An absolute must.
Fathers of French house Etienne De Crecy and Phillipe Zdar united, giving us some of the greatest moments of dance music, for me along with DP's 'Homework' the top albums ever from Paris. Another classic, never actually surpassed in terms of quality, feeling and impact on the french (and global) scene. Deep as hell, hard, smooth, crystal clear and dark at the same time, to listen or to dance, this is a diamond everybody should listen to at least once in full.
Les Ondes.

Motorbass - 1996, Pansoul
Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.

Lo-Fi Stereography

This is for the minimal fans.

Lo-Fi Stereo is a all-star low-profile Frankfurt based label run by C/rock aka Dubstar or Stardub, half of better known and rising Motorcitysoul project. Existing since the mid '90s, the label focuses on some kind of house, minimal, deep, technoid, filter, sometimes sentimental stuff and others pure dancefloor tools. His other label, Stir15 is pure house oriented.
With a lot of support from Steve Bug and the Pokerflat/Dessous posse (Gamat 3000, Jeff Samuel), releases from the now star latinos (Villalobos, Luciano, Pier Bucci, Argenis Brito) and from oldschoolers like Redagain P, Marvin Dash/System 360, Jackmate and Geoff White on the other hand, Lo-Fi Stereo could have been another Pokerflat or something but it remained relatively unknown. I guess it was too weird for then and is too housey for the contemporary mini-techno market. Still I read that C/rock is resident at the Cocoon Club. I hope the best for him, although he is sometimes drifting towards the easy 'minimal' category, his taste is great and the Stardub LP was shocking when I first heard it (P.S. find it here)

This compilation also includes a Michael Mayer remix. All tracks have character and quality. This compilation was a small but important chapter in the evolution of minimal dance music. 'Chicks with Beepers' and '808 the Bassqueen' are simply classics.

VA - 2000 Lo-Fi Stereography
Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.

Quiz #2

So, Dick spotted the serious gentleman of the first quiz, Mr. Gerald Brousseau Gardner. I'm happily surprised actually. I was reading 'Witchcraft Today' the other day and decided to see how long it would take for someone recognize to him. A week is much less than I expected.
I won't say I'm a total fan of the man, I just find his life story interesting and his beliefs attractive. Some cold facts and archive here and here. Some more enthusiastic approaches lie all around, start by the Wikipedia links. Get past the various "initiates" and other merchants and/or fanatics and you'll find good food for thought.
I think the most witty and respectful approach of Wicca in the last years I've encountered is in Terry Pratchett's often looked-upon Discworld series, just check the "Lords & Ladies" book. Easy to read and good fun, but most of all serious stuff.

The new one is a worse quality picture but an easier-to-find guy. The post was more or less ready, so here it is. No, he's not your great-grandpa or something.

Nuf Said

This is one of the few records I've been lucky to listen to since 1995 and I still enjoy it the same and even more.
It was released by Incoming!, a totally weird label who released a lot of avant-garde, really far ahead of its time electronic dub and drum'n'bass stuff, alongside with 8-bit synth reggae and almost cheesy chill-out sentimental stuff. NUF., Unitone Hi-Fi and Cee-Mix were its most frequent contributors, but I believe the real strength of Incoming! were its 'Serenity Dub' compilation series, breeding ground for a lot of young artists and outlet for experimental stuff by the more famous ones.

For those who don't know him, Bernd Friedmann is a really talented artist releasing music since the early '90s. He's worked together with guys like Uwe Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit (the drummer from Can) and David Sylvian/Steve Jansen and he's remixed a lot more. His groups are Drome (with Frank Hernandez) and The Nu Dub Players (with his laptop). He has released mostly in Ninja Tune and N-tone, Incoming! and ~scape, while in the last decade he's publishing and re-releasing older stuff on his own Nonplace label.

Still I haven't seen this one reprinted yet and it's a pity. It's impossible to pin it down in the mid'90s, it sounds like it was released yesterday. Music-wise it could be described as electronic music with dub techniques, yet in there you'll encounter kinky spooky house, a disco dub marathon, weed jazz excursions in hip hop, Carribean samples and space FX, all those in a cocoon of weird ambience. Intro-outro track 'Chilled' was, is and will be for a long long time in my personal top ten of electronic tracks.

Nonplace Urban Field - 1995 Nuf Said
Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.

Friedmann discography here and info here.

Incoming! seems to be totally obscure to (or ignored by) the people on the share-net. I'll try to post some more.

Everything Is Green

I was going for another double feature, on Toytronic label this time. But since the magnificent Autres Grooves blog has already posted the 'Neurokinetic' compilation, I'll go for just this one.

Toytronic is an English IDM label owned by Chris Cunningham, with some well known names in their roster (Digitonal, Multiplex, Gimmik) and some VERY well known ones in their compilations (Arovane, Funckarma/Quench, Fizzarum, etc.). Still even with the not-so-well-known artists, the level of quality never drops. The Toytronic sound is a melodic electro version of the typical IDM sound, with some 8-bit and retro elements stressed. Meaning that more emphasis is given in melodies' complexity and rhythmic interplays than in experimenting with the limits of your sampler and ears. And breakbeats are more or less understandable, instead of distorted rolling snares or hardcore grinders. (Sorry to put like this but, for example, although I really respect Autechre I totally lost them after their LP5 phase and lots of the IDM scene went that way also.) Anyway, the Toytronic stuff is pure electronic music for listening, smart, deep, interesting and enjoyable.
'Neurokinetic' and 'Everything Is Green' were sold at a low price, if I remember correctly. Toytronic vinyls are of good quality, heavy and sometimes colored, if you find any of them grab it. Sadly, it's been some time since they put out something.

VA - 2004, Everything Is Green (Toytronic compilation)
Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.

P.S. After i finished this post I found out that someone named ismagic through the IDMtrade blog's C-box gave this folder address where you can find all Toytronic releases. Thanx and Hmm...

Quiz #1

A small thing to pass the time. Do you know this man?

Isolation Raum

A double feature of Thomas P.Heckmann.

His second album as Age, on Force Inc. 'Isolation' combines full-on techno bangers and acid chasers with Detroit techfunk elegies, making it difficult for everyone to resist at least nodding head or tapping foot. For me it's clearly an album with open space ravers in mind (as most of Heckmann's are, actually). Loopy, repetitive, fat and strong, yet with banging and mellowing moods alternating and sounds breathing, it's ideal for 5 o'clock madness or sunrise euphoria.

Age - 1998, Isolation
Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.

Using his own name, one year later he releases 'Raum' on Mille Plateaux. As expected, it's a more abstract ambientish release, atypical of Heckmann at the time, yet strangely fitting with his darker, more EBMish repertoire that got published later through his own Wavescape.

Thomas P. Heckmann - 1999, Raum
Download here.
Info here.

Bio here.

Sex With The Machines

The beginning of it all. The first album that brought the message of Anthony Rother to the world as he really meant it. Cold funk mixed with brooding melancholy and apocalyptic robotic slogans, in a time where eurotrance and disco house ruled. Only ones I can remember since then are UR and the Clone/Bunker guys. Short but effective. Released on the great Kanzleramt, still active, still banging. Respect.

Anthony Rother - 1997, Sex With The Machines
Link here.
Info here.

Art and Technology

Βack to Anthony Rother, this is an ambient album he released on his own Stahl Industries. Almost typical '70s Berlin School electronics, without any drums or guitars though. Heavy basslines and ethereal pads create synthetic psychedelic landscapes that manage to sometimes retain the cold, almost gothic feeling of the rest of the Rother releases.
For me, the most balanced album of his 'quiet' ones, representing in the best way the listening side of Rother's work.

Anthony Rother - 2005, Art Is A Technology
Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.

Midnight Magic

Most of you might know Kiko from his recent releases in Datapunk and Confused, or even from his collaborations with Alexander Robotnick in his own Hot Banana label. The differences between these two phases are fairly obvious, a jump from a totally rough oldschool cyber italo sound to the current angular minimal 'electro' trickery that's dominant everywhere. His older stuff is further more different in terms of musical orientation and feeling. It's hard for me to follow this new angle, especially as his sound nowdays borrows heavily from the work of others like Stephan Bodzin or Huntemann (still sounding to me slightly better, to be fair). And that's something unusual for a guy like Kiko, who always seemed to be able to combine the oldschool feeling with 'modern' technics in production and to always sound original, even unique.

The truth is that his retro sensibilities are easy to explain since he actually was one of the older class of french producers and a focal character in the development of the Grenoble scene (the only ones who actually played on even terms with the Munich guys during the first Gigolos Rising era). Alongside friends and collaborators Oxia, Human Body and The Hacker and with the support of 'Naughty' Moscatello and Al Ferox, since mid-90s they developed in their own Ozone label (and record store) an energetic mix of techno, hardcore and funky house, the latter especially through friendly BlackJack label (just check their roster). Later (1998, after the Daft Punk impact on Western civilization) Goodlife label was born, where this proto-crossover was further infused with the appropriate italo party feeling, electro futurism and EBM roughness to produce diamonds like Oxia's 'Body EP' or Arno Riva & DJ Speep's 'Sundown EP'. Every release actually has something to keep you interested.
Still, when I first tried 'Midnight Magic', his first album, I hadn't heard of Kiko yet, I just liked the cover (wish you could see the back side, I have to find a scanner...). I was left speechless, I bought the record and just run home. The vinyl version starts with 'Italomatic', which I kept playing for three or four years continuously until it got plowed from needle scratches and then I bought the 12'' and I still play it from time to time. The ultimate combination of techno rush, disco feeling, rough pumping beats and loud synth lines, one step beyond the relatively smooth Daft Punk mentality. 'Monique' (released separately as 12") is an excellent peak time electro techno track which went hit and 'Running Through The City' is perfect for those times you might just want to go instantly berserk without chemical support. And 'Burn Out' has the most accurate title I've encountered, a Blade Runnerish tidelike wave of power, pure synthesized emotions and deep fierce driving beats. Shit, I could write for this record for ever.

Later the Hot Banana label started as a poppier housey electro affair, with the adorable Sinema releases, but soon went oldschool and rough. A lot of old electro labels took the same course when 'electroclash' became a word in the mouth of every money-addict promoter and magenta and black was in every mag cover. House and electro started to sound silly when together, so people turned to the '80s italo sounds (which officiated the beginning of the now dominant 'cosmic' disco revival) or went hard. Soon Kiko was releasing hardly accessible hardcore EBM-style tracks with vocals and lately went modern.

Without judging him (how could I, anyway, he's a hero of mine) I think his peak was 'Midnight Magic', and that's why I'm presenting this to you. Though it may sound 'old' to some, (fat drums pumping, wall-of-sound production, fat synths, etc) it's still a marker of the french evolution of techno and a fine example of raw passion and inspiration. And it sounded like nothing else back then. It still doesn't, actually.

Kiko - 2001 Midnight Magic
Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.

For more Goodlife albums, go there.

Baila, baila

The first official part of Senor Coconut's 'career', in Rather Interesting label circa 1997.

Actually, some experiments had preceded this album in the same label (where almost all releases are by Uwe Schmidt). Unfortunately they were at that time unobserved, lost in the river of Atom pseudonyms, waiting for future recognition. Still, the impact on European electronic music and Pop culture of this Latin-infused Electro amalgam was so big that a lot of people felt the need to turn back and listen to Los Samplers, Eric Satin, etc., only to find out that Rather Interesting original records were sold for three digit numbers. I guess that especially after the YMO tribute album, Atom records are even more out of reach.

Anyway, thank your gods for the Multicolor re-releases and their support of certain South American artists like Villalobos, Jorge Gonzalez and Mambotur aka Pier Bucci & Argenis Brito.

Senor Coconut - 1997, El Gran Baile con...
(Multicolor re-issue, 2000)
Part 1 - Part 2
Info here.