Music Reviews



Superchumbo: Wowie Zowie

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 21 2005
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Artist: Superchumbo
Title: Wowie Zowie
Format: CD
Label: Twisted Records
Distributor: Beatport
Rated: *****
The most frustrating thing about dance music is that most of it becomes dated or overplayed within a couple of years, or sooner. Not only that, but the music in question may be in some sort of niche subgenre that perhaps even your close friends don't listen or dance to. When you actually care enough to wonder where all those hours and hours of dance tracks and influences wind up over the years, you certainly don't count on the Club crowd to care along with you. But I have a hard time imagining a release such as Wowie Zowie dating badly, if at all, and I can't imagine anyone *not* caring, once this is listened to.

As far as vocal House goes, this hard electro offering of Superchumbo's hits the spot. High-octane all the way through, WZ is extremely versatile in both the dancefloor and pop departments. Superchumbo, t/n Tom Stephan, is of American persuasion based in London (at the moment the world's most cosmopolitan city), and his international sensibility shows through really well. He treats his work with the best of all possible House influences, and all of his guest vocalists' performances shine through accordingly.

Keep in mind that these tracks are all original Superchumbo. Three had already been prior Billboard chart-toppers in the U.S.: "Irresistible", "This Beat Is," and the title track. Some of them are run together as "mixes", not blended but simply butted against one another, with tempos changing cleanly. This makes the CD both listenable as a continuous party mix, yet still useful for a working DJ situation. Listen for Samantha Fox orgasmically cooing on "Sugar", some salty language from Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys on "Tranquilizer", and Bashiyra on "U Know I Love It". My personal favorite, "Everything U", features Stephan's own vocals. A few tracks may appeal more to the gay side of the spectrum than the straight ("Bring It", "Filthy Dirty"); believe me when I say there is more than enough love to go around for everybody. Like I said earlier, Wowie Zowie should keep its lustre for quite a while.

Andy Caldwell: Late Night With Andy Caldwell

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 16 2005
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Artist: Andy Caldwell
Title: Late Night With Andy Caldwell
Format: CD
Label: Swank Recordings
Rated: *****
This is a highly competent selection and mix of funky and soulful vocal house, worthy of a more upbeat Cafe del Mar. "Brand New Day," Caldwell's own opener featuring Gina Rene on vocals, sets the tone of the mix with a keynote style--Brazilian flavor with acoustic guitar. Recent tracks from Holmes, Mylo, Jaswho?, S.U.M.O. and Liquid People are featured, as well as another Caldwell track, "The Waiting Game" (Ronan's Deep Moody remix). According to the CD's own liner notes, this is first (or one of the first) in a series of "Late Night With" mixes, each starring a featured DJ. The intent is to present a "transcendent set of house grooves...without the snare rolls, melodramatic anthems [or] big room drama." I suppose that's a noble aim, if one ignores the fact that big rooms are largely how House and all the other dance genres got started in the first place. Nevertheless the tracks, as well as the mix, are top-notch and not overlong. This disc is most at home being played at your pool party, whereupon you put the DJ system on autopilot so you can go get a drink and mingle (as I can attest firsthand).

LITTL SHYNING MAN: Hart Of The Wud

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 15 2005
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Artist: LITTL SHYNING MAN
Title: Hart Of The Wud
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Sonic 360 (@)
Rated: *****
Extremely expressive and creative Littl Shyning Man's debut mini CD is an inspired moment of music. The six tracks of the CD move through folk elements well mixed with electro experimentalism and rhythmic paths. Chris Haworth created HART OF THE WUD taking inspiration from Russel Hoban's futuristic folk tale "Riddely Walker". Thirty minutes are enough for being hypnotized by the ever evolving movements of Littl Shyning Man. Most of the sounds born from guitar treatments and are enriched with hip hop rhythms, loops, jazzy solutions and much more. If you are interested in gloomy atmospheres and creative ways of making music, you could be interested in checking HART OF THE WUD. The EP is available online only as every Sonic 360 release.

DJKEYONE: bio.turn.mek device

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 14 2005
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Artist: DJKEYONE
Title: bio.turn.mek device
Format: CD
Label: Green (@)
Rated: *****
This italian label is probably best known as one of the pillars italian hard core music during the nineties. Djkeyone comes from another planet and we'll use the label "dj culture" if it still make any sense. That's not such a weird surprise since the history of "hip hop" and the "Dj culture" in Italy passed also through the squats and from the same alternative culture of the late 80s/early 90s that nourished the punk movement. The real "aficionados" of Green records probably know Giulio (the label master) has always loved some of the early hip hop (one of the first release of the label was a demo by the hip hop duo Sacco e Vanzetti) and we can say this release is not that far from these cartesian coordinates. To get deeper into the real essence of this cd don't think of any b-boy thing with "rapping" overwhelming every single second of music, Djkeyone belongs to that breakbeat, dj background that has been the cradle of Dj Shadow, Dj Krush, Mo Wax or Cold Cut's Ninja Tune label. A pulsing rhythm and a squared beat follows the tradition, between the samples I've also heard Dj Gruff's "Questione di stile" (god bless that guy) that shows this turntablist is into the old school thing and sometimes that's plain evident in the shape of the cuts. Dj Shadow and Dj Krush could have mystified your ideas since this record is absolutely far from sounding "chillout" or even "jazzy", here you got stoned dark melodies and 4/4 beats where the dj shows his scratching-talent. People into this style of music should get it above all those who can appreciate the technical side of it all.

Indicia: Identifying Marks

 Posted by Shaun Phelps (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 05 2005
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Artist: Indicia (@)
Title: Identifying Marks
Format: CD
Label: Kanpai Records (@)
Rated: *****
Indicia is the project of vocalist Betsy Lillery and programmer/drummer David Ward, both newcomers to the electronic scene. With that said, their debut album, Identifying Marks, comes as nothing short of a surprise. Ward’s sharp and outstanding keyboard melodies run in absolute harmony with Lillery’s rich vocals in a way that seems like they’ve been working together for countless years.

Identifying Marks is comprised of half-spoken, half-sang vocals over hypnotic and trip-hoppy atmospheres. Lillery’s vocals fall somewhere between the sensuality of Portishead and Collide, while occasionally also resembling those of Android Lust, Tori Amos, Meg Lee Chin, and others. The only thing more seductive than the vocals in this release is the awe-inspired programming and keyboard work. Ward’s intricate and crisp electronics flow flawlessly to create lush textures in perfect compliment to Lillery’s musings.

Accessible from the first listen, Indicia’s Identifying Marks is a compelling debut album that is sure to draw some attention. Indicia fuses the sounds of trip-hop, IDM, EBM, and darkwave in a unique and innovative way that becomes more apparent with every listen. Identifying Marks is a masterpiece in the making, with tracks well suited for home or the dance-floor, and almost crying out for remixing attention.


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