Here's my monthly music round-up of what I've enjoyed listening to in November 2007.
Commix - Call To Mind
Categorising music isn't easy, especially when most 'new' music is just mashed and rehashed 'old' music (which isn't always a bad thing). But, I reckon that trying to shoe-horn a group or album into a particular genre can work to the band's detriment sometimes. So if I tell you that Commix are classed as (and deem themselves as) drum-and-bass, does that turn you off? It shouldn't.
Commix are George Levings & Guy Brewer and Call To Mind is their debut album. The eleven killer tracks (twelve if you include the 'hidden' one at the end) which are very well-composed and produced and present a fine balance of instrumentals and vocal-sampled numbers are nothing but an enthralling listen.
Opening track Be True should give you a nice taster of what to expect if you want to try before you buy: when the drums enter at 1:12 the surging beat combined with the vocal-sample (kinda reminiscent of The Art of Noise) should have you nodding your head in time.
How You Gonna Feel (feat Steve Spacek) is the closest you get to a traditional song (and very fine it is too) but the majority of numbers are composed of pulsating d&b beats and cut-and-pasted vocal-samples (like Satellite 2 and Japanese Electronics), which might sound a tad formulaic but it demonstrate well their own take on how to write pop music these days. In essence, this is really accessible pop music and comes highly recommended.
10/10 | 12 listens
Agoria - At The Controls
Mostly what attracts me to mix CDs is discovering new artists and music. In the case of Agoria At The Controls I was also swayed by the fact that I'd already bought (and love) two previous compilations in the series (by M.A.N.D.Y. and James Holden). And I'm very happy to say this one doesn't disappoint in any way.
Listened to as a whole (i.e. both CDs in a oner) it's a sprawling two hour epic journey through some weird and obscure stuff (to me anyway) from the likes of Daniel Teruggi, Francesco Tristano, Mikael Stravostrand and Findlay Brown to more familiar and well-established artists like Ben Westbeech, Swayzak, Plaid, Bauhaus (yes the goth band from the 70's and 80's) and Telepopmusik. It's so varied and disparate yet manages to work together so well, and that's all down to the keen ear and tight mixing skills of the man at the controls, Agoria. Brilliant stuff!
10/10 | 10 listens
Ben Westbeech - Welcome To The Best Years Of Years Of Your Life
Possibly one of the most sampled albums of 2007 this; I'd be surprised if you hadn't heard the Acid Jazz of Ben Westbeech in some format during the last six months. His appearance on nearly every mix CD and compilation I've heard this year has meant his catchy tunes have been doggedly working into my psyche... and I'm glad for that because Welcome To The Best Years Of Years Of Your Life makes for a very pleasant listen.
As a classically trained cellist, pianist and vocalist his music clearly has had a good upbringing and as such his music is instantly accessible; conjuring up sweet melody with cool percussion, crisp d&b beats and a deeply soulful voice (which sounds like Lenny Kravitz at times). From a pop perspective, So Good Today and Hang Around are perfect examples to check out, but there's also jazz (Stop What You're Doing), instrumental (Grey Skies) and drum-and-bass (Get Closer).
8/10 | 6 listens
Samim - Flow
I like this album. It's difficult to categorise. Like Commix, it's made up from a combination of instrumentals and vocal-led numbers but nothing is ever clear-cut. Guest vocals, like Big Bully on second track Springbreak and Timbaland on album closer The Lick work well next to the unexpected sounds of Middle Eastern percussion on Blackdeath and accordion on Heater. At once it's both familiar-sounding and completely fresh. It's definitely all the subtle and unusual sounds popping in and providing that element of surprise that keeps me listening after 15 rotations.
8/10 | 15 listens
Resident Advisor is a dance and electronic music magazine and they release regular podcasts from guest DJ's. You can download previous RA podcasts. Having only recently found this link myself I went on a downloading frenzy and grabbed the following:
- Joris Voorn
- Dan Ghenacia
- Vince Watson
- Guy Gerber
- Michael Fakesh
- Prins Tomas
- Sven Weisemann
- Tyger Dhula
So far I'm keen on the M.A.N.D.Y and Joris Voorn mixes but I'll need to spend some more time listening to fully appreciate which ones are the best ones.
Other stuff I can't stop listening to
I've worked out that the music I keep going back to falls distinctly into two camps - quiet, late night music and afternoon bouncy music. On the late night front my first refuge recently has been the DJ Dixon Body Language mix, which is my favourite. I've also been chilling out to Intershop by Dettinger and Was Ist Musik by Justus Kohncke.
In contrast, for a pick-me-up I've been listening again to the excellent Radio Disco double CD from Boris Dlugosch vs Radio Slave; full of remixes of groups like The Futureheads, Franz Ferdinand, Chikinki and Infadels. And for some real bouncy sounds I keep going back to the likes of Modeselektor - Happy Birthday, Fabriclive 35 - Marcus Intalex, Fabric 34 - Krafty Kuts and Fabriclive 19 - The Freestylers.