REVIEWS: of stuff

From CiM
Sent Mon, Sep 25th 1995, 12:56

And whilst we were talking about the Tom Tom club, here's an appropriate 

"You went out to walk the dog/and came back with some brand new sounds..."

  The Righteous Men         : 87% of Dissin' Germany   (Thee Blak Label)
  Brad Stryder              : CAT 001 - promo          (Rephlex)
  Aphex Twin                : Donkey Rhubarb           (Warp)
  Mu-Ziq                    : Salsa With Mesquite      (Planet Mu)
  [Various]                 : Magic Tracks             (Tresor)
  DJ Deeon                  : Induled EP               (Cosmic)
  DJ Sneak                  : On The Sneak Tip EP      (Radikal Fear)
  Spira                     : Vol. 2                   (Spira)
  Spira                     : Vol. 4                   (Spira)
  Kinesthesia               : Volume 1                 (Rephlex)
  Elecktroids               : Kilohertz                (Warp)
  Ectomorph                 : Interdimensional Tran... (?)
  David Morley/Marcus Salon : EO                       (R&S)
  Ian Pooley & Alec Empire  : Pulse Code EP            (Mille Plateaux)
  Morgan Geist              : Quadrilocular EP         (Metamorphic)
  Octagon                   : Octaedre                 (Basic Channel)
  Scan 7                    : Undetectable EP          (UR)
  World 2 World             : World 2 World            (UR)
  Point Blank               : Mengs Theme              (Brave New World)
  Yantra                    : Purple Vicar             (Music Man)
  Death                     : The High Cost Of Living  (Trope)

The Righteous Men : 87% of Dissin' Germany (Thee Blak Label)
This first release on Felix Da Housecats' Radikal Fear offshoot is a
beauty. Dark and distorted house is the order of the day but its infused
with a cheeky humour - sounds flip to 3/4 time and back again, the acid
basslines giggle along evilly and its all sandwiched between some 
delicious, shuffling Roland funk. Hopefully the start of something good 
for this label - Steve Stoll's up next.

Brad Stryder : CAT 001 - promo (Rephlex)
Weird - the first ever Rephlex release turns up on a white labelled two
track promo. I'd be intrigued to know when Richard James (for it is
apparently he) recorded this; there are elements of Polygon Window and 
Gak material in this 12" but the beats are a standard 909 fare and it kind 
of sounds like early F.U.S.E. material. The main track is quite unlike
anything else he's ever done - it's quite minimal but is approachable
and very danceable. There's a strange little bassline running all the
way through it which links it all together nicely. The flip is the first
track remixed slightly and stuck through the AFX Distorto-FX unit -
a dischordant melody adds to that typically AFX feel. This is far from
an essential AFX release but hearing Richard James revert to one of the
most standard drum patterns ever is weirdly compelling. One for the
demented Rephlex collector phreak, then.

Aphex Twin : Donkey Rhubarb (Warp)
Once again, the new Aphex initially disappoints and irritates with his 
new release, but give this one time and you'll soon be grinning as
inanely as Richard James is on the cover. So while this EP is nothing
approaching the standards of _Blue Calx_, _Quoth_ or _Xtal_ it's got
some gently pleasing tracks on it. The title track is a steel-drum
driven chirpy little number, _Vaz Deferenz_ (a tube in the penis
apparently) is a minimal Caustic Window type affair - all bubbling 
effects and trademark AFX drum sounds. _Pancake Lizard_ sounds cheesily
dislocated but some emotional string chords bring it together
beautifully at the end. Oh, and the Philip Glass orchestration of _Icct
Hedral_ is hilarious stuff - I haven't laughed so much since I heard the 
elephant track on _Analogue Bubblebath IV_. Glass has unneringly made it 
sound as clinical and sequenced as possible which is damned impressive 
considering the use of real instruments and vocalists. Despite this, the 
other three tracks are just, well, *nice* which is a word I thought I'd 
never use about an Aphex release. "Sheer bloody genius" yes, but 
not "nice". 

Mu-Ziq : Salsa With Mesquite (Planet Mu/Virgin)
The first release on Mike Paradina's own Planet Mu is a six tracker with
the keyword here being *variety*. Choose from toy-town merry melodies on
_Happi_, bleak hissy dance grooves on _Loam_ and _Leonard_ and squealing
electric guitar on _Reflectiv_ that'd make Richie Sambora hang up his
guitar for good (and about bloody time). The title track's a messy affair
however but _Balsa Lightning_ saves the day with emotional moods and a
strident piano - it could be straight off _Bluff Limbo_. Nothing mind
blowingly good by Paradinas' standards then, but quirky likeable stuff 

[Various] : Magic Tracks (Tresor)
Mindblowing - two tracks from the genius of Juan Atkins (under his
Infiniti guise), a Drexciya track and a slab of pitch-bending techno
from Ron Cook. Both Infiniti tracks are emminently danceable, warm
beauties - nothing like the amazing _Deep Space_ LP; just top approachable 
techno. _Positron Island_ is Drexciya's contribution and welds slabs of
psychotic bass to a screeching rave sound. It's a monster track and is the 
best Drexciyan output I've heard for a long while. The Ron Cook track
would be pretty amazing if heard in isolation but it gets rather
overshadowed by the other three tracks through no fault of it's own - it
adds to the variety already on offer. A diverse EP of pretty damn
faultless techno.

DJ Deeon : Induled EP (Cosmic)
Stripped down 909 house in Cosmic's pumping Clubtracks series. _Sex Part
1_ is the most likeable with chirpy, badly sampled squeals - _On Da Run_
is a minimal techno tool for DJs. Top dancefloor material all round and
another impressive addition to the Clubtracks range.

DJ Sneak : On The Sneak Tip EP (Radikal Fear)
Sneaky slips the funk dial up to eleven and thumps out four Chicago 
belters. The first side is one long foot tapping mix but the flip side
hits the spot with *low* sub-bass and filtered jazz on _Turbulance_ and
some of the gnarliest acid heard for quite a while on the appropriately
named _Freakin' Out_. Sneaky stuff.

Spira : Vol. 2 (Spira)
Harsh techno with a distorted edge - clangy 4/4 mayhem that rushes along
at a fair pace. Elastic bass trickery on _DTX_ and _Horizon and Beyond_'s
metallic piano riffs all add to the aural onslaught.

Spira : Vol. 4 (Spira)
And here's another chapter in the Spira book. The staplegun beats are
more minimal this time around and tracks tend to remain static and
unchanging. There's some nice distorted Heckman style acid on _Dum Dum_
but its more of the same severe techno. Spira are certainly building their 
own sound but they might want to think about varying it slightly between

Kinesthesia : Volume 1 (Rephlex)
A re-issue from Rephlex, along with the new _Vol. 2_ and the Synectics LP,
sees Chris Jeffs spew forth two noisy, very Aphex-esque tracks alongside
one lush, Dutch sounding beauty and a pleasant if rather static track 
that could be straight off _AI 2_. The noisy muthas are fine but suffer 
from the lack of attention and innovation that Richard James injects so
plentifully into his creations. _Kobal_ is beautiful however - gorgeous
chords and chunky analogue bass support the moody melodies effortlessly.
Pretty good then, but lacking in that vital unpredictability that AFX and 
Mu-Ziq have in abundance.

Elecktroids : Kilohertz (Warp)
Synthesised retro electro for the nineties, this EP is like Drexciya with 
all the nastiness removed. _Remote Controlled Hornet_ is lively enough 
but the rest end up sounding like the title tune to Paperboy.

Ectomorph : Interdimensional Transmissions (?)
Now *this* is how it should be done. Slinky electro, combining eighties 
808 chic and a Drexciyan sensibility for dribbling synth bass lines.
Equally exciting is the clear minty green vinyl, the two locked grooves 
and the single track that plays from the centre of the record - small
things I know, but they bring a big grin to my face.

Ian Pooley And Alec Empire : Pulse Code EP (Mille Plateaux)
An MP oldie that rather brilliantly fuses Pooley's dance floor
intelligence with Empire's moody expansiveness. Its all dancey, pseudo
trip-hoppy stuff but there's lots of lush sounds meshing away in the
background. Subtle yet carefree and a lot lighter than Alec Empire's
_Generation Star Wars_ material.

David Morley/Marcus Salon : EO (R&S)
Pseudo-intelligent techno that fails to work by disappearing up it's own
a(R&S)e. Air Liquide fans will be turned on by the clicky rhythms and
the analogue warmth that permeates the lower levels of each track.
However, you can forget all of this for the one track _AD 2600_ which is
a masterpiece that works without ever stooping to trancey cheesiness
despite the monotone bassline and 909 programming - its similar to David 
Morley's _Evolution_ track but with an edge to it. For the most part 
however, this is introverted techno for analogue fetishists.

Morgan Geist : Quadrilocular EP (Metamorphic)
Finally got my hands on this 1994 four tracker on Dan Curtins' 
Metamorphic label. This is an EP of pure techno opulence - Morgan 
revels in quirky analogue fun, Detroit rhythmic trickery and lush
dischordant moods. Its so accomplished it's almost obscene. There's
thoughtfulness on _Vectors of Interpretation_ (and some pleasing bonus
beats too) and outright bouncy brilliance on _Spillway_ - the string
stabs are pure Detroit. And if three tracks of joyful techno abandon
wasn't enough, Dan Curtin throws in a warm, shuffling remix of 
_Room 120-2_. This EP is aural satisfaction beyond the call of duty -
100% pure techno.

Octagon : Octaedre (Basic Channel)
You should know the score by now - on this 12" are two more reasons why 
the Basic Channel guys deserve the respect they get. All the trademark BC
sounds are in effect and it's as unnerving and impelling as it ever was.
And whilst this is dance music, as a listening experience, the subtlety
of the changing sounds and filtered moods is sublime.

Scan 7 : Undetectable EP (Underground Resistance)
Three tracks of less intensive Djax style 4/4 techno; _Password Soul_ 
is the biggie here - jazzed up house well worthy of a dancefloor.
The other two tracks are more minimal - chunky, dark house moods on the
first, harder beats on the second which has a noisy organ sound that
sounds very much like Mobys remix of Orbitals _Speed Freak_. Not an
essential UR release but one for the floor, all the same.

World 2 World : World 2 World (Underground Resistance)
This is an oldie but if you like your techno lush and approachable
you'll love it. _Greater Than Yourself_ is the moodiest; _Jupiter Jazz_
the happiest. Despite it never ever being original or ground-breaking,
its optimistic, carefree stuff and pretty much impossible to hate.

Point Blank : Mengs Theme (Brave New World)
Another oldie but well worth picking up if you see it. _Mengs Theme_ is 
one of those continually shifting, brilliant tracks that just build and
build. Its hard yet emotional and never resorts to aggressive, obvious 
beats like its European counterparts of the time. Expansive _and_
danceable it was one of the top tracks around a year or so ago.
_White Noise_ is in a similar, rave-tinged style which perfectly
complements the two mixes of _Mengs Theme_. Brilliant, unique stuff.

Yantra : Purple Vicar (Music Man)
If you were expecting some more lush synth textures and lazy beats, as 
on the first Yantra release, then this will come as a big
disappointment. _Purple Vicar_ is a noisy fucker of a track - grating,
squealing strings and that nasty acid that Yantra use in their Planet of
Drums releases. The flip is exactly the same but with the acid removed,
which smacks of laziness. If you get the limited 12" that goes with it,
you'll get _Dalai_ which is like the earlier Yantra material but with
the beats removed. I was looking foward to some head-noddingly good
chilled stuff on this release but instead I get unlistenable noisy 
trance bollocks and some shapeless, filter tweaking ambience. Not good 
unless Planet of Drums/Pump Panel material is your thang.

Death : The High Cost of Living (Trope)
Thomas Heckmann gets technical and makes his drum sounds out of analogue
components. The overall effect is one of seeing your speakers shudder as
they try to accomodate the massive frequency range of the tortured beats
on display. Its interesting stuff however and while it is pretty
minimal, its refreshingly different. The squealing frequencies are 
useful for pest control too.

|| [CiM]