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Electric Independence

When I think about the first time I was really exposed to electronic music, I was too young to be into shit like the sample-a-delic space age pop of Jean Jacques Perrey, or the twisted genius of inventor Raymond Scott.
December 1, 2002, 12:00am

When I think about the first time I was really exposed to electronic music, I was too young to be into shit like the sample-a-delic space age pop of Jean Jacques Perrey, or the twisted genius of inventor Raymond Scott. In fact, when these guys released their first recordings, I wasn’t even an itch in my dad’s pants. Progressive rock was gay (I was still eating Play-Doh and shitting my Pampers), and even electro, although fun to backspin to in the schoolyard, was not my real passion. No, for me (and at least 22 million other kids) my first real exposure to electronic music came from a little gray box called the Commodore 64. I still remember those sleepless nights, bug-eyed in front of the screen trying desperately to pass the next level of BMX Kidz as the 8-bit electro-funk (slightly reminiscent of the Beverly Hills Cop theme) raged on in the background. There was something about the digital quality of the C64’s SID (Sound Interface Device) audio chip and the squealing electro-pop melodies that made the music cheap, futuristic, infectious, and annoying all at the same time. To paraphrase the famous ad campaign: “I adored my 64.” Then the PC came along and fucked all that up. My C64 ended up gathering dust in the garage next to my Rock ’Em Sock ’Em robots and Knight Rider Big Wheel, leaving the music to be long forgotten. Until now. Based in Lueneburg, Germany, Enduro Records has released two compilations centering around the music of the Commodore 64. From the upbeat melodic synth pop of “Alloy Run” to the bittersweet triumph of the “Monty on the Run Main Theme,” Enduro’s first release Input 64 (Enduro) is 18 tracks of original Commodore 64 game music composed from 1984–89. With its extensive liner notes, Input gives us a brief history of the C64 company, as well as the lowdown on the six major playaz in the history of C64 composition. One man, Ron Hubbard, is touted as the “only true legendary figure” of C64 music. With over 75 game soundtracks to his credit, Hubbard is also responsible for “Crazy Comets,” the dopest electro-pop jam in the whole collection, and the ghostly hard steppin’ of “One Man and His Droid.” Even the BMX Kidz theme was his. This comp is simply a must for gamers and electroheadz alike. OK, nostalgia’s all fine and good, but how does the C64 fit into today’s techno? Well, Enduro’s second release Output 64 answers that very question. The cover says, “15 Ways to Treat Commodore 64 Game Tunes in the 21st Century.” Flip over to the track listings and you’ll find the names of some of today’s hottest electro-pop artists giving the C64 tunes the remix treatment. From Steve Claydon (of Add N To X), to German retro kitsch-core group Jeans Team, to Helsinki’s Op:l Bastards, to Rephlex artist Ovuca, Enduro has assembled a crack team of producers and reducers to give their own interpretations of that classic SID sound (even Jean Jacques Perrey lends a hand). The result is 76 minutes of musical mayhem ranging from minimal tech to new wave to electrobreaks that not only showcase the retro-ideology of Commodore-core, but stand up as dope tracks in their own right. Highlights are Gebr. Teichmann’s “Crazy 64” track and Plundersonic’s “Mutant’s Here I Am” featuring Mellissa Logan from Chicks On Speed on vocals. Seek it out and keep your eyes peeled for a 7” (complete with 3-D cover art and 3-D glasses) slated for release in May. For updates and previews of all the tracks check out the integrated mp3 player on their site (www.enduroplus.net). Speaking of remixes, check out the latest offering from NY’s Carpark label. You may remember Marumari from last year’s supadope Supermogadon (Carpark) release and his Wolves Hollow and Ballad of the Round Ball albums from a few years ago. Now the artist otherwise known as Josh Presseisen has assembled some of his best buddies to remix his album. Luckily, his friends also happen to be dudes from the Tigerbeat6 (Cex, Electric Company), Isophlux (L’usine), and Kracfive (Octopus Inc., Colongib) camps. The result is a blissed-out journey through electro-acoustic soundscapes that retain a melodic integrity over deep and minimal beats. From the hazy ether of the opening tune by Electric Company to the acoustic folk-tronics of labelmate Greg Davis, there’s something for everyone on this release. Never sounding like it’s trying too hard, The Remixes should be taken at face value: as simple and beautiful takes on a simple and beautiful album. Once again, it’s time to dust off the old turtleneck and get that chin ready for a-strokin’ as Montreal’s Mutek festival of forward- thinking music gets under way. I had a chance to give a listen to some of the upcoming new releases by a few of the festival’s featured artists, so here’s the lowdown. Akufen My Way — okay, for those of you who haven’t heard, this guy is the shit. With 12”s already out on Trapez, Background and his killer Quebec Nightclub EP on Perlon, this album on seminal German label Force Inc. further solidifies Akufen’s position as a leader in the next wave of minimal tech-house producers. Culled from radio samples, glitches, and micro-snippets of pop music’s finest (was that Celine Dion and Rick Astley?), Akufen manages to transcend the cold robo-feel of his contemporaries, instead opting for a infectiously deep and funky approach. Sophisticated and fun, this shit is absolutely necessary and is bound to be the soundtrack to a lot of people’s summers. Another highly anticipated click-house album that is sure to make waves is the latest by Luomo (aka Vladislav Delay). Slated for release this fall, Body Speaking (Force Inc.) continues the line of deep vocal house melodies and dubby 4/4 microbeats that blew minds on Delay’s 2k release Vocalcity. I’d say keep an eye out for it but believe me, when it comes out, you’ll know.