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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)

Agree, yes, yes...
Hope more people start saying this things out loud. I think entirly Minus have to either do music, or stop doing shit.
Marco Carola, more dope, who cares..
Thank you for this review, I saw famous DJs saying "oh yes Marco Carola he's techno fundamental..." and now they agree to your review. Well done!

March 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarteaux

thank you, i agree 100%

March 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdg

Every word about that album is true! Its fucking shit!

March 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterQ

great article :)

March 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpera

no objections

March 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleo

Thank god that someone has finally stood up and said what anyone with a pair of ears has been thinking for a while now... that this iknd of lifeless, repetitive and frankly pointless Techno.. ( and I use thet term Techno loosely) which has been adopted by the so-called cool club kids because they have been rapped up in the hype and should really take their heads out of their asses and realise what they are listening.... which, lets be honest is really bad music. Great review though. Rant over.

March 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEastLondon

I bought the album and pluck bits of it for my sets to take the set down after some higher moments but agree as a piece of music overall it doesnt make a great listen if its just one after the other.

It gets kind of lost as just the same beat and groove re-sequenced a few different ways.

In the context of playing a track or 2 in a set of other record it works if your into the techier side of house

March 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCV

Wonderful review my man, it's what me and a core group of friends have been saying for literally years now as the mnml craze swept over the land, replacing the funky, primal and challenging sounds of techno with digestable, coffee shop tempo, have a martini and nod your head douchebaggery. While there is a time and place for all styles, and I love some lower key styles, what usually passes for "techno" these days is a sorry and embarrassing shadow of its former self, a blatant sell out of most producers to try and continue staying relevant and get gigs at clubs that cater towards the everyday clubber with money and not the genuine, passionate techno head. I doubt some of these producers seriously go nuts over their own tunes or absolutely love and are passionate about these sounds. Can you imagine Carola in his studio while he made this album, calling his girlfriend over and yelling in ecstasy, "Baby, listen to this! This is the most amazing thing I have ever done!" They are just going through the motions to produce more mnmldouche that will be sold on Beatport. Genuinely working to have a successful career is one thing and making absolute crap to try and stay current and relevant in a sea of similar sounding crap is quite another.

March 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersteagle

Hear Hear. Agreed on all points. Well written . Intelligent dissection of what should (from a label such as MINUS) be nothing short of pure Inspiration.

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Mara

Love this review. I had a listen to the title track. Absolute crap. Richie Hawtin should be embarassed that he lets this stuff be produced on his label. M-nus used to be innovative. Richie himself used to be innovative. I guess this is what happens when you live on LSD for 20 years straight. Microhouse/minimal is a horrible, horrible bastardization of the amazing, abstract computer music that is/was minimal techno.

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Holy words!

April 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElix

dont LIKE dont LISTEN....... simple

Toby, your review is in part insulting and disrespectful, and your words makes you sound very narrow minded. You don't like Marco Carola. Fine, but it does not mean that music should follow your narrowed taste. You have the reserved right not to be part of any event that involves Marco. You do not have to buy his albums, or to listen to his performances. There are plenty of parties and artist for each and every taste. Go to the ones you enjoy! I particularly Love Marco's art and his capacity to keep the public's attention for extensive hours, as I do also appreciate and understand other variations under techno style. I'm 35 years old music lover, a big fan of Marco and I'm not a drug user, by the way. Marco's music is for those who understands rhythm. Music can be created from anything that generates mechanical wave forms with harmony, and harmony can be found in percussion in the very same way it can be found in melodically played instruments and synths. Understanding music overall is for few, and I really wish more people could be able to do it so. There would probably be happier people.

December 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMusic Lover

really cool

March 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWhatsapp Status

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