Making it Minimal:
More Songs About Buildings and Parks
of London and its multitude of boroughs are a diverse and weathered place.
Shaped by a rich history of lords and royalty, its streets are a story of many
interlocking pieces. Old and new, these pieces complement each other in a way
you can only appreciate by pacing through its bustling and tattered streets
aware that millions of people have walked the same path as many times before.
There are bits of London that you wouldn't admit to ever visiting, and then
there are parts that strike a chord with you immediately. I am, for obvious
reasons, drawn to the East End. Its historic, grungy, un-regenerated beauty is
something unique and is riddled with sounds and places that evoke images and
feelings that I simply refer to as "nice."
Border Community Recordings release music which is very "nice." Nathan Fake, the
labels most heralded artist (although label owner James Holden ain't no slouch
either) blends atmospheric electronica with dance floor techno. From 2003's
Outhouse to 2005's anthem The Sky Was Pink, he creates music you
could make out to for days. I saw Fake play at a warehouse party off of Brick
Lane this past summer and was amazed by his ability to induce a raving crowd of
misfits into a beautiful world of synths and soundscapes, all the while
maintaining his geeky, nice-guy smile and approachability that only Peter M.
Kersten has surpassed to date. March sees the release of his first full length,
"Drowning in a Sea of Love," which steals his sound from the dance floor and
places it obscurely in the realm of the hedonistic exploration of sounds.
Much like London's new and old streets, Border Community has great new and old
sounds. 2004's double EP by Petter, Six Songs, includes bass-heavy,
trance-influenced tracks such as "All Together" and "My Pretty Guitar," but also
veers into some beautifully clicky, minimal sounds on "Dica Drive." As far as a
crossover introduction to minimal techno goes, this is a safe sounding
collection of tracks. Border Community continues to be a label that imagines
what sounds can be composed in sequence: synth, noise, electronica and techno.
Copenhagen's minimal label Echocord serves up a refreshing and equally beautiful
EP from Fairmont called I Want to See the Sun Come Up. It's doubtful that
you'll ever hear this record at a club, on the radio, or really ever at all,
unless you have a friend who has a friend who knows the label and likes to hear
a vocal here and there to break up the clicks and clacks. It's a quality
three-tracker from a relatively unknown artist who has also released on Border
Community, Traum Schallplatten and Bpitch Control.
Away from the soft and floaty atmosphere of East London's parks and flower and
organic food markets, it's easy to find yourself in a harsher, less predictable
environment. In such a scenario, I'd advise throwing the first track off of Matt
John's Kommt Was Nach Montag on to the turntable and let your body do all
the work as you attempt to count how many percussive elements he's thrown into
this EP, his first for Berlin bar/hostel/label Bar25. Bar 25 has been throwing
weekend parties for the last couple years in Berlin and has had such minimal
stalwarts as M.A.N.D.Y, M.I.A, Ada, Ricardo and Luciano grace the decks. The
EP's most accessible track is suitably titled "Bar 25 Mexico Trip" and sounds as
comfortable as a Corona on the porch of a villa over looking the Gulf, whilst
the two B-sides bring fury to the holiday with layers of hesitant percussion,
sawing snare and trickling melodies.
A friend termed this quite fresh and unpredictable sound as "aggressive
minimal," a term I'm happy to throw around jokingly. The same friend is throwing
a party on March 11 featuring more aggressive minimalism from youngsters
Pan-Pot, who's recent Popy and Caste on Mobilee and Pious Sin for
Einmaleins are releases not to fool around with.