Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Some techno notes

Carl Craig & Moritz Von Oswald, "Recomposed Vol. 3" ... The concept is absolutely mouth-watering -- two techno legends compose an hour-long suite built around snippets from Ravel's "Bolero" and Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" (most notably the "Samuel Goldenberg und Schmuyle" section)) -- but the end result is more in the spirit of TV Victor's "Timeless Deceleration", in which the hour-long concept overwhelms the record and exhausts one's patience for many of the lush moods that are offered by the music. Rather than morphing (or better yet, ending) certain thematic elements when they've said everything that needed to be said, stretching everything out to super-epic lengths remains the ultimate, overarching goal that hovers over every minute of the record. Von Oswald also mastered that TV Victor record, and "Recomposed Vol. 3" is painted with a similar sonic brush (Cafe del Mar strained through dub techno, hazy effects and dubby fog, etc.) Villalobos' "Fizheuer Zieheuer" was similarly flawed, and in both cases I can see how it all makes sense as a method for creating semi-improvised trance music (in the more hypnotic, meditative sense of the word, not the hands in the air and wait for the breakdown sense), but it's a concept that can work when you're sleeping in the corner of the club at 6 AM, and that doesn't always translate well into conventional recordings.

Having said that, if you're looking to form a Detroit techno/classical music hybrid, then Carl Craig is definitely the guy you want at the helm. The gentle build of the first fifteen minutes of the piece isn't topped by the forty-five minutes that follow. The classical samples weave in and out of the mix like gentle birdsong, and of course the frittering hi-hat rhythms are pure Detroit and appropriately dramatic.

Of course I will not get to see M83 on tour this year, but Pitchfork provided some handy links to the band's appearance at/on Juan's Basement. Live, M83 have evolved from the shambolic mess of the "Run Into Flowers"-era into a tight and powerful unit that seems to finally understand how to properly translate the band's sound from the studio to the stage. That's right -- MORE SYNTH. Synth-hell overload, all the time, yes yes yes!! M83 just keep getting better and better. And a word about the interview ... I know that it's pretty much a required question when you're dealing with an album like "Saturdays = Youth", but the fanatically authentic style that is recreated on "Kim and Jessie" could never be anything but a labour of love. 80's irony is simply not part of the equation on this album.

Random play works as a bias-removal tool: I had tracks from both T. Raumschmiere's "I Tank U" and David Guetta's "Pop Life" on my iPod, and consistently confused them for each other upon casual listening. It's a good time to be making electronic music if you want to be hailed for your rock star crossover tendencies (witness Justice) and T. Raumschmiere's been straddling that line a lot longer than most. "Brenner", a major highlight of "I Tank U", actually owes quite a lot to Green Velvet (who is a true granddaddy of this style, which in turn owes a lot to Prince's brand of bump-and-grind funk rock), at least until the brief schaffel interlude and subsequent German rap turn up to kick the track into a different dimension. Although for my money, David Guetta makes for a better (and far more underappreciated) rock star.

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