reviews may 2004

Bonzo Miki, demo 3" CDR
It's a chase scene. It's Bullitt remade by Lalo Schifrin at gunpoint. It's Steve McQueen as a snare drum pursuing the bad guys played by the bass end of a piano keyboard across, up and down San Francisco's mean streets. Whenever the action starts to flag the brass section honks encouragement and it all kicks off again.

Narc vs Tin.RP, File Transfer 002 (Deterrent) 3" CDR
When I say lo-budget I mean it as a compliment, like I might say lo-fi. This isn't lo-fi, it's all digital and exactly as fi as it can be, but it is economic with sound. Lo-budget. Fragments of electro lozenge, a looped techno beat and a transistor hum are worked and reworked across seven tracks named only for their size. 47642kb works best, rearranging the bits into bytesized gabba.

Winston Echo, When Will We Commute Like The Jetsons Did? (Undereducated) 3" CDR
It's a valid question, and one that we children of the future-focussed 70s often ask ourselves. That, and whatever happened to Maggie Philbin? Perversely, rather than being the techno hound you might expect from the title, Winston Echo could've recorded this debut pretty much at any time in the last 40 years: 4-track, one-man, half-minute scratchiness that peaks with "Imagine" Wasn't Actually That Good ("All the dead celebrities mean absolutely nothing to me.") As always with this kind of stuff, the key to the charm is the shortness and the tunes. Thirteen tracks shoot past in under the quarter hour and Winston stumbles across some nice melodies under the fuzz which makes this patchy but charming, and definitely worth a listen. But moves us no closer to that future.

Soulversive Productions, Alphabet of Life EP CD
In all honesty? 7 tracks is too much of too close to the same. In all honesty? The title track is such a glorious blueprint that Soulversive can be excused squeezing the last drop of goodness from it. The central core, the soul, of Alphabet of Life is a lazy beat working the groove dug out by the less-is-more bass and mostly-spoken vocals around a silky chorus. The rest is a dash of understated jazz piano and a sprinkling of class. Easy as A, B, C.

Namke, Available From Namke Communications (Fencing Flatworm) CD
I could spend a couple of paragraphs trying to stroke myself Tutankhamen's chin and worrying about just which sub-genre of techno Namke falls into on this release. Or I could just say it's reasonably abstract without ever losing track of the beat. I know which I prefer. So, on top of the programmed pulses you get a layer of warmth and scatterings of bloop that somehow form themselves into melody more in your head than on the disc. There's tickles of electro from the old school, a glance towards trance and a nod to house music but mostly it's techno on the boundary between headphone and dancefloor.

Stoloff & Hopkinson, Trademark EP (Pause 2) CDS
Somewhere in space and time, two men from the planet Earth quietly met. They carried with them aluminium cases containing samples of classic pop music from the sixties. They were influenced by French chansons and they obsessively polished their 12ft hyperkeyboard whenever the bright lighting in their pure white cabin suggested a mote of dust might have settled on it. They spent as long as was necessary to lovingly craft new music from old sounds and futuristic technology and then gently breathed down les mots d'une reve francais over the beats they'd created. It sounded like nothing else and it sounded like everything else, all at once, and better.

Emak Bakia, Frecuencias de un Rojo Devastador (Acuarela) CD
I want to say that this sounds like Trans Am. But it doesn't. In the sense that it really doesn't sound like Trans Am sound, it doesn't. But in the sense that it sounds like Trans Am might sound, it does. So if Trans Am were Spanish, if Trans Am had moved sideways from Futureworld into a more ambient take on the Kraut thing and if Trans Am played less guitar, then I reckon I could say that this sounds like Trans Am. But seeing as they don't, I won't.

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