the original soundtrack

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09/01/2005: "cologne rundown, part 1."

It's weird to actually live in Germany. I moved to Berlin a month ago, so Cologne was only a train ride away. I jumped into a high-speed ICE train after work and zoomed to Cologne in exactly four hours and nine minutes.

When I got to Cologne, I immediately remembered how much I loved it. Berlin is cool, but it's a bit hard in comparison; people seem pretty tough and hardcore. In Cologne, people are disarmingly friendly. Even the guy who sells you your newspaper will say hello to you and ask you how you're doing. I asked a girl on the street for directions and she insisted on walking with me to where I needed to go to make sure I didn't get lost. That's Cologne for you.

We arrive in Köln

(I might also add that Cologne beer is miles better than Berlin beer. The average Berlin beer tastes like piss, but your average Kölsch tastes like nectar from the heavens. So give it up for Köln, y'all.)

When I got to Stadtgarten--the venue where the whole Kompakt shindig was happening--I was met with massive crowds and the urgent news that Justus Köhncke was about to start his live set! I rush into the venue because I don't want to miss a minute of it. It's absolutely jammed with people inside the Stadtgarten. There's barely space to move. Justus and his band are setting up. Justus is wearing a T-shirt that says "AT&T: The More You Hear, The Better We Sound." I like the guy already. I've never seen Justus and his band live, so I have no idea how it's going to go down.

I'm standing there, hoping that he'll dig out some sweet tunes from his first record, Was ist Musik?, that he'll do some Chic covers, that he'll play "Timecode," that he'll do "Homogen", "2 After 909"...done, done, done, and a million times done. He played 'em all, and they sounded even better than they did on record. That's because Justus and his band make every song more over-the-top, MORE disco, and MORE camp in their live gig. Each song got some jazzy piano fills and some extra boogie-woogie chords. The keyboardist showed off some serious skillz. "Elan" got fattened up and filled out, and became the massive anthem it was always meant to be. The end was a one-two punch of "Timecode" and his awesome "So Weit Wie Noch Nie" remix. Everyone in the audience had goofy grins on their faces. How could you not be happy after that set? A megamix of only Justus Köhncke tunes is pretty much the greatest set imaginable.

Later on in the night I had a very funny conversation with Mr Köhncke. Ends up he was a punk when he was a teenager! He said his favorite bands back then were the Buzzcocks, Wire, and DAF. This made total sense to me--those are pretty much the three punk bands you should love if you want to learn how to write pop music. Buzzcocks' "Singles Going Steady" is pretty much the bible of how to write a good, tight pop song. DAF: DAF had a goofy and highly underrated sense of humor. Wire: I asked him what his favorite Wire tune was and he immediately said "Outdoor Miner," Wire's most perfect pop song, their sweetest tune.

Old-school synth from the 'Synthesizerpark'--more on this later

Speaking of perfect pop music, the dude immediately following Justus Köhncke was the shadowy, mysterious Rex the Dog! I'd never seen him live before, and this was definitely a highlight of the night for me. Rex must've been sweating serious bullets, because he was facing some serious competition; Michael Mayer was spinning in another room during his set. But Rex commanded a packed floor. He played a bunch of his own tunes--his remix of the Prodigy's "Girls," "Frequency," "Prototype," and on and on. But then he mixed it up with stuff like "Theme from S'Express"! I have especially fond memories of "I Look into Mid-Air," when the whole room seemed to melt into a colorful whirl. He ended with this bonkers cut-up of Mel and Kim's "Respectable" with little tiny bits of Koze's "Brutalga Square" mixed in. What a guy.

Parts 2 and 3 coming soon!

Replies: 9 Comments

the best mix indeed! i had just bought s'express, mel & kim AND brutalga sq. the same week his minimix came on bbc last year, and was like 'what??!! it was /is on rex tha' dog website for download.

slayer said @ 09/14/2005 02:13 AM EST

that soudns like a replica of his "minimix" he did on the annie mac show, the brutalga sq, respectable and s'express things. that is the greatest mix per minute (its only 5 mins long) ever, and mel and kim was my first ever record. brutalga sq is my favourite tune in all of germany, so these elements are all freakin amazing.

ambrose said @ 09/10/2005 01:09 PM EST

Oh Philip. Too bad I didn't see you, I'd been wanting to meet you.

Debbie said @ 09/07/2005 12:56 PM EST

Hi, well, I hear Rex The Dog is actually JX ("son of a gun")... so you've probably seen him before somewhere, right?

Tal said @ 09/05/2005 11:44 PM EST

according to rex, he actually played mel & kim twice! sadly i missed it, having found myself nailed to the floor for mayer and then koze....

philip said @ 09/05/2005 01:46 PM EST

so grateful for your good 4X4 news :)

petty said @ 09/05/2005 12:05 AM EST

Mel & Kim, "Respectable" cut up, that sounds wild, jajajaja..
I like your blog, i got your link from a friend that turned me on to your blog, dope stuff!

Carlos_djchang said @ 09/03/2005 07:32 PM EST

that sounds wild, Mel & Kim "respectable" cut up, jajajaja..
i like your blog, got your link from a friend who turned me on to your blog, dope stuff!

Carlos_djchang said @ 09/03/2005 07:27 PM EST

amazing! keep em coming Geeta

Paul said @ 09/02/2005 11:17 PM EST

email me

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