Monday, January 28, 2008

We Were Never Mnml (Inpress column, January 08)

What follows is a stone cold paste of the monthly column I write for Inpress:

Ah, January, the month in which the year’s promises and resolutions are still as yet unbroken… or not? I dunno about you guys, but I’m yet to even engage mine. January is also a great month for shit-talking by way of a psychological spring clean, a time for summing up, stripping back, sharpening and polishing – so expect a lot of ‘best of ‘07’ mixes to be doing the rounds on the blogosphere in the next few weeks as well as interminable claims about sleeper tracks that we all, well, slept on. How can anyone keep up with the datasea? Even if you are a download junkie with a private tracker plugged directly into your main vein, it’s nigh on impossible (but we try, we try).

On the mix tip, RA have come bolting out of the flabby post-Christmas gate with a few fantastic podcasts to shake off the cobwebs and kilos, the best of which is Tobias Freund’s excursion through twenty-five years of favourites and influences, including Robert Fripp, YMO’s Haruomi Hosono and Ryuichi Sakamoto as well as Squarepusher and Gary (human?) Numan. It’s broad, it’s deep, it’s the shit – here’s to more mixes like this that enrich our perspectives on the roots of our music. I’ll binge drink to that.

But for all you mnml heads wanting something that kicks on every up-to-the-minute beat (and stays on the money), big props goes to Donnacha Costello, who’s offering a very fine (and well recorded) mix free to download from his Minimise website, including lots of material from Minimise, Liebe Detail, plus a few mid-nineties classics from Plus 8 and the like. It’s called (appropriately for the time of year and content) ‘Looking Back, Facing Forward’, and you can check it here:
The mix even includes a pdf with an exhaustive tracklisting, which makes a refreshing change…

Another weird pattern appears to be developing due to the influence of the blogosphere, one that’s having all-too-real effects on any producer foolish enough to release her new tracks between late November and early February. No doubt it’s compounded by the European winter/off-season, but there is now an undeniable (and very dark and scary) ‘three month black hole’ that a lot of late-year releases have been falling into, and it’s been increasing in gravity, sucking a lot of would-be stars into the void… would the three wise men even have made it to Bethlehem in ‘07? Anyway, don’t let Bruno Pronsato’s Why Can’t We Be Like Us be one such lost light – this is easily the best minimal/house album since Isolee’s We Are Monster, a claim I don’t make lightly. Anyway, you can read (plug, plug) my full review on RA if you need more convincing. But don’t let me hear anyone say they slept on this one. Act like a wise man, dump the feekin’ myrrh, and get on it.

Other sleeping stars from these boozy, sweaty, snoozy months would have to go to some of the following releases: Dettmann and Klock’s ‘Scenario’, which is very much in their typical clean, compressed style, with lots of dampened, rolling bells and subtly pummelling, shifting percussion, but with a kick so uncannily soft it seems to want to mother you… grab a nip and suckle, I say. Their recent work, like a lot of the stuff on Ostgut, is the thinking (she)man’s ‘big room boom boom’ ¬¬- and yes, that’s a good thing. Aside from the Klock, check Sebo K’s remix of Radioslave’s (vastly over-rated, IMO) ‘Bell Crap Dance’, which improves the original to no end. Sebo is charting week after week on Beatport (along with Corey’s faves TV Rock), and no wonder – the guy has managed to sort out a smoothly populist style of tech-house that’s also rewarding for the heads. I guess that means that everyone’s happy? Meanwhile, in the rejuvenated land of neo-dub-techno, Rod Modell continues his relentless series of big, bad, deeeeeep releases with the double EP Grandbend (as Echospace) – yes, it’s more of the same, but when you’ve hammered the formula better than Mr Miyagi knocks nails, who cares? Hypnoheads should also check out Omar S’ ‘Psychotic Photosynthesis’ – it’s as twisted, deep and kicking as his last EP on FXHE… but longer! To bad it’s one sided – hmmm… how many sides to a story if it’s an mp3, riddle me that? Whatever, watch Omar in ’08.

On a recent trip to Tokyo last week I had a whacking chagrin slam my grin with the foot-in-the-teeth discovery of Cisco’s closure. Cisco (RIP) was not only Tokyo’s premier techno specialist, but one of the world’s best record stores, and the hub of a social scene. To celebrate, why not download (illegally) something by Broken Social Scene and live the irony! For a full report and rant on this, check the sausage blog on While you’re snagging, cheer yourself up after the gutting by having a sausage scroll down for links to some off-the-chain mixes by the Mountain People, Move D, Tobias, Lawrence, Marcel Dettmann, Margaret Dygas (gas gas) and the venerable Cassy.

The other day, I heard this nasty share-trading femmebot on the news say something that got me thinking. She said:

‘The best time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets. That’s when you make the most money.’

I’m not urging a bloodbath, but you’d have to wonder… is 2008 the time to begin collecting vinyl? Notice the italics there though. The death of vinyl as a living medium means its rebirth as a collector’s format… the sooner they stop producing it, the more scarce, and therefore (in theory at least) the more expensive it will become… but not most of it, most of it won’t be worth shit. In fact, anything you DJs played out regularly is probably worthless… witness the flatness (and skintness) as you take your beloved second-hand books to the book store and get fiddy bucks for a box full of favourites, then log on to abebooks and balk when you see what a first-edition Nabokov in good nick fetches… yep, it’s the wheat from the chaff, chaps. If I was into vinyl, I’d either get seriously into collecting it, or get the fuck out ASAP (no doubt most of you have already followed option two).

Once upon a time, Melbourne was crowned Techno City… then there was the slump… while we’ll never know how much of the techno wave was just about suburban kids getting into ecstasy, you’d have to say that things are looking up in the local scene. Rumours abound (while DJ Bone, Ripperton, Gui Boratto, Steve Bug and Jeremy Caulfield are all confirmed in the next few months), but it seems like it’s the locals who are really setting the scene week-by-week, with Korova Milk Bar running a weekly minimal/tech/house night (haven’t been, can’t vouch for it), Pretty Simple’s weekly (and reliably delivered) dose, plus consistently great parties from the Nano and Lab crews… here’s looking forward.

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