Just outside of Filter Musikk lies a barren end of Skippergata currently under construction. Turning a corner at Jernbanetorget, rubble and noise greet the pedestrian as if s/he has just passed through the gates of Mordor and stared directly into the eye of Sauron. A treacherous path lies ahead, and we have to navigate debree, machinery and a mote (over a temporary plywood drawbridge) to get to our desired destination. We persevere because on the other end of this journey lies a ring of resin that the DJ still covets more than anything else in the world.
Passing through the glass doors of Roland Lifjell’s sanctuary the vacuous noise of the outside world falls away into an euphonic berceuse, cloaking the vinyl enthusiast from the harsh realities of the human world as we slip into a warm subconscious slumber. Some have had similar experiences at the brink of any icy death, but for the music enthusiast it’s a tangible escapism.
A familiar mixture of electronic sounds and the stale aroma of cardboard boxes greets you as step across the threshold as Roland welcomes you in with a cup of instant coffee and a grin like cheshire cat from his pulpit of synthesisers and records.
Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk is an institution in Oslo and Norway and one of the few remaining places in the world that specifically facilitates the DJ and his/her needs. Yes, there are other record stores and other DJ equipment stores, but few are so passionate about the craft than Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk and at the heart of its passion lies the deep oily veneer of freshly pressed vinyl, a kind of black that sucks you in and spits you out on the other side… naked.
Every week (or when the mood strikes Roland) he unpacks a new shipment of records to feed into the ever-expanding collection and gives us a first glimpse over his shoulder, from which we compile a list of favourites we call the Cut with Filter Musikk.
Hell – I Want U (Remixes #2) (International Deejay Gigolo) 12″ Limited Edition
It’s the track that keeps on giving. I want U was released two years ago now and this marks the second set of remixes of the track, which also includes a second Hacker remix of the original. This is a limited edition however with versions in pink and black vinyl and finds DJ Hell in a provocative mood – Just look at that cover.
Darren Emerson provides a sultry, oozing version of the original with a low slung kick-bass arrangement that glares at you from the darkest caverns of a dark room like a mysterious lothario waiting to pounce on the next conquest. It stays fairly true to the original, but somehow Emerson has managed to sexualise it even more. Taking the mustachioed original, and stripping it bare to nothing but a harness and jockstrap.
The Hacker has some weird obsession with this track, and jumps on the remix for a second time in as many years. A tougher body workout ensues with a monstrous kick looming in the foreground with the Hacker stripping back even more of the original to find that functional, primal crux of the track. Along with the Darren Emerson remix this release simply oozes sex.
Yuri Urano – Autline (Central Processing Unit) 12″
The central processing label is to this decade what Warp was to the nineties. Chris Smith and the CPU crew have an instinctive feel for the avant garde in electronic music with a considered aesthetic and theme running through their releases. Always introducing new artists through the label, while upholding the futurist principles of electronic music, a CPU record is always a highlight amongst new releases.
This latest release features Japanese newcomer, Yuri Urano. Hailing from Osaka, she’s made a formidable impression on the Japanese Techno scene in a very short time, performing with Ryoji Ikeda, starting her own label, and releasing a fair few records as Yullippe. On this release she favours her new eponymous alias for music that finds an empathetic bond with the CPU sonic aesthetic.
A more progressive dance floor sound than her Yullippe alias, Autline is a tough, beat-driven record, through which enigmatic sound design and functional rhythm structures create intense sweeping technoid dioramas in sound. There’s an unstereotypical industrial aspect to tracks like “Pec” and “Massio” that sounds like turmoil and disillusionment, but is in a controlled extended outburst in sound.
The dub-infused “Knock” and orally-enhanced “Autline” bridge the gap between this and Urano’s Yuliipe alias, but the EP gnarls in a demonic sneer at you from the darker corners of the contemporary dance floor.
The Secret Seapony – Secret Seapony EP (Ullis Tapes) 12″
The mysterious Norwegian record label, Ullis Tapes has long been a presence in the shelves of Filter Musikk. Dotting the House section from time to time, it’s a fleeting presence that always seems to disappear before it gets truly settled. A DIY project from the music to the website – just marvel at that basic HTML simplicity – Ullis Tapes follows in the footsteps of the those that have come before them, the likes of Sex Tags Mania and Full Pupp, with a breathy take on the electronic sounds of the dance floor from House to Dub.
The Secret Seapony EP offers a deep House take on this model with synthesisers and keys landing on galloping 808 kicks like echoes from space. Uptempo House rhythms are veiled under feathery layers of pads that only separate for moment to let rumbling bass movements out from under the light fog. The title track sets a tone that modulates through the release in a similar mood.
Lone – Ambivert Tools Volume Four (R&S) 12″
After being in the news recently for being blatantly ripped off by the Black Eyed Peas, Lone is back on R&S with the follow up to his Ambivert series. The UK producer gives us a little bit of everything on Ambivert Tools Volume Four moving from the luxurious break-beats of “Pulsar,” to the bouncing electro of “Odeo 808” and the exotic House of “Blue Moon Tree”.
Lone’s luscious key and synth arrangements, the very same Will I Am found to good to resist, form the basis of this incredible artist’s work. Lone is able to add an accessibility through melody and harmony in the dance music genres that allude most producer-DJ artists. Charming melodic pieces trail along stuttering beats, as Lone pieces together fully formed compositions from elements of UK bass genres and House music to create his signature sound.
The tracks all go through various phases and everybody will have their own personal favourite as discogs reveals, but the artistic charisma that ebbs through the entire record has a magnetic inescapable allure regardless of musical taste. Will I Am would be so lucky to even get close to the artistic talent behind Lone and Ambivert Tools Volume Four.
Ascion – Your Finest Nightmare (OAKS) 12″
Drama, it’s something that often alludes Techno-genre today, but it’s possibly the most vital ingredient. Artists will favour immediacy over drama, and the results are static pieces that border on the banal. A big kick thundering along at 130-plus BPM is little more than the anodyne drone for the insipid march through the doldrums of life. It needs variation colour and a sense of progression to encourage a dance floor; it needs drama.
Ascion’s latest EP on OAKS, “Your finest nightmare” delivers this in droves, and it’s not just about the titles. “Vicious as Acid” doesn’t introduce the lysergic buzz of a 303 seizure until half way through and even at the steady pace of the determined 4/4 kick, there’s a distinct flow of progression precisely orchestrated through the defiant stomp of Techno foundation.
There’s a sense of intrigue through the melodic progression tethered to the rhythm section, hanging on by a mere thread as tracks pulse along and unimaginable speeds. The stoic synthesised loops remain fairly consistent, but they seem to float like a question mark hanging in the air, imbibing the record with a sense of mystery. It slightly subdues the toughness of the underlying foundation of each track and “Your Finest Nightmare”