Lafleche | Montreal Mix Sessions Vol. 4 | Turbo

I was originally going to use this space to review Sade’s latest release, Lovers Rock, but my inner cynic just couldn’t bring myself to write thoughtfully about her bossa-nova tinged love ballads and melancholic soul-searching. So I did what any self-respecting music journalist does, and put on this house mix instead. Alas, I have written so many reviews for electronic music, I think it’s about time I just come up with a checklist of qualities that you’re actually searching for. So, fuck terms like “soundscape” and “atmospheric,” and let’s get down to business. Here are the answers to your questions:

Is Montreal Mix Sessions Vol. 4 like having a deejay spin in my living room? Yes.

And who is this Lafl?che guy? Who does he know? Lafleche has been spinning professionally since 1989, when he entered the world of nightlife at a local Montreal club at the ripe, young age of 17. His career has been built over a decade, moving him from the intimate land of clubs to big, yearly, massive events such as Cream. His first EP, The Flex, makes its way to some of the world’s best deejay’s high rotation list (Roger Sanchez, Carl Cox, Derrick Carter, etc.).

OK, but does it have DJ Dan’s “That Zipper Track”? Yes! And plenty of other requisite house tracks, including Gene Farris’ “The Spirit” and The Hydraulic Dog’s “Shake it for Me.”

Well, what makes it so special then? That would be Lafl?che’s uncanny ability to mix from those familiar house tracks to other, less expected numbers without loosing the deep, fun feeling. When Lafleche moves into Indian territory with Tomba Vira’s “Drums Come Alive,” he doesn’t sacrifice the musical strengths. Instead, such maneuvering keeps Lafleche’s mix fresh and interesting. [Jenne Raub spends her spare time thinking of clever new ways to use ‘rave’ as a pre-fix]

Party of Helicopters | Mt. Forever | Troubleman Unlimited

So while I was mucking about the KCSB stacks with my thumb stuck firmly up my butt, Spin was busy scooping my sucka “You mean these were Folger’s Crystals?” ass. This album was number nine on their top 20 albums of 2000. Go figure. Nonetheless, my Artsweek paycheck is what keeps me in cigarettes, so …

Chaotic HC can no longer be called an upstart subgenre. Every liberal arts pissant, post-punk snothead picks up something by Heroin, Torches to Rome, and/or The Locust as a symbol of how special and grown up they are. And, as is inevitable for any field that finds itself on the road to legitimacy, the musical style has found itself pulled over by the Derivative Police.

Enter the Party of Helicopters. Forming right during noisy hardcore’s cusp period, the Party of Helicopters found their niche had been blown wide open and leaped at the chance to … become kinda weird.

Over the obligatory screeching metallic chords (Stillman also incorporates a great deal of riffing, which makes the texture more spare and interesting), singer Joe Dennis puts on his best Brian Wilson impression. The vocals are hyper layered, with basement harmonies delivered in slightly creaky voice now reminiscent of Kevin Shields, now of Stephen Malkmus. This album is My Bloody Valentine on a budget, beautiful and powerful and really odd sounding, a marker that at least some groups won’t eat the cake that was laid out for them.

And that schlop sound was my thumb coming out of my butt.

[DJ Fatkid]

Sad Rockets | Transition | Matador

Born in Uzbekistan and raised in Los Angeles, it’s little wonder that Sad Rockets’ Andrew Pekler has such a huge diversity of tastes. He lets this shine on the instrumental Transition as it hops around seamlessly from trip-hop to acid jazz, dreamy acoustic guitars to raucous hip hop, woofer-rattling bass to electronica bleeps.

Though it’s tempting at times to call Sad Rockets electronica, Pekler is more of a bedroom eccentric, multi-instrumentalist in the vein of Blue States’ Andy Dragazis. Though he skillfully plays numerous instruments on Transition, Pekler ultimately seems more absorbed in his own spirit of experimentation and the creation of some genre-busting sound than in holding a consistent tone throughout. This is perhaps why the whole album seems so muddy.

Yes, Transition certainly is fun on a first listen. Utilizing several different percussion instruments, along with contrasting tones of synths and strings, Pekler does forge some original concoctions. Eventually, however, it’s really hard to hold much attachment to an album that doesn’t seem to have its feet rooted on any solid ground. Lacking the similar emotional intensity of Blue States’ Nothing Changes Under the Sun, many of the tracks on Transition meander around too much to really be that significant.

A worthy effort with a couple of standouts (“Senio Junior,” and the beautiful, dreamy guitar ballad “Winter’s Over”), Transition is in the end just interesting enough to be saved from the background music bin. [Andy Sywak]

Disflex.6 | Where the Sidewalk Ends | Sunset Leagues International

Jason the Argonaut and Lazarus Jackson, the two weird kids who make up Disflex.6, are definitely from Oakland. They possess that unmistakable twang that runs common through rappers from the East Bay. But accents are where the comparisons stop because, as I mentioned earlier, these kids are weird. They’re on some ” ‘Matrix’ Meets Shel Silverstein in Battle Mode” shit. Weird.

What’s even weirder is that Where the Sidewalk Ends is Disflex.6’s fourth album, but its first on CD. Many an Oakland hip hop group has stepped up from the tape-slanging scene to the CD big time, so it’s about time Disflex caught up. And it saved its best work for this release too. Where the Sidewalk Ends is chock full of ill beats, weird samples and even weirder raps. They go from theatrical storytelling to polished bravado, sometimes in the same song. So if you’re in a weird mood, pick up this weird album at an online hip hop store. [Trey Clark]

Poe | Haunted | Atlantic Records

Haunted seems to be a very fitting title to Poe’s second album, which takes its listeners on a journey of the artist’s self-discovery and deals with some unresolved personal business. Although the same ethereal, melodic sounds that were present on her first musical release exist on Haunted, the album is more experimental musically. Mixed throughout the album, Poe samples children’s voices, recordings from answering machines and the voice of her father, who passed away in 1993. It’s this voice “from the grave” that gives the album its eerie and personal quality, and each of the songs, in some way, seems to be reconciling or illustrating her relationship to her father. Now the concept of self-discovery, by most standards, comes across as cliche jargon tied to art, but in the case of Haunted, it is the only fitting term. With this album, Poe’s music becomes more daring; the experimentation in the sound, and the lyrics that fill with imagery and personal testimony, make for a very dense and heavy listen, but a worthwhile one. [Jill St. John]