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Marco Carola - Play it Loud!



I do sincerely hope that most people who enjoy clubbing do at some point experience the same sort of misanthropic flashpoints as I get from time to time.  The sort where you suddenly think “what the hell am I doing dancing to what sounds like utter rubbish in a darkened room alongside drugged up cretins who dance like they’ve been locked in up in some isolated asylum for a decade. What are my children going to think?”

Imagine the scene – you’re stumbling back from a house/techno night at some Mediterranean festival with some friends acquired on the dancefloor dancing to techno zeitgeister Richie Hawtin. There’s a serene haze to the morning sun as you make your way back to their plush pad to carry on the party. The sunglasses are out and everyone’s much fitter, better-looking and wearing more fashionable clothes than you but it doesn’t matter, because it’s an afterparty isn’t it! Or at least it’s just uninhibited drug-taking dressed up as partying.

You get to the pad and there’s a few other people who’ve been doing the same thing – namely taking far too many drugs and listening to rubbish music that doesn’t go anywhere.  They’ve got decks set up (well actually a laptop) and the soundtrack is Minus’s latest release, Marco Carola’s “Play It Loud”.  This assortment of clicks, whistles, groans and what sounds like a mouse on drums goes on for about 4 hours and has the emotive direction of a faceless dog. Everyone dances like they’re a puppet directed by someone with attention-deficit syndrome, lurching into cadaverous nodding. You’ll have to forgive this slight slip into dance music related misanthropy, but it might help to set the scene for the next 400 words or so.

This collection of DJ tools by Carola created to serve some sort of utilitarian purpose for the dancefloor, successfully manages to amplify everything wrong with much of this music today, perpetuating the idea that this sort of drivel is cutting edge. It is the sort of infuriating rubbish that makes me think that all the efforts of people in Chicago, Detroit, The Hague, the UK, Italy and everywhere else by people putting their heart and soul into it are for precisely nothing if something like this manages to somehow get released. Not least on a label set up by someone meant to be at the heart of what makes techno great.

Even the title is insulting.  We all realise that 95% of what constitutes dance music to the man on the street today is the sort of stuff that you might hear in a disused airfield, surrounded by pill-devouring spawn wearing more fluorescence than the local wildlife in Chernobyl, but do we need reminding of it? Dancing and techno in particular is a primal release, but at least give the title something else apart from a Neanderthal call to arms on the dancefloor.

It’s just some filler DJ tool tracks I hear you say, give him a break – they’re useful! Wasn’t the legendary Chicago label Trax just that? Wasn’t Phuture’s seminal release just a record created precisely for the dancefloor at the Music Box? That’s the birth of Acid right there! What about Jeff Mills’s “Purposemaker” series of releases? They’re just a bunch of stripped down techno records that are dressed-up DJ tools. 

That’s all true, but “Play It Loud”, which according to its creator, sounds “much better at loud volume” doesn’t even begin to approach or attempt to introduce an element of individuality as those tracks did. It’s just a polished selection of everyday chugging loops titled “Freak On” or “Groove Catcher” with the odd trigger chucked in to keep you on your toes. There’s no history here, no future, nothing.  Anodyne Ableton preset poppycock designed as “fillers” between one record and another. Here’s an interesting idea though – why not just play some good records instead?

Carola is the sort of DJ that became famous for playing techno in the late 90’s with three decks.  His approach to the art is indicative of the problem - he belongs to a fraternity of mostly European spinners that thought by layering more and more looped techno upon each other, the music would somehow be better. This musical myopia forgets the essential notion that three boring tracks played at the same time sounds three times as bad.  It’s this reductionism of techno and house to nothing apart from watered down rhythm and narcotic triggers that is so disheartening. I realise that this is a fine line as so much techno could potentially to some ears be like this, but to hear a selection of loops and nothing else so dull that if I could find a suitable word to describe the total opposite of epic I would do so here.  To add insult to injury, there’s even a mix available where you can listen to of all the tracks put together. 

It’s not often that something so awful can inspire such corrosive feeling.  As I get older, I find that what is perceived as “bad music” can be ignored – it’s not that important. Hell, what I dislike now I might even enjoy in a decade. However, once in a while, something comes along and lights up all the buttons on the barometer and this is it. Instead of filling this under C for “Carola”, can all shops please do us a favour put it under F for “Fucking Pointless”. 

Toby Frith


Reader Comments (54)

totally agree... a fine write up

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEil


February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBuds

"a suitable word to describe the total opposite of epic" - maybe "pedestrian"? its very limpness is damning

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrendan

Nail on the head!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdolf

Seriously scathing, but couldn't agree more.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkuri

brilliant review - sums up what is so wrong about modern techno

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

You wish you were me though

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

you dare to insult our scene?

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShoreditch Trendy

Quite possibly the worst 'techno' album of the past decade.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAgree

so right, so so correct, not just about techno but about the scene in general. there used to be a time when going out dancing was about having a good time and the drugs were to enhance the experience not be the experience. The DJ was there to lead the party by taking his cues from the dancefloor not to joylessly play poor records and cleverly mix them for 45 minutes. Music was supposed to make you feel good inside, not die at the snobbishness and seperation of it all.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersteve

So very true.

Thankfully labels like this can polish a turd so well, it comes off like a bright and shiny gem that makes it's way around the eardrums of Earth. We don't hate the players. Really does make raving about the least interesting on the planet the last 5 years though.

Step up the music and lose the hype, please. The stage shows are even worse than the records. A thousand lights don't make you rock, they make you one 100th of Daft Punk--it's all about the work. But I digress. This track, big surprise, is weak sauce, plain and simple.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSUBTRAK

brilliant write up...we need more people like you to tell it like it is...not dilute and butter the arses of wankers like carola and hawtin...bore off minus!!!...over paid drivvle mongerers!!

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermutant

I love you Toby. I've felt this way about Carola for a while now. What the hell is his appeal? It's homogeneous guido-fist-pump-techno for the noob kids that suddenly think techno is cool because mixmag latched on to it instead of trance.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbeema

Absolute drivel. Great review. Spot on.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAcos1

wow - you've got some balls and they are super correct balls.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermonk

top review

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

i agree, after reading this , i went to BP and listened to this album and there is nothing . BUT there are still good musicians out there ...
It is sad that Minus releases this kind of crap just on time so they can push a dj into summer festivals with their booking agency ( Carola is booked by Minus ´Clonk agency) . This is all this scene is about : making money .

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchris

I am glad that people are finally calling out Carola for this shit, hes got away with it for too long.

Richie needs to have a word

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

The best record review I think I've ever read. Simply spot on :)

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark EG

god bless your healthy sould man

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdialect

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