That Norwegian cosmic disco producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm (pictured) has returned with his second album in 2012 is perhaps a sign that he was less than happy with his earlier effort Six Cups of Rebel. Indeed, he is on the record (more than once) expressing personal doubts that his earlier album might have been a bit too over-the-top. With its maximalist stylings, the record had a mixed critical reception – labeled visionary in some quarters, confused in others. It’s no surprise, then, that the new album Smalhans is being received with that lumpy old critical cliché, ‘a return to form’.
Smalhans will delight fans of his early releases as typified by 2006’s It’s A Feedelity Affair compilation. The album’s six tracks, named after cheap Norwegian culinary dishes that are impossible to pronounce, stick for the most part to a familiar template of spiralling, sky-bound melodies overlaying funky bass patterns that are paced as much for the dancefloor as headphones. Of course, by sticking to such a familiar, even comforting, template, the man is now exposed to charges of playing it safe, but such is the nature of the beast. If you take the album for what it is, Smalhans does its job with aplomb. It’s a foot-stomper with its head in the galaxies.
When it comes to home-grown dance record labels, our capital city has (for whatever reason) not always punched at what should be its weight. It is always heartening, then, to come across a fine label like Kenny Hanlon’s Apartment Records. The label, which started in 2011, has established itself as home to a fairly eclectic range of releases that demonstrate Hanlon’s ear for quality. The label’s most noted release so far is probably ‘Drum Dance’ from Carlow’s TR One, a deep and dreamlike techno cut that has been remixed by Ju Ju and Jordash and John Heckles. A more recent release, NCW’s ‘Pharaoh and the Goose’, showcases more experimental and exciting facets to Hanlon’s taste. The track, which defies simple description, is a chimerical blend of house rhythms and Sun Ra type jazz samples. It is twelve minutes in length, yet doesn’t outstay its welcome. Indeed, so deliciously intoxicating is its weirdness that the mesmerised listener will likely go straight for a rewind. If Apartment Records continues to bring out material like ‘Pharaoh and the Goose’, it deserves every success in the difficult post-digital landscape.
Phase: Resident Advisor Podcast
London producer Phase’s ‘Binary Opposition’ is one of the most straight-up thrilling techno singles released this year. Comprised of two ‘processes’, Process 1 and Process 2, both of which rattle along monstrously like subterranean bullet trains, the release exemplifies hard techno’s current resurgence and, indeed, has caught club-land’s imagination to the extent that it has already been reworked by such big fish as Luke Slater, Peter van Hoesen and Ben Klock.
Anyone fascinated by Binary Opposition’s shadowy machinations would be well advised to check out Phase’s recent mix for the Resident Advisor podcast series. It’s 65 minutes in length and relentless, showcasing his own tracks and similarly punishing monochromatic productions from like-minded contemporaries such as DVS1, Shifted and Truncate. There’s no coming up for air with this one – it’s a headlong plunge deep under the surface.
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