Album Review: FabricLive 48 - various mixed by Filthy Dukes

FabricLive 48 is something of a return to form for the series. Of sorts at least.

Following a recent mixture of slightly too fashionable, genre-of-the-moment artists and non-descript mixes FabricLive 48, under the control of the Filthy Dukes, gets back to the bread and butter of what the FabricLive discs can be when they are at their best.

It's eclectic, wonky disco, house and acid drenched tech-house. And it is pretty much all right up BlackPlastc's street. Aeroplane's mix of Sébastien Tellier's 'Kilometer' is still gloriously paced, thick like treacle. 80skidz 'Miss Marz' still sounds timeless, energetic with a hint of melancholy and The Proxy remix of Tiga's 'What Your Need' descends into suitable chaos as the Soulwax mix of Daft Punk's 'Robot Rock' kicks in.

But here is the problem: you probably know all of these tracks. And you probably know most of the other tracks on the album too. There are some great, inventive moments - Mr Oizo's 'Pourriture 7' mixing into Jack Peñate's 'Tonight's Today' is one such stroke of genius. And some tracks are good enough to survive the exposure - we certainly don't resent hearing Lifelike's 'Sequencer' more than is strictly necessary. But, seriously... BlackPlastic does not need to hear Mujava's 'Township Funk' again. Probably ever.

FabricLive 48 is like a mix album made by a friend featuring a stack of you favourite records from the past year or so. It would be a great mix to hear out but without much inventiveness in the tracklist this is unlikely to keep you coming back.

BP x

Album Review: Ciao! - Tiga

There is a lot of talk at present of an electroclash resurgence. A second wave. With new albums from DJ Hell, Kittin & The Hacker and Peaches it is perhaps easy to see why. What is strange though is that many of these acts have distanced themselves from this sound already - Miss Kittin's rather good I Com was a move into a purer techno sound and whilst the follow up Bat Box may have been a misguided move into goth it the techno sound of the former disc she is known for as a DJ. Hell's last album, NY Muscle, was an attempt to distance himself from the obvious trappings of the electroclash genre and Tiga's debut wasn't remotely close to electroclash anyway. The only track Tiga has done that could be labelled as such is his collaboration with Zyntherius on their cover of 'Sunglasses At Night'.

What's more it seems that some semi-amateur hacks (and BlackPlastic puts themselves into the category) seem content with using the 'resurgence of electroclash' as a tool to beat up on Tiga specifically. In their recent review of Peaches I Like Cream Fact magazine said Tiga's comeback was best off ignored.

Which is total, complete, pathetic horseshit. Horseshit because it reeks of lazy sideswiping - an off the cuff comment to pad a two paragraph review. So here's the deal: Tiga's debut, Sexor, was a great record. And Ciao! is better.

To call Ciao! electroclash is to exposure yourself as a knowledge-less pretender to the whole world. This isn't electroclash, it's definitely closer to techno than that. What's more it has ideas and songs and the production is always spotless.

Every track, whether it is the quirky and hard 'Mind Dimension', a revision of Tiga's own 'Move Your Body' but much better, or the anthemic tears-on-the-danefloor closer 'Love Don't Dance Here Anymore', delivers something a little different. The production work of a team consisting of Soulwax, James Murphy, Gozales, Jesper Dahlbäck and Jori Hulkkonen shines through but Tiga still makes this all his own.

How does it compare to Sexor? There's no contest. Ciao! is a noisier, more assertive album. 'What You Need' is grinding and distorted to the sassy quirkiness of 'Shoes'. There are also several house ballads - 'Turn The Night On' and 'Speak, Memory' for example - that manage to actually deliver. Ciao! Is an album with both more variety and consistency than Sexor.

Ciao! may not be redefining genres.  It may not be confounding expectations or giving wannabe hoxtonites something new no-one has heard of. But what it does do is consistently deliver ideas and deliver them well. If you are would rather snigger at the back because Tiga isn't the fashionable wünderkid he was once then so be it - BlackPlastic will be on the dancefloor having more fun.

Available now from on CD , LP  and MP3 .

BP x

Album Review: A Cross The Universe - Justice

Earlier this year Soulwax unleashed the glorious live CD / DVD / Documentary Part of the Weekend Never Dies and it is very difficult not to view and critique A Cross the Universe, itself a live DVD and Documentary / Film, in the same context. And if you do you are left with a far more two dimensional experience: unlike the Soulwax documentary the Justice 'film' is deliberately obtuse. So much so in fact that you will probably feel you know less about the Gallic duo when it is finished than when it began.

Part of the Weekend was an insightful peek into a band that became part of a scene with no name, their influences, their peers and those they have themselves inspired, not to mention life on the road when on a (very) long tour. A Cross the Universe is exclusively a look at the last of these elements and whereas the Soulwax package featured live recordings here there are no full length tracks, just snippets. There is no real insight beyond an anecdotal look at just how weird it is to be a pair of young musicians thrust into fame in a foreign land and at times BlackPlastic was genuinely unsure whether the content on screen was genuine or scripted.

This last fact is probably particularly telling. Real or not, A Cross the Universe is a commentary not on THIS band, but a commentary on being in bands in general and the bizarre and twisted life it leads to. If nothing else, this DVD goes someway to explaining how you end up like Ozzy Osbourne.

So is it any good? BlackPlastic genuinely has no idea.

The CD is a little easier to comment on. You may or may not be aware of the recent controversy surrounding a photo that appeared to show Justice 'playing live' despite that fact their equipment was not plugged in. In good nature the band joked about performing 'unplugged' and argued that the error was noticed when the particular piece of equipment failed to work and there are indeed later shots from the evening that show the equipment with power. This in itself is evidence of the barmyness of being on tour - the fact that such a thing could go unnoticed for long enough that photographic evidence survives.

It also raises a question over whether the recording here is anything more than a studio tweaked version of Cross played to an audience. But it is important to remember that this doesn't actually matter. Firstly because the act of listening to a recorded 'live' event in your home is stupid anyway and secondly because live electronic music is often about little more than spectacle. With none of the vocalists present, what Justice are delivering is the shared experience of enjoying their music with like-minded individuals and, to be honest, putting Cross on shuffle in a big room would work almost as well.

So the tracks are suitably adjusted and there are a couple of re-edits for the die hard fans but the main point off this recording is the audible excitement of the crowd as they cheer and join in. The audio quality is questionable and in BlackPlastic's opinion it isn't as consistent a set as the Soulwax one on Part of the Weekend but there is still enough here to keep you going until the follow up to Cross.

BP x

Review: Part of the Weekend Never Dies - Soulwax / Radio Soulwax / 2 Many DJs

Every now and again you meet someone new and, at some point, the conversation somewhat inevitably comes to the topic of Soulwax and, somehow, you realise you have met an individual who hasn't the faintest idea who this group is. Such an event is rare but disapponting nonetheless as it is truly difficult to understand how we find ourselves in the current musical climate without our friends from Ghent.

And so BlackPlastic is going to say little but:

if you haven't seen the Soulwax documentary Part of the Weekend Never Dies yet then go and watch it because it just might be this decade's most important music documentary.
It perfectly encapsulates just why Soulwax are important:

1. They (along with a few others) helped to invent what we now know as modern dance music (call it nu-rave if you like).
2. They redefine the tired notion of band / remix artists / DJs.
3. They have lots of fans. Some are even famous.
4. They are still very, very fucking loud.

Some interesting facts you will learn:
1. Which recently huge dance crossover artists used multiple Soulwax samples on their debut album.
2. Which nu-rave band would never have got into dance music without Soulwax / 2 Many DJs.
3. Why BlackPlastic's favourite Soulwax track, 'NY Excuse', gets even more punk when you learn its origins.

The DVD also comes with a live performance on DVD and CD. Value, hey?

BP x