Norway - Full Moon 200 - 12/28/12
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 43
Koppen: Strømmen Gamelan City
(2009 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0043.CD)
Upland: Monochrome Adventures
(2009 Jester Records TRICK-043)
Welcome to round 43 in the label showdown series between Metronomicon Audio and Jester Records!
Since we've more or less totally missed out on reviewing the output of these two great labels, we are going
through their entire catalogues, matching the releases from each label consecutively against each other.
Humorously counting goals
and giving out yellow
and red cards, soccer style -
but first of all reviewing the music. For more introductory information on this label match, see
Strømmen Gamelan City is presented in a double fold-out digipack.
The Upland release comes in a CD jewel case with a folded insert with art & info.
Metronomicon's main rapper Koppen is back with a new album called Strømmen Gamelan City, in fact
a double CD, with a second CD of special remixes titled Strømmen Cosylan City.
Koppen is helped out by a lot of people on this release: Sissyfus, Håvard Ese Eliassen, Thomas Meidell,
Viviana Vega, Ergo, Øystein Sandsdalen, Bjarne Larsen, Daniel Meyer Grønvold, Dag Stiberg, Zingone and finally Hagi.
The album opens with spoken a sample of unknown origin: "It is our hope and intention that this recording become a living memory and permanent record of history in the making during our lifetime and an inspiration to future generations",
which I was only able to trace back to Puerto Rican rap artist Carlos 'Solrac' Mena, who used a similar sample opening his Do You Know the Way? album.
"Ethiopian Juice" then fires off into a funky fury with lots of organic instrument samples, including a brass section.
A rather frisky opening, and the funk continues with the funnily titled and slightly slower "Phd In Vhs", with a certain 70's
feel to it, cool! "Corncob" is a little more synthetic and keyboard-based, and rhythmically more of a quick shuffle.
"Get In The Van" gets back to the funk, but the naked and Casio-like arrangement makes it less infectous than the
two opening tracks. "Free Willy Nelson Mandela" is another funny title, a very dry and somewhat synthetic piece, with some
nice bubbling synths. "90210" is also synthetic, but the blippy-blops have a rounded humorous quality that makes
it rather enjoyable. "Pachinko" is another snappy one in the same vein. "We Salute You!" sounds like
a Prince-inspired piece played on toy instruments. By "Bendit! (Like Uri!)" it feels like Koppen is starting to run
out of ideas, the formula is getting familiar, but "Xxxmas" builds up a funk again with some nicely fitted guitar and wind instrument samples.
"Sittin' On A Bucket" is equally catchy, with a fine banjo break. The album ends with a hidden track, "Robbers", a cartoony wave at Tom Waits.
The remixes on the Strømmen Cosylan City CD offers on the whole more forgettable versions of eight of these tracks, but
worth mentioning is Satanicpornocultshop's treatment of four tracks, which have a slightly slicker feeling to them, at times almost lounge jazzy.
To sum it up: Koppen's brand of rap-singing and Casio-funk may be an acquired taste, but it holds up well through this album because of
the fine diversity of the songs. Perhaps too much of a good thing, but without doubt Koppen's best release so far.
The two previous outings from Upland (Knut Andresas Ruud) matched here (Upland from 2002 and Obliterated from 2004) consisted
of partly rhythmic electronic glitch/noise combined with some melodics, in a rather uninteresting mix.
On Monochrome Adventures Ruud has refined his formula, making it more digestible, and there seems to be greater
variation both between the tracks and within each of them.
Still this is gritty stuff, not directly menacing, but it feels like wayward machines dancing in a
post-industrial setting, mechanical and cold. "The Chaos Engine" sounds like it's built on a automated and distorted didgeridoo,
while both "61 Cygni" and "Celestials" are stone cold funky with plenty of rhythm but no sweat.
There is probably a relation to a certain ratio of British industrial bands a couple of decades back in all this,
but I'm not well enough versed in that regard to drop any names.
To sum it up: Monochrome Adventures still has some of these rapid synthetic rhythms that
I find somewhat tiresome, but this is the album to start with if you want to check out Upland's
brand of funky industrial grit.
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 3 () - Jester Records 3 ()
Next head-to-head meeting is the Pilemil release If You Make A Lot Of Ceramics; Ceramics Will Make A Lot Of You As Well from Metronomicon Audio which is up against
the When release Homage Series Vol. 1: Sun Ra from Jester Records.
Copyright © 2012 Knut Tore Breivik