Archive for June, 2009

Berlin #2

Most of the time here has been spent on getting well, putting all money on records (I now have 8 euros) and waiting for the weekend. Omar-S at Tape and Planetary Assault Systems album release on Berghain, at the same weekend, was really something great.

Even though having trouble with both turntables and the FF-6000 mixer at Tape, Omar-S seemed to some extent enjoy spinning records while looking indifferent. I got the impression that he would play his own material all the way through, but he put in a quite wide range of house and techno.

The main imputs were both very classic tracks such as ‘Can U Dance’, but also very rough sounding stuff that sounded good on the Funktion One. I don’t think the crowd enjoyed his set though, and hand over heart, he didn’t mix as good as you think he could. Technical difficulties or not …

On the Saturday, Planetary Assault System played live for an hour at Berghain, just after Pfirter played ‘Guttering’. The live set was very good, he sure knows what he is doing! There was a visual as well on the wall which in my opinion just made things a bit unfocused (and it really lit up the entire dancefloor).

The live feel was really present, as PAS changed from very drum intensive and quite hard techno into atmospheric excursions. Everything seemed to be very thought out in a good way. When he dropped ‘Mark Me’ and continued over to ‘Sticker Men’, the crowd showed their appreciation.

One thing that felt really strange for being Berghain, is that I was one out of 10 people who danced (except in the darker areas), being eye-balled by a crowd which I guess we’re not used to going there. I guess some people forget that they are in fact at a club and dancing might occour.

10 days later, my bitterness has grown into great porporsions, but I also feel very content that the feeling of never knowing what to expect in Germany’s capital is still here.

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Review: Planetary Assault Systems – Temporary Suspension

Label: Ostgut Tonträger
Catalog#: OSTGUTCD09 / OSTGUTLP04

Tracklist:

A1: X Speaks To X
B1: Whoodoo
B2: Attack Of The Mutant Camels
C1: Om The Def
D1: The Watcher
D2: Open Up

Recommended!

When I first heard the ‘Kat / Haiku’ release on Mote-Evolver, I knew that Planetary Assault Systems was someone I could count on. As the dusty old tape starts rolling on the vinyl, in the moment when the first bar of ‘Kat’ comes in, you know it will be one of those tracks you’ll always love.

Hearing the ‘Temporary Suspension EP’ on Ostgut brought out the same feeling as ‘Kat’ does. Not only does the ‘Temporary Suspension EP’ showcase the sound of PAS in a very good way, it also has two very different tracks that comes together in a great way – a way that was lost a long time ago. The persistant and alien progression on the track ‘Temporary Suspension’ keeps things going in the right direction all the time, especially when it gets mixed in with other tracks, it just stands on it’s own in it’s own way. With ‘Mark Me’, a stomping and mechanical groove with yet so much soul releases the energy of PAS in a unexpected but yet somewhere expected way.

I was surprised that both tracks from the EP earlier this year, does not feature on the album release. Also, the CD comes in a mixed version, mixed together live by Luke Slater himself. Luckily enough, the album is co-released as an LP version too. As the CD contains 10 tracks, the LP release has 6 tracks. One thing that is very unfortunate, is that the LP version does not include the four best tracks from the CD. This review is on the LP version.

When I first heard the news about a PAS album on Ostgut, I was equally chocked as well as happy. I was a bit stunned that Ostgut had taken such a rough direction in it’s sound, as well as happy because I knew that it would be a quality release.

Starting off with ‘X Speaks To X’ on the A side, PAS displays the new approach that combines his previous material as far back as 15 years. The sound he introduced then is leaning more towards an industrial approach. Although a lot of style from that era is put in ‘X Speaks To X’, he also displays the recent evolvements within techno and approaches them as well. The pumping groove from the 90’s is changed into a calmer but also stripped patterns of the persistant energy he’s always shown.

The same energy is transformed into something that sounds more Berghain and Ostgut, with the exceptional and fantastic ‘Whoodoo’. The distorted sounds on top of everything else reminds me a bit of ‘Surface Noise’, but keeps things in a more upfront attitude. Machine-like patterns get ripped up with blut tools, distorted alien fields of white noise combines the oldschool but not oldschool sounds – a track for 2009 with absolute hommage to the past.

Modern acidic energy combines the energy from the previous two tracks, wich brings out yet another side of Planetary Assault Systems sound. ‘Attack Of The Mutant Camels’ is just as strange as it’s title, kicking drums combined with a strange synth, gets accompanied with a lash clap as well as different percussional experiments. A twisted and somewhat subtle acid line fills the tracks progress and makes it into a real club destroyer.

On the second vinyl, ‘Om The Def’ keeps things much calmer, in a good way. Brewing echoed sounds combined with very aware drum programming brings out the most alien side of Planetary Assault Systems. The live and direct feel of the track gets even more obvious as the shape of the track transforms all together for some time, and then goes back to its original state.

‘The Watcher’ is the most reduced track on the LP release, with very subtle build-ups and extremely atmospheric sounds. Haunting state combined with essential techno percussions and slow but yet very active strings brings out a very mesmerizing side of the PAS sound – which bends into very unpredictable and soothing directions.

The classic sound is still there though, when ‘Open Up’ comes in, you clearly hear all the influences 15 years of production brings. A track that does not only feel spacious and timeless, it also has the sense of early Axis and Jeff Mills releases but put together in a British and european style.

My favorite tracks:

Whoodoo

Sticker Men (CD)

Enter Action (CD)

Hold It (CD)

Berlin #1

Berlin room

On friday I arrived to Berlin, with the outset to feel how it might be to actually live here, rather than being here for 48 hours (and being at Berghain for around 30 of those hours). After grasping most of the first impressions after being here for about 10 hours, I felt that it was very different from when I was here before. First of all, I know my way around a bit better than usual, having some idea which U-Bahn lines that go where.

On friday I was at my friends place, which was very nice since I haven’t seen them since January. I didn’t really feel to go out, the only attraction was really Mike Huckaby at Panoramabar. Unfortunately I fell asleep at home so I missed him!

The day after both Marcel Dettmann and Levon Vincent was on at Berghain, which was actually one of the main reasons I chose to go here at these dates. Marcel played a set that felt as he was back home, very aware and punching. After building for about 3 or 4 hours, straight out of nowhere he pulled out really crazy tracks which started off with Scuba’s ‘Hundreds & Thousands’, continuing onto ‘Temporary Suspension’ by PAS and then further down to the unidentifiable ones. The vibe of the crowd was very different than before. I talked to some friends and other people who live here, blaiming it on all the tourists – which is probably true …

Levon Vincent started off with some of his own material, which was exactly as good as his previous tracks. Pounding, raw and sounding very fresh, he held the vibe up for the three hours he played. One of the best sets I’ve heard actually.

Review: James Ruskin – Sabre / Mask

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Label: Blueprint
Catalog#: BP026

Tracklist:

A: Sabre

B: Massk

Buy here

Stretching not too far from the previous Blueprint release, James Ruskin keep things up on ‘Sabre / Mask’. Preserving the same style and approach as he did on the ‘Interior EP’ (which he made together with Karl O’Connor, also known as Regis or Kalon).

Ruskin’s previous and more recent releases on Sandwell District has a distinct sound as well as a unique approach to the genre – as expected of course. Even though it’s getting more dark by every release (counting 3 years back to now), Ruskin always seem to maintain that specific approach as the sound progress part by time.

‘Sabre’ pulls out the darkest strings and notes in a way only a UK producer can do, as well as maintaining a balance between the amount of energy and progression of the beats together with the percussion and other sounds. As the snare kicks in, you know you’re in good hands!

‘Massk’ keeps the same amount of energy, only that it’s transformed into a more dense and subtle track. A boiling wall of sound keeps the hi-hat safe as well as the variations in the background. Combining the elements of them all makes a track that doesn’t really stand out a lot, but keeps things interesting.

Review: Milton Bradley – Psychological Drama

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Label: Do Not Resist The Beat!
Catalog#: BEAT 03

Tracklist:

A: Psychological Drama

B1: Derealization

B2: Hypnagogic

Recommended!

With haunting textural layers, as well as a large amount of dark and atmospheric sound shapes, Milton Bradley delivers the third ‘Do Not Resist The Beat!’ in under six months – all of exceptional quality and style.

The focus on this release is very different from the previous two. As the fast pace is replaced by something even more undescribable as well as very hypnotic, Bradley brings a darker light on what the outset for the label is about. The strange but still familiar futuristic feeling is there, as well as the very present soundscape, only this time the perception of techno is so well showcased it seems as Milton Bradley knows exactly what he’s doing.

Not only combining the haunting state with perculiar transistor rhythms and sparse percussion, all the sounds work together with the beats which in return drives everything forward as well as the beat itself. ‘Psychological Drama’ as the first track introduces the state of the entire record, with extremely weird melodies and oscillering atmospheres, it’s all combined in a very mystic but yet so self-explaining way. Once the beat goes off, you realize that you didn’t notice what happened until it kicks right back in.

‘Derealization’ sounds as a reworked ‘Feel Forgotten’ (BEAT 01), which is my favorite track from the man. Only what seemed as a human input on ‘Feel Forgotten’, is replaced by something completely alien and fresh sounding, maintaining the essence of that perticular sound as well as further attempts to reduce what was already so reduced. That constant humming combined with the lash yet soft metallic snares are really something special.

The last track, ‘Hypnagogic’ represents a more distinct droning perception of the previous tracks. Heartbeat-like kicks combined with strange loops and excursions brings in a hypnotic vibe in the same sense as certain Rhythm & Sound material, only stripping it down and narrowing it down to something yet to be explained.

Review: Levon Vincent – Solemn Days

Label: Deconstruct Music
Catalog#: DEC-02

Tracklist:

A: Solemn Days

B: Polar Bear Make Nice With That Sea Lion

Buy here

Recommended!

Levon Vincent is co-running two different labels, where the sound of every record is something really special. That raw and dirty house feeling is maintained by a few artists and Vincent is easily one of it’s key artists. Where most tracks and artists in that specific style try to relentlessly pursue the “deep” of it all, most of them neglecting that the deepness is found within the attitude of that undescribable moment – not the perticular ethnic vibe, chants or bongos.

Stripping everything down and reducing things to it’s core is one hard and brave way to go. There aren’t many producers that actually manage to sound as themselves by doing this. There are even few who actually sound like it’s what they’ve been doing since they first started making music. Levon Vincent is one of those people.

With ‘Solemn Days’, Levon Vincent takes the sound he gave us with the first Deconstruct Music record aswell as the first Novel Sound release and pushes it into a more subtle direction. The constant pushing of the beat drives it all forward, giving the sparse elements a foundation to build on as well as maintaining the cool of all elements separately. The Omar-S-ish vibe of the melody fits perfectly, as Vincent constantly builds the momentun of the seemingly simple yet so effective groove – when the melody kicks in, you know you’re in good hands.

On the B-side, a seemingly reconstructed ‘Woman Is The Devil’ (DEC-01), ‘Polar Bear Make Nice With That Sea Lion’ brings out the chords with extreme precision and style. The very rawness of it all gets even better when a such organic instrument is introduced in a very unexpected way – constantly flowing through the wind-shaped snares and percussion, Levon Vincent shows his very talented modulation of every element and sound in the track.

Review: Unknown – Traversable Wormhole Vol 1

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Label: Traversable Wormhole
Catalog#: TW1

Tracklist:

A: Transducer

B: Spacetime Symmetries

Buy here

Pretty much everything is here, a rough groove with stomping snares and a clear industrial rhythm, filled with spacious drones and undefinable noises, ‘Transducer’ really bring you into hypnosis (if not psychosis for some).

I have a vein for the space/universe references when it comes to records, and this one being a white label as well as having those references is something that contributes to the records vast sound. The structure of ‘Transducer’ is simply timeless, even though it might have been done before, it never siezes to amaze. Especially when it’s made in this way and the result is this good.

This get more mysterious with ‘Spacetime Symmetries’, as a stepping structure replaces the stomp as well as keeping the background atmosphere in a more dwelling state. Keeping it calm seems as a good idea, since the power of the A-side is transformed into something else on ‘Spacetime Symmetries’, where the emphasis is on the feeling of that perticular sound rather than the beat driving it forward. Combining these two tracks brings out the energy of both tracks into a perfect state, very nice!