Music Reviews



UMEK: Neuro

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 09 2002
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Artist: UMEK
Title: Neuro
Format: CD
Label: TehNika (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Wow! Most certainly one of best ambient-techno-electronica albums I have listened to in the past six to twelve months! Uros Umek is an internationally acclaimed and well respected Slovenian Dj whose credits include remixes for Speedy J, DJ Rush and Depoche Mode among others. "Neuro" is his first album as a "playing musician", rather than simply a spinner/mixer, and, even though I am not familiar with his former releases (somebody should punish me for that, considering he's released about sixty records on labels such as Tortured, Primate, Audio, Prime-Evil, Consumer Recreation, CLR, Monoid, Absence, Recycled Loops, Nova Mute etc), I am told that he took quite a radical turn towards electro that might confuse his straight forward techno fans (that is if they are less open minded than they should be)... Personally, I am down with Umek's new direction, all the way, and I can really appreciate the hard word he put into "Neuro". The techno element is still there of course, but twisted, treated, distorted and blended in with minimal electronic textures and ambient soundscapes... If you like Aphex Twin you must give the new Umek a shot! He too uses non-straight-up rhythmical patterns made of saturated and powerfully pounding kick drum beats. Everything's enriched by either fast high-pitched synth patterns or sweet, flowery and charming loops and retro' musical parts of intense melodic substance, exactly like Richard James likes doing. Colourful, rich, powerful, relaxing, hammering, hard and soft, all at the same time, with a mastery that is truly rare to be found!As a surprise grand finale for what is quickly becoming one of my favourite 'technolectro' albums of this year, "Neuro"'s last track "Neuropa Humbug" features guest appearance by the legendary Slovene Laibach, which by itself could be a reason to buy this for many die hard Laibach fans out there complaining that the band hasn't done much lately... Umek's collaboration with Laibach dares his party-going technoid fans with a totally EBM composition matched up with distorted ogreish vocal parts of obvious industrial roots. Just plain fucking great!The CD comes packaged nicely in a jewel case that slides inside a transparent plastic shell that has many converging circles printed. Go out and get your copy now (the CD is also available as a double LP)! At the time of writing the label's official website www.teh-nika.net seems to be unavailable, so in case the disservice persists you may check this address: www.nika.si/tehnika1/releases.html

Boole: Pheromones

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Nov 09 2002
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Artist: Boole (@)
Title: Pheromones
Format: CD
Label: Dancing Bull Productions
When I was listening to the two opening songs of this album I thought I was dealing with an EBM musician who was converting to dance music or trying to achieve some better-selling un-probable blend of house-EBM (which is pretty original and uncharted as of yet and could even have a commercial potential, but of course sounds cheesy at times, especially to those not to keen on commercial house/techno), but it turned out that the Washington DC based trio Boole (ex The Apologizers) make their real appearance on track 3 and get a whole lot more interesting all of a sudden! The music is still in search of the right balance between pounding dance floor beats and electronic music, but less of those cheap dance synth lines that I can't stand (which unfortunately sometimes come back to haunt me later in the record) and unusual (for this genre) new elements such as pop vocals, smart sampling and great lyrics populate the rest of the record, transforming it into a challenging work and a continuing discovery...
"America Inline (American Grandstand)" is a fucking awesome and hilarious piece of work that uses AOL sounds ('you've got mail', 'welcome', 'goodbye' and the like) and cuts, pastes, rearranges and repeats them constantly along with other sampled words, achieving super smart associations like 'you've got Ashcroft, goodbye freedom', 'welcome Mc Carthy, goodbye safety, you've got jail', 'Aamerica inline, goodbye east, goodbye world', 'you've got nazi history, you've got deja vu', 'welcome bush, goodbye east, welcome disaster, goodbye freedom, welcome dinasty, goodbye life', ''fuck nationalism, fuck bush', 'you've got choice - temporarily - worship life', 'you've got truth': how about that?... Other sometimes equivocal songs of course make use of the ever more used Sept 11th aftermath samples of political speeches and the like... The lyrics save this record and really bring this record to a whole new level! Finally some creativity and intelligence at work!
"Pheromones" also includes a live track and a remix by Assemblage 23.

Dj Dan: Roundtrip

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 30 2002
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Artist: Dj Dan
Title: Roundtrip
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Kinetic Records (@)
I guess I was sleeping, but an explosion of techno-house releasing spree seems to have taken place pretty much overnight, and as small new dance record labels run by young Djs and club-goers and big fake-indie major-label subdivisions and sub-labels and sub-branches pop up like mushrooms trying to grab the coolest hit for their catalogues, at every release my concern about commercial and non-commercial stepping on each other, blending and becoming unclearly separated grows... In this case the line is pretty thin too, which, I have to honest does not make me very comfortable... Of course I understand that sampling Jon Bon Jovi riffs and making people bounce can be fun, but I also come from a place where quality has been totally forgotten and techno music is being made for money and for drunk assholes to dance on acid until 7 o'clock in the morning and then die in a car crash while trying to drive home. I recall a certain point in time where a desperate semantic attempt of classification was being made by calling the good stuff "techno" and the bad shit "tekkno", but now I don't know anymore, the line is fuzzy, maybe it is "teckno", maybe "tekhno"... I am all about mixing genres and crossing over, don't get me wrong, I am just afraid about where it is gonna lead us musically and qualitatively (and that's all I am dealing with, 'cause I'm not even going into politics). But and if there really is such a thing as "teckno" or "tekhno" then internationally acclaimed West Coast Dj Dan and his newest double CD "Roundtrip" is a good example of that.Former Olympia, WA, native design student, Dj Dan hooked up with DJ Ron D Core (with whom he opened the No-Doz club), the Bay Area DJ collective Funky Techno Tribe, Jim Hopkins of the Electroliners (with whom he co-wrote the classic "Loose Caboose"), DJ Carl Cox and XL Records, Angel Alanis and Brandon Riley (with whom he founded the Musique Multimedia Group and his own vinyl imprint In-Stereo Records) and many others and is now one of the most traveled DJ's around, counting residencies in the most prestigious clubs all over the world, stages shared with Bowie, Fat Boy Slim, Digweed, Moby, Rhymes, awards as Los Angeles' #1 DJ (LA Times), #7 out of 50 of America's Favourite DJ's (BPM), one of the world's top 100 DJ's (DJ Magazine) and of course remixes for Groove Armada, Filter, A Tribe Called Quest, Olive and Orgy (where he even went platinum with their cover of New Order's "Blue Monday").Even though on the first disc he spins west-coast style party-house pitching in hip-hop and dance/pop, in the second disc fortunately he goes back into a more serious frame of mind with darker and funkier beats and possibly even more of his CDJ 1000 sounds throughout the record (which by the way is a continuous live take straight from vinyl). Some of those sounds, field recordings from street noise and various ground and air transportation means also make up the intro and outro of his 2CD, which is justly entitled "Rountrip" and came out October 8th on young NYC outlet Kinetic records.Music doesn't make people smarter (arguably) but I sure hope a powerful and influencing DJ like DJ Dan will not contribute making them dumber either, by keeping that thin line a there as an actual line!

Darren Emerson + Tim Deluxe: Underwater: Episode 1

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 27 2002
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Artist: Darren Emerson + Tim Deluxe (@)
Title: Underwater: Episode 1
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Thrive
In the tough and controversial business of Dj-ing there are two characters who started in their early age (way to go!) and whose tracks became lucky chart-favourites quite quickly once they went solo: both Darren Emerson and Tim Deluxe have gained local and international recognition in the early millennium after they have both set up their own labels, Underwater and Ice Cream records, respectively. Before focusing on being a Dj full time Darren Emerson spent many years with Underworld, but in particular it was Tim Deluxe and his two top selling singles "Sirens / We All Love Sax" and "It Just Won't Do" (featuring Sam Obernik on vocals and whose video clip with skinny sexy volleyball playing chicks I actually remember seeing played on the infamous MTV while I was in Europe last summer) who made Emerson's label really take off. So here you have them both together, working the turntables mixing a lot of club best sellers which you might have actually heard even outside the club scene... Besides the above mentioned songs you'll find tracks by Mutiny, Medicine, Alex Gopher, Ian Pooley, Steve Mac, Jay J, Chris Lum, GusGus, T World, Dj Vitamin D feat. Miss Audry, D'Julz, Lay & Bushwacka!, Loose Headz and more...
The record has been released a couple of weeks ago in the US on Thrive records, which started in 1997 releasing original motion picture "Pi"'s soundtrack and is known in these days for another soundtrack ("Memento") and for having signed Paul Oakenfold exclusively for all Dj mix albums in the US.
Keep nodding!

CriBabi: s/t

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Oct 20 2002
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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" (http://www.chaindlk.net/reviews/reviews.php3?id=349) 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!!!


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