Ok, so remember that track “Missy Queen’s Gonna Die” from a couple of years back? I’m sure you know it cuz jocks are still playing the shit out of it. It’s the one with the wickedly strong female vocal that wasn’t all blasé Euro monotony, and it had a great verse/chorus that the Martini Bros. remix turned to full-on flaming guitar-rock. It would always get every hot girl and guy in the club into eyes-locked grinding mode. Well, the Toktok guys are back with a new album on Hor Spiel Musik. This time, instead of dishing out the rugged electro cool, they’re dropping some serious, banging, quasi-industrial, lo-fi club shit. This is down-and-dirty techno that would destroy any small-to-medium-size party with the kick-drum sounds alone. Most of the thirteen tracks were recorded live, so they have that sense of urgency that’s often lost in a sterile studio environment.
How much does Ellen Allien rule? When she’s not running around Europe tearing up the clubs, Berlin’s reigning queen of heady electro-techno is busy releasing some of the best tracks around on her Bpitch label. Take the new Bpitch full-length by Sascha Funke, for example. It’s all melodic and laid back without pounding the same fucking idea into your head for seven minutes. Nice melodies and oddly sparse rhythmic flourishes make it such a great relaxed listen (apart from the tough, club-friendly title track). OK, so maybe some of the wispier sounds and light-as-air melodies will have people thinking “adult contemporary schmaltz,” but trust me, it’s a lot edgier than that. Check Ellen Allien’s remix of the first single, “Forms & Shapes,” too. It’s nice.
Of course, you can’t talk hot German labels without mentioning the Gigolos. While they don’t always hit the mark (let’s face it, that DJ Hell vs. P-Diddy 12” was pretty weak), the new one from UK duo Psychonauts is great. You may remember these guys from their days with illbient label Mo’ Wax. Their latest, Songs for Creatures, breaks from the Gigolos’ standard electro club fare with some lush psychedelic rock and pulsing sample-based funk. “Hot Blood” is a punk-funk rager that reminds me of Factory Records alums A Certain Ratio. On “Fear Is Real” some dubbier elements come out over Grace Jones-type vocals (courtesy of Siobhan Fahey), while “Dream Chaser” is like an epic rock glide over Steve Reich chasms of repetition. A rich and varied album well worth a listen.
The new Midwest Product album, World Series of Love, on Ghostly International is pretty sweet. These guys have a great way of combining the cold, bleepy, squelchy sound of laptops with the sentimentality of “real” instruments. Their loose, jammy feel makes me suspect a great live show. Most of their songs are driving, with short percussive melodies that loop from beginning to end while they build on top with live bass, guitar, and some great drum sounds. The vocals are constantly switching up styles; Gary Numan and Numbers fans will surely like the tongue-in-cheek robo delivery on “I Work at the Bank,” while the voice on a track like “Motivator” has a nice New Order-y feel.
When I told my friend from Toulouse that I just got the new Metal Urbain reissue on Acute Records, he laughed and just started totally dissing them. Then we put it on and he stopped laughing and we started running around the room destroying stuff. Sure, lyrically their more experimental stuff (like “Lady Coca Cola”) gets pretty obnoxious, but their fusion of drum machines, squealing synths, and three-chord punk rock makes them as relevant today as they were back in 1978. Let’s hope their comeback tour isn’t as wack as the great Suicide fiasco of last year.
IDM fans should make sure to allocate part of their IT paycheck for the latest triple-vinyl comp from braindance bigwigs Rephlex. Over the last twelve years, Rephlex has assembled an amazing roster of talent, and each track on this nineteen-song comp stands out on its own as a little nugget of sonic goodness. From the crazy bass attack of Cylob’s well-wicked “Smack ’Em Up Sharp” to the lush driving ambience of Bochum Welt’s “Radiopropulsive” to the 80s revivalism of DMX Krew’s “I’m All Alone” to the delicate melodic intimacy of Ensemble’s “Proposal 5,” Rephlexions is basically nineteen reasons why Rephlex is one of the dopest labels around. This is the current frontrunner for compilation of the year. Absolutely essential.
When Gez Varley left the pioneering techno duo LFO, people wondered what was going to happen. Well, they can stop worrying, because LFO is back with a new album, and it fucking kills! Flying solo for the last six years, Mark Bell has been busy producing albums for Björk and Depeche Mode. But Bell seems to have left the ultraclean studio shimmer aside for Sheath, making it one of the dirtiest, grittiest, rawest, most unpretentious techno albums to come along in a while. Like most of the release, the lead-off single “Freak” is a barebones dancefloor rocker that sounds closer to their amazing debut Frequencies than their ’96 effort Advance. If you’re looking for raw beats and growling synths that simply work on the dancefloor, you can’t do much better than this.
RAF + VINCE
HUB Musique Top Ten
1. Egg Don’t Postpone Joy (Mutek) 2. Ghislain Poirier Beats as Politics (Chocolate Industries) 3. The Rip Off Artist Pet Sounds (Vertical Form) 4. Lisa Carbon Standard (Rather Interesting) 5. V/A Superlongevity 3 (Perlon) 6. Ricardo Villalobos Alcachofa (Playhouse) 7. Pedro Pedro (Melodic) 8. Prefuse 73 Extinguisher:outtake (Warp)
9. V/A Volt AA (Oral) 10. Felix Kubin The Tetchy Teenage Tapes of Felix Kubin 1981-85 (A-musik)