Short Reviews Featuring Levon Vincent, Paranoid London, and Phantom Planet Outlaws.

Levon Vincent: NYC-Berlin Dialogues (Novel Sound)

Novel Sound have developed an intriguing policy of not telling anyone about their releases until the record is virtually in your hand. I can’t say I’ve got a strong view on it one way or the other, but it does make for some hairy acquisition fun. Regardless of whether this is mastermind planning or something altogether more lax I don’t know, but this is Levon Vincent’s third solo of the year, and follows on from the frankly unhinged acid/tubular bells mentalism of Birds. Birds seems to have done the Marmite thing a wee bit – you either love it or loathe it – but I’ll happily admit that I loved the craziness of it, not least for the way it felt like Vincent going off a tangent which took him out of his comfort zone a bit. NYC-Berlin Dialogues is a deeper take on house than the last record, kicking it up in a more regular Vincent style. Well, kicking it up might be pushing it a little. NYC tootles around nicely, seemingly content to wobble a bit without really getting up a head of steam. It’s pretty and unassuming, but slight and lacking very much to get your teeth into. Berlin is better, more lively, unfolding as it does like the theme from some slightly bonkers and long forgotten 1970s US cop show preformed on a cheap sampler and a stolen Casio keyboard, and locking into an unexpectedly tight and hypnotic groove. Those reasons alone should be enough to love it, even before it alights on some particularly moody textures towards the end. No clips, so check it out in the usual places.

Paranoid London: Give Me The (Paranoid London)

Paranoid London head back to their regular territory after We Come To Rock’s excursion into old school electro. Surely by now you know what to expect: Gritty, slightly grotty and menacing deep acid house filtered through a bed of gravel and broken concrete. And while you may marvel at how much leverage anyone can still get out of some dirty beats and a warbling 303, it won’t stop you from enjoying it like the first time you heard it. This is the secret of Paranoid London’s sound; it rubs itself up against that bit of your brain which switches on when acid house kicks in and doesn’t let go. Neither of the tracks are going to convince you that the future is coming, but that doesn’t really matter, seeing as they both burn with a darkside intensity which recalls the much missed Armando at his scariest. Both tunes are primal and effective but if I had to choose, Give Me The just skanks it over Our Man Though due to the rib shattering bass and the vocal snap which guides everything down a sticky river of acid madness as the 303 gets a bit tasty.

Phantom Planet Outlaws – Muscles From Outer Space (Boss Tracks)

For reasons which elude me, Liverpool based techno super groups are in short supply. Luckily we have one – The Phantom Planet Outlaws, consisting of John Heckle, Mark Forshaw and Binny – and this first release in three years provides a dose of brain splattered techno of the sort we don’t seem to get too much of these days. Part of what makes it so welcome is that, obvious old school influences of a Djax and Millsy sort aside, it doles out a furious take on the genre in which humour, warmth, and grooves are front and centre without every detracting from the fact that these are some serious tunes which’ll be as deadly as you’d expect from a gang like this. The one full-fat PPO tune, Muscles From Outerspace, is a big, heavy slab of acid techno which buckles reality nicely. Heckle’s entry, Hybrid 1, cuts the forward momentum ever so slightly with a jacking piece of slightly discordant future-lounge, a world away from most of his recent releases under his own name but also alien enough from his Head Front Panel work to provide another glimpse of his individualist musical thinking. Forshaw’s tune, the stomping Flashback is a lovingly scuzzed up ankle-breaker uniting a brilliantly proto-techno flair with a housey nous. It swarms you with touches of the sort of 90s bangers which entire nights used to be built around, and condenses them into a sweaty anthemic treat. Binny finishes things off nicely with The Return by dragging everything into the shadows for a doing with a piece of corkscrewing acid-nasty that’s as thrilling as it is warped. This isn’t techno to be loved, it’s techno to be used and abused. Make sure you do.