1. Etienne Jaumet – Repeat Again After Me (Âme Remix) [Versatile]
An utter bomb from Versatile, and Âme’s very best remix; all hypnotic analogue polyrhythms and a screaming free sax freak-out over the top. Intense and unmissable, this is the freshest club track i’ve heard in a couple of months.
2. Mugwump – Boutade [Misericord]
So, it’s time for Misericord release number two. Hot on the heels of Al Usher’s mighty “Gnanfou”, Mugwump deliver their finest work to date I reckon, a 107BPM club monster (for us Balearic grandads this is not a contradiction in terms, kids) called “Boutade”. It may be slow but it’s already proving massive with the likes of Ivan Smagghe, Ata and Pete Herbert. Marcato strings and timpani build the drama until a massive bassline drops and everyone goes nuts. On the flip, myself, Sasse and Naughty turn in a chugging Prescription-esque dub for good measure. If you have the guts / sense to change the pace a bit you will be mightily rewarded. Once again, it comes in a beautifully-sleeved vinyl-only limited run too. Slowly, surely!
3. Radiohead – In Rainbows [Er, Radiohead?]
Very motorik / kraut. Very lush / stringy (verging on Robert Kirby-esque on “Faust Arp”). Very warm / gorgeous. And so much better than the frankly knackered-sounding “Hail To The Thief”. “All I Need”, “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” and “House of Cards” are up there with the best they’ve ever done, but it seems a shame to pick tracks out when the whole album (and it really feels like an album) is so very very good. All that and something to chew on as regards the whole issue of distribution, ethics and how we value music in the digital age. As you may have already guessed, if you choose not to pay anything you’re churlish in the extreme, I reckon. Especially for something this great.
4. Partial Arts – Telescope [Kompakt]
The follow up to “Trauermusik” is coming soon (once I’ve tracked down our errant remixer… luckily he’s just moved in up the road). 11 minutes of lush kraut-disco, all badly-played live synths, marimbas and wonky FX, anchored by the steady pulse of The Rapture’s fab drummer Vito Roccaforte. And hopefully backed by a cracking Radioslave remix, once I’ve been round to Lychenerstrasse with the boys to sort him out.
5. Swayzak feat. Cassy – Smile and Receive [!K7] / Jori Hulkonnen – Crowd, Get Ready To Be Jammed [Turbo]
There’s nothing better than a great dance record with an imperative in the title. And this week we get two at once. The lead single from the new Swayzak album is a moody Basic Channel-ish track with a wonderful vocal from the nicest woman in house, Cassy. You won’t get the ascending chorus melody out of your head once you’ve heard it (the Germans call this an Ohrworm). Plus there’s a fantastic electro remix from Richard Davis which re-harmonises the melody and makes it even catchier for some end of the night action. And then Jori Hulkonnen’s new single for Turbo is acid burn with mellotrons and quite fab indeed. Repair to the dancefloor, forthwith.
6. Radioslave – Bell Clap Dance [Rekids]
I’m not going to tell you just how very good this is until Matt’s delivered his remix for us, dammit.
7. Ada – Barren Space [areal]
At long last a new single from the first lady of Cologne to keep us going while we wait impatiently for the new album. Like last year’s wonderful “Living It Up” the B-side here is as strong, if not stronger than the A. “Barren Space” is a techno-house stormer, all stuttering sampled detroit chords and fat claps. (Ada has also done a wonderful remix of Tracey Thorn’s “Grand Canyon” which you should check on Ms. T’s myspace site).
8. Maps – To The Sky (The Loving Hand Remix) [Mute]
Tim Goldsworthy provides a very beautiful chugging acid disco remix of Mute’s Maps. Mixes very nicely with the Prins Thomas remix of Hatchback too.
9. Poni Hoax – Antibodies [Tigersushi]
Another corking Joakim-produced single from Poni Hoax. Comes in original no-wave disco versions and a fantastic Chateau Flight remix.
10. Supermayer – Save The World / The Art of Letting Go (Remixes) [Kompakt] / Rufus Wainwright – Tiergarten (Supermayer remix) [Polydor]
I’m slightly taken aback by the reaction to the Supermayer album in some quarters. It seems for some Kompakt fans to have been interpreted as some cruel practical joke or worse a plain act of betrayal. Where are the epic emotional neo-trance stormers? Why is Michael Mayer singing? And is that a trumpet?!?
Well, I for one am glad that they’ve eschewed the po-faced and grandiose, and gone for a mix of wonky pop, wit and drama. It sounds like a record that was enormous fun to make, but is great fun to listen / dance to also. Not to mention that it contains a couple of almighty club bangers; ‘Two of Us’ and ‘Planet of the Sick’ which haven’t left my set since I got my promo CD.
Anyway, I’m on the payroll so what do I know?* Just that if I didn’t love this record I would be keeping mighty quiet about now. If you’ve already decided to hate it I’m not going to change your mind, but it’s really really worth ignoring the naysayers and making your mind up for yourself.
Those same people will probably hate the Supermayer remix of Rufus Wainwright’s “Tiergarten”, which starts with 3 minutes of crooning vocals and harp arpeggios, like a beautiful Christmas movie, before settling into another 10 minutes of atmospheric indie-bassed spook-house with plenty of Rufus vocal in there. Their loss.
* I’ve just remixed ‘The Art of Letting Go’ for the next single. It comes in two flavours; a re-edit which ups the International Pony wonk-funk-boogie quotient with piles of overdubs, and at the other end of the spectrum a deep acid dub, which verges on the Bar25 afterhours-tastic. I’m not using the m-word though. No sirree.
11. Chloe – The Waiting Room [Kill The DJ]
Whilst Supermayer’s LP is all smiles, primary colours and daft funk, Chloe’s first album is icy, crystalline, Parisienne alt-cool. The monochrome wood cut of an ice-cave on the cover should have given that away I guess. Anyway, it’s another wonderful electronic album to add to this years bumper crop.
Everything Oliver Ho has put out under the Raudive alias has been mighty good. I’m still playing “Here” (Msr. Smagghe’s top tune of 2006) and “Turn If Off” regularly and this year we’ve had great releases on Musicman and Poker Flat too.
Hands down the dancefloor label of 2007 as far as I’m concerned. 4 or 5 tracks in the set for the last 3 months at least. Marcashken, Matt Tolfrey, Ito and Star, Szenario, Glimpse, Andre Krom… Hit after hit after bloody great hit.
14. PJ Harvey – White Chalk [Island] / Linda Thompson – Versatile Heart [Rounder] / St Vincent – Marry Me [Beggars Banquet]
There have been glut of great albums from female artists of late. Just in case you haven’t heard it yet (are you crazy?) the new PJ Harvey album is stark and staggeringly good. Played mostly on piano, an instrument that she’s only recently learned to play, and sung in a much higher register than usual, it’s all the more haunting for its austerity. Records like this remind one how very thankful we should be for the few artists of Harvey’s calibre we have, never content to settle on formula, instead constantly remoulding themselves to breathtaking effect.
I grew up on a lot of English folk/rock music, in particular the amazing records that Linda Thompson made with her husband Richard. She’s only released three solo albums since their parting at the start of the 80’s, two of those in the last five years. The new CD “Versatile Heart” features many of the extended family that made “Fashionably Late” so good; Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Martin and Eliza Carthy, plus the likes of Robert Kirkby and John Kirkpatrick (not a bad troupe to have at your disposal?). And Thompson’s voice is as affecting as ever. The standout moment is “Nice Cars”, a brilliant song written by her daughter Kamila, who’s inherited a bit of her dad’s black humour as well.
Last but not least comes perhaps my favourite album of 2007 so far. A solo record from Annie Clark, former guitarist for the likes of Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree, it’s a fantistically assured debut album that runs from muscular art-rock to more beautiful introspective pop. Characterful without being kooky, never twee, and executed with incredible musicianship and immaculate production. We’re harassing the record company to let us have a pop at a mix. Fingers crossed.
15. Tony Wilson 1950-2007
This is my first blog since the death of Tony Wilson in August and I wanted to write something in memoriam. Don’t worry, obituaries aren’t going to turn into a regular feature. But as this page is called “Enthusiasm” it seemed appropriate. Wilson was many things – idealist, entrepreneur, fabulist, gobshite – but above all he was an enthusiast.
An apparently effete Cambridge-educated TV journalist he was energised by punk, he embodied its transformative will-to-power – you don’t have to stay as you’ve been labelled – and its first and only law: getting sufficiently excited to get off your arse is the only permission you need to participate in the popular culture. And he did that; alongside the other Factory heroes Rob Gretton, Martin Hannett, Peter Saville and Alan Erasmus he was a catalyst in so much amazing popular art that it beggars belief. Wilson simply got on with it and worried about the consequences later. He ‘put everything down to praxis. We’ll just go ahead and do it and steamroll along and afterwards we’ll think about why we did it in the first place.’ *
In an age which rewards the likes of Simon Cowell – pop moguls who’ve made millions sucking the marrow from popular culture, inviting the bewildered onto our televisions and ridiculing them for entertainment – Wilson was the opposite. He was the TV guy in love with pop who put himself up for ridicule, who told people he thought had talent what they were capable of and made them believe him, and allowed us to believe them.
A hero for me is someone who does, who adds, who makes, or creates the conditions for exciting new things to be made. Someone who inspires and makes you re-consider what you’re capable of. Tony Wilson really was one. At Creamfields Andalucia on Saturday 10th August, told that I had 4 minutes left, I pulled the plug on some stomping Kompakt trance record and played “Love Will Tear Us Apart” to a couple of thousand bewildered Spaniards. A small thank you to someone who’d changed my and many others lives for the better before we’d even realised it.
* New Order’s Stephen Morris on The Late Show, BBC2 August 9th, 2007.
16. Also new and damn good.
Luke Solomon – Demons In The Disco (Brennan Green remix) [Crosstown Rebels], Kaorulnoue – The Secret Field / Todd Terje remix [Mule Musiq], Jori Hulkonnen ft. John Foxx – Never Been Here Before (Sasse remix) [fcom], TG – Test It [Infant], Rework – So Cold (Jackmate and Losoul remixes) [Playhouse], GTA – Keep Moving [Persona], TG – Undertones [Fundation].