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The Crystal Method – Tweekend

Tweekend CD cover

Tweekend is the Crystal Method’s deeper, darker follow up to their 1998 release Vegas. This much anticipated follow up appears, at a glance, to be a total disappointment. It all but trashed he ideas and concepts that Vegas has established and assumed a crunchier, rougher exterior edge. But the root is still distinctly Crystal Method.

While Vegas is a commanding disc, which shouts, “I’m the shit,” from the very start, Tweekend says virtually nothing. Instead, it is an addiction. Try it once and you’ll want more. Once you’re hooked, the brilliance of this disc will speak for itself. Loud, dirty sounds on top of wicked beats and deep bass wash over you, corrupting your essence.

Tweekend is a dark and melotic trip through texture and substance, so much that it may sound like noise the first few times. Elements are stacked ten and twelve layers deep and to the point that their intensity can be overwhelming. This is no Sunday afternoon in the park; it is difficult music that should be taken seriously and with little distraction. It will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not in the right

Tweekend

Rating by Jeffrey Rooks: 3.5 stars
***1/2

On the State of Electronica Today

keyboardThrough out history music has changed and shaped out lives. Prior to the turn of the 20th century, music could only be experienced live. It was performed in concert halls or perhaps on the street. Over the course of the last hundred years, music has become more than just notes on paper or theories about harmony and melody; it has become a portable, tangible object.

Radios and 78’s allowed music to be exchanged, transmitted and repeated. No longer did music involve going out, but instead staying in. As more people stayed in to hear music, music began to change and shape our lives with more vigor than ever before.

Music has assimilated into our daily lives. We can now do anything while listening to music: read, sleep, work, make love. It is no longer an extraordinary event, but a common occurrence. It has become a way of determining economic status, level of intelligence and can now even signify a lifestyle.

A strange relationship has been forged between our music and our culture. We depend on music to entertain us, to offer us escape. Because it has become such an integral part of our lives, music now has the power to influence who we are and how we act. As music, itself, changes, so do the listeners. Sometimes we allow these changes to occur peacefully. Other times we attempt to fight changes in music because of the resulting effects that it will have on our culture.

In the 1950’s, Rock and Roll received much resistance and persecution from parents. Although it was an extension of country and blues, two genres of music that already existed, it was viewed by many as the devil?s music, performed only by blacks seeking to corrupt white children all across America.

As the evolution of Rock and Roll continued into the 1960’s, it became full-blown revolution, filling youths through out the country with ideas of free speech, free drugs, and free sex. Women burned bras, blacks sat tight on buses and men grew their hair long. While this in not the only example of music contributing to a cultural revolution, it is by far the best.

When a revolution does occur, it starts slowly and involves much experimentation as it continues to build in power and fury, pushing the limits of cultural acceptability to the very edge, until it finally crashes into the mountains of mainstream culture. The evolution of music is a perpetual process that is only limited by our imaginations.

Just as one wave subsides, another wave starts to break towards the shore. Each revolution has changed not only how art is viewed but also the way people view other people. Now, I’m not trying to say that every change in music causes a revolution. Just that when a revolution does occur, it works slowly through our society, building up status in the underground until it finally reaches the masses. And when it does, it leaves a lasting impact.

Like so many times before, we are witnessing yet again a change in music led by the sounds and ideas that surround electronic music, or electronica. More so than any other form of music since the 1960?s, electronica has the potential to leave a large and lasting effect on our society.

This will be the first drastic change in music in which I will have the ability to take part. I was too young to do anything more than watch the evolution of grunge and I was so young that I barely remember whatever it was that happened to music in the early 1980’s. But electronica is something that I can participate in, something that I can help to mold. It’s for this very reason that I have such great hopes that electronica will start a revolution within our society.

Too much of today’s society revolves around profits and status. People today are interested in an image and a lifestyle. Hard work has been replaced with quicker and easier routes to glitter and gold. Besides money and status, many people seem to have lost the drive to be the best they can be.

I can say that I, too, have fallen into this category before. On my long and difficult journey though life I have seen many like myself, who sit behind and do the least that anyone expects of them. And as time goes by, expectations sink to new levels of acceptability. A revolution led by this style of music has a good chance of bringing back a strong work ethic to America.

Electronica has been developing for longer than most people would realize. It has been an underlying concept in all that we have done in the last one hundred years of music, perhaps even longer. It has pulled elements from almost every genre of music known to man and because of this it has the ability to unite people.

Music has a tendency to pull people together, but I have never seen anything like the power of electronica. I have friends who, after getting lost and having their car break down, walked miles through the desert in the dark just to meet up with a group of us who were celebrating electronic music under the stars. I’ve never heard of people walking miles to see a Pantera concert.

Electronic music has been working it’s way into the mainstream at a turtles pace. It has been slowly making itself heard in homes and on radios over the last decade, almost totally unnoticed. TV commercials, radio spots, corporate videos and even movies have all been turning to electronica to provide their soundtracks; most notably, the use of Model 500’s “No U.F.O.’s” for the Ford Focus Detroit Techno advertisement. But regardless of its power of unity or its underground move towards the mainstream, what is the state of electronica today?

The state of electronica, the state of music, is of constant evolution, moving with the perpetual ebb and flow of the tide. It has the ability to change both itself and us, sometimes with great vigor and fury and other times with stealth and temperance.

Will electronica become a revolution? Will it change our society in ways that cannot be foreseen? Can it save us from ourselves? Or will it crash on the mountains and subside back to the sea? All of this is yet to be determined. Whatever may come of it, I hope that if nothing else it gives each of us a swift kick in the ass. We sure could use one.

 

Darren Emerson – Global Underground 20: Singapore

Global Underground 20 CD cover

Darren Emerson’s second Global Underground release is even funkier than his first. He has also perfected his electro sound, using funky, futuristic electronica to offset the tribal rhythms. As a DJ, he has expanded his ability to create progressive sets and to shape the sound of his set in order to work the crowd. His Singapore set is an extension of his earlier Uruguay release, complete with even more electro rhythms and Andies Mountains influenced beats.

And he has accomplished all of this while still using several tracks that are in almost every DJ’s bin. The one-two combination of A2’s Do You Like the Way You Feel When You Shake? and Hatiras’ Spaced Invader are a perfect example of Emerson’s more mainstream record usage. However, don’t allow this to poison your mind; his track selection is no testament to his skill level. His mixes are top notch and often times they are so subtle that some last for nearly half of the record.

Disc one begins with a hearty, tribal feel and then moves towards progressive, electro-house. His love for Medicine is appear, using two of their funky electro records to kick his set up a level or two. Their track Junior Aspirin starts the electro phase with a jump start of electricity and then he uses Universal Personal as a lull before he really lets loose. However, it’s Thee Cat in Da Hat’s Thee Rush that really defines the first disc. It’s simplistic electro, drum and bass sound allows Emerson to return to a funkier rhythm.

The second disc begins with an ambient air; Emerson allows almost two minutes to pass before he begins to slowly bring the beat in. He uses Circulation’s Magenta to build up his electro-flavored set and allowing it to merge with Interactive Night by George T, a funky, bass driven house track. For this disc, he moves with more casual, flowing movements and overall, the set is more relaxed. He ends the compilation with his own remix of Laurent Garnier’s Man with the Red Face, a track that is purely driving, funky, electro.

If you’re looking for a fresh take on progressive house, look no further than Singapore. Darren Emerson is a DJ fueled by a zest for fiery electro cuts and a flair for tribal beats; his merging of tribal and electro house is virtually unmatched in the industry. Emerson’s Singapore compilation is an expertly shaped progressive trip that moves full-force into ground rarely covered by DJs of his caliber and it proves, once again, that GlobalUnderground finds the very best talent in the business.

Global Underground 20: Singapore

Rating by Jeffrey Rooks: 4.0 stars
****

Tricky – Blowback

Blowback CD cover

Tricky’s latest release is an abomination of music, if not noise as well. There are only two modestly redeeming tracks on the entire album. #1 Da Woman, which ends up sounding more like Matthews Sweet covering a song from the old TV show the Banana Splits, and Your Name, which is more like an ambient perversion of Abba or Ace of Base. The majority of the tracks sound like musical masturbation and at no point does any portion of this effort resemble music worth selling.

At no point in time does the listener have a chance to enter into Tricky’s realm. It is almost if he intentionally tried to keep everyone but himself from feeling any emotion from this album. It is cold and devoid of any even the slightest point of interest. Tricky must have been relying on his name alone to sell copies, because there isn’t a single ounce of artisan or craftsmanship on the entire disc.

Blowback is full of simplistic rhythms and ridiculous lyrics. Tricky also attempts to capitalize on the rap-rock genre with songs like Excess, Girls, and Bury the Evidence, which are ravaged by excessively distorted guitars. He even destroys Kurt Cobain’s Something in the Way by remaking it in some sort of rasta, drum and bass style which ends up sounding like it was performed by a Russian gangster turned rock star.

As if his own self-destruction isn’t good enough, his “guests” tempt their own fate as well. Flea, Anthony Kiedis and John Frusciante, of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cindy Lauper, Alanis Morissette, Annie Lennox and David Steward, of the Eurithmics, each perform and co-write one cut. Yet, with all this “talent,” Tricky receives little help with his doomed album.

Over all, this disc isn’t even worth the plastic it’s made of. Spanning the genres of drum and bass, ambient, rap-rock and various other sub-genres, the album holds no continuity and each track takes one step closer to utter destruction of Tricky’s career. Even the mildly amusing 60’s throwback #1 Da Woman and Your Name, the pseudo-love song made on too many Quaaludes, can’t save this album. Or Ticky’s fading career.

Blowback

Rating by Jeffrey Rooks: 1.0 stars
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