Music Reviews

CriBabi: s/t

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 20 2002
Artist: CriBabi
Title: s/t
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Fidela (@)
A couple of days ago I posted a review of CriBabi's debut CD "Volume" ( which you should refer to for more background info about the band before reading this review. This self-titled or untitled four tracks CDS includes "Somebody to Love" (original album version), "You Need Some" (present in two different Adelphi mixes) and "You're So Sweet (Richard's Mix)". The eclectic Japanese/British new-millennium global-pop duo definitely enters the realms of techno/dance here so it's a good catch for the bouncing masses but probably not for those who want to get introduced to the fine mixture of styles that is band's true essence. The exotic and talented CriBabi creature gave one more proof of dynamism allowing for their catchy, flowery and intelligent tunes to be transformed into grooving, powerful and potential dancefloor hits (even thought personally I would have preferred them to explore the d'n'b side of their musical identity more, when it comes down to remixes). But just so people can't accuse them of going commercial the two remind us of their attitude with the closing water-bubbling ambient soundscapes of the "You're So Sweet" experimental remix. All in all this CDS projects an image of CriBabi that is complete, mature and versatile.PS By the way look out for the CriBabi CD giveaway coming up within the next couple of days: you can win 5 copies of their full lenght debut CD "Volume" and 5 copies of this CDS personally signed by both band members!!!

John Creamer & Stephane K: Bedrock 'Compiled and Mixed'

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 14 2002
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Artist: John Creamer & Stephane K
Title: Bedrock 'Compiled and Mixed'
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Bedrock
Distributor: Pioneer
John Creamer's (French/Irish NJ-based) and Stephane K's (French who lived in Tokyo and NYC, previously with E Trance and Dj Katsu as Madam) credits include Kosheen, Satoshi Tomiie, Iio, Sinead O'Connor, New Order, Prince Quick, Peace Division, Dogma, Against the Grain, Danny Tenaglia, Celeda, Nat Monday, Kim English etc, so you understand that they have been around for while and they know their shit. That's why John Digweed at Bedrock picked them for the fourth installment of the "Compiled and Mixed" series. Deep progressive house-techno inspired by the legendary Sound Factory days is what it's all about, but luckily, for my own pleasure, these guys are not falling for the commercial crap. They go for really long mixes, with tribal percussions reminiscent of earlier productions, with slow evolutions and involutions and with a zoom lens on employing and additionally treating weird vocals in the forms of samples of spoken word, sung parts etc from popular, less popular, classic movies and from other sources... The dialogues that you'll hear are about anything, with a spin on sex, and they are hilarious! If you are looking to give your party the right groove and you can't afford to pay these big shots Djs, at least now you can play their double CD!

Layo & Bushwacka!: Night Works

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 08 2002
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Artist: Layo & Bushwacka!
Title: Night Works
Format: CD
Label: XL recordings / Beggars Banquet
The day "Night Works" hit the street, Sept 10th 2002, I was in London, the very city where Layo Paskin and Matthew Benjamin (aka you figure out who!) are based and launch their worldwide sonic attacks from. The End, Layo's legendary club and also their record label, is home base and you can go see them spin when they are not touring the world or working as residents in Ibiza or in Brazil. These two talented young men have totally different backgrounds: Layo grew up in a liberal and wealthy North London family and started organizing parties even before he turned 18 - Matthew studied music and studio engineering in West London and toured Italy at age 13 eventually becoming a Dj for the Rat Pack club and the Radio Rental pirate station Sunrise FM. They served London's and Europe's underground scene with loyal devotion and with the right spirit and are rewarded today with thousands of fans who highly acclaim them and who once even sit down instead of dancing as a mark of respect.
Unfortunately I never had the pleasure to listen to their 1998 debut "Low Life", so their nicknames made me think of some Jamaican motor-mouth speaker blasting rhymes over techno tunes crossfaded by some other wild dude (which I would have nothing against), but I must say what I found was different than what I expected, yet even more rewarding! I rarely listened to a quite delicious blend of acid house, techno, jazz, acid-jazz, breakbeat, blues, electro, dub and trip-hop... Transparently segueing lucid and well thought-out sets of killer tunes and crossfading the shit out of it, the array of sonorities give life to well-painted soundscapes that live a life of their own according to a higher design made of cutting-edge technological music with a real vibe to it, a vibe you can feel even without the 2000 watts subwoofer (of course that would help the experience...).
The eclectic sound sculptures portrayed in "Night Works" make me wanna fly over there right now, but I guess I'll have to wait for my next London immersion to get down to business. The fourteen tracks went by so quickly that I had to re-listen to write a detailed review cause I was so entranced by the complex distillation. This is a truly great album indeed and I suggest ya all get down the dancefloor and break it down!

SIGNAL: The Message is Clear...

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 06 2002
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Artist: SIGNAL
Title: The Message is Clear...
Format: CD
Label: VinylHoR
This under-legal-drinking-age duo has an Armenian heritage but is based out in LA, where allegedly they are quite appreciated in the Teknoklub and rave scenes. Since I had never heard of these guys before, I was going through their info sheet, and it looked quite interesting and promising when they were described as Prodigy meet Orbital «holding on to thier rock roots as well as being influenced by hip-hop and the music of their Armenian heritage». "The Message is Clear..." is their second full length album and after listening to it several times to make sure I am not mistaken I would probably say that they must have drastically moved away from the above described sound, if they ever even played that stuff (maybe on their 1999 debut "On the Sonic Forefront"...). This record right here doesn't have any Prodigy or Orbital, if you as me (even though I can hear they tried real hard to emulate Prodigy's vocals and beats in "Let Me In" and in "Trancemission", which actually is a pretty good track); rock and hip-hop influences I couldn't find either (except for a little rapping on "LFO Child" and sporadic ebonic wording samples in "Down From Up"); and as far as Armenian music, I am no expert in the field but I think I would have recognized sounds coming from thousands of miles away... Anyway, it is not my intention to bitch about the description of Signal given by others, my concern is rather that I wasn't too thrilled with this at all. Not that it isn't well performed (their sound palette includes Roland's 909, 606, the Akai MPC milestone, a guitar and some keyboards and brings to the table noteworthy sounds) but their compositions are just a little too commercial for my taste. I am not gonna say it's euro-style (cause that would almost be offensive) but, straight up, it seems like its only aimed at the high dancing masses and doesn't keep an eye on quality. If I was listening and bouncing to this at a rave it would probably sound different and much cooler, but on a CD it sounds like they floating somewhere in the North Atlantic, not very sure whether to sail towards the US (even thought the West Coast would be a better beach for this) or rather let themselves carry by the currents leading to the European shores. Most of their tracks would be a kicker in Ibiza, Berlin, Zurich and places like that... One's for sure: they would have a hell of a blast if they were to perform in Mittle-European raves, I can tell you this much!
In my opinion, the best of Signal is to be heard when they escape the tekkno cliches (you know, the slowly sweeping cut-off filters, the volume increasing 16th snares, the commercial reso-synth hooks and the like) and migrate into moving ambient textures driven by trippy drum'n'bass (like in "Believe", some parts of "It All Starts Here" or "LFO Child" again). The best rave track in my opinion is "A Memory of You", that's a kick! If they only could stay away from the cheap synth lines and the easy-listening (or no-listening-just-bouncing) dancefloor beatz and concentrate their production around what I know they have the potential to do, I'd be far more appreciative. I mean, Prodigy, Orbital, Chicane and many others get the people moving anywhere, but you can listen to their stuff at home and realize that there is a big deal of quality, there is an essence, a soul, there is real music, there is power, and you don't even have to look hard to find it... it's right there in your face (or ears ;-)... With Signal's sound, I feel like it doesn't offer me all of that, unless I strictly dance to it and that's it. Sorry guys, not my cup of tea!

Various Artists / Cass: Spundea Presents Cass

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Sep 26 2002
Artist: Various Artists / Cass
Title: Spundea Presents Cass
Format: CD
Label: Mute Liberation Technologies (@)

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Unusual DJ talent Cass continues his legacy of Spundea Presents Cass which features artists from the Spundea Recording label as well as the DJ's own talents of mix and composition. While there are other DJ mix compilations out there this one is unique in a few ways, one of which caught my attention was how Cass mixed his own Future Sound of Pornography, a track which he says is an ex-girlfriend (Miss Kiss) talking dirty to him with a bottle of wine in her hand, spread over tracks three through five creating an unusual mix event. Cass's style seems to be a lean in interests toward deep, progressive and tech-edged house, breakbeat and techno. Cass starts you off with a bit of minimalistic house music by Jeff Sharel then picks up the pace a bit with the Detroit styled track "Restless". This ends sort of dreamily but Cass gets the beats going with some overlaying into Bushwacka!'s "Smashed". This then bleeds into "Panikattack" by Plastikman which frankly I found while this is an excellent track, especially with Cass' additions from Miss Kiss it does not sound very much like what I'm use to Plastikman sounding like. The mixes on all these are so smooth you almost never know when you're going from one to the next where as most DJs 'pop' a track in Cass blends them seemlessly. By the way, the vocals by Miss Kiss are VERY explicit! Only an audiophile could capture something like this so nicely. "Panikattack" gets a bit trancy with some chaotic sounding beats with the Miss Kiss vocals overlayed on top of it. The tempo picks up again but with some nice ambient moods from Nu Mood Orchestra. "Microgroove" keeps somewhat the same tempo but is less ambient and more straightforward dance music. "Found" is driven mostly by it's bassline but is the type of track that I absolutely love to hear in those late night hours on the dancefloor when you get into that solid dance-trance that could go on endlessly. As for house music styles "Ladyshave" by Gus Gus is some great prog-house with traditional smooth house music vocal stylings. Cass brings back Bushwacka! to create a bit more of a pounding rhythm for us and increase the trance. I personally like all the ambient and additional stuff in the background. The main vocal sample reminds me of a 90's techno track by Awesome Three if I remember the name correctly. The bassline on "Because" sounds similar to the one we all know from The Matrix but more subtle. Some of the keyboard work later in the track sounds like something you might expect from Bill Leep of Delerium. "Backwards Retro" is driven by a vocal sample and some heavier keyboard work, a bit of an aside from most of the other tracks. "Please" is the best track on this side with some heavy house and I'm assuming the Marc Almond used here is the musical pieces which sound like his solo works which have that sort of 'musical' feel to it. This is also the most upbeat track and most interesting. Overall I find that this side contains lots of great music but which is too ambient and mellow - though dancey - for my taste for the dancefloor but then again I'm an EBM head. However, since I do like house, trance, and ambient quite a bit this is an excellent CD that runs smoothly and has lots of interesting switches which are masterfully compiled. Disc two begins quite a bit differently that the first with a very experimental electronica sound from Charlie May, half of Spooky. While it does have some ambient portions it continues with some harder beats and a much more upbeat atmosphere. This upbeat tempo continues with Dark Globe's "Mondo Scuro" which has some rather clever breakbeats. This track is much more to my personal tastes. Experimental with an element of chaos but maintianing a solid rhythm. This is followed by house music by Si Brad that has an interestingly experimental electronica sound, almost more like IDM-house with a touch of lounge if that's possible. "Moving With Me" continues the house style taking it a bit 'deep' with a bit of a dub flavor. "Shake It For Me" keeps the rhythm pumping. A very nice bump-n-grind with vocoded vocals, funky. "Be Wiz Me" still maintians the tempo driving us further into funk territory. It's got a very disco bassline. Still not dropping the tempo we move into more experimental techno territory with the hard driving "Locked In, Locked On" by Hairy Butter. This is sort of semi-hard beat trance with some trippy samples and noisy rhythms. "The Search" takes it down just a bit with some bizarre sci-fi sounding interludes so they can pump you back up again. The next one is by the DJ himself, Cass, performing "Mind Rewind" and contians some interestingly experimental interludes especially about three quarters of the way into the track where it practically disolves into synthetic noise and buzz tones with rather odd looping and effects but drops back in with a really nice dancefloor bump. "Spatialize" is by Excession which I understand is Grant Collins who was originally part owner of Fire. Great breakbeats and addictive dance rhythms. This is one of those tracks you can't help but move to and is rather non-genre-specific as far as electronic dance music goes. Awesome track! Next is "All The Freaks" by Cass & Slide which begins with a tripped out vocal sample of the song title and a truly funky bassline that would make Bootsy Collins proud. Disappointingly Cass ends with "The Game" which just doesn't have the power nor energy of the last two tracks but I'm assuming he wanted to break it down for us a bit before ending the release. This last track is some Deep Dish house music by B16. Overall Cass has produced an interesting CD set of some great underground dance sounds which takes you through various moods from the more laid back to the more upbeat. Definitely an interesting listen to say the least and practically a requirement for anyone into the undeground DJ music scene.

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