Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald Recomposed – New Mixes By Ricardo Villalobos and Carl Craig 12” (Deutsche Grammophon)
Pretty interesting idea, ambulance take some tapes of Euro classical composers Ravel and Mussorgsky and let an elite bunch of current-day techno dudes go to town “recomposing”, sale
so to speak. I will forever check out anything Ricardo Villalobos does, patient
I’m totally sold, and while I thought the majority of Vasco was cool but a little too background-y, his a-side here is very nice. By no means a dancefloor buster, “Uli, Mein Ponyhof” is a gorgeous display of Villalobos’ total knack for texture and editing. He knows how to make songs like an iPhone; so simple and user-friendly yet technically staggering if you actually were to open it up and attempt to understand how it functions and was assembled. By no means a new landmark in his discography but a very fun track nonetheless. Carl Craig has the b-side and keeps it far more traditionally house-flavored. There’s probably more to discover on his side too, reminds me of Neu! when the pianos roll in, but I haven’t found anything too special to keep me coming back. The whole affair has kind of a snooty, scholarly vibe, like I’m supposed to listen to this in a university library and afford myself no fun in the process, but I find that charming in a way.

Clockcleaner Ready To Fight 12” (Fan Death)
I was more curious than confident in my purchase of a 15 minute-long cover of Negative Approach’s “Ready To Fight”, but Clockcleaner (not gonna do the “clean (space) er” thing, I just can’t) completely warp that timeless riff into their own nasty taunt. It’s an instrumental take, not counting the pre- and post-show crowd baiting, with Sharkey’s guitar spiraling over the bassline, slowed to a Flipper pace. I’m not a big fan of cover songs or live records, but this record does a fine job transcending those ghettos and ends up surprisingly more listenable and fascinating than the first few ‘Cleaner records. The skeletal groove of “Ready To Fight” gets thoroughly examined here and it’s all for the best; one of hardcore’s greatest songs deserves this sort of loving dissection. Negative Approach are one of the untouchable gods of hardcore, of whom nary a bad word is spoken, which makes their roasting that much more satisfying. Don’t let the fear of gimmicks or shtick keep you from this record.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring That Time Of Day 7” (Nervous Jerk)
Eddy Current had a big year in 2008, what with their soul-stirring Primary Colours album and the subtle-yet-effective Demons Demands single. Now here’s That Time Of Day, three new non-album cuts, all recorded in late 2007, which puts that around the same time as the Primary Colours session. These tracks have a rougher sound than the album, a nicely reverbed boys-in-the-garage vibe that serves the riffs well. There’s almost an Ooga Boogas styled stutter-step within “That Time Of Day”, which isn’t too long a reach considering the personnel, but it serves nicely as another fine showing of Mikey’s expert guitar craftsmanship. He works solely within the rock context and is somehow able to create new, almost free-flowing designs with those classic ingredients. Brendan’s still spinning simple themes and making girls pass out, and the two rhythm boys are as locked-in as ever. You’d think there’d be some decrease in quality at this point, two albums and a handful of singles down, but ECSR continue to dazzle.

Life Partners AIDS Of Spades 7” (Ride the Snake)
I’ve loved Life Partners since the first time I saw them, performing wildly to a tiny rain-soaked crowd at Jeff the Pigeon. It was a deliberately comical mess, more of a four-way tug of war with instruments than any sort of discernable musical statement. Through the years, they pared down to a two-piece, broke up, came back as Crystal Cock Over Canada (I have the LP to prove it), and eventually put together some actual songs, two of which are found here. Greg Kelley’s in the band now too, but even his proficient horn-bleating has difficulty following Dave Dougan’s manic vocals. The whole thing has kind of a late 70s Gulcher Records vibe, the sort of irreverence that’s spawned on inside jokes over Thin Lizzy records and cheap beer. It never reaches the absurdity of say, Sockeye, as Life Partners pound through some pretty hefty riffs and don’t ever reach the point of no return with Johnny Ryan-esque lyrics or skits between songs. Good record, even without the memory of your good buddy breaking his arm during their live set (no health insurance either) I’m sure you can enjoy this record.

Millie Sample Clearance / Path To Hell (Redemption Mix) 12” (Daphne)
A red-eyed Millie adorns the flimsy cover, which makes sense as both tracks on here enter some seriously bleary terrain. “Sample Clearance” is heavier than Khanate, working with almost a power-electronics set of sounds into a post-dubstep cut. Real nice, I’ve been back to it a few times and always notice something new. “Path To Hell (Redemption Mix)” is the side that reminds me this is dance music, but it’s still as thick and lumbering as “Sample Clearance”. The pull of gravity is extra strong when I lay down to this 12”, I think I’m gonna check the indentations on my couch for proof next time.

Millie & Andrea Black Hammer / Gunshot 12” (Daphne)
Really cool bass-loaded 12” from Millie, this time partnered with Andrea. Maybe that’s her on “Black Hammer”, riding a simple and provocative moan onto a sawtooth synth bassline. Super low bass, I know my system isn’t doing it justice. Tracks like “Black Hammer” make a strong argument for me to get out to a club once in a while. “Gunshot” toys around with a similar idea in a more subdued way, comparatively laid back, smoother and darker. According to the internet, Millie and Andrea are the aliases of more famous techno people, but I barely know any famous techno people anyway and I find it much more satisfying to picture two friends named Millie and Andrea behind the mixer.

Mind Eraser The Prodigal Son Brings Death 7” (Youngblood)
New ten-songer from Mind Eraser isn’t as compelling as the fantastic Conscious / Unconscious from last year but it’s still of the utmost grinding quality. I appreciate that these guys merge those first few classic Slap A Ham singles with a NYHC moshability, digging on a Cro-Mags kind of breakdown that No Comment would’ve only registered for all of four seconds. Prodigal Son isn’t overly technical, but that doesn’t render it predictable either. Definitely a top shelf modern hardcore-grind record, but part of me would love to see these dudes step outside the genre a little bit when it comes to artwork and aesthetics. I would love to know what is going on inside their heads artistically besides skeletons and Gothic fonts, because I’m sure they’ve got more to give.

T++ Audio1995#8 12” (Apple Pips)
‘Space Pong’ was my first T++ exposure and a satisfying one; I think he may have used a rainstick on the a-side and if not, even better. This new 12” is even greater, “Audio1995#8” sounds like a computer finally learning how to talk, a really creepy never-ending synth-pulse that is trying to tell us something. If I was afraid of the imminent Terminator War this track would certainly not put my mind at ease. The b-side is cool too, faster than I was expecting and just as refined. The packaging on this one is great too, die-cut cover and slick design, very clean and focused. It’s a gorgeous aesthetic that makes me eager for more of a thing called Apple Pips, that’s saying something.

Wavves Beach Demon, Weed Demon 7” (Tic Tac Totally)
Wavves seem to define a lot of what’s going on today in the basement internet punk scene: solo project; lo-fi recording; naïve and childlike vibe; unnecessary consonants; label dudes scrambling to release whatever MySpace MP3s haven’t already been pressed on limited vinyl.  I wouldn’t hold it against anyone to hate Wavves based on the many stereotypes they fill, but Beach Demon, Weed Demon is a nice enough slice of home-recorded indie. “Beach Demon” is a pop-punk blast calling to mind a more focused No Age; “Weed Demon” is the kind of acoustic floater that probably got Wavves those ridiculous and unfair Beach Boys comparisons. It’s got a nicely assembled grip-tape cover which might’ve kept a few people from eBaying their copies, and it fulfills the lack of Wavves in my life that a full-length LP would surely overload.

Zyanose Loveless 7” (Crust War)
I don’t keep up with the Crust War scene, but I’m a sucker for Japanese punk with “nose” in the name and there’s a dude in an Amebix shirt chainsawing another punk’s neck on the cover. Real primitive, fast crust on the a-side, with classic noise-core execution that’s easy to enjoy. A solid effort, but I was waiting for the weirdness to kick in and it certainly did on the b-side, “Voice Of Youth”. The song starts innocuously enough, until it becomes clear that they are just going to repeat the same mediocre guitar line over and over, a good five minutes of the same exact thing that would drive any sane person to stop the record. No fills, no choruses, no bridges, just that same thing again and again. It’s a remarkably strange decision, and this isn’t some outsider solo project, four individuals must’ve been in agreement here to say “yeah, let’s just keep playing that part”. Musically “Voice Of Youth” is not so hot, but the charm of this group named Zyanose that seemingly has no respect for good taste outshines anything else I’ll remember about this record.