Music reviews from the pages of Think Magazine...
DecksandDrumsandRockandRoll (Wall of Sound)
It's the Big Beat record of the summer four months too early, six pieces of Big Red in your mouth at one time. 'History Repeating' is an endless toetapper, and all three versions on the single are top notch.
I mean you don't have to own it, but you will have a friend who owns it, and you feel chastened by the twisting hips and bouncing chins around you as you contemplate changing the CD.
Shirley Bassey can sure belt it out, and that "Take California' jam is just so wickedly repetitive, you'll wish it was Janes Addiction's 'Nothing's Shocking', or even Abba. Of course, you will have danced to it a couple dozen times by then.
Platinum Breaks II (Polygram)
It's hard to know where you've been 'til you get there. The ever shifting soundscapes of drum and bass, and the introverted urban intensity they evoke, should be interesting to play for our grandchilden.
Will it have the lasting quality of Mozart? Some say it all sounds the same, did anyone ever say that about classical? Probably, or maybe boredom was a 20th century invention. In any event I found that, like classical pieces, the power of these mindbenders was multiplied when listened to from start to finish.
To jump into the middle of the Adam F's shimmering 'Metropolis', or to check the composition on J-Majik's crescendos, or the rhythmic shadings of Dillinja, Optical, and Lemon D, all produced by Grooverider, is to try to catch a speeding train, or missing the first 15 minutes of a David Lynch film. Black lava lamps and handcuffs if your lover puts this on the jukebox.VARIOUS ARTISTS
Future Sounds of Paris (Polygram)
Taking stock of the contemporary explosion in the French dance scene, FSOP fails to draw distinct conclusion about what defines it. It's seen as a pretty housey movement, that's for certain, and there is a tendency to chuck a rumba or samba loop against the drums, and to ease off the kick drum.
I guess it's that 'je ne sais quai' that unifies the sound, that sleazy porno soundtrack modulated keyboard, and the random horn blasts that instead of dragging you to your feet, make your eyelids lower slightly, and magnifying the pupils, all the while looking inward.
Dimitri is here, and so are Motorbass, Zend Avesta, Bob Sinclair, and Dax Riders. Break dancers beware.GUN CLUB
Early Warning (SFRI)
A collection of live and acoustic home recordings from the legendary 'Elvis from Hell', Jeffrey Lee Pierce, and his Gun Club. In the early 80's Pierce's bastardised blues painted pictures of the seedy underbelly of southern California, from the urban squalor to the desert indians. The first disc of live stuff with the full band is some of the best recordings of the group I've heard.
They are notoriously uncapturable due to their tempestuous nature, and the tens of thousands of dollars they collectively burned on narcotics. Pierce died afterwards, and this disc is a decent accounting of a band that had the Cramps, Black Flag, and X open for them at one time or another.VITRO
I saw this group at the Palac Akropolis a while ago, and were impressed by the weakness of their stage presence, and the hollowness of the prepared keyboards. But at heart I guess they're really techies because this disc isn't half bad.
It rides up against the Nine Inch New Order Brit Pop sensibilities. The singer (no names, they're like Kraftwerk) really oscillates between Reznor and Gallagher.
I wanted to nail this record to the cross, but it's pretty cool if you live in a country with no videos to break down the relationship of musician to listener.GOLDIE
SaturnzReturn (ffrr records)
It's been awhile since the crowned prince of yankee breakbeats bestowed his talents upon the faithful. Double CD's are like double cheeseburgers these days, but the Goldman would probably order one burger and one Fishmac.
The first disc uncommercially enough contains an eno-esque, 50 minute ambient electronic experiment that would do Pink Floyd proud if it weren't so New York in it strident thoughtfulness.
The 2nd disc deal out a little distortion on 'Temper x2' one single, and then mad break-hop logic on the original version of Digital with KRS One. All the songs are diff, but the mechanical lusciousness of Dragonfly and the hard step numbers that drive the LP to its conclusion make another case for his rep.MORCHEEBA
Big Calm (Indochina/Warner)
The cooler songs on Big Calm have a Luscious Jackson flavor with more soul, and the trip hop beat. Others sound like Sheryl Crow with a trip hop beat and either an overblown saxophone, or some seventies style guitar solo.
Toss in a country song that doesn't embarrass lyrically, and some freaky rapping rocker, and you either have some very versatile songwriters, or you have something that's humorlessly pretentious.
Half of it is very good and catchy, thus the half assed review. What exactly does jazz influenced mean anyway?VARIOUS ARTISTS
Late Night Sessions II (Ministry of Sound)
Rock, Diesel, and Ashley Beedle are the names of the producers who put this together, and a 'superb mix of laidback, deep, house tracks specially selected to set the mood for those late night sessions' is what it says on the sleeve.
Nice work fellas, these 28 tracks start at 4am on the sleeve and by the time your lullabye ends two discs later it will be 7am. Not all of it is house, some of it has a real loungey, jazzy feel, and the tunes grow deeper and wider as the tracks stream along.
If you just toss on the second disc in the middle of the day you might swear that sunset is actually sunrise, or go serchin' for one of yer dealer buddies.DJ MORPHEUS
If U Can Beat 'em, Break 'em (SSR)
This is a really plucky little compilation. Not much as to the where and why this gift is bestowed upon us, there is a nice string of gems here to get you in the mood for the next Propellerheads jam.
Even though it is a little old school, it remains scientific.
An awesome version of the Bassbin Twins 'Between the Fro', and another cool remix of RenSoundwave's 'Space Gladiator' show up for the credits, but the real gems are from the Groove Armada (the perfect break with a little bit of house), and Cut and Paste's Funked out 'Do the Turtle'. Just Quality BB's!PANTHALASSA
The Music of Miles Davis (Columbia)
It seems like Bill Laswell basically took some of the more intense versions of Miles' compositions during his psychedelic era (1969-1974), and stitched them together with the help of 24 contemporary jazz greats, to make four incredible pieces, re-mixed and featuring nine of his best pieces, featuring a dawn version of 'In a Silent Way', and a mesmerising Agharta prelude, turned on its head ending the second mix.
His writing at this time was so tight, and his horn so integrated into the mix that it comments on a time period and a view of the creative process, more than an artist showcase.
The Holonic Self Mix (Mo Wax records)
This is a different animal. It's a 48 minute live mix of 18 or so cuts from Krush and a few mixin's with DJ Cam and Pete Rock. The sparse head bobbing flow of hip hop beats without vocals grooves you out through the first half of the mix.
You wish you could see what he was doing, because the elements are shifting every minute.
Short vocal samples, usually concerned with the darkness of the future pepper the front end. It gets pretty chemical and flowy before Pete Rock grabs the mike and drives the last seven minutes of the mix home with some excellent hardcore rapping as only he can. Coffee and a refill!BLACK GRAPE
Stupid Stupid Stupid (BMG)
Shaun Rider and company are at it again again, more positive, more obnoxious, and as contagious as ever. Almost as rockus as a gospel record, these Mancusians have tons of call and response lyrics, on a bed of Beastie Boy style arrangements, and for their sake fortunately forsake to use of those heavy Prodigy style electronic punches nd prod.
The songs are deliciously psychedelic in a fashion that originated with 60's style garage or college rock, threaded its way through new wave pioneers like the Fleshtones, and became a staple of the hip-hop chorus shout outs.
Although we all can't be in a rock band and party everyday, it's rewarding to know someone is taking care of the job.DELINQUENT HABITS
Here Come the Horns (BMG)
Lookie, there are 15 actual tracks on this record, no BS interludes!!! This gave me a little confidence, and then I saw Sen Dog from Cypress Hill was involved and I spun it.
The raps were pretty tuff guy, about the maintenance of personal space and the concept of respect, all with a Tex-Mex vibe. No Spanish raps but some very interesting latin horn samples throughout.
Each track had a redeeming aspect, and the general tempo was upbeat. A very funky record.PERE UBU
Pennsylvania (Cooking Vinyl)
These guys have been finding ways to maintain a safe distance from the media sun for decades now, this should not break the string.
I won't go thru all the history, and the influence of Ubu, but I will say that this album is engaging, innovative, and up-to-date. It's quirky but not obtuse, noisy but measured, has big highs and deep lows.
You like Pavement don'tcha, or what about Nick Cave huh. I lied, I'm droppin' names, PJ, Beck, Wire, Beastie Boys, all influenced by Pere Ubu, and they are still more instinctive, so there!!!