Thursday, July 24, 2008


Artist: Black Dog Productions
Album: Bytes
Released in: 1993
Reaction: a little snore

This album is allegedly seminal in the idm scene... as seminal as early Aphex Twin and Autechre. Well, not for me. I found it pretty boring, with the exception of Track 9 which had some pretty moments. I actually only listened to half the CD before continuing on, but then read some stellar reviews of it and decided to give it a second chance. Second chance = still boring. Ah well. Can't love 'em all.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Aritst: Bjork
Album: Homogenic
Released in: 1997

This album received ecstatic reviews and inspired some amazing videos. Yet, I remain not the biggest Bjork fan in the world. The End.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This is Teen-C Dishes!

Artist: Bis
Album: This is Teen-C Power!
Released in: 1996

I submit to you a pre-iTunes phenomenon: the one-CD wonder. Before you could buy a single song that you liked for 99 pennies, you had to buy a whole album, even if you only liked and/or knew one song by the artist. Thus, there are lots of musicians for whom I own just one CD -- the one-CD wonders of my personal collection.

Bis (Scottish, high energy pop punk) is one of them. A friend played me Kill Yr Boyfriend, and I bought the EP which it appears on, but no more. I liked this EP more than I expected to now, though -- Kill Yr Boyfriend is kinda funny, and Kandy Pop is still stuck in my head.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Artist: Biosphere
Album: Insomnia (soundtrack)
Released in: 1997
Seen the Film?: Yup

Even though Insomnia was released around the same time as Substrata, it's not as enjoyable. The sound palette is much the same, but there are a few reasons why it doesn't measure up.

  1. The songs are shorter. Almost all are less than five minutes long and many are less than two. This timing works for pop and rock, but is not enough space for the thoughtful, reflective, ambient themes that Biosphere explores. In Substrata, the songs are good and long and provide ample room for the establishment of a motif, repetition, deviation, return. The short songs on Insomnia are like one-off, throwaway ideas.
  2. It is creepy, and we all know how I feel about creepy ambient/idm. Granted, this music has a better motivation for creepiness than, say, Aphex Twin just being his creepy self. The movie Insomnia is meant to be deeply unsettling, and the music meets this challenge well. It's just not as nice to listen to on its own.
  3. It's a soundtrack. This is not the same as Reason #2. Some soundtracks sound half-finished without their movie accompaniments (yes, counterexamples abound, see one of the first posts on this blog). Insomnia is like this.
I don't mean to criticize Biosphere too harshly, though. He has many other excellent later albums (although I don't own any of them... if necessary, I mooch off the significant other). On to new pastures tomorrow!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Artist: Biosphere
Title: Substrata
Released in: 1997
Classic?: Yes

Word association time. Start word: Biosphere.

Bleak, gray, rust-colored, post-industrial, Arctic, tundra, snow, beautiful, piercingly melancholy, wistful guitar, like David Lynch, Twin Peaks samples, one of the saddest and best tracks ever Kobresia, ambient, idm, reminiscent of Slowdive's masterpiece Pygmalion, deeply moving.

One of the best electronica albums ever recorded. Those who claim electronic music can never capture human emotion should listen... and weep.

(NB: none of the Youtube links have good audio quality - listen through headphones and take with a grain of salt.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bikini Dishes

Bikini Kill
Title: The Singles
Released in: 1998
Who's a Riot Grrl: Me

Selections from the Collected Works of Bikini Kill

That girl thinks shes the queen of the neighborhood
She's got the hottest trike in town
That girl she holds her head up so high
I think I wanna be her best friend

Rebel girl, rebel girl
Rebel girl you are the queen of my world


Do you believe there's anything beyond troll guy reality?
I do, I do, I do

It gets so hard just to be OK
Sometimes being happy, baby, is what I'm most afraid of....

Just cause my world, sweet sister, is so f***ing goddamn full of rape
Doesn't mean my body
Has to be
A source of pain.


Mass acceptance
Lip synch: apology
Lip synch: salutations
Lip synch: teen anthem
Lip synch: obligation



Monday, July 7, 2008

The Sound of Dishes

Artist: Joey Beltram
Album: The Sound of 2AM
Released in: 1999
Dance Floor Ready: oh yes

Joey Beltram is a highly influential techno and house producer. The Sound of 2AM is a DJ mix, mostly containing hard-thumping house and techno. Beltram has a deft hand on the decks (as one might expect) and he keeps everything moving along at a brisk pace. There was most definitely a dance party in the kitchen during this one.

A Small Rant: I particularly appreciated the non-dramatic beginning and end of this mix. Yes, I said non-dramatic. Some DJs feel the need to preface their mixes with mysterious synths, deep thudding drums and somebody saying the DJ's name over and over again, before the first track slams the beat down. Sometimes, this is amusingly silly. However, I respect Joey Beltram because he didn't indulge. The CD starts to play and instantly, the beat is going and you're dancing. No need for frills, dramatic builds, or self-glorification.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Basement Jaxx
Album: Rooty
Released in: 2001
Heavily Influenced by:

Rooty was the second album produced by the Jaxx. Pitchfork thinks it's too tacky; AllMusic loves it. In Pitchfork's defense, it contains some truly cringe-inducing songs like Get Me Off and SFM. However, it does feature some of the best trax of the Jaxx, including Jus 1 Kiss (I'm a sucker for disco) and Do Your Thing. The majority of the songs are innovative and catchy, if imperfect (Romeo, Broken Dreams). I do own the next album the Jaxx released (Kish Kash), but it's apparently somewhere else in my CD collection -- no more Jaxx for now.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dish Alert

Artist: Basement Jaxx
Albums: Remedy and the Red Alert single
Released in: 1999

Basement Jaxx = Simon + Felix (British, house with lots of vocals and pop song structure, great for parties and dancing).

Freshman year of college + me + a good friend = Basement Jaxx obsession (to the point of hijacking stereo systems at parties and putting on Red Alert)

Now = still fun and charming (see especially Bingo Bango), but no longer the best thing ever

Saw Them Live: (i) in Boston, at a small club, before they were really famous (before they sold out, man!) (ii) in Cambridge England, where I was almost crushed by a mob surging forward during Where's Your Head At (which is actually from Rooty, the next album in the Project...)

P.S. I've started linking to videos of the trax that I mention, and I highly recommend the video of Rendez-Vu, which originally got me into the Jaxx when I saw it on MTV's Amp.