Cognition's House/Techno/Electro Report for November 11, 1999
by Andrew Duke

Tresor/Force Inc/Disko B labels

Germany is home to many quality labels, both large and small, that deal with a wide variety of musical styles. Focusing on techno, the big three to check are Tresor, Force Inc, and Disko B.

Tresor:
Berlin's Tresor imprint has been at the forefront of the European electronic music scene since it began in 1991. Credibility was attained early through their issues of now seminal works in the Detroit techno catalog: It was Tresor who released the "Sonic Destroyer" EP from X-101 (Mike Banks, Jeff Mills, and Robert Hood) that first year, then went on to cement the relationship between Berlin and Detroit with a series of compilations focusing on the output of artists from these two cities. Recent releases are from Detroit's DJ T-1000 (aka Alan Oldham, Progress) and Drexciya (Neptune's Lair) and European artists like Tobias Schmidt and The Advent. Spring 2000 will see the release of the Mean New Contemporary Soul full length from the ever-busy Stewart Walker.

Force Inc:
Frankfurt's Force Inc, like Tresor, has well over 150 releases in its catalog. While Force Inc is probably best known for its techno material, the Ritornell and Mille Plateaux sidelabels focusing on more experimental fare are deservedly grabbing most of the attention recently. On Ritornell (a relatively new startup with just 7 releases), Kim Cascone's Cathodeflower is the second in his Blue Cube triptych where music is 100% computer generated. Also on this imprint, but slightly busier, is Stilluppsteypa's Interferences Are Often Requested: Reverse Tendency As Parts Become Nearly Nothing. And one of my favorite American artists, Crank (Danny Zelonky aka Low Res, half of Trash Aesthetic), unveils his second album for the more-established Mille Plateaux with Heftibag--eight invigorating new pieces plus a remix from Smyglyssna. Stewart Walker's Stabiles and Sturm's Sturmgesten will appeal to those who appreciate more home-listening-oriented techno.

Disko B:
Like Tresor and Force Inc, Munich based Disko B is a home to both American and European artists. In many ways it can be looked at as the most quirky of the three mentioned; there's plenty of dancefloor-ready techno and electro here, but it's not as straightforward as might be found elsewhere likely due to the indie rock undertone that often rears its head-don't be surprised to hear a bit of guitar and vocals on a Disko B release. The most recent offering from the label is the Synthesized Society jackin' techno full length from Kalamazoo Michigan resident and Black Nation owner Jay Denham. Disko B has many related labels including Hell's International DeeJay Gigolo Records (keep your eyes peeled for David Caretta's Le Catalogue Electronique album), Abe Duque's Tension (straight outta Brooklyn; new is the "19 Bullets" 12" from Dietrich Schoenemann), and Richard Bartz' Kurbel.

Ten quality albums released in the year 1999 (alphabetical order):
Thomas Brinkmann--Soul Center (NL W.V.B.)
Chaser--Game On! (UK Soma)
Kit Clayton--Nek Sanalet (DM ~Scape)
Drexciya--Neptune's Lair (DM Tresor)
I-F--The Man From P.A.C.K. (US Interdimensional Transmissions/DM Disko B)
Innerzone Orchestra--Programmed (US Planet E)
Legion Of Green Men--Floating In Shallow Water (CAN Post Contemporary/UK Swim~)
Plaid--Rest Proof Clockwork (UK Warp)
Stewart Walker--Stabiles (DM Mille Plateaux)
Super_Collider--Head On (UK Loaded)

Two quality albums promoed spring 1999, but not out commercially until spring 2000:
Dan Curtin--Pregenesis (BE Elypsia)
Sean Deason--Allegories & Metaphors (US Matrix/Intuit-Solar)

Best promo-only vinyl release of 1999:
Chromatix--Life-Like EP (promoed by Brooklyn's Spelunk label; will not be released)

Local favorite:
Halifax's Stinkin' Rich/Buck 65 continues to blaze trails for every up-and-comin' turntablist/wordologist, while juggling cross country (Canada and US) recording sessions and memorable live performances.

Biggest disappointment of the year:
Commercially available DJ mixed CDs that are either badly mixed by a DJ and/or "mixed" via ProTools by a studio engineer. As the electronic music scene sees DJ culture growing exponentially, it's not surprising that this is happening, but it shows an obvious concern for money over music.

Future:
It's great to see a continued getting-back-to-basics approach in electronic music, whether it's the usage of more musicians (as opposed to one-person-plus-a-computer bands) or simply acknowledging that less can be more and busier is not always better.

Check out Andrew Duke’s In The Mix (weekly internationally syndicated radio/net show) and Cognition [techno.ca/cognition] for interviews, exclusive live PAs and DJ mixes, world premieres, prereleases, classics, news, and reviews. Send tests (double copies please) for broadcast and review consideration to: Andrew Duke Cognition/In The Mix 1096 Queen St #123 Halifax NS Canada B3H 2R9 [cognition@techno.ca] [techno.ca/cognition] © 1999 Andrew Duke/Cognition. All Rights Reserved.


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