The new Aphex is a “30 Track Double CD” with about 100 minutes of music. I suppose I don’t have to tell you that this is a pretty crazy release? Anyway, in some tracks Richard D. James proves that he is the inspiration for bands like Funckarma, Funkstörung or Plaid (all see below) with fairly atmospheric music with strange rhythms, in other tracks James goes berzerk as usual and all this is alternated with piano music or short pieces of strange sounds. As always this Aphex isn’t for anyone and personally I have never been a very big fan of this project, but some tracks are undoubtely very good and from these two cds you can get one good one of about an hour, so maybe it is a good buy!
When I was looking for a copy of the new Venetian Snares (which I found) my eye fell on a new cd of Autechre. Autechre is one of these “pioneers of weird electronic dance music” like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. It is always interesting to hear what guys like that came up with, but in particular Autechre has never been my favourite artist and it seems that this new album is even one of the less accessible ones (compared to himself!). There is no structure or melody or whatever in these tracks. This makes the music not suitable to just listen to sitting on a couch, you can’t dance to it, so what then? Well one thing is listening to the electronic skills of the artist is one thing or maybe playing it as background music (however you and/or your guests may get nerves of it). Autechre is sure worth to listen to, but not really music to play. So just get a copy of the cd to find out if things can get more crazy, but maybe even you like this kind of stuff! A small word to those then: this album is rather slowpaced / tranquil with a few faster tracks towards the end.
I don’t think I had ever heard of Christian Fennesz before I saw this cd. When I put it on, it soon became clear that this is one of the most abstract “electronica” act that I have ever heard. In the review of Funckarma’s “Parts” (see below) I wrote that they have hardly definable rhythms, but I can asure you that Funckarma sounds like disco in comparison to Fennesz! “Endless Summer” contains the strangest and abstract soundscapes with completely cut-up sounds, sometimes something that I can only call “rhythm” by lack of a better word and not really any melody even. Only for the advanced listeners I guess.
It seems that abstract techno is slowly becoming more and more popular. Aphex Twin has hits on MTV and Funckarma won some kind of popprice. They seem to be the talk of the day, this project. When I rented “Parts” at the cd-rental shop, there were only two more people in the shop who were both ‘fans’.
Anyway, what you will hear when playing “Parts” is slow and rather tranquil, but very abstract techno with hardly a definable rhythm, cut-up beats and strange sounds with here and there a clear tone or some melody. Sometimes I get the idea of listening to someone playing a computer game, so little structure is there to be heard.
To speak for myself, I prefer some energy and structure. For others I can say that when you are not irritated by experiments of Aphex Twin or Speedy J, you may want to listen to this cd some time as well.
Second cd of the Dutch brothers Funcken. “Solid State” sounds pretty much like “Parts” (see above), pretty melodious, fairly accessible (when you get used to the style of music), but with some more abstract tracks than previously. I don’t think this is the best project in the genre and I still prefer more energy and structure, but listening to Funckarma you get an idea of what is going on with techno music these days. But maybe you want to listen to the recently released dub compilation first.
Funkstörung is another techno act making what I call “abstract techno” like Funckarma (see above). The booklet is so vague that I’m not sure about the cd-title, label name or release year, but above you can see what I made of it.
On this cd Funkstörung cooperated with different artists being Björk, DJ Craze, the Wu-Tang Clan and S’Apex resulting is fairly accessible but at times totally insane and unstructured techno. Here and there the music sounds quite ‘hiphopish’, but at other times Funkstöring ignore all laws of logic and these are actually the best tracks from this album. I expect that an album of Funkstörung alone will only contain ‘technonense’. I’ll let you know when I find such an album.
This German act is probably the most well-known project in the ‘post-Aphex/Autechre/etc’ “electronica” field. This is mostly caused by the fact that Funkstörung does a lot of remixes of known and less-known artists making vague techno of all kinds of different kinds of music. After “Additional Productions” (see above) this is another cd filled with remixes. These are of respectively Plaid, Jay-Jay Johanson, Nils Petter Molvaer, A Guy Called Gerald, Beans, Speedy J. Ike Yard, The Notwist, Funckarma, Phillip Boa + The Voodooclub, Tocotronic and Jean Michel Jarre. I don’t know any of the original tracks and besides Speedy J. and Funckarma I don’t know any of the remixed bands, or only by name.
Anyway, “Viceversa” isn’t too good in my opinion. The tracks in the beginning are very tranquil, jazzy and not too appealing. There are a few nice (Speedy J., Ike Yard) to great tracks (Funckarma, Beans), but overall “Viceversa” is not too great.
Here we have something in between Plaid and Funckarma. Minimal experimental music with strange sounds and rhythms. This is a little too tranquil for my liking, but it’s funny to hear what people (seemingly) inspired by Autechre and Aphex Twin make these days.
A couple of years ago I saw Kid 606 live in Den Haag (Netherlands). There was a festival with a then fairly unknown kind of experimental techno. All the acts had releases on the French label “Mille Plateaux” who just released the second issue of their “cuts ’n clicks” compilation cd, giving the music a name. Later it became “intelligent dance music” (idm), “electronica”, “electronics” or whatever. Inspired by artists like Aphex Twin, Autechre and Squarepusher, a new generation of laptop artists made tranquil music with weird cut-up beats and samples. Kid 606 had a show with problems and proved to be a bit louder than the rest. For years I never paid much attention, not even much to the music in general, but then I heard that I should listen to the new Kid 606 (thanks bro). I listened to the mcd “The Illness” which has the two brilliant and loud tracks from the 12” with three other tracks of which two are not too good. Then I listened to “The Action…”. It is a 60 minute cd that is crazier then Hellfish, but not as loud. Tons of samples, many extremely well-known (Kylie Minogue, Bangles, Radiohead), the weirdest rhythms with here and there are regular ‘gabber beat’. All in all much better than other things I have heard from this ‘scene’, but Kid 606 does seem to have the same labels as other acts reviewed here. Some tracks are completely brilliant, but Kid 606 is very obviously showing off. First drum & bass, then digicore, then a piece that sounds a lot like Squarepusher. Sometimes it is a bit too much. At times great, at times not too great, but overall a very nice cd. There is a new one coming up. Hopefully the 12” tracks will be on it.
This band is getting quite popular and I can hear why. However this music is pretty strange, it is very accessible. I believe this music is totally electronic, but it actually reminds me to this experimental (ethereal) popmusic of the 80’ies a bit (without vocals though), with jazzy music, strange sounds and funny rhythms. Always very tranquil and you will never be able to guess what you will hear in the next minute. Very funny, but not my kind of music.