Friday, December 30, 2005

How to rock Friedrichshain

Truth is ever willing to promote European communion, not to mention the joy of the dancefloor’s temporary autonomous zone, the activities of extended crew and sounds that revel in minute frequency change. So we dig into the box of Crosstown Rebels associate and some-time Phonica employee Matthew Styles Harris, who rocked the early morning crowd at Berlin’s Panorama bar just before Christmas. The German capital’s dance subculture is alive and very well, particularly in the east and in Ostgut’s/Panorama’s post-industrial setting…

OK, this is only a list – view it as inspiration information:
siege uber die sonne – sunset supreme
hot chip – over & over (solid groove rmx)
cassey – marylin’s wake (perlon)
hugg & pepp – strumpa (dahlback)
marco corola – king of excuses (domino)
dolly la parton – move your body (apnea)
theo parish – faklling up (c2 Mix – 3rd ear)
renato figoli – ocho al puma (gumption)
baked boyscouts – lowrider (sleep dept)
termitten – Nordhorn (linear)
rob mello – give me a k
kage – twins (detroit luv)
quentin harris – let’s be young (julien jabre mix – nrk)
Bell – rhythm machine (soul jazz)
huggotron – glasshouses (resopal)
electronic data processing – studio 3am (modelism)
telex – i don’t like music (stacey pullen mix)
termitten – nordhorn (linear)
ustrom – dog (weekend world)
we are – we are 1
dider sinclair – take a trip (serial records)
serafin – starship discoteque
tim xavier – limted 400 #1
pier bucci – l nuit (domink eulberg mix)
maetrik – uilame (triebstoff)
fairmount – gazebo (border community)
fingers inc – music take me up (jack traxx)
moodyman – dem young sconies (planet e)
black dog – evoke (detroit mix)
the vanisher – tic tac tatic (specteral)
add noise – escuche y repeta (earsugar beatbox)
softcell – memorabilia
dimbiman/villalobos – panpot spliff (perlon)
penny & rhodan – the beat just goes straight on & on (rising high)
closer musik – maria (kompakt)

Props to Matt for availing us of his tunes. Looks brilliant even though/because it was 11am…
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Top off Ten

Calendar-serfs that we are, it’s yearly review time. Even though I can barely remember what came out in January or which events I attended even without extensive research, I’m pitching in. Some cybernauts, like Blackdown Clark , knock up quality reviews, some do interesting slants. This will veer to the latter: Drum break please…
this is my music profile as of 21 December, 2005.

1. Muzik Technocell. My loudest sonic boom was ripped on to a blank dvd. It contained a couple of days’ worth of tracks from my mate Seb in Lille, and was a veritable tresor trove. This was just one example of the different ways music is accumulated these days. The good stuff gets appreciated even more if it bypasses commercial channels. By its nature this kind of approach is retro-active. On this media, for example, were two Love albums and loads of 80s Belgian emissions that I am savouring (I reckon the New Beat revival is definitely here – jocks like Smagghe have been veering that way for a while). Generally I am finding myself spending more time than ever going back to the alternative canon, reappraising acts such as Joy Division or The Cure (augmented by K-Punk pieces).

2. Dread step variables. Particularly Coki’s Officer. Big tings bassline! This is a skanker’s anthem extraordinaire, and whether it’s me bezzing off slo-mo-style in my attic or the headz getting down at DMZ this track never fails. Also Jon E Cash’s Cash Beat, that sick bass splurt of which has been in my head and vocalised to my wife’s annoyance for most of H2. And various Bug productions.

3. Continued exciting-despite-themselves necro/cold housey doings. Particularly Pier Bucci’s album and Lazarus’s compilation, both through Crosstown Rebels. Clearly this German-led sound and culture is reaching an apex of decadence, and we are way past Wildean dalliance and into actual Des Esseintes dissipation (we can gloss over Doherty’s use of A Rebours on his new album as mere try-hard referencing). Elitist? Definitely, this is sophisticated output for experienced white bourgeois. No doubt the gorgeous synthetix will keep on coming.

4. New techno shapes. Specifically this Dan Curtin ep and the Green Velvet Love long player.

5. The Semitic Djekyll. Ok, this is me, but it takes up a lot of time in the listening as well as the engineering, so has been a major component of my sonic o-five. Done almost exclusively through Sound Studio, which was hidden away in the Applications of old iMacs, I’ll sample something off iTunes, build something around a beat box or a finger tap and inject some harsh technoid sounds somewhere along the line. Sometimes, I’ll go off on a comic riff. The limitation is actually an advantage, though there is some processing capability I’m not caught in the endless possibilities of a Reason or even a Garageband. I like the ill-produced, amateurish nature of the sound. I lean towards harsher noises, but I’m sure this is just the introductory period before the Djekyll goes after the Grayblunt Cullumelua market.

The fans have been several: This is what came in my inbox about Repudate, for example: “Works with nazi crank” – Sioux, Faceless Compound, Iowa; “Sure” – P Tong, north London; “Repudate mubarak akbar” – Bored Saudi youth, Yanbu; “Repudate? ja, bitte” – Hans, Dusseldorf; And of Reichubermenschen: “Repudate e la nouvelle holocaust. Je m’en mort” – Jean-Paul, Toulon; “Nishin'” – Ruud, Utrecht. Actual responses have been forthcoming from the likes of Czukay and Cull’s Cream 74, who remarked about the former: “Blah-tee hell Muzzlings – that's one heck of a stench you boiled up there for our ear tasting.”
Anyone who wants a comp ripped lerrus know at

6. Worst year for music in ages chat. A lot of this seemed to stem from grime’s stumble into the hit parade – the protoganists seemingly happy to peddle novelty to go top 10, but also from mates who actually buy dance records and go to events on a regular basis. Often the complaint was that although there’s no end to the new releases there’s not enough good stuff to buy, and the jocks are increasingly turning to old techno. Yet some of those moaning online seem to buy so much they must be losing focus. Then there was the Blissblog-documented continued deepening of the nostalgia market – as time goes by an inevitable-but-no-less annoying trend. For what it’s worth I think there’s still loads of new music coming through that turns heads and turns heads on.

Of course, the nearer to the populist centre it’s hip-hop and house-oriented sounds that still rule the UK, and if the unattuned punter wants a narco night on the dancefloor, they’re far more likely to turn to hard dance or breakbeat than any of these more rarified genres we give so much time to. In the centre of the storm, lazy British minds would rather get off on ballroom dancing on Saturday-night TV – knobbers!

7. Online distributed mixes. Particularly Doubt Beat from Beat Research, the Skream comp and Gutterbreakz’ monthly reviews, and many of those flagged up on Dissensus. Muito respeito, brodas. As suggested in one, this continued anti-marketplace dissemination is one of the web’s big pluses, and as long as you’ve got the functionality time is the only brake on appreciation. I’m hoping to add to the stew with some rewinds of techno and d&b soon.

8. Any schmindies? Well the Arctics Monkeys were a welcome feral blast, but as documented, Truth was not without reservations. I’ve just got hold of Canadians’ Broken Social Scene, and that’s good, and Afrirampo was my gig of the year. Maximo Park’s A Certain Trigger wasn’t often out of a cd player. But generally indie rock has the uncanny ability to sound utterly amazing and different on the first listen then quickly become terminally quotidian. Arcade Fire were a fine example. If that’s the case then the vocal content has to improve a lot.

9. You are now about to witness the strength of blog knowledge. Blogworld ebbed and flowed this year – some of the leading lights dropped out, but the mainstream press kept banging on about it and starting their own pale imitations. Then the leading lights came back and now everyone is blogging – here are some recent arrivals from real-world mates.

It’s scandalous that people on the NME or Mojo are getting paid for plugging the obvious when there’s online peeps offering genuine insights and awareness purely for the love. Think Woebot’s recent NDW proselytizing. Proof that sifting through the melting pot and curating a specific area is still better, even though it’s tempting to load your mac up with everything (I spent ages going through seb’s rip as I didn’t want all of it). Let’s hope even more in the ’sphere break through in the 06 and start influencing those who unlike us aren’t locked into the PC or Mac 24-7.

10. The Kollektive. Portal keeper Forrest’s new work, Especially the deranged Something Inside, and LondonunderLondon.

Non-sonics have been pretty much dominated by Peepshow, Nathan Barley and The Mighty Boosh. The latter should produce a Bonzo Dog-like compilation of their musical skits – ie, the Isolation tune when they were on a desert island and the goth thrash about the 666 old biddy. Whether on scheduled broadcast, DVD, video or online playback, the trio of comedies is filling my head with ideas as well as dialogue. Three series in, Peepshow has almost entered the mainstream with its accurate portrayal of two twats, one beholden to “the miracle of consumer capitalism” the other “to a higher law”, who are the antithesis of laddish determinism. It’s an, er, oasis in the broadcast world, so for now we’ll ignore some pretty slack stereotyping of drug users (Sophie turns hippy; drug people can’t handle work, you see) and some lame dialogue towards the end of the series. Oh, and one of them’s adverts for McDonalds and air conditioner, and love of Piss Hitchins.

11. The official reushering in of post-punk.

– worst – that would be the “Manchester City album”. In the satanic name of commerce, please stop these trance interpretations of terrace classics (with the offensive stuff taken out) and dumb rock covers. Fucking cack! I’ve heard on the music biz grapevine, where I got it for nothing, that it has sold in pitiful amounts. It deserved to, football fans will buy any old tat but most will draw the line at a desecration of their song traditions. It came out on Sanctuary, which understandably has been in financial trouble.

Lucky it’s not all about music – keep checking Cull for perspective. See you on the other side of the artificial festive break.
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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Leah's Pills

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Like putting Baile funk on a swing bill

Brazilian dengue beat pioneers Naçao Zumbi have been put on the bill of the Barbican’s Tropicalia revival revue next spring, with the ageing likes of Veloso, Gil and Jorge Ben Jor. I don’t want to get on a high horse but NZ must be gritting their teeth and bearing it if they’re being lined up for a Tropicalism festival. They’re Brazilian, that’s all that counts, it seems. Stick ’em in a world music-like pigeonhole. Their appearance at the liberal arts centre par excellence sparks memories of season ticket whores walking out of their 2002 Barbican gig, because thundering drums and punk riffs weren’t the bossa nova they wanted to hear.

After all the effort we’ve variously put in to getting the lads seen as a band that exists away from the hackneyed old Tropicalist imagery, some wanky national newspaper journalist may equally wet himself about NZ and get it totally wrong about them being neo-Trops. The chances are that they’ll actually get some major attention for the first time from one of the self-same wankers who will then claim them as their own.

But in a way, I hope they use Tropicalism as a Trojan horse to get inside the building and then mash it up from within. The trouble is that if they’re sold to the stuffed shirts, the same crowd that didn’t know how to react in Chester when they played a Jazz club that billed them as some kind of Buena Vista lite entertainment, they’ll be even further alienated from the kids who deserve them!

Zumbi’s classic Da Lama ao Caos was reviewed here.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Joining the dots is harder offline

The web is a world of possibility for music. I have just downloaded a brilliant section of 93-95 hardcore and jungle, mixed to perfection and with comprehensive liner notes, timings and a well designed sleeve to print out which even has the watermarks on so you can cut it properly. Respect to Naphta (Naphtha? is he alluding to the Arabic for oil?), this is a fine example of transcending traditional capitalist ways and will fill a few gaps in my knowledge of the continuum, after I left the London/orbital hardcore scene for northern bedsits and “intelligent techno”, only to return having missed the rapture of junglist innovation.

But there are limitations. How does the online sphere of sharing ideas and files translate back into real-world concerns like putting on a club night? Research HQ doesn’t want for hits, neither do most of its protagonists. Cull doesn’t do too bad either.

But the numbers were low again at our second Extropia, 40 at best. At least it didn’t matter too much as the venue was much more appropriately-sized. And those who came enjoyed some top sonic workouts from Cull’s Cream74, lots of new wave and indie, L’Infinite’s eurotronic stomp and punk blasts and Mforrest’s live reworking of his new album, as well as some nice Cull slideshows and the comic art of Pete. Musically, having given up trying to mix properly without phones, I was most happy with my juxtaposition of dubstep and hardcore, and the final segue of Mad Mike’s X and Kraftwerk’s Numbers. The work of the mysterious Semitic Djkeyll was aired while we were clearing up too. Earlier on I had turned the dank ex-bogs horticultural with the florescent Seefeel and Ulrich Schnauss. Somebody also came over to say she dialled that service which picks up the tune and texts you its title back (it was Justus Köhncke’s After 909).

Many thanks to all those who came. The next one will have to see a return to old-style marketing practices if we’re to reach the next level. If we’re doing a night in London then we have to reach Londoners, not have a Londonist attitude of “name the date and they will come” and not solely concentrate on online adverts which are irrelevant to those in New York or York. And, you know, thinking of the basics such as the right-size jack for the speakers will help. While we don’t seek to rip people off for their experience it doesn’t hurt to be more professional.
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