Walk straight ahead of Oslo central station. Turn left onto the temporary cul de sac marking the end of Skippergata. On your right, a construction site where a big yellow crane looms menacingly over a building project reaching towards an unattainable stratosphere. On your left; a shop trapped in time. Walk to the glass plane door, past the the empty boxes in a display window, antiqued by sun and time. Open the door to the chime of an analogue bell and step through the portal. You have now entered the Filter Musikk zone.
An alternate dimension, independent of time and trend, free from the contemporary strains of autocratic forces, where good music is simply…Good Music. Roland Lifjell, proprietor, DJ and one of the original vanguard is the keeper of the gate, providing Oslo with the records we didn’t know we had to have. The only record store in Oslo that specialises in electronic music, Filter Musikk is an isolated anomaly, a world that operates on its own accord.
It provides sanctuary and safe passage to the lost souls of Oslo’s DJ community who roam aimlessly upon the world. Watch as a newfound vigour and focus consumes them, as they scratch at dusty sleeves. Pass through the maze of boxes containing new- and used records and get lost in the musical labyrinth of Roland Lifjell’s mind. You won’t dare? Well, then we’ll just have to do it for you.
Privacy – New Product EP (Klasse Wrecks)
Luca Lozano’s Klasse Wrecks label is one of the few places you can hear good breaks today. Besides making his own contributions to the label, he uses it as a platform for the unsung heroes from House to Electro.
Here he presents an Electro record from Privacy. This unknown artist is all about privacy and although we know nothing of the artist behind the records there have been records on Lobster Theremin and and Cultivated Electronics in the past. Here Privacy provides four classic Electro cuts on New Product.
As a DJ you need not listen further than “Make yr transmission”, but each track makes its own mark. From the slow thuggish nature of “Whole Car” to the body slamming beat of “Manchmal” Privacy provides a few different points of view on Electro and breakbeat from this record.
Baba Stiltz – Can’t Help It (Studio Barnhus) 12″ – link
We still can’t figure out the appeal of Baba Stiltz. Is he just another one of these hip-to-be-square DJs re-contextualising the trite in the context of House music or is there more to the enigmatic Swede. Whether his misdirecting his audience with some eccentric cue from dubious sources or throwing in the oddball track in a House mix, there’s definitely something that draws you to the music. A bit egocentric and sometimes ephemeral we find ourselves constantly being drawn to his work.
This latest release finds the producer back on home turf with a 12” for Studio Barnhus. A long-time affiliate of the label, he reigns in the madness a little across two tracks, “Can’t Help it” and “This is it (Body Mix)”. Vocals add a mournful depth across the melodically rich productions that sit somewhere between Hot Chip and Stephan Bodzin. Designed purposefully and tastefully as dance floor cuts, Baba Stiltz puts his usual spin on these records, throwing eccentric curveballs, disemboweling the vocals on “This is it” and stuttering through the main melodic theme on the opener.
If you’re not singing along to “Can’t Help It” on the second listen, there’s obviously something wrong with you. We really like it, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe that’s the appeal of Baba Stiltz?
Benedikt Frey – New Now (Live At Robert Johnson)
Benedikt Frey is Live at Robert Johnson’s cultist figure. Conjuring records that err on the side of witchcraft, he provides the darker hues to the Frankfurt’s flagship record label. Live at Robert Johnson operated out of Robert Johnson seems to let the artist pursue his/her own distinct sound and like previous records for the label l;ike “Reframe” and “Running in Circles”, “New Now” is Benedikt Frey just doing his thing.
Sluggish progressions through nebulous, hazy synthesis swathe break-beat percussive arrangements through the A side, much like “The Lobbyist” did in 2016. There’s always this element of psychedelia to Frey’s music which completely tips the scales on the “Clown Time” with fragments of incoherent noise rupturing the simple acid-bass-line and beat combination.
The title tracks sits on B2, where there’s always a surprise lurking, and here Benedikt Frey slows everything down to a near halt with a wavy Electro track.
Secret Squirrel – Secret Squirrels #18 (Secret Squirrel)
You would have seen releases from this label like the shelves regularly at Filter Musikk. Secret Squirrel is a Disco and House edit label out of the UK that have cottoned on to formula and they’re sticking to it. From the artwork to the records and even the packaging, Secret Squirrel stick to a theme like a squirrel to his nuts, with the only difference between releases being the colour of the inlay. They are consistent, and consistently good.
This records delivers a punchy funk across two House edits which according to one astute Discogs user are edits of Panache, “Get Down To The Sweet Jazz Music” and Kellee Patterson, Turn on the lights” respectively. If you are looking for a couple of Disco tracks that will work in the context of a modern House set, look no further.
Mr. Velcro Fastener – Ignorance EP (Electrix)
Is Finland the capital of Electro? Mr. Velcro Fastener have been around since 1997, making Electro body music, and some of it for Electrix. Here they are again slamming through the dance floor through 808 kicks and punchy metallic synths. A swooshing pad passes through the centre of the mix on the opener a “Monster in two worlds” while Nitzer Ebb style vocals takes a dystopian view on human nature. “That’s ignorant!” (in a mock Michael Jackson voice)
“Bakteriofag” (which we hope is not a slur) is a deeper take on the Electro genre with elegiac textures reaching towards the heavens over the pounding kick-snare combination. Interesting story, Mr. Velcro Fastener got their name from a friend who misunderstood the term Velcro Fastener as an English name. Two remixes of the opener follow with Silicon Scally giving us little variation on the original and M-Twelve barely hanging on to the original pad on an entirely new song. Interesting choice.