Archive for the ‘Techno techno’ Category

h1

Flying high

January 18, 2009

air france

Another act that takes me back to the late 90s is the Swedish electro-pop duo Air France.  Not that they were blessing the airwaves back then – simply that they capture a lot of what was good about those days.

Their second EP, No Way Down, was released last year and it’s a promising sign of things to come.  Their music is mostly-wordless, sample-based ambient house music, perfect for lazy summer days and beach parties.  A heaps of turn-of-the-century artists come to mind.  “No Excuses”, my favourite song on the EP, sounds like Daft Punk’s “Digital Love” mashed-up with The Avalanches’ “Since I Left You” in sound as much as bittersweet emotion.  Traces of the Thievery Corporation, Air and a host of little-remembered house anthems can be found elsewhere.

At less than half an hour, it’s over far too quickly, but they’re not fobbing us off so much as whetting our appetite for more substantial fare.  After this, the main course will be really something.

Air France – “No Excuses”

h1

SNAP

January 15, 2009

Remember the late 90s when electronic music was at its popular peak and the “chill out” craze that killed downbeat music was just around the corner?  I LOVED those days.  This was before a million “Cafe Del Mar” and “Best Chillout Album EVER” compilations sucked the life and soul out of dubby, liquid trip-hop and replaced it with Zero 7 remixes of Coldplay songs.  Good times, good times.

Among the best of them was the UK’s Red Snapper – a trio that played smooth drum ‘n’ bass with all the musicianship of a “proper” jazz outfit.  Their landmark album, 1998’s Making Bones, hasn’t dated perfectly.  The vocal tracks are a little bit too late-90s in their coffeehouse acid jazziness.  But the instrumentals?  They still kill me every time.

After a hiatus that’s lasted most of the decade, they’re back with a mini album called Pale Blue Dot.  It’s received minimal coverage and everything about the packaging and promotion suggests that it’s not their attempt at cracking the market again.  This is more a taster – a reward to their old fans for still caring and a signal of what’s to come.

This time the vocals are gone and it’s all fused-up jazzy electro rock of a kind that Miles Davis would probably have made if he was still around now.  Let’s hope it’s the beginning of a fantastic second era.

Red Snapper – “Clam”

h1

Intergalactic Autobahn

April 28, 2008

German techno wasn’t something that I ever expected to embrace – so I suppose I had to come at it a back-route via the catchier realms of Erlend Øye singing 80s pop over Kompakt microhouse tracks or Apparat’s 3 minute electro-glitch anthems.

Apparat was my entree to Ellen Allien, the brains behind cooler-than-cool label Bpitch Control. Allien is getting some attention for her new DJ mix Boogybytes Vol. 4 and will no doubt get some more when her latest artist release Sool sees daylight shortly. And she worked with Apparat on the brilliant Orchestra of Bubbles album from a few years back – a perfect synthesis of laptop pop and underground techno.

Sool is the album that I’ve been spinning lately and I’m waiting for it to yield its secrets. Like a lot of people working at the minimalist end, Allien won’t use two melodic themes per track when one will suffice. Sometime’s there’s almost nothing to grab hold of. But this kind of music usually rewards closer attention.

One of the more accessible moments is “Elphine”, which bounces along with a nice house-y rhythm and gives a good entry point. But there’s nothing as grab-you-by-the-ears immediate as there was on Orchestra of Bubbles. Which is slightly disappointing to these ears.

Ellen Allien – “Elphine”

Ellen Allien and Apparat – “Jet”

h1

Smiles in the valley of the dolls

October 4, 2007

An album that epitomises the warmth of that endless summer of 2004-5 for me is Mylo’s Destroy Rock & Roll, an album that was always overshadowed by the equally brilliant and overplayed single “Drop The Pressure”. The rest of the album was a delicious mix of late-90s house music and early-2000s electroclash. And it started so well with the sunniest track on the album – “Valley of the Dolls”.

The name should have been a dead giveaway for little sample-spotter me, but I only got wise on Saturday when the bar staff at the Lounge on Swanston Street gave the Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Soundtrack a spin. The theme song by 60s folk-poppers The Sandpipers is the source of the beautiful “bah bah bah” bit in the Mylo track and a pretty sweet pop song in its own right.

As Sydney swelters in a premature Summer, it seems appropriate to share some good-time sunshine tunes.

(Thanks to Tova for sourcing the Sandpipers track)

Mylo – “Valley of the Dolls”

The Sandpipers – “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (vocal version)”

h1

Elder stateswomen

September 24, 2007

When I went through a major trip-hop kick around the turn of the century, Everything But The Girl’s “Temperamental” and “Walking Wounded” albums were regular listening. They still stand up pretty well as examples of late-90s electro-pop and the jungly beats haven’t dated badly. But it’s been a long time and music has moved on a lot.

So what do we make of Tracey Thorn’s solo album circa 2007? This from a woman who already reinvented herself in the mid-90s as an indie dance icon after a decade and a half of soft jazz-pop?

Well, “Out of the Woods” has been playing at my place for a while and it’s definitely grown on me. The evolution from late EBTG is smaller than may be expected given the time elapsed, but it’s no retro throwback. And there are a couple of tracks at the end of the album that make me very happy indeed, including a mellow piano ballad and a dancey showstopper.

Have motherhood and middle-age finished Tracey Thorn? I strongly doubt it.

Tracey Thorn – By Piccadilly Station I Sat Down And Wept

Tracey Thorn – Raise The Roof

h1

Remix heaven

September 20, 2007

sugababes.jpg

It’s not a new track, but it’s just been included on a new compilation of remixes from German electro duo M.A.N.D.Y. The song is “Round Round” by the Sugababes and Philipp and Patrick (with some help from Booka Shade) turned it into a electro-house anthem back in 2002.

Electro is a bit of a new passion for me and this is easily the most delicious and dance-floor ready track on 12 Great Remixes for 11 Great Artists. Given that I’m not even averse to the original track (the Sugas have always been a few notches better than their girl-group peers), it’s something that I am keen to share with the world.

For maximum listening pleasure, I recommend you turn all your lights off bar one and wave your hand back and forth. Just like a real strobe light! Amazing!

Sugababes – Round Round (M.A.N.D.Y. Remix)