European Imports of Import
The mighty Forced Exposure distribution company is America's lifeline to the fertile global electronic-music underground—as well as many other arcane sonic delicacies. Whenever a package from FE arrives, I can be assured a bounty of excellent sounds from the planet's most forward-thinking sound sorcerers. Below is a survey of releases from the most recent batch of goodies. More treasures can be yours at the FE site or at your local hip record emporium, if you're indeed fortunate enough to have one in these catastrophic times for music retail.
Let's begin with Gudrun Gut's I Put a Record On (Monika Enterprise). Gut used to play in esteemed German avant-rock groups Malaria, Mania D., and Einstürzende Neubauten. Remarkably, this is her solo debut full-length. Frau Gut sings in distinguished, hushed tones over bubbly, warm electronic textures and introverted, laidback beats. Awesome eminent gris of techno Thomas Fehlmann (the Orb, Sun Electric) produces three tracks, all of which are typically sublime. This is a great album to play shortly after waking, to help you ease into your hectic day. It gently nudges you on your path to being presentable to the outside world while putting some feline stealth in your step and a pleasant chill down your spine.
Next up is Brazilian Gui Boratto with Chromophobia, his debut album for techno powerhaus Kompakt Records. Boratto is billed as Kompakt's fastest-rising star, and this disc provides 13 reasons why that statement carries weight. Boratto is a master of many styles (richly melodic ambient; gritty, microhouse; tense, propulsive minimal techno; bleepy, paranoiac Detroit techno; clattering IDM; sugary electro pop; etc.), and consequently Chromophobia is the rare techno album that can be consumed outside of club conditions without making your eyes and ears glaze over from repetition O.D. (not that there's anything wrong with that). He's also remixed a track on the City of God soundtrack, which is pretty cheeky of him. Update: Pitchfork reports that Boratto and Kompakt boss Michael Mayer will be touring North America, with a stop at L.A.'s Avalon May 26.
Suave Frenchman Electronicat (Fred Bigot, pictured above) checks in with his sixth outstanding album, Chez Toi (Disko B), but most folks still don't know him from Daft Punk's haberdasher. Electronicat updates that subterranean Suicide throb/pulse and laces it with exhilarating surf-guitar riffs and sooty layers of laxative bass tones. You might even catch some fat, Gary Glitter-esque shuffle in Fred's unbourgie electro-rock boogie, especially in "She's a Queen." Electronicat's music manages to be both as fun as jumping into a vat of cream cheese and as ominous as hearing an airport security agent intone, "Step this way, please."
Last but most, there's From Here We Go Sublime by the Field (German producer Axel Willner). Willner is my favorite new-ish addition to Kompakt's abundantly talented roster due to his deft incorporation of shoegaze-guitar textures into techno's somewhat rigid rhythmic grid, his adventurous use of sampled vocals (including cascading, MBV-esque coos that induce Pavlovian waves of bliss in your correspondent), and his wicked way with a Four Tops sample (hear the "Things Keep Falling Down" 12" for proof). The Field's debut album abounds with buoyant beats and the kind of understatedly uplifting tunes you can hum in front of others and still respect yourself in the morning. Willner's gauzy, enwombing auras and wistful melodies are manna for those still pining over the dissolution of My Bloody Valentine and Seefeel. I can even see From Here We Go Sublime snagging a lot of Pitchfork-reading indie-rock fans; it's destined to be a potential gateway drug into techno for people who ordinarily run screaming from canned beats and synth arpeggios. Willner aspires to a celestial lushness and melodic grandeur that could've disastrously tumbled into trance's cloying fluffiness. But From Here We Go Sublime lives up to its rather immodest title and is as lightly intoxicating a techno record as you're likely to hear in 2007.