Short Cuts

Note: As of 12/03, I am discontinuing this part of the site.  Basically, that means I won't be updating this page any more.

mh

I don't review every album I hear, even though it might seem like that some times. Actually, I only review about 20% of the music I purchase or get in the mail. Some of the music in that other 80% is sheer crap (40%); some of it is good, but is not really to my liking (10%); and some of it is good, but is either an EP (I only review full albums, or CDs) or does not grab my attention enough to get me to write a full review (30%). The music on this page showcases the 40% of the music that is worth hearing but (for whatever reason) does not warrant a full review. Enjoy!
mh

Mishap(E) |NORMal  2002
This is one silly disk. There are a whopping 57 songs on these two disks, and each one of them is filled with bubbly weirdness. The titles, I think, tell the story, so here's just a sampling: "Furry Little Animals Like to Play," "Rancid Rainbow Meat," "Hello Brave Koala Bear," "Plastic Bags are Not for Use in Cribs," "Dancing with Drops of Acid," "Lawn Gnomes Will Get You," and my personal favorite, "The Atmosphere that Let's us Exist." With titles like these, it's no surprise that the music on here is wacky and just about as fun as you'd expect. Check it out.

The Jupiter Project |I can make you try.  2002
This is a six-song album by an interesting Boston-based duo, Johnny Pape and Sue Boyer. The music here is an interesting blend of live instruments (you know, guitar, bass, stuff like that) and electronic sounds (most especially drums). Think Morr Music fused with Wilco and you'll get the idea. The music is crisp and sharp and really well produced. I'd recommend this one!

Telefon Tel Aviv |Farenheit Fair Enough  2001
This work is, according to many, the best disk of 2001. I don't think it's the BEST disk of that year--that title, in my mind, goes to Pan Sonic's Aaltopiiri, but this is one damn fine disk. I'm not posting a lengthy review at my site for this disk because I bought this disk late in 2001 (or was it early 2002?), and, by that point, all the platitudes had been written about this disk, and I really don't want to look too far behind the times on this one, so I'll just say that I really enjoy this disk, and this is probably the best merging of Autechre-like beats and Bola-esque melodies I've heard since, well, since 1999, when Bola and Autechre both released the genre-defining works that this work is echoing.

Alva Noto |Tranceform  2001
Ten "modules" of processed digital rhythms and scattered noise. What else do you want from music? This is a pretty good Mille Plateaux release, combining interesting sounds with clever beats and unusually evocative melodies. I've listened to this quite a bit, and, though I don't like it enough to post a full-length review, that's due less to the quality of the music here than the superior quality of other releases. Good stuff, and highly recommended.

Dan Abrams |Stream  2001
Dan Abrams is Shuttle 358, an artist I've admired for quite a while, and an artist whose earlier work (as Shuttle 358) I've reviewed here in some detail. This is Abrams' first disk under his own name, and it is his first Mille Plateaux release. Although this work employs many of the same esoteric, minimalist glitch sounds heard on Frame, I find this work just a bit less evocative, a bit less effective than that earlier masterpiece. Still, I love Stream, and I would recommend it to anyone in the world. However, I'd recommend that you buy Frame first.

Mokira |Cliphop  2000
Mokira is the pseudonym for one Andreas Tilliander, and this, Tilliander's first release, is considered by many to be one of the groundbreaking works in the "glitch" genre, as it melds the minimal clicks and cuts we know and love with some seriously funky vibes, creating music that is actually danceable at times, and certainly engrossing all around. I'm not posting a full review of this because I purchased this work far too late--it came out back in 2000, and this funkified click music has since been eclipsed by the Mille Plateaux release, Electric Ladyland. But this is an outstanding work, easily the equal of just about any minimal glitch disk you're likely to run into.

VA |Trance Stimuli: Version 2.0  2001
I'm no dancer--hell, I'm not even much of a walker. So I don't really go in for dance music in general. However, if I were to choose a dance disk, either to listen to or dance to, I'd go with this one, if only because the songs here are sharp, clear, fast, and fun. In the end, those are the only things that matter when all you want to do is let music overwhelm you and control your body. This is trance music at its most elemental--echoing synths, bouncing 303 bass lines, and all them hi-hats. Trance music isn't for everyone--no music is for everyone--but this is first rate trance music. So if you are so inclined, incline your way toward DJ Eddie Mix's disk.

The Storm Riders |The Storm Riders  2001
Remember when electronic music was simple, full of mechanized beats that jumped all over the place like some kind of insane rabbit loose in a carrot patch? Well, The Storm Riders remember. The music on this disk is fast, furious, lacking all pretention, short and sweet, catchy, simple, and a hell of a lot of fun. "Consumer Monkey" is a particularly fun song (though I'm prejudiced against any song with the word "Monkey" in it). Highly recommended, especially for fans of mid-80s new wave (like Depeche Mode) or early 90s techno (like Orbital).

The Fleshpeddlers |Falling into a Dream  2001
Here's a little electric weirdness from a trio of Minnesotans that advertise as "a garage band with synthesizers." And, really, that's about right. The music here is fun, crazy, and entirely irreverent and, considering they're from Minnesota, I think it makes sense to call them a cross between HYsker DY and fellow midwesterner Jake Mandell. Lots of noise, lots of screaming vocals, and lots of silly songs. Translation: good stuff.

FS Blumm |Mondkuchen  2001
Read a full review here.

Mum & Others |Please Smile My Nose Bleed  2001
Read a full review here.

Marumari |Supermogadon  2001
Clearly, Marumari is an excellent artist. The music on this, his fourth release, is as good as all his previous stuff. To me, though, I find this release a little too similar to his earlier works. Tracks like "Rocket Summer" and "The Mutated Wisdom" sound like about 75% of the tracks on The Wolves Hollow. Other tracks, like "Red," offer some fun, ISAN-ey bubble blips, but I find the album a little too similar to earlier efforts to warrant a full review. This is great stuff, and if you enjoy Marumari's music you'll probably like this, too. But, to me, repeating the success of the past is not as interesting as taking new chances.

Suki Takahashi |Heater Core  2001
This is an interesting release I received in the mail. The music here is about as varied as you can get, bouncing from mellow drum 'n' bass to funky hip hop to noodly click noises to trance-like melodies to Aphex-like buzzcut noise. Somehow, the music manages to all flow together despite (or perhaps because of) the disparate parts. It's an impressive EP, certainly. I expect good things from this group in the future.

VA |RU.ElectronicLo Records  2001
The artists here--including Fizzarum, Solar X, and EU--are the best electronic musicians in Russia. The music on this collection, however, is a little stale. There's nothing here that I haven't heard before from these artists. There are, however, a few bright spots here, the most significant being the two tracks from PCP (an artist I've never heard of): the fascinating "vse rabotaet" and the unusual "jazz bubbles." One of the Solar X tracks, by the way, is from Little Pretty Automatic. That's annoying.

VA |AutumnatureAutumn Records  2001
This is a fine collection, with tracks from Fizzarum, Hrvatski, Colongib, Jet Jaguar, Cex, and Zammuto, among others. Good songs all, though the Marumari track is from his Wolves Hollow CD.

V/A |Staeditizism 2 ~Scape 2000
Part Two in the minimal dub clicking label's series. Great work, though some of the tracks seem to border on clicky jazz, which I see as a bad sign.

Richard Devine |LipswitchSchematic  2001
Devine's music would make Autechre dizzy. Fast, wild, clicky. This is apparently a "mini-album" or "EP," a prelude to the bigger album that will be released later in 2001. But I've got a question for you: since when is 40 minutes considered "mini"? Beatles albums used to last about 40 minutes, and people never considered those "mini." Short records are, I'm afraid, another casulty of digital culture.

EU |ReframingPause 2  2001
Yes, another disk from EU. Yes, it's like the others.

ML |Pajama Party Toast & Jam 2000
This disk contains 8 tracks and is filled with excellent electronic noodling and fun. But what makes this disk stand out is one song: "Take That, Pants." Yes, it's a fart joke song--possibly the greatest fart joke song ever made by any IDM artist. God bless them!

V/A |Cottage Industries Neo Ouija 2000
This is a first-rate compilation of works by such venerable artists as Phonem, Plod, Yunx, Solenoid, and Herrmann and Kleine. Each track is long and filled with wonderfully weird sounds. Recommended.

Leila |Courtesy of Choice XL Recordings 2000
If you liked Leila's first CD, then you'll like this one. It's filled with the same voices and odd instrumentation that made the first disk so much fun (in a quaint way). The only real difference is the production quality, which is better here. Her ethos, however, is the same: simplicity and fun are all you need to make great music

M-Tec |[Slip Wish +] Pitchcadet 2000
Pitchcadet makes some nice little disks, and this is another. It's filled with all the fuzzy, bleep sounds you'd expect from this label (which includes several Accelera Deck CDs and a Jake Mandell EP). It's nothing amazing, but it's worth a listen.

V/A |Across the Cell Wall Kodama 2000
"You are invited to play a little game of imagination. You are a tiny point, perhaps the size of a small molecule such as nitrous oxide or water. Your assignment is to write a song/track/sound as you pass through this vastly complicated biochemical machine--the cell wall. Your submission should hint at the wonder, the uncalculatably complex nature, and the simple elegance of the cell wall, from the perspective of a tiny molecule." That's from the liner notes to this weird little CD from the Jake Mandell ambient Kodama label. And, once reading that, you should have a sense of what this CD sounds like--weird, fluid haunting tracks from great artists like Mandell, Arovane, Kid606, Richard Devine, and others. Some of the tracks are a bit slow, but the one by Mandell is worth the price of the album.

The Flashbulb |M3 Metatone Records 2000
Metatone Records sent me a copy of this CD, and I was immediately impressed with both the number of songs--24--and the amazingly diverse array of sounds within each song. From straight-ahead drum & bass to happy trance to bouncing new age weirdness to straight ahead techno, this collection manages to capture just about every sound I've encountered in the past few years. In addition, there are even some new sounds I've yet to hear on any collection. But perhaps the best thing I can say about this album is its amazing listenability. I can imagine this collection sitting alongside Orbital, Plone, and other established artists. By all means, keep your ear open for The Flashbulb!

V/A |Alt Frequencies 4 Worm Interface 2000
Worm Interface is a hit-or-miss label, and this compilation is also hit-or-miss. There are some great tracks like Galerie Stratique's "VU" and Jake Mandell's "Tinfoil Wrapped Cloud," but there is also some spotty work by Solenoid, Freeform, Himuro, and others. If you have everything Worm Interface has ever released, then you'll have to get this. If you liked Mandell's Parallel Processes but don't know these other artists, then skip it.

Broker/Dealer |Broker/Dealer Prophecy Connection 2000
An EP comprised of 4 funky IDM songs, plus a bonus "Boombox Flash Movie Project" (PC). The music is smart and very well produced, featuring loads of 303 swirls and plenty of FX, sound samples, and other fun CGD noodling. This is a fun, well made effort from an up-and-coming San Francisco artist.

Rey |Hidden Vibrations Tele Sound Recording 1999
Danish artist Ulrik Rey Henningsen has created a beautiful, textured work filled with sweeping strings, big-ass synth lines, lots of FX and sound samples, and funky, crispy CGD. The music is sometimes haunting, sometimes soothing, but always fascinating. Check it out, especially if you are a fan of Bola and other atmospheric IDM artists.

ISAN |Digitalis Darla 2000
This is a 7 song EP released around the same time as ISAN's wonderful Salamander. It is more of the same, wonderful lo-fi orchestration that ISAN is famous for. A must for any fan.

Funkstorung |Appetite for Disctruction Studio K-7 2000
Funkstorung are the hip-hop cousins of Autechre. Their music is remarkably similar--lots of CGD, abstract beats and freaked-out melodies. But there is also a heavy dose of rap and hip hop, including some actual rappers! I'm not a huge fan of this group--it's just not my style--but this CD is outstanding.

Lasyfish |Vortex/Please-126 Art-Tek 2000
Lasyfish is one of the many Russian IDM artists associated with the Art-Tek label and featured on the Artefacts CD released in 1999. Unlike fellow labelmates EU and Solar X, however, Lasyfish is more straightforward techno, with IDM bits of CGD and fragmentation thrown in to create a richer mix than heard on most techno records. This is fun, fast, frentic music for a party or for listening. Check it out.

Chulk |Pre- mp3 2000
Chulk is a great IDM artist from Wales who releases music via his mp3 site. There are 22 songs on this album, with most clocking in between one and three minutes. In my opinion, that's the perfect length for IDM songs, since too much repetition often distracts from the creativity of the music itself. This is great, tweaky music that any Autechre fan would love.

V/A |The Forgotten Sounds of Tomorrow Ersatz Audio 2000
This is American IDM, with hefty chunk of classic Detroit techno, some Bochum Welt-like retro video game noodling, and crunchy CGD bleeps thrown in. Great sounds, great songs by a great Detroit label.

V/A |Staeditizism ~Scape 2000
This is a wonderful collection of minimalist IDM, with an emphasis on Pole-like clicks and glitches and industrial atmospheric layers of sound. This is basically a compilation of artists on the ~Scape label, including Pole, Vladislav Delay, Kit Clayton, and others. This is a significant work by some of the most important IDM artists around today.

Jonas Bering |_Bienfait  Kompakt 2000
One of the cliches that has emerged in IDM recently is the Pole-Basic Channel-German Minimalist school of music, which usually combines dub-influenced rhythms and studio manipulation with more traditional techno offerings (yet with "minimal" song structure). Bering is a Frenchman who records for the German label Kompakt; his music is very much in the style of Basic Channel artists, with lots of weird dubness and minimal structure, but it is better than most Basic Channel stuff--simply because the music is just so much fun!

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