An intriguing new release and solid record (some pun intended) out on New Speak by the founder and owner Ola Bergman. The label was activated the same year as Electronic Desert and that would be Anno Domini 2002 (wait a year and it’ll be an even move of ten). The latest New Speak recording was 2009’s ‘Recast’ CD compilation featuring an array of talented electronic musicians.
‘Quizzical’ is actually a two part album and this is indicated by the first part’s subtitle ‘issue 1’. The four-track 12-inch has an equal distribution of tracks and makes for an enjoyable meeting with Ola Bergman’s musical world. And it is in every aspect an electrofied, heavily analogue, melodic and danceable encounter.
The opening track ‘Fearcast’ (which simply must be a play with words of the 2005 ‘Forecast’ release and track) is a piece of well-crafted, slightly nostalgic and all around nice sounding music. The drum machine on ‘Radiosonde’ is as solid as it has got pedigree and it is accompanied by a gentle melody, yet it still manages to be a definite dance floor adept. The B-side features ‘Pollination’ and ‘Crescent Nebula’ and both the tracks are sound wise more steadily focused on the shores of America rather than Europe. ‘Pollination’ also incorporates processed vocal elements.
‘Quizzical’ is another top quality release on New Speak and if you like New Speak and Ola Bergman’s music I strongly suggest you get a copy fast. The release is limited to 100 hand printed copies and they will not last.
As they boldly state themselves “You know those boys” the Finnish electro unit Imatran Voima does the honours on newly started Golden Dice Records. The “American Splendor EP” is a four + two track twelve-inch release filled with vocoder and distinctive 808 basslines. The opening track “American Splendor” is a bass heavy and vocoder saturated old school purist take on electro that is sure to put any dance floor on fire. A2 is called “Intoxication” and it features a completely different style. It has straight beats and is firmly rooted in the rich Minneapolis party soil and even contains a fairly obvious reference to Minneapolis’ first son: Prince. A3 is a vocoder interlude. B1 is called “American Splendor (Fred Riveras Ultra Editz Edition) and would be an professional’s remix of the A1. B2 has some heavy acid references going on and finally the last and third track of the flip-side features the vocals (voderised) of “American Splendor” called “American Vocopella”. The EP has got some varied styles on it, but it must be said that they’re all firmly cemented in the sound scheme of the eighties. Nevertheless, it’s a good release from Imatran Voima keeping their bread of sound very much alive. Furthermore it is a good first release by Swedish based Golden Dice Records that probably also serves as an indicator of what to expect in the future. Electro rock lives!
The Vlad & Ardisson/Kansas City Prophets (KCP) split EP released earlier this year (Jan 2005) contains KCP’s seminal electro track “Detraffec” that was first included on the Seed compilation CD “Volume One” released in 2003. I liked it then and I still think it’s an excellent piece of minimal no fuss electro. KCP contributes with a second track on the EP entitled “Sheer” more of the same ultra-quality electro that is the business of Kansas City Prophets. It’s a three track EP and the third one is a collaboration track between Ardisson and Vlad entitled “Sid Sonar” strictly dance floor business with a straight and rough bassline. And most likely it’s already set is share of dance floors ablaze.
“Furious Styles” is a superb 6-track release by Ludvig Elblaus out on New Speak (Hey, whatever happened to EDr?) and also his first release as a solo artist. (As you may or may not know Ludvig Elblaus is exactly one half of Frank and Bill.) One recurring trade or pattern is Elblaus’ strong focus on the rhythmic elements in his compositions with an acute sense for grooves, beats and percussive elements. None of the tracks on “Furious Styles” is an exception from this pattern. Each and every track has rhythms and basslines to die for and they all more or less carry the microscopic and subtle dub-influence that has been incorporated by Elblaus the past year or so. This EP moves forward like a freight train and has gotten literally everyone in the know on their toes, from distinguished record stores to respectable label managers, don’t miss out on the Furious Styles!
The supreme masters’ are back on vinyl as well as on DUB recordings. Complex beats, plenty of bass, as you would expect from the outstanding and untouchable Funckarma. A bit darker sounding this time around, but as with all their previous releases it is simply brilliant and it doesn’t get any better than this (well that’s my opinion anyhow.) Funckarma have done it again. Know this, you can’t touch them!
It’s the third release on the excellent Jip, a sub label to Eat This and also reportedly own by the world’s youngest label manager three year old Jip. You get five great tracks of electronic music delivered by Koolfunk, Loess, Loden, Mitchell Akiyama and Slemper. I guess we all have to wait patiently for her next birthday and the next release. In the meanwhile get your copy of Jip2!
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the long, long wait for Endorphins album on Eat This surfaces. You get 8 tracks of beautifully constructed nostalgic beats, warm basslines and if you’re lucky a 3,5-inch floppy disk or if you’re even luckier an insanely limited 3-inch CDR… So was it worth the wait? There’s no doubt in my mind that it was. “Discipline” may not be as musically revolutionary as one would perhaps be hoping for, but it has other qualities and that’s the timelessness of quality electronic sounds and production. And why should it not be the case? Good beats are good beats and solid basslines are solid basslines. And there’re some harsher sounding elements as well. Maybe not what you would expect, but definitely not out of place, as in the track bearing the same title as the album “Discipline”. In short this album contains a great collection of electronic music and together with the “extras” it is a release that you want. Actually the fact that it is released on Eat This should make this decision an easy one.
The first Expanding album to see the light of day in 2004 comes from Cathode and is entitled “Special Measures”. The ever so excellent artwork and packaging aside this album shows an Expanding Records’ in great shape. “Be red or yellow” starts off this album in a fairly analogue setting without giving up the glitch, layers of gentle guitars are fused with broken rhythms and a healthy solid beat sets the ambience. Onto the piece de resistance, unquestionably the best track on the entire LP is the equally aptly entitled “While making other plans”. The gentle melody, the convincing beats and rhythm introducing the track leads onto to clever use of bell-like sounds and an awesome build-up. Enter the strings… it’s all over and together with the processed vocals you’ve got one of the best tracks of 2004. Yes, I know it’s still early days, but I’m quite confident. The slightly more techno influenced “Spincycle” offers a straight kick and dynamic bell based sound structure. “Hayling and Brixton” got a decidedly analogue bassline and loveable melody, quite ingenious in all its simplicity. It’s electronica according to the non-existent blueprint. Flipping the record over and you get a mellower sounding “Roxburgh” starting off with high-frequency sounds and solid melodies interacting, All in all its’ familiar sounding, yet new. “Basic Assumption” has a brilliant ambient intro taking the tempo down even further, epic soundscape stuff, still with that analogue feeling lurking about. It’s beatless, processed and beautiful. The understated beats with corresponding bass filled melody creates great atmosphere in “This Just In (c90 mix)” a steadily building and flowing track. Mid-through, the track’s bearing elements become transparent only to be reshaped again, excellent production. “Lewy Body” features a fragile melody fused with strings and some residual glitch, then transforming into a nursery rhyme like forward moving track. A slab of uncompromised contemporary music being at the same time: dynamic, rhythmic, complex and thoroughly enjoyable. I’m looking forward to whatever’s in store from the Expanding camp in the future. They manage to always serve as a source for inspiration, sonically as well as visually.
At last this record got released and it’s FAB’s contribution to the ever growing and exclusive Smak split series. Other familiar faces here at Electronic Desert that has previously contributed to the Smak series include New Speaks’ Ola Bergman. This is another excellent release by the grossly underrated duo known as Frank and Bill. Their side, which would be 12 features three beautiful compositions filled to the brim with beats and breathtaking melodies.Starting off with some solid beat programming and atmosphere in “Pontiak” fused with an ending tasteful break and a hint of glitch makes the track work beautifully. “Early Morning Mambo” displays the warmth of the FAB sound to the fullest, the beats and the layers of melodic elements contrast in a very harmonic way. Did I mention their melodic strength? On to the third and last track and also my favourite on this release, “K20″ is a classic in the making! It’s saturated with melancholy, superb forward moving crunchy beats and a melody to die for. The vocal influenced and played sounds complete the sonic picture. It’s an instant replay and it’s safe to say that Frank and Bill are going from strength to strength.The individual dwelling on the other side of the vinyl (actually I suspect it is the first side or 11, but I’m the one doing the reviewing here) is Laurent Brondel and his contribution differs in almost every conceivable aspect from FAB’s. “Siliconized”, “Synchronized” and “Materialized” could have been three beats intense electro-influenced excursions, landing in the harsher sonic spectrum, but the overtly use of vocorised vocals and generic use of female ones, completely spoils that attempt. However, it is positive to use the split format fully and you literally get a two-records-in-one deal. Take your pick. If you manage to get your hands on a copy, that is.
Another excellent release by Lusine ICL and this time around on mental.ind.records. This artist seems to have an unlimited amount of crisp beats and deep basslines to choose from and on the “Chao EP” he does exactly that. “Chao” starts off with harsh sounding treated beats that progresses into a veritable Lusine classic, with momentous crispy beats and deep bass it can be viewed as a direct continuation of the sound created on the “Iron City” album out on Hymen. The added pace change is as brilliant as the track itself. In “Rabble Rouse” Lusine leaves the house influenced realm where he usually dwells and masters like no other for slightly more driven two-step drum patterns. The deep basslines and quality melodies ensures a track with stopping power and relentless forward movement. The chords seem vaguely familiar, if they’re sampled, they could be? No, that’s not possible… Flip the twelve-inch and you get Lusine’s take on hip-hop based, lush electronica with complementary grit in “Dr Chinme”. The last and fourth track “Chao (Crunch Rmx)” is a remix of the first track on the EP and it’s by none other than Crunch and what a treat it is! Plenty of crunchiness, uncompromised beats and ultra deep bass, this remix is a match made in heaven or on a low machine code level or both. Lusine already remixed Crunch so maybe the outcome it’s not all that surprising. The incorporated processed vocals give the track an overall sinister sound in short it’s an excellent remix by Crunch. If you like Lusine this release is a must! A last word on the actual pressing as well, because it is unbelievable how good this record sounds. Conclusion: in the last shivering moments of 2003 yet another (new) label to investigat…