Music Reviews

Remote Viewer, the – “Remote Viewer Lp, the ” – [555 Recordings]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

Very mysterious CD we have here. No credits, no track titles, no album title…nothing except “The Remote Viewer” to identify this release from the Leeds-based label, 555 Recordings. So what are we dealing with? Apparently it’s another bedroom producer from the UK, offering up ten tracks of mid- to-downtempo electronica. Most tracks are based around melancholy, somewhat ambient melodies, upon which are laid rhythms of a coarser texture. While the rhythms are often repetitive, it’s the melodies that really keep the tracks moving along. Autechre is an obvious reference point, for the quality of warmth that’s present here, but at times I even imagined a Pink Floyd influence. This is a splendid debut CD that gets better with each listen.

Reklaw, Derf – “From the Nile ” – [Ubiquity Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   CD, Jazz

A stunning solo debut and contender for jazz album of the year from this former member of The Pharoahs. FROM THE NILE could almost be considered a concept album, incorporating (as it does) such a huge chunk of black musical history. The album opens with a poem in honor of Egyptian ancesters, then goes on to borrow from African, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, and black American musical traditions, closing out with a couple of cover tunes from John Coltrane and Eddie Harris. Derf plays flute, sax, and a variety of African instruments. Every track on this album is a gem. Listening to it, I’m reminded of the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s motto: “great black music — ancient to future.” This is truly great black music, full of passion and spirituality.

[Re:Jazz] – “[Re:Jazz] (Re:Mix) ” – [Kriztal]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

In late 2002, Germany’s INFRACom! label marked their 100th release by commissioning acoustic jazz versions of some of their more memorable electronic club tracks. A jazz trio was formed, led by Matthias Vogt (aka DJ Matt and Motorcitysoul), a variety of special guest vocalists and instrumentalists were invited to participate, and the resulting band was named [re:jazz]. One of the goals for that project, according to the label, was to eliminate the barriers and/or apparent contradictions between “real” jazz and computer- or sample-based music. Well, here comes the [re:jazz] (re:mix) project to blur those barriers even further! Yep, [re:jazz]’s acoustic cover versions have now been remixed by the cream of modern jazztronica: Nicola Conte, Russ Gabriel, Swell Session, Dublex Inc., and many more. The end result is an astoundingly varied and melodic collection of jazz-flavored SONGS. No deconstructionist knob twiddling to be found here; just a thoroughly enjoyable beat-driven excursion through a variety of contemporary dance styles. One of my favorite releases of 2004!

Random – “Too Stoned to Sneeze Without ” – [Evil Teen Records]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

Random is the latest incarnation for San Francisco’s Jon Drukman (aka Bass Kittens, Skeptix, and Spinyl). Jon has been around the SF rave scene for many years, collaborating with the Hardkiss Brothers on their earliest (and best) records. Here he tries on his drum’n’bass hat, and the result is a CD of many textures and tempos. Just like peanut butter, it’s sometimes crunchy and sometimes smooth. Meat Beat Manifesto is an obvious reference point, as these tracks are constructed as much for the headphones as they are for the dancefloor. A fine domestic drum’n’bass CD to hold up against the continual deluge of imports.

Push Button Objects – “Half Dozen ” – [Chocolate Industries]

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

Push Button Objects is one Edgar Farinas, resident of Miami, Florida and part of the local Schematics/ Chocolate Industries axis of electronic artists. Having released previous EPs on both those labels, as well as on Skam in the UK, this latest six-track EP finds him moving away from the hip-hop flavor of his previous work and into more abstract terrain. At times minimal, and at other times almost industrial in texture, this is a record that should appeal to fans of Autechre, Funkstorung, etc.

Pulse Programming – “Pulse Programming ” – [Aesthetics]

Rococo   7/5/2005   A Library, CD

This is one of those “old school” ambient electronic releases, like back in the day when Fax Records was pumping out a new release every week. There’s not much in the way of melody or rhythm here, just tone and texture. It’s not pretty enough to be “new age,” nor dark enough to be “industrial.” Think of it as an ambiguous musical canvas upon which you can let your imagination run wild.

Prince Far I – “Bedward the Flying Preacher ” – [Sound Boy]

Rococo   7/5/2005   7-inch, Reggae

Originally released in 1983 on the album STAGGERING HEIGHTS by Singers & Players, this Adrian Sherwood/On-U Sound production still packs a punch 20 years later. Prince Far I, aka the “Voice of Thunder,” narrates the tale of Alexander Bedward, a turn-of-the-century Baptist preacher and founder of Bedwardism, one of the precursors to the Rastafari faith. It seems poor ol’ Bedward thought he could ascend to heaven by jumping off of a building. Unfortunately, he only flew in one direction, and that was down. Backing up Far I’s tale are members of the On-U house band circa 1983: Eek-a-Roo on drums, Lizard on bass, Crucial Tony on guitar, Flash on saxophone, and Bubblers on piano. The spatial separation and dynamics of the mix are practically jaw-dropping…but that was standard operating procedure for On-U back in the day. The B-side features a previously-unreleased (and somewhat milder) dub version of the track. Released on the Sound Boy label, a new spinoff from On-U Sound which promises a full slate of new and classic releases in vinyl format. Plenty more to come!

Potuznik, Gerhard – “20TH Door, the ” – [Interdimensional Transmis]

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

Viennese artist Gerhard Potuznik (aka Gerhard Deluxxe, or GD Luxxe, for this release) seems to be channeling the spirit of New Order on this six-track EP of electropop. The vocal on “Minds,” in particular, sounds uncannily like Bernard Sumner. If that doesn’t appeal to you, check out the gurgling instrumental “Hydraulic Buildings,” or the short-but-funky “Angels,” which ends in a locked groove.

Plaid – “Rest Proof Clockwork ” – [Warp Records]

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

Plaid’s latest album finds the ex-Black Dog duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner expanding their electronic musical palette in all directions. From moogy Jean-Jacques Perry -isms, to hip hop beats and scratching, to orchestral pieces and more, this album jumps about restlessly but always manages to entertain. Plaid have ably reinforced their “major league” status in the electronic arena.

Plaid – “Peel Session ” – [Warp Records]

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

Recorded three years after The Black Dog’s Peel Session, doggie duo Ed Handley and Andy Turner return (minus Ken Downie) to the Peel studios in their Plaid attire. This time the result is far more exuberant, with beats taking priority over melody. From the opener, an energetic reworking of the latin-flavored “Scoobs in Columbia,” to the propulsive, minimal techno of the closer, “Cold,” this four-track EP successfully balances rhythmic complexity with shifting electronic textures. Another fine entry in Warp’s “Peel Sessions” series.

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