Electric Independence

Germany gave us Bach and Kraftwerk. We gave them Bryan Adams and David Fucking Hasselhoff.

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01 December 2003, 12:00am



Germany’s historical contributions to western music have been, at the very least, crucial. From the titillating complexity of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” to the futuristic drone of Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express,” the krauts have changed the way we North Americans hear music. And what have we, as North Americans, given Germany in return? Bryan Adams and David fucking Hasselhoff, that’s what! No wonder Germans are so angry! Well, it’s payback time and two lads are about to show North America what for. Taking their name from the Italian version of the Transformers, the Berlin duo Transformer Di Roboter (a.k.a. Johannes Malfatti and Alex Kloster) are flipping the script on years of American pop pablum. TDR’s latest release on Germany’s WMF label sees the irreverent duo putting the works of Brian Wilson, Michael Jackson and Metallica through a lo-fi, bit-crushed Nintendo sound-blender. But unlike plunderphonic bootleggers Kid 606 and 2 Many DJs, TDR prefer a more traditional rock approach: the good old-fashioned cover. The result is not only funny and catchy (check their wispy, lush lounge version of “Enter Sandman” and their twisted Beach Boys-meet-Type O Negative-at-a-Berlin-goth-rave medley of Brian Wilson’s “Do It Again” and “I Get Around”) but also very clever and extremely well produced to boot! Expect another EP and maybe even a full length from TDR on WMF in the future.

Spanish artist Francisco Lopez returns to Montreal’s Alien8 imprint for the third time with another one of his synapse-altering experimental sound releases, Addy En El Pais De Las Fruitas Y Los Chunches. Originally released on ND Records in a limited run of 500 copies, Addy’s dark ambience is based on field recordings made during the rainy season in varying locations across Costa Rica. Although the source sounds are strictly environmental, this album is a far cry from the standard new-age crap you’ll find piled under your weird Aunt Edna’s spirit catcher. No stranger to Montreal audiences, Lopez manages to re-create the deeply haunting and often disturbing experience of his live shows, in which he immerses the audience in a rich sonic landscape that teeters between the delicate and the insane.

Speaking of the insane, for a taste of the true schizophonic, check out Sonig.ilation, the latest comp from Cologne-based experimental imprint Sonig. Eighteen tracks showcase the label roster, ranging from the Jean Jacques Perry-esque/Steinski-on-brown-acid opener by the mysterious Wevie De Crepon to the glitched-out techno of Aelters’ “Brasilia” to the molecular gabber assault of Mouse On Mars’ (whose members Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner actually run the label) “Violilation.” This is a carefully crafted homage to sonic experimentation in all its forms. While many of the tracks can be dense and confounding, the album retains a sense of melody and structure on some of the more hypnotic tracks (specifically Vert’s “All the better to see you with”). With the exception of a few self-indulgent avant-garde electro-acoustic pieces that taint the middle of the CD, Sonig.ilation further pushes the mandate of creativity and boundary-fucking that Sonig has come to be known for.

France’s Bip Hop label has just put out a couple of interesting releases. The first is a live recording of Angel, the collaboration between Ilpo Vaisanen (of Pan Sonic fame) and Dirk Dresselhaus (from SchneiderTM). Starting off with subdued microsounds, it soon becomes a dense wall of distortion and noise. If you’re in the mood for a good head-and-ear-washing in an insane Merzbow stylee, then check this shit out. It is heavy metal’s logical conclusion. The second release by Bip Hop is Soundtoys 2 x 12, in which four renowned electronic artists (Hakan Lidbo, Si-Cut.DB, Scanner, and Tonne) are given the same experimental, visual music-sequencing program (Soundtoy) to see what they can come up with. The resulting eight tracks vary from the completely random and incidental drone of Scanner’s “Guide Me By Surprise” to the rather polished and orderly sequence of Hakan Lidbo’s “Bid Dod.” What’s really great about this release is that you can come up with your own Soundtoy mixes using the program and samples included on the CD-ROM portion of the disc. Hours of fun!

RAF + VINCE