* A S S E M B L A G E * [ p a r t 3 ]
1. R E C O R D R E V I E W S
AC = Andrew C Crosby
RP = Russell A. Potter
Title: Berlin 1992: The Techno Sound of Berlin
Label: Tresor/Novamute (dist. Tommy Boy)
When I saw this record in a store, it struck me that it was the
first record I had seen in a long time that had the word "Berlin"
with no "West" before it. And, for those who have been wondering
what's been happening musically in post-Wall, post-West Berlin, I
can't think of ant better answer than this record. It was, after
all, in West Germany in the late 60's and early 70's that the
idea of original electronic popular music was born at the hands of
kids like Edgar Froese, Klaus Schulze, and Roedelius, and it was
there too that Kraftwerk first found an audience. The DJ's on
this compilation were probably still in diapers in 1973 when
Schulze's _Cyborg_ redefined electronic music, but they've learned
a lot from him, and from other German electronic musicians.
Unlike Belgian techno, which to my ears often sounds like the
excited noises a five-year old who had come accross a digital
keypad by accident would make, these Berlin DJ's make
sophisticated electronic music with a full range of beats, pulses,
samples, and waveforms -- not to mention machines. These guys are
playing with a full deck, and it makes a difference.
The cuts on this compilation are incredibly diverse; though they
tend towards the moderate-to-trancey range of BPM's, there are
harder and faster beats as well. What sets many of these cuts
aside is their dense blend of melodic accents; for instance Cosmic
Baby's "Cosmic Cubes," which takes a fairly standard beat and
enriches with just the right amount of Schulze-like melodic
arpeggios and accents, often running a sleek treble over a pulsing
bass loop. For those who like a harder sound with phased cymbals
a la Front 242, Vein Melter's "Hypnotized" offers that and more,
giving a trancey feel over a relentless 138 BPM. Along the same
lines, Futurhythm's "Phuture 2" works similar magic over a clashy
industrial beat reminiscent of KMFDM. If house techno is more
your style, Microglobe's "High On Hope" hooks you with housey
piano and soul vocal samples, only to bust your mind open with
incursions of high energy, culminating in a tour-de-force
sequence of 120 BPM madness that changes its feel every thirty
seconds or so. The gems of this collection, though, are the two
long trancey mixes at the end, 3 Phase's "Open Your Mind" and
Mindgear's "Don't Panic," which together clock in at just about
eighteen minutes. Both feature long sequences of trance beats with
weird little loopings of samples that keep you moving _and_ keep
you guessing (shouldn't be rare, but is).
All this says a lot for Tresor, which is both a club (located near
the site of the Wall itself, in the basement of a what was (before
the war) a department store) and a record label. This is (so far
as I know) one of the first Tresor/Novamute records to be
licensed domestically via Tommy Boy, and I hope there will be many
more; a comp such as this would be worth $20, but it's great to be
able to pick it up for $12.99 As taylor808 said earlier on the
ne-raves list, "it's total trancey, acid, blipcore. I can't get
enough of it . . . spacey, blippy perfektion." [RP]
Label: Discomania (?)
This track is really old, I suspect, having heard that it was on
some MTV-Europe sampler or something. I like it though;
the a-side is a pretty cool acid stomp, typical bubbly analogs
with a KILLER intro sound... kind of a buzz that modulates on
each beat. The first mix has the most variety; it changes style
several times during the song.
On the b: The track prohibition is really boring, a kind of funny
sample of some guy saying 'women having sex with animals' but
very predictable. The second mix of swamp is much more sparse
than the first, fast and furious with that droning buzz all the
way through . . . nice. Both versions feature samples from
Flash Gordon ("Lower them into the swamp"), but not overused,
very subtle. Cool. [AC]
Label: Radikal Records
This came out over the end of the summer, sort of a trancey hardcore.
Cool sounds mixed up with a fast beat; the crash mix is long and
ok, though I like the intro on the other mix better; it starts out
really slow and works into a frenzy. The other track, 'Help Me,'
is ok too, but nothing spectacular; it sounds cool when you mix it
with other stuff. [AC]
Title: Acid Drill (remixes)
Artist: Edwards & Armani
Label: Music Man (?)
Three mixes here, all of them pretty cool. It's hard acid stuff,
original and nice and fast, featuring a guy yelling 'left right
left right left right left,' which sounds sorta military, but
remains feisty and hard. The sounds on this aren't your typical
analog bubble, way cool. [AC]
Artist: Lords of Acid
Title: I Must Increase My Bust (remixes)
The Lords are at it again, and this maxi-single, clocking in at over 44
bust-expanding minutes, is definitely worth it. There is _some_ filler
(a "Noise Mix" and "Distortion Mix" that basically sound like some other
person playing around with LOA effects), and two nearly indistinguishable
dub mixes ("DD Vocal Dub" and "The Lords Like 'em Large Mix"). But the
real star of this disk is the "'Rock-n-Rave' mix", which extends the cut to
over seven minutes of coolly acidic sounds, switching from one breakbeat
to another and boldly going into sonic universes where the Lords had not
gone before (this remix is credited to Mark Picchiotti and Terri
Bristol). The LOA were always in danger of being a sort of one-noise act,
but this cut shows what can be done with their underlying beat and a slim
core of guitar. The other outstanding mix is the Plus-8/Richie Hawtin
"Detroit Hardcore Mix," which again completely revamps the sound, peeling
back the relentless LOA fuzz and substituting an old-school, spacey
techno sound reminiscent of early Detroit scene acts like Cybotron.
All in all, a pretty good disk, though some chains seem to be regarding
this as a virtual EP and are charging as much as $9.99 for it. Let's hope
that LOA keep experimenting in this vein, or that if they don't, that
they'll let others keep on making remixes like these. Maybe LOA should
make like Psychic TV and just let rave DJ's remix everything on their
albums (as with PTV's _Beyond Thee Infinite Beat_)... we'll just have to
wait and see. [RP]
Title: World 2 World
Artist: Underground Resistance
Label: Underground Resistance
Wow!! The acid jazz sound from Nation 2 Nation returns; this is a way
cool ep. It opens with "Amazon, " a slightly tribalish number that has a cool
chord progression and builds with a beat that comes and goes twice.
Other tracks are "Cosmic Traveller," a nice housey space jam with a cool
chime sample. "Jupiter Jazz" features a funky analog bassline with little
wispy solos done with a sound I can't really describe, a high-pitched
tone that twists yer head around. The last track has a kind of acidic
feel to it, very trancey, with cool samples of a female vocal and analog
blips coming and going. The whole ep has a very organic, earthy feel to
it, samples of water and stuff I think help. Excellent. [AC]
Title: Seawolf, Kamikaze, Belgian Resistance
Artist: World Power Alliance
Label: Underground Resistance
Basically another subproject of the UR people, these tracks were all
released as single 12"s with one song on one side, and a little manifesto
pressed into the other side, talking about techno unity and stuff like
Seawolf: WAY AWESOME ACID BLEEPER: driving hard beat, with little
submarine-like blips fading in and out and then ambient whirrs and grinds
forcing their way through.
Kamikaze: has samples from a WWII documentary -- ok, but not great.
The sound of the airplane crashdiving is cool, but the track doesn't
have enough substance or anything profoundly new.
Belgian Resistance: I like this, a warm bassline with a heavy beat and
feel, with little scrape/whirr sounds coming in and out, very acidic.
Pretty good overall.
My main complaint is that these three tracks were all released separately.
This would have made an awesome EP, but instead makes a cool single and
two merely ok singles. At $5 a pop (and a lot more for those in other
countries), it just isn't worth it to only get one song each, in my opinion.The
back plate pressed with the message on the vinyl is cute, but useless. I read
it once and don't care anymore; I can't play it, so what's the point? [AC]
Title: Sysex EP
Label: Plus 8
This ep (on green vinyl) opens with "Intro,'" a long analog improv
that is pretty cool but not that listenable (or useful from a dj perspective).
World Domination is great; it builds from intro into a throbbing hardcore
acid track, with grindy analog ringing bouncing all over the place.
"Intruder" is my favorite track, with a fast hard analog beat and a cool
melody made from a 'bomp' kind of sound, hard and cool. The b
features three more tracks: an ambient bleepy thing with no beat,
and two others that are ok. Didn't grab me, but then i haven't listened
to it enough for them to really grow on me, as plus 8 stuff often does.
Mind buggin 909 just seemed a little empty; anyone could program
a 909 to do this, what's the point of it?
Overall, if you like the really hard plus 8 stuff then this is quite a
buy; otherwise, it may be a bit too sparse and distorted. [AC]
Title: Life at the Wunderbar
Label: Radikal Records
Despite their name, C.Y.B.E.R.F.U.N.K. is not very funky. Like many other
Belgian techno acts on Radikal, they use a lot of that "BLEEEP BLEEP" sound.
Both the beats and samples are relatively unimaginative; particularly
annoying is the relentless "police whistle" sound. "Part 2" is virtually
identical with "Part 1," except for a whispering voice that intones "no
revolution" (there's certainly nothing revolutionary in _this_ mix!). The
CD contains no other tracks or remixes, making this disk a real waste of
money no matter how you cut it. Radikal seems to have a very good
distribution network in the U.S.; too bad they don't have much good music
to distribute (how many times can you hear "O Fortuna" before you get
sick of it?) [RP]
Title: Circuit Breaker EP
Take a drum machine and pipe it through an array of distortion filters.
WHAMMO this is really cool. My significant other gave it a thumbs
down at first, as she felt that it sounded like it was recorded improperly
or something, with a fuzzy, muted feel. it may be a learned taste, so I
can't totally recommend this to everyone -- but it sounds great to those
who like incredibly hard stuff, and it is very new and unusual sounding.
The entire ep is made of three tracks, each made from rhythms that are
distorted to the core. [AC]
2. R A V E R E V I E W S
Halloween Review :
This past Saturday, there was a wonderfully crowded MasquaRave for
Halloween at a warehouse in Greensboro, NC. The site was within view of the
downtown scape on a misty night, and along the downtown's central road,
We brought some jackolanterns, and left them by the side entrance as a
crowd toy. Inside was a large well-lit foyer. Beyond, in the gloom,
one passed the entrance to a huge dark area and proceeded up a concrete
ramp into the sparkle of an intellabeam.
On this second level, all to the left, was a warehouse/woodpile stage for
the spinners, flanked by speaker towers, two more intellabeams, and two
smokies. Into the space and left, were people in costume mingling about the
ramp railing, two more speaker towers, and on back to a stairwell, bathrooms,
a chill-out room, and drinks sales room.
This early in the night the lights were held low, as people filtered onto
the central floor, lit sporadically by glowsticks, false vampire teeth, and
blinking bicycle safety lights. As the evening progressed, it KICKED
into high gear; at midnight the DJ simply fitted the groove and SLID !
Unfortunately, there were several early technical errors. Twice or so a
dancer bumped into just the right spot of the "stage" to skip the beats,
wrongly skip I'll say as they were fun-skipping along normally. Then the
WORST occurred...power--sound and main lights--went down for what seemed an
eternity, but which was probably three minutes. The crowd was more than
helpful, filling in the gap with wild hoots, patterns of whistling, some
continuing dance moves, and some house-clapping. We all knew they were busting
their butts behind the scenes to get it going again. The only downside was that
this pause occurred twice more in the evening.
Several people were drinking or NO2ing, but most seemed to simply be
sampling, not sloshing, so the scene stuck well all throughout the
For the Most Incredible Surprise-Its-Cool-Afterall Award, they played a
clear stanza from an easily recognizable pop diva ( was it Samanta
Fox?--they blur). Just enough to make you think, "rave's Over, go home NOW!"
Then they syncopated the beat of that song with some other beats and that
was the end of your worries. That set of beats went SO hard, SO broken, and
SO long that we knew the DJ just HAD to be dying!! THAT was true break beat
to the max! They should be congratulated, and they were!!
An old friend of mine said that she was singing that night,
but...unbeleivable for this scene. Well, I stood corrected when, at 3 AM,
Nichol meshed her voice with the DJ-beats, backlit by yet another
intellabeam. This Rave was Planned And Executed!!!
Even the 3AM announcement was coy : "there is a police line just up the
road, but it has nothing to do with us. And the wonderful lot owners have
opted to allow everyone to exit out of the back of the parking lot.....or you
could just stay here and party with us somemore....heh-heh... ;-) "
And as seven o'clock approached with the last song, the last two hundred
continued to jam and hug in the misty dawn filtered through heavy ceiling
[END of *ASSEMBLAGE* 1.1]