Say hello to Man Tear, a group formed of Studio Barnhus pair Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvist and frontman Johan Jonason who will be surfacing on DFA Records next month.
DFA have collared Prins Thomas to give Surahn’s folkish “Watching The World” the Norwegian diskomiks treatment – look out for an LP from the Australian too. Read the rest of this entry »
Having stirred up quite a fervour in their native London, Factory Floor make the leap from a string of well-received releases on underground labels to 21st century no wave mecca, DFA. ‘No wave mecca’ of course grossly undersells DFA and the spread the label has supported and released over the years, but to these ears the spirit of the music they release comes from a direct lineage with the New York post-punk disco manglations so immortalised by ESG, Dinosaur L and Liquid Liquid.
Likewise, Factory Floor have a definite lineage to their sound, and it doesn’t stray too far from those early 80s 4/4 grooves. The slinky funk basslines and choppy guitars are ditched in favour of cold, hard synthesiser tones, and delivered with beyond-the-grave vocals to die for, catching that perfectly sterile sexuality that made the best synth-pop of the 80s so alluring.
However, there’s no need to dismiss “Two Different Ways” as a throwback track. The assured way in which the arpeggio kicks off proceedings stands strong enough on its own, even after decades of use in various capacities. The track as a whole is an eight minute workout around that nagging refrain, sustaining the groove and using it as a launch pad for various kinds of effects tweakery, drone bashing and general good-time analogue experimentation. What saves the music from being just too familiar is the lack of contrivance. At no point does it sound like the band are playing it this way because they think it’s the cool thing to do.
The flipside only reinforces this notion, with the raw, stripping-down of the ‘Second Way’ mix. The drum machine does most of the work here, with very little space spared for musicality. The hits are brittle, liable to splinter at any point, while the occasional dubby FX only add to the tension. With a purist and highly sexed approach to their music, and the results to match, there’s no doubt that Factory Floor have plenty more disco devastators in their bop gun.
By now, we should all know what to expect from Benoit & Sergio – namely a delightful but melancholic blend of shimmering synth-pop and deep house. So far, they’ve released a handful of largely excellent EPs for Visionquest and DFA. While the former ploughed a distinctly touchy-feely deep house furrow – whilst still boasting their trademark world-weary vocals – it was the latter that most impressed. This new two-tracker – again for James Murphy’s imprint – adheres to these musical principles (sorry), whilst moving in a slightly more uptempo direction. The results are, as ever, impressive, offering two more strong cuts that sound like nothing else around.
“Principles” itself is an all-action beast. Distinctly more upbeat than some previous outings, it relentlessly rolls forward on a wall-of-sound base of swirling vocal samples, springy 80s alternative bass and E’d-up synth melodies. Throw in their catchiest lead vocal yet, and you’ve got something very special on your hands.
If anything, “Everybody” is even more delightful. Starting off as incredibly hooky, left-of-centre synth-pop groover, it quickly blossoms into a near-anthemic chunk of grin-inducing house. There’s more space in the mix and a lighter tone, but it almost hits home harder – especially after the fuzzbox bass kicks in around two minutes in, ushering in all manner of twinkling pianos and synth-marimbas. Both tracks are, naturally, brilliantly produced, and sound like nothing but Benoit & Sergio – surely one of the highest compliments you can pay an artist.
It seems like an eternity since Eric Tsai and Justin Simon made their debut on Italians Do It Better. It was, in fact, 2008, and the track in question was “Cable Dazed” – a kind of comedown-friendly deep house cut featuring a pleasingly soft-and-cuddly mix of dubbed-out percussion, eyes-wide-shut electronic riffery and weirdly smacked-out vocals. As leftfield deep house records go, it was pretty special.
The arrival of this long-awaited follow-up, some three years after that breakthrough release, is something of a surprise – and a pleasing one at that. Arriving on DFA, “In A Hole” picks up where “Cable Dazed” left off, but this time Tsai and Simon have replaced the metronomic pulse of deep house with percussive rhythms that wearily shuffle between the speakers like a depressed 90 year-old in a post office queue. If that sounds like an insult, it’s not meant to be; take a listen and you’ll know what we mean.
In both the original and gorgeously trippy dub form, “In A Hole” is woozy, ethereal and dream-like. Half-speed vocals throb attractively in a crystalline soundscape of FX-laden electronics and (of course) carefully programmed congas. Flipside “Can’t Feel My Knees”, meanwhile, trudges back towards the crackly world of leftfield deep house. Immensely fragile, it hovers somewhere between thrillingly bittersweet and heart-achingly mournful. The short dub, all heavy analogue bass, dub-laden percussion and foreboding sweeps, adds a touch of afterhours darkness to proceedings.
It’s an excellent EP, and one that should quickly remind people just why we were so excited about Invisible Conga People in the first place. Taken as a whole, the EP comes on like Primal Scream’s “Higher Than The Sun” for the M-cat generation – and that’s high praise indeed.
With the boss man currently occupied with a series of last ever LCD shows, it’s been an understandably slow start to the year for the DFA twelve inch machine, but things seem to be stepping up a gear or two – with several releases due in the next month which have piqued our interest.
With their slicked back hair, sharp suits and love of sophisticated, melancholic electronic pop, Washington DC’s Benoit & Sergio are a neat fit with James Murphy’s fashion-conscious imprint. Following a smattering of singles elsewhere – most notably for Seth Troxler, Ryan Crosson, Lee Curtiss and Shaun Reeves’ Visionquest imprint – it’s no surprise to see them pitching up on DFA with a suitably charismatic four-tracker.
Musically, they offer an odd but charming fusion of the old and the new. “Boy Trouble” itself is a good example. Part Justus Kohncke/Kompakt pop, part “Beahviour”-era Pet Shop Boys (it has the same bittersweet feel and love of rich synthesizer sounds), it’s both heart-achingly weary (especially the vocal) and coolly uplifting. The Visionquest remix – a lovingly crafted fusion of spacious house bump, techno influenced percussion and deep blue electro-pop – only enhances these wonderful elements.
Elsewhere, there’s plenty to enjoy. There’s another chance to savour the superb “Full Grown Man”, a housier composition that sounds like one of Mr Fingers’ Robert Owens collaborations remade in Cologne (it reminds us, bizarrely, of some of Firm troubadour Bozzwell’s deeper techno-pop moments, albeit with a classic deep house finish). Worth checking, too, is “What I’ve Lost”, another previously released cut that casts Joy Division broodiness adrift in a dreamy synthscape of stoned paranoia and loverlorn late night tears. Hopefully DFA will stick with these guys; their music might not be an exact fit with their usual followers, but it has excellent potential.
What makes a good record label in 2010? There are, of course, multiple answers to that question: some of our favourite imprints this year excelled because they lovingly dug up unappreciated gems from the past, restored them and made them available to a new generation, while others were totally focused on exploring hitherto unexplored terrain with new and exciting music. What unites them is passion; a group of hard working individuals who put a focus on quality over quantity (although some manage to do both), with painstaking attention to detail put into every lovingly packaged release. Without further ado, we present the Juno Plus top 5 labels of 2010.
Ahead of a much anticipated debut Discodeine album set for release in early 2011, the French duo end the year on a high note with the release of “Synchronize” their collaboration with Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker on a variety of formats on both DFA and D*I*R*T*Y on December 6.
Originally out on DFA as part of the New York label’s exhaustive, enlightening and really quite impressive Peter Gordon retrospective, the story behind the two Justine & The Victorian Punks tracks is intriguing enough to warrant a separate release. The project was initiated by iconic visual artist Collette, who requested Gordon and his Love of Life Orchestra compose two tracks to accompany her Beautiful Dreamer bedroom based art installation. There’s a sense of musical heritage that runs deep through both “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Still You”. The tracks were recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in just one night and have engineering credits from Jay Burnett who would later play an instrumental part in the release of “Planet Rock”.
The end result of this ultimately short lived collaboration was two tracks of delightfully decadent disco rich in detail and melody. Collette’s doe eyed spoken word delivery on “Beautiful Dreamer” lends the track an ethereal quality that is augmented by the soft melodies and backing choruses that skip beneath. This is complemented by the far sultrier “Still You” that comes across as Gainsbourg decamped to Greenwich Village and seduced by the exotic temptations of The Loft.
With the track’s originally being released on Collette’s own label Collette Is Dead Co. Ltd, original pressings are naturally near impossible to track down, so kudos to DFA for reissuing this release replete with the original saucy sepia toned artwork. The fact that Collette subsequently branded the music as ‘disco punk’ provides an inexorable link to DFA, with the label most commonly referred to as just that in the early “Losing My Edge” days.
Woolfy’s debut solo album If You Know What’s Good For Ya! released collectively between New York’s disco titans Rong and DFA last year was filled to the brim with under appreciated gems. “Looking Glass” perhaps stood tallest and demanded your attention most; mercilessly short for electronic music at just under four minutes, it packed enough potent synth drama and lyrical wistfulness to demand repeat listens. A two minute burst of golf claps to DFA for allowing Woolfy the chance to revisit the track and expand upon its qualities is certainly in order.
Inherently warmer in feel, Woolfy’s ‘expanded version’ also allows prominence for the bontempi style synth melody to shine. This element is discarded altogether by rising British DJ/ Producer Foolish Felix aka Felix Dickinson, of London’s excellent Bad Passion Project monthlies, on a remix that begins all acid house before a swift French Kiss tempo breakdown marks the onset of something wholly more psychedelic. Expanding on this psychedelic hue, Australian duo Canyons provide perhaps the most richly rewarding version to close proceedings. Beginning with a tapestry of acoustics and gentle piano melodies, the remix gradually accrues pace, with a subtle beat that never imposes itself. Woolfy’s distinct vocal refrain becomes ever more poignant it as it is drowned in vast echo.