Here are some four pon de floor discs for your consideration. This wraps up album review week; if you missed it, check out the Rappity raps and Beats Etc roundups at your leisure. Next week: a new mix, and maybe some additional surprises…
Hot Since 82
Little Black Book
My personal trainer is a great guy, and a very skilled producer (check his Soundcloud, “Some Triplets” and his Bjork remix in particular – more Debut than Biophilia. It’s really not fair that one person should be so multi-talented, though it gives me hope I can one day be good at mixing *and* have washboard abs). We’re both into electronic music but oddly our taste doesn’t overlap all that much. Probably because he likes weird, esoteric things like, oh, I dunno, melody. One of the things we both unequivocally agree on, though, is Hot Since 82.
There aren’t many producers that fans embrace across subgenres, which is weird considering how often subgenres borrow tricks and sonic staples from each other. Green Velvet’s original “Bigger Than Prince” is hard and spare, with subtle references to the purple one’s “DMSR” and others, but that string pad is perfectly Detroit/Kraftwerk, and there’s no question about whether the tune counts as house. Hot Since 82’s remix takes it in an early-90s NYC house direction, and who doesn’t like that? I’m sure there are a few aliens somewhere in the region of Alpha Centauri who’ve never heard that sound, but they would enjoy it if they did. It’s as close to universally acclaimed as you can get, like Shakespeare, chocolate and orgasms.Â Thankfully, Hot Since 82 is good at that sound. Really fucking good. The bassline is just slightly off in a very deliberate way, which makes it feel like you’re hearing it on well-worn vinyl even though the engineering is otherwise perfectly modern and punchy.
It’s not even worth going off on a tangent about the pervasive revivalist streak in dance music right now, other than to point out that Hot Since 82 isn’t necessarily in their camp. Try placing the subtly face-melting, detuned lead in “Hot’s Groove” in some historical box? Good luck. The burbling, ping-ponging bassline and squelchy, noisy but never intrusive haze of low bleeps that dart in and around Alex Mills’ angst-ridden vox in “Shadows”? Nobody’s idea of vintage, at least, not mine. If there’s an aspect of Little Black Book that harks back to another era, it’s the sense of atmosphere, of letting a bunch of syncopated elements build intensity over the course of a track rather than a pro forma structure that advances the tune section by section. Still, the pitched down vocals and flashes of arpeggiated melody appear very 2013, in a way that makes me think it’s not just geezers like myself who are feeling it.
I knew from the likes of uber-critic Tim Finney and also from interviews with Cut Copy that Australia has a healthy club scene for electronic music. I still can’t picture Aussie duo Gardland’s new disc getting much play out where the sun beats down ferociously, though. Syndrome Syndrome feels like a transmission from Scandinavia or somewhere desolate and cold, possibly under ground. I can’t recall the last time I heard a minimal tech album this alive, seething with propulsion and energy, though, so maybe Australia has something to do with it. Are the synths solar powered?
Flip to “Ride Wid Me” and you’ll see what I mean. At first it seems to stick to the script, a soft kick and a stab from the keys that seems generic – then they start tweaking them with effects, and by the time the hats come in, kicking things up a notch, it’s not your average minimal cut anymore. There’s a frantic, hysterical edge from the siren-like effects, stretched and transformed by delay into a screech like a dying b-movie monster. This is not a minimal track for sipping tea and bobbing your head to. And from the head-fake of “Ode To Ode” to the lush title track to the gurgling “Hell Flur,” Syndrome Syndrome defies the cliches about the genre to deliver what should be a minimal heads’ classic.
Most of all, picking up Syndrome Syndrome has increased my already elevated esteem of RVNG Intl. Trendy reissue label? Forget it. These guys have consistently put out the best records out there. I am going to start buying up their back catalogue on general principle.
The Acid Documents
Sounds Of The Universe
Speaking of things that no sane person could dislike, how about some acieeeeed? Jamal Moss a.k.a. Hieroglyphic Being needs no introduction, but it’s worth reiterating just how great he is at injecting soul into the machinefabriek of acid techno. With the careful deployment of just a few hand drums, tracks four and nine (they’re all ‘Untitled’) sound like a war dance being held in the shadow of an assembly line. Track three is like a hands-in-the-air rave heard from outside the club, with spurts of a two-note melodic wiggle escaping from an open door. And there’s plenty of subtlety that you might not expect from a set that goes heavy on the squelch – track ten percolates at a steady pace but never quite throttles the eardrums, building tension with what sounds like a 12-tone set from some serialist avant-garde classical piece rubbing nervously against a funky little bit of bassline/tom tom interplay. Compared to, say, Plastikman, it just goes to show how much potential stylistic range there is in so-called minimalism – Hieroglyphic Being’s vision is completely different from most other acid heads, while using a similarly limited palette. Two 303-twiddling thumbs up, way up.
Note: there aren’t any audio samples available via SoundCloud etc so I have teefed these clips from the Sounds of the Universe web store. Go there to buy the disc, they are great people and the CD is worth the dough.