Drop Out

So, I'll be away for a week or two. From time to time I might have limited net access but for sure no way of posting stuff, so check back after the 17th.

For those on holidays, I hope you have a great time and relax and everything. For those left behind, stay strong - you're holding the fortress, possibly. And for those far south, well, it's winter there so... stay warm.


When No One Is Watching, We Are Invisible...

An existential declaration like the one so blatantly stated in the title cannot hide the fact that this album contains a most emotional 'house' number with some of the best lyrics I've ever heard ('The Moment'), plus a bunch of other hits and good tracks of course. The third album from Jori Hulkkonen (*) manages to equal the 'Spirits' one in quality and atmosphere while reaching out for a broader audience at the same time.

Jori Hulkkonen - 2000
When No One Is Watching, We Are Invisible...

Info here.


A Ladomat 2000 (*,*) compilation presenting the early Dial Records sound (*).

VA - 2001 Hamburgeins
Info here.

Sadly in low bitrate, found somewhere around the net. A request, but also a compilation I'd like very much to have in its 3x12'' form.

The Spirits from Selkäsaari

More music from the beautiful north. Finn housemaster Jori Hulkkonen's first two albums, out through F Comm.

The debut balances between Chicago-like harsh beats and starry synths and deepness. 'Spirits' is just incredible, future house for the soul. Listen and learn.

Jori Hulkkonen - 1996 Selkäsaari Tracks
Info here.

Jori Hulkkonen - 1998 The Spirits Inside Me
Info here.

FBU: Recollections In Rare Altitude

I had sincerely forgotten this one. It was a no-cover used copy from the start, further abused by my 'gentle' touch back then - it skips by track#7 (I'm surprised it still plays , actually). I had a hand-written track list somewhere which I lost about two weeks after I bought it; so I knew nothing on either the label(s) or the artists involved anyway, except that it had a Stacey Pullen remix that draw me to it (track#7 once again).

I just liked the music in there a lot. I was deep into Detroit techno then, but still it touched me. House music from Norway... Repetitive, heavy, hedonistic music with organic feeling and psychedelic references - music for dancing and drinking and smoking shit and having fun (and how often do we encounter these qualities today?). And levels are set really high, production- and music-wise.

Thank the gods for discogs, I was happily surprised to found out who they were. That many of them are now widely recognized for their skills seems natural; we're talking about Rune Lindbæk (see Those Norwegians) and Bjørn Torske for example, while label owner Per Martinsen is Mental Overdrive of R&S fame. This album was a co-production of the HS recordshop and Per's (still active) Love OD Records. Who apparently had some connections with the Tellé guys and the Smalltown Supersound label and all the rest of Norway's underground stardom we possibly don't know about - a scene that eventually presented to us world famous artists like Royksopp and Lindstroem, or less famous ones like Skatebård. And which, due to its quality level, will continue to give us bunches of new faces we haven't discovered yet for a long long time, if I'm allowed a guess. So, I guess this is their old school presented here.

Similar stuff of the time that comes to mind? I'd name their neighbors Svek, for the weird disco tendencies and the crossover attitude. And Minifunk (*), for the repetitive funk fixations and the fun factor.

VA -1998 FBU: Recollections In Rare Altitude
Info here.

If anyone has more stuff like the above, let us know. It'll really be appreciated.

Lido Hotel

And since we are more or less on the ForceTrack (...cheesy wordplay but I had to get it out...), an early collection of tracks by Ware owner Mathias Schaffhäuser, the first album both for him and the FT label.

Sentimental mini-techno, Cologne style, occasionally with vocals, plus a few downtempo tracks - including the majestic '6 Uhr Morgens', first published on Blaou (*). More varied than Schaffhäuser's minimal and club-focused later releases, it brings in mind early Kompakt records of the time.

Mathias Schaffhäuser - 1999 Lido Hotel

Info here.

P.S. I've always wondered about the 'original' Lido Hotel and how its name became so famous, as I've seen one in every country I've ever been. By googling it I realized there are so much more around the globe, especially in countries with latin-based languages. My first guess was from some old movie or something, then I came across this article.

Rebel Swing

Erik Møller's first album under the Unai moniker, out through his own short-lived Nusond.

Though he became well known through his later ForceTracks/ DiscoInc. releases as well as his remixes, I believe this one has aged better than expected. It's rather easy to see his primary influences here (Berlin dubtech, electronics, disco, funk) and to hear his first attempts in combining them together to propose his sound - a sound that was to influence others towards a direction that only Luomo's debut had done before (*). Bridging nord electronics and the techhouse/ minimal/ dubtech/ tendencies of the time, he added an occasional (then missing) disco touch, while still shying away from his pop side (which he went to explored thoroughly after this one).

The real reason I prefer this record though is that even though he later undoubtedly bettered his production skills and reached higher levels in terms of song-writing, his sound became a bit homogenized. I mean, most of his remixes are similar to each other, he does similar tricks, etc. And even though I adore 'I Like Your Style', the vocals sound an awful lot like Phil Collins. Anyway, this one has all the advantages of a first album (variable material, desire for experimentation, enthusiasm), shooting at different directions at the same time and succeeding. Here you'll find dub techno epics, disco-influenced heavy house, even dubby 2-step beats, all in a nice tight package (a lot of NordLead sounds in there). Aimed for home listening and a smart dancefloor alike.

Unai - 2001 Rebel Swing

Info here.

Contains a slightly extended version of 'Brave Star' (*), a track I still play after all these years. The other Nusond vinyl I had encountered and passed it by - I remember it sounded 'too' vocal house to my ears back then. How I'd like to check that out again...

Revolution Dub

Lee Perry & The Upsetters - 1975 Revolution Dub
Info here.

Compilation of dubs from 1968 to 1975. Taken from the 1998 CD repress.

More rambling from the old guy...

I don't often write about current releases, mostly because I don't post new stuff and I'm barely able to write about the records I do post. But there are other reasons as well.

I have neither the time nor the will to listen to every single 12'' from all those 'labels' that constantly appear and disappear, just hoping I'll come upon something interesting. For me it would be impossible even to attempt to do something like this without spending twelve hours per day around the share-net - and still there would be no time to listen to all that stuff properly (five seconds of each track doesn't really count).

Due to certain family and work problems, my free time has almost evaporated in the last few years (not to mention my money...). It's not strange thus that when checking the vinyl stores or around the web for records I hardly give more than a single chance (about 30 secs) to most of the tracks. Still, some of them grab my attention from the start and keep me hooked for a long time, forcing me to come back and try to work them into my sets or just to listen and jump around (that's how I know I really like them, actually). This endurance through time is the key for me. And I feel I have to give the records the time to grow on me; as I've often made the typical mistakes of either (a) buying something that excites me at first but bores me to death the second time I listen to it, or (b) passed by something that later proved to be a masterpiece. I guess that's common ground for most of us, especially the DJs.

That is the best argument I could bring to support the free distribution of mp3s through the share-net. As promos for stuff you'll later buy if you like. Plus the fact that many many people don't even have the money to eat or dress properly. Expecting them to buy every track they would possibly like is nothing more that greed-fueled craziness (call it capitalism), while depriving them of their right to enjoy music might be culturally and spiritually fatal for them, their environment and humanity in general (call me crazy, but that's my opinion).

The best example I could think about what happens when we're not supporting the artists and actually don't buy those fucking tracks we like is what you'll read in this article.

I consider AW-Recordings to be one of the top new labels around. By definition retro-sounding, almost lo-fi at times, its records manage to shift our attention to the mood of each track, atmosphere and melodies being more important that the crispiness of the drums or the tricks they do with their samplers. Focusing on Detroit influenced, not strictly dancefloor-oriented material (deep techno and electro mostly), often based on a concept, the label ruled. Its releases certainly enriched and advanced this whole neo-Detroit thing, while some tracks are already considered classics of this 'genre'. It was respected and supported by many DJs and artists. Yet it's shutting down cause no one is buying their stuff. BTW, please remember that when buying downloads from those mp3 stores most people use, only half the money you pay reach the label (the stores cut a 45% share, if I'm not mistaken).
Same thing happens every day to smaller labels - they shut down. Now AW's daughter label will publish 'limited edition' 12"s; because they cannot afford to do more - I understand and respect that. But that also means I probably won't ever have the chance again to buy a AW record unless I hang around their e-shop all the time and search for 'illegal' promos, just to make sure i won't buy some famous crap. And as for those that download stuff, they'll only have 'illegal' and possibly low quality vinyl rips to listen to, without being able to support the label (even if they wanted to...). Nice, eh?

'Support the vinyl' and 'Buy from the creators' are not slogans of the old-minded and the weird. It's rather a necessity, if we are willing to keep dance music off the shelves of mp3 supermarkets that gather the money; if we want the people who create music to keep doing it.

Some of the more or less current stuff I'm into lately and would totally recommend (in no order at all):

- Several WéMè records, including a Drexciyan one
- Octave One's latest 'Summers On Jupiter'
- certain MuleElectronic and MuleMusiq 12"s, and all CDs btw
- everything by Lopazz (especially RSPRED028)
- Gigolo 239, as well as the new Hell album
- Aguayo's 'Minimal' (try to mix this one with Isolée's "Beau Mot Plage')
- many tracks by Solomun

Allow me a special mention to the one and only Henrik Schwarz, whom I respect infinitely for his creativity and imagination (and I am thankful for his remixes), and also many compliments to Innervisions, possibly the most interesting Berlin label today, as well as to its eclectic founders Dixon and Âme.

Nuff said. Go out there and buy stuff. Or expect to listen to Jacko electro-house remixes for the rest of your life.

Cut And Paste

I had mentioned C-Rock's album as Stardub back in the 'Lo-Fi Stereography' post. I've just tracked it down again, so here it is.

A true masterpiece of minimal dance music, crispy heavy dub techno at it's best. Don't miss it.

Stardub - 2001 Cut And Paste
Info here.

Also includes two remixes on tracks by Sven Vaeth and Dub Taylor. Intro track not included.

Live is Life is Love

Another Rother post (*), a live set from 2003 plus three studio tracks. Robo electro played live, with drum machines and effects and vocoder vox and live played synths, rough and tough and raw. The studio tracks are typical if rather weak material of the era, signifying his move from the Kraftwerk and Miami bass influences to the pop/club tendencies of the present.

We may consider this album the swan song of the first Rother era (it was also the last Psi49Net full length release).

Anthony Rother - 2003 Live is Life is Love
Info here.

Detroit House Fever

French compilation of Detroit and Chicago artists in full house mode.

Personal favorites are Moodyman's and Kelli Hand's filter monsters, DJ Assault's simple, honest, down-to-earth booty funk and the all time classic Random Noise Generation (*) debut.

VA - 1997 Detroit House Fever
Info here.

Terrence Parker's wonderful track is not included; yet I remember it to be in another compilation, so I'll add it in due time.