Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cosmic Mentalists

Daniele Baldelli's influence on DJ culture cannot be overstated. Almost as revered as the likes of Larry Levan and Ron Hardy, it's only in the last few years that his influence has really been felt outisde his native Italy. Of course, 'round these parts today it's all cosmic disco and whatnot, but this guy was doing it back in the late '70s on the shores of Lake Garda at his club, the appropriately-monikered Cosmic. Baldelli's trick was to mix up all sorts of genres and styles, as long as he could pitch it down or up to around 100bpm.

Anyway, the Baldelli story is one for another time and a writer better versed in the mythology surrounding the man. In tandem with partner-in-sonics, Marco Dionigi, Baldelli has a new mix coming out on April 21st through Eskimo, entitled Cosmic Disco?! Cosmic Rock! and it's an absolute corker. Baldelli and Dionigi edit and filter eighteen tracks of Eurotrashy rock, synth-pop, new beat and new wave from the early 80s through their own cosmic vision and it's one of the most crowd-pleasing, yet delightfully strange mixes I've heard in quite some time.

Where else are you going to find Ray Parker Jr. and Thompson Twins rubbing shoulders with the esoteric likes of Strafe Fur Rebellion and Richard Bone? Immense replay value and just good fun in the purest sense of the word, not to mention massively danceable and addictive, Cosmic Disco?! Cosmic Rock! should by rights become essential listening for those interested in mixes that take the road less travelled without disappearing up Rectum Lane. Can't recommend this one enough.

Here's a few tracks that Baldelli and Dionigi use, although they appear in differing forms on the mix...

Fra Lippo Lippi - Say Something (mp3)

La Bionda - I Got Your Number (mp3)

Thompson Twins - Beach Culture (Long Version) (mp3)

I've lavished praise upon Per Martinsen's electro-pop project, Frost on these pages in the past (their 2007 full-length, Love! Revolution! made number 50 in my albums list last year), but I haven't shown much love for his solo turn, Mental Overdrive before. Don't know why, because I've been a fan since I first heard about him about eighteen months ago. As regular readers will know, I'm a sucker for the Norwegian stuff, but Mental Overdrive is an altogether more malevolent beast than most of his Scandinavian compatriots.

Perhaps closest in spirit to DiskJokke, but a little darker, a little less technicolour, MO's music skirts and blurs the lines between disco, techno, punk (in spirit, at least) and house with panache, consummate ease and a winning sense of the perverse. He's about to release his fourth album proper through Smalltown Supersound, You Are Being Manipulated and as the title suggests, it's a manic, paranoid, schizoid stalk through the aforementioned genres and quite possibly his most accomplished album to date. More focused than 1999's Ad Absurdum and 2004's brilliantly messy 083, You Are Being Manipulated is both the most easily digestible record he's released under the Mental Overdrive blanket and his most sonically adventurous.

Martinsen flirts with, screws up and fucks over punk-funk (most obviously the sinewy bass and spare percussion of ESG) on 'Original Material', covers Iron Maiden's 'Run To The Hills' in a manner that's both respectful and massively irreverent, gives 'The Rage' one of the most hilariously portentous breakdowns (complete with mangled, down-pitched "Turn it up"s, naturally) in years and in 'Europa', crafts one of the best chances of the Norwegian sound crossing over since 'I Feel Space'. All in all, You Are Being Manipulated is a bit of an achievement. Artistic growth for Martinsen and one of the most fully-realised albums to ever emanate from the Norwegian dance music scene.

Mental Overdrive - Spooks (mp3)

In other news: The Cosmic Disco boys recently posted a great, detailed track-by-track breakdown of the new Compass Point compilation on Strut (reviewed by my good self here). Check it out.

This is unbelieveably scary...

Check out the video entitled "I'm Joe and I'm A Ska Kid" and try not to punch your monitor.

I've set up a blog for all the bits of writing I do for other people (pretty much just High Voltage really). I've imaginatively called it Yer Mam! II. Go over and have a read, if you want.

That's all I've got for now. Back soon, though...


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Beards And Bears

No, I'm not dead. Just lazy. That's about to change...

I first became aware of Quiet Village, aka Matt 'Radioslave' Edwards and Joel 'Zeus' Martin, back in 2005 when they released a series of 12"s on New York's super-collectible Whatever We Want label (home also to spiritual brethren Map Of Africa and Bobbie Marie). I fell in love and have been playing them ever since. The boys went quiet on the release front after 2006's 'Circus Of Horror/Free Rider' 12, but kept up the profile with a regular sprinkling of moody, dusty remixes for the disparate likes of Grandadbob, James Yorkston and Mudd amongst others.

Now, like an extremely welcoming bolt from the blue, comes their debut album, Silent Movie due for release on !K7 next month and it picks up where the WWW releases left off. It's twelve tracks of downbeat, sample-based splendour that touches on soul, dub, psychedelia, disco and all points inbetween. Five of the tracks have seen the light of day before so there may be some familiarity for the initiated. For newbies though, this may well be seen as a godsend - I can see this one making a lot of year-end lists come December - as if you're not already well-versed in the QV aesthetic, Silent Movie will be a breath of fresh air.

Of the new tracks, the playfully emotive, gospel-skank of 'Pacific Rhythm' and the Vollenweider-esque Balearic bliss of 'Utopia' are the most immediate, but on further plays each of the songs assembled unfurl and bloom in hitherto unnoticed ways. Silent Movie is one for the file marked 'grower' and it becomes more and more cherishable with each run-through. For fans of their output thus far, I'm glad to note that the songs you'll know and love already - the gnarled acid-rock of 'Circus Of Horror', 'Pillow Talk''s Alan Parsons-sampling twilit psych and the slo-mo organic Italo of 'Can't Be Beat' in particular - still endure and benefit from the context of a full-length album.

For anyone coming into Silent Movie cold, however, I envy you. A lush, sonorous delight, front-to-back, Silent Movie might well change the way you think about sampling and will almost definitely forge an immovable place in your heart and on your stereos for months to come. A modern classic in the making.

Quiet Village - Pacific Rhythm (mp3)

Bonus: The Osmonds - I I I (Quiet Village No-Edit) (mp3)

Another thing I've been loving lately is the new Late Of The Pier single, 'The Bears Are Coming'. I know you're probably thinking "That's not normally James' kind of thing", and you'd be right. I normally steer clear of these newfangled British indie bands, especially if they try arduously and often misguidedly to fashion something they intend to 'work in a club'.

That said, Late Of The Pier set themselves aside from their peers in a number of ways. First of all, they've recruited Erol Alkan to twiddle their knobs for them (something that's becoming more of a smart move with every passing day when you regard his good recent work with The Long Blondes and Mystery Jets), a man who clearly knows how to make something danceable. Also, LOTP's songs are mostly loveably odd, schizophrenic cut-and-shuts of electro, new wave, prog and 70s soft-rock (check last year's barmy 'Bathroom Gurgle'); hard to get a grip on, but never totally self-consciously quirky. Late Of The Pier's digressions always seem to come from a completely natural place and never feel forced.

'The Bears Are Coming' is a squelchy amalgam of D.C. go-go, pistoning tech-funk, garage-y fuzz guitar and a middle-eight that melds Stereolab-like moog effects to pastoral Brit-psych harmonies, with a brilliantly incongrous glam-soul vocal. Then there's the daft race-to-the-finish climax. It's all-over-the-shop but maddeningly addictive and one of the best darn pop songs of the year so far.

The remixes on the flip all take differing views of the source material. The Emperor Machine appropriates the a-side's shape-shifting spirit and fashions a thrilling nine-minute space-disco mini-opera from it, while Joakim's mix is halfway between classic acid house and modern Parisian retro-fetishistic electro. The best of the bunch comes, unsurprisingly, from Alkan himself, with Richard Norris in tow. The Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve Re-Animation, accentuates the go-go elements of the original, even throwing in some of Trouble Funk's 'Pump Me Up' for good measure, tucks in some mournful solo trumpet before twisting the song into that holy grail of 21st Century British indie-rock; a dancefloor bomb. Anyways, see for yourselves...

Late Of The Pier - The Bears Are Coming (Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve Re-Animation) (mp3)

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Exclusive Mix: Peter Jay (Nish Nash Nosh)

Back in January, I gave Peter Jay's Nish Nash Nosh mix the number five spot in my DJ mixes of the year list. Not for nothing either. I know a lot of you were probably thinking I was doing it out of Manc loyalty (Moston in the area!), but I genuinely thought that Nish Nash Nosh Volume 3 was the dog's balls. Mixing up the finest disco and soul, past and present, Jay found room for Rene & Angela, Crown Heights Affair, Stevie Wonder, Skinny Joey, Frank Hebly and Phantom Slasher along the way. If you haven't got it then shame on you (Fat City still have some by the look of it), but you can redeem yourself a little in two ways...

First of all, you can make it down to Nish Nash Nosh this Saturday, the 22nd - or every Saturday for that matter - at the Mint Lounge on Oldham St., Manchester, where you can see the disco hairdresser himself on the ones and twos, alongside fellow resident, Dave "Serious" Walker from 10pm 'til 3am. It's always a good 'un and at £6 a throw (£5 for members or for people hardy enough to get there before 11), it's not to be sniffed at.

Secondly, you can download the exclusive mix Peter's knocked up especially for Yer Mam!'s readers below. It's well good...

Peter Jay (Nish Nash Nosh) Exclusive Mix


M.I.A. - Paper Planes (DFA Mix)
Bittersweet - Overdue (Blackbeard Mix)
Beatconductor - Jibaro
Bar-Kays - Holy Ghost (Ray Mang Edit)
Banbarra - Shack Up (The Revenge Edit)
Restless Soul feat. Shea Soul - Turn Me Out
Tangoterje - I Wanna Dance
Gino Soccio - Try It Out (Barna Soundmachine & Der Beat Mix)
Chaz Jankel - Glad To Know You (Todd Terje Re-Edit)
Coppa - Society Ho's
Prince - Let's Work (Dark Dancer Remix)
Phantom Slasher - Woman
Macho - I'm A Man (SDC Edit)
RS - Under My Dub
Mindless Boogie - Emotional R (In Flagranti Edit)

Back later (maybe) with more hot shit.


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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Today's post is brought to you by the letter 'C'.

I'm back after a bout of blogging fatigue, with a bitty, fractured post about some things, in the hope that it will get me back on the horse, so to speak....

As a blogger, I get some right shit flung my way via MySpace and the like. Not to go all biting the hand that feeds on you lot, as I do want people to send me stuff. I like it. It's nice. It's just that most of the time, it isn't really worth the solicitation. There are reasons why some people aren't signed, you know?

Anyway, I digress. Leo from Hole In The Sky Records (hope you don't mind me using your name, Leo) got in touch to let me know about the forthcoming release of Canyons' Lovemore EP. Having heard the last thing HITS put out (the Fred Cherry/The Templates 10" last year) and having loved it, I literally begged him to send me this. That's a lie, actually. He offered and I accepted, graciously.

Canyons are a two-piece from Australia (also home to HITS) and despite the fact that Australia's contribution to dance music can be summed up in two words - The Avalanches - Lovemore more than marks Canyons out as ones to keep an eye out for. They share The Avalanches cut-and-paste attitude but rather than going down the hip-hop route, Canyons prefer a more soulful, discoid approach, with elements of jackin' Chicago house thrown in for good measure. They call it "pineapple club music", whatever the hell that is, but I know I'm hungry for more. Lovemore is out later this month and there's an album in the pipeline. Whatever they release from here on in, I'm sure it'll be grand. See what I did there?! Clever aren't I?

Canyons - Apples And Pears (mp3) (link removed)

I've been listening to this thing a lot lately. It's a Carl Craig mix album, but here's the twist, all the tracks are Carl Craig productions! Imagine that! It's a C2-fest, mixed with crowdpleasing fluidity and energy by the man himself, but - and it's a big one - I can't really see the point in it, other than to act as a primer for Craig's considerable output.

The man has a recognisable style that he seems to have honed almost to the point of muscle memory these days, but he's never boring, which makes this a really good two-disc mix. It feels like a bit of a cash-in though for a man who seemingly thrives on integrity and credibility. That said though, if you want an easy introduction to the legend, Sessions could well be the album for you. Would it have killed them to have thrown on an unmixed disc though?

Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - Relevee (Carl Craig Sessions Remix) (mp3)

Some other stuff I'm liking lately...

Get behind France for this year's Eurovision, as this is their entry...

Sebastien Tellier - Divine (mp3)

Adem covers Aphex Twin and doesn't fuck it up...

Adem - To Cure A Weakling Child/Boy Girl Song (mp3)


In other news, I recorded a segment on Trus'me's Working Nights LP on Blog Fresh Radio. I say that 'At The Disco' starts with a sample from the film, Jackie Brown. I lied. It doesn't. A couple other tracks on that album do, but not that one. Sorry Trus'me. Am I still allowed to come to Prime Numbers?

Also, there's some reviews wot I done up on High Voltage; Spektrum live and Les Savy Fav and Hercules And Love Affair singles. Read them if you dare!

I'll be back soon - honest - with more stuff about music.


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