Federico Aubele – Berlin 13
Unbeknownst to me, I’d heard this guy on one of the Thievery Corporations compilations, and once I started listening to the characteristic vocals and Spanish guitar, it came flooding back.
This release highlights the changes in the artist’s life while living in Berlin, and 13 is the “death” Tarot card, which represented for him a new beginning. He keeps his talents, but mixes them rather sublimely with some heavy, deep Dub tones. It gives the bulk of this record a thick feel, even when it’s only the vocals of Ka and the guitar. To my delight, it works well, if not very well, across the entirety of the album. I love the sound.
Rainbow Arabia – Boys and Diamonds
With a name like that, there’s a whole lot of expectations for what this album is going to sound like. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed much, though the highlights were few. It’s a heavy, synth-dependent style with the distant female vocals and plenty of catchy percussion, while avoiding a lot of the pitfalls this genre’s known for. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but sometimes, given identical tools, %75 of these groups will make something I can’t listen to.
Without You and Hai are my favorite tracks on this album, while Nothin’ Gonna Be Undone and Sayer are throwaways. The rest of the album is solid listening and entertaining, for sure. Good stuff.
Ancient Astronauts – Into Bass and Time
I’ve known about these guys for a little while, but it’s been less than 24 hours since I listened to them first and I can’t stop. There are perhaps one or two records a year I get which, upon first listen, can get a five-star ranking for EVERY track. The last time I remember this happening was Pnuma Trio, or maybe Dutch. Interestingly enough Raashan Ahmad is also present on this release too.
This pair of Germans has somehow captured the best of US underground hip-hop sounds, blended it in with their own interpretations, some Jamaican Dub/reggae, Asian strings, and made it a very delicious treat. I hear the echoes of every DJ I’ve ever respected in here, but without it feeling like a copy or riff in any way, shape, or form.
It’s like DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, RJD2, Kabanjak (a fellow German), Blockhead, Stoupe, and many others have all been blended, slowly, and poured over ice.
I’ll not only be spinning this for a LONG time, and include at least one of these track on Nerd New Year, but this will be something to enjoy for years to come. Brilliant.
Robert Miles – Th1rt33n Remixes
I am not a big fan of Th1rt33n as an electronic album, perhaps because I’ve long since moved past the Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Fennesz electronic haze and soundscapes.
Delightfully, however, Miles knows a guy or two who can do some of the work for him and get some vocals and beats on these tunes. A four-track EP or remixes, I’m pleased to say that only Antimony (Max Pollu Hypnotica remix) was shy of my best rating. The other tracks, one even done by Miles himself, are entertaining and certain improvement on the originals, especially when airplay is considered.
I’m pleased that I’ll have a couple tracks to better represent what I hoped Th1rt33n could sound like.
Mic Crenshaw – Under the Sun
Mic is another name I’ve heard over the years but never had opportunity to sample in album form. He’s a vocalist whose presence is instantly listenable and compelling without feeling preachy or harsh. Mic is certainly an activist voice and he gives us a tour of what he thinks, track after track.
As we know, tracks aren’t worth listening to if the beats aren’t up to snuff. Fear not, because you won’t be bored or annoyed by the backing Mic gets on this record. Lots of synths, believe it or not, and a fair bit of interesting treatments like bells and claps. Hey, I’m failing here to explain it, so get it where you can and make sure you listen to Bad Blood, Yeah, and That Glue. Great stuff.
Dub Is A Weapon – Vaporized
Akin to what I’ve heard before from the legendary Dub Trio, this is an instrumental group who are a hard interpretation of Jamaican Reggae and Dub. It’s got the heavy, omnipresent bassline, but with guitar riffing, piano stabs, and horns, not to mention the drums.
Over the years I’ll get a few instrumental albums that have little to do with the Nerd Show theme: electronica. However, I can’t help by play this stuff on the show because I have such an affinity for Dub and Reggae. Guess that means you’ll be hearing it on the show…
Donwill – Love Junkie Remixes
The basic track, Love Junkie, is good. Funky beat and clever lyrics. Content is a bit sketchy though, because it’s kinda a weird love song in a very pop way. Not so much a fan. Look At Me rubs me the wrong way from the intro, as it’s just a bunch of noise.
Relief hits, however, when I get to the So Shitty remix and dub of Love Junke, the last two tracks. The track has been rendered anew and it’s genuinely interesting. Cutting up Donwill’s lyrics and spreading them over a Garage-type beat gives it a new lease on life, not unlike the Blueprint track I mentioned last week.
Now it’s fun.