This is really not what I was expecting from a Digitalism DJ set. Instead of cutting edge electro, this compilation is mixed bag of white boy space disco, indie crossover and raw rock. In fact, this sounds like it could have been mixed by any number of random local warm-up DJs… To top things off, a lot of the mixing is as ruff as guts. While this sound has been saturating the Australian club scene for a few years now, perhaps it’s a sign that it’s just starting to infiltrate Germany? I probably would have shelved the disc if I wasn’t reviewing it, but after overcoming my initial disappointment – and with some repeated listening – I managed to find a soft spot for some of these ‘ugly duckling’ tunes.

The disc kicks off with a Sweaty remix, which improves significantly on the Muscles original by replacing his strained vocals with a chorus of cheerleaders. The first few tracks dwell in spacey disco and spastic funk territory, with Hercules & Love AffairHoly Ghost and a surprisingly fresh sounding Human League dub, which could have been given a bit more airtime. The Midnight Juggernauts show why they own the scene with the glammed up End of an Era, then some hella 80s b-boy shit is represented with Space Cowboy by the Jonzun CrewCalvin Harris’ simple and catchy Colours is thrown in and The Presets rent out the one of their weakest tracks, Yippiyo Ya, before CSS donate a trashcore remix of the B-52s.

The final section kicks it off with the Daft Punk-esque If I Was Wonderwoman by Hey Today. The main vocal sounds suspiciously like someone saying “I’m stoned already” in repeated falsetto. Hmm, I’m starting to wish I was too… The highlight of the album, however, is an absolute storming electro track called Dance in Dark by The Proxy. They ingeniously hijacked some evil basslines of doom from the drum n bass community and foil with it with a beautiful vocal from some Edith Piaf-style songbird. This tune is gonna be massive all over the shop. Relentless!

After overcoming my initial knee-jerk reaction to this compilation, I’ve realised there are some tracks on this album that I actually really enjoy for their camp and trashy wrongness. The Bears Are Coming (Metronomy Mix) is a great Prince-on-LSD impersonation, complete with spooky keyboards, cowbells and a vocal line about “acid rain”. This mix also exposed me to WhoMadeWho (where have I been hiding?!), with their catchy contribution The Plot. Elsewhere, The Kills’ Cheap and Cheerful is an instantly familiar piece of trash rock, like something you’d hear on a sexy Levis ad.

Overall this is more of a party warm up than the main event. There are some sleeper hits between the disco filler, but many of the songs could have been cut altogether. If you’re into the Cut Copy Fabric mix you might like this, but if you want some hard and dirty electro, try the Boys Noize’s Bugged Out instead.

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Ratatat – LP3 [Review by Sixtyten]

On October 29, 2008, in culture, review, by Dr Hitchcock

Ratatat are back with their signature sound, and LP3 delivers the goods. This album ventures into more diverse territory than Classics, with a less rock based approach, as LP3 confidently flirts with different styles, world instruments and synths.

Instrumental albums have to work harder to maintain your interest. These songs are all short, but they include a multitude of instruments and samples so small details are revealed on repeat listens, meaning the music stays fresh. In true Ratatat style, the vibe is playful and fun. It gives you a simple childlike thrill. Imagine Boards of Canada playing Daft Punk’s Discovery album backed by a live Hawaiian lounge band and you’re getting close to the Ratatat sonic extravaganza. Epic hair-rock guitar melodies are churned out from what sounds like a Hot Licks 80s key-tar, and it always sounds like two or three instruments are being played both backwards and forwards simultaneously. If I had kids I’d be blowing their little minds with this shit at birthday parties like my parents did to me with the Beatles. Swooning keyboards over gentle glitch hop beats join with playschool melodies and snippets of wailing guitar; it’s how each song deviates slightly that adds to the flavour.

Mirando is immediately catchy. It blips and bleeps and grooves like a shambling gypsy circus, then rocks out a classic virtuoso solo straight from Ywangie Malmsteen’s school of rock. Shempi has a disco beat and swirling ABBA synths. Imperials employs harpsichord for maximum drama, a gurgling water sample and chugging 70s riffs, before it goes all ambient with violins. Dura kicks it with kooky Addams Family keyboards and a chugging muted guitar groove over bongos, before the compulsory solo busts in and swirls out backwards into the ether. Mumtaz Khan goes on an Arabic excursion with snake charmer bells and Tabla percussion, before a raunchy Van Halen solo! The album’s shorter songs are just as eccentric and catchy. Flynn has a bouncy reggae beat and a catchy use of “Oohs”. Gipsy Threat sounds like the soundtrack to a Laurel & Hardy slapstick routine, and Brulee has a chilled Hawaiian groove.

LP3 has no weak tracks, and it explores different styles all the while staying cohesive as a whole. It is a great mood enhancer, and my only gripe is that it’s too short!

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