Gathering artists from Mexico, Germany, Sweden, Croatia, England, Australia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, France, Japan, Canada, and the States, Compost's double CD Ennio Morricone Remixes Volume 2 is chockablock with reworkings of the legendary film-score composer. I must admit, when I first heard that the Germany label was going to scour the globe for artists to remix Ennio Morricone, I was all like, "Unh-unh, dude is untouchable." Forget the fact that he's scored more than four hundred films; he was a master of moods who basically tore up the book on music in film and rewrote that motherfucker himself, busting the dial on experimentation. At one point, spaghetti-western director Sergio Leone actually let him do the music before he shot the film, so that he would get inspired. Well, I'm happy to say that this compilation rules. Swedish techno-jazz producer Hird does a subtle rubberband bass number on his version of "The Good The Bad and The Ugly," while Tom Middleton (half of the UK break duo Jedi Knights) swings his "Cosmos Mix" of the 1971 score from Maddalena into brushed snare and lush, filtered piano/string oblivion. The twisted "Ants In My Kitchen" dub of "Seasons Of the Senses" by Docktor Rockit (a.k.a. Herbert) is off-kilter wonkyness, while Germany's Computerjockeys' version of the theme from The Humanoid is bleepy, breaky, Commodore 64 madness. On the whole, it's a fresh multistyle take on Morricone's amazing scores.
Top respect to Kompakt for going the slow and steady route. Without trying to cash in on hype, these guys keep a low profile while straight ruling techno these days. Take the new mix by Hamburg's DJ Koze. It's less like a star-studded mix of chart-topping hits and dancefloor filler and more like a mixtape lovingly created for you by your new best friend after you just caught your girlfriend getting comfers-cozers (that means snuggling) with your now ex-best friend. The whole thing starts with Koze throwing the idea of the conventional mix-CD out the window by dropping some nice unexpected unmixed shit. Bringing things like that amazing Langley School Project (you know, the one with all those singing Vancouver hippie-spawn) together with Jan Jelinek and an older Mr. Oizo cut shows that it's less about what's hot and more about what's good. When he does get to mixing, Koze cuts shit in raw and leaves in the crackly vinyl imperfections. On the bumpier side, Ricardo Villalobos, Isolée, Smith N Hack, and a nice, deep and dark Thomas Brinkmann tune round out the mix. Finally, a mix CD with a little personality!
So what the fuck is going on with all these amazing Japanese ambient artists these days? Maybe it's because they have an extra sense of taste or because my subscription to Orient-holes has run out, but I swear they are making the best experimental electronic pop ever. Last year I creamed my jeans over Mego artist Tujiko Noriko whose Tomlab album From Tokyo To Naigara was a perfect one-two punch of hooky experimental sweetness. Then Susumu Yokota's Laputa (Skintone) also rocked on the haunting, ambient, soundtrack-y tip. Now Kompakt is releasing Japanese duo Pass Into Silence's Calm Like a Millpond, and yet again, it is some of the most beautiful electronic ambient shit I've heard in a long time. Fluttering vocal-sampled melodies à la Jean Michel Jarre circa Zoolook combine with waves of Vangelis-y synth chords and lo-fi Casio chimes. This is the kind of music clouds listen to when they go to sleep.
I'm tired of people hating on folktronica almost as much as I'm tired of the term folktronica. Sure, most of these guys have big stinky beards and spend way too much time flaming each other online over which Autechre album is the most "honest," but what about guys like Greg Davis? He likes to use his time wisely by doing things like reading, sitting in forests crosslegged and making some of the deepest laptop-folk music ever. Check out his album Curling Pond Woods on Carpark. While other chumps in the genre are just overlaying looped and granulated acoustic guitar over glitch beats, dude's throwing Brian Wilson, Bert Jansch, and Steve Reich together into a room full of acoustic instruments, computers, and toys. While some of the vocal stuff is a little too hokey DIY for me, these are some of his most delicate and lush yet constrained arrangements to date.
Nyles Lannon (who also plays and sings for San Francisco indie outfit Film School) makes his bedroom-producer debut with Astronomy for Children (Highpoint Lowlife). It's a beautifully arranged slice of tear-jerkingly melodic electronic nostalgia. While IDM punters will delight in the inevitable Boards of Canada comparisons, Lannon's forged a path of his own with a sometimes glitchier randomized sound that is refreshingly jarring. Check out the second track, "4 Little Fires," for some gentle robo-lullabies.
After over two years of solid touring, Numbers are back with another twelve tracks of angular guitar attack, deadly disco drums, and nasally Moog skronk topped off with shouted boy-girl vocalisms. Armed with an explosive presence and a subversive sense of humor, In My Mind All The Time (Tigerbeat 6) picks up where their debut Life left off. Subjects like consumerism, hipster obsession, and being drunk with pain all get the robo-shout lyrical treatment, while musically, only a few songs (like the droned-out closer) tread new ground. With most tracks sounding very reminiscent of their debut, some poo-pooers may hate on it for being too similar. I say this is get-up-and-dance, jump-up-and-down-and-break-stuff music, so really, who cares?
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