Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Albums2010 #50-56: The Quiet Man's Techno Extravaganza

The world of techno is one that I'm pretty much totally unfamiliar with. I know what techno sounds like but if you sit me down and ask me to compare trance with techno or house or acid or any of the other variety of subgenres upon subgenres in the world electronica, I think I'd be totally lost. Over the years, The Quiet Man has burned me many CDs attempting to introduce me to a genre that he's very very familiar with and I have been neglectful- shamefully so, in actually listening to them the whole way through- so I decided to sit down, grab all the ones I could find and listen to them to see if I could figure out just what this techno thing is all about. As you can see, though, this sort of took on a mind of it's own and from the original 3 Quiet Man contributions, it expanded a bit...

Anyway, if you're planning your next rave and need inspiration- I can now safely recommend the following:

Northern Exposure, John and Sasha Digweed: This one is a collection of various tracks that I'm assuming the Digweeds remixed into their own brand of techno awesomeness. Overall, it's a lot more of the thumping beats and driving speeds that I expected techno to be. And I swear the first track (Superstring by Cygnus X) was on Midnight Club 3- which brought back some very good memories. Even if I'm wrong (which I probably am.) Pounding throbbing beats blend seamlessly the whole way through this album culminating in a severely awesome track called Blue Fear by Armin. That pretty much capped off a nice little package of techno goodness.

Ex Machina, Aril Brikha: This CD picked up in the back half in a big way. The Missus (not a fan of techno) thought the earlier tracks had just a touch, just a feel of late night Skinemax Porn about them and I was inclined to agree. (The Quiet Man's take: 'it's SO much better than that...') But by the time track 7 and track 9 rolled around I was start to get my groove on a little bit. The first half of this CD was way to mellow for my liking- it sounded so similar that it was hard for me to differentiate between some of the early tracks, but more diversity creeps in the further along you get.

David Guetta, Nothing But The Beat: The most Top 40 friendly artist of the bunch Guetta is solid club music with some impressive tracks of solid techno thrown in for good measure. Turn on any radio station and you'll run into Guetta somewhere. Head to a bar with a decent dance floor and you'll get the same thing, but it's his straight electronica tracks that impressed me the most, 'Lunar' and 'Sunshine'- other than that, there's a multiplicity of collaborators for his more mainstream stuff, including Nicki Minaj for 'Turn Me On' Usher for 'Without You' and for 'Nothing Really Matters.' Overall, if you've got a groove to work out of your system, Guetta will get you on your feet and jamming out.

John Tejada, Parabolas: I think this is techno for the true lovers of techno, the purists, the ones that can find their way through the genres and sub-genres and sub-sub genres that seem to populate the wide world of electronica. I tried with this CD, I really did- all SeƱor Tejada managed to do was to lull me into a random daze with his hisses, crackles and pops underlying a beat that was way, way too mellow for my liking. Basically, this CD made me feel stoned- but not in a 'happy, laughing' kind of way but in a, 'it makes your mind wander into the next county' kind of way. I can honestly tell you that once you get past track number 1, the CD does pick up a bit but overall, this just wasn't my thing, man... It had me so dazed, I missed the exit to the Coral Ridge Mall and took a long detour through JoCo's Condo Paradise, North Liberty to get to my ultimate destination. It seems to last forever and I'm sure if the mood was right and I needed some random, inoffensive background noise this album would rise to the occasion. But unfortunately, that's what a lot of it seemed to be: random, inoffensive background noise. My thinking ranged from 'elevator music' to 'club scene in a Michael Mann movie that will shortly erupt into unimaginable violence' or 'weird Euro Club from some episode of Alias that Jennifer Garner has to infiltrate in a magenta colored wig.' Overall: if you're a techno newbie, handle with care. Or score a dime bag before listening.

Daft Punk, Discovery: I'd long been a fan of this duo of be-helmeted Frenchmen and so actually bit the bullet to sit down and listen to an album of theirs the whole way through. Unsurprisingly, it kicked some serious ass. Icons of the house genre of electronica, they bring a nice mix of straight up electronica and more radio-friendly dance singles to the album, opening with their hit 'One More Time.' I really like the mix- it seems like the perfect way to bring this kind of music to the masses- and when even the Missus, not the biggest fan of electronica/house/techno music by any stretch of the imagination says that she kind of digs them, they succeed and bridging the gap. I think there are probably a lot of people out there who find electronica/house/techno somewhat remote and if you're looking to get your feet wet with a little genre discovery so to speak, there are worse places to start than with Daft Punk. Overall, there's not a bad track on this album- 'One More Time' and 'Harder Better Faster Stronger' are going to be the ones most people recognize, though unfortunately, the latter is probably due to unfortunate associations with Kanye West more than anything else. 'Digital Love' feels very mid-90s to me for some reason. I can imagine a gang of French hipsters booze cruising around in a Peugeot looking for ladies to this song-- and oddly, despite the cloud of cigarette smoke that would undoubtedly entail I'd be ok with that. 'High Life', 'Short Circuit', 'Face To Face' and 'Crescendolls' are all standout tracks.

LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver: This band is the one man brainchild of James Murphy described by wikipedia (the font of all knowledge) as 'dance-punk' was one of those rare flashes of greatness that stuck around for a couple of albums before officially disbanding to go his own way and do his own thing- presumably though, as something other than LCD Soundsystem. There are other albums of his to choice from but this one, I felt fit the whole 'techno extravaganza' theme the best. (Other Tracks Not On This Album To Check Out: 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House' and 'Drunk Girls'- both brilliant!) This album opens with a low and slow blast of electronica with 'Get Innocuous!' which builds nicely over the course of it's seven minutes... without missing a beat, we drop into 'Time To Get Away' and then, the classic 'North American Scum'. Overall, great ALBUM from a fantastic band that disbanded way too soon- another standout track buried deep in the album: 'Sound of Silver.'

Kraftwerk, Trans Europe Express: In the interest of historical curiosity, I Spotified the Grand-Daddies of them all, Kraftwerk to see what they were about. Hailed as pioneers of any number of genres ranging from electronica to techno and beyond (even house music can probably claim at least spiritual guidance from Kraftwerk. Appropriately enough, they're German. Their music is also... very... German. And odd. But if you're curious, check them out...

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