In' remix (Goldfrapp) and the spell-binding, melancholy prog-punk-funk rendering of UNKLE's 'In A State', which came out a coupla years back and holds in its 9 minute duration plenty of early clues to DFA's now fully-accepted immensity. I thought Herbert's mix of Trentemoller would be earthshatteringly good but, well, it's not; you're better off spending the money on 'Moller's Poker Flat LP, which is crammed with delights. A re-edit of Fred Wesley's 'House Party' (a Carnage disco sureshot) is doing the rounds, Chloe/Sasha-Funke have some electro-house bollocks out on BPitch, the new Isolee is alright (but, as far as I can tell, nothing someone who owns 'We Are Monster' needs to worry about). Check out a tune by Zombi called 'Sapphire' (it's on the B-side to their latest 12", whose name, origin and label escape me), which is the best pitched-up disco tune I've heard in an age and look out for Quiet Village's ultra-spare, so-slow-you-could-have-a-wank-between-the-notes remix of Ronny & Renzo's 'Uniqorn', forthcoming on a new Belgian label called, er, King Kung Foo. The original's actually better, if less ambitious, than the QV re-rub. And sweet Jesus, I almost forgot - Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92, an album which has a fair claim to being the greatest album ever, techno or otherwise, has been repressed on vinyl and can be acquired from the usually record-selling suspects. Don't let me down.
In real life? Not much. Saturday I dropped by Phonica, where M.A.N.D.Y. were having a launch party for their new 'At The Controls' mix CD and spinning a few themselves, which was nice. This week I'm keeping it indie - Long Blondes tomorrow, Camera Obscura on Thursday - then maybe Fabric on Saturday for some Lindstrom live. Hopefully. At the moment, all I have the energy for is Man Utd vs CSK Moscow, Ambient Works and a sausage-sized spliff. Have a good week.
Sorry there are fuck-all pictures, and fuck-all attempt to make this post look pretty. As the Beach Boys once sang, distilling the 5.30pm feeling of alcoholic workers everywhere into sweetly harmonized essence - I feel so broke up, I want to go home.