is the first record by Pole (AKA Stefan Betke) on his own ~Scape
label and it frankly is a disappointment. The album focuses on reworkings
and remixes of two of his tracks from 1988 entitled "Raum 1"
and "Raum 2." The wonderful crackle and pop dub that is
Pole's signature is always welcome in my book, but the remixes by
~Scape label artists Burnt Friedman and Kit Clayton ultimately make
this record a less than enjoyable experience.
Two all new tracks by Pole are included and they are noticeably
more jazzy than his work on "3". Simply
entitled "Raum 3" and "Raum 4," they will without
doubt please all fans of Pole's music.
Now on to the bad... Burnt Friedman who puts out 2 remixes on "R"
is seemingly without direction. Perhaps knowing that he could never
outshine his source material, Friedman opts to be "arty"
in his arrangements and ultimately creates a couple of very disjointed
remixes. His beats are sloppy and sound like they are held together
by scotch tape.
Kit Clayton fares somewhat better on his two remixes but in the
end the tracks sound like glitch thrown on top of a recording of
someone tap-dancing. Sound annoying? It is.
If you treat the record as an EP and disregard the non-Pole tracks
you will be satisfied. If you value your dollars too much to buy
a record that is only half-good, I'd have to recommend passing on
this one. The original recording of "Raum 2" (Pole at
his dubby best) is included and if you don't already have a recording
of this track, then perhaps this record would be a good buy after
all. I look forward to a formal release of all new work from Betke
who is still the most original electronic musician to come along
- Sound-Dust (Elektra)
days when Stereolab produced wonderfully minimal and creative records
like Mars Audio Quintet
and Emperor Tomato Ketchup
are gone. I keep hoping that they will return to their roots as
a Neu!-inspired pop band, but they have given in to the temptation
and laziness of slick production work. I would love to hear the
band stripped of horns and strings, forced to rely upon the merit
of their song-writing. Their last two records haven't made any new
fans for them and finally with Sound-Dust
there is some indication
that the band has listened to the moans of their devoted fans and
focused more on writing good songs. Sound-Dust
is still undeniably
overproduced, but at least the band sounds a bit more energized
on this outing than they did on the formulaic "Cobra and Phases
Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night."
The disk starts out with an electronic introduction that seems to
be an ode to their pre-Elektra sound. Blending its way into the
second track "Space Moth," the first four minutes of the
disk are filled with minor key dissonance and campy harpsichords
that sound like a creepy soundtrack to a kitschy horror movie. Given
this and the haunted castle artwork on the cover, I was left hoping
for a retro-sounding soundtrack theme, but halfway into "Space
Moth," the tone of the record changes and enters into more
familiar Stereolab territory.
If you have already heard the single "Captain Easychord,"
with its annoying steel guitar chorus, then don't fear because the
record recovers from this misstep. I recommend starting at track
four "Baby LuLu" and listening straight through. This
is one of those records that seems to get into stride after the
less subtle tracks are out of the way. All in all, Sound-Dust
may not be a masterpiece but fans of the band will be relieved to
hear some nicely written new tunes by the band.
new release by the Quatermass label does something interesting, in fact
. They have combined the talents of several
well-known artists with the work of lesser-known artists on the Rather
Interesting label to generate an eclectic blend of remixes and original
material. Artists Pram, Pole, Plaid, and Fibla among others are clearly
having a good time remixing the strong work by artists including the
Naturalist and the disk is made cohesive with its distinctive Latin
More of a reimagining than a remix CD (sound like the new Planet of
the Apes?) the record boasts nine eclectic and melodic songs and just
one dud ("Fonosandwich") which is an unusual level of consistency
for a compilation disk. Highlights include the bird-chirping opener
by Pram whose overall breeziness is wonderfully interrupted by moments
of Autechre-sounding electronics. "Being Enveloped" by Pentatonic
Surprise and later reworked to dubby splendor by Pole are additional
Quartermass Versus Rather Interesting
may be a light side-project
for most involved, but it is also a record that is very easy to like.
|The Funky Precedent
Volume 2 (Matador)
Though not as fresh as Volume 1, which showcased the talent of Los
Angeles hip-hop acts such as Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5, The
Funky Precedent Volume 2 is a refreshingly original compilation.
This time around Matador and No Mayo Records have assembled up-and-coming
acts from the Bay area including Planet Asia, Rasco, Zion I, Foreign
Legion, Live Human, Encore, Protest, Fanatik, DJ Vinroc, DJ Quest
and Pep Love.
The disk is a breath of fresh air considering the embarrassing lack
of inspiration in hip-hop music these days and the turntablism of
Live Human on the track "Lagoona's Bliss" is worth the
price of the record. Most of the best tracks are on the first half
of the disk, but hopefully most will be more forgiving of the duds
(Stymie and the Pimp Jones Love Orchestra come immediately to mind)
given the fact that proceeds will benefit music education in various
California schools. If you are too jaded to care, then just enjoy
|The Clean -
The Getaway (Merge)
thought this record had an uncanny Yo La Tengo feel to it the first
time I listened to it and wasn't too surprised to find that Ira Kaplan
and Georgia Hubley of Yo La fame actually play on a couple of tracks.
The Clean is a band from New Zealand that has been around since the
early Eighties, though I frankly had never heard them until this release.
The Getaway is the band's first release since 1996 and my only
frustration is that I now must go check out what I've been missing.
Brothers David and Hamish Kilgour share the vocals with Robert Scott
and the blend of voices from track to track keep the record from ever
becoming monotonous. If you are a fan of great pop-sounding Indie
with plenty of subtle guitar feedback, then be sure to pick up this
very strong recording. The Clean will be playing The Bowery Ballroom,
Saturday Sept. 15, at 11:00 pm as part of the CMJ festival.
It's Crunch Time (Thirsty Ear)
Ear has been releasing some amazing jazz on their new Blue Series
and It's Crunch Time by The Roy Campbell Quartet is a nice
addition to this group of recordings. If you missed the beautifully
melancholy New Orbits by pianist Matthew
Shipp earlier this year, do yourself a favor and pick it up immediately.
Matthew Shipp is the director of the Blue Series which is ever-expanding
the face of contemporary jazz.
It's Crunch Time features Mr. Campbell on trumpet, Khan Jamal
on vibes, Wilber Morris on bass, and Guillermo E. Brown on drums.
The music is at once melodic and avant gard and Jamal's work on the
vibes will blow you away.
The craftsmanship of the band is marvelously cloaked by a lazy and
muted emphasis on melody. Campell repeatedly introduces his motifs
and themes in such understated ways that his horn playing almost seems
like a mumble. It is a trick that could seem sloppy in the hands of
a less accomplished player, but Campell is clearly a master and is
able to create beauty in understated ways. The only misstep is the
quartet's version of "The Star Spangled Banner," but this
is thankfully the last number on the record and thus easy to avoid.
We look forward to more Thirsty Ear recordings in the future as this
label helps to promote jazz that is as rooted in tradition as it is
|V/A - This is Next Year (Arena
missed the release party for this record a few weeks ago at North Sixth,
but hear it was great. This Is Next Year is a wonderful Brooklyn-based
compilation featuring 42 artists living and/or playing in Brooklyn.
This extensive double CD is a huge volume of music and is a great introduction
to what is going on in Williamsburg and Brooklyn in general.
Ever wonder what Reverend Vince, Stereobate, or any of those other
bands you always see advertised locally sound like? Pick up this record
as a resource because the bands worth seeing are probably included.
The work on this disk is fairly consistent (oddly some of the biggest
duds come from more established bands Ida and the always terrible They
Might Be Giants) but this is a uniquely strong and cohesive compilation
overall. Ranging from Emo, to indie, to alt country (lots of it), to
pure and simple pop, this eclectic blend of music is surprisingly less
disjointed than most compilations.
Highlights include The Boggs, Laura Cantrell, Mendoza Line, Grand
Mal, Mink Lungs, Les Savvy Fav, Bee and Flower, and Cub Country but
most songs are in the pleasant to the very pleasant
to the damn that's pretty good range. As is to be expected
on any compilation, there is some garbage to be found here as well.
Is there a way to scratch my disk so it skips over the cheesy "It's
All Made Up" by the Scouts?
Regardless, this is a wonderful introduction to the Brooklyn music
scene and for the price of a single CD, you can't go wrong. All proceeds
go to B.A.R.C. (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition).
- New Features (Bubblecore)
the pet project of drummer Doug Scharin (Rex, June of '44), Him has
become one the best kept secrets of post-rock and avante jazz. Seamlessly
blending jazz, dub, and African Rhythm, Him has created a sound that
is fully their own. On their latest record New Features, the
band captures the feeling of a live concert better than any recording
in recent memory.
Equally influenced by Miles Davis, Tortoise, and early pioneers of Dub,
Him is melodic, unique, and um..... you can even shake your ass to the
funky rhythms. It's like hearing Miles Davis remastered by Lee Scratch
Perry! Their new record is not to be missed.
record wins my vote for best cover art so far this year. The lion
roaming in a field with Manhattan as a backdrop really captures
the dichotomous feeling of the record. It is at once a collection
of simple pop songs and a complex production of melodic psychedelia.
Listening to A Celebratory Arm Gesture by Summer Hymns is
like listening to The Apples in Stereo on acid, with a touch of
Neil Young thrown in to boot.
This Athens-based band has released a lovely sophomore record filled
with psychedelia reminiscent of Sergeant Pepper's, and consistently
strong songwriting delivered by a very Flaming Lips-sounding Zachary
Gresham. But enough about who they sound like, already.
A Celebratory Arm Gesture has a very warm (summery?) feeling
and the track "Six Something's Going On" is the strongest
pop song I've heard all year. This record is worth the money for
this track alone. Textured with bouncy organs and the lovely saxophone
playing of Adrian Finch, Summer Hymns will please all fans of melodic
and inventive indie music.
(Another plus... this record is on the wonderful, Brooklyn-based
- Ultramarin (Force Inc.)
is the Montreal-based techno master known as Tim Hecker. He has recorded
with many labels in the past including FatCat and Pitchcadet, but
on his recent release on the magnificent Force Inc record label, Jetone
has truly created something unique.
Fusing his Cologne school techno influences with his own often broken
tempo beats, Tim Hecker has crafted one of the more unusual techno
records I have heard in a while. And originality is definitely something
the genre needs of late. Anybody with a laptop can seemingly get signed
these days by merely copying the sounds of Mouse on Mars or Pole.
Opening track "Aerial Red" has a 4/4 that seemingly tumbles
over its own shoelaces time and time again before settling into a
new beat. It is as disarming as it is lovely. The strongest track
is "Static" with its tribal sounding beats and completely
unpredictable (random?) interjections of glitch. Another highlight
is "Thousand Oaks" whose high speed dub is nothing short
Jetone has impressively taken minimal techno to a entirely new place
with Ultramarin by replacing the expected with the chaotic.
Jetone creates melody by texturing his beats instead of writing "songs"
per se and there is not a single track on this disk that sounds like
another. Bravo to originality!
and Carl - Consciousness (Kranky)
I guess we can forgive Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren for waiting
2 years to release a record. Hey, they have been busy setting up
their store, Stormy Records, in Michigan. And Consciousness
is definitely worth the wait.
This record fits in nicely next to my Gas CD's, as a more organic
sounding collection of melodic minimalism. Their seemingly simple,
guitar-and-effects-fueled drone has been defined as "a wall
of sound." All I know is their distinctive music somehow creeps
into every crevice of my apartment, not leaving one square inch
uncovered, whenever I put it on. The new record plays well as a
whole, seemingly taking its listener on a journey from morning to
dusk in mood.
Guitarist Carl Hultgren, begins the disk with a lovely introduction
on acoustic guitar called "The Sun," followed by the disk
highlight "Balance (Trembling)," a song reminiscent of
a helicopter deprived of all sonic unpleasantness rising melodically
into the sky.
This is all really mellow stuff, so for best results defy your instincts
and play it LOUD to hear all its subtleties.
This record has been out since January and I'm glad to have finally
Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry
Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
| September 2001 | Issue 18
Please send us submissions