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The Art Issue

Electric Independence

If life is kicking you square in the cojones, and you need to chill the fuck out, Electric Indy has some advice.

by Raf and Vince
01 December 2003, 12:00am


FPU Savas Pascalidis Tim Hecker

If life is kicking you square in the cojones, and you need to chill the fuck out, Electric Indy has some advice: drop Radio Amor (Mille Plateaux), the latest effort by ambient wunderkind Tim Hecker, into your sound system. Then sit back and ride the snake, cuz this shit is fucking dense. Reminiscent of his Haunt Me album for Alien 8, Hecker (who is also known by his minimal-techno guise Jetone) has once again crafted a masterful work of delicate and balanced ambience while steering clear of repetition. Radio Amor (so named for the shortwave-radio sound sources that inspired Hecker) stretches beyond the academic white-noise noodling found on many other so-called experimental albums, and reaches deep into the realm of the emotive and organic. A seamless blend from one track to the next, the album opens with “Song of the Highwire Shrimper,” in which Satie-esque piano ditties stutter and flutter over dense waves of melodic drone. An excellent listen from beginning to end—chalk up another winner for Hecker.

Rounds (Domino) from Fridge member and producer Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet) is another venture into acoustic-meets-electronic. The 25-year-old UK artist’s last album had a sound firmly rooted in hip-hop, but his latest effort breaks it down to the bare essentials. While some warmer tracks focus on lonely melodies and hypnotic repetition, like the Oval-esque gamelan and guitar skipping of “Spirit Fingers,” other jams, like the single “She Moves She,” are more beat-driven. Essential listening for the postrock laptop set.

Love ’em or hate ’em, the International Deejay Gigolos label shows no signs of slowing down. The latest champion in their bid to rule the electro party universe is German DJ and producer Savas Pascalidis. Top-notch electro-tech producer--––and label owner in his own right (he founded the shit-hot Laser Gun records)––Pascalidis’ music is driving, cinematic, and futuristic, making him sound like Giorgio Moroder circa his 1982 Cat People soundtrack but with more edgy dance-floor pump. Think Metro Area if they got belligerently drunk and tag-teamed against Visage and a breakdancing robot in a sweaty Berlin disco. Never too overbearing, Galactic Gigolo is a great little record.

After dropping an insane ambient album on Turbo a coupla years back, Peter Benisch returns with Traxxdata, under his minimal-electro guise FPU. Somewhere between dark dance-floor electro-pop and a cooled-out instrumental emo-lectro score, Traxxdata is the perfect soundtrack for coasting along the San Francisco hills, windows rolled way down. Another solid effort from Benisch and another winner for Turbo.

Swedish producer Hakan Lidbo is at it again. Hot on the heels of his Trigger Recording release comes a new and completely different sound and persona. This time the prolific Swede enlists the “help” of a 70s computer program to produce a techno-pop gem. With melodies as infectious and burning as a case of syphilis (without all that icky itchiness) Lidbo takes dance-music cheese to a whole new level (think Daft Punk’s last album with a generous helping of Brie and Limburger). At first listen, the overt candiness may put you off, but give it a chance and listen deeper. It’ll grow on you (like scabies).

On his latest disc, Friends Forever (Ersatz), Magas’s raw, slap-back echo rock ‘n’ roll vocals are so in-your-face it hurts. Tearing through 11 shit-hot tracks of vindictive off-kilter synth lines and polished electro beats (with help from producer Adam Lee Miller of Adult. fame), Magas is not so much a singer as an unstoppable force come to smash down the walls of your perfect little electro world. When he’s done, and your left standing in the molten remains of mesh shirts and ironic 80s haircuts, it soon becomes clear that there’s only one thing left to do: pump your fist in the air and dance.

Make sure to seek out the latest effort from Canadian IDM pioneer David Kristian. The first in a 10-part retrospective CD series, Music From The Mermaid Room compiles a selection of Kristian’s unreleased tracks created from 1993 to 2002. Spanning from emotive Boards Of Canada-style analog melodies to minimal ambience to dense electro-driven pieces, Kristian’s uncompromising vision and unrelenting search for as-yet-unexplored sonic universes are the thread that binds each track to the next. Overall, a great comp that leaves the listener yearning for more. Thankfully more is on the way.

Just picked up Do You Party? by The Soft Pink Truth, a.k.a. Drew Daniel, on Matthew Herbert’s Soundslike Records. Daniel is probably better known for his role as one-half of San Fran duo Matmos, but as TSPT he takes his sonic experimentations into different territory: booty land. Do You Party? is 11 tracks of twisted dance-floor funk (including a sweet cover of Vanity 6’s “Make Up” featuring the vocal stylings of Bevin Blechdom). Playful, funky, and expertly produced, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Soundslike release. Dance-floor plunderphonics at their best. Find it and dance like a muthafucka!

RAF + VINCE