Cognition's Electronics Report for February 1999 (compiled January 12, 1998)
by Andrew Duke
(Read the February 1999 Electronics Top 20 chart and listen to the Top 20 in RealAudio)

It ain’t all made for dancin’. On the other side of the spectrum is the electronic music that aims more for the head than the hips.

German artists continue to impress with another batch of stellar releases. These are minimal in the sense that what isn’t there matters just as much as what is. The sense of space and the sound of nothing (the digital 0) drive the latest album from Gerhard Behles and Robert Henke’s Monolake. Called “Interstate”, this is a journey into a lush environment where shimmering pulses and waves of soundwashes dwell. It’s actually quite rhythmic, echoing the basic life functions: the breathing in and out, the beat of the heart. “Tangent” is available on 12”, but this soothing album is best suited for home immersion and headphone medication. Stefan Betke's Pole unveils a 6 track doublepack on Kiff SM that delves deeper into the dub than his previous full length. Earth moving bass anchors tracks with the crackling of circuits with their own agendas and the cyclical pops and clicks that are the Pole trademark. While not immediate to most, give this music a chance--domestically available now through Matador--and you'll soon see it's appeal. Klaus Kotai (known for his work on Disko B) and Mo Loschelder (in charge of the "Strange Music" section at the renowned Hard Wax store in Berlin) continue the less is more process of music making. Their "Kotai + Mo" album pairs previously released with new material, all of it stripped down to the barest of rounded kicks, throbbing analog lines, and minimised high end. For fans of Pan Sonic, Porter Ricks, and those looking for enlightenment through repetition.

North Hollywood’s Danny Zelonky is keeping up his busy pace. Following previously raved about work with Trash Aesthetic and Low Res (both on Plug Research), plus collaborations with Juan Atkins on the forthcoming Model 500 LP on Belgium's R & S, Zelonky’s Crank guise takes shape for the “Wanton Phenomena” album on Mille Plateaux. Pushing the boundaries even more than on his previous work, Zelonky’s Crank is a beautiful beast of sound that demands repeated listens.

Speaking of electronics experiments, the UK’s Leaf label will release “Welcome To Execrate”, Speedranch and Jansky Noise’s first mix CD in March. Exclusives from themselves along with Mix Master Mike, DJ Olive, Faultine, Otomo Yoshihide, 2nd Gen, Stock Hausen & Walkman, and others will be given the spin. An 8 track taster is hiding out now on limited white label release. Called “Execrate [Configuration 001]”, those involved with SR and JN include SH & W, Somatic Responses, Marco Passarani, and Jega.

Interchill, with headquarters in Montreal and London England, follow up last year’s incredible “Magnetic Blue” compilation with an album from Ekko. Lead by Adham Shaikh, “Centripetal” is an incredible album where organic blends with synthetic from cool ambient passages to delicious tabla workouts. Watershell (Jason Irwin) and Han (the ubiquitous Dan Handrabur) have EPS out in Interchill’s Dakini vinyl series.

The pioneering Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare state their intentions quite clearly in the title to their full length team up with Howie B. It’s called “Drum & Bass Strip To The Bone By Howie B” (Palm Pictures/Rykodisc) and it’s damn wonderful. Now on the same label after releasing his first album independently, Adam Dorn returns as Mocean Worker on “Mixed Emotional Features”. All of the kudos bestowed in this column on his debut hold true for this as well. He’s still throwing in oddball samples, firing it up with plenty of jazzisms, but this time he’s headed into darker drum n bass material and he handles himself just fine, thank you.

Marschmellows do their version of jazzy uptempo breaks on the “Comprende?” EP (DM Infracom!). San Francisco’s superlative Om label starts their year with transformations of Soulstice’s “Knot Alone” and “Tenderly” (both downtempo, heartfelt female vocal lead numbers) into drum n bass stormers.

Also worth investigation is the energetic Fruit Loop (must be all that sugar, eh?) with “To Be Or Not To Be Bop A Lula”(CAN Iron Music/UK Cup Of Tea), Jeep Beat Collective looping the likes of Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, and others for breakdancing action (their “Technics Chainsaw Massacre” 3 X LP is out on California’s Bomb Hip Hop), and the so sweet your teeth hurt “Rewind”—SAM computer vocals, old meets nu electro, and a DMX remix—from Cylob.

New acts to watch for include Metatron (splitting an EP with Solenoid on Portland, Oregon’s Outward Music imprint), Seattle’s Schizoid Rhomboid (the “Pimp Music For The Future” EP is out on Little Man) and Outmost from Wellington, New Zealand; their selftitled 6 track is doing the bizzness on Obscure.

Read the February 1999 Electronics Top 20 chart and listen to the Top 20 in RealAudio

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