Beats on the Rocks
Brick City Media
Click to hear: “Frequency Rug”
I’ll admit right off the bat I’m not a big fan of techno music. After about a minute of hearing it, my ears begin to crave the sound of a drumstick on a drumhead, the pluck of a bass string, the crunch of a guitar chord, a flute, a glockenspiel, something, anything hit, strummed or blown by a human being. Vocals — I’m a big fan of those, too. You know, singing, rapping and such.
That said, like most people, I’ve heard my fair share of house music – a small share, in this case – and overall, I don’t dislike it, provided it doesn’t get annoying. It can be a cool accompaniment to cocktails, and good background music for mundane tasks or sex on ecstasy in the bathroom of a subterranean Berlin disco (so I hear). Played loud through a big sound system, and aided by various chemical compounds, it can be the very soundtrack to reality (again, people tell me).
With this is mind, play Beats on the Rocks, the new compilation of techno music from Brick City Media, at your own discretion. You may find that it’s hip cool-out music for your next home cocktail party. Or maybe it inspires you to dance, either alone in your apartment with all the lights off, or with a friend flicking the light switch up and down really fast while you do your funky robot thing.
Or maybe the first thing you want to do when you hear this album is hit the eject button. That’s fair enough, too. This is electronic dance/space-out music, and if you’re not a fan of the genre, or just not in the mood for it (or the state of mind), don’t waste your time.
An entity known as Late Night Clouds Project has the first cut on this comp, an atmospheric, twitchy number called “Clouds Over Glasgow.” It sets the right mood for what’s to come: a mid-tempo, dreamy, slightly funky electro-groove.
Brick City Media is Jason Hjort (we should know; he built The Bollard Web site). Billed as j.hjort, he’s got the second track here, a funky and seductive cut called “Frequency Rug.” Hjort’s built a solid beat into this song, and he adds some nice touches along the way, like the curvy disco-porn tones that come along about three-quarters of the way through its five minutes.
“The Spinn,” Hjort’s other contribution here, takes his interpretation of a big, loud Industrial beat in some interesting sonic and rhythmic directions. It ends, though, with a sequence that includes a tone so similar to the pong of the old Pong video game that all you can think of is Pong. This is worth the laugh over martinis, but on a dance floor anyone who remembers that tone, like me, would have to immediately stop busting moves and hit he bar. It’s like tossing the Donkey Kong theme into the mix – unless you’re in a K-hole, you won’t be able to wiggle along without feeling like an irredeemable geek.
Lost Satellite’s track “Surprise Fantasy Creator” breaks one of the casual techno fan’s cardinal rules: it’s annoying. The clipped beats and vocals may appeal to dedicated techno-heads, but to the ear of the average listener it grates, and repetition doesn’t help. That said, the bass line is solid, and the other Lost Satellite track here, “Corvair,” is probably the strongest of the bunch, a great groove with the most musically complex melodies on Beats.
Local club DJ Jason Keith’s “Maya” is a decent, funky cut that mines a subdued vibe to nice effect. The second Late Night Clouds Project cut, “Slideshow,” also slips into a languid mood, but once there, it just languishes.
A contributor (or contributors) billed as Foolish & Kitty Kitty turn in “Watch Me,” another annoyance, mostly because the vocals aim to be sexy or provocative, but miss the mark. However, the same composer(s)’ “Push Through,” the compilation’s closer, is more effective. With its swells of sound and pulsing bass, it aims to inspire and delivers.
Beats on the Rocks is a mixed bag for the casual techno listener, but there are goodies in here, too. Granted, you may want to ingest some goodies for full effect.
— Chris Busby