Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lucy - Wordplay for Working Bees (2011)


For fans of: Actress, Demdike Stare, Pole

This trend of experimental techno makes me think back to jazz in the 50s and 60s. After performing at a jazz club where people payed to be entertained while getting together to dance or eat and drink, the jazz musicians would sometimes play through the night, making music for themselves, music that wasn't necessarily made for a live audience. This is techno for people who are interested in the textures and odd rhythms that push the genre into new territories, for people who as much as anything just want to explore what is possible.

the art of being a slave is to rule ones master - Matthew Foster

"Wordplay for Working Bees is not only Lucy's debut album, but also the debut full-length release for Stroboscopic Artefacts, and as such it acts as a de facto mission statement for a label that might have been previously associated with brooding and punishingly functional techno. In a word, that's decidedly not what you get with Wordplay; rather, the album is a fluid ecosystem of club-ready tracks and disparate sketches, dark Berghain-aping techno reanimating hazy memories of early '90s IDM (it even has the nonsense track titles thing going for it). Its refusal to conform to even its own label's defined aesthetic is just one of the reasons that Wordplay is one of the most personal, affecting and diverse techno albums since Shed's The Traveller.

The album often swings wildly from gorgeous interludes to foreboding atmospheres, where low frequencies bud and spore spontaneously. The beats are rarely predictable, sometimes not even danceable: the off-kilter thump of "Tof" struggles through amniotic fluid, and the creeping beat on "Mas" is buried under ice. Sometimes they're barely there, as on "Eis" where the drums are squeezed into a ghostly pattern that sounds more like flashing light than anything physical. That's not to say that Wordplay is all downcast weather and ruminative rumblings: The album's pumping midsection can be just as suffocating as it is warmly embracing, particularly the hissing field of locusts that surrounds the floating breakbeat in "Bein" or the aural cement mixer that grounds "Lav."

Wordplay's defining feature is its immense and overwhelming sound design. Texture dominates over structure and rhythm. While definitely not an ambient album, it's easy enough to get lost in what's happening in or around the beats. It's something that anyone who loves electronic music, sound and sound manipulation, can fall in love with; when those microscopic fireworks burst blazing out of the percussion on "Gas," no one's going to care about time signatures or genre conventions. As techno continues to suffer through a bipolar identity crisis, fractured down the middle between minimal and, well, not minimal, it's producers like Lucy that prove just how far beyond those arbitrary boundaries the medium can be extended." - RA

K-S.H.E - Routes Not Roots (2006)


For fans of: Moodymann, Levon Vincent, John Roberts

As one would come to expect from Terre Thaemlitz, this is a social commentary filled journey through different sounds and feelings. It's much closer to the deep house of DJ Sprinkles than to the ambient of the releases under his real name, and actually wouldn't sound out of place next to the Detroit house of Moodymann et al. Two fantastic 13 minute tracks (Hobo Train and Crosstown) stand as pillars, with several similar sounding but shorter dance tracks and social sketches filling in the space around them. The tempo is mostly quite high and keeps your attention, but on a couple tracks, there are no beats, and he instead chooses to present an issue or idea, such as the six minute comedy bit Stand Up, where he talks about a time he was dragged by his hair out of a NY subway by a gang of Puerto Rican drag queens. If you're looking for very evocative and funky house music, this should be one of the first to look for. - Matthew Foster

"Much-needed reissue of Terre Thaemlitz's (aka DJ Sprinkles) K-S.H.E, or Kami-Sakunobe House Explosion album, originally released in 2006 in a limited, bespoke run on his Comatonse label. A good proportion of the tracks have been reissued over the last 12 months on a series of Skylax vinyls but this is their first full reissue on CD, including exclusive mixes of 'Fuck The Down-Low (What's Your Secret Mix)' and 'Double Secret'. There's something about Terre's productions in this mode that really strike a deep, mystical, rarely-touched chord and fans of the deepest, most esoteric House music should invest without delay. Recommended!" - Boomkat