Mr. Lava's Trash Music Compendium

Another round-up of the best, the worst, and the most intriguing trash of the past and present.

(August 2009)

Thanks to mamazmeilor for allowing me to use and modify the photograph used on the right.

Say I Google the catchy "Lihtsad asjad" by Laura and Tafenau. I generally get some music videos, then 600 p2p download listings, and nothing more.

So if you have data on any of the artists I write about, don't hesitate to email me (the pigeonator at gmail dot com). And if you are the artist yourself, all the better. I imagine you can talk quite knowledgeably about yourself!

Click on the music notes to hear song samples.

Travka - Venus

This moody Romanian rock instrumental comes with an accordion. The band's Wikipedia entry was deleted on 10 July 2008. The reason? "Seemingly non-notable group." At "Eurotrash or Eurotreasure?" we are happy to note "non-notable" Romanian groups.

White Lies - Death (Chase & Status Mix)

Driven by a lugubrious, half-time tempo (which by itself evokes "The Majesty of Rock"), Chase & Status's remix includes the original's goosebump vocals married to big builds and surreal electronic flourishes. It really ought to please anybody who loves anything about music today—anybody at all.

Diamond - Dangiški Migdolai

Very catchy R&B'ish number from a Lithuanian singer.

Bajm (feat. Beata Kozidrak) - PS Zabierz mnie tam

Poland produces a lot of ballads and mid-tempo pop songs, so it's nice to hear a livelier offering from that country. Beata has been singing with Bajm since 1983, but this tune sounds as spritely as anything a newer group might put out. It's effectively a rock song, but it conveys a certain dancefloor sensibility as well. A catchy little thing.

Aqua - Back to the 80s

Due to romantic entanglements and/or creative differences, Aqua called it a day back in 2001. Aqua fans are rejoicing now that a greatest hits package has been released with three new songs on it. First of those new singles, "Back to the 80s," finds the group in perfect form. Lyrics will push all the right nostalgia buttons for those with memories of the 1980s while delighting their 1990s fans—all in 2009 (that's what I call scope). This advances a compelling argument that the group ought to put the past aside and work on an album of all-new material.

Niki - Sa oled see kes jääb

Russian Zhanna Friske (Жанна Фриске) seems to have sung the first version of this tune (with the evocative title "La-La-La"). Some Estonians later took a stab at it. I prefer the Estonian version, largely because of the warmer production and some subtle but significant alterations to the original's melody, particularly in the final lines of the choruses. Russian nationalists fuss that Estonia steals their songs (a silly accusation since Niki's version was undoubtedly licensed). In fact, everybody is "stealing" from everybody. Personally, I think licensing songs to performers in other countries is a better option than having the original artist record a poor English-language version for a wider market. If the cover is not a clone, it's nice to hear some of the twists other interpretations introduce, as we will see with Anaconda's "Ei soovi, et lahkuksid" in the forthcoming Volume 73.

AutoKratz - Always More

A lot of electro synth pop is coming out of the UK these days; here's another tune to add to the list. Song features a sort of New Order "True Faithish" quality and some effectively icy production. As a sidebar of interest to music addicts, I learn more about UK music from the Croatian rock charts than from any other place—including the UK charts.

Sonq Nemska [or "Sonia Nemska" or "Соня Немска"] - Horoskop

Bulgarian pop tune with a bit of that "What Time is Love?" vibe blended into more traditional-sounding Balkan beats ( describes Sonia's stuff as "Pop-Folk & Chalga Music"). It may be a bit disjointed, but it's a very interesting experiment.

Gloriq [or "Gloria"] - Opiat

And here's another catchy "chalga" tune from Bulgaria which, like "Horoskop", also happens to be sung by a bosomy singer.

Tiësto & Sneaky Sound System - I Will Be Here (Laidback Luke Mix)

Original is a catchy song unto itself, but Laidback Luke adds his usual twist of strange plus a 75% increase in bangingness.

Gathania - Get It Out

There is nothing special about this piece of vocal pop house. It's just a by-the-numbers dancefloor pleaser from a Swedish Idol competitor that ought to delight fans of September, Velvet, and other Scando pop dance product. Sometimes that's good enough around Fortress King Pigeon.

Deadmau5 and Kaskade - I Remember

It strikes me that this song exudes more "Kaskade-ness" than "Deadmau5-ness" thanks to its ethereal production and delicate female vocals. Frail, moody stuff for sensitive clubbers.

FBOTI (Fat Boy On Thin Ice) - Piano Player

It's an instrumental, piano-driven house track with the word "Piano" in its title, and so inevitably it will draw comparisons to the huge instrumental piano house track of 2008, Eric Prydz's "Pjanoo." OK, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy—I just invited the comparison. It serves as a fine compliment to Prydz's effort, but this tune swings a bit more and has a nice farty rap beat in the middle that is as welcome as it is unexpected. It ought to do big business on Europe's dancefloors as summer turns into fall.

Mission One - Military Drum

I'm dusting off a goody that never made it onto an "EorE?" compendium back when it was new. Now it has assumed a charming retro quality, much like the author of these reviews. Song is a cover of an industrial-flavored Hubert Kah tune from 1987 (Mr. Kah was a German pop star). This track will make you wonder why so few house songs feature the sound of a machine gun.

The Sounds - No One Sleeps When I'm Awake

This is the best rock song I've heard in years. It beats 90% of the competition by having a) a catchy melody and b) substantive lyrics. Then it blows past the last 10% because, well, what we have here is an ANTHEM. A song for pumping your fists in the air. A song for long nights of alcohol-fueled debauchery. A song for random hook-ups confused with romantic love. Did I really just write that? Yes, it looks like I just did. That's how much this song has affected me.

Dacia - Liikaa Sulta Odotin (Dance Mix)

When I saw the name "Dacia" I thought of the Romanian car. The car was named after the folks who once ruled what is today Romania. But this group is based in Finland, so I am curious as to why they picked the name. This superb dance remix fascinates me in that it represents the perfect center point between power pop groups like, say, The Sounds, and unapologetic Tru Trashers like Basshunter. Hopefully the beginning of a trend!

(September 2009)

Thanks to TwiggX for allowing me to use and modify two photos from her "Headphones Pack" to create the image on the right.

Before we move on to this month's music...I recognize that seven years may seem like a long time for some, but is it already time to cover Cassius's "Sound of Violence", Dennis de Laat? Not to embarrass Dennis in front of the whole class—I could pick on many dance music producers these days in the same way.

Covers are fine by me (I loved Richard Grey's/Denis the Menace's reintrepretation of Daft Punk's "One More Time"—potential sacrilege that instead resulted in a fascinating, darker take on the tune), but what bothers me is the amount of credit some so-called artists receive for ideas that were born in others' brains and just re-noodled a little. That Cassius and vocalist Steve Edwards did all the heavy lifting for "Sound of Violence" there is no doubt, but on DJ Download there is no indication that Dennis de Laat is not the original author of the song. The problem extends to iTunes also, where liner notes have either been buried or completely deleted, leading one to sometimes applaud dance music producers for ideas that were not really their own. On these pages I try to note when songs are covers (and I frequently find myself going back to update older reviews as new information comes to me). Always feel free to email me if you know more about a song's history than I do.

Click on the music notes to hear song samples.

Solarstone feat. Elizabeth Fields - Part of Me (Stellar Mix)

Solar Stone (once it was written as two separate words) made a huge splash on the renowned Hooj Choons record label a decade ago with his "Seven Cities". He apparently has no intention of retiring. "Part of Me (Stellar Mix)" is a thing of beauty. Lyrics are much better than average for this genre; a mysterious musing from a woman singing about a message received from her unborn child. That's pretty heavy in a genre where one is more likely to encounter some fragile chick pleading, "Don't leave me!" over and over again. Some Ibiza-friendly guitars surface in the instrumental second half, but after the shockingly high quality of the opening lyrics that's unfortunately when the tune runs out of steam. This is a 10 minute song, and the structural philosophy adopted here seems to be a utilitarian one: stack the vocals at the beginning for the DJ who wants to do a vocal mix, then offer an instrumental second half for the DJ who prefers the instrumental trance sound. If my theory is correct, it would be preferable to just release two different versions of the song and shorten them both. Regardless, there are treasures to be salvaged in this sea of sound.

Laura feat. Tafenau - Lihtsad asjad (translation: "Simple Things")

This Estonian pop tune has a bit of Latin swing to it (easily missed if you concentrate on the glossy keyboard production). Raivo Tafenau, a respected saxophonist, adds extra class to the infectious melody. Estonia has emerged as my favorite pop music producer in recent months; nobody these days seems capable of making more consistently interesting pop than this tiny nation of 1.5 million does.

Demet Akalin - Mucize (translation: "Miracle")

A Turkish pop/club song from a former fashion model. I am always interested in how ethnic musical elements in other countries are woven into their disco sounds; here is as catchy an example of this as any you could hope to find. Song swings from halftime tempo to full-on house beats; it just goes where it wants to go, making for a lively listening experience.

Katerine - Treat Me Like a Lady (Radio Edit)

This month's disposable female-fronted Europop tune is Katerine's "Treat Me Like a Lady," which boasts mysterious synth chords that vaguely echo ABBA's "Lay All Your Love On Me" and samples of a camera shutter because, hey, camera shutters sound cool I guess.

Deck Jagger - Gay Clubs Are Better (Note: at DJ Download group name is incorrectly noted as "Decj Jagger"; song as "Utopia [Gay Clubs Are Better]". The correct name of the group and the titling of the track is as listed here in bold. This information came from the group's own Facebook page.)
Wildchild Records came to my attention on the might of Nucvise's magnificent "Wild Cherry Tree." Other Wildchild stuff is not too shoddy either (Maarten Hercules's sublime "Red Sun Landing" is worth cozying up to). As the Finnish trio Deck Jagger demonstrates, Wildchild promotes a refreshing alternative to the too-samey Armada and Vandit trance record label offerings. In fact, it's hard to say if "Gay Clubs Are Better" is really trance, and that's a compliment in a world where music seems all too willing to pigeonhole itself. This tune reminds me of material from Aphex Twin's "Selected Ambient Works 85-92" crossed with a bit of 808 State's "In Yer Face" Out West's "Domination" and—AND!—Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (that should more than meet this month's quota of obscure music references). A great spoken-word sample as well.

Anaconda - Ei soovi, et lahkuksid

Swedish group Freestyle's 1980 tune "Vill ha dej" (aka "Vill ha dig", or the fuller "Vill ha dig i mörkret hos mig") has enjoyed numerous rebirths in the hands of different Scandinavian artists. Eurotrash project Drömhus tackled it memorably in 1998 (that version charted in numerous Scandinavian countries and began singer Therese's long and productive career in Eurodance and house). Sometime after that Estonian girl group Anaconda gave it a shot with an Estonian-language version called "Ei soovi, et lahkuksid." My favorite version is the Anaconda one, a sterling example of pumping 2000-era Eurodance that may or may not have been produced by fellow Estonians Caater (can't get my hands on an original copy of the song, so not sure, but Caater had worked with Anaconda before). Video features jiggling boobies and gratuitous crotch shots of the lovely trio. This slutty/sweet quality is one that only Eurodance seems able to pull off (images like this one sum it up tidily).

Caater - O Si Nene

Nicolette provided the first version of this song under the auspices of the legendary Shut Up Dance. LA Style lifted a sample for "I'm Raving" (the not-as-well-known follow-up to the massive "James Brown is Dead"). And so this catchy little sample has kept popping up over the years. Here is Caater's lively 1999 take, one for which they won the "Kuldne Plaat" (gold record) pop music award in their native Estonia.

Saxsymbol (feat. Lex Empress) - Samba de Liberdade (Ricky Rivaro's Sundale Mix)

The trashiest, and therefore best of the remixes of this tune comes by way of Ricky Rivaro. Opening sounds nearly identical in tone to Supermode's "Tell Me Why" (this was also echoed in September's "Cry for You (Jackal Remix)". But then it finds its own footing as the Latin swing enters the proceedings. A nice fusion of elements here that should keep differently-minded trashers grooving together.

Atmos - Twin Reaction (Orginal)

From minimal twitterings it morphs gently into some killer chords followed by an echoey piano bit that reminds you of the better dream dance tracks from a decade ago. Features a mid-section of Middle-Eastern inspired vocalizations; a welcome bit of strangeness. Gentle, but not dull—lovely stuff. I snagged my copy from the DJ Download website.

Anguilla - Jump Say Oui

This horrific song features dance beats, strings, and yodeling. Worth rubbernecking.

MEW - Introducing Palace Players

Opens with a listener-unfriendly time-signature that harkens back to the days of prog rock. But then things give way to a cheery melody and weenie male vocals that would make this act a fine compliment to Boston's Pleasure Pit.

Mickie Krause - Düp Düp

Schlager singer Mickie Krause and rave buffoons Scooter seem to be locked in a strange, symbiotic relationship. Indeed, if you killed one of them the other would wither away and die. In "Düp Düp" Krause does a spot-on imitation of Scooter's shouted motivational vocals (e.g., he cries "How much is the dish?" in reference to the Scooter song "How Much is the Fish?"). Considering that Scooter have made a career of stealing ideas from other artists (the most shameful being their cover of Earth & Fire's "Weekend" shortly after Kid Q dusted off the forgotten Dutch pop song with his superior "This Feeling"), perhaps Krause is karma for Scooter. So what have we here? A schlager tune roughly mashed into a drunken sing-a-long interpretation of the 2001 Planet Funk classic "Chase the Sun" (NOT the superficially similar 2007 Scooter song "The Shit That Killed Elvis," you silly, fussy Scooter fans). Scooter followed Krause with their own interpretation of the Planet Funk sample, called "J'adore Hardcore." Mickie's is the better tune thanks largely to its inspired marriage of schlager and trance (by comparison—and despite a great video—Scooter's version seems rote and dull, a surprise coming from a band I love that once seemed to exhibit boundless energy). This stupid controversy will doubtless continue.

Filo and Peri - Drops of Jupiter [Progressive Mix]

Filo and Peri are honorary Eurotrash (they actually hail from New York City, but they have clearly learned their lessons well from the Euro-masters). Their "Anthem" was championed on these pages a while back. Now comes this fine work which, in addition to offering the usual instrumental trance oomph, also manages to work in some keyboards straight out of 1978-era Genesis which then morph into something like Van Halen's "Jump." I'm beginning to figure out some of their tricks (for example, like "Anthem," this song also features a cool key change between "verse" and "chorus"). The song shares a title with a popular American rock song, but I hear no connection between the two.

Thomas Bronzwaer - Look Ahead (Original Mix)

I'm seldom blown away by Armin Van Buuren's own output anymore, but I strongly admire the guy because there are few people out there who are doing as much for music as he is. Consider the impressive stable of artists he showcases on his various dance labels; you could describe them as "Armin's Trance Guild". A lot of the production on his labels is unfortunately pretty samey, and the same could be said for Thomas Bronzwaer's "Look Ahead." However, the melody Bronzwaer unleashes is especially goosebump-evoking, a sublime slab of instrumental trance that goes beyond the lazier melodic efforts of most of his competition. A fan of the song and I exchanged thoughts on it several weeks back, and the fan summed it up nicely: "I just bought it today and I love it. Can't stop listening."

The compendiums:

2001 06/07
2001 08
2002 01
2002 01
2002 01/02
2002 04
2002 06
2002 09
2002 10/11
2002 12/2003 01
2003 02
2003 03/04
2003 05/06
2003 06
2003 08
2003 09
2003 10/12
2004 02/07
2004 07/09
2004 11
2004 12
2005 01/03
2005 05/09
2005 09
2005 12
2006 03
2006 06/09
2006 11/12
2007 01/03
2007 04/05
2007 06/07
2007 09/10
2008 01
2008 04/06
2008 06/07
2008 09/12
2009 02
2009 04/06
2009 08/09
2009 10/11
2010 01
2010 02/03
2010 04/07
2010 08/10
2010 11
2011 01/03
2011 04/05
2011 06
2011 09

the pigeonator at gmail dot com
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