Ellen Allien + Apparat - Do Not Break [Bpitchcontrol]
Between Modeselektor and the Apparat productions I've heard recently, I'd say that Bpitch has more interesting drum programming than half of the techno labels in Berlin right now. I like Orchestra of Bubbles a lot--to my ears it sounds a whole lot better than Thrills, which I mostly found to be rather drab, gray and plodding. The first minute or so of 'Do Not Break' is absolute genius--trippy, colorful, glitchy workouts on an Aphex tip--but then the track lets itself down with a leaden synth riff that enters at around 1:17 and holds the playful tune in a cold, robotic death-grip for the next four minutes. It doesn't really swing because all the notes in the riff are the same duration, which seems to clash with the funky syncopated cut-up-vocal + breakbeat action that the song bases itself on. Still, it's really, really good, especially when that synth riff fades out and the drums and the hiccupy vocals get to do their thing. I dig the scratching noises too (when was the last time you heard scratching on a German techno record?)
Hot Chip - Over and Over (Naum Gabo remix) [EMI]
Crunchy, stomping peak-time dancefloor rocker courtesy of a renowned Constructivist sculptor and prime exponent of Kinetic Art...er, JG Wilkes of the mighty Optimo crew in Glasgow and his production partner Savage. It's amazing how different this is from the Justus remix.*
*I also realized why that Laid Back - 'Bakerman' tune I was talking about earlier sounded so familiar. It's the same chord progression (Bm - A - E? I don't have a guitar in front of me) as the chorus of 'Wicked Game'!
Madonna - Hung Up (Archigram remix) [Big huge label]
Part of me will always be a sucker for the carnivalesque maximalism, swirling processed-cheese strings, and bonkers EQing of French house, especially the stuff on the Crydamoure/Roulé axis. Archigram's last really great track was 'Carnaval' (2002 I think?) but I still have a real soft spot for them. Their remix of 'Hung Up' sort of drags in the beginning but really picks up about two minutes before the finish line, which is, not coincidentally, the exact point where Madge's vocal drops out and it becomes an instrumental.
And now for the obligatory full-length-album mention!
Duplex - Late Night Driving [Clone]
A really, really beautiful techno record. Classically elegant and graceful in a vintage Derrick May sort of way. It's hard to believe this is from Rotterdam, actually, because everything about this exudes a Detroit vibe, right down to the stark album cover art and the track titles--'Airwaves,' 'Fictional Frequency', 'Desolate State'...you get the idea. My favorites are 'Cosmic Dancer' (Detroit again!) and 'Return to Bass,' which is suffused with subtle disco shimmer. And the last track on the CD (not sure it's on the vinyl), a fleeting two-minute deep-space-symphony titled 'Timestrain,' is one of the most sublime, stunning comedowns I've heard in forever.