Harriet Miers Comes Clean on Ketamine House History
Four Dance Mixes: Various Artists, Various Quality
By no means definitive, and I should probably do another one once Dan Selzer and Mike Simonetti's RVNG4 mix sinks in, but below are four mixes I've spent a bit of time with recently. Click on songs for MP3 audio samples.
Kreucht & Fleucht [mixed and compiled by Dominik Eulberg] (Mischwald)
As we struggle to name this suddenly popular strain of bottomed-out, hollowed out, disembodied and inexplicably catchy anti-house--Philip Sherburne, who's good with this kind of stuff, says Ketamine House--producer Dominik Eulberg has put together the year's leading and potentially definitive cuts. One disc (Kreucht) goes for broke on the bizarre (check Mathew Jonson and the Mole's "Dirt Road...", the closest house has to an exorcism), the other (Fleucht) compromises the k-house sound a bit for the sake of the floor (Andre Kraml's coughing, clapping, barely minimal "Safari (Holden Remix)" makes yet another appearance on the mix circuit).
What I like most here though is probably the result of reading too much into this shit. Most of the tracks Eulberg includes, I noticed, are remixes, not originals. And with the exception of a few artists (Luciano, Villalobos, Trentemoller, Hug, others I'm forgetting), most tracks that get lumped into this k-house sound are for their remixes. Which reminds me of the story behind Villalobos's The Au Harem D'Archimede LP from last year: Apparently he was working on a series of (I think)
LFO KLF (thanks, Beta) remixes, but lost the LFO masters, so he was stuck with gigs of his own decorations, but no float to hang them on. And so much of the Kreucht & Fleucht remixes just barely recall their masters, and even then negatively--if anything, by their silhouette. Which might speak to the mysterious allure of the mix, suggesting something bigger and more, we just don't know what.
JDH & Dave P: FIXED July 23, 2005 (live)
An infinitely less existential affair, this is just an indie-dance DJ set straight off the boards of DJs JDH and Dave P, who run the FIXED parties at Tribeca Grand. (This weekend is their first-year anniversary, with the Rapture special-guesting.) I had been throwing "indie-dance parties" around here so I figured I'd track down an example, and this comes pretty close to the rock-remix, hard-electro (but hardly goth), cool picky-pop hodgepodge that people are freaking out on here.
Still, there's a lot of character left in this mix, especially since DJ Dave P brings from Philly just enough of that thick-skinned, fuck-you, I'll play what I want attitude to his parties: I'm assured no other DJ in the world gets away with playing Daft Punk as much as he does, often twice or thrice in a set if he feels like it (to say nothing of Blur or Elastica). Still, it's tighter than Diplo/Hollertronix's genre-hopping, less hell-bent and more personal, a kind of "uncool" that, if the DJ's lucky or interesting enough, translates ultimately to respect and connections deeper than just "awesome place with cool music." Sounds lame but it happens.
Naked Music presents Lost On Arrival (Naked Music/Astralwerks)
I picked this up used at Other Music mostly for the two Trentemoller tracks I had never heard. More than wary I was about the Astralwerks insignia, and holy shit does this mix just blow out only a minute and a half in. But as far as, I don't know, establishing that disco-dub/space-disco sound that Lindstrom & Prins Thomas and Putsch 79 and (as a reach) Morgan Geist/Metro Area/Environ are working right now, this mix has a few good moments.
Overtone's "Big Mutha" plays about three notches away from filter and six notches the other way from jazzy lounge pianoland bullshit, but that's the genre itself too here--to a large extent trying to trick laidback sounds/funk cliches back onto the floor. Our boy Trentemoller comes back with "Le Champagne", essentially a bigger-sounding Metro Area track that isn't hung up on being unclassic, though admittedly Trentemoller's "Work In Progress" should have stayed W-I-P. Daniel Wang's "24 To Vector Z" is, in fact, mixed down to unclassic degrees by Mr. Geist himself, and it sounds fantastic, far better than the Model 500 tries to dance trip Wang's can get on sometimes. Of course the Cosmic Force track "Chocolate Starfish" shows too much: Most times here disco-dub rides dangerously close to "housified funk," and that "Starfish" remix, while a banger, guarantees we'll have to wade through tons of funk-by-house just to get to the good stuff.
MBF Flashback [mixed and compiled by Triple R] (My Best Friend)
MBF stands for My Best Friend, a relatively new sub-label of Traum. In my mind Traum (and its offshoot Trapez) have always peddled strictly good-to-great cinematic microhouse: clouds of ambient tone, efficient undistracting clicks, rubbery half-melodies too nestled to dance, more suited to headphones. Nothing bad about this, but their output has always felt a little bit anonymous. These ten MBF tracks move closer to floor--everything's not maximized, just magnified, distorted--and bring more attention to themselves too.
Can you blame Triple R though? Dude's a top-dog selector, a power-upper for tech-house at large, and here he's pushing a number of his own tracks through. Among them are his collaboration with Steve Barnes called "Someday," a track that welds the Traum/Trapez sound with both that forlorn male vox house sound Kompakt dipped into for a minute and that really rotund synth sound for which Freude-Am-Tanzen/Musik Krause's Wighnomy Bros. have become better known. The other big Triple R moment here is "Mondo Cane" (recorded as Youthanasia, with Emanuel Geller), clearly taking cues from New Order, but much cleaner, much more disco, a little bit more confessional melodically too. The rest of Flashback can't decide whether to stay disco or move to harder-hitting techno or somewhere in the IDM in-between, and the alternation kills momentum. Maybe representative of these labels' extremely self-conscious trend-hopping/move in "label sounds", though to be honest, I can't imagine a time when M.A.N.D.Y.'s "Naomi," needle-y uptight funk fit for alien autopsy, will not fill a floor.
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