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Music reviews from the pages of Think Magazine
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Novamute Komplilation (Mute records)

A place to catch your footing, as you climb up the mountain face of techno from 1998. It's the quality. From the dirty funk of Luke Slater, the wide horizons of Darren Price, to the manic excess of Speedy J (at the height of his powers), and down to the minimal hypnotism of Steve Stoll and Plastikman, it's a avant-techno meltdown.

I used to find the prodding and poking of Richie Hawtin's plastikman utterly intolerable, but all this music needs is context. If you haven't really found a techno record that you wanted to 'listen' to, instead of trying to catch the whole vibe at a club, check this out, and check out the differentiation.

Up and comers 3 Phase (video, below) rolls dice on a player piano gone random, and a wind chime, bopping, but probably hard to mix. The industrial punishment of Speedy J's 'Patterns' reaches boldly, ahead of it's time. Did I mention Joey Beltram w/Dave Angel? - Keith Kirchner

Laser Girl (EMI/M.T.P.)

Those of you fortunate enough to globe-trot and have gotten to hear DJ La Di Da doin' her stuff in any of the tops clubs on this tiny planet, will now have another thing to smile about. The Golden Girl with the million dollar smile and magic fingers has finally hit the shelves with a bright and flashy CD full of digital delightfulness.

With nine tracks packing her patented punches, hitting you at an average of 135 beats per minute, she is guaranteed to smack you where it counts, urging you and your booty to take on the Detroit/techno vibe. Remember when this sound used to wrap you up, warms as dreams, in upbeat vibes, exotic head-spaces and endless wild nights? Well, so does La Di Da, and she'll take you there with masterpieces like my favorite's "The Frequency" or even better "Wicked." - Jeffree Benet

Through the Mixer - Remixes (Nova-mute)

A couple of numbers culled from Joey Beltram's L.P. of last year 'Close Grind', and thoroughly remixed by Dave Angel, Robert Armani and The Advent. The Advent go for a minimal techno approach which sparks a nice bouncy bassline and a few other flourishes but fails to develop much and ultimately disappoints.

Robert Armani goes for a banging percussive workout reminiscent of much of his work for Djax and NCV which should go down well with the full-on, shirts-off, techno posse.

It's Dave Angel's reworking that earns its place in my box with a fusion of techno and disco elements that should crossover to more open-minded house dance-floors. Disco-tech-house for the 'aving it and the adventurous. - Chris Sadler

Freek Funk (Novamute)

This man played at the Žižkov monument way back in the day and perhaps is best known for his work as Planetary Assault Systems, Clementine, Morganistic or 7th Plain. For this album Luke appears to have gone about challenging the recent stagnation of club techno with two key words - Diversity and Depth.

The grinding minimal techno stompers are present and correct with the likes of 'Engine 1', 'Filter 2' and 'High Wire'. Walking the line' is reprezentin' for the trip-hoppers, whilst 'Bless' is there for the big-beaters and 'Are you there?' should satiate anyone partial to a bit of electro-funk.

With truly beautiful tracks like 'Love', 'Purely' and 'Time Dancer' best described as tech-house this album offers something for everyone, as they say. - Chris Sadler

DiY 2922 Days (D.I.Y. Discs)

2922 Days refers to the length of time since their original conception in Nottingham, U.K. (my home city) to the release of this their eighth anniversary vinyl celebration. Ever since the start the D.I.Y. crew have bypassed all the corporate and commercial bullshit and adhered to their motto of 'Do it yourself' be it throwing legendary parties or releasing the finest, deepest of house music such as this compilation.

Compromising 12-tracks, all penned by various members of the D.I.Y. collective, this is deep house in it's purest form; sexy, hip-grinding, ecstasy grooves with less bang and more musicality. Although this results in some of the tracks being maybe a little too static, tunes by the likes of Fresh and Low, Digs and Woosh, Mail and especially the superb 'Electric Dance Machine' by Brooks make this essential for anyone who prefers their grooves deep and funky, rather than shallow and aggressive. - Chris Sadler

Facts and Fictions (Nation)

This record is from 1997, but far from dated, it's the freshest rap record to come out last year, Goldie's 'Digital' notwithstanding. Using a fusion of Indian and Asian beats with the electronica they'd began experimenting with a producers since 1994, this group of musical 'techies', have managed a multilayered hard-core rap effort that, brings the noise like 1989, along with the higher consciousness of political rap, without the posturing.

Rap is at its best when the distracted body, frees the mind for the lyrical splay, the ADF has both in spades, fuck G-rap since Tupac (and purists), yet another futurist manifesto. Hot shit, make your record dealer find it, why, because the customer is always right. - Keith Kirchner

Beats By Dope Demand IV (Kickin' Records)

This double CD compilation of space age break beats and snappy samples, is good enough for a Sunday afternoon, as it is to booty snap to. The first notes on the disc are from Star Wars when the Death Star is under attack (video, below), and there is a cold otherworldliness throughout.

The Codfather, and Headrillaz headline the proceedings but the Peggy Lee sampled cocktail trance of Tim 'Love'Lee, and the Herbie Hancock meets Laibach industrial funk of Mona Lisa Overdrive, and helicopter shuffle of Terminahead's "Coma Nova' were the coolest. Not breakbeats in the traditional manner, but a soundtrack for interstellar travel. 75/25% enticing. - Keith Kirchner

Strange Angels (4AD/Mute)

The former front woman of Throwing Muses, arguably the first and most original in the tidal wave of fem-vocalists thru Alanis. What Hersh loses in her ability to growl and howl for 40+ minutes of rock, she makes up for in the seamless expression of voice and acoustic melody.

A profound ability to convert feeling to objects, and setting, and the strength to explore issues of weakness and exploitation without resorting to gender baiting sets her lyrics above her contemporaries.

She composes from a self described 'second personality', and a melancholy that comes from striving rather than sadness, triggering alien emotions. - Keith Kirchner

The Action is GO! (Polygram)

In America these days young men still wield phallic objects named ''axes', and bang on hollow cylindricals called 'skins', and some even still call their sleep chambers 'cribs'. If a baby scribbles something that looks like car with her crayons is it art, no matter, it all requires a soundtrack nonetheless.

Fu Manchu have watched TV...a lot. These would be surfers of waves, surf metal and grunge history for the most hey dude riffs they can harvest, and the result is a bitchin' jambalaya of shout outs from the Pixies, to Black Sabbath, Soundgarden and points in between.

What I like best is that they fix up all the whack bits of the riffs they steal. A no brainer literally, this is LA 1998, punk! - Keith Kirchner

Levitate (Artful Records)

The Fall's 28th record, by one calculation or another, as usual features a new line-up. Brix is gone, and two drummers are back, as is the infamous repetitious bombast these folks have been hucking since the late seventies, still bends sinister.

These folks put the Velvet Underground to shame when it comes to riffing. M.E.Smith's lyrics' are still out there.

"I don't want to scare people. I'm just a mummy, I was born 1956 years ago." The four bass guitar jam on track five is as bouncy as their version of 'incense and peppermints' twelve years ago. Listen to the Fall as you would read a french novel, open up to any page and let your day bleed into their special way of making you appreciate de(con)struction. - Keith Kirchner

The Equinox (Priority)

It's surprising that Prince and Pharoah, two of the most notorious hip-hop producers would put out a 3rd OK effort, since the last two better than brilliant releases received no airplay and no support, and are terribly hard to find as well.

Slow burning grooves that infect after a handful of listens, and subtle, political in a James Brown kind of 'free the funk' kind of way.

They got themselves in trouble before, incorrectly reading rap as a forum for fresh ideas and street truths, instead of its current functioning as mirror to the image youth has of itself. Instead of a litany of their capers and their bank accounts, they spend their energies expanding the lingo, and movin' butts like Ringo. - Keith Kirchner

De Tiempo en el Momento de la Explosion… (Grita! Records)

A bilingual Spanglish Texas punk record, with those pearly shiny jazz chords thrown in for color.

Daniel Puente has a the low sultriness to have the girls come into my room bright eyed, asking if it was a new Red Hot Chili Peppers frisbee, which i assured them it was not.

At time the lyrics approach that Bukowski feeling, that rambling vagabond south-westerners do so well. A bit like the Pixies when they got a latino twinge. - Keith Kirchner

I Blame the Government (Cooking)

I never heard of thee folks music before, and now that I have I'll have to improvise. It's very English in a Billy Bragg in love sort of way.

They write 'Peace' on their LP like a Californian but it's a little more drippy than that. I figured it out!

They're songwriters, the endangered species. File between Aztec Camera and Lloyd Cole (Oh dear, I've dated myself again).

A little Bowie too? - Keith Kirchner

Let's Get Killed (Go! Beat/Polygram)

The way I understand it, this guy goes from city to city, this time New York, with his record collection, or maybe he buys them at his destination, takes tons of narcotics, and a tape recorder, on which he records strange and dangerous conversations in parts of town that no one in his state should be in, and then, mixes down the interesting parts over a combination of soul, dub, guitar, and breakbeat samples that run as a soundtrack or a dream-track for the listener's pleasure.

Excellent for the iPod, and a few floor pushers, especially the surprisingly fresh James Bond remix. - Keith Kirchner

Halim (Nation/Beggars Banquet)

Not since Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance fame, has the female voice been celebrated like Ms. Atlas'.

With backing from traditional Indian musicians, and the keen pop sensibilities of the Transglobal Underground crew, 'Halim' is anchored firmly for the nearly 70 minutes of vocal lullabies.

Special guest Jaz Coleman (Killing Joke) throws a few brutal grooves at Natasha, which she fields quite gracefully as well. The Asian dub is the grooviest stuff goin' these days, catch the fever. - Keith Kirchner

>Sound Bites

GOLDIE Digital (Polygram)
Teaming up with KRS-One to break all the rules. If U can find the Boymerang version, U found the single of the year!Also Armand Van Heldon and DJMuggs mixes. *****

TOMTO Magazine Comp. (Max Under)
For open ears and open minds worth the price of the mag itself, immerse yourself in history old and new. House to Punk! ***

FATBOY SLIM Better Living Through Chemistry (Skint)
An infectious dozen of familiar house basics, blended in a schizophrenic Chemical Bros way. ****

An average set of hits that denigrates Stew and Andy, by replacing them on one remix with Puff Daddy, Uggh. **

CHAOZZ Zprdeleklika (Polygram)
Headed up by Deph (Adam) this is the follow up to last years best selling Czech rap record, has groovy hooks and innovative sampling, the rappers themselves rap hard, but look for their own voice. ***

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