TheLetterElectronic Music Guide

Music Round-up January 2008
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It's been a strange month for music. I've been listening to so much new music that the listening-count for some albums and compilations is lower than I'd prefer before making any kind of judgement but I think I'm being fair in these reviews.

Surprisingly the highlights are mostly free downloads, like the Resident Advisor podcasts by the Optimo dudes and Andy Stott and Claro Intelecto.

Efdemin - Efdemin

This album was released back in April of 2007 and it somehow passed me by. It was only after Efdemin's RA Podcast being voted one of the best of 2007 that I investigated this artist.

The eponymously-title album (occasionally referred to as 'Untitled') is all instrumental, low-down, moody music, with only minor shifts in tempo from start to finish, which makes it ideal background music for working at the computer to. The first four tracks pretty much merge into each other seemlessly before you realise you've reached the album's strong point - Acid Bells, where the tempo change is most noticeable. After that there's a slight blip with Stately, Yes where the sample about his head disappearing and reappearing becomes somewhat tedious, which is a shame because the music is actually really nice. After this it's a case of "carry on as you were" for the remaining tracks. It's not ambient yet chilled. It has attitude and I like it a lot.

6 listens | 8/10

Matthew Dear - Asa Breed

Ah, what a great leftfield pop album this is. Matthew Dear produces a perfect combination of electronic sounds, live instrumentation and songwriting. Like the Efdemin album this was released in the first half of 2007 but it passed me by. If you've not heard it I'd say it was worth checking out.

The thirteen tracks would comfortably squeeze onto a cassette tape, which makes most of them the perfect length for a pop tune. And with each track so full of catchy hooks I imagine it wouldn't be long before you're singing along. There's an 80's-sounding element to the songs which is prevalent on tracks like Elementary Lover and Pom Pom and I'm sure Dear's rich baritone is a contributing factor.

In support of the retro sound there's plenty of electronic tomfoolery in tracks like Death To Feelers which serve to remind us when this music was produced. The best tracks though are the slightly meloncholic ones like third track Deserter with it's double-tracked vocals and delicious descending melody and Give Me More which really do provoke an emotional reaction.

8 listens | 8/10

Holy Fuck - LP

Canadian instrumental electronic power pop. Don't be distracted by their name, sure it's an attention-getter, but the music is the real attraction. With two drummers and an apparently regular changing line-up of players you would be forgiven for thinking they might sound disheveled yet they manage to present a consistent and coherent sound with equal measures of guitars and electronics.

They sound a bit like Salaryman but with less clarity in the production; this raw, punky element serving them well. From opener Super Inuit (a live performance) to closer Choppers the pace never lets up. And even though there's no songs as such (i.e. no lyrics) vocals can be heard throughout. The melodies are there in abundance in tracks like Lovely Allen and The Pules. It's a grower so do persevere, the rewards are worth it.

6 listens | 7/10

Tape and Take Six - DKR

Oh, what can I say about this step back in time? D. Keith Robinson has been issuing these amazing Take and Tape compilations for the last few months and this sixth one focusses the bands he listened to as a kid growing up in the eighties (like I did myself). As every track is pretty much a classic in it's own right I'm not going to discuss individual merits; suffice it to say, the whole compilation works really well due to great track selection and sequencing. Pure perfect pop. Download Take and Tape Six this minute.

7 listens | 10/10

Fabric Podcast 04: Jonny Trunk (both parts)

The Johnny Trunk podcasts have been a bit of an educational treat for me with lot's of amazing music I'd never heard before. Comprising library music, rare cover versions and groovy soundtracks to porn movies the two 40 minutes podcasts are filled with surprise gems. Definitely worth exploring.

4 listens | 10/10

M.A.N.D.Y. - Fabric 38

Some reviews in the music press for this 38th Fabric release haven't been favourable but I reckon the reviewers haven't listened enough. It's another top quality mix from start to finish. And as we all know, one vital ingredient for a successful DJ mix is quality mixing and M.A.N.D.Y. don't fail in their delivery. From cheesy Bananas To The Beat by Yello through to stonking Idiosynkratik by Decimal the tempo riggles and undulates taking the listener on an amazing journey. With tropical sounds from Guillaume And The Coutu Dumonts, surprising snoring snorts from Booka Shade and a belter of a Claude Vonstroke remix of War Paint by poxyMUSIC, it's a never anything but eventful.

8 listens | 9/10

JD Twitch (Optimo) - RA Podcast

I liken this truly inspirational podcast to last year's Body Language mix by DJ Dixon in that its starts slowly, builds up and ends on a very satisfyingly note. Very listenable.

It's a typically eclectic selection starting with German Krautrockers Popol Vuh segueing into The Growler by Woolfy. One highlight comes at just under fourteen minutes with an amazing version of Do Ya Think I'm Sexy (by an unknown artist) comprising a cool dubby-sounding vocal coupled with a snake charmers pungi... top quality stuff! The varied selection continues apace with many artists unknown to me except Silicone Soul and Lindstrom... oh yes and closing track Satellite Of Love by Lou Reed. A real treat and a definite contender for RA Podcast of the year for 2008!

8 listens | 10/10

Andy Stott and Claro Intelecto - RA Podcast

What luck! Two RA podcasts in a row which have totally blown me away. This mix by two guys I wasn't aware of before couldn't be more removed from the Optimo set yet still manages to satisfy on all levels. It's a very low-down and dirty collection of tunes by the guys themselves. Gentle, dubby, spacey and chilled-out. Perfect!

6 listens | 10/10

Other stuff I can't stop listening to

Burial - Untrue. yep, it's still on rotation. Check out last months review for more info.

Timo Garcia - Live at Purrfect Electro - this live mix was a free CD from my DJ Mag subscription and has taken a few listens over as many weeks for me to start appreciating it's finer qualities. Made up largely of Timo Garcia tracks its got an upbeat vibe which proves to be the perfect antidote to all these chilled-out mixes I like so much :-P. Top tracks include Zombies Revenge and Control The Universe.

Compy 3 - as you may already know the Compy series is my own set of mix tapes (though not mixed). Still available for now.

Music Round-up January 2008

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