lost in translation.
Reason #4334 why I think Germany is cool: on German MTV, "Pimp My Ride" (the popular car-improvement show on MTV hosted by Xzibit that I must admit I became mildly obsessed with at one point) is "Pimp My Bicycle." Besides being more Kraftwerkesque and environmentally conscious, it's also a lot funnier--the host is a scrawny rapper from Hamburg named Bo who tries somewhat desperately to copy Xzibit's style and sayings. The show's logo is the "Pimp My Ride" logo from America, with "Ride" messily crossed out and "FAHRRAD" ("Bicycle") scribbled underneath it:
The improvements are a little less blingin' than West Coast Custom, but they're pretty awesome: rims, mp3 players and other gadgets attached to handlebars, bike frames repainted and graffiti'd up to have cool orange flames or leopard prints on them, and even exhaust pipes that emit fake smoke.
In related fahrrad-ical news, I'm pleased to announce that the charges against Josh Kinberg, the brains behind Bikes Against Bush, have been officially dropped. (I wrote about Bikes Against Bush here and here.)
01.31.05 @ 05:49 PM EST [link]
There are a few people out there that I'd love to just sit down and talk about disco and current trends in brain science with. Theo Parrish is one of them. After seeing him spin again tonight (for the sixth time?!) I really wanted to figure out what was running through his head at every given moment, from both the musical and neuroscientific perspectives.
Better, lengthier updates soon...
01.28.05 @ 03:59 AM EST [link]
Reynolds on the current state of dance music in the New York Times
01.23.05 @ 02:50 AM EST [link]
Friday, Jan 21
Grime/UK garage, broken beat, ragga dancehall, hip-hop, r&b, pop
Greg Poole (Wikkid! Crew)
Cooper (XLR8R, Urban Renewal Records)
Paul Kennedy (Wild FleX, Sci-Fi Soul)
downstairs lounge at Lucky Jack's, 129 Orchard St (betw. Rivington & Delancey)
01.20.05 @ 08:49 PM EST [link]
Gah I can't believe I forgot to link to Gel and Weave! The only music blog I know of that has its own hip-hop clothing line (in the works apparently)!
01.20.05 @ 03:26 PM EST [link]
This looks pretty sweet...we all know DJ/Rupture, Shadetek was one of the cool DJs I talked about below who was playing grime, and you probably know I-Sound most recently for his work in Wasteland. I don't think I know Mode Raw but that will change I'm sure.
Crunk Up For Tsunami Relief
Friday Jan 28th / Rothko 116 Suffolk NYC
$6 admission, to be donated to humanitarian relief in SE Asia & Sudan
DJ /Rupture (Barcelona, Soot Records, Tigerbeat6)
I-Sound (NYC, Full Watts, Transparent Records)
Shadetek Sound System (NYC, Warp, Sound-Ink, Shockout)
Mode Raw (NYC, Change Agent)
Only six bucks and it's a good cause! I'm down.
01.18.05 @ 12:49 PM EST [link]
bangers n mash.
Went to a promising new grime thing on Friday called "Bangers & Mash," thanks of course to a tip from the omniscient B-blog. The DJs didn't play grime the whole night, but over the two hours or so that they did, it was nonstop awesome. And I'm talking grime as in the more entertaining (for me at least) MC stuff, not that frigid Rephlex dubstep stuff. Grime's party music! I mean the beats are wildly unpredictable for dancing to, esp. if you've been listening to as much gliding 4/4 techno and house as I have, but this stuff is so much fun to hear on any kind of system with halfway decent bass that it's hard to not want to move. No one (in New York, at least) knows how to dance to grime, either, which is part of the charm; the usual strategies for moving to what we're used to stateside (hip-hop, drum n bass, etc) don't work with grime at all. The DJs were so overcome by their own DJing that they couldn't stop goofily dancing all around the stage, with these angular, jerky, scissor-like moves--like ninjas with epilepsy or something. I'm crap at IDing tunes and I'm by no means a grime expert ("I am a poseur and I don't care" -- X-Ray Spex), so I could only discern maybe 1 in every 3 tracks from random mp3s I have, plus the totally 'mainstream' stuff (Dizzee, Wiley) and weird stuff like...a bunch of grime MCs over the beat from "Can't Get You Out of My Head"?! I wish they'd find a new venue, though, because Rothko doesn't have a "cabaret license", so the bouncers were reprimanding people (including yrs truly) for daring to move around and have a good time. Rothko's not the best venue for this kind of music anyway; the trad stage setup works way better for rock shows than it does for anything DJ-related. Now to get these DJ dudes to team up with Paul Kennedy and throw a regular grime night in some awesome warehouse in Brooklyn somewhere...well, we can dream, can't we?
Also, Run the Road has been breaking my brain. I can't get over how good it is, and like Jess, I wish I'd heard it before I submitted my Pazz n Jop ballot. In a more perfect, more grimy world, this comp is gonna be ruling the charts stateside when it gets released here in March.
BTW if you search online, you can find the Lethal B Pow!/Fwd riddim ringtone; if you have a cell phone capable of polyphonic ringtone action, go get it. It makes incoming phone calls sound really ominous!
01.17.05 @ 03:51 AM EST [link]
The flight's been paid for, arrangements confirmed--I'm going to be back in Berlin in just about three weeks, to soak up some good vibes for a while. Nothing much on the agenda as of yet, except to attend the Berlinale, visit the incredible venue formerly known as Ostgut which my friend Tobias tells me I must see, and cross paths with the brains behind Skykicking, who will be in Berlin as well. I'm very excited.
Coming up soon: the "Cologne Part 2" post that I said was on the way about four months ago!
01.13.05 @ 11:05 PM EST [link]
grime crews listen to vivaldi
Me on the London Tube's misguided music/brain research in Proven by Science
01.13.05 @ 08:20 PM EST [link]
So I went to this new DJ night expecting to hear a set of fun, retro ragga-jungle. Instead of being steamrolled by amen breaks and getting pounded by chest-caving bass, this is what happened:
Bad Sign #1: I get to the venue (a bar I'd never been to) and notice that I can't hear music roaring through the front door. Not even a perceptible thump. Maybe they just have really good sound insulation, I reason. I open the door and... Bad Sign #2: I walk into the bar. The DJ is playing mellow underground hip-hop and classic soul at a low, barely-there volume. It sounds a little trebly; threatening bass-waves are nowhere to be found. The bar is very slick and insanely narrow, and the customers look well-dressed and...shock horror, they're all sitting down. This leads us to: Bad Sign #3: There's no dancefloor, or anything that could possibly double as a dancefloor. The bar has zero floor space! Only chic bar chairs and a few not-very-comfortable-looking sofas. Bad Sign #4: The DJ is tucked into a diminutive booth behind a wall. I ask him what's going on--he's English, a nice guy--and he says that he's afraid he'll scare the crowd and the bar management if he plays jungle or anything at a potentially frenetic pace, but he was gonna try and weave in some killer tunes between the mellow coffeehouse-friendly beats. I mean I sympathize with the guy--he just wants to play his records--but really, this is the least ideal venue I can think of to experience music in. And it's 2005! People are still scared of jungle? I wanted my old-skool 90s kick! God damn it.
01.13.05 @ 01:45 AM EST [link]
look into the eyeball.
I wrote the cover story for the Village Voice this week. Go read!
01.11.05 @ 03:54 PM EST [link]
I finally saw The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou last week, a movie I'd been looking forward to (commercials that use Devo's 'Gut Feeling'! What's not to love?) and hesitating to see after reading a few mixed reviews. I guess in my mind I wanted it to be perfect, cuz I absolutely adore Wes Anderson, and I didn't want to ruin the movie by actually, you know, seeing it or anything. My verdict: a little too wilfully precious in places, but I liked it alright, in all its idiosyncratic screwball jumbles. I could never fully connect with the Bill Murray character; I think Bill Murray, great as he is, should sit down and re-watch the Emil Jannings/Marlene Dietrich scenes in The Blue Angel to reach optimal sad-clown levels. Some of the running gags in The Life Aquatic reminded me of things my friends and I would dream up in our half-baked adventures making short films in college. In fact, this is an almost verbatim conversation I remember having about six years ago (puts on blue flashback-to-the-past space helmet):
"Right, so after every key scene, we cut to this guy who's playing Bowie covers. I mean, how awesome would that be?"
"Make him play them half-assedly on an acoustic guitar -- that'd be way funnier. And make him sing them in Portuguese!"
"Portuguese! That's fuckin' brilliant! Wait, who here knows Portuguese?"
"We'll just make it up as we go along. He's gotta play 'Rock'n'Roll Suicide' though, or I quit."
"Time takes a...cigarette..."
"Puts it in your mouth..."
"Dude, I never understood what the hell he was singing after that."
"Something about fingers and then another cigarette. Hey, do you have a light?"
"Of course I have a light. 'You're not alone!'"
"Give me your hands."
"Hey, where's the rest of the beer? Did you drink the last can?"
"Um...'You don't drink when you've lived too long'?"
01.11.05 @ 12:43 AM EST [link]
Added to the links bar on the right, finally: Seward! Shepherd! Strickler! Clayton!
01.07.05 @ 09:33 PM EST [link]
Phil Sherburne enthuses about Dominik Eulberg, so I look the dude up on Discogs and it says that he's a national park ranger from Bonn who studies biology and geography?! Now I have this strange idea of Bonn as being this place where all the park rangers make electronic music. If this is really the case, I am moving there immediately.
01.07.05 @ 02:18 AM EST [link]
My friend Tobias sent me the following translated excerpt. This is Ricardo Villalobos explaining how he made his new album, The Au Harem d'Archimede, to Tobias Thomas in the German magazine Spex:
Villalobos: "I got this offer by The KLF to do a remix and I picked What Time Is Love. But whenever I tried to integrate the melody I was stuck. So I recorded it just for me, in a 20-minute session, without arrangement. It went on for a year like this, I tried and tried to get this remix done. And then I had it and my hard disk crashed. I was desperate but then I thought: I still have the DATs with ten tracks on them, a unified whole. All these tracks that belong together, Villalobos-music with KLF taken out of it. That's how this record was created."
That is, hands down, one of the most awesome things I've ever read. The KLF?!
01.06.05 @ 02:09 AM EST [link]
Matos kills it with his Unfaves of 2004. Includes an inspired anti-Devendra/Joanna & their flocks of fans rant (that I couldn't agree with more, by the way) that had me on the floor, esp. the line that ends "...made me want to wear plastic clothes and listen to rave music--even more so than usual, I mean."
01.04.05 @ 07:23 PM EST [link]
let's push things forward!
It feels good to be juiced up about ideas, and to have good ideas about where such ideas could lead. I spent the day at NYU's Center for Neural Science, hanging out in cool labs, gaining knowledge, and bouncing ideas off of professors. Ideas zinging every which way like thousands of ping pong balls dropping from the sky. There are two areas of my life that I've spent a considerable amount of effort on--brain science and music/culture. Thus far, I've been treating them as essentially disparate paths of inquiry, but I'm slowly realizing that the only way to move forward is to merge those two aspects of my life together.
I guess this requires a little bit of background. In 2000, I was a disgruntled college senior. By then I absolutely despised science. Hated it. I'd do my neuroscience degree work and procrastinate by reading zines--esp. an online zine I'd found called Freaky Trigger, and through that I found a thriving music discussion board (i.e. that oh-so-lovable time-consuming vortex) called..you guessed it. To be honest I never read any music criticism prior to maybe 2000. (Well, when I was 13 or 14 years old my friends and I would look at issues of Melody Maker and Select, but mostly for the cool photos and jokes. Jokes! Music magazines used to be funny--this was sometime in the early '90s. I remember laughing a lot when I read them.) I was obsessed with music, but didn't know anything about music criticism, or that it was a (semi-)legit field. I never read Bangs, never read Meltzer, never read any of those dudes. I liked zines a lot, and had a pretty good collection at one point. I read an essay by Reynolds and an essay by Sinker in a college class on gender studies when I was 19, for a paper I was writing on female post-punk bands! I had no idea then that the two of them were music critics. I hadn't read anything else they'd written at that point, either. My entry point, really, for music criticism was reading ILM in 2000. Now I get my kicks by reading music blogs. Basically, you're talking to somebody whose entire knowledge of 'critic-dom' came up from ILM circa 2000-2003, various zines, and blogging. (Mind you, I'm 25.) I've filled in a lot of the gaps since then by reading a lot of those classic books and magazines. But when I was 20 years old, my idols were scientists--i.e. total pimps--like Albert Einstein and Werner Heisenberg...not fuckin' Lester Bangs!
So back to science. I stopped thinking about science when I graduated from college, because I felt like I had to reject science to move forward with writing about the arts. Science was The Enemy. Cold unfeeling rationalists! Mutant robotic technologists! Fuck you, The Scientific Method! But that's such a limiting worldview. Completely and utterly wrong in fact. Much cooler, much more punk rock, would be to fuse together, into an unholy contorted Voltron-like mass of course, the combined powers of hardcore science knowledge with music and music writing. Of course there are loads of people who have gone into this--drugs and the brain and music, for instance, or the physics of acoustics--but there are intriguing areas out there that haven't been explored fully. I dunno, maybe I'll figure it out someday, but right now I've been spending my time going back and reading a bunch of science books that are collecting dust on my shelf, like The Biochemistry and Pharmacology of Synaptic Transmission. Who knows, someday I might need that shit to combat evil!
01.04.05 @ 04:28 PM EST [link]
You may have noticed that the Village Voice website suddenly looks extremely different. As part of the redesign, I wrote about a million short reviews for the new NYC Guide of activist groups, record stores, bars, services, etc. There are still some glitches in the new system, but hopefully they'll get resolved soon enough.
01.04.05 @ 12:18 AM EST [link]
On a more somber note, if you haven't already sent something over to the tsunami relief efforts, the nu-metal band Linkin Park (who I will never, ever make fun of again, I swear) launched Music for Relief, and you can donate directly through their website.
01.03.05 @ 02:07 AM EST [link]
Happy New Year, y'all. 2004 seems positively antiquated at this point. Been spending most of the weekend recovering from the inevitable NYE parties (total ruin!) by drinking mint tea and watching BET's Top 100 Music Videos of 2004. This list will expand with descriptions, photos, etc, so keep checking in!
Favorite Albums of 2004
1. Get Physical 2nd Anniversary Compilation (Get Physical)
I just realized that my top 3 albums are all compilations or mixtapes of some variety or other. I have no attention span, I guess, and it just gets worse as the years go on--I rarely sit down and listen to a single-artist album start to finish these days. Right, so Get Physical! I hate to get all Mr. Fingers "Can You Feel It?"-style weepy on this, but it's not often that I hear a breakthrough house(/electro/techno) mix that inspires me to feverishly 'n fervently search out releases by all of the individual artists featured on it. The last time this happened to me this totally was with the first Kompakt mix I ever bought. I don't think this is a one-off; the Booka Shade album is apparently great, everything I've found by Chelonis R. Jones has been great, etc etc. Expect great things in 2005.
2. M.I.A. and Diplo - Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1 (Hollertronix)
If not the "best" or the "most important" (who needs that) mixtape of the year, than certainly one of the most downright berserk. M.I.A.--a.k.a. the Sri Lankan-born British-dwellin' female phenom--gets a lot of mixed reviews; some think she's brilliant, some think she's overrated/awful/wack, yeah yeah whatever. Anyone who hates this hates fun.
3. DFA Compilation #2 (DFA)
When the clock struck 12 on New Year's Eve, I somehow ended up on the same dancefloor as James Murphy. He's not a bad dancer, but he could stand to be a little less self-conscious about his moves. And that's my one issue with the DFA -- that they are a little too self-consciously cool. You won't hear me complaining, though, because this is the best quasi-independent label New York City has going by a mile, and this is simultaneously the best nu-noise comp and the best nu-disco comp of the year.
4. Dizzee Rascal - Showtime (XL)
The iTunes Music Store files Boy in da Corner as "hip-hop/rap" and Showtime as "dance". That's probably just a database error, but it's surprisingly accurate. Aw I love Dizzee! He has such sad-puppy eyes! Besides, he's way cuter than Kanye, who Jess quite accurately described as "looking like Puffy with a water retention problem."
5. Kanye West - The College Dropout (Roc-a-fella)
The very first time I heard this album was while I was walking by H&M, and I was so spellbound by the sped-up Chipmunk hardcore vocals on 'Through the Wire' that I didn't want to leave the store while it was playing. This of course meant I ended up buying stuff because of the album's sinister neuron-rearranging powers. Marketers take note!
6. Ricardo Villalobos - The Au Harem d'Archimede (Perlon)
I wish the Wire would put this guy on the cover. One of the most defiantly experimental records I've heard all year. Damp, swampy, polyrhythmic, deceptive. I think next year at this time I'll still be unraveling it. I always imagine millions of creepy, undulating protozoa on petri dish-sized dancefloors when I hear 'Hireklon'.
7. The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free (Vice)
8. Tiefschwarz - Misch Masch/Eleven Remixes (Dessous)
9. Le Dust Sucker - Le Dust Sucker (Plong!)
10. Radio India: The Eternal Dream of Sound (Sublime Frequencies)
10. Melchior Productions - The Meaning (Playhouse)
10. Brandy - Afrodisiac (Atlantic)
10. Stereolab - Margerine Eclipse (Elektra)
10. Ada - Blondie (Areal)
10. Panda Bear - Young Prayer (Paw Tracks)
Favorite Music Videos of 2004
1. Eminem - 'Mosh'
2. Wiley - 'Pies'
3. M.I.A. - 'Galang'
Some Favorite Singles of 2004
Jay-Z - '99 Problems'
Britney Spears - 'Toxic'
M.I.A. - 'Galang', 'Sunshowers'
D Double E and JME - 'Serious Thugs'
Usher ft. Lil Jon and Ludacris - 'Yeah!'
Phonique - 'The Red Dress' (Tiefschwarz remix)
Dizzee Rascal - 'Stand Up Tall'
R Kelly - 'Happy People'
DJ Koze - 'Brutalga Square'
Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell - 'Drop It Like It's Hot'
Ada - 'Maps'
Ying Yang Twins - 'Salt Shaker'
Ciara ft. Petey Pablo - 'Goodies'
Annie - 'Chewing Gum'
Nivea ft. Lil Jon and Youngbloodz - 'Okay'
The Streets ft. a lot of MCs whose names I can't spell - 'Fit but You Know It' (remix)
LCD Soundsystem - 'Yeah (Crass Version)'
J.O.Y. - 'Sunplus'
Black Leotard Front - 'Casual Friday'
Pixeltan - 'Get Up/Say What'
Destiny's Child - 'Lose My Breath'
Chelonis R. Jones - 'One & One'
Justus Kohncke - 'Timecode'
Wonder ft. Kano - 'What Have U Done'
Lady Sovereign - 'Cha-Ching'
Rex the Dog - all singles, b-sides, remixes
Liquid Liquid - 'Bellhead'
J-Kwon - 'Tipsy'
Brandy - 'Should I Go'
Brandy ft. Kanye West – ‘Talk About Our Love’
Boredoms - 'Seadrum'
Favorite Producers/Remixers of 2004
Rex the Dog, Tiefschwarz, Lil Jon
Best Noise Show of 2004
The Wolf Eyes and Aaron Dilloway performances at the (ha ha!) No Fun Fest! Don't fight it--feel it!
Best Rock Show of 2004
It seems like cheating to say that the best rock show of 2004 was the Pixies reunion, but yeah it was the Pixies reunion. Close runner-ups: Animal Collective at the Knitting Factory; The Ex at the Knitting Factory; The Rapture/LCD Soundsystem at Bowery Ballroom
Best Drone of the Year
Phill Niblock's mind-bending performance at LaMama, at the 'Sounds Like Now' experimental music festival.
Most Encouraging Musical Trend
Bubble-crunk! More like this please!
Most Sobering Experience of 2004
Attending Ol' Dirty Bastard's wake at a church in Canarsie, Brooklyn.
Reissue of the Year
1. Lizzy Mercier Descloux - Mambo Nassau, Press Color
2. Cristina - Doll in a Box
Whoa, Blissblog and The Original Soundtrack agree on something! What can I say--I always give it up for the ladies, especially ones who were as brilliant and criminally underrated as Lizzy Mercier Descloux (RIP). Last year my favorite reissue was Essential Logic. Maybe in 2005 it'll be the Delta 5. In 2006 it'll probably be the expanded-liner-noted, triple-gatefold, 24-karat-gold-disc reish of the Raincoats' Odyshape.
Also: DNA, Arthur Russell, The Name of This Band is The Talking Heads, Homosexuals - Astral Glamour, So Young but So Cold: Underground French Music 1979-1983, Trax 20th Anniversary Compilation. Eno and Can of course.
Best Musical Moments of 2004 (Non-Gig-Related)
Being Simon's Rip it Up and Start Again research assistant, of course (best book of 2005)! Meeting Brian Eno. (He's sweet! Has a gold tooth--very bling. He and Lil Jon should hang out and talk about music and dentists.) Accidentally breaking the sink in La Monte Young's bathroom. Saying "Yo dude!" to Philip Glass on the F train subway and getting him to say "dude" back.
Blogosphere Prediction for 2005
The mp3-recipe blog (cooking tips/recipes + mp3s/music crit in every post) becomes the next big thing!
New Year's Resolutions for 2005
Write more. Travel more. Build a bass cannon. Learn how to DJ. Start a punk band.
01.02.05 @ 04:05 PM EST [link]