Eight titles reviewed this month:
- Debut album from Rex The Dog - The Rex the Dog Show
- Get Physical: Full Body Workout Vol. 4
- Damian Lazarus' contribution to SOMA's Sci Fi Lo Fi series: Night of The Dark Machines
- Count & Sinden September mix
- Fabriclive 42 by FreQ Nasty
- Debut mini-album Down & Out in Paris & London from Autokratz
- Derrick Carter's Resident Advisor podcast
- Gonzales' sixth album Soft Power, an ode to power ballads and cheesy riffs
Rex The Dog - The Rex The Dog Show
Ultra-cool electro-pop music
Rex The Dog is producer Jake Williams and he produces throbbing and melancholic bubblegum electro-pop music. The Rex The Dog Show is a collection of old and new tracks, remixes and re-works, sequenced thoughtfully and well produced. Even at 14 tracks, it's a short album (only one song exceeds four minutes) but it satisfies, managing to combine melodic instrumentals and catchy lyrics in an effortless listen, making it ideal listening before a night out.
When the quality in general is so high, it's difficult to choose highlights, although I'm veering towards the tracks with lyrics (or samples), like the Alison Moyet cut on Bubblicious or the brilliant remix of The Knife's Heartbeats, which fits the Rex style so well. Another catchy remix comes in the form of Tony The Beat by The Sounds, sounding a little like Peaches at first but very pop either way.The melancholic Heartsong will touch your heart.
Cool album artwork. A must have album.
10/10 23 listens
Various - Get Physical: Full Body Workout Vol. 4
I'm always keen on mixes that include a few artists I've not heard before, so this fourth Full Body Workout mix immediately appeals for that reason. Opening track Blackened by Jona proves to be a pleasant enough meander, with some tribally beats and plenty of layers and textures. This is followed by much of the same from Daniel Mehlhart (with a cool oboe refrain), Einzelkind vs. Meat and Gavin Herlihy. And just as I'm beginning to think it's a bit samey in come some heavy snare drums from Italoboyz to change the vibe. Then, with another change of mood, we get our first proper vocals from Elektrochemie, with their reworked version of Starstruck, which is probably my favourite moment in the mix.
After that things return to the initial flow, with only the descending refrain on The Giant From Nibiru by Ida Engberg & David West standing out (mainly because it reminded me of Book Shade). The mixing seems to merge all the tracks into one massive set of beats and subtle textures, almost as if from one artist. Of course with any label compilation, it shouldn't come as any surprise if the artists sound similar... that's probably why they were signed in the first place.
Marked as good background music.
7/10 | 10 listens
Damian Lazarus - Night of The Dark Machines (Sci Fi Lo Fi Vol 2)
Old and new sounds combined
After the disappointing inaugural entry in the Sci Fi Lo Fi series from Andrew Weatherall, I was almost dismissing this Sci Fi Hi Fi sibling series from SOMA as a waste of time but Damian Lazarus has delivered a brilliant and subtly mixed compilation. Its strength lies in the combination of unusual track selection, like the Weatherall mix of Out of Body by Innersphere and more familiar (to me anyway) numbers like Burial's Etched Headplate and Hercules & Love Affair's Blind.
Overall, it's the way the mood and tempo changes, with vocals and instrumentals interspersed, like the cool vocodered chorus of The Voice of Q by Q balanced perfectly between the minimal beats of To Rococo Rot and Jus Ed. Albatros by Portable is a gem, sitting alongside the melodious synthesiser of Kassem Mosse, but the highlight is the closing 9 minutes of The S.O.S Band's Just The Way You Like It (Instrumental)... oh, that riff is something else!
9/10 | 14 listens
Count & Sinden - DJ mix (September)
Small but perfectly formed
Short and sweet mix packed with the usual Count & Sinden punch. There's no filler (no room in just 30 minutes) and it's really well produced and mixed, so this free download is essential listening for anyone into bouncy, head-nodding party music. Tracks include a JC Remix version of the new Count & Sinden single Hardcore Girls, the utterly amazing Township Funk by Mujava, Herve's Cheap Thrills with it's cheesy Thriller sample and his in Disarray Remix of Mercury by Bloc Party and ending with the tuneful One Mo' Gin (Play That Song Mr. DJ) by Play-N-Skillz.
9/10 | 9 listens
Fabriclive 42: FreQ Nasty
Turn the volume down please
Quite an assault on the ears this one... and a somewhat disappointing contribution to the Fabric series from the D&B / breaks producer FreQ Nasty. As a whole it comes across as rather headache inducing with one too many noisy tracks: Baobinga's Thugalicious Remix of Madox's Duckalicious and ZTT's Lower State Of Conciousness (Original Munich Version) are two fine examples... not nice.
On a positive note, there is plenty of challenging stuff that doesn't make me turn the speakers down, like the dubby echoes of God Smiled by Lee "Scratch" Perry Vs The Moody Boyz and the haunting backdrop of sirens to Epydemix's Thunder Gutter (Dub) as it merges into the excellent Sporty-O vocal-led Living Like A Hustler by Backdrift. A few older tunes like the spot-on whooping of KRS-One's Sound of the Police and Santogold's Creator help to make the ride more bearable but I can't see me listening to this mix too often.
5/10 | 6 listens
Autokratz - Down & Out in Paris & London
Runs hot and cold
Punchy electronic music from UK-based duo Russell Crank and David Cox. Lots of buzzing synths, catchy tunes and big beats. There's a cold and clinical element to the music at times but the vocal-led numbers bring warmth, balance and cohesion to these nine songs.
Down & Out in Paris & London is one of those albums with an amazing opening track: Reaktor. It's so good I often found myself putting the album on just to hear that track, which surely emphasises the importance of the first track on an album? Many of the other tracks don't quite reach the same level though. 1000 Things represents the album well, two minutes of building beats before the sweet vocals and melody arrive. The eighties get an obligatory visit with Last Show and Stay The Same, both of which boast nice tunes. Good stuff... and free: Down and out with autoKratz.
8/10 | 13 listens
Resident Advisor podcast - Derrick Carter
Boompty, boompty, boompty!
A fun bouncy mix from the veteran Chicago house producer which perfectly demonstrates his distinctive "boompty" sound making for the perfect party mix. There's something weirdly optimistic about this incessant bumping beat, I just can't put my finger on what. For example, opening track These Are The Good Old Days by So Called has such a catchy chorus that I often find myself repeating it over the course of the following few tracks. Of course because the beat stays the same and quite a few tracks have D's BHQ Vocal mixed in, it does sound like Carter has dusted each track with some magic powder. The fact that most tracks have vocals in some form, whether they're cut up or simply looped, does tend to makes the mix quite distracting (i.e. not ideal to work to).
Some of the selected songs and artists included in the mix are quite brilliant, like pop sensation Adele with My Same, the ubiquitous Hercules & Love Affair and Roisin Murphy with a new track Ruby Bleu. Top moments come in the shape of Canto Della Liberta by 3rd Face (which is obviously a Carter favourite as I've heard it on previous mixes of his) and closing track Sweet Pea by Amos Lee, which is sooooo good!
Quite a few tracks are unreleased, so not only is this mix free to download, it's full of value. Get it quickly while it's still available at Resident Advisor. You'll be nodding along in time with those boompty beats before you know it.
10/10 | 9 listens
Gonzales - Soft Power
The Canadian Julian Cope does soft rock with taste
Released in April 2008, so I'm a bit late to the sixth album from an old favourite of mine, Gonzales. It's an ode to the 70's and 80's soft rock genre and in typical fashion is executed with great taste, exuberant style and sharp humour. What we get is a fine balance of tongue in cheek lyrics with brilliant song writing.
First single and opening track Working Together epitomises the album as a whole, it's got a catchy-as-hell chorus with a really upbeat vibe, all held together with the Gonzales trademark piano. I defy anyone not to like this. And things get better! Slow Down is a cheesy power ballad with the cheesiest saxophone ever. Unrequited Love is another brilliant pop song, boasting timeless melodies and a clever song structure; he makes it seem so easy! My favourite is the slightly melancholic Theme From In-Between, an instrumental which wouldn't have been out of place on his debut Gonzales Uber Alles from 2000.
9/10 | 14 listens