This is the kind of ambient I like. Misty atmosphere, a constant feeling of longing (Sehnsucht, the Germans would call it) and sadness, nothing much happening at all, no noise for starters, in other words a perfect night record. A record I’ve come to appreciate throughout the years, because on first buying it, I thought it compared rather lightly to Sylvian’s more song-approached output. Also, at the time, Czukay to me was just the guy with the funny name who made that record with Jah Wobble and another German fella whose name I just couldn’t remember. Ah, how things change.
Holger Czukay & Rolf Dammers - Canaxis [Music Factory, 1970]
Originally this record came out under the name Technical Space Composer’s Crew, which I must admit is a rather nifty name. Czukay and Dammers don’t sound half as cool. Anyway, this is Can’s Holger Czukay doing the ethnical minimalism thing years before others even thought of it.
Underground Resistance - Spirits Speak [Somewhere In Detroit, 1996(?)]
Taken from one of those très rare Somewhere In Detroit 12-inches. Ten minutes of slow deep techno bliss, based around some acid, an occasional sitar-lick and Mad Mike’s never faltering stellar soul finesse. I would say: “They don’t make ‘em like this anymore”, but unfortunately for my financial status, Mike Banks makes one like this once in three months or so.
Six Organs Of Admittance - It Was Written [Durtrojnana, 2004]
Another side of Ben Chasny is revealed by this little ditty, hidden on a limited-as-hell 7-inch for David Tibet’s label. Instead of going for the usual full-blown spiritual raga symphony, he keeps it under four minutes and even manages to swing-inna-hillbilly style. Hearing is believing.
Skream - Skreamism Vol. 2 [Tempa, 2006]
Presently still not too sure about Burial, but I know I like this better. What the hell, you can always expect the goods from Tempa. It’s dirty, deep and dark and the quality is as high as the bass is low. Heavy doubts about how you should dance to this, though.
One of those way too pricey bootleg double vinyls that you just have to buy because the originals are unfindable or cost you a small fortune. Nothing but fine Italo disco stompers by people like B.W.H., Mr Fagio, Lectric Workers, Massimo Barsotto (dig that ‘Whole Lotta Love’ cover version) and Jago (Metro Area, but from 1983). The texts are pure pubescent stupidities, most beats sound like they have been recorded from out of a rusty can, the kitsch has carefully been glued into the screaming synths, and, if such was possible, a vocoder overdose is a serious possibility. I just love this music.
Kraftwerk - Ralf Und Florian [Vertigo, 1973]
Yes people, there was also Kraftwerk before Autobahn. This really is the strangest record you can think of as a predecessor to the record that opened up their career. There’s lots of percussion and ambient on this one and the melodies sound as naïve and carefree as one can imagine from these robot technicians. Yes, this really is one frightfully joyful record. And don’t those vocoders sound sweet next to that steel guitar!
Organisation - Tone Float [RCA, 1970]
Wonderfully meditative soundscaping mixed up with free rock from this Kraftwerk-predecessor. If you want to know how Kraftwerk might have sounded with guitars (and, admit, who wouldn’t), then this is the record you need to listen. A lot of guitar soloing going on here but other pieces already point to early investigations into ambient. A versatile first outing from these electronic pioneers, as ever based around the primordial duo core of Ralf Hütter-Florian Schneider. And produced, as is the case with nearly every essential Krautrock album, by Conrad aka Conny Plank.
Rhythm & Sound - Rhythm And Sound [Rhythm And Sound, 2001]
Having bought all the vinyls it’s nice to have all these tracks on one cd. Sometimes it makes you wonder if the Rhythm & Sound stuff maybe is the best thing they have done. But I get that every time I listen to these never-ending dubscapes, whether they’re called Maurizio, Basic Channel or any other moniker. In each case you listen and you’re lost forever.
The Knife - Silent Shout [V2, 2006]
Another possible candidate for record of the year. That voice alone gives me the chills, sometimes even the creeps. But don’t let that forget that the music is pure brilliance too, somewhere between the punky Detroit spirit of GusGus and the perfectionist tradition of Scandinavian pop. The overall feeling, too, proves a thorough understanding of all things techno. If all pop music sounded like this, that would be the day, wouldn’t it?
Sunn O))) & Earth - Angel Coma [Southern Lord, 2006]
A split e.p. where Sunn takes you for another tour through their favorite caves of horror, while Earth continues in the vein of their latest album, that is, they now sound like ghostly cowboys who’ve recently kicked the habit, but will always have to deal with a resulting minimal obsession. Hear now the dark soul of America!
Flash And The Pan
Producer duo Vanda and Young (brother of two AC/DC-members and co-producer of that group's two first albums) came up with a strange mixture of late disco and early new wave. With that voice you instantly remember and their cool funkiness, they even had a few hits (remember ‘Waiting on a Train’ and ‘Midnight Man’?). But did you know that they wrote and had their first hit with ‘Walking in the Rain’, later covered by Grace Jones during the legendary Compass Point sessions? And that you urgently need to check out ‘California’, a track from their first album, which is about the best song I’ve unearthed from the dusts of time in 2006? Or the supercool ‘Look at that Woman Go’, from their last album? No? Now you do.
Laurin Rinder & W. Michael Lewis - Seven Deadly Sins [AVI, 1977]
Aesthetically speaking this record’s sleeve is about as low as you can possibly go. Like a poor man’s Modern Talking these guys stare you in the eye like they just been caught frolicking in the nearest public lavatories. That’s the seventies for ya, I suppose. But the music! Seven Sins (with a song for every sin) is one of the best disco records you’ve ever heard, that is, if you like the sometimes painfully cheesy irony in the nu disco of Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas. And, oh yeah, those jungle drums on Carl Craig’s ‘Demented (or Just Crazy)’, they were sampled from this record. Which was a bonus, because I found that out after I bought it. Sleeve sucks, record rocks. And since I like records that surprise me I’m going to make this my Recommendation of the Week.