2004 part 2.
So many people have so amply covered the music I liked in 2004 in their recaps, not least among them Jess, Matos, Simon, Jon Dale, Scott Somedisco, Philip, and Mark K-Punk--so I'm gonna try a different tack. For part 1 of the year-end wrap-up, I'm listing the live gigs that I had the good fortune to attend. I'll call this list "Top 15 Electronic/Dance Events of the Year" cuz the Grammys (always, uh, forward-thinking, those Grammys) are including an "Electronic/Dance" category this year for the first time and I thought it was a hilarious and entirely meaningless title.
TOP 15 "ELECTRONIC/DANCE" EVENTS OF THE YEAR
I didn't go to Mutek or Sonar, so I can't weigh in on those, but looking at this list, I'm feelin' pretty damn lucky.
1. Kompakt 100 Festival feat. Triple R, Michael Mayer, Alter Ego, DJ Koze, Superpitcher, Reinhard Voigt, The Orb, Tobias Thomas (Tanzbrunnen, Cologne)
Voigt and Mayer kicking ass on the decks at around 6 am
Those Germans know how to throw a goddamn party. Here's hoping there will be a Kompakt 200 festival!
2. Ivan Smagghe, Ricardo Villalobos, Magda, and Richie Hawtin (Fabric, London)
World-famous DJs Tracer Hand and Geeta get ready to rock the house at Fabric
The English know how to throw a goddamn party, too. Here's hoping I get to go back to Fabric.
3. Kompakt vs. Rephlex feat. Miss Kittin, Michael Mayer, Superpitcher, Mark One, Plasticman, Soundmurderer (Volume, NYC)
Kompakt coat of arms at the offices in Cologne
Brooklyn knew how to throw a goddamn party--and then Volume closed. God, I really miss that place. It's amusing to me that Volume has already entered into some sort of urban legend status, so I've been gilding the lily a little when I tell my stories. 'Oh yeah, there was a spaceship in the main room! A real one! The second room had little green aliens in it!'
4. Payback - a benefit for DB organized by Jason Jinx feat. DB, Josh Wink, Scott Hardkiss, AK1200, DJ Dara, etc (Avalon, NYC)
5. Vitalic (Tribeca Grand, NYC)
Vitalic programs his home computer, beams himself into the future
6. DJ Ripley (Volume, NYC)
Video projection on the wall at the late Volume--freak out!
7. Superpitcher and Ada (Ikon, NYC)
Marcel Duchamp would have approved
8. Areal Records Party feat. Ada and Wighnomy Bros. (Kunstwerk, Cologne)
The sun setting over Cologne. Looks like the cover of a 'Pure Moods' CD doesn't it
I wish I had photos of the venue, but I forgot to bring my camera that night. The interior of Kunstwerk is all rough and concrete; it felt like being in some kind of underground bunker. They had a bunch of grainy super8 films flickering on the walls in addition to the usual digital video stuff, which I thought was awesome. This was where I heard Ada's cover of 'Maps' for the first time, which I talk about a little here (scroll down). The atmosphere--very vibey, as Simon R would say.
9. Theo Parrish monthly residency (APT, NYC)
So APT ain't the most ideal venue, but the setup of the bar ensures you're always within the line of sight of the DJ booth, which means you can stare at Theo--who is adorable--while he spins heavy, gorgeous soul, funk, disco, techno. Always revelatory, never predictable.
10. LCD Soundsystem and 2ManyDJs (Maria, Berlin)
I don't have any pictures, so here's a photo of a random train stop instead
11. NASA Rewind 'Old Skool Rave' feat. DB, Moby, Frankie Bones, Keoki, Scott Henry, etc (Arc, NYC)
12. Derrick May (PS 1 and Volume, tie, NYC)
If you add up his sets from Volume and PS 1 you get one really excellent set. Volume was too hard, toolsy, and dry for my tastes before getting good at around 4 or 5 am, while PS 1 was more back-to-back feel-good anthems instead of anything particularly surprising. Who doesn't want to dance to 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)' outside with a thousand people on a beautiful summer day, though? No one, that's who!
13. Ricardo Villalobos and Richie Hawtin (children's park on the edge of the Rhine, Cologne)
Ronan feels the voibe in the park while Villalobos DJs
14. DJ Clever (Orchard Bar, NYC)
I haven't seen this many people have honest-to-god fun dancing to new drum'n'bass for a long time. I forget the names of other DJs but I'd list 'em here if I knew.
15. Derek Plaslaiko and Mike Servito (The Delancey, NYC)
Both times I've seen 'em they've been great, but this time was killer--a ridiculous set of hard, gooey, and utterly deranged acid. Rising stars of the Ghostly label--and my favorite DJs on that label.
Honorable mentions: Sammy Dee (Filter 14, NYC), Luomo (Volume, NYC), Dan Selzer and Mike Simonetti (Centro-Fly, NYC). Note that all three of those venues listed are now closed for good.
Best New DJ Nights: Wild Flex Paul Kennedy weekly at Orchard Bar, Alldisco feat. Dan Selzer, John Selway, and Ulysses
Part 2: my top 10 albums of the year, and top rock concerts of the year, coming soon.
12.29.04 @ 10:52 PM EST [link]
2004 re-rewind, part one.
My story of 2005 (to hell with 2004!) begins a week or two ago. My friend and I were speeding through the Midwest on some highway or other. It was cold out, but it was really, really sunny, and the sky was a piercing, blazing blue. The roads were so flat, and the landscape was pretty much empty--no tall buildings--so all you see is nothin' but blue skies and endless road. There weren't many cars in front of us, so if you drive at a certain speed you literally feel like you're barrelling into the horizon. We were blasting Rancid's Let's Go--still an album that means more to me than London Calling ever did; they should bottle it and sell it as an antidepressant. (Also, Let's Go sounds way, way better blasting out of a car than anything any by those deified UK punk bands does. Maybe it has something to do with compression, or some wacky production tricks or something, but American pop-punk always sounds better on car speakers. You can't really road-trip or zoom down the endless highway in the UK the same way you can here, anyhow, so maybe that has something to do with it. Dave Q wrote something once in this hilarious review of some punk box set in the Seattle Weekly, I think, that relates to this tangentially--I'll dig it up.) Anyhow, we were talking about music. I was trying to defend Blink 182's honor, on the grounds that they have a bunch of catchy singles and I think one of them is cute (I forget which one.)
"Dude, Blink 182 are fuckin' posers, man. They aren't real punks," she says. "Green Day, they're the real punks. The originals."
"I agree," I said, smiling and thinking I'd be perfectly happy starting over with a history of punk that started in California in maybe 1988. "Harry Bridges" started playing and I rolled down the car window and let the frigid but wonderful breeze rip through my hair. Music, well, shit, it's all about what it means to you, at whatever moment you want it to.
Jess wrote in his ever-expanding 2004 year-end wrap-up that everything in his life seemed to be "unhinged, uprooted, unpredictable, and unsafe in the year 2004." That's pretty much how I felt--and after reading the blogs of a lot of my friends, I get the sense that 2004 was rough, if not completely fucking horrible; it's a year we all want to forget for various reasons, personal or political. But I've found I'm happiest when I'm in a state of transition--zooming from point A to point B in a car, jumping on a plane to the next location, running, working on the next story or planning the next weird adventure. The trick is make the most of the "unhinged, uprooted, unpredictable," to view it as something that makes you free. And if that sounds horribly new agey, it's because, well, sometimes that new agey shit is for real. So I'll skip the painful parts and focus on the good stuff. 2004 was the year that I started writing about music in earnest; 2004 was also the year that I traveled to many great places, not least among them Berlin, Cologne, and London.
So--keep ya head up! All we can do at this point, at any rate.
Next up...top 15 dance music events of the year!
12.29.04 @ 07:33 PM EST [link]
Another great "2004 Rewind" (haha) music wrap-up from the blogosphere, this time from Matos. One of my favorite lines, about the Grime comp on Rephlex: "The title is a little like if Def Jam had put out an album of instrumental B-sides and called it Rap."
Also: Simon's long-awaited Faves of 2004 is finally out! I'll respond more to it later, but my favorite part is the "Discrete Moments" section, where he dissects his favorite parts in every grime tune he likes. Sonic analysis to the x-treme!
Also: the ever-wonderful Philip "my heart beats at 128 bpm" Sherburne on the year 2004.
12.29.04 @ 02:22 PM EST [link]
I'm back in New York City! Fuck, man, it's snowing here! Here's a live review I wrote about Les Georges Leningrad for the ol' Voice.
12.28.04 @ 07:19 PM EST [link]
Merry Xmas, y'all. Expect a little end-of-the-year rundown in a few days.
12.25.04 @ 12:19 PM EST [link]
Just saw that Simon had mentioned something I'd said on Blissblog, and I thought I'd chime in, even though I'm by the pool (the hotel I'm staying at is equipped with wireless, so I'm able to hook in from time to time.) I don't really think "no breakbeats, no Lycra" applies (funnily enough, I had been re-reading Energy Flash on the beach yesterday!) No breakbeats, all Lycra, maybe! Mayer really liked that early '90s ardkore stuff, really liked rave, etc. As far as I understood, his aversion to breakbeats came later, with drum'n'bass and drill'n'bass and all that. He explained it was cuz he didn't feel like drum'n'bass (esp. in its later incarnations) was physical and sexy enough; he prefers his bpms slower and swoonier and, well, a little bit girlier. I remember said something like "talking about drum'n'bass is like talking about football." I wish Mayer and DJ Clever would hang out, so Mayer could see how lush'n'pretty d'n'b could still be. I'd write more 'cept this interview I did is gonna get published real soon in the Seattle Weekly. . . and I have to get back to swimming!
12.24.04 @ 03:22 PM EST [link]
I walked by this when I was in London. It's a mannequin (no it's not) (yeah it is)
Happy holidays, everybody, and thanks for reading. I'm in Miami for a few days, chilling out for Christmas. There's something kind of awesome and disturbing about seeing all this gaudy neon and pastel Art Deco in December. The rows of palm trees are wrapped in blinking Xmas lights. Someone within earshot is karaoke'ing to Celine Dion. The glittering freeways and highways have perfect curves and on-off ramps that stack on top of each other like something outta Metropolis.
Today I spent all day on South Beach, which was nearly empty (the sky was overcast, it was a little windy, and the water was a little cold. But it was 73 degrees out! 73 DEGREES!!) I ran sprints through the white sand and watched seafoam-green water swirl around my feet while bugging out to a watery mix I made that's gamelan music plus Liquid Liquid-"Bellhead", Ricardo Villalobos - "Miami" (haha!), and Boredoms-"Seadrum." Then I watched the sun set over the ocean while listening to Arthur Russell. Then did shots of ouzo in a place that was blasting maddeningly mashed-up, dirty, and hysterically gleeful Greek disco that I theorized was possibly the Greeks' answer record to that Rio Baile Funk comp that came out earlier this year.
(plea to any writers out there--if anyone with a copy of the new To Live and Shave in LA album could get in touch with me, I'm having a mini aaah-where-is-it-I-have-to-write-about-it crisis...i will return the favor.)
12.24.04 @ 01:07 AM EST [link]
all of my heart (all of my cash)
Still the best cover art ever!
I just put down cash money for the new "deluxe edition" of ABC's The Lexicon of Love, an album I already own on vinyl and on CD. I'm a sucker for reissues, and their ever-so-seductive promises of slightly improved sound and never-before-seen demos and outtakes and fancier packaging. I'll probably put down some serious coin for all the Can reissues even though I already have the originals, too; I totally buy into that whole remastering scam. Really, buying Lexicon of Love for the third time is lame, even for me. But sometimes I go record shopping and I think, shit, I should just buy this again, because I know it's perfect, and then I feel old. I mean, what if the vinyl copy got scratched, or I wasn't able to find the CD all of a sudden? Then I would need the reissue! In my darkest moments, I sometimes think that if my wobbly stacks of CDs and teetering shelves suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke, and were all magically replaced with a thousand copies of Lexicon of Love, I wouldn't be that sad. I like what Stephen Trousse wrote in his review in this month's Uncut: "Some might consider a fourth incarnation since 1982 a little excessive, but, really, The Lexicon of Love is a record that should be reissued every year--subtly remade and remodelled to chime ever more sweetly with the temper and timbre of the times." If it gets reissued again next year, with promises that the string sections will be 1% smoother, or that the vocals will be 0.5% more hammy and passionate, I'll most likely buy it again. For the fourth time.
12.21.04 @ 03:52 PM EST [link]
So I just read and reread Jess' great 2004 end-of-year wrap-up. I vehemently disagree with about half of it (guess which half), but it's really well-argued and well-written (and funny, too), and by the end of it, I just wanted to give Jess a hug and tell him everything was gonna be okay. Also: mad props for the Beenie Man single he posted on his blog a week or two ago, which was the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning for about six straight days.
12.20.04 @ 05:49 PM EST [link]
indiana (drop the bass!)
Dim shot of the second room at the late Volume. Danger bass!
So I'm in the middle of nowhere in Indiana--working on a story that has nothing to do with music-- about an hour or so from Indianapolis, the closest city. There are endless rows of corn and little houses. The roads are flat, flat, flat. I don't think I've ever seen land so flat. At night it's completely quiet--unnervingly quiet, but I suppose you get used to it. If I ever wanted to escape life in New York, and the relentless push and pull of music trends and music writing and everything else, this would be it, it would seem.
Imagine my surprise, then, to go to a little party in a sleepy Indiana suburb with a bunch of people I'd never met before in my life, and hear that unmistakable schaffel beat in the kitchen. I almost choked on the casserole I was eating. "Hang on, I know this -- what is this you're listening to?" I asked. "Oh, this? Some guy called Sascha Funke."
The people in Indiana that I had met had built their own speakers and a 12-foot-long bass cannon fashioned out of cheap PVC tubing and subwoofers, and were pumping microhouse and house and ragga-jungle and hip-hop and dub through it. We had intense conversations about bass. They talked technical about how to maximize bass response, and how to get bass to sound as detailed and powerful as possible for as little money as possible. We played heavy dub through the bass cannon and the floor seemed like it was boiling. The sound quality was better than any New York bar or club by miles and miles. They played "Fire (Urban Shakedown remix)" through the bass cannon at top volume and my heart went flying into somewhere in my throat--it was so beautiful to be so fully immersed in thick, deep sound, to melt into the rolling sine waves of low-end and thrilling avalanches of snare drums and literally feel every note vibrating through my chest. Ditto with the Kompakt stuff they had on their stereo--Reinhard Voigt, especially, sounded friggin' awesome firing through the bass cannon at warp speed.
Then today at a record store in Lafayette, Indiana--that doubles as a store that sells pretty stones and jewelry, random books, and hippie incense--I scoped out the rows of vinyl and there were entire thick sections for Perlon, Playhouse, etc--I felt like I was in Berlin at Hard Wax! The 12"s of Speichers 1 through 23! (I bought the very first one, just cuz I don't have it.) The Ricardo Villalobos Alcachofa DJ tools 12"? Who's buying these records out here in small-town Indiana? I query the kindly gray-haired record store clerk, and he says he has no idea; he doesn't know anything about "the techno section." There are no DJ nights out here, or clubs, or any dance scene to be found. We're in the Midwest, yeah, but this ain't Chicago or Detroit, or even Indianapolis. There's a little punk scene here, and some punk kids. You can hear crickets chirping at night here. Endless highway. Open land. No people as far as the eye can see.
Feel the vibe, people. You can't escape this music, even if you try.
12.18.04 @ 07:59 PM EST [link]
Cologne, about two blocks from the Kompakt offices on Werderstrasse
Last weekend, I got my hands on the new Justus Köhncke album Doppelleben, which gets its official release in January. Justus Köhncke (of Kompakt, but also of Whirlpool Productions fame) intrigues me because he doesn't seem to have any kind of formula or an instantly identifiable, signature sound the way someone like Superpitcher does. Every club anthem he's done sounds like it was made by a different person--the dark, paranoid pulse-throb of '2 After 909', the up-and-up-and-up tension-building mindfuck of 'Homogen', the tick-tock-tick symphonic glory of 'Timecode' (which has an AMAZING music video, by the way---be sure to check it out. Best argument for minimalism-is-the-new-maximalism I've seen in forever.) But then he also does all these great, sad pop songs that make me think he spends a lot of time by himself in his room with an acoustic guitar and a record collection that I'm guessing is heavy on '70s soul, the Pet Shop (and Beach) Boys, T. Rex... He has a pretty voice, and I like how he almost always sings in German, with a few exceptions. Köhncke doesn't seem to live the rock-star DJ life, and that's part of why I find him endearing; he seems to make no effort to be cool at all, and he wears his heart on his sleeve in this really goofy way. (On this album that I don't have but want called 'Spirals der Erinnerung,' he covers 'Nobody Does it Better'!)
I loved everything about Was ist Musik?, his first full album that came out maybe two or three years ago. I even liked the silly cover, which has this graph-paper background with messy blue Bic-pen scrawls on it and a nerdy photo of himself on the inside. The songs on Was ist Musik? are all over the map--a searing club banger in the aforementioned '2 after 909', the sweet, lilting Serge Gainsbourg-esque ballad of 'Weil du mich verstehst' (a duet with one of the dudes from Tocotronic!), the absurdly upbeat disco-squelch of 'Lucienne', the Moroderisms of 'Jet'. The last song on the album is a hilarious and moving cover of 'So weit wie noch nie' with the main melody played on a Theremin and gussied up in swirly, over-the-top disco flourishes. So I was pretty damn psyched for Doppelleben, the new one. It's pretty good, but uneven; I like it less than Was ist Musik? Here's my quick track-by-track rundown:
1. Elan (Dub)
As you might expect, it's just a brief version of 'Elan' (which comes later on) without the beat. Not sure why it's here, except as intro fluff.
Goofy vocoded Daft Punk-style vocal (that says "I'll do it--as long as I can dance to it") sampled over what sounds like a demo preset from the first Casio keyboard my dad bought me when I was a little kid. Plus spurts of synth-strings just for the hell of it. I dig.
3. Wo Bist Du?
I think this is beautiful--it's a sad and sappy pop song full of longing, complete with sensitive-guy guitar strums (eek!) and a soaring chorus. And it's sung in German that is so easy that even I understand it (Tobias if you are reading this you can laugh at me now)
Haha this sounds like latter-day Neubauten! Y'know, industrial-lite or something, complete with goth-sounding strings.
5. Weiche Zaune
This tune has been around for a while--it's pretty, but I like the dancier remix by The Modernist better (on Kompakt 100).
6. Herz Aus Papier
This is one of those tunes that works as a) music that plays while the credits roll at the end of a movie--a romantic comedy most likely, or b) one of those lights-down-low, turn-the-disco-ball-on songs that the DJ plays at 4 am when he wants people to leave. I like it though. Has some killer piano chords at the end.
I'm confused, because it starts out sounding like 'Timecode', then morphs into what tantalizingly promises to be an anthemic disco tune, but then it doesn't really go anywhere--it just sort of keeps looping, with subtle changes, for about eight minutes. It has this funny staccato beat that makes me wonder how to dance to it without bopping up and down.
8. Mu Arae
Another creepy ambient interlude. Sounds like movie soundtrack music for a scene involving an abandoned castle or something.
9. Alles Nochmal
10. Timecode (Edit)
The brilliant Timecode, which we all know and love, but here it's edited down from the original 8-minute version on the 12" to about 3 and a half minutes on the CD. Why mess with perfection? I don't understand!
11. The Answer is Yes
I already knew this cuz it's the b-side to 'Timecode'. I like it okay, but I wish he wouldn't switch from singing in German to singing in English mid-song--it's a little jarring. Stay in German mode, Justus! We love you!
12.16.04 @ 02:41 AM EST [link]
I received a really nice email today from Rex the Dog! A ray of blindin' sunshine in an otherwise miserable week. From the very great (and touching) website:
"Frequency is Rex's second tune and for this we found most of the sounds on the KORG 700S. This tune is made more for jumping to, than for being smart. Rex jumps a lot and we instigated this idea in our piece.
The B-side is called I Look Into Mid Air. It is a little sad and is about losing your nearest friend and you are the survivor and you are alone. We don't know if people will like this stuff."
12.15.04 @ 01:47 PM EST [link]
my mind secedes.
Many thanks to Mission of Burma and the PIXIES, who rocked Hammerstein mercilessly last night and made 99% of the world's rock bands look like a goddamn joke in the process. More on this later when I've come to my senses, but seeing Kim Deal and Black Francis/Frank Black smile at and hug each other so genuinely made me think that every friendship, no matter how fraught, would heal eventually. (Prediction for 2005: Morrissey and Marr make out! Smiths reunion!) Anyway, this was all was nanoseconds before the blistering "Debaser" encore, which made everything right with the world, if only for three minutes. No thanks to Hammerstein security (fucking fascists!) who messed with my digital camera, meaning that I can't take pretty pictures for you for the time being without spending a fair bit of dough.
Full report upcoming.
12.14.04 @ 01:05 AM EST [link]
The incomparable Dave Q writes in saying he's been spending most of his time playing "really long acoustic Madonna covers"* at a bar in Western Canada. I can't currently find the words to explain how cool I think this is.
* incl. a 10-minute cover of 'Holiday' w/ a Lou Reed 'Take No Prisoners'-style monologue!
12.13.04 @ 12:09 AM EST [link]
The inside of a traffic cone, if you can believe that!
Six recent dance tracks that made me weep (as girls go, I'm a little more fragile than you might expect):
1. Phonique feat. Die Elfen -- The Red Dress (Tiefschwarz remix)
Absolutely epic. This is the tune I've listened to the most this week, through the rain and drab skies and icy wind. Props to Paul for playing it last weekend at his DJ night--hearing it on a big system (er, a system bigger than my iPod/headphones) completely floored me. I've been really impressed with all the Tiefschwarz remixes I've heard, but this one takes the prize. It'll be in my top 10 for sure, right up there with 'Timecode'. It's not a sad song--it's a total anthem with a really basic, minimal underpinning, but it's so luminous and beautiful, and the crystalline synth riff sounds like church bells to me. I think upbeat anthems are actually the saddest, though, when you feel swallowed up in their bigness, overcome by their power. Tim Finney wrote something really great a month or two ago about grooves, of traveling inside of a groove, and that's how I feel when I hear this.
2. Unit 4 -- Body Dub (Tiefschwarz remix)
Another unstoppable tune remixed by Tiefschwarz. If you think Unit 4 is a great name -- which it is -- check out this awesome website, which is like a cross between 8-bit Nintendo skies and early rave -- genius! And nothing happens if you click on the image, which confused me for about five minutes. An impossibly intricate tune with tons of pathos, but the saddest part is about 3:30 in.
3. Chelonis R. Jones - One & One
Chelonis R. Jones hails from New York, but he's part of Get Physical, a label out of Berlin that's been rocking me hard -- thanks to Ronan who tipped me off to them in the first place. Why don't more people rate these dudes? Maybe it's cuz they unabashedly refer to themselves as 'deep house,' and there's nothing tastefully minimal about 'em in the slightest--this is total cheese, and it's fuckin' great stuff! Lots of syrupy vocals, full-on flowery weepy swirly discoriffic tunes, poptastic electro-bounce, hard and wacky acid, and not-so-faint whiffs of classic Chicago house. I mean, I'm glad Kompakt's been getting so much press and all, but there are literally dozens of other great German dance labels that have been regularly dishing out the goods--Perlon/Playhouse/Traum/Trapez and on and on. Anyway, Get Physical! The DJs/producers on the label have the best names; they sound kinda Chicagoey even -- Chelonis R. Jones, Booka Shade, DJ T, Lopazz, Voltique, Zoo Brazil. The best name, though, is M.A.N.D.Y., which sounds like something you'd see in pink puffy letters on a glossy rave flyer with a pic of Bart Simpson under it. M.A.N.D.Y. is German duo Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung, and why they call themselves M.A.N.D.Y. I have no idea, but I think it's awesome. Expect big things from them soon -- Kompakt golden boy Justus Koehncke did a remix of Chelonis R. Jones' 'I Don't Know', and I hear that Ada is working on a remix of a Booka Shade tune. Search out the whole Get Physical mix that was released this year, but especially the Chelonis stuff and DJ T - 'Philly' and DJ T - 'Phantomas'.
4. Rex the Dog -- I Look into Mid Air
Every song the shadowy Rex the Dog produces or remixes seems like a gift from the skies, and I've been assiduously collecting every 12" single, b-side, remix, and snippet of his work thus far. The worst thing about the Rex the Dog remix of Client's 'Radio' is Client--wish they'd just get out of the way and let Rex do his thing. Anyway, 'I Look into Mid Air' is the B-side to 'Frequency', and it's probably the cheesiest Rex track yet, but I love it. Makes me want to write an article and have Rex the Dog remix it into a goddamn masterpiece.
5. Micatone -- Plastic Bags and Magazines (Tiefschwarz remix)
The title's a little worrying--sounds unsettlingly electroclash, doesn't it? (Even kinda rhymes with 'Silver Screen Shower Scene' now that I think about it, though I still like that song.) The lyrics are pretty insipid (not as insipid as the 'slash dot dash dot dash' song or whatever the fuck it is on the new Fatboy Slim album), but yeah, they're pretty dumb, and the female vocals--just their timbre and resonance--even sound vaguely annoying. But lyrics, well, they don't matter, and about 4:30 in, something happens. Her vocals just melt into a "ooh" or "hmm" or something, and suddenly, as the vocal sample gets chopped up even further, into this "ah" sound that boings up and down like a spring with random inserts of "it's crazy," the track becomes impossibly, impossibly moving. God I'm a wuss.
6. The MFA -- The Difference It Makes (Superpitcher remix)
Let's not kid ourselves here--this is a straight-up trance anthem--maybe the most trancey thing Superpitcher's ever been involved with. (Apparently Danny Tenaglia's already phoned in asking for copies!) But while listening to it the other night while walking up Fulton Street, with the fog hanging over Fort Greene in this just so way, the epic glacial whoosh of it brought a tear to my eye. A song only needs to matter for one moment for it to matter at all, and it mattered so much that night.
12.11.04 @ 03:04 PM EST [link]
I'm tantalizingly closer to solving the mystery that is Rex the Dog, but not quite. Ends up it's definitely not Daniel Miller, as Andy Kellman had theorized. Nor is it Ewan Pearson, as some others had guessed. Hmm.
12.11.04 @ 02:17 AM EST [link]
NYC! Come support Paul Kennedy's excellent DJ night at Orchard Bar tomorrow night! With grime for the grimy, candy-pop for the poptastic, crunk for the crunksters, 2step for the 2steppers, jungle, dancehall...you get the idea. He even started spinning a special set of electro-house tunes last weekend the minute I walked in the room...the man's unstoppable! Come out and represent -- more details here.
12.10.04 @ 08:46 PM EST [link]
By the way, a feature story by me on the Sun City Girls and the Sublime Frequencies recordings is out this week in The Wall Street Journal's Asian edition. You have to be a subscriber to view the article online, unfortunately, but I'm getting some copies sent to me from Hong Kong and will scan it in when it arrives!
12.10.04 @ 01:38 AM EST [link]
If you happen to be in New York, go check out the East Village USA exhibit at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. (mad props to Simon for tipping me off to yesterday's opening!) It's a big and wonderfully garish mess--three floors of paintings, films, posters, photos, and ephemera from early '80s New York. Lots of heavy-hitters like Haring and Basquiat and Goldin and Holzer, but the freshest and most interesting stuff exhibited here isn't by any of those people--it's by unnamed graffiti artists, one-hit-wonders, and mostly forgotten painters. Though the exhibit is a little lacking on the mutant disco/dance front, hip-hop and the more rocktastic side of post-punk both get their respect. Even hoary old Sonic Youth feels new and fresh in this context--there was some pretty intense footage of an extremely youthful SY shrieking 'Death Valley 69,' side by side with clips from TV Party (the Glenn O'Brien show, not the Black Flag song sadly) and wacky paintings, including this great one that's just flaming neon orange tempera paint with electric blue shooting through it--COLORS!! Also: a great Ann Magnuson short film, clips from Wild Style, club photos where people look completely and entirely unironically off their heads, photos of some really ravey-looking graffiti on the sides of subway cars (from '82!). . . man, it made me really, really wish I was in New York back then.
12.09.04 @ 06:25 PM EST [link
take your protein pills and put your helmet on--
"Excuse me, do you know what kind of music this is?" some random kid at Fabric asks me.
"This particular tune? Well, some people call it microhouse," I say.
He scrunches his face a little, raises an eyebrow, and then cups his fingers into a triangle.
"Microhouse. Is that like a little house, then?"
[He looks out of his head, but genuinely confused. The room, by the way, is swirling.]
"Yes, like a little house, but with music playing inside of the house! You can hear it through the windows!" I say.
"A little house with music, then."
"Yeah," I say, grinning.
"That sounds nice, a little house. I've always wanted one."
12.07.04 @ 11:31 PM EST [link]
resonance fm blogumentary.
Mad props to Matt, who is offering the Resonance FM blog documentary (featuring me, Woebot, Simon, Mark K-Punk, and Luka) as a quick 'n easy download. If you go to this Woebot post, you'll see it!
12.06.04 @ 06:43 PM EST [link]
When I interviewed Michael this summer in Cologne's Kompakt offices, I asked him what his favorite venue of the moment was. Without skipping a beat, he told me -- (here's another cute photo I took, just cuz) --
"Fabric." His reason: the SOUND. The decks, the clear-as-a-bell acoustics, the bass response...all those technical things that sadly seem like an afterthought at most New York venues, but make all the difference in the world with this kind of music. Anyway, his description made me even more psyched to check the place out than I was already.
So last week I found myself in London, and while I was there, I visited Fabric. The lineup: Ricardo Villalobos, Magda, and Richie Hawtin in the main room and Basteroid and Ivan Smagghe in the second room. My friends and I got there at around 11. When I got in the door, my jaw literally dropped. This was the biggest space I had seen in, well, forever. Here's a snapshot of the backs of peoples' heads...er I mean the main room:
It's hard to tell the scale of the place from the teensy photo, but believe me--it was pretty damn big. The second room was the size of the main space at Volume. Fabric's an intriguing maze when you get in, with multiple rooms and multiple levels and big cavernous hallways and wacky unigender restrooms wallpapered in mirror after mirror after mirror (dingy NYC venues take note: we girls (and boys too I'm guessing) like full-length mirrors!) It all felt very hyperfuturistic--stadium-grade moving lights, tons of lasers--but then there was the occasional odd reminder of the outside world, like a tangled Animal Collectivey tree branch encased in Plexiglas hanging in the stairwell, for no particular reason at all.
Magda started things up in the main room, playing it minimal and bangin' without ever being dry or dull. Which is a real talent, I gotta say. (Release a mix CD, Magda! You're great!) Then Villalobos and Hawtin took turns at the decks from 1 to...well, 3 pm the next day, from what I heard later. When I saw those two play an outdoor gig in Cologne, it was fun but a little too clicky and dry for my tastes. I figured tonight would be an entirely different experience, and I was right.
What the hell is that, you ask? I dunno!
The real wild cards of the night, in my estimation, were Villalobos and Smagghe. Anything could happen with those two, and I couldn't wait to see what they were going to throw at us. Villalobos' new album--strangely swampy, rhythmically nutty, very intriguing/inventive--is one of my favorite records of 2004.
The crowd at Fabric was, all things considered, pretty great. There were thousands of people. The usual hipster contingent was in full effect, but there were also tons of random people, and a bunch of dudes who seemed like they'd be baseball-cap-wearing jocks if they were in the US. But they were dancing and having a good time, and everyone seemed totally wrecked, which definitely added to the vibe. The kids I spotted in the restroom were drinking water straight out of the sink faucets and exchanging meaningful glances. Awww!
This is Basteroid. I really dig the label he's a part of--Areal--but his live set didn't really move me. He had his moments, but I drifted back to the main room to see Hawtin and Villalobos, who were just starting to tear it up. Then back to the second room, where Smagghe had taken over, playing one of the most blistering sets I've ever heard in my life. Smagghe is half of the unstoppable Black Strobe, and part of the reason I luv Smagghe is because he does veer a bit too far into Wax Traxy goth-schlock at times. The Black Strobe remix of Alter Ego's 'Rocker', for instance, is awesome, and part of the reason it's awesome is because parts of it sound like my imagined techno soundtrack for Zelda II (8-bit Nintendo stylee) or the nighttime scenes in Castlevania (before the morning sun vanquishes the horrible night ho ho). Adding to the scary FX was that there was a gigantic spinning green laser shooting out of the DJ booth (looks blue in the photo for some reason) and fog machines, which worked this mad optical illusion that made you feel like you were being literally sucked into Ivan Smagghe's unrelentingly cold gothic heart! Feeeeeeeeeel the creepy vibe!
Every track Smagghe threw out felt perfect, anthemic. There were definite dark, freaky undertones to a lot of it, something I think this whole scene could use more of (a lot of this stuff seems a little too sweetness and light at times doesn't it?) One of the high points was 'Heiden', which dropped at around 6. I totally underrated it cuz it's track 3 on the new Mayer album, and next to the absolute monster that is track 4 ('Neue Luthersche Fraktur') it doesn't seem to compare. But 'Heiden' is a monster too, and through the Fabric speakers, it sounded revelatory, every crystal-clear note shinging through the laser and fog-tinted air.
Smagghe ended triumphantly, the cool green death-ray laser turned off, and we headed back to see what Villalobos was up to in the main room. Villalobos was completely in his own head. I don't have a clue of what's going on inside Villalobos' head, and I have a goddamn degree in cognitive neurobiology from M.I.T. The dude looked totally out of it, but it didn't seem to impact his mixing skills in the slightest. Most of the stuff Villalobos was playing was completely engrossing, but it sounded like nothing I had ever heard before, and I'm at a loss to find the words to describe it right now. When we finally left, he was playing something that sounded like what I can best describe as childrens' music from space--all pretty bells and gentle chimes and train whistles, with this weird rocking beat underpinning it.
So, Fabric. Thank you and good night!
12.05.04 @ 11:16 PM EST [link]
Yeah! Jon Dale and his Worlds of Possibility --> back in action --> with stories of the Etchingham Steam Band!
12.05.04 @ 10:58 PM EST [link]