Labels to Love: Items & Things
As of today, Minus mainstays Magda, Troy Pierce, and Marc Houle have announced their joint decision to leave Richie Hatwin’s label in order to more seriously focus on their own recently-resurrected imprint, Items & Things, which the trio launched back in 2006. The decision isn’t too shocking of a surprise, given that the last few years have shown these three artists pushing the boundaries of their individual and combined sounds pretty far out of the norm; the steady hand of Minus versus the flair for weird with which everything Houle, Pierce, and Magda have created is certainly an odd juxtaposition, at best. The shift in focus comes at a time when labels focused on pushing the boundaries of dance music—with a very heavy bent toward the experimental and outlandish—are gaining in demand. Music for the weird at heart is more desired than ever before, so it’s satisfying to have a few veterans at the helm of such an effort. The team says of their label (via their Facebook page):
Items and things are bits and pieces of uniqueness we come across. The label is a platform to launch the music that we love. There are no rules, just sounds we like and artists we believe in.
- Magda, Marc Houle & Troy Pierce
Aside from being a vehicle for the releases of its owners, Items & Things has already carried work from Jimmy Edgar, Konrad Black, and Thrill Cosby (aka Seth Troxler) and if the recent releases from Madato and Danny Benedettini are indicators, things are about to get weirder by the minute. Check out a few samples from the label roster below—expect dissonant sounds, creepy melodies, and odd hooks in all of these. This isn’t your mom’s techno, it’s definitely as experimental as retaining any semblance of dancefloor-friendliness will allow, and everything is meant to challenge the more traditional palette. It’s going to be really interesting to hear more from this team, as this is definitely the very edge of what techno can do, and it’s certainly some drool-worthy material if you like it best when it’s on the far side of strange.
P.S. Check out this interview with Magda and Marc Houle, where they discuss their transition and what’s to come for them and their label.
Something brand spanking new from iamamiwhoami—we’ve been waiting to hear something more from this camp, so this is terribly exciting. Expect more cryptic videos, weird messages, bizarre mandrake stories, and of course, all kinds of fan speculation. What fun!
P.S. Aaaaand, we’re back! :)
John Beltran | ‘Ambient Selections’
Flawless is not one of those terms that should be thrown around casually in describing music—especially electronic music, in all its derivative, self-referencing, constantly impossible to qualify and classify guises—and yet somehow, the latest release by John Beltran, titled Ambient Selections (Delsin) is just that: utterly flawless. To be fair, this isn’t your regular album, but rather a retrospective of Beltran’s entire career as an ambient electronic producer, yet it’s a detail that is easy to let fall by the wayside. What stands out instead is the painstaking care with which this entire collection has been pieced together; the passage of time is virtually unnoticeable from one song to the next, a sure sign that Beltran’s overall aesthetic—though variable throughout his career when viewed in normal time—has overall been unchanging, and to some rather impressive ends.
Says John of the compilation…
“I have personally selected these songs from eight of my albums which span 16 years, though the compilation also includes two brand new, unreleased compositions, “Expecting” and “Miss Weird”. I believe all of these songs have, and will continue to, stand the test of time because, in my humble opinion, they are my best ambient works. I have always felt I have had the most unique, loyal fans in the world, so this compilation is dedicated to them, from me, with love.”
This album is especially recommended if you’re a fan of Brian Eno, Donnacha Costello, Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works I and II, and the Merck catalog.
Edit: Check out the listening examples below!
Mix of the Moment: Emperor Machine on Beats In Space
Tim Sweeny’s weekly radio show, Beats In Space (WNYU 89.1 FM New York), hosted DC Recordings' own The Emperor Machine this past Wednesday, and the resulting mix is one hell of a lot of funky and psychedelic electronic sounds for just one hour’s time. If you’ve never heard him before, this may make for a very interesting introduction, as most of the tracks he includes are his own unreleased edits and remixes. Even more interesting is that we get to hear not only a couple of cuts from his forthcoming and as-of-yet-not-really-announced album, but the final track is even something he’s crediting with his real name, Andy Meecham—at least so far. You can download the mix here, or check out the rest of the details for this installment (including the track listing) here.
It’s a good day when there’s something new from Kelpe in the wings. The producer is set to release his first-ever 7”, titled “Same New Era” on July 11 via the somewhat-mysterious MYOR Records. The single also features a B-side remix by Sonar 2011 opener Niño. Check out the utterly nonsensical video for the A above, and below, a higher-quality version of the whole release. In the meantime, if you’re too impatient for the wax, you can already grab the whole thing via MYOR on Bandcamp.
Lee Perry Remixes “Mindkilla” by Gang Gang Dance
Gang Gang Dance's most recent release on 4AD is by far their most cohesive and accessible record, which is saying quite a lot for the art-rock outfit. Their long transition has most certainly been an exciting one to witness, as at their very best, their compositions are compelling in their beauty, and when their trajectory is uncertain, it’s as if trial and error is the very glue that holds them together. Of course, if weird is the ultimate goal, the recent remix of “Mindkilla” by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is right on the money. The Upsetter pretty much nails it with the fury only he possesses, and to fun effect. Just make sure to check your brain at the door. Download the track here.