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Dance Music: Mohan, the Neurons, Techno Squirrels

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MOHAN: As Is Where Is (CD on Delvian Records)

This release from 2005 offers 61 minutes of techno music.

Mohan is Seattle-based Dave Nugent, an award-winning producer and film scorer. Joining him on this release are: Christopher Woitach and Nick Gehling on guitar, Paul Chandler on drum programming and bass, Blake Angelos on keyboards and synths, Lindsey Bowen on piano, Julian MacDonough on snare, and Havilah and Tanya Asmundson on vocals.

Sprightly electronic surges are tempered with lively beats and dense e-perc. Looping patterns conspire with engaging keyboards to generate a lavishly frolicsome experience. Buzzing sounds blend with crystalline sweeps and twanged noises to achieve a liquid environment of crisply uptempo tuneage. Foundational harmonics support a plethora of tireless riffs designed to activate your rhythm sense and coax you into making any place a suitable dancefloor. Slippery melodies spill out with abandon.

The drumming consists of mechanical beats and with a touch of more organic tempos. While most of these rhythms are languid, they nicely compliment the luxuriously frenetic sentiments displayed by the sultry music.

The guitars are cleverly hidden for the most part, functioning as subliminal embellishment for the club-hopping sound.

Female vocals provide lilting lyrical content. They discuss living life to the fullest.

Although this music is disguised as hip hop, one gets the feeling that the tuneage is actually targeted for a more accessible market.

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THE NEURONS: Dance (CD on Lakefront Productions)

This release from 2005 offers 61 minutes of snappy jazz music.

The Neurons is: David Hoffman and Paul Adams (who spent many years playing in Ray Charles' band).

The liberal utilization of horns is a rarity in dance music, but the Neurons pull it off with rewarding ease. Brass croons in tandem with soft flutes, while grooving basslines rumble along accompanied by snappy percussion. The strains of Latin guitars filter through the mix, gracing each passage with an undulating appeal that plunges flamenco into a futurist terrain. Other tracks feature more snarly guitar licks injecting a modern rock mien to these compositions.

A sultry jungle flavor permeates some of this tuneage--and that's "jungle" as in a lush humid sense, not any urban jive. Yet this jungle is devoid of any tribal presence, pursuing instead a highly civilized demeanor with sophisticated riffs and earnest social embellishment. A dramatic mood rises with each song, seasoning the jovial sentiments with tasty results.

In a cursory codification according to the basic sound of this music: it's jazz. Delving deeper, though, dance sensibilities emerge as the guiding force, transcending the absence of heavy programming or predictable drum machines to flourish without concern for violating any genre boundaries. This jazz is peppy and funky, smoothly sensuous in a strongly organic manner. Such defiance of expectations is a laudable motivation; to produce dance music from this fundamentally intellectual template--this is an accomplishment worthy of wide attention.

A pleasant surprise is that this music will fascinate stodgy jazz heads as fully as it appeals to the dancefloor crowd.

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TECHNO SQUIRRELS: Mute (CD EP on Rave Police Records)

This release from 2005 offers 19 minutes of nimble techno music.

Techno Squirrels is: Lisa Eriksson and Ryan Harlin.

Smooth female vocals are supported by a congenial pastiche of e-perc and nimble electronics. Bass tones rumble as a strident undercurrent that excellently blends with the dancefloor rhythms.

This snappy tuneage abounds with quick tempos and surging electronics. Swirling textures coalesce to produce a lush, techno presence littered with fast breaks and novel effects. Tasty harmonics achieve a fluid merger between the vocals and the music, generating a comfortable urgency tinged with a frenetic bearing.

This release features four tracks, two of which are remixes of the title track by Johan Afterglow and the Puff.

In these remixes, the vocals start out-front and swiftly become submerged in treatments and echoing tunnels of vibrant pulsations. Auxiliary treatments flavor the tuneage, embellishing the basic melodies with engaging variations and incidental beats.

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