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Making it Minimal
Are you tranquilized?
by craig burton & sam butler
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.