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Tuesday
Feb222011

Marco Carola - Play it Loud!

MARCO CAROLA - PLAY IT LOUD!

Minus

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)

never heard 'play it loud' b4 .. just youtube'd it .. fucking hell its zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob Booth

Hero!
Finally somebody found the right words.

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterripperton

marco's new album is great. he's been teasing us with these tracks for the last year in his sets and helped elevated his status to the icon for modern techno. all you haters have obviously not been out in a long time

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryou're all crazy

Who the fuck is toby firth?

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAk

I think Richie Hawtin is one of the finest musicians the world has ever seen, certainly up there with Mozart or Beethoven. His epic luxurious techno sets have filled the bowl of despair served up on a tray of contempt that has been the void in my life for so many years.

I love you Richie

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Paul

" 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. "


Perhaps the most retarded thing I have ever read in a review well done. :S :S

Totally agree that Carolas album is indeed pointless trash, but so is that above statement you made.

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFraud

Nice read and some good points, but your 3 deck mixing chapter doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpaul

Nice one Toby !!

February 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEamonn / D1

cant believe they still getting away with it ... enough elready !

February 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermickwelch

Wow total nail on the head review. It's good to read someone else describing how I've felt about the music I love being sidelined by stuff with no heart or imagination. A drink to you sir

February 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdamiantubbritt

HEAR HEAR ! Excellently put.. It's the emperor's new (old) clothes that is indeed an insult to everything techno (used to) stand for. If more people spoke out then maybe things would change.

February 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJerome Hill

THANK YOU!!

Beautifully and honestly written. Sir, much appreciated. Such a pleasure to see that someone speaks up too! :)

Regards

Isis
♥♫ 2.0

February 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIsis Salvaterra

you said it in the last paragraph.... you're getting old.... jog on old boy :->

February 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlondonsomething

i won't touch the three-turntable discussion, but the focus here should be on the claim that this music is 'cutting edge' ... which is quite misleading. there is no new sound design, no conceptual framework, just a collection of generic semi-funky 'it's cool to be minimal' mediocrity, *all* filler, which doesn't do anything to expand carola's or m-nus's sound. what's even more offensive is that this is supposed to get a 3xLP release (?!) while jpls's album on m-nus, 'the depths', which is a much more interesting listen to me, only got a CD and digital release. some of us still hold onto our sense of good tastes even at the craziest hours of the night/morning; even if it feels like toby might be frothing at the mouth in anger, i agree with his overall review. age here shouldn't matter, but if it does, let it be known that i'm 24 and already tired of this sound. "emotive direction of a faceless dog", indeed... a new low point for m-nus.

February 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrian

GOOD one Toby!

February 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterninu

This review couldn't have hit the fucking nail any harder on the head. Beatport and all major download sites should have a section labelled 'Pointless Shite'.

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I respect your opinion and I see your point, but i disagree 100% to anything you wrote here. But this is politics, its like right wing VS left wing, you will never get them undertand eachother... Obviously here you are more one extreme side of this wing... and I'm on the opposite.

Good luck with your "so called" good music....for you

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSlight

you tell me your favourite d j s and music and lets see if i can rip it to shreds smart arse

March 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersuper chin

Absolutely brilliant review. Made my day.

March 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClovis

i've had those misanthropic moments you speak of. A dark undertone to what can be such a bright experience. Comes with the terriorty though, and touching on a previous comment, it's only a problem (to me) if the drugs come first.

Nevetheless i understand your point about carola, however, boring when listened to, really it is the dj who can make these tracks come alive. I mostly agree with your review, excluding the three deck argument, and will finish by saying there is a setting and context for all electronic music.

March 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMurat

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