Music Reviews

Koivikko, Sami – “Salmiakki ” – [Shitkatapult]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

Lobbing another musical salvo in our direction, the Berlin-based Shitkatapult label presents some four-on-the-floor Finnish techno, courtesy of one Sami Koivikko. Named after a popular Finnish brand of schnapps, SALMIAKKI is Koivikko’s debut CD, an album pulsing with the influence of techno’s Detroit pioneers, as well as an occasional nod toward the more dub-infused sounds of Berlin’s Basic Channel, Chain Reaction, et al. Though all tracks here throb with the 4/4 beat, things tend to get a bit warmer and more reflective toward the end. Exactly what you’d want from an album that desires to work its magic on the dancefloor as well as in your armchair.

Notwist, the – “Lichter ” – [Alien Transistor]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

The Notwist present music from the film ‘Lichter,? directed by Hans-Christian Schmid. This film, made in 2003 but not yet distributed in the U.S., weaves together several different stories of life near the Polish/German border. Immigration troubles, petty thievery, jealousy, and betrayal are just some of the day-to-day travails explored by the film. This soundtrack EP presents four different variations on a musical theme from ‘Lichter,? all very minimal and haunting, with heavy emphasis on Sebastian Hess? cello. Martin Gretschmann (aka Console) takes up remix duties on one of the tracks, resulting in a more electronic, beat-driven variation. All tracks are quite compelling and no doubt a wonderful accompaniment to the film.

Khan – “Sweet Pink Lemonade ” – [Mille Plateaux]

Rococo   7/5/2005   10-inch, A Library

An ambient electro classic from 1994, courtesy of Can Oral (aka Khan) and the Mille Plateaux label. Part 1 of ‘Sweet Pink Lemonade? is a delicious 10-minute excursion into throbbing basslines, stuttering percussion, and oscillating, interweaving melodies. Flip the record over for Part 2 and you will find two shorter tracks, the first one a bit more rhythmically quirky (think Plaid, Black Dog, etc.) and the second one slightly more ambient. This lemonade may be over ten years old, but it still tastes mighty sweet to me.

Umod – “Tromboline ” – [Sonar Kollektiv]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

Umod is yet another alias for the prolific Dominic Stanton (aka Domu), a veteran of the drum and bass scene who, in more recent years, has gravitated toward the more melodically-inclined genre of broken beats. (He’s also released tracks as Sonar Circle, Bakura, Realsides, Rima, Yotoko, and Zoltar.) Dominic’s Umod productions are more sample-based than his other work. In Dominic’s words, ‘Umod is about going backwards to go forwards.’ This 12″ features remixes of tracks from his ENTER THE UMOD album, released on Jazzanova’s Sonar Kollektiv label. The A-Side (at 33 RPM) features a techy Domu remix and a somewhat grittier full-length mix of ‘Tromboline.’ The B-Side’s Zoltar remix of ‘On the Down Low? (at 45 RPM) features a housier beat and an almost-recognizable hip hop vocal sample. (Maybe you can place it?)

Bucketrider – “L’evenements ” – [Dr Jim’s Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

Inspired by the revolutionary events in Paris circa May-June 1968, L?’V’NEMENTS is the fourth full-length release from Australia’s Bucketrider. And as you might expect from that inspiration, there’s a riot goin’ on! The album’s central suite of 12 ‘events? alternates between unruly instrumental chaos and near-silence for most of its running time. Bookending this 12-step program are two opening and two closing tracks that I think are considerably more successful at integrating the rock and free improv influences motivating the band. Guitars, bass, drums, sax, trombone, synth, oboe, piccolo and even a toy piano all contribute to the energetic and muscular sound of this instrumental ensemble.

Camping – “Suburban Shore ” – [Plug Research]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

Cultural disorientation is the name of the game on this Plug Research release, which finds German vocalist Henning Fritzenwalder crooning Brazilian bossa nova (in German!), with electronic backing textures provided by the American duo previously known as Chessie. Guaranteed to make you prick up your ears on first listen, this seemingly incompatible juxtaposition eventually begins to work its magic. Camping’s languid melodies and delicate acoustic guitar sounds lure you into a world that’s simultaneously familiar and alien, yet totally unique.

Version City Rockers – “Darker Roots ” – [Antifaz]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, Reggae

At first glance, you might think this is just another compilation of classic reggae tracks. But look closer, because it’s actually a brand-new album featuring vocal contributions from reggae legends like Glen Brown, Sugar Minott, Sister Nancy, Yabby You, and others. Recorded at Version City studios in New Jersey between 2001-2003, DARKER ROOTS features the NYC-based Version City Rockers band in collaboration with several of their musical idols and is guaranteed to keep that classic 1970’s roots vibe alive in the oh-five. Personal favorites include Ranking Joe bongdiddling his way through ‘Africa,? Little John’s heartfelt musical psalm, ‘Give Jah All the Praise,? and Congo Ashanti Roy’s meditation on the horrors of 9/11 in ‘Why Dem a Galong So.’ Melancholy yet uplifting, this is a real roots revival.

Jeck, Philip – “Surf ” – [Touch]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

SURF is a 1999 release from sound sculptor Philip Jeck, utilizing turntables, tape decks, and Casio keyboards. Originally recorded to accompany live theater and dance projects, these dark ambient soundscapes lose none of their power by sacrificing the visual element. Like fellow deconstructionist Christian Marclay, Jeck is just as concerned with the processes of analog recording and playback as he is with the content. Consequently, you’ll hear lots of analog skips and scratchiness in Jeck’s sampled source material. My favorite track is ‘Spirits Up,? an 11-minute investigation into melody and distortion. The album’s final track, ‘I Just Wanted to Know,? is very unsettling, beginning with some quietly whispered words to a dying loved one, then gradually mutating into an electronic requiem. Powerful stuff.

Carter, Christina – “Bastard Wing ” – [Eclipse Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   12-inch, A Library

First solo recordings from Christina Carter of Charalambides, recorded in a Houston boathouse in 1995. Primarily consisting of improvised piano and voice, this is a late-night album if there ever was one. Wistful and dreamy, melancholy and haunting, BASTARD WING is an impressionistic musical vision made all the more so by a post-production mix that adds some well-placed reverb and environmental sounds.

Home Video – “That You Might/Dialogue Box ” – [Warp Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   10-inch, A Library

The debut release from NYC-based Home Video is a pop/electronica hybrid that fits right in with a lot of New York’s output of late. ‘That You Might? features a thudding, retro synth beat straight out of New Order and some faintly croony, Thom Yorke-ish vocals, culminating in a crescendo of electronic distortion. ‘Dialogue Box? on the flip is a little more atmospheric and electronic, Boards of Canada style, with multi-tracked, dubby vocals. Still not sure what they’re singin’ about, though!

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