Monday, December 25, 2006

2: Kode9 & The Spaceape - Memories of the Future

"The truth lies somewhere between a lie and a fiction." Indeed! If the Junior Boys record was the one I have listened most to, then Memories of the Future was the record I was most impressed by, a real hauntological trip from beginning to end.

Not too easy a record: it took me three listenings before getting the point, but since then I have been addicted to it until this very day. Not too joyful a record, either: it is music for nighttime tunnels, dreary underpasses and derelict districts of the cityscape, where paranoia rules and accidents are bound to happen. That is, if they have not already happened, which is the more probable alternative.

It is music for and from people who saw, and judged it was not good. Everything is spooky, ghostly and haunted on this record, a bit like our present itself. Hence its disappearance from the title, which is all about the irrevocability of the past and a future that is happening to fast. "One step forward, two steps back"

3: Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye

As I was saying, 2006 was a year of accomplishment. It certainly was for Junior Boys. This is without any doubt the record I have played most in 2006. Junior Boys manage to combine youth reveries (Roxy Music's Avalon, John Foxx, Ultravox, Kraftwerk) with the stringent neo-disco of Environ and Get Physical. Jeremy Greenspan's vocals infuse these electronic dance tracks with emotional delivery and relevant lyrical content, so you get a total package of only good things. And for post-millennial concerns: there is a lot of positive, at times almost romantic longing in this music, a universal sigh that is hidden somewhere beneath the beat. On top there are some real corkers on So This Is Goodbye: 'The Equalizer', 'In the Morning', 'Double Shadow', before anything they are strong pop songs. But they know how to groove as well. A winner in all categories.

4: REKID - Made in Menorca

If Carl Craig is not the artist of the year, he might as well have been through his influence. REKID, Andy Stott, Âme: many people who made it big in House in 2006 owe a lot to Carl Craig. In techno 2006 was without any doubt the year of Craig's most avid disciple, Matt Edwards, who, not unsurprisingly, on Made in Menorca, even names a track after one of Carl Craig's labels.

As REKID (slomo house) and as Radio Slave (pumping and dark techno) and as part of Quiet Village (slowa-than-slomo psychedelic house) and with his countless remixes, he and only he was the producer of the year. Ricardo Villalobos went for length, Edwards went for hyperactivity. And with Made in Menorca he reached unheard of heights.

Edwards found out, though he was hardly the first to realize this, that slowing your beats to sub-Theo Parrish tempos can do the trick just as well to make people move. And of course Dub was it this year. Apart from the Dubstep posse, REKID, too, on this fabulously immaculate record, infuses a lot of dub into his music. But you easily can discern the echoes of minimalism, electro, disco, Italo, EBM and kosmische musik just as well. Mostly to the effect that REKID sounds a lot like a Clone 12-inch slowed down to half-speed. Do not think 45! Think 33!

If you would ever decide to coin a phrase like "Detroit Dub", with all the good things that both those styles combine, this would probably be the first record fitting the genre. Considering the time he takes to get where he needs to go, you cannot possibly go deeper than Rekid on this rekod.

5: Six Organs Of Admittance - The Sun Awakens

Ben Chasny is one of the few artists who, when coming into contact with his music for the first time, I knew I was going to like for the rest of my life. 2006 really was the year of true accomplishment for a lot of artists. Junior Boys, dubstep, Joanna Newsom, Villalobos, Matt Edwards, Wolf Eyes... the list goes on. The last record by Six Organs of Admittance was another.

Chasny has come to the correct conclusion that haziness is not the true embodiment of psychedelia, rather quietly wielded power. When 'Black Wall' kicks in you realize that he is now able to put all his diverse persona (Six Organs, Current 93, psychedelics, Americana, the endless rock-'n-roll of Comets On Fire) in one powerful and perfectly contained and compelling song. And the 24 minutes of 'River of Transfiguration' (if this were the vinyl age, we would call such a track 'side-long') that conclude this record make sure you realize that good old Prog (see also Joanna Newsom) has gloriously been resurrected in 2006. But unlike Newsom he does not get his kicks from the elves and princesses of Middle Earth, or from some "God", but from a deeply felt mystical unity with the heathen Lord of Lysergia. True cowboys are hippies these days.

6: Wolf Eyes - Human Animal

When Sonic Youth starts mentioning your name in mainstream magazines you know you are going somewhere. I do not know exactly how much records these guys have unleashed upon the world in 2006 but they were many, like a diabolic dominion wiping out all rivalry in one battle. Even considering the sheer numbers, this is undoubtedly their best yet.

It is music for underground tunnels, where drooling and slimy alien and absolutely up to no good lifeforms are sneaking up behind you to let you know they could, at any time, annihilate you. For the time being they do not act, however, just because they like to toy with your swelling fear. Human Animal is all about getting to know those primeval and atavistic longings. You wet your pants, for sure, but it is exciting nonetheless. That feeling.

Some take a liking to Wolf Eyes for their unholy noise, but I actually like them more for the inhuman growls and cries, as if they have finally found out the meaning of life, and will not tell you about it because it is way too gruesome to talk about. "Words fail you": that is the exact thought Wolf Eyes records conjure up.

7: Andy Stott - Merciless

Andy Stott has been making music for just two years now. But he has the emotional maturity to put out a triple cd on Planet E or Transmat. You guessed it: this is Detroit techno. But the way it has been adapted to the new millennium can only come from a producer who has mastered his craft up to a point where he does no longer have to learn from anyone. Of course you hear the influences (Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin, Stefan Robbers, Stasis, Black Dog, Detroit Escalator Company) but it all sounds so personal and, god only knows, so way deep into the crystalline groove.

There is some dubstep on there as well, Stott being the only techno producer who smuggled in a track on Mary Ann Hobbs's Warrior Dubz. Methodologically Stott has many elements in common with Colin Lindo aka Nubian Mindz. He was adopted a few years ago by the West-London broken beat massive, while all along just making his austere version of Detroit techno. And Andy Stott does the same in 2006 with dubstep, so that he can come up with tracks like 'Choke', bringing Chain Reaction and Burial together in a blissed-out but pitch-black night drive of a techno track. Mercilessly beautiful!

8: Anthony Braxton & Wolf Eyes - Black Vomit

Free jazz and white noise have been good pals ever since Kaoru Abe and Masayuki Takayanagi teamed up together in the early seventies. And this is another me(l)(e)ting of minds that seem to have been born for one another, although something tells me you had to be at the Victoria festival to fully understand the weight of what actually was going on.

Because the ultimate moment of this historical gig is in fact not featured on this shortened impression. You can download the entire concert somewhere and then you will notice the moment where one of the Wolf Eyes guys asks Braxton which track he wants to play for an encore. Whereon this giant of free music obliquely answers: "Black Vomit!" It is one of those defining moments when you understand that true greatness is not dependent on age, style or anything else. No, true greatness strives ever forward. And just like Wolf Eyes have given the world of underground noise its ultimate push in 2006, by releasing more records than humanly possible, Anthony Braxton pushes the limits of jazz by allying himself with a trio that has nothing at all to do with jazz.

Maybe it is the single defining characteristic of all greatness: continuing to do your thing outside of your regular surroundings. If you take that into consideration, then this is one of the most important records of the new millennium.

Friday, December 22, 2006

9: Thomas Brinkmann - Klick Revolution

I like the word revolution. Maybe mostly because revolutions these days are never accomplished in a short period of time, like they used to, but slowly and sometimes inperceptibly. I like Thomas Brinkmann for the same reasons. While other minimalists like Villalobos and Hawtin are, maybe deservedly, in the heat of the spotlights, he continues, for years now, to make one great record after another with anybody noticing. Apart from his three quite brilliant Soulcenter* releases, this is his best yet.

Like every true minimalist he starts out with the slightest possible amount of elements and gradually transforms them into a behemoth of squirming patches of sound. On top, this record is made up only of samples of crackles, glitches and broken parts he took from an array of soul and funk records. Broken records never made this kind of beauty possible. "Anal!", I hear some people say. They are right of course. Then again, Hitchcock was anal too, and he is one of the greatest directors of all time. Thomas Brinkmann is a genius and Klick Revolution is, for the time being, his pièce de resistance.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

10: Fuckpony - Children of Love

Remember when house and techno actually were fun? No fucking concepts whatsoever? Just dancing? A well-employed strobe light? Drugs that do not wreck your mind for weeks to come? That mighty unparallelled e-dancer feeling? Reach back inside your memory! Go on! Don't be shy! You had almost forgotten all about it, hadn't you? Fear not! So did I.

Well, Fuckpony (What an unashamedly, dreadfully dirty name! All Hail to the Lords of House!) takes you back to those days. Nice 4/4 bass drum. Chirping acid. Primitive and unpretentious toms. Voices that seem to come straight from the cellars of your mind. Sexy and a little perverted lyrics. Music that sticks to one idea without boring the hell out of you with tons of clicks, cuts, glitches and other fart-related sounds. Darkness that is mysteriously tempting and attractive instead of being the herald for an aggressive black hole of endless repetition.

Right! You remember! Way to go! Hold on to that feeling because Children of Love could have been your soundtrack to all that.

Children of Love
was, rather predictably, eclipsed by the gloriously overrated Booka Shade album (OK, Booka Shade are brilliant, but like Metro Area they are also a tad boring in their perfection, not?). Fuckpony, on the other hand, is far from perfect. But, hell, Fuckpony sounds like it is 1986 all over again and you are jacking and rocking down the house. And, come on, who would not want to be there in Chicago jacking it to one of those succulent Ron Hardy sets? Yeah, that feeling!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I know it is a bit of a tired formula, but from tomorrow on I will be posting my favorite records of 2006. Making a Top 10 was not actually as difficult as I thought it would be, because there have not been that many good records this year. There, I have said it.

Dubstep Rulez!

Had sort of an epiphany this weekend with the dubstep party in Brussels. Plasticman, Kode9 and Skream! came to skank the place and I was overly impressed. Fuck no, I was overwhelmed! Nice too that the organisation had understood that a good dubstep evening takes place in almost complete darkness. The lights were accordingly sparse (though I would have appreciated a strobe for added pleasure) and the atmosphere thus created even reinforced the trembling and pounding bass sounds, that nearly unscrewed the bolts of the boat the party took place on.

I was a tad surprised - but of course also overjoyed - that a pretty large crowd in Belgium understands that dubstep is the music of the future. I was also impressed by the sheer diversity of the sounds dubstep has managed to create in its rather short history (ok, rather short: it's been going on for more than five years now). Plasticman (aka The Plastician) was so brutal that I almost connected dubstep to electronic body music. He even managed to blow up the subwoofer 37 minutes into the party. That being said, Kode9 and Skream! obviously were the dj's of the evening. Kode9 was more orientated towards dub and hiphop, Skream! went more in an electronic direction. That divide only shows that there is still pretty much space for new directions and developments in the style. Now let's hope the rest of the world, too, catches on to this exciting music.

Telegram Sam (3)

Since Blogger is half of the time not able to upload the cd-sleeves of the records in my top 10 of 2006, I'm squeezing a Telegraphic Samuel in between.

1. Depeche Mode: Sinner in Me (Villalobos Remix): As those Hasty Fashionist cunts apparently do not want to release this brilliant remix, some evil person decided to press it on a fat slice of vinyl. Serves them right. And oh yeah, Villalobos is a fookin' genius. 2. Dharma: Plastic Doll: Clone Classic keeps them coming. This Italo classic is on the thin line between kitsch hell and electropop heaven. And it sits there just right. 3. Marc Moulin: I Am You: On january 3th I'm doing an interview with this Belgian legend who you may know from Telex and Placebo. In the interest of doing a fine interview I will be careful to not mention my opinion of his new record. Mind you: it's way better than his previous two. But that's not saying much, innit? 4. Justice vs Simian: Never Be Alone: From quite a while ago, but got hold of it only last week. What a great record this is! 5. Vince Watson: Renaissance: Not bad for a Planet E but hardly Watson's best record. Go for the a-side for ecstatic sub-trance. 6. The Popular People's Front: My Flat's on Fire: Some cheeky bastard decided to put on electro-track under Busta Rhymes's 'Light That Ass on Fire' and it is even better than the Neptunes original. 7. Incogdo/Kenny Larkin: Simply Just a Ventage/Wondering: Bootlegs rule! This one compiles Derrick May and Carl Craig's sought after Outland release and a limited Warp 7" of Kenny Larkin on one 4-tracker. Hotter than than a 1000 suns, especially Larkin's brilliant 'Wondering'. 8. Zwicker: I Get My Kicks at Nighttime: On promo for ages and now out on Compost's Black Label. Funky electro groove with killer funny lyrics. That's enough for me. 9. VA: Spaceships and Pings: Fine 4-tracker with outstanding tracks by Konrad Black and Magda, both going electro. The Troy Pierce and Marc Houle tracks are more of the forgettable kind. 10. LCD Sound System: 45_33: Not too sure what to think about this one. It is definitely not boring because I did not switch to another track during the first listening. But what it is other than 'not boring' I am not too sure about. OK, James and Tim like disco. So what?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Telegram Sam (2)

1. Booka Shade: Darko (Booka Shade meets Hot Chip Mixes): The Booka Shade mixes are mediocre at best. It is Hot Chip that brings a welcomed surge of invention and their two remixes are pretty genius, with the second remix being the bee's knees. 2. Uniqorns: Uniqorns: Welcome to slower-than-slow territory. A trippy slo-mo original and another splendid Quiet Village remix, that rivals the best tracks on Made in Menorca. Nice sleeve, too. 3. DJ Pierre: Box Energy: Ever since News has taken in hand the legacy of Chicago's greatest ever label, all classic Trax are available again, this time around, though, in pressings worthy of that noun. This is probably my most favourite acid track ever. Deep, dark and trippin'. 4. Patrick Pulsinger: Presents Utopia Parkway: Long time no hear but Pulsinger has always been one of the reliable stayers. He proves exactly that with this kosmische 3-tracker on Compost's Black Label. Go with the flip for two cool-as-ever dis-ko-tek-no crackers that remind of Sluts'n'Strings & 909-era Pulsinger. 5. Magnus International: Kosmetisk: Another one of those tracks that you get into even deeper when you are exposed to it more often. Norway rules the housewaves. 6. Theo Parrish: Falling Up (Technasia Mixes): Deceivingly simple but a smooth diamond. One of the best techno tracks in ages. 7. Sexual Harrassment: I Need a Freak: Finally found this one. Not the original pressing but an obscure German license. Wouldn't be paying for the costly originals either, because, except if you are Ed DMX, all other tracks on this 1983 5-track EP are pretty wack. 8. Ricardo Villalobos: What's Wrong with My Friends?: Indeed, friends! Golden Ricardo hits again with more trippy longies. Not all tracks are equally danceable and, no, this is no second 'Fizheuer Zieheuer'. That's just because there is never going to be a second 'Fizheuer Zieheuer'. 9. Djuma Sound System: Djinn Remixes: Forget the flip and go straight for the 'Ob-Selon Mi -Nos'-stylings of Trentemoller's heavenly remix. One of the tracks of the year. 10. Phantom Slasher: Gruble: Already posted this one. Mentioning it again because it is one of those double-packs that just keeps growing and growing. Totally tripped-out crazy disco with a fat slice of dub. Go straight for 'Lasagne for 10' and 'Satchell on My Doorstep'. The first is one of the best space disco tracks ever, while the latter is one nifty edit of Roxy Music's 'The Main Thing'. Noid always goes recommended.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I was just thinking that 'Barbarism Begins at Home' is probably the best title for a song ever.