Posts Tagged ‘berlin’

YP#1 – Palms Trax

September 3, 2015

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know … a deplorable output so far on INAUDIBLE this year. “What gives, man?” you may be wondering. Couldn’t tell ya, really. I just didn’t feel like writing about music for the last few months. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening. In fact, I’ve been even more tuned in than ever…

So what I’m going to do to start things back up is a nouveau feature entitled Young Producers, or YP for short, in which I rep a fresh and exciting young musician each week. The criteria is simple: s/he must be no older than 25 and have yet to release a full-length album.

It’s bonkers how many amazing new talents are coming up in the scene and following in the footsteps of the legends that came before them. It’s a really great thing for electronic music.

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YP#1 – PALMS TRAX

First up on the decks then is my man Jay Donaldson aka Palms Trax. This young DJ and producer is based in Berlin and has released three excellent EP’s, Equation in 2013 and Forever in 2014, courtesy of Lobster Theremin, and most recently he put out the bangin’ In Gold on Dekmantel.

Palms Trax’s style seems rooted in Detroit house and techno, with warm pads and uber-melodic synths being his signature. Smooth drum patterns with a 4/4 thump, high hat clicks, and hand claps (my fave) round out his sound and ready it for the dance floor. He reminds me of Kassem Mosse when he’s at his most melodic, while some of his synth lines (most notably on In Gold) are reminiscent of some early Plastikman 909 licks.

And it’s all so good. With Equation and Forever, Palms Trax found his groove and with In Gold he just keeps raising the stakes even higher – the beats hit harder, the melodies are groovier, and his songwriting is stronger. His tracks almost play out like pop songs in their construction, as he doesn’t just build off a loop, but has proper hooks and changes in his tracks, which makes for a dynamic listening experience.

He also has a radio show called Cooking With Palms Trax on Berlin Community Radio where he plays his favourite jams from his extensive record collection. Check him out ASAP if you haven’t already! Cheers. See ya next week.

Marc Houle – Drift (Minus Records)

October 9, 2010

For Juno Records

Minus Records mainstay Marc Houle returns with his new full-length album, Drift, and continues to further refine his sound. Written in Berlin during the bleak winter months of 2009, Drift stands apart from anything Houle has released to date. He’s stripped away much of the wackiness and playfulness that has become his signature, for a more dark and cold aesthetic. Houle’s sound has never been one that is easy to classify, as he’s always been a bit left of centre when it comes to techno – he doesn’t just write dancefloor bangers and/or head-bobbing numbers for home listening, yet his music has always fit comfortably both in and out of the party.

With tracks “Seeing in the Dark” and “Drift” one envisions the darkest Berlin club – an abandoned warehouse in a cold grey industrial neighbourhood, or a claustrophobic basement rave in a dilapidated building in Detroit, seem to suit these tracks just fine – where night has long since switched over to morning, but the kids seem compelled to continue as long as the party allows them.

Those tracks and the 7-minute “Melting”, are perhaps the moodiest compositions on the album, driven by Houle’s subtle use of analogue synths and rumbling bass. Drift all but abandons the quirky use of 8-bit sounds that Houle seemed to love so much in his earlier releases, yet what is interesting with Drift is that he has replaced those sounds with guitar. Opening song “Inside”, which I imagine would be an amazing track for driving on the Autobahn, as well as “Sweet”, “The Next”, and “Hammering”, feature processed guitar lines that hint at new wave and dark wave and are a great addition to his sound.

By the album’s last track, “Hammering”, there seems to be some light in the grey winter, the sun has peeked its head after months of absence, and the old playful Houle peeks his head out as well, closing with a guitar-based track that is funky and jazzy and reminiscent of Tortoise. Drift is undoubtedly a cold and dark album, but Marc Houle is as hot and bright as ever. Check it.

Marc Houle – Minimal masturbator

May 16, 2009

marchoule

Minus Records artist and uber-nerd Marc Houle composes music for broken Atari’s and landfill Moogs, while still making us humans want to shake various parts of our anatomy in lewd and exciting ways. Marc knows how to control the ebb and flow of a dance floor. He knows how to keep the bodies on the floor.

It’s difficult to describe, but Marc’s music has a sort of dark wackiness to it. Yes, it’s minimal, yes it occasionally has that old-skoool Detroit feel, yes it is playful and fun, but there is a grey shadow hovering just above it all. It’s a solid juxtaposition of real emotion in a supposedly emotionless genre of techno. 

Check this track from his “Sixty-Four Week 3” release for a perfect example of what I mean:

Lovely ain’t it? My friend Mat calls this track a “burner”, and I think the term’s fitting.

Over the last few years, Marc has been working very hard on his live show and seeing him play at Footwork in Toronto a few months back, it was clear he is both a superstar in the studio as well as in front of a crowd of sweaty 4/4 loving freaks. The question remains as to why he is not playing at MUTEK this year?

Be Marc’s friend! Go see his show. Buy his records. Kiss him on the cheek.