Alex Smoke (top), The CBS
It's been mentioned once or twice here already but if you've got broadband and speakers and you're not permanently masturbating yourself into a frenzy to the Cybernetic Broadcasting radio station (cbs.nu) then what are you playing at? This is the online station run by hard-working Dutch disco demi-god I-F and his loyal mix-supplying robot squadron from the Viewlexx tower block in Delft, near The Hague in Holland, where they play mind-blowing electronic music 24-7-365—the cream of disco, electro, techno, Italo, soundtracks, anything and everything as long as it rocks in a cosmic synthetic style. I don't think a single duff track has ever been aired. Of course I'm biased because this is my favourite kind of music and I find it hard to tolerate anybody who doesn't agree with me. But when a resourceful station such as the CBS spoils you rotten with hit after hit of class A shit, it's difficult to listen to anything else. Why accept inferior substitutes? Discovering this station is like diving into a secret world you'd always knew existed but weren't sure where. The only annoying thing is the costly desire to own all the super-rare Italo records from 1982 and '83 regularly broadcast. At Christmas all the like-minded listeners voted for their all-time favourite tracks in the CBS Top 100. A friend burnt me an MP3 of the mammoth countdown and it's off the hook: Freak Electrique's beautiful "P.H.A.S.E.R"; is Number One! Automat's 1978 synth odyssey "(The) Rise (The) Advance (The) Genus"; was in there too, and Gino Soccio's "Remember";. You know those conversations that end, despairingly, "In a parallel world, everyone would love this music, if only they could hear it.";? Well the CBS is that portal you've been searching for.
You hear plenty of tracks by Alden Tyrell on the CBS. He's the dreadlocked electronic disco master and everyone plays his stuff now. I'm convinced 2005 will be his year; he's too good to remain an underground concern. There's some sort of album on Clone planned for the summer but in the meantime his dramatic "Disco Lunar Module"; has been remixed by the guys from Unit 4 (the "Body Dub"; dudes) under the name u4ria: their two "Superdunkel"; versions, on the Mogs label, ably accentuate the original's throbbing Moroderishness. On another Clone 12", Tyrell supplies a brand new track, a Goblin-esque narco-disco cover of The Creature's early-80s curio "Other Worlds Robots";, while hot-to-trot Norwegian producer Lindstrom provides a sprightly remix of Tyrell's "Disco Lunar Module"; which sounds like some mesmeric bell-bottomed epic by Tantra (they were in the CBS 100 with the ridiculous "The Hills Of Katmandu";—now you know where Tyrell got the title for his lovely "Hills Of Honolulu"; 12" on Viewlexx last year. It's a healthily incestuous scene).
I'm yet to be completely bowled over by Lindstrom and his occasional recording partner Prins Thomas, though it's all sounding promising. They've been around a while and seem particularly prolific at the moment; they've an easy, seductive style that swirls and twirls with sinuous grace on their latest 12" on Feedelity, "Further Into The Future";, while Lindstrom's mix of Danish indie types Diefenbach's "Make Your Mind Up"; on Wall Of Sound is some sort of
-style marathon. Prins Thomas, meanwhile, remixes another Norwegian, Tromsø's pioneering electronics guy Mental Overdrive, on his cute ‘Disko Dans"; single for Smalltown Supersound. Mental Overdrive is Per Martinsen, a mentor to the likes of Røyksopp, who released bits and pieces on R&S back in the halcyon rave days. His first new album in ages,
, is a warm and welcoming record ripe with dippy melodies and celestial disco that anyone can get into. He's calling this his "roots"; album because he hopes it re-evokes the euphoria caused by hearing electronic music for the first time. I guess he's older and wiser now and stopped producing challenging music because no one appreciates that stuff these days, plus everyone's far too competitive. Now dude's just chilling.
What about the new Mathew Jonson single, "Marionette";, on the Wagon Repair label? Have you heard it? It's incredible. There was a point last year when the young Canadian techno superstar released so many records on various labels that were played and hyped by all and sundry that you almost tired of him. But "Marionette"; glistens and glides with such captivating elegance that you wonder how he can possibly top it, and yet he surely will. Similarly, it's been a pleasure charting the remarkable ascent of Glasgwegian newcomer Alex Smoke, who in less than a year—six months even—has become one of the most-talked-about electronic producers around. His debut album Incommunicado for Soma (who with Vector Lovers are on something of a roll at the moment) is an informed and coherent response to all that advanced twilight psychedelia emanating from Berlin, Cologne and Geneva. There are traces of Luciano, Villalobos and the Voigt brothers in Smoke's, ahem, smouldering tracks but he's canny and talented enough to forge his own distinctive style on an album that always stimulates despite clocking in at 68 minutes. You've heard this kind of miminal electro before, of course, but you've rarely heard it done so well.