I have been dipping my nib in the company ink… no wait, that’s not the expression I want. Um anyways I’ve been doing a bunch of freelance for the parts of the Globe that are not my day job, hence the subdued activity round these parts. Please enjoy my thoughts on the Jay-Z Daft Punk collab here, and feel free to peruse the reviews below that would never ever run in the Globe, at least not until I become top banana and make it an all-electronic-music arts section. *cackles conspiratorially*
Churches Schools and Guns
Lately I’ve been noticing that the minimal, techy stuff I once embraced is wearing thin, due to what must be overexposure. I fear I’ve hit peak bloop blorp. It’s largely the Lucy record that has pushed me to this conclusion, because under other circumstances I think I would be an unabashed fan. They might be tricky to dance to but there’s a lot to obsess over in the rich rhythmic and textural buffet of tracks like “The Best Selling Show.” And any album that casts samples of Peter Finch’s epic Network rant in a Blade Runner-ish dystopia of clanging pipes and shallow echoes (“Leave Us Alone”) can’t be all bad. But the number of times I’ve put the disc on and zoned out completely can’t be a good thing. At a certain stage, when the drums are kicking and the synth pads are padding, if it doesn’t hang together, well, it doesn’t hang together. Like rival gangs in a prison yard.
Brandt Brauer Frick
Here’s a stumper for you: when I got this mix, it came with the mixed MP3 as well as the individual tracks used in the set. I promptly stole at least three of them for my own mixes. And yet, do I enjoy this hour of wonky tech and house mixed by a group I generally enjoy, and featuring artists like Peverelist, French Fries, Theo Parrish, several guys from the Night Slugs roster and others whom I absolutely love? No, I do not. Maybe it’s just professional jealousy, since I mixed those tunes so much better, obviously. But my feeling after listening to this a dozen times is that maybe having three DJs in the mix just doesn’t work – everyone wants to drop their favourite techy new tunes, and a few left-field choices, but since no one person has enough time behind the decks to establish a mood and then get sick of it enough to want to change it, everyone creates their own mini-arcs that don’t jive with the experience of actually listening to the whole hour front to back. I don’t know if that’s the case, but I will say that the choice of that old Underground Resistance classic, Galaxy 2 Galaxy’s “Transition,” doesn’t really work where it appears in the mix. Considering what a banger that usually is, I wonder if BBF are just tone-deaf to the way a mix like this is supposed to work. (Paging Henrik Schwarz.)
I once tried to collect the entire Roule and Crydamoure catalogs (on MP3, fine, stop judging me) which should tell you how big a fan I am of a certain era of French touch house. So starting a mix with a track from Roule (and others, obviously) alum Roy Davis Jr. endeared Move D to me almost immediately. We’re far enough from that era that a DJ can dabble in a bit of the swishy end of 90s – a snippet of diva vocals here, a “jazzy” (ugh) piano there – without tipping over into a nostalgia trip, and this mix feels distinctly modern while still channeling the sounds and vibe that made ’90s house such a juggernaut. Highly recommended.
I wouldn’t characterize the new Nochexxx as melodic, exactly. But even if the melodic fragments flying around Thrusters’ crowded sound world aren’t perfectly hummable, they are definitely refreshing, in the context of the aforementioned bleakness elsewhere. There’s a real sense of fun in these busy, hyper little tunes, which dart around like toddlers on a sugar high (save for the somber title track, with its sample of the ground crew’s reaction to the Challenger disaster used in a far more, let’s call it… appropriate way than on Beyonce’s album). I like to think of silent film characters acting out pratfalls and japes of all sorts, in jerkily high speed, as the album plays. That’s a good thing, FYI.