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 +lt;ndc@

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* 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 Arists: Various 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] Title: Swamp Artist: Influid-1 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] Title: Meltdown Artist: Radition 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) Label: Caroline 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 that. 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 Artist: C.Y.B.E.R.F.U.N.K. 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 Label: Probe 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, Market. 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 night... 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 windows. --Peace, h.e. hansel-dude (henders@eos.ncsu.edu) [END of *ASSEMBLAGE* 1.1]


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