Reviews: 4/7/2003

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DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid :: Dubtometry (CD by Thirsty Ear)

Dub is not the final frontier – but seems that everyone is dabbling in
it these days. Lucky for lads like Mr. Spooky (aka Paul Miller) that he
has some friends in high places and here it is sleeveless with Mad
Professor, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Negativland and a cast of others.
Thirsty Ear’s wets our whistle with the Blue Series, which has gone
wayward as of late, producing many atypical, leftfield jazz projects,
and herein we are treated accordingly. This takes apart’s Spooky’s
Optomoetry and hands it into the hands of DJs and denizens to sculpt wax
into something resembling other music. I immediately identify with
J-Live’s “Optometrix” which takes Miller’s original composition apart,
adds disjointed percussion and an infectious slant we have grown to
expect from this DJ.

Blending only hints of hip-hop, dreamy and
butchered vocal pieces jutting right in front of you, questioning “is it
jazz?, is it hip-hop?” One thing, it is original and breathes out of
the conformist drudgings of MTV-style g’s. Karsh Kale’s “Variation
Cybernetique Rmx” takes Eastern Asian percussion and droning bowed beats
for granted. Between tracks are minute long interludes that help to
dramatize and focus the longer works. The secret dub laboratory of
Canadian cum Amsterdam-based Twilight Circus offers his own”Variation
Cybernetique Rmx” which is a lazy, hazy piece infused with silly putty
horns. “Sequentia Absentia Rmx” is Colorform’s ethereal contribution
that just breathes a sorta Lower East Side quietude. Then comes
I-Sound’s “Kollage Rmx” and you know you have taken a turn into the
world of vector and electromagnetism. At once funky, with a wise
smattering of percussive samples and an overall layering of
fore/background making this by far the stand-out on Dubometry! But
wait, the fun doesn’t end there, especially when it comes to the antics
of Negativland. Their “Asphalt Rmx” takes Spooky’s ouevre farther
off-center than ever before using their signature vocal cut-ups, and
applying these techniques to the piano and drum, even. What results is
an edgy, raw shortcut towards the end of the disc where Animal Crackers’
“Optometry Rmx” strings together hip-hop, instructional double-speak and
warped techno for a finale paved in merriment.

  • Thirsty Ear

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    Various Artists :: Night Owls 02 (CD by Deluxe)

    Seattle’s Deluxe Records rallies with European counterpart BiP-HoP to
    release dance floor edge recordings dabbling in the world of smaller
    sounds and statics. Opening with Matmos branch-off band Soft Pink Truth
    “Adeusz” brings a collision of Coil and Pole overtones. This
    microcontorted funky groove thing swirls with helium squeaks,
    reverberated echoes and a smattering of electrofunk. Offering a
    Greenhouse FX Mix of “Nightriders” Electric Birds (Mike Martinez) keeps
    the lid on this hot rod. Smoothly traveling with a constant slurred
    beat and minor percussion this is a loosely based contemporary take on
    the works of Steve Reich with a fortified ambience and infinite soul.
    Warmdesk offers “Guero – Bedside” a mix not recently included on his
    Deluxe debut Guero Variations. This track writhes in the use of object
    manipulation and decelerated symmetry. Montreal-based Jetone (Tim
    Hecker) includes “Somatonin”, a track, if you so choose, that just might
    take you to a trance-like epiphany. The deep wash of muted bass blends
    with the abstract sorcery of truncated beats and indecipherable tones to
    create a blazingly warm palette. Sagan is the Bay Area’s Blevin
    Blectum, J. Lesser and Ryan Junell. Their “Who Speaks For Earth?”
    starts out as something leftfield of field recordings from Mars and only
    then twist to a spongey likeness of perturbed beats and stunted
    renderings of squealing pop-hop. Buenos Aires’ Emisor offers the
    striated loungings of “Sala de la Lectura” complete with piano samples,
    tropical birdcalls and enhanced radio/tv frequencies. Bizz Circuits
    (Sebastian Meissner) is the new moniker of this Frankfurt-based electro
    contortionist formerly known as house fave Autoposies (Mille Plateaux,
    Ritornell). “Drought” is a slurping, repetitious and visceral four
    minutes – check out “The Very Best Of” on Deluxe for more – a
    tongue-in-cheek prequel of great things to come. Kranky’s Pan American
    close the disc with “Fake Philly Strings”. In their usual beatless
    abstinence, their sound is continually cool tonally and contextually
    dramatic. This is nine minutes of sheer harmony and helps to bring this
    owl into dusky skies.

  • Deluxe Records

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    Reef Project :: Deep End (CD by Biohazard)

    EM:T was (is) a record label that once stood at the forefront of
    branching out to microcosms of sound netting artists from Taylor
    Deupree to Gas to Scanner. These days many labels like 12K, ~scape,
    Mille Plateaux, Deluxe, Bip-HoP, Raster-Noton and Bette have sprouted up
    to heed to the call of the early 90s in bringing to life sounds that are
    smaller than ever. Biohazard is a production service that works
    primarily with DJs, and in this case Reef Project (Thee-O). Billed as
    the chillout project of Thee-O (Jacob Ofilas) this long play disc is
    that and a whole lot more. What starts out as something seemingly
    lifted from Seti’s “Pharos” mainstreams towards background noise.
    Though this man can’t keep too quiet – he has a penchant for restorative
    beats. Built on freeky twee sounds and some pared down secrets, the set
    changes mode unexpectedly on tracks like “Cuttle” where the synths
    remind me a bit of having stepped into a Wurlitzer shop in the mall
    circa 1983. There is an obvious growing, learning, channeling aspect to
    this recording with great promise. This is classically strewn out of
    the context of dancefloor fare, though sticks too close to conventional
    hooks to be as musing and tranquil as its underlying intent seems to
    intend. “Blind Cave” is one such track that airs on a bittersweet edge
    of darker, more romantic ambience. The whisk and warble of “True Clown”
    is clouded in bass and toy noise. A few nips and tucks and voila – Reef
    Project could remaster himself for the sonically aware. This would
    appeal to fans of Delirium or artists on the Moonshine label and maybe
    even fans of early Depeche Mode.

  • Biohazard Productions
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