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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.

 

Dial

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

PHILIP JECK, "STOKE"
Touch
Philip Jeck always seems to surprise and surpass expectation every time I hear him perform. I've heard him spin out haunting loops for avant garde dancers to strut about to in art spaces. I've heard him spin stickered platters alongside guitarist Vergil Sharkya and fractal videographer Gerd Willschvetz in an underground car park in Liverpool. I've heard his scaffolded ranks of old car boot turntables mash up crackly memory traces from worn needles bumping into wires and stickers in a London gallery. I've heard him go walkabout at a festival opening, cutting up dictaphone recordings with the pause button. After his ambitious quartet of lengthily (r)evolving 'Vinyl Codas' released by the Intermedium label, he returns to Touch with seven shorter live excerpts from performances in Liverpool, Manchester, Osaka, Tokyo and Vienna. With only a single sample Casio keyboard to aid the junkyard turntables spinning varispeed deteriorating vinyl, he necessarily limits his options but unlocks endless potentials from abundant alternate histories coded in the grooves. When he loops records at low speed, worn old cliches morph into haunting new textures. A phantasmal keyboard hoot that forms the bedrock of "Pax" sounds like it might've morphed slowly from a cheesy old J. Geils Band charity shop hit. "Above" cuts scratchy old vinyl into train chug clunks and chicken squawk with some slowed speech narration to explain what exactly isn't going on. "Lambing" is a home recording, soundtracking a film by Lucy Baldwyn, and wouldn't sound out of place on his previous Touch CD 'Surf,' with groaning ghost vox repeating an eerie refrain over the crackle'n'drone spin, until slowly a sunrise glow cracks dawn beneath the locked groove rhythm faultlines. "Vienna Faults" waltz around like a music box in a tumble dryer. There's some crazily mangled sitar "Below," reversing into hollow metal hammering, cut dead by a sudden descending blues guitar riff. "Open" seems to rework familiar noises from 'Surf' into a noisier delayed clatter. "Close" does just that, with some more sitar loops, more meditative but just as playful as before. Stray starry plucked fragments drop in at odd angles until a loop locks and deteriorates to a stutter as a single piano note bashes to infinity. A ghost choir of Hamaiian folk singers emerges from the vinyl crackle fog to bid a fond farewell. If you haven't heard Philip Jeck before, this is not his most immediate recording and 'Surf' or the 'Vinyl Coda' series might be better ports of entry. He has not yet left the building.

 

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