Odds and sods: Pixelord, Bitchin’ Bajas

Bitchin Bajas

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Transporteur
Hands In The Dark

As I gazed at extortionate collector prices for a copy of Bitchin Bajas’ out-of-print Krausened EP today, it occurred to me how much had changed since then. (And that maybe I should be grateful there are copies to be had.) Transporteur hints at their last, self-titled album, with the group’s latest release appearing to be pillaging the off-the-cutting-room-floor bassoons or bass clarinets. Only where that last seemed deliberate, and deliberated over, nothing on Transporteur feels especially thought through. Arpeggiators arpeggiate, drones drone, but nothing sticks. I still love them, but as far as collectibility goes, maybe don’t stockpile this one quite as assiduously…

Terranova

terranova
Restless
Kompakt

Apparently, not every single thing Kompakt puts out is great. My worldview is shaken to its very core, cats dogs living together total anarchy, &c. That said, even this not-especially-memorable artist album has a few knockout moments, so rather than rag on at length about wack vocals (“Underverse”) I would like to point you to the subtly original dub-tech-house of “Goldilocks” and even “Restless Summer”. You can see the sort of goth romanticism in a handful of Terranova’s tracks serving a certain purpose in a Michael Mayer Immer mix, for example, but mostly the clunky, disjointed attempts at anthemic grandeur come off like junior high school theatre nerds speaking to each other in olde English – in short, tedious.

Pixelord

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Places
Hyperboloid

Is anything less endearing among amazing producers than realizing that said producers can do multiple genres with ease? It seems silly but it bears repeating that we do not trust you if you seem to do too many things well. (See also: Bjork, Andre Ethier, Michael Bloomberg). Pixelord is not going to escape that trap, which is a shame in one sense – twisted hip-hop beats like the Destiny’s Child-tweaking “Ottawa” are nearly as solid as plaintive yet garage-y cuts like “Bodo” and “Novosib.” The variety probably makes him harder to market, but it certainly doesn’t make him hard to like.

Lakker

lakker
Tundra
R&S

Lakker has made some frighteningly unrelenting singles and EPs for R&S so I was pleasantly surprised to find tunes like “Mountain Divide” on Tundra, blending the drum-corps assaults of his earlier stuff with touches of rusty, reverbed-out drone and keening high-register vocals. Tundra has plenty of slam-dunk moments, but it really shines when Lakker explores different moods beyond just the total panic of humans stuck in a fancypants space station’s trash compactor. (In fairness, it also does that very well – see the urgently throbbing “Milch” and “Ton’neru.”) “Halite” sounds more like the soundtrack to a night driving scene in a Michael Mann movie, while the album-ending two-fer of “Oktavist” and “Herald” brush lightly up against the skittering hits of early Autechre while channeling ambient Aphex Twin – never a bad thing.

Top 25 Singles of 2014 so far

You better stop, children what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
No but like, seriously, what the fuck was that? It was hella loud, yo
– Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth”

There have been a lot of records this year in the burgeoning BANG! BOOM! CRASH! subgenre, where the samples and/or drums are so loud they feel like they’re jumping out of your speaker and hitting you in the face, even at low volume. But the best of them remain undeniably musical, and even catchy. Evian Christ and Bok Bok are tops in this department, through different approaches; the American upstart is relentlessly melodic even with his noisiest bits (a skill he shares with Skrillex, of all people) while the Brit turns even the rawest repetitions into R&B, whether it’s with 80s quiet storm synths or the very Aaliyah-like vocal stylings of Kelela.

Looking down the list, melody is the thing, however subtle. It’s there in Martyn and Four Tet’s twinkling kalimba samples, Toronto’s Jex Opolis’ Zither EP (especially “On The Cliffs” with its stabs of vocal “aaaahs” and gently burbling drums), DMX Krew’s oddly compelling lounge-pop and even H-SIK’s amped-up breakbeat science. I used to think a hummable tune was optional, even quaint, but maybe the years of minimal tech – and the waning of the prog house sound in favour of who knows what in EDM-land – have made it more palatable, if not outright necessary.

You’ve got your grime-oriented and just plain weird producers in there, of course – Mumdance coming with a couple of collaborations (with Logos and Pinch respectively) that make it sound like there’s a vacuum cleaner and/or a rogue mobile phone behind the boards, as well as Phon.o, Lakker and L-Vis 1990 all delivering sides that are more not-there than there. But the tunes predominate, however simple — from Vitalic’s uncharacteristically pop-oriented take on Paul Kalkbrenner’s “Altes Kamuffel” to the chugging grooves from Melchior Productions Ltd., Todd Terje and KHLHI (a.k.a. Four Tet).

*Oh, and in light of the Polaris Music Prize short list announcement, it’s worth remembering that – without taking anything away from Jessy Lanza’s accomplishment – there’s plenty of Hot Canadian Electronic Action happening outside the album sphere. Jex Opolis, Tiga and Hobo on this list, plus Adam Marshall’s New Kanada label (and Graze alias), Guillaume and the Coutu Dumonts, Caribou’s Jiaolong imprint, Lunice, Kaytranada etc. Don’t sleep on the frozen north.

1. Evian Christ – Waterfall (Tri Angle)

2. Bok Bok – Your Charizmatic Self EP (Night Slugs)

3. Martyn – Forgiveness (EP) – (Ninja Tune)

4. Jus Now – Bare Wine (feat. Swappi) / Vodou Riddim (Gutterfunk)

5. Jex Opolis – Zither EP (Good Timin)

6. H-SIK – Sonic Rage / No Promises (Black Acre)

7. Sam Russo – To The Brink / Wanderer (Air London)

8. Jamie XX – Sleep Sound (Young Turks)

9. Mumdance & Logos – Legion / Proto (Tectonic)

10. Alex Coulton – Murda / Break Pressure (Black Acre)

11. Gerry Read – Shrubby (Aus Music)

12. KHLHI – Percussions (Text)

13. Komon and Appleblim – Jupiter EP (Aus Music)

14. Paul Kalkbrenner – Altes Kamuffel (Vitalic Remix) (Paul Kalkbrenner Music)

15. Juju & Jordash – Waldorf Salad/Third Planet from Altair (Dekmantel)

16. DMX Krew – Hot Punch / My Metro (Fresh Up)

17. Pinch & Mumdance – Turbo Mitzi / Whiplash

18. Melchior Productions Ltd – The Return Of The Cosmic Kids (Aspect Music)

19. Lakker – Containing a Thousand (R&S)

20. Todd Terje – Spiral (Full Pupp)

21. L-Vis 1990 – Ballads EP (Night Slugs)

22. Tiga & Audion – Fever (Remixes) (Turbo)

23. Flava D – Home / Hold on VIP

24. phon.o – Cracking Space Pt. 1 (50 Weapons)

25. Hobo – Mind Games (Soundz)

Mix: War Games

Expedition 21 Docking

Rough and rugged, rugged and raw – is anyone else feeling like grime is having a moment? There’s plenty beyond that realm in this ruffneck bizness mix, but I do have to say that the Boxed Vol. 1 comp feels like the actual resurgence of that sound that the Grime 2.0 comp was trying to manufacture (not that Ninja Tune’s set was unwelcome). Lock into this sound like you’re sitting in a beat-up Ford Fiesta trying to pull in some bashment pirate radio…

Click here to download War Games from mediafire

1. TOKiMONSTA – Focused Chaos – Half Shadows (Ultra)
2. Jack Dice – Stash’s Theme (Feat. Stash Marina) – Sip Paint (Modern Love)
3. High Klassified – Scopola – Palindroma (Fool’s Gold)
4. Mumdance & Logos – Proto – Legion / Proto (Tectonic)
5. Dizzee Rascal – Strings Hoe (Wen Refix) – Strings Hoe (Wen Refix) / Signal (Keysound)
6. L-Vis 1990 – Ballad 4D VIP – Ballad 4D VIP / Not Mad (Helix Bootleg) (Night Slugs)
7. Danny Brown – Shouldn’t Of – The OD EP (Fool’s Gold)
8. Strict Face – Saigon Figure – Boxed Vol. 1 (Boxed)
9. Patrick Sexx – Placebo Pinch – Shape (Alpha Pup)
10. Lakker – Mausoleum – Containing a Thousand (R&S)
11. 040 – Minors – Let It Be Known (Butterz)
12. Martyn – Vancouver – Vancouver (Head High Remix) (White Label)
13. Youngsta – Poseidon – Destruction / Poseidon (Tempa)
14. Special Request – Ride VIP – Soul Music (Houndstooth)
15. Crazy Bald Heads – First Born – First Born (Text)
16. Digital Mystikz – 2 Much Chat – 2 Much Chat / Coral Reef (DMZ)
17. Machinedrum – Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real – DJ-Kicks: Brandt Brauer Frick (K7)

Deemo – War Games by Deejaydeemo on Mixcloud