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Efdemin, "Efdemin"

Rubbernecking forum jockeys and slobbering music reviewers alike have all but hailed this record as all but the Second Coming of Techno, with many hastily adding it to their "Best of 2007" lists. For all of its bandwagon hype and post-Detroit sleekness, this self-titled full-length comes off remarkably good but not astonishingly great.



Dispensed in both CD and double LP formats, Phillip Sollman's first album as Efdemin makes frequent, almost casual references to early naughties Force Tracks tech-house as often as more recent Kompakt electronic dance music.  Working capably within a manifestly derivative style, Sollman eagerly inches his way towards grand peaks and windswept valleys on "Lohn & Brot." Tracks like "Back To School" are meant to lift the spirits on the dancefloor, utilizing emotive layered sounds replete with carefully crafted hooks.  It is abundantly clear how much Sollman adores melody; when trying his hand at asceticism, as with the bleak "Stately, Yes," he can hardly resist nearly four minutes in to let rays of sparkling light burst through.  The slowing metamorphosing "Bergwein" adds some of that old school Artificial Intelligence warmth into the mix, while "April Fools" disrupts its own sense of calm with pinprick percussion, militantly rigid stabs, and camera shutter snares.

Founded by a trio of well-regarded producers, Dial rightfully earns considerable respect from anyone following minimal techno and house.  Since 2000, the label has output a fair number of memorable releases on vinyl and compact disc, among these one of my favorite albums of the last few years: Pantha Du Prince's superlative Diamond Daze.  Fans of that record, his recent follow-up, and the rest of Dial's roster will assuredly find plenty to like in this project, as will those who still romanticize tech-house’s past.  Those hoping for a progression worthy of the attention presently being paid to this album, however, will likely find that it's hardly the brilliant masterpiece it's been previously been chalked up as.


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Review of the Day

american music club, "love songs for patriots"
American Music Club triumphantly return after ten years of absence. For anybody not in-the-know, AMC is much more than Mark Eitzel's piercing lyrics and bleeding vocals: it's Vudi's chaotic guitar, Danny Pearson's three-string bass and simultaneous percussive playing acrobatics, Tim Mooney's shuffling rhtyhms, and Bruce Kaphan's pedal steel and piano (replaced this time around with lap steel by Vudi and piano by new member Marc Capelle). While Eitzel has recorded and performed solo for the last ten years, the perfectly paired sounds of the group with his voice—the disorder, discomfort, and awe-inspiring beauty—has been sadly missed. These are sounds of a group which has been such a large influence to so criminally few people. With 1991's Everclear, AMC perhaps recorded their first perfect album, flawless and intense, (conincidentally released at the time I discovered hard liquor!). They upped the stakes with 1993's Mercury, a bold album of their brand of slow yet raw tunes where the group experimented with new ways of composing and recording, all of which fit into a perfect mix. Of course, for their Warner Bros. bosses, it wasn't enough, and I'm sure the pressure was on for them to have a "hit single." 1994's San Francisco was probably their most sonically digestible album, primed for pop radio, but it didn't feel like everybody was quite on board. In retrospect, it's no surprise Eitzel was probably frustrated, called it a day, fired everybody, and went solo. Love Songs for Patriots opens with Eitzel's voice front stage center, with the familiar sound of AMC's past blasting through like an unstoppable train that's exploded in a tunnel as the smoke and fire move through, ready to come out the other end, faster and hotter. The gentle songs like "Another Morning," "Love Is," and especially "Myopic Books" are excellent breathers: sweet, gentle, sandwiched in between the rough and loud songs, and echo fan favorites like "Last Harbor" and "Jenny." Content-wise, Eitzel's lyrics are as brilliant as they have ever been, with new stories about love and god, almost entirely void of rhyme scheme, and requiring intense group therapy for any listener who's actually paying attention. It's for his lyrics alone that make AMC and Eitzel a terrible band to listen to in the car, as a driver needs to be paying attention to the road, not the male stripper with underwear full of George Washingtons, the star of the brilliant tune "Patriot's Heart," or Mark's mom who likes Manhattans, which he says "taste like mouthwash." (Even Kathleen makes her way onto this record!) Like Coil once were encouraging "deep listening" to delicately layered instrumental music, American Music Club is "deep listening" for lyrical content, super soaked in emotion with obscure references to reitred pop icons, the bible, and idealized Americana. Eitzel is equal parts drama and comedy and only with AMC do I feel he's truly meeting his match at the same time, all the time. I look forward to their upcoming tour and hope this isn't just a one-off reunion, as AMC is one of the most influential bands to my own musical taste evolution and maturation. 


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