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DJ Whoknows (...or cares?) (Hampshire)

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Minesweeper Suite
Minesweeper Suite
Price: £12.28

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 Minutes of Saneness, 30 July 2006
This review is from: Minesweeper Suite (Audio CD)
Most DJs talk of taking their listeners on a journey. DJ /rupture seems to prefer telling his listeners a story. For where a 'journey' has connotations of playing "Count The Traffic Cones" on a long drive up the M25, a story has peaks and troughs, characters, suspense, plot twists: all of which are present in "Minesweeper Suite". That, and a huge cast - hip-hop, ragga, bashment, jungle, breakcore, techno, r&b and ambient artists all play a part along with patrons from the world of noise and visitors from Africa and India. Sounds like an epic tale? Read on.

What's impressive about this mix is just how rough /rupture allows it to be. Coldcut's mid-nineties opus "70 Minutes Of Madness" - previously the foremost authority on the 'eclectic' mix CD - was an impressive set, and still is, but there's always been a kind of pristine cleanliness to it: records blending neatly into each other without causing too much offense or calling attention to themselves (bar the Dr. Who theme of course). None of that with "Minesweeper Suite". /rupture possesses a John Peel-esque taste for edginess and eclecticism, personified here in an ensemble of genres that really shouldn't make sense but somehow does.

Holding it all together is an attitude to mixing that would make most 'esteemed' DJs cringe. Records change speeds within a moment's notice; turntables are turned off; tunes appear from and disappear into nowhere; vocal tracks are frequently engulfed by hailstorms of drum 'n' bass breaks or growling bass synths. But the sheer nerve of /rupture to employ such devices is what makes it work - he's certainly not afraid of rough edges. How else could you go from crippling electro breaks to Nina Simone's "Plain Gold Ring", or from an apocalyptic breakcore assault to Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly", whilst still maintaining an integrity as an artist? Don't ask me.

With three decks and very little (from what I can tell) studio editing involved, DJ /rupture's created a mix that only human hands (or a severely malfunctioning jukebox) could've made, yet up until now never bothered to. Here's hoping that other DJs learn a thing or two from "Minesweeper Suite". /rupture knows his records - you should too.

James Holden At The Controls
James Holden At The Controls
Offered by Music's Not Dead
Price: £18.93

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holden a minute!, 16 April 2006
One of the things that put me off the whole 'prog' house/trance scene around three years ago was the way in which people would think they were moving the scene into new waters because they'd come up with some half baked technological idea to make matters 'interesting'. Cue mix CDs by the likes of Sasha and James Zabelia that became far more about the equipment they were using than the music they were playing (NB Sasha: Ableton/Maven will not make a dull tune more interesting, it'll simply allow you to drag it out for even longer).

I purchased "James Holden At The Controls" on a whim in a kind of "I wonder what he's up to these days" fashion (the same mentality that saw me buying "Fundacion") and it's a blast. Not because it was "Mixed live with Prototype DJ Control Surface by Iter1, U-Control, Casiooh-La-La 3.1417 etc." but because tune-wise, it rocks. Press releases and reviews have tried to make out what a big deal it is that artists as diverse as Plastikman, Massive Attack, Harmonia, Malcolm Middleton, Aphex Twin, Fennesz etc. could share space in the same mix, but the reason it works is because Holden's mixing doesn't treat it like it's a big deal at all. Rather his penchant for psy-trance melody, big bassy drones and Krautrock repetition holds the mixes together, finding a common thread in such supposedly disparate genres.

On disc 1, Holden also explores diversity in tempo, an area hitherto uncharted in most 'prog' mixes. In fact, for the first eight tracks, one could almost be forgiven for thinking they'd bought a Global Underground "Afterhours" compilation by mistake, such is the plodding tempo from which proceedings are kicked off. But this is all part of Holden's great ability to build, and when his own "Lump" brings in some hefty bass synths the mix really kicks in. Harmonia's 70's Krautrock piece "Watussi" mixes in sublimely with Holden's up-to-the-minute production "10101" and Border Community label mate Nathan Fake (with a little help from Apparat) contributes some intense '80s electro synths to the proceedings before the mix blisses out with it's melodic peak - Lucky Pierre's stringtastic "Angels On Your Body".

The more upbeat disc 2, in comparison, is somewhat front loaded. The first six tracks are sublime, covering all bases from stomping electro to drum-led shoegaze, early Aphex Twin and futuristic broken beat without mixes being jarring nor smoothed over to the point of inconsequentiality. However, Holden's minimal reworking of Black Strobe's "Nazi Trance F**k Off", good as it is, seems like something of a modest peak and AFX's melodic synth noodlings and creepy vocal samples are somewhat tacked on at the end, despite being not quite impactive enough for "One more tune!" status.

Despite these flaws though, Holden's put together a commendable 2 disc experience here. The tracks are melodic enough to engage you but with enough nooks and crannies to warrant repeat listenings. The mixing is spot on - forget the equipment, there's a human quality to the way these tracks were put together. In the immortal words of Andy Weatherall, electronic music should be about music "made with machines, not by machines" and as long as Holden keeps injecting that human quality, dance music will always have an ace up its sleeve.

Killing Sound
Killing Sound
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £15.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Razor's edge, 14 April 2006
This review is from: Killing Sound (Audio CD)
As The Bug, Kevin Martin's industrial-strength take on dancehall knows no bounds and in this compilation of collaborations with The Rootsman (under the Razor X moniker), Martin has come up with an album more consistant and yet in many ways more inventive than 2003's "Pressure". The more laidback, meandering Tikiman and Roger Robinson collaborations are all but gone here, leaving only the heaviest riddims and MCs. And it's all the better for it.

Despite their similarly aggressive feel, Martin's beats don't feel uniform. Instead, it feels like he plunders absolutely any source he can for the heaviest beats. Yes, the old dancehall patterns are there but there's also handclaps ("Boom Boom Claat"), slowed-down gabba ("War Start"), drum 'n' bass amens ("Yard Man") and even hints of Jon Carter-esque tribal techno ("Problem Version").

And the MCs? Still an angry bunch, but then how else could you survive over such a sublime din? Warrior Queen adds her own take on the classic He-Man cut "Killer" (also featured) and adds some inflections that would give M.I.A a run for her money. Wayne Lonesome and Daddy Freddy return from "Pressure" to ride even fuzzier, bassier riddims on "Slew Dem" and "Imitator" respectively with their 'take all challengers' flows. Cutty Ranks also makes a return on "Boom Boom Claat" - interesting, since he apparently hated The Bug's production on their previous collaboration "Gun Disease" (something tells me Mr. Ranks isn't used to being upstaged by the beat).

Most demented of the lot must be The Mexican's double threat - his enraged internet lament on the insane squarks and parps of "WWW" and his diatribe against paedophiles on "Child Molestor", taking a remarkably restrained and melodic Bug beat into altogether darker territory. And talking of diversity, even the more soulful crooning of Tony Tuff sounds at home on the post-apocalyptic tribal stomp of "I Don't Know". For proper angst at the way of the world, you've come to the right place with Razor X. Superb.

I'm Not/Comfy in Nautica
I'm Not/Comfy in Nautica
Offered by Smaller World Future
Price: £41.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Panda pop, 13 April 2006
You know a band's on fire when even their solo work is awe inspiring. On this single, Panda Bear (of Animal Collective) takes the spaciousness of dub, the haunting samples of Susumu Yokota and Colleen, the crackly fuzzes and hums of Philip Jeck and the vocal harmonies of Brian Wilson and creates a blend fit to channel any mood he fancies, whether it be bleak isolation ("I'm Not") or sun-soaked optimism ("Comfy In Nautica"). A highly unique release - get comfy in Nautica, immediately!

4 Adaptions of Rossz... [12" VINYL]
4 Adaptions of Rossz... [12" VINYL]

4.0 out of 5 stars Bong the bass, 12 April 2006
Anyone expecting the usual hardcore amen-drenched madness from Venetian Snares or Bong-Ra will have their expectations severely dashed upon setting ears on this release. Bong-Ra takes the various strings 'n' things from six of Snares' classically-inclined "Rossz" tracks and repositions them in a world somewhere between Portishead's textured trip-hop and Squarepusher/Amon Tobin's jazz-informed electronica. Check track B1 for Bong-Ra's upright bass and live drums - beauty and intensity with nary an "Amen" break in sight.

Price: £14.59

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man of station, 10 Sept. 2005
This review is from: Station55 (Audio CD)
While his Super_Collider partner Jamie Lidell hi-jacks the soul train and joyrides it into the stratosphere, Cristian Vogel sticks with his techno guns on this album, "Station 55". Which is not to say at all that he's stuck in a rut. In fact, as far as albums are concerned, Vogel would never have the typical dance music producer worries of "Dancefloor tracks? Home-listening tracks? Vocal tracks? Instrumentals? Different genres?" as his techno has such depth and atmosphere to it he knows he can do no wrong.
"Station 55" takes its cues from all that's good about electronic music. "The Time Lock" offers up some jacking machine funk that Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood would be proud of; "Lovelights" delves into Four Tet/To Rococo Rot territory with its combination of clicking rhythms, floating synths and acoustic guitar. "Neon Underground" combines metallic broken beats and sci-fi synths to create the most cosmic-reaching electro since Drexciya's "Grava 4", whilst "Arctic Werewolf" drops the tempo for some suitably glacial click-hop. Sounds erratic? For many artists it would be but Vogel is one of those rare artists who can be eclectic whilst still being distinctly himself.
It's this consistency that makes the guest vocalists fit right in to "Station 55" as well. Not one for picking inappropriate, overhyped guest stars (see Chemical Brothers/The Prodigy for that), Vogel turns to artists attuned to his mindset for his guest spots. So we have Kevin Blechdom dueting with Vogel on the Throbbing Gristle/Suicide inspired minimal techno of "1968. Holes" to almost Blood Brothers like effect: Blechdom shrieking, Vogel offering a cooler take. Virus' evil whispers gradually seep in through the cracks of the ghostly disco of "Somewhere In The Waves, We Will Find You", whilst Franz Treichler offers some slick huskiness to go with the submarine-deep electro of "Turn On, Tune In, Drown Out." And "Monkey Inc." combines the sultry lulls of Merche Blasco with the raps of Meteorites' Max Turner, whose flow recalls The Streets circa "Original Pirate Material" with his stream-of-consciousness lyrics and phrasing. Fortunately for him his tones have more in common with Kool Keith than Mike Skinner's weedy chav motif.
With the slight exception of the somewhat aimless "Monkey Inc.", there's nary a duffer on this album. Vogel has produced what I'd say to be a fine blueprint of how future dance albums should be made.

Late Night Tales - Mixed by Four Tet
Late Night Tales - Mixed by Four Tet
Price: £15.46

7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who'd have Four Tet it?, 6 Jun. 2005
Here we get a peek inside the head of Keiran "Four Tet" Hebden to see what makes him tick. Nothing wrong with that, you might think and being a fan of his 2003 "Rounds" album I was certainly interested to catch an earful of his musical influences. However, listening to this compilation, you have to wonder if the Another Late Night/Tales series is really the best platform to accommodate them.
For starters, ANL/NLT compilations typically have some kind of flow to them. Hebden's juxtapositions seem to have little interest in flow whatsoever, the far-from-logical transition from Tortoise's rattling marimba epic (sorry, "post-rock") "Why We Fight" through Gravediggaz' pounding hip-hop to Joe Henderson's spacious, laidback jazz being a prime example.
Even more baffling are the short track snippets, such as Hal Blaine's "Wiggy", that are thrown in assumedly as a bridge between tracks. Given that these snippets are either non-sequitous bursts of jazz percussion or pretty-but-drastically-anonymous library music, these bridges constructed are so rickety that one would rather take the plunge for the most part. Short segments like these only serve to heighten the feeling of imbalance between track lengths - interesting but short tracks like Koushik's psychedelic "Battle Rhymes For Battle Times" go up against overlong pieces like Icarus' "Benevolant Incubator", not a bad track by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not requiring 10 minutes to get its point across.
Yet it's impossible for me to write this album off completely. Why? Because in amongst the filler there is some genuinely amazing music dotted around this CD. Manfred Mann's "One Way Glass" is a most funky piece of psych rock with an infinitely catchy riff. Max Roach's percussion ensemble M'Boom provides some frosty bells and chimes on the beautiful "January V". Koushik's remix of Madvillain is a marvellously textured (if short) hip-hop track with Koushik's dusty beats, flutes and enigmatic vocals providing the perfect backdrop for MF Doom's gruff flow, and there's some sublime jazz on hand from Del Jef Gibson + Malagsy.
Of course, there are also some turkeys on hand. Terry Riley's "Music For The Gift (Part 2)", an exercise in manipulation of Chet Baker tapes, is one of those tracks that producers go giddy over whilst everyone else wonders where exactly the tune is. And the 'bonus' tracks on hand - Four Tet's Hendrix cover and David Shrigley's isolated spoken word nugget at the end - do more to detract from the album's whole than add to it. On the whole, however, there's no doubt that Hebden generally has great taste in music. Let's just hope that next time he commits it to CD, he puts it together more coherently.
I give it a very generous 3 for the quality of the tunes on hand.

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