Making it Minimal
Are you tranquilized?
Seattle native Steven Ford releases dance music under the Bruno Pronsato
pseudonym. Although previously the drummer for Texas speed metal band Voice of
Reason, Pronsato is now at the top of the pile of innovative new artists who are
getting minimal techno fans all excited in 2006. His most recent release, The
Picaro EP, co-written with Argentinean Franco Cinellis, is packaged with a
cheeky graphic of Jimi Hendrix and a footballer, along with plenty of quality
sounds. Pronsato, who raised heads this past June at 2005’s Mutek Festival in
Montreal, is best known for his EP Ape Masquerade. While it’s not exactly
monkey music, it’s not too difficult to conjure up images of apes tearing and
ripping apart a small car while listening to it- lots of clinks and clanks,
bumps and thumps. Picaro draws on the dangerous but often successful "sexy
foreign-girl" vocal sample technique, as well as with bumping percussion, spooky
baselines and jittery sound effects which will be sure to get dance floors
jackin’. The Picaro EP is released on Milnor Modern Records and
distributed by Kompakt, the "from the creator directly on to the turn-tables"
label/record store/distributor based in Cologne. Additionally, Pronsato has a
track out along with other Milnor Modern artists on my new favorite net resource
for minimally flavored electronic music, minlove.net.
I visited the Kompakt shop over the winter break. It’s the nicest, cleanest,
most well laid-out record shop I’ve ever been in, and of course I had to indulge
myself a little bit. I picked up Minimalism III, the most recent
installment in Terrence Dixon’s Minimalism series for Background Records. Dixon
is but another in the long line of North American producers who’ve relocated to
mainland Europe, yet he manages to stand out from the crowd. Background Records
started off with Terrence Dixon’s Bionic Man EP way back in 1998.
Previously, Dixon had collaborated with Techno’s founding-father, Juan ‘Magic’
Atkins and Underground Resistance’s ‘Mad’ Mike Banks, later turning down an
offer to record for the UR label. Clearly, there’s no doubt his credentials are
pretty cast-iron. With the Minimalism series Dixon takes a fresh look at
the Detroit sound, using the same warm, minor key melodies and tight,
stripped-back beats. He’s side-stepped the more trendy "horse tranquilizer
house" sound that seems to be seeping from the woodwork and put the Soul back
into Techno. And while I’m on the Detroit kick, Juan Atkins has been nominated
for a Grammy as part of the songwriting team for Missy Elliott’s Lose Control.
Are Grammys for anything other than R&B anyways? Booyah.
You’ll find an endless stream of new nights popping up across London’s
constantly changing after-hours landscape, from rough-house Grime nights, which
Vice magazine reckons white middle-class kids are supposed to be loving right
now, to more conventional Brit styled indie-rock gigs. For techno fans there has
always been a good few weeks or even months between memorable parties which have
historically been worth the wait. Looking at the shape of things now, however,
it’s hard to not have a good minimal night out during the week, let alone the
weekend. With nights like Multivitamins on Tuesdays and Thursdays,
Aftermatch on Sundays and near monthly charades from the Sud and Run crew,
there’s plenty to keep your appetite sated. What’s Aftermatch? It’s a
club night put on for the last few years by the After-Dinner crowd featuring
experimental music with spoken word readings, acoustic guitar performances and
all that techno foolishness. After the departure of several key organizers, the
Aftermatch crowd has been hosting more straight-up minimal nights.
Thankfully, they’ve retained their eclecticism and will bring together some of
the most prominent East London based DJ’s for their next event- Chris Box (Run),
Marco Shuttle (Guerilla Lime & Soda), Lakuti (Sud) and an obnoxious German
called Pascal, all spinning on the same set of decks.
Last article there was some talk of a dude named Dou Dou Malicious, the man
behind Multivitamins. Well, they’ve finally released their first EP, mV01,
on vinyl this month. It includes offerings from Mark Henning (who’s recorded for
Freude Am Tanzen and featured on Unfoundsound’s Labelmix) as well as Ekkohaus,
Sebastian Russell and Katzo. The EP is a pretty faithful representation of
what’s happening in London’s minimal scene at the moment. With just 500
pressings available across the city’s numerous record shops, you’re going to
need to work fast to get hold of a copy. -Craig Burton & Sam Butler