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The Bionaut - Lubricate Your Living Room
Title Track

The Bionaut (AKA The Modernist, Burger Industries, Geometric Farms, and officially Jörg Burger) is a respected member of the Cologne minimal techno crew that includes Pole, Wolfgang Voigt, and Thomas Brinkmann, all of whom are known for their unique styles of minimal techno. In my mind, the work of Jörg Burger is strong and consistent and perhaps more accessible than that of his German peers, but I have always seen him as the lowest rung on the Cologne ladder. But this is not to say that he is not immensely talented—he is. It's just that his competition is pretty stiff.

With Lubricate Your Living Room, Matador has released a collection of Burger's out of print European releases from 1993-1997 and the result is a very summery-sounding CD perfect for an open window and a cool breeze. For fans of the more traditional 4/4 techno sound found on The Modernist, be prepared for a much more mellow disk that is influenced more by minimal dub and ambient music than traditional techno. In fact, this collection has much more in common with Mouse on Mars than the Modernist.

Textured with funny vocal samples ("electric campfire"), a resonating xylophone sound ("p. bateman"), and a generally pleasant atmospheric quality, Lubricate Your Living Room is a refreshing disk that rivals his best work. Given the fact that some of the music on this record is from the early nineties, it is amazing how fresh it all sounds. Burger will never be as groundbreaking as Pole, but perhaps I'll move him up a bit on my Cologne list of talent.

Deltron 3030

People have been coming in their pants over this release and I must admit, I simply don't get it. I gave into the hype and finally picked up the disk and I have to say I am deeply disappointed. I am always looking for original hip-hop and usually dig anything the Automator produces (Dr. Octagon, Handsome Boy Modeling School), but this release is simply a bore.

Teaming with Del the Funky Homosapien (the dullest MC in business) and Kid Koala, Automator has some nice moments including the symphonic "3030," but overall he seems uninspired. Breaking with his trademark heavy-bass sound, Automator is at his most subdued, and do we really need another underground hip-hop project with a a Space Age theme attached to it.

In all fairness, perhaps the newly-released instrumental version would have been a better purchase. Del the Funky Homosapien could steal the momentum from a speeding train with his constipated rhyming style. To catch Automator at his best, skip this release and check out the brand new Gorillaz CD, reviewed here in this publication.

Neu!, Neu! 2, Neu! 75

Finally an affordable domestic release by Astralwerks of this wonderful Kraut Rock band's canon of work from the Seventies. It's about time, is all I have to say!

If you haven't heard them, they have influenced everyone from Bowie to Stereolab and are responsible for the first remix song—a huge contribution to electronic music. The first 3 releases simply named Neu!, Neu! 2, and Neu! 75 are masterpieces of electronic minimalism. Think Stereolab without vocals. This duo consisting of Kraftwork bandmates Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger put out 3 albums between 1971-75 (and a couple of duds in the Eighties) and the list of people they have directly influenced is too long to mention.

Follow them chronologically, each release is a little weaker than the next, but all in all this is great music from one of the most groundbreaking bands to come out of the Seventies Kraut scene.

Belle and Sebastian - Jonathan David
Jonathan David

It's only 11 minutes long. That's probably all I need to say about this EP to discourage you from buying it. And actually, that would be a shame because the music (though brief) is great.

If you like the band, you'll be pleased. If you are among the many who find B&S uninspired and hokey, then you won't like it because it is more of the same. I've always been a sucker for their music and think If You're Feeling Sinister is one of the best releases of the Nineties.

This 3-tracker derives it's name from the opening (and best) track "Jonathan David" that tells a sexy story about David (you know, the one who killed Goliath) and his friend Jonathan. It's super dorky, but super-lovely. Just what you expect from B&S.

Look for the full-length soundtrack to Todd Solondz's (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse) new film this fall.

Peaches - The Teaches of Peaches

Old school techno and hip-hop beats and a super low-fi production make for one of the nicer surprises of late on Peaches debut The Teaches of Peaches. This is a party CD, plain and simple, with in-your-face sexuality that puts tamer notions of "girl power" to shame with intensely funny lines like

Sucking on my titties like you wanted it me, calling me all the time like Blondie, check out my Chrissi behind, it's fine all of the time.

Titles like "AA XXX," "Diddle My Skittle," and "Lovertit" bypass naughty in favor of nasty.

This Canadian rapper and sex-rocker also known as Merrill Nisker has thrown together a wonderful debut that has something for everyone. There is enough fun to be had on this disk to spin it at your next house party and it's original and complex enough to keep even music snobs smiling while everyone else is shaking their ass to the funky beats. Fuck Guided by Voices, I'll be checking out Peaches at the Voice's upcoming Siren Festival.

Mark Eitzel - The Invisible Man
Can You See?

This is a huge departure for Eitzel and fans of his original band, American Music Club, may be surprised to see how far this former frontman-gone-solo has come. Where Eitzel has often relied on collaborative efforts with other big-name musicians such as Peter Buck, he has finally created a disk that is fully his own.

On his sixth solo CD, The Invisible Man, Eitzel has thrown together a very uneven disk that is barely saved by the strength of 3 or 4 beautiful tracks. Unfortunately, there are also many hokey tracks you will have to wade you way through.

Overall, fans will enjoy his blending of acoustic guitar with subtle electronics. This is an average disk whose moments of splendor (like track 4) make it almost worthwhile.

Savvas Ysatis - Select
Bull Walk

Greek techno? Is there really such a thing?

You bet, and Savvas Ysatis is one of its bigger artists. Unfortunately, his work on Select is kind of average. In fact he sounds like Loumo and/or the Modernist, only duller. Think minimal techno and house beats, with touches of dub here and there. The disk ends up sounding repetitive and none of the artist's melodies really stick with you or ask to be revisited.

It's really not a bad CD at all, but nothing on Select moved me either and I doubt I will be giving it very much time in my CD player. Maybe the next record will be better because I can see glimpses of talent on a few tracks.

Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information

Has anyone seen the packaging on this re-release? It reads like a promotional package. Reviews by David Byrne and Sean O'Hagan to name a couple are prominently splashed across the cover raving on and on about Inspiration Information. You would think they discovered the Ark of the Covenant. Basically, they all say that this undiscovered and forgotten artist is a genius. It's kind of like that dorky ad campaign for a Knight's Tale that played up one good review from Rolling Stone.

At least the ad campaign-generated hype is valid with Shuggie! This is a great CD. It originally was released in 1974 and is as slick and funky as anything put out by Marvin Gaye. Politically and musically, Shuggie is more subtle than most of his early Seventies Soul peers, so at first listen don't expect to have an orgasm (as the packaging suggests) but I can guarantee that most fans of this period will be pleased. I don't know what prompted the re-release (Shuggie didn't die recently--he's still alive and touring) but I am thankful that I found him.... even though the label did shove it in my face.

Bardo Pond - Dilate
Bardo Pond - Inside

Despite a very so-so show at that not-to-be spoken of Williamburg speak-easy recently, Bardo Pond's most recent Matador release Dilate is a nice surprise to all fans of stoner rock and drone. Long and trance-inducing melodies are really just the framework for the droning guitar work and feedback played by this quintet.

On this outing, lead singer Isobel Sollenberger has much more time to improvise on the mike bringing about a vocal styling similar to the improvisations found on many Can records. Only she is a woman and much cuter. Dilate is noticeably better than their last release Set and Setting and is the band's best album since Lapsed.

Couch - Profane
Couch - track 1
What a piece of crap this one is. This is easily the most boring release I have heard in a long time and it amazes me that this band actually has a following. This German minimalist/post rock quintet of talentless poseurs consists of keyboardist Stefanie Bohm, guitarist Jurgen Soder, bassist Michael Heilrath, and drummer Thomas Geltinger, but each member could easily be replaced by any teenager snatched from a local battle of the bands.

I suppose they are trying to sound like Tortoise with the repetitions of Stereolab thrown in, but the outcome is as soulless and dull as anything in recent memory. Simple melodies are repeated in a very formulaic way with no surprises and or variation.
Definitely skip this one.

For a second opinion, see what Eric Schneider has to say about this release. Click here.

Make-up - I Want Some

I Want Some may not qualify as a new release to some, but I just stumbled upon it for the first time last week. And what a pleasant surprise given the fact that this amazing DC band just recently split up. This compilation of 21 B-sides from the past several years is as consistent as it is long.

The usual blend of punk, funk, soul, and gospel is to be found here and Ian's over-sexed lyrics are as hilarious as ever. This release came out in 1999, but for those of you who missed it (like me) go and pick it up. It rivals Sound Verite in overall listenability.

Mogwai - Rock Action

I'm not one of those reviewers claiming omniscience. There is way too much music out there to keep up with everything. That said, I will attempt to say something intelligent about the latest Mogwai, despite the fact that I am largely unfamiliar with their last couple of releases. I hear the last two sucked anyway, but who knows... critics can be cruel and are not to be trusted.

Their latest, Rock Action, is actually pretty darn good. It is short and a little on the melancholy side, but it is definitely worth a listen. This Glasgow quintet has sculpted a consistently satisfying record, mixing in a vocal track or two on this largely instrumental excursion. Sounding at times like a more subtle and less eruptive Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mogwai seems most at home performing the instrumental.

They also seamlessly texture their sounds with subtle looping and electronics that enhance the overall recording by adding a nuance not usually found in post-rock recordings.

On the tracks that do include vocals such as "Secret Pint" and "Take Me Somewhere Nice," Mogwai approach the beauty of Low with their sleepy vocals and pleasantly lulling melodies. This is a really nice disk. I'll have to give the last couple a spin.

Ltd. Noise - About 8 Minutes

I hate the term Acid Jazz. It's the kind of catch word guys with pony tails use to impress chicks. The term Trip Hop isn't a favorite of mine either. This one reminds me of white art schools kids choking on blunts as they try to be "down."

Ltd. Noise fits into both categories, but to their favor they are actually really good. This duo consists of Ped Gil and Paul Fishman (Ped is a former member of Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and together they have put together a very funky first CD that is as equally influenced by jazz as it is by Hip Hop.

Mixing electronics, live instrumentation, jazz samples, and a taste of German-sounding glitches, About 8 Minutes is refreshingly unpretentious and original. We look forward to hearing more from this London-based band.

--Robert Lanham


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