February 5, 2004  




Ellen Allien
Summer Hymns
DJ Koze
Weird War
Henry Flynt (reissue)

Mountain Goats
Angel Molina
DMZ (reissue)
FEB Sun 01 Mon 02 Tues 03 Wed 04 Thurs 05 Fri 06 Sat 07




(Exclusive U.S. Debut)

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99 N. 13th St. (Between Wythe & Berry)
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9:30pm to Sunrise - $20 adv. / $25 at the door

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Presented by: Cultural Alchemy with Volume, The Fader, Other Music, Matador, and Neverstop







Remix Collection

"Let's Get It On" Gold Chains
"Aus Heiterem Himmel" Barbara Morgenstern

Ellen Allien continues to leave her "electro" peers behind with a collection of remixes that, like her album "Berlinette," moves toward pop without losing a bit of her punch and danceability. While some of her album tracks may have suffered from pressure to "have a message," the "Remix Collection" displays all her new wave, glitch-hop, acid, pop-house styling, without any excess baggage.

Tracks range from broken beat glitch-hop ("Let's Get It On" rmx impossibly creates a song I like out of a Gold Chains song) to new wave acid pop house (tracks 5-7, including a B. Morgenstern remix-excellent, and an Ellen Allien remix of her own "Alles Sehen," and "The Way We Have Chosen" by OMR) to full strength club rockers like Ellen's remixes of "Bullet" by Covenant and "Butterfly" by Gut-Humpe.

The collection is rounded out by a fine, dreamily glitched up remix of Golden Boy with Miss Kittin's "Rippin Kittin" -- a successful redefinition of an already flawless club pop hit. You will ask and re-ask yourself, "How does she make solid tracks where others would just make frivolous electro pop?" Again, all her strengths witnessed on her first album, "Stadtkind" through to her "Berlinette" LP are showcased here, unadulterated. While others seem to be stepping back to avoid the trend-end backlash, Ellen Allien seems to be intent on moving forward. Recommended. [SM]







Value Series Volume 1: Fools Gold

"What They Really Do"

Last winter, Summer Hymns found themselves in a holding pattern waiting for the July release of "Clemency." To pass the time, the Austin sextet took over a home studio and without any clear agenda, put to tape whatever came to mind. This spontaneity begat 22 or so songs, eight of which find the way onto this 10 track EP. "Fools Gold" plays like an audio documentary of a band shaking off some excess creativity, experimenting with a few new sounds not normally explored on a proper album, and simply enjoying themselves.

Already experts of pastoral pysch-folk pop, their approach here seems to be even more somnambulant as breezy keyboard passages float around unobtrusive melodies, and the occasional reverb drenched acoustic guitar. Opening track, "Fear the Law" is slightly skewed with Zachary Gresham's underwater vocal tweaked out by tape warbles and interrupted by a hazy refrain of mellotron sounding strings, while the surreal pop landscape of "What They Really Do" is reminiscent of Robert Wyatt. During the brief, spaced-out folk interlude "Butterflies," Gresham's lyrical wit proves to be charming as ever as he sings, "You can steal my heart but not my Calvin Kleins."

The band was probably unaware of this at the time, but these free-spirited sessions produced some really magical moments, creativity taking hold to guide these hazy pop songs. Also notable are the two covers, George Harrison's "Behind the Locked Door" and Johnny 'Guitar' Watson's "It Takes Two" but the EP climaxes with the dreamy melancholy of "Capsized," which by song's end has crescendo-ed into layers of guitar and keyboard tension. Unexpectedly, "Fools Gold" is my favorite Summer Hymns release to date. [GH]








Bows + Arrows
(Record Collection)

"Little House of Savages"
"New Year's Eve"

Jonathan Fire Eater put out one record for Dreamworks; then they were dropped. They went through some line-up changes, got a new singer, and changed their name to the Walkmen before recording the excellent "Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone" for New York's fledgling Star Time label. Now they're getting a second shot at major label success. "Bows And Arrows" is out on the Record Collection label, which doesn't mean much until you notice the little "W" logo embossed on the back of the jewel case -- that's right, the Walkmen are now affiliated with Warner Brothers.

That said, this new album is not too far a departure from the first. Hamilton Leithauser's vocals are still very strong and are a little more rough around the edges this time, which makes him sound less like a young Bono than he did on the band's debut. The instrumentation is more or less the same as before, with thick and dark guitar parts, some seriously haunting organs, and the occasional piano making its way into the mix.

As far as New York rock bands go, I'll take the Walkmen over the Strokes and Interpol any day of the week. "Bows And Arrows" is every bit as good as their first record. Strongly recommended, the Walkmen are a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. [RH]







All People Is My Friends

"Lost" Isolee
"Typerope" Mathew Jonson

Kompakt's newest mix CD is brought to us by Cologne stalwart DJ Koze, a former hip hop DJ and producer gone techno/house denizen (traces of his "former-self" are evident in a couple of scratchings tucked away in here somewhere) who also does time in international stars, International Pony.

"All People Is My Friends" begins like an intimate listening party amongst close friends. Throughout what I like to refer to as "part one" (tracks 1-3) he opts to let the tracks play until their end, untouched, probably to stress their poignancy, and for the remainder of the opus, the mix/flow is impeccably seamless. No style is left unturned, and there's even room for the kitchen sink in a Koze-World... like the sweet digital gamelan of the World Standard & Weschel Garland intro "Solitude Sea", the absurdly moving rendition of "The Long and Winding Road" sung by a lone child from the Langley School Music Project (!?), the bossa tinged folk of The Christians, featuring a vocal by Konrad Sprenger, who quotes Martin Gore, seemingly through a li'l transistor radio.

Now things move in a different direction... here comes the beat. There's the hushed, cascading beauty of a Jan Jelinek track, the funky electro-fried soup of Jackmate, a classique cut from Mr.Oizo, the romantic/miasmic tech-house of Isolee, the elegant Windy City musings of Fabrice Lig, a Villalobos slap-fest, Thomas Brinkmann in trademark "banger" territory, and the impossibly bone dry, rubberband thump of Smith N Hack. Coming out of Mathew Jonson's "Typerope," a Grungerman blast of Auftreib grind with a male vocal is Koze's final pumping fist before he unleashes the final cut, his own " Gekloppel B2", a pop ambient laced soft-pulser that closes the set.

As if a flawless mix wasn't enough, the cherry on top is a field recording of Koze and friends playing billiards and singing along merrily to Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You." DJ Koze, one of fantastic musical taste and fine chops, delivers a compelling album from start to finish. Not only could this be the best mix CD on Kompakt, it's gonna be real tough to find a better "something different" mix this year. [DD]







If You Can't Beat 'Em, Bite 'Em
(Drag City)

"Grand Fraud"
"If You Can't Beat 'Em, Bite 'Em"

As far as I'm concerned, there has only been one prolific revolutionary of our generation, and that man is Ian Svenonius. Not to place him on a pedestal or anything, but if you're even semi-familiar to his novel of a resume (from Nation of Ulysses to art lectures at prestigious universities to uber-intellectual essays) you know what I'm talking about. He's almost done it all -- and in flamboyant style.

Diverging out of one of the most influential rock/punk bands of the '90s (Nation of Ulysses) he formed the Make*Up with Michelle Mae (Frumpies), explored his alter-ego with David Candy, and started up the Scene Creamers with Michelle Mae and Alex Minoff (Golden). Weird War began as a one-off project with Royal Trux's Neil Michael Hagerty -- but have now evolved into a complete entity, picking up where the Scene Creamers left off.*

Deviating from the Make*Up school of soul thought, Weird War delivers more ass-shaking rock n' roll and a unique style of psych-funk. More guitar wah-wah's and less gospel yea-yea's. [MT]

*The name Scene Creamers was lost in a legal dispute with a French graffiti crew that titled themselves "Scene Creamers," also. Amazing, right?







I Don't Wanna
(Locust Music)

"Uncle Sam Do"

A new Henry Flynt reissue is always something to get excited about. "I Don't Wanna" is the first-ever reissue of Flynt's recordings with his short-lived mid-'60s rock band the Insurrections. The majority of the songs on the CD combine his trademark ultra-simple and repetitive echoing guitar sounds with drums and nasal hillbilly rock vocals. Two of the tracks make use of a bluesy riff reminiscent of the Kinks' "Nothin In The World Can Stop Me Worryin' Bout That Girl," and another song is oddly reminiscent of ESG if they didn't have any low-end. The protest-style lyrics, which criticize the Vietnam war and big business, are a little bit sophomoric but not entirely unlikable.

My favorite tracks are the ones that sound less like a 1950s rock band and more like the stuff on the Back Porch Hillbilly Blues reissues, but it's still fascinating to hear how his ideas work in a rock band setting. This band was so far ahead of its time that it's quite difficult to imagine anyone getting excited about their music back when they were making it. This is truly the definition of shambolic. "I Don't Wanna" probably isn't the best place to start if you're just getting into Henry Flynt, but it's a really interesting addition to his catalog and essential listening for anyone who already appreciates his work. [RH]







The Power Out
(Too Pure/Beggars)

"The Valley"
"On Parade"

Brighton, England's Electrelane are that seemingly way too perfect art rock band, thoughtfully sculpted from all the right influences. Vocals sung with Nico-like detachment? Check. Extended Krautrock drones? Check. One note guitar leads? Check. Friedrich Nietzsche quoted in a German sung song lyric? Indeed. Farfisa? Absolutely. It would be really easy to write this band off as pretentious rubbish if they didn't do it so well.

Formed in 1998, the four girls in Electrelane first caught my ears in 2001 with their mostly instrumental album "Rock It to the Moon." Since then, the group has moved from the Mr. Lady label to a new home, Too Pure, and with their second album "The Power Out" (produced by Steve Albini), they've become much more reliant on vocals. A point made very clear by track three, "The Valleys" which features a haunting melody sung by a 12-person choir.

At times reminiscent of Stereolab sans the bossa nova, Electrelane's dynamics rely on small subtleties. Even when the group is rocking out, like during the Mo Tucker inspired drumming of "Take the Bit Between Your Teeth," the band's performance is modular, everyone switching chords at the exact same moment with the rhythmic delivery of the vocals taking precedence over the actual melody. Moody, eclectic, and minimalist in their approach, Electrelane's mastery of restraint is uniquely captivating. [GH]







We Shall All Be Healed

"Palmcorder Yajna"
"Your Belgian Things"

"We Shall All Be Healed" is John Darnielle's second album since making the big leap to 4AD. The old lo-fi Mountain Goats aesthetic (some of their earlier stuff was recorded directly into a boom box) seems to be gone for good, abandoned in favor of somewhat glossier -- but still sparse -- production by John Vanderslice. There's a full band again, but Darnielle's vocals and acoustic guitar are still the focus. His songwriting style, pairing simple chord progressions with passionately delivered tongue-in-cheek lyrics, is so honed at this point that it seems automatic. "We Shall All Be Healed" is sure to please the one-man-band's voracious fans and introduce the Mountain Goats to an even larger audience. [RH]







Nevermind The Botox

"U Mean Nothing 2 Me"
"I Wanna Be Your Dog"

Whoa! Don't put away your black body tape, eyeliner and stirrups just yet. Thailand's Futon have come just in time to breathe some much-needed life into your electro-pop revolution. They already have a bonafide underground club smash with their Stooges cover "I Wanna Be Your Dog", and now their full length offers even more dance pop-punk fun. Judging from their choice of cover material, Futon definitely have more of a garage-punk influence than you would think -- not necessarily in sound, but in approach and attitude. The beats are pretty hard, fast and geared for the dancefloor, and the monotone infected vocals fit nicely. If Electronicat, Queen of Japan and Ladytron attract your feet to the dancefloor, then you should check this out. [DH]







Fragil Discos: Pasada Profesional

"Clap 4" Leo Garcia
"Diacido" Pommerenck

A brand new, straight outta nowhere mix CD that blindsided us with its understated quality, basically "Fragil Discos" represents the output of Barcelona based Red Music label and is mixed by Angel Molina (?). (Artists include Kompakt alumni Leandro Fresco and Gustavo Lamas, as well as heretofore unknowns like Pablo Reche, Leo Garcia, Pommerenck, Adicta, Rascacielos… the list goes on.) This mix embodies that "special" quality, not unlike the "Elektronische Musique des Buenos Aires" compilation on Traum so many years back. (i.e. "Who knew some dudes in Buenos Aires were doing minimal Mouse on Mars in 1998?")

It seems all the concentration of electronic talent attending the Sonar Festival of years past has affected the locals in a good way. These tracks bear a definite resemblance to other deep techno artists like Signer (deep pulse melodies), Process (smart pop techno patterns), and early Gustavo Lamas (deep warm moodiness) -- all deep, soft, sweet, emotive pulse techno with that little bit of "pop," but with an unmistakable dose of sincerity that gives it its own personality.

Speaking of personality, this mix does not pan out like your typical DJ mix. Tracks fade in and out with simple, informal grace. A beautiful loop is brought in and played out for a minute and a half, almost completely fades out, fades back in and mixes in to the next track right before you ask yourself "was that a loop". The intros and outros are segues, not mix downs. This is a welcome surprise. Its own thing, but with a definite relationship to Triple R's "Friends" mix, as well as the above mentioned artists. Recommended. [SM]







(Sepia Tone)

"Mighty Idy"

Except for the 1%'ers who've gone deep, DMZ seem to have settled into their role as a footnote to Jeff "Mono Man" Conolly, The Lyres, Boston Rock, and Sire Record's "New Wave" roster. And until now it's easy to see why.

First: The cover. With its "what the hell are they hugging" (it turns out to be roof top air conditioning units!?!), the cheezey outer space background and the faux-metal logo are all a bit off-putting and, according to Jeff Conolly's somewhat scathing liner notes, were just as much of a shock to the band as the fans. Second: The production. On paper, Flo & Eddie of the Turtles could have been to DMZ what Don Gallucci (of Pacific Northwest one hit wonders Don & The Goodtimes) was to the Stooges.

Instead it seems that their energy must have been focused on pot and catering. There was still plenty of energy generated by the band though and even though the record always suffered from not enough guitar umpf and the drum sound, it still came through with revved up punkers like "Mighty Idy" and "Don't Jump Me Mother" or the Stooges vs. speed "Bad Attitude," as well as choice obscure covers for the time like the Sonics "Cinderella" and the Wailers "Out of Our Tree."

Thankfully, this CD edition seeks to right all of the wrongs. While still embracing the air conditioners, gone is the outer space background and faux-metal logo, replaced here with their simple punk approved logo. The CD has also been remastered to great effect with the drums much farther down in the mix and the guitars finally roaring as you always wished they would. Now the record fires on all cylinders and is ready to fully assume its place as the blueprint for all '60s garage influenced punk burners. An absolute classic! [DM]







Flashes & Cables EP

"Why They Are Playing So Loudly"

Having released over 200 songs in a seven-year period, it comes as no surprise that Centro-Matic had some leftovers from last year's fantastic "Love You Just the Same" LP. For those still unfamiliar, Centro-Matic is everything you want a Texas rock band to be. Will Johnson's whiskey soaked melodies linger like a warm desert breeze, while equally impressive is the group's ability to craft music that's steeped in deep, southern tradition yet at the same time very modern and perfectly timed, with blazing guitar solos and the occasional blip of a synthesizer.

Their new EP features two alternate versions of "Flashes and Cables," one of the many stand-out's off of "Love You Just the Same," with a heart-tug melody that emotes without being "emo." Both "Guillotines Hung Together" and "Infernoesque Grande" show the band rocking out amid shrieks of guitar feedback and a flailing drummer, but Johnson's vocal hooks still shine through. The EP is balanced out by a couple of quieter moments -- "Why They are Playing So Loudly" is beautifully restrained with Johnson's throaty gruff reminiscent at first of Kurt Cobain (only with a twang), meanwhile the music is drenched with the sweet melancholy of a Big Star ballad. It's that good. (Also features four Quicktime music videos.) [GH]







Delirium Cordia

"Surgical Sound Specimens From the Museum..."

From "Book 1" to "Director's Cut" to "Delirium Cordia": Fantomas illustrates the literal conceptuality of specter; forging sound and vision into an infinite soundscape melding terror, noise, and abstraction -- an extension of the brain-workings of Mike Patton with the accompaniment of King Buzzo (Melvins), Dave Lombardo (Slayer), and Trevor Dunn. Fantomas never have offered a palatable dish; instead, they transport the listener through a collage of cartoon samples, re-worked film themes, jazz-influenced grind riffage, vocal octave-acrobatics (that should be a patented "instrument" by now) and a composition exploring space, energy, ambiance, and urgency: a 74 minute and 16 second oeuvre named "Surgical Sound Specimens From the Museum of Skin."

No track breaks, as masterfully intended, for this experiment works best in one lethal dose. In a parallel realm to the creations of Hermann Nitsch, Matmos, and James Plotkin, Fantomas harness the unconscious human neuroses of isolation, anxiety, and revulsion into an intriguing yet simultaneously disturbing soundtrack. A soundtrack taking us on another journey -- this time on a fetishistic excursion through a hospital ward as possibly visualized by Joel Peter Witkin, Matthew Barney, or even Hieronymus Bosch, leaving us at ill-ease with our own mortality and organic being as we become thrust into a 74 minute confrontation and explicit recognition of the flesh, all while exploiting our repressions and hidden death drives.

The only connections to other humans are the whispers of the seemingly diabolical doctors whom detail surgery room procedures. Anxiety builds as at one point we are left to listen to nothing but an eerie breathing pump, indirectly witnessing the unholy marriage of machine and man… and as we float across the hall we are confronted by the ultimate dialectic, a psychological drama involving us, the voyeur, in a delusion of spatial misidentifications and ongoing nightmarish fantasies converging out of the horror of the fragmented body-image coming at us in pure physical disintegration. Perfect orthopedical totality is shattered as visuals of dismantled limbs and organs in exo-scopy come into counter. The psychological and physical fear of anatomical incompleteness becomes a reality… [MT]




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[DD] Daniel DeRogatis
[GH] Gerald Hammill
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