Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ten albums to look forward to in early 2013

here's some upcoming albums that i am really, really excited to hear in the early part of 2013 - and i think you should be excited too! so, let's do it in alphabetical order...

ANTHONY CHILD - THE SPACE BETWEEN PEOPLE AND THINGS (NNA tapes) a new album from the artist known most prominently as surgeon? one that's apparently made up of two long tracks that "seem to exist and not exist simultaneously"? yes please! you can try out an excerpt on soundcloud, and go to the NNA tapes page for a more thorough introduction to the album and presale info. (that's the artwork at right, from trudy creen, who also did the cover art for surgeon's fantastic 2011 full-length breaking the frame.) release date: march 5th, 2013

ATOM TM - HD (raster-noton) in my mind, anything released on the german institution raster-noton is probably worth a listen. uwe schmidt, aka atom TM (he's also known under dozens of other names too), will be making another LP appearance on r-n, and apparently this one will be "spiritual, musical and scientific" ... release date: march 18th, 2013

AUTECHRE - EXAI (warp) a new full-length from the longtime UK experimental duo, their first in three years. weighing in at around two hours in length, it seems like it'll be a demanding listen. i wasn't really impressed by their last album oversteps but this pair is always one to watch. release date: march 4th, 2013

BVDUB - A CAREFUL ECSTASY (darla records) aha! yet another bvdub album from brock van wey (who crafted my favorite album from last year, when love lived, under the alias 'earth house hold') has just been released. it's a sequel to last year's excellent serenity LP, and "perhaps the clearest melding of his ambient, chillout, and deep house roots to date," says the label/distro website, where you can purchase it and/or get giddy over some samples. also worth checking out is this expansive interview with bvdub over at secret thirteen. release date: january, 2013 (now!)

DADUB - YOU ARE ETERNITY (stroboscopic artefacts) the pair, who cooked up an anatomy mix back in 2011, are preparing for the release of their debut album. like the previous SA LP's from lucy and xhin, a remixes record (released last week) should have you waiting anxiously to hear the whole shebang. then there's this teaser video, which looks and sounds pretty spooky. release date: february 18th, 2013

DIAMOND VERSION - [TITLE TBA] (mute records) a relatively new collaboration between alva noto and byetone... i recently wrote an RA review for one of their records, and after an ongoing EP series, they'll reportedly drop a 2xLP album in may (more details here). the stuff i've heard so far from this project has been fantastic. looking forward to hearing more! release date: may, 2013

FUNCTION - INCUBATION (ostgut ton) the debut full-length effort from the almighty function (aka dave sumner), this is probably the year's most anticipated techno album. at least, i can't wait to hear it. according to a short interview over at RA, sumner's goal was to "create something cinematic and heavy on imagery and emotion." sounds like my type of stuff. you can try out one of the tracks, "voiceprint (reprise)" here on soundcloud. release date: march 4th, 2013

MIKA VAINIO - KILO (blast first petite) / more TBA in this very nice interview with the quietus, mika vainio - whose solo output is, by now, surely deserving of a mention in front of his remarkable work as a member of the allegedly defunct outfit pan(a)sonic - reveals some very tasty tidbits about his upcoming release schedule. it looks like the vainio LP kilo will sit on the more rhythmic side of his style, and it looks like we can expect a new album from his Ø alias on sähkö, too. the man says: "i think this year there will be quite a few releases." i say: fuck yeah! release date (for kilo): march or april, 2013?

TM404 - TM404 (kontra-musik records) on another hardware-heavy tip is the upcoming LP from andreas tilliander under the alias TM404. as the name might imply, this one is focused only on a few pieces of analog gear, with the 303 used very often throughout. click through to the label website for more information, and for some youtube links showing tilliander/TM404 in action. release date: january 30th, 2013

VOIGT & VOIGT - DIE ZAUBERHAFTE WELT DER ANDEREN (kompakt) last but certainly not least, of course. the brothers wolfgang and reinhard voigt will team up, after years of collaborating, for their first album together. the title translates to "the magical world of others" which only adds to the intrigue (for me at least). it'll come out on cologne's venerable label/store/distributor kompakt, which wolfgang voigt co-founded, and which turns twenty this year... happy birthday! release date: february 18th, 2012

... and that's all i got for now. to conclude: there's already a ton of interesting music to look forward to this year. now, what am i missing?

Sunday, January 27, 2013


i'm really excited to play my second gig at smart bar on saturday, february 9th!

there's been a couple switch-ups at the top of the bill but it's all confirmed now: veteran belgian selector marco bailey is the night's headliner. he'll be coming to town right before he drops a new LP - and the 100th overall release - on his own label MB elektronics.

karl meier will round out the night's program. karl is a longtime chicago-based artist who definitely knows his stuff... listen to this mix, then go check out this podcast/event concept that he's affiliated with, fear of music.

it's a huge honor and a pleasure to be on the bill with both of these artists. it should be a really fun evening, and a techno-heavy weekend at smart bar with chris liebing, tommy four seven and shiva the night before.

yours truly will be playing a three-hour opening set. head to the facebook event page for all details and updates, and be prepared to come early and stay late!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

anatomy 23 - smear

i'm really happy to have smear return to the anatomy mix series for another round of techno mischief!

smear - anatomy 23

back in november of 2010, smear - otherwise known as al matthews - became the fourth artist to create an anatomy mix. that one was a digital set, and it was, and still is, a perfect fit for this blog: deep, layered, slow-moving and weird.

now, smear returns to smilecoldanatomy after a year in which forward strategy group, the collaboration between smear and patrick walker (another anatomy mixer), released their excellent debut album labour division on perc trax. (FSG will be heading to berlin this weekend to make their debut at berghain - congrats, guys!) this time around, for anatomy 23, smear hit the decks and cooked up a nearly 90 minute-long vinyl mix. i also made sure to bother him with a few questions... read on.

Last year seemed to be a pretty busy one for FSG thanks to the album, but what else have you been up to recently?
We did a few remixes [in 2012] mainly, and we're just putting the finishing touches on a few new releases, including our next one for Perc Trax which is sounding pretty good.

Together with Patrick Walker as FSG, Labour Division was your first full-length effort. How has it changed your approach to music production?
We've become a lot more productive since we finished the album. Previously it'd take a long time to do the last 5% of a track, but we've both become much more decisive and determined to get things done. So where previously there's been maybe one EP per year from us, this coming year there'll be a lot more.

What were some of your favorites albums and tracks of 2012? Are there any artists or labels you're particularly excited right now?
"Damn Dark Wind" by Duplex has been my favourite track I think, maybe even the best techno track I've heard in a few years. Go Hiyama's remix of D.Carbone's "Abuse" was great too, I've played that in every set I've had since its release.

Probably Voices From The Lake was my favourite techno album, really beautifully put together. Crossed Paths [from Shifted] was also really good. Micachu & The Shapes had a brilliant album out too, really skewed experimental pop.

Labels, I dunno... L.I.E.S definitely, I know everyone's going on about them, but with good reason. Also: Dixon Avenue Basement Jams, Lux, Until My Heart Stops, Deepblak... There's been lots of great house that's on the cusp of techno, and techno's getting a lot more unusual, much less emphasis on good engineering which has made for some pretty exciting stuff. Hopefully that'll carry on in a meaningful way without becoming a fad.

What can we expect from Smear and FSG in 2013? (Are there any more plans for releases on the FSG and Retail & Leisure imprints?)
No plans for FSG/RNL releases, but we're playing Berghain soon which is pretty cool, that's our first one of 2013. In general we'll be doing a lot more gigs this year, more releases than before... 2013 will be the year of getting things done. Less faffing about, less indecision, more action. I want at least one of us to die of exhaustion this year. Preferably just one of us. And not me, obviously.

Finally, please tell us a bit about this mix.
I said to myself, "My box is full of suitable stuff for smilecoldanatomy at the moment, so I'll just record in one take without preparing at all." After about 10 minutes I realised I only had three suitable records in my box, and I'd played them all (It was ALL synthpop and industrial, and three techno records). So I panicked and started frantically throwing records off the shelves onto the floor, scrambling around... it literally could not have been less prepared. It was brilliant fun, despite it being quite moody and abstract.

First half of the mix is quite moody and glacial, becoming increasingly animated and diverse as it goes on. It's more of an 11pm-1am kind of set for a very small room. It's 100% vinyl, I recorded 2.5 hours and trimmed off the first and last 30 minutes. I quite like the idea of not revealing how the mood is established or resolved. Not that I'm prone to thinking about some kind of narrative in a set, but as a listener it's good to sometimes have part of the picture obscured.

... interesting ideas, and smear pulls them off quite well in this recording, i think, and it's a very nice complement to anatomy 04. the pacing is a nice and loose, the mixing is tight, and the track selection is pleasantly unpredictable. have a listen:

dropbox download link

thanks to smear for taking the time, again, to share a mix here on smilecoldanatomy. head over to his RA page for some more info, and it could be a good idea to keep track of the FSG facebook page as well. and another reminder for the heads in berlin: be sure to catch FSG in action this saturday at berghain. now, go forth and enjoy the mix!

Monday, January 14, 2013

monday moods: mixes

it's monday, and a new anatomy mix is almost here... but for now, i'd like to talk about a few other sets i've been listening to lately. check 'em out:

svreca - playground mix 119 the mind behind the excellent semantica imprint cuts through "a more visceral line" of techno for playground, as he explains in the accompanying interview (which is definitely worth a read). the mix is heavy on semantica tracks, which is always a good thing.

xhin - CLR podcast 198 xhin cooked up an anatomy mix back in 2011 that focused mostly on abstract, ambient moods. but as a dj, he's got his own very distinct, aggressive style. blistering broken beats and shrieking atmospherics abound in this set for the CLR podcast. (direct download)

jeff pietro - only for robots 032 jeff is one of chicago's best techno talents, and for fellow windy city techno hooligans don't trust humans, he shows off a sumptuous, slow-burning collection of jams pitched around the 110bpm mark. stuff from andy stott, voices from the lake and kassem mosse all gets worked into this one. (and by the way, don't trust humans will be throwing a party at primary this thursday, headlined by hal floyd - see you there!)

rookas - hidden faces a bit older - from mid-2012 - but still a good one. rookas hails from kaunas, lithuania, and is one-half of DAI, which booked artists like obtane for parties last year. hold on to your butts, because this is a very intense ride, featuring tracks from regis, mike parker, milton bradley and more. (thanks to darkfloor for the tip!)

hopefully this is enough to tide you over for now, because anatomy 23 is coming later on this week. stay tuned!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

smilecoldanatomy's top 10 of '12

and finally, here it is: my favorite albums of 2012. like my 2011 list, what ended up as my #1 pick initially came as a surprise... but more on that in a bit. stay in your seats (no skipping ahead!), and check the discogs links for more details on each album, if necessary. let's start the countdown:

10. deepchord - sommer
soma quality recordings (discogs)
deepchord lp
rod modell strikes again with another great LP under the deepchord moniker. this time he hit the beach to gather field recordings, and that sunny mood is evident throughout. sommer defies easy classification (no, it's not just 'dub techno'), but tracks like "cruising towards dawn," with its sepia-tinted vistas, or "amber," with its lush, idyllic charm, made this the sort of album that could be left to loop over and over again.

9. vatican shadow - ghosts of chechnya
hospital productions (discogs)
vatican shadow lp
the brainchild of veteran noise-maker dominick fernow, vatican shadow has been one of 2012's most distinctive and most essential music projects. tough, industrialized sounds, moody ambiance and (crucially) headline-grabbing track titles... it's become obvious that vatican shadow has found a lot of fertile ground in the no-man's-land of wartime musical commentary. ghosts of chechnya probably ranks among the project's more accessible releases. at times the 'song-writing' seems a bit raw, but overall it's a pretty diverse listen. my favorite tracks are "peace rage," "voices came crackling across a motorola hand-held radio," and the wonderfully understated last track "snipers as a breed tend to be suspicious."

8. forward strategy group - labour division
perc trax (discogs) 
fsg lp
labour division is proof that forward strategy group - aka al matthews and patrick walker - know how to put together a proper techno LP. it includes some of the duo's most intriguing creations, like the triumphant opening track "ident," and "fading centres," with its cold cavernous depths. then, of course, there's "metal image," "TTH," and "cultivar," the stunning trio of tracks that close out the album. stern, tense, gloomy, strange - a fine full-length debut from FSG, methinks.

7. andy stott - luxury problems
modern love (discogs)
andy stott lp
unsurprisingly, it was another good year for modern love. along with the typically weird pursuits of demdike stare, the manchester imprint also recruited vatican shadow for an LP. but the label's best release in 2012 was surely luxury problems, from andy stott, which layered a nifty variety of samples on top of tons of grinding low-end percussion. my picks of the eight tracks would have to be "lost and found" and "luxury problems," which both feature lovely female intonations. in short, luxury problems was (and still is) sexy as hell.

6. terrence dixon - from the far future pt. 2
tresor (discogs)
terrence dixon lp
terrence dixon comes through with a masterpiece. indeed, from the far future pt. 2 is full of ultra-futuristic moments, making it an excellent counterpoint to a techno landscape that's become filled with too much darkness and way too much drone. "light of day," "horizon," "fountain of hope"... there's too many highlights to list, but my absolute favorite is "the study," with its curious, bleeping loops and soft kick drum. keep in mind, there's two different release formats for this, CD and vinyl, with fairly different tracklists. try to check out both if you can.

5. porter ricks - biokinetics
chain reaction / type (discogs)
porter ricks lp
let us not forget porter ricks' classic LP, biokinetics! originally issued on chain reaction in 1996, biokinetics got a fresh re-release on type in 2012. "port gentil," "port of call" and "nautical zone" are my picks from an album that still feels oh-so-refreshingly elemental.

4. edanticonf - forest echo
silent season (discogs)
edanticonf lp
moody, atmospheric techno par excellence - as to be expected from the vancouver label silent season. forest echo is the debut album from edanticonf, and it marks him as an artist to watch. you might notice that neel mastered this one, but edanticonf's unique talents shine through clearly on tracks like "planet" and "drome." forest echo is an hour-long journey that's sure to appeal to deep techno travelers.

3. mohn - mohn
kompakt (discogs)
mohn lp
mohn is the latest collaboration between veteran german artists wolfgang voigt and jorg burger, and mohn might be the least accessible album on this list. it's an unpredictable but altogether remarkable blend of krautrock and slow, ambient-tinged techno, and it's a perfect addition to the kompakt catalog. don't be turned away by the floydian gloom of opening track "einrauschen." (who gets turned away by floydian gloom, anyway?) just be patient, because the best is yet to come, as the album moves through lounge-y atmospherics toward the softly spiraling climax of "ebertplatz 2020." i'm a huge fan of voigt's music, and for me, mohn is a welcome expansion of his sound.

2. voices from the lake - voices from the lake
prologue (discogs)
vftl lp
this one has been praised from nearly all angles, and i don't have much more to add. it's been a busy year for prologue (with two other solid albums from claudio PRC and dino sabatini) but voices from the lake, donato dozzy and neel's collaborative album, is clearly the highlight of 2012 for both the artists and the label - an excellent full-length realization of their hypnotic, organic sound. it's hard to find a standout track, though i'm quite fond of the run-through-the-jungle vibes of "meikyu," because this one is best experienced from front to back. i'm very interested to see where dozzy and neel go from here.

1. earth house hold - when love lived
love's label (discogs)

earth house hold lp

my most listened-to album in 2012, by far. and yes, it was at first a surprising listen, just like nuel's album back in 2011. earth house hold is brock van wey - that prolific purveyor of deep, evocative electronic music perhaps best known as bvdub - and when love lived, released on the chicago-based love's label, is his first LP produced under that alias. the surprise is in the style: it's more house-y, and a bit more 'accessible', than much of van wey's work. each track is generously sprinkled with classic-sounding house motifs, but as usual the artist's distinctively airy touch (and inimitable use of vocal samples) is present throughout, and every single moment is filled to the brim with emotion. of course, with stuff this good, picking favorites is a chore: "need you (in a trance)" is a superbly righteous bliss-out, and the title track nearly overwhelms with its array of sensual female vox. but they're all winners. to my ears, when love lived is not just one of 2012's biggest surprises, it's easily the best album of the year. happily, whereas much of van wey's music is put out only on cd and digital formats, this one was pressed to wax as well. kudos to him, and to love's label, for sharing this gem.

... and, unless anyone would like to comment on what i've chosen (or not chosen), i think we're done for now. so let's put 2012 behind us and look forward to a new year.