May 1, 2003
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Soft Pink Truth
The Wind-Up Bird
April 30, 2003
Pale Horse and Rider
Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers
April 29, 2003
Set Fire to Flames
John Thomas and Various Artists
Although I have reiterated in other places as to the supreme dancefloor decency of the previous Post-Age minimal house compilation on Logistic , it must be done here, again: dance music can be crap, or it can be inspiring and the anthem to movement with all its attendant histories spoken through samples and chords that reverberate a sonic politics. This album is once again the forceful latter conveyed through a casual sense of tsk-tsk funk. Logistic has not only given album-time to a strong minimal techno/house producer—John Thomas, with his album Blackstage—but linked his work to remixes from producers on both sides of the "Black Atlantic" (quoting Kodwo Eshun). The assembly of the tracks and their sequential order on the CD displays the detail that went into this album for the listener (as opposed to the DJ, who will buy this on the two 12" EPs). Tracks have short "intros" culled from field recordings of clubs and synthesizer washes that provide the context to listen to track after track of tight and thumping beats. Like all good post-everything dance-music that is somehow "intelligent" (one overabused and stupid word), this is one for the party but also one for, say, coding, writing articles on speed, playing video games, and reading Deleuze and Guattari.
John Thomas' style speaks of varied influences: one can hear allusions to classic Robert Hood chord-patterns on "Working Night;" "Module" thumps with a subtracted house-minimalism that approaches a toned-down Markus Nicolai, and "Black Panthers'" pronounced distorted chords careen around what could be heard as a street-level viewpoint on Detroit. And Detroit artists make a strong presence on this album: Octave One remixes "Module," pushing it into a string-laden affair that somehow references disco without simply becoming disco (creating one of their strongest remixes in some time in the process) and Rolando sends "Working Night" into the looping world of techno and percussion, composing a mesmerizing track that contrasts the one-bar beat-driven base with a pronounced string arrangement. The French artist(s) Cabanne makes several appearances, working with Thomas on "Blaxploitation" and "Workin' Runnin' Smokin'." The former abdicates beats altogether for rhythmic exploration; the latter launches directly into the thumping conjoined with a weird play of microscopic sounds that, if it wasn't for the steady backbeat, would steer this track toward micro-house. Cabanne also closes the compilation with a remix of "The Truth" that is all stuttered lounge-funk that attests to their ability to dive off the deep-end without those silly, yellow, duck-floaties on your arms.
The rest of the album provides what only could be characterised as a "solid listening experience" (and for the DJ, track after track of brilliant dancefloor material). John Tejada offers a pounding kick in "Blackstage" that builds his machine-like gear-and-cog trademark of 2/4 composition that nonetheless launches into a soaring piece of uplifting house music, replete with a well-timed bassline that still manages to maintain his obscurely experimental edginess prevalent in all of his work. Whoever "roots" are—not The Roots but "roots," they/he/she/it offers a banging techno remix of "Blackstage" that reminds one of the best of Regis; yet, unlike the rolly-polly kick-basslines of most HMS ('ard minimal shit), roots uses a subdued clap on the kick to pull off a strangely oldskool Chicago hard-house feel—think Robert Armani circa 1994—that at the same time, sounds nothing like the stark warehouse echo of acid-driven punch beats. Not surprisingly, losoul deduces the weirdest track on the album with his awkward and quirky "Runnin'" that should perhaps be more aptly labelled "Trippin.'" And not to be outdone, Dan Bell aka dbx of Toronto-Detroit-Berlin teams up with Cabanne to throw down a stripped and tense kicker that retains some of the strangeness that is Cabanne.
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