Big big congrats to Simon R., whose awesome new post-punk tome Rip it Up and Start Again came out this week in the UK!
A most excellent book. (I admit I'm a little bit partial because I worked as his research assistant on the book for about a year. It was the best job ever.) You can get the UK version here, or you can wait for the US version.
04.28.05 @ 11:25 AM EST [link]
This is what the wall behind Steve Bug looked like while he was DJing at Maria in Berlin a few months ago. Perfect.
04.28.05 @ 12:43 AM EST [link]
I've been noticing with alarming frequency that my cruddy snapshots are being circulated on other peoples' websites. I don't mean to be sore about it, but it'd be cool if I was asked if that was OK first! Just use the email link on your right. I know, I know, we've all ripped off images before, and I do appreciate the links, but if you're using my photos, please ask. I spend quite a bit of effort snapping photos in foreign countries and getting them up here, and most of my images are so low-resolution and painfully distorted anyway that I don't know why anyone would use them. Really, I'm just sad because my digital camera died while I was in San Francisco, which means I can't post pictures here anymore until I amass the funds for a new one.
04.27.05 @ 05:32 AM EST [link]
Today on the A train I was doing my usual misanthropic subway shtick, which goes something like this: grip pole, stand, stare at floor, avoid eye contact, listen to pounding music, do math problems in head. Then three hulking dudes in baggy hip-hop attire--plus one little kid for instant cuteness--flicked on a tinny boombox and started doing backflips through the entire subway car. I was awestruck. Totally awestruck. I mean, I've seen breakdancing and related suave dance moves in subway stations dozens of times, but I'd never seen anyone barrel through the entire length of a subway car doing backflips. In a moving train, no less. Madness!
04.25.05 @ 12:08 AM EST [link]
I didn't mean to sound like I was slagging New York in that previous post; besides, every time I do, something awesome happens that shames me out of my mood. On Friday, I got to see an ace set by Derek Plaslaiko, who rocked it in a basement for a small but extremely psyched crowd. Plus I finally realized the name of the ten-minute-long mind-warp that had been torturing me ever since I heard Superpitcher play it in 2004: the James Holden remix of Nathan Fake's "The Sky Was Pink." If you're not familiar with the track, you can download part of it for free from Holden's Border Community website by clicking here.
04.24.05 @ 02:08 PM EST [link]
Tresor, the legendary techno club in Berlin, shut its doors for good last weekend. The lease on its Leipziger Strasse location near Potsdamer Platz has officially run out, and the building will soon be razed to make way for office buildings. I got the chance to visit the place in February. This is what Tresor looked like:
Note the orange banner on the side, advertising several days of amazing goodbye parties featuring many of the DJs who rocked Tresor over the years. Here's a close-up of the banner. Note the hilarious spelling of "Suburban Knight":
Here's the rest of the sign:
One thing that impressed me about Tresor was how tough it seemed. The techno being played inside was pulse-poundingly hard, hard, hard (and I had gone on a night that billed itself as house music!) There were two different dancefloors that I saw, one upstairs, one downstairs. Neither of them were terribly big, and they were decorated with the barest of blue lights and strobes. It was very dark and smoky in there, a bit of a goth-club vibe almost. Here's the entryway to the club:
As clubs go, it's the best-known, so it attracts more of an out-of-town crowd than the rest. Everyone knows Tresor. Thing is, though, that the commuter crowd that goes to Tresor is unlike any overly-makeupped, glitzy-looking bridge-and-tunnelers you'd see in New York, at Avalon or whatever. Both the boys and the girls I saw on the dancefloor at Tresor projected a real hardcore East German, don't-fuck-with-me vibe. Here are some random dudes standing in front of me on the floor:
Over and over again in Berlin, I was struck by how differently people seem to process 4/4 dance music over there, as opposed to here in New York. House and techno feel tougher and rougher, and the crowds feel tougher and rougher too. It's hardly music for the few who are clued-in and fashion-conscious. A place like APT, a teensy lounge in New York's tony Meatpacking District with expensive drinks and a mannered, stylish vibe, has hosted several top house and techno DJs within its claustrophobic confines. The scene there is the total opposite of what you'd see at a club in Berlin. Take, for instance, Michael Mayer, who spun a few weeks ago at Berlin's Berghain/Panoramabar (a.k.a. Ostgut, the crumbling power station turned massive club that I've enthused about on this blog before.) Mayer was spinning as part of Snax, a gay-men-only night that's no-holds-barred (use your imagination here.) Apparently, the scene there gets so hardcore that it takes nearly a week just to clean the place up (think in terms of fluid dynamics) before the club can open its doors again. What I'm getting at is that I'm sort of bewildered by the folks who criticize this music for being too epicurean, too smoothed-over, with no rough edges to chew on. Okay, I thought that way once too--and the crowds at places like APT and the Canal Room certainly wouldn't make me think any differently--before I checked out how this music was being played in other countries. Once I saw what the crowds in Berlin were like in the big clubs, it altered my entire mindset. The tunes, even if they were the same exact tunes I heard in New York, felt darker and harder over there. The records were the same, but the crowds and the setting and the sound system were totally different, and the way that the DJs DJed was different, too. More explanation later, when I'm not so exhausted...
04.21.05 @ 03:08 AM EST [link]
I was inspired by my friend Douglas telling me he's been driving himself crazy trying to teach himself how to play every Dylan song on ukelele for a piece on Dylan that he's writing. It seemed like a great way to immerse oneself in music, if a little masochistic. So for a piece on Roxy Music that I was writing, I decided to teach myself how to play a few of my favorite Roxy songs on piano. A few tunes I worked on: "Sunset," "Beauty Queen," and the second half of "Mother of Pearl"--the piano comedown after the insane guitar solo. It was trying to recall the lyrics to "Mother of Pearl" that made me tear up, though, the bit about "all love and glory is a pantomime." I guess I've been in a delicate state of mind recently; I can fall apart at the slightest whisper. I haven't listened to lyrics in such a long time, or actively listened to lyrics, anyway, what with all the techno and ambient records I'd been listening to. Perhaps it's better that I don't listen to lyrics, because I end up ascribing too much meaning to them. (The heaviest record I listened to this week was On Land, to give you some idea of where my head is at. Just enough sound to tint the air; I can't handle much more than that.)
04.21.05 @ 02:35 AM EST [link]
rhythm and sound.
Back in New York City after a ten-day tour of the West Coast, and here's a reason to be very excited about being back:
Tonight and tomorrow (Mon and Tues)
Exclusive NY debut!
Rhythm and Sound (a.k.a. Mark Ernestus and Moritz (Maurizio!) von Oswald, a.k.a. Basic Channel) make a rare DJ appearance in the US for two nights only.
at Cielo (18 Little W 12th St.) to celebrate the second anniversary of Francois K's Deep Space night
no dress code - just an open mind
04.18.05 @ 05:45 PM EST [link]
Nothing much to report from Seattle, except that it's a lovely city and that the 2005 EMP Pop Conference is going smoothly. I was on a panel about music blogs yesterday (with esteemed colleagues Jess Harvell, Jay Smooth, and Tom Ewing; Matos was the moderator) and it went pretty well. More details when I get back (finally) to New York!
04.16.05 @ 03:54 AM EST [link]
Last week, I sampled an insanely potent Chinese brandy with real snakes floating around in it, all in the name of, er, research. It was actually pretty good! See here.
04.13.05 @ 08:36 PM EST [link]
Three reasons to love San Francisco:
1) Loads of flowers and lush green things.
2) The Zeitgeist on Valencia and Duboce.
3) Cuter, funnier drag queens.
04.13.05 @ 05:07 AM EST [link]
Here's something I wrote about academics with blogs for the Voice. Pretty obvious stuff--I suppose it's chiefly useful for the links to K-Punk, Josh Blog, and Worlds of Possibility (as if you didn't already have those linked!)
Also: hello from San Francisco! I have a blog post worked up about the closing of Tresor this week in Berlin, that I swear will go up before Tresor actually closes.
04.12.05 @ 11:23 PM EST [link]
I've received an Arthur F. Burns Fellowship, which means I'm moving to Berlin on August 1st for a few months. I'll be working at a German newspaper while I'm living there...not sure which one yet, but I'll keep you posted.
04.07.05 @ 12:36 AM EST [link]
So who's psyched to go to MUTEK? (Montreal, not Mexico, though I wish I could do both.) I can't make sense of their arty post-post-post-website, but who needs sense when you have Sense Club, a.k.a. Ricardo Villalobos plus Luciano? I swooned! Check Phil's blog for late-breaking developments.
04.05.05 @ 02:24 AM EST [link]
I was already pretty upbeat these days for various reasons, but this bit of news sent me over the top: Kraftwerk is playing New York City on June 1st, at Hammerstein Ballroom. You can't seem to be able to buy tickets online yet (let me know if you were able to), but...YES!!!!!!
04.04.05 @ 04:14 AM EST [link]
Confidential to TS: If I compare your band to the Happy Mondays, it's meant to be a compliment. Think more Pills'n'Thrills and less Yes Please.
04.03.05 @ 05:38 PM EST [link]
Rex the Dog is playing Fabric in London tonight (I know it's April Fool's Day, but still.) Can someone from the London posse check the DJ booth during the Rex set and tell me who he/she/it is please? Thanks in advance!
04.01.05 @ 04:47 AM EST [link]