Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I bought another stack of cheap CD's. Time for some fifty word reviews.

Twenty years ago,  used to drop $25-$30 on nearly every imported CD I bought.  Earlier this month, I paid about $30 for fifteen CD's.  Yes, times have changed.  Let's have a brief look at them all and bring back the fifty word review for the first time in I don't know how long!   This was sort of like Twitter in the days before Twitter!

This mixture of jazz, ambient and trip-hop could only have been released in the mid-90's. There's almost nothing to implore you to hear this album in a context other than as background music at your next mixer, but some of the kick-drum heavy grooves have some serious thump to them.

With the exception of the "Peace From Chicago Mix" (a storming track that deserves to last well beyond its already epic nine minute run time) none of these remixes deviate much from the nearly unassailable original. I had high hopes for Philippe Zdar’s mix but it’s the biggest disappointment here.

This mix is a funky, chaotic mess (that's meant to be a compliment) that should make fans of mid-2000's dancepunk reminisce and smile. Of course that means I feel like I've heard it fifty times already, and I would have said the same if I'd heard it back in 2005.

On every 90's electronica compilation, I discover at least one standout track that I haven’t heard before, and that's why I stock up on these cheapies whenever I can. Unfortunately, this disc is an exception, and even the artists and tracks I already knew sound boring in this mix’s setting.

This hypnotizing EP features four rather different styles of experimental music -- "Voices" and "Flange" are throwbacks to Morton Subotnick's futuristic bleeps, but "Untitled" treads closer to Sonic's more blissed out, organic E.A.R. project, and "Organ" could almost pass for a hummable instrumental interlude on an indie rock album.

More proof of St. Etienne's genius: their contribution to this charming covers EP could have been recorded at any time in their career and stays vaguely faithful to the original without sounding like a hungover pisstake. Flowered Up, I'm looking at you although you always make me nostalgic for 1992.

They were one of those legendary indie bands who were always spoken about in hushed whispers by people who were convinced they should have been huge and playing stadiums. Over the years I occasionally heard a song by them on the radio, but never really checked them out.  Mistakes happen.

One of those iconic albums I had inexplicably never heard until now.  I hadn't realized there were so many guitars here, making the Parliament half of "Parliament and Kraftwerk stuck in an elevator" stand out that much more.  These guys saw the future long before the rest of us did.

Oddly enough, I was turned off from Biosphere for a long time because of his non-standout contributions to one of my favourite 90's techno contributions.  More recently, mostly thanks to "Substrata", I understood that his ambient (not beat-filled) tracks are where it's at, which makes "Patashnik" mostly decent, partly sublime.

(no further information available on the 'net)

Not even sure where to start with this eclectic and often wondrous collection of music from around the globe.  Approximately twenty countries are represented, with folk, reggae, and Michael Jackson covers (to name just three examples) coming from unexpected sources.  Well OK, the Michael Jackson cover is by Senor Coconut.

There's always been more than a hint of Broadway in Merritt's work.  Despite the nominal change in genre and format, longtime fans will immediately recognize his fingerprints here.  It's interesting to hear (mostly) new voices interpreting Merritt's work, as opposed to the usual cast of characters on Magnetic Fields' albums.

This album was already my ultimate bargain bin discovery.  Isn't it a great feeling when you excitedly gush about something becoming of your favourite albums after only a couple of listens, and it actually happens? "Hips and Makers" did in fact turn me into a Kristin Hersh fan for life.

[aside: strangely, WMP recalls a tracklist (and year!) which is different from the one in the liner notes, and which is different from the one listed on Discogs.  The latter appears to be the correct one]

The title threatens to subject you to predictably corny "chill out" fare, but have no fear: this is exceptional 90's underwater ambient techno in the style of the best material released on R&S in that decade.  Featuring a full slate of underappreciated Norwegian producers, this disc is a lost gem.

This haunting soundtrack ranges from "Mi Media Naranja"-era Labradford to creepy, abrasive ambient, like Marsen Jules locked in a basement undergoing sleep deprivation testing.  When we imagined what a Trent Reznor-penned movie soundtrack would sound like in the 90's, it was a lot closer to this than "The Social Network".

The first track is nothing less than the ground zero recording that introduced me to electronic music.  I bought this (imported!) cassette in '91 for the bargain price of about fifteen bucks (for years it would regularly retail for 25-30 dollars), and somehow never owned it on any other format.

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