Mstation Pop etc Commentary, Reviews Valid RSS pre Dec 04 reviews are here

Mon, 31 Oct 2005

Simon Fisher Turner

Simon Fisher Turner, Lana Lara Lata
CD + DVD, Mute

"Lana is sort of ghost music ..." is a quote from SFT and it is ghostly in a non-spooky way. Sounds and fragments come and go in a kind of ethereal way connected by artful use of timbre, level, and small thematic excercises.

This is a collaborative effort between SFT and Rainier Lericolais, and T um, an Italian electronica duo. Simon Fisher Turner is a pretty interesting guy -- ex-child actor, Jonathon King promoted pop failure, punk fan, artist in residence at the ICA, film track author, and now soundscaper.

The DVD presents visuals to go along with the music and the mood remains consistent with what goes before. There is also supposed to be a mixer toy thingy but this didn't become apparent on a Mac.

[] permanent link

Royksopp, 49%

Royksopp, 49 Percent 
(from the Album 'The Understanding')
CD, Virgin

"One of the hallmarks of a great band is the consummate ease with which that group constantly strive to adapt, to evolve, to innovate; thereby ensuring that they never repeat themselves or do something tepid or commonplace"

This latest single released by Royksopp is fantastic. (You can hear a few shorts from that album on their website if you are interested in listening before you buy).

Royksopp are Torbjoern Brundtland and Svein Berge. Their Melody A.M. album is a good example of quality and success - 1,000,000 copies sold worldwide, half of them in the UK. As the quote above suggests, they are always striving to be original. This latest example - 49 percent - introduces lyrics; an unexplored avenue! The simplicity of the voice, juxtaposed with the rhythm and melody, couldn't be better. The remix examples, also on the single bring out the different textures available showing just how flexible music should be. I particularly enjoyed the M.A.N.D.Y. remix, and the West London Deep / 1% Deeper Mix.

They show yet again that it is perfectly possible to be original in everything that you do as music writers. I sense a real inventive touch to everything that they have produced both now and in the past. They are doing justice to the world of contemporary music. (E Walton)

[] permanent link


Rolldeep, Shake a Leg
3 track single, Relentless on Virgin

With roots, raga, and hip-hop, and a sense of humour, there is only one place this could come out of. In fact it's kind of interesting that while lots of other genres are dead on their feet from a lack of any new vision whatsoever, this genre, whether you like it or not, has plenty going on in both a stylistic and content way.

[] permanent link

Richie Hawtin

Richie Hawtin, DE9|Transitions
DVD and CD, Novamute

I spent an hour or two with a Roland MC909 the other day, generating full-on techno by pushing puttons for different patterns while sliding the faders to bring the parts up or down. DJing without turntables or straightforward creation? It's somewhere between the two I think.

Richie Hawtin has been voyaging away from turntables and in his "searching for what's next" he's used Abelton Live and Pro Tools to reassemble bits and tracks. "That's the big question behind all the DE9 CDs - what can I do now with the technology and how can I push it in a new direction to further the experimentation and heighten the experience?". It's also a voyage towards having more of a say creatively, and quite a long way down the path from merely playing other people's work.

In this set is an ordinary CD of the tracks but this is called a "bonus CD" because one of the main things here is 5.1 Surround Sound and that is used on the DVD, where you get the tracks along with minimal screen activity. There's also a filmed conversation with Richie and an excerpt from a music event at Mannheim only a few months ago. One of the interesting points made in the conversation is that, a few years ago, software could only beat match over shortish time periods of twenty seconds or so whereas now it is able to match much longer periods, so making it easier to get further away from the turntable.

In all of this Richie Hawtin manages to maintain his connection with people through their feet -- all of this pleasurably danceable.

[] permanent link


Melnyk with Sara Berg, Silence
LP, Gay Monkey

Melnyk is a Canadian from Alberta who came to live in London, England, where he makes clubworthy electro. Gaymonkey is a Swedish label formed to save that country from sugar pop and metal death and, although I'm personally fairly naive about that sort of thing, appears to be, well, gay. That should cut the homophobes out but what about those of us who don't care what people do in their own houses?

I guess the caracature of gay music is big disco and a certain sort of smoothly produced electro. This falls in the latter group. There are some nice songs that are nicely and smoothly arranged and Sara Berg provides some vocal interest. (Thunderfinger)

[] permanent link

Crazy Girl

Crazy Girl, Get Picked Up
Single, Tummy Touch

You can learn and see more about Crazy Girl in our interview here and about the song too, which is a Betty (wife of Miles) Davis song.

We've got the song and three dance edits here. The first is a synth-rich retro romp with CG's high vocals getting the message across. The remixes come from the likes of Black Fu's and Niyi and the third track is a real stomper. (Dr Boots)

[] permanent link


various, Sound Affects: Malmaison
2 CDs, Bottletop

This is great stuff. I got a surprise when this was randomly selected from a pile to play the sound wars game with a neighbour who likes her TV volume set to stun. The first CD is a collection of rare Afrobeat from ... yes, Africa. The tracks have vibrance and life along with a barefoot funk that seems especially inspiring when you consider the sorts of places this music comes from. For people who are knowledgable about this genre, artists are the likes of Honny and the Bees, Orlando Julius, Awa-KLaSH, Dele Sosimi, and Yahoos.

The second CD consists of remixes by well known mixsters such as Bonobo, Zero, Okenfold, and Quantic. This is good, fun stuff, as well. Who wouldn't be inspired by the original tracks?

This is actually a charity set. Bottletop have to do with sexual health education iniatives and they also sell things like iPod cases and clothing. Malmaison are apparently a "lifestyle hotel group" and I guess they put up the seed money for this project.

[] permanent link

Fri, 07 Oct 2005

New Order DVDs

New Order, A Collection
DVD, Warners

I can't think of anything more suited for transfer to DVD than pop videos. There is a strong visual element that was planned for small screens and the sound is pretty good as well.

Here we have a large selection of tracks from New Order where some effort was made with the videos at the start so this collection on a DVD is a bit of a treat.

All in all, it's a remarkable journey -- from the shadowy, beautiful, and tragic angst of Joy Division to some of the very "up" tracks that New Order have come up with. If you're a fan you'll love it, and if you aren't, maybe you could be.

New Order, The New Order Story
DVD, Warners.

This starts off with two Joy Division songs and if you ever worshipped at that altar this DVD is worthwhile straight away. Well, a must really, even if some of the presentation is annoyingly contrived.

For those that don't know the story, Joy Division put out two albums behind front man Ian Curtis which were dark and gorgeous and Ian Curtis himself was a sort of Dylan of the dark. What he might have become we can only guess at as he committed suicide by hanging himself, and just as people were starting to rave about the band.

The remaining band members were joined by Gillian on keyboards and carried on under the name of New Order. That they were able to do this is a tribute to the friendship that bound them and that they were able to do it with wild success is a tribute to their talent. At first they issued two Ian Curtis songs and then went their own way which, lacking the lyrical brilliance of Ian Curtis, went more towards "up", dancey things and always had a keen eye for the commercial ... which sounds like a putdown. But it's not. What they have done is a seperate thing, a more pop thing, a more innocent thing, a more life-affirming thing. (thunderfinger)

[] permanent link

Sat, 01 Oct 2005

Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones, A Bigger Bang
LP, Virgin

A few years back Rolling Stone mag ran a cartoon which showed a bearded man in the desert in front of an ancient statue which rather resembled the Rolling Stones band. The bearded man was saying, or rather wailing, that "I've come to the oracle for twenty years and it hasn't said a thing". This pretty much summed up the band's recent output which was self-congratulatory arena fodder that was actually pretty well suited to their post Altamont audience of people who didn't quite get it. Well, not all of them of course ... but what were they doing there?

Anyway, the Stones have a pretty impeccable rock 'n' roll history. The point of the thing was, after all, questioning and rebellion. What quite a lot of feckless fans did with the message they received from all that gave great heart to those who would censor and control us in the name of ... well, you know what spurious names they use. And how ridiculous has that got? Regularly, in different countries, you can see examples of censorship ratings systems where pulling someone's spine out causes a small rap on the knuckles but where there's the slighest suggestion of something that is quite legal and most of us do ... sex ... it gets a ban or a very high rating. Is that sick or what?

Back to the Stones: Is the oracle still silent? Does anyone give a shit? Is their pension plan topped up enough yet? First of all, you'd have to say that some attempts have been made in this album to at least dust the oracle off a bit. There is some of the old grittiness and the neo-cons from the USA get a bit of a dusting as well. This will not scare the neo-cons or mobilise anyone or give anyone else a message they hadn't received yet unless they were terminally backward (and this is being written just after Hurricane Katrina). It is a demonstration, however, that the very rich can sometimes be connected to the planet. The song isn't bad at all. It's just a little bit like the dumb kid in class who's the last to get anything.

This kind of leads on to the next answer -- to the question of whether anyone gives a shit. They do, they do! The opening concert in Boston at a 30,000 seater was sold out. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger and the critic for The Times of London (A Murdoch paper) were there. Let me quote briefly from the latter ... 'And although Keith Richards played with customary swashbuckling zeal, the energy level dropped through the floor when he supplied his hopelessly slovenly lead vocals for The Worst and another new song, Infamy.' (,,14936-1746420,00.html) Well, big surprise there, the Times critic doesn't get it. Arnie might well get it, I don't know. The point is that the Rolling Stones are now an event that has mostly to do with their being there rather than saying anything. To most of their crowd, the words are irrelevant: what matters is a tight, professional show, with Sir Mick doing the requisite amount of prancing and acting. It's show biz.

So, is this album a complete waste of time? No, it's not. Is it important? No, it's not.


[] permanent link

Rythmes Digitales

Les Rythmes Digitales, Darkdancer
2 CDs, Wall of Sound

This is good-time electro pop with a little funk and a lot of toe tapping. The main man is Jacques Lu Cont aka Stuart Price who has been Madonna's music director since 2001 and directed the Drowned World tour of 2001 and the Re-invention tour of 2004. And this album is from 1999. I'm not quite sure why it has popped up again now except that Citroen have been using one track a lot and maybe this has sparked new interest. Not that it doesn't deserve interest. It is good stuff within that area. Here are a few words from the blurb and a track listing ...

'Les Rythmes Digitales is one of the many aliases of Stuart Price,
alongside Zoot Woman, Jacques Lu Cont, Thin White Duke, and Paper Faces.
Stuart is hugely in-demand as a producer and has recently worked with
Madonna, New Order and Gwen Stefani. His remixes for the Killers,
Scissor Sisters, Starsailor and Felix Da Housecat have all been huge
things in clubland. Darkdancer is the album that started it allÉ

01 Dreamin'
02 Music Makes You Lose Control
03 Soft Machine (Featuring Thomas Ribero)
04 Hypnotise
05 (Hey You) WhatŐs That Sound?
06 Take A Little Time (Featuring Shannon)
07 From Disco To Disco
08 Brothers
09 Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)
10 About Funk
11 Sometimes (Featuring Nik Kershaw)
12 Damaged People (Featuring Thomas Ribero)

01 Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat) (Club Mix) 
02 Music Makes You Lose Control (LRD remix) 
03 Steps Ahead 5.11 
04 Hey You Whats That Sound ? (LRD remix) 
05 Energy 
06 Sometimes (Junior Sanchez remix)   
07 Nancy Jamaica 
08 Jacques Your Body (Cassius remix edit) 
Hey You (WhatŐs That Sound)? [Video]
Sometimes [Video]

[] permanent link


T. Raumschmiere, Blitzkrieg Pop
LP, Novamute

Golly, the first track of this reminds me of a sort of addled Motorhead. As it happens, there are lots of different moods here. They vary from soothing electronic sweeps to full-on riffing angsttunes where the volume should be set to 11.

Certainly the cover and title suggest that the defining mood is not going to be California dreamin' and so it isn't. Novamute do a good line in indy-tinged more raucous things. Long may they continue. (thunderfinger)

[] permanent link


LP and single, Hed Kandi

Hed Kandi are most well known for their light-hearted dance compiliations. These do not mostly make critics swoon but they are very popular with people who actually buy records. Hed Kandy also, from time to time, bring out a solo singer who usually has a light touch, nice voice, and a bit of funk and soul. And all of which is, of course, smoothly produced. Peyton is one such and he's easy to listen to without being totally easy listening.

[] permanent link

Louise Attaque

Louise Attaque, a plus tard crocodile
LP, Atmosphereques

Grooves, clean rock, electro, high mixed vocals and guitar moments make a radio-friendly album with some nice moments and a mood of art irony.

[] permanent link

Infadels, Jagger '67

EP, Wall of Sound

This has the tracks Jagger '67 and Get Into Me plus four remix tracks of Jagger '67 from Eraserhead, Propellerheads, and Cass and Mangan. The first track that might distantly remind some people with long memories of My Sharona by The Knack, but isn't in that flavour at all. There is some upstanding vocal primping on the first track which, as you'd expect, is stripped for the dance remixes later. All the flavours are fun. (Thunderfinger)

[] permanent link

Hed Kandi

various, Hed Kandi Summer Sampler
LP, Hed Kandi

Cool summer breezes from those purveyors of light hearted tunefulness and danciness. Here we have tracks from the likes of Bliss, Afterlife, Theresa, Late Night Alumni and more. This group of tunes is more for smooching than dancing. (Dr Boots)

[] permanent link

Hed Kandi 50th

various, Hed Kandi 50
3 CD's, Hed Kandi

This is Hed Kandi's 50th release and totals some 47 tracks (well, I was curious) arranged into Disco, Twisted Disco, and "Back to Love". It's kind of interesting that as dance clubland gets increasingly smaller, Hed Kandi continues to thrive. Staying home and playing CD's certainly avoids overpriced clubs anyway.

Also, the sorts of tracks on these CD's are representative of a sort of classic, even retro, clubland which insulates them from the happenings of right now and here this week, gone next week trends. Admittedly this whole scene is less dynamic than it once was but still, there are foundations. (Dr Boots)

[] permanent link

Gravenhurst, The Velvet Cell

Single out 26 Sep 05, Warp Records

These two tracks are from the forthcoming album Fires in Distant Buildings due out on 24 October. I, for one, can't wait. Nick Talbot, joined here, by drummer David Collingwood, has been a genre traveller and here we visit experimental rock with influences suggested in the promo material of My Bloody Valentine and the Velvet Underground amongst others. These may well be true but both of those suggest an anarchism that doesn't actually dwell on these two tracks at least. But the sounds and ideas are there and it is nice. (Dr Boots)

[] permanent link

Diefenbach, Glorious

3 track single, Wall of Sound

Muted instruments with soft swirls and close harmonies in the mid-mixed vocals and even something that sounds suspiciously like a banjo (aside: how do you tell if the stage is sloping to the right? ans: the banjo player is dribbling out of the right side of his mouth! Actually you can substitute any instrument you like in those jokes.) give these three tunes a relaxed, summery, slightly country sort of feel. The tracks are well crafted and more modern sounding than this report suggests. (Dr Boots)

[] permanent link

Fire Engines

Fire Engines, Teenage Premonition
LP, Domino

Sorta fast, sorta guitars, sorta live, sorta lifting a finger to over-produced nonsence, sorta indy and sorta proud of it.

I really like bands with a lot of attitude and the willingness to just get up and do it -- to yell and scream and be on the edge of disaster and not care. The point of it is encapsulated ... oh wait, I was going to say something about producers hanging loose but all of a sudden we have a lot of fairly genuine sounding clapping on a track so at least some of these tracks really do appear to be live. And that's a good thing. Too frequently this sort of band is given to a producer who then attempts to make them commercial and loses every single decent thing the band stood for in the first place. (thunderfinger)

[] permanent link


Ch3vy, Hard Massage
single, Catskills

Lush round tones and retro funkiness with a nice jazz flavour feature on the first track while the second is a more beaty thing but still with an analogue jazzy sort of feel which is tripped up a bit with some random voice incursions and changes. The whole thing is quite worthwhile. (Dr Boots)

[] permanent link