A stack of outstanding electronic-music CDs precariously teeters on my desk, so it's time again to sling some words about 'em. Herewith, a portion of the mother lode...
ARMANDO, Trax Classix: Armando; JOEY BELTRAM, Trax Classix: Joey Beltram (Trax; traxhouse.com). The late Armando's a relatively unknown Chicago house OG, but this 16-track CD ought to open heads to his squelchy, bare-bones, funk mesmerizers. A massive influence on Britain's late-'80s acid-house explosion, Armando's music still sounds archetypal. NYC producer Beltram blew up many an early-'90s rave with his galvanic techno anthems. His pneumatic, 140-bpm bangers could convince the scrawniest clubber that he/she was invincible. Along with Jeff Mills, this mensch presaged much of the hard-as-fuck techno that swept through Europe in the '90s. Perhaps for legal reasons, this disc lacks Beltram's best-known cuts, "Mentasm" and "Energy Flash."
COLLEEN, The Golden Morning Breaks (Leaf; theleaflabel.com). French multi-instrumentalist Colleen (Cécile Schott) follows up her stunning 2003 debut, Everyone Alive Wants Answers, with another gorgeous, dew-dappled gem. The Golden Morning Breaks's 10 songs sound like antique aural delicacies created in the pre-electricity era and then graciously launched into our crass present to teach us about the real meaning of beauty. Colleen's minimalist, string-plucked melodies touch you like a baby's fingers grazing your ears.
KONONO Nº1, Congotronics (LP: Ache; acherecords.com; CD: Crammed; crammed.be). This large Congolese ensemble generate raw, lo-fi trance music mainly through amplified likembés (thumb pianos), megaphoned vocals, and ramshackle rhythms banged out on stray car parts, pots, and pans. The distortion resulting from the crew's handmade mics adds a crucial sheen of otherness to this spirited dance music. African DIY of the highest (dis)order.
SUPERPITCHER, Today (Kompakt; kompakt-net.de). Superpitcher's DJ mix disc won't surprise anyone who's been following his string of sublimely melancholy tech-house (some have dubbed it "microgoth"). As a DJ, Superpitcher (Aksel Schaufler) is more interested in maintaining a vibe (lush, melodic, upliftingly bummed) than in amazing transitions or deck tricks. And with deep, resonant tracks by Lawrence, DJ Koze, Michael Mayer, Oliver Hacke, and Wighnomy Bros. flowin' by, that's quite enough.
JAMES TAYLOR, Carthage Milk (Logistic; logisticrecords.com). Veering away from the vocal-heavy, crowd-pleasing Loops from the Bergerie, Swayzak member Taylor plumbs experimental tech-house's immersive depths on Carthage Milk. The overall feel is introverted, glitchy, and atmospheric in that ever-loving, soul-soothing, Gas-like way. Think headphones and Jacuzzis rather than megaclubs and coke fiends to get the gist of Taylor's subliminal steez. It's a stirring change.
LUKE VIBERT, Lover's Acid (Planet µ; planet-mu.com). For Vibert, acid is a double-deckered bliss sandwich encompassing the drug and the genre defined by Roland TB-303 bass squelches. Consequently, Lover's Acid deals with the electro-funkadelic imperatives of freeing asses and minds. Luke's cool hands will also get your feet hot. DAVE SEGAL