Tuesday, May 6, 2008

oslo: yes or no?

last year the ssgs were in very regular and ongoing email conversations about music, and these proved to be one of the main sources of inspiration for getting the blog going. anyway, today we all got into a conversation about oslo, one of the hottest labels of 2008. simply put, dave is a big fan, pete is somewhere in between, chris is not convinced and cam hasn't heard enough to come to a judgment yet. we thought some of the discussion we had might be of interest (and/or amusement), so i've put the transcript of our conversation below. i can't be bothered editing it, so it is definitely much more rough and ready than our usual posts.

let's see how this experiment goes. it may work, it may not. either way, feedback is much appreciated so we know whether to post something like this again in the future. (by the way, this is a picture from my visit to oslo. seemed a good visual description on my take).

seriously. how friggin awesome is this Oslo? i've been listening to nothing but their EPs for the past 3 days... the last time i've been so heavily hooked on something was probably liars or Mu... i can never recall being so heavily into one particular techno label or artist.

chris i know you don't like them but how about cam and pete?

i love all their stuff but i'd have to say my fave tracks are "It Ain't Music" by Vera & Federico Molinari and "Enerverende" by Federico Molinari... the Mara Trax release is the best EP.

come on lets hear some oslo love!

The Johnny D EP, surely. By far the best. I like the Mara, but it's 'junk food' - but good DJ tools, for sure.

Dave, your passion for 'dry funk' never ceases to amaze.

Brinkmann must have affected a blood transfusion via the headphones, or something.

oslo is very appropriately named. it is boring, just like the city.

dont like the johnny d stuff at all, actually. there is a livepa of his here.

havent listened to it yet, though.

dry funk is awesome... always has been and always will be. i've always loved how good electronic producers can extract stuff like funk, soul or rock via something which should be so cold and emotionless. just wish more people outside of Maurice Fulton could extract some punk.

the Guillaume EP is pretty good but probably my least fave on the label. it's the only release that doesn't 100% fit the oslo sound either. but yeah it's good and i'd imagine you'd really like it.

the first Johnny D EP is brilliant! the 2nd one is good too.

btw i don't really get why it's referred to as "dry" funk. it's really no different to the post punk/funk that came out of New York in the early 80s... stuff like The Contortions, ESG, Talking Heads... it's an extention of "white boy funk" more than anything else... and also pushing the rigid electro funkiness Kraftwerk started... which was then embraced by the rnb/hip-hip scene and is now being reclaimed by germans. actually i'd say the futuristic rnb by The Neptunes and to a lesser extent Timbaland has a lot in common with this so-called "dry funk" sound.

Definitely, but I feel it's even dryer, IMHO. Brut de brut. Neptunes/Timbaland is moistened by the syrupy vocal harmonies and strident trance synth chords, but w/ Oslo it's

like the title of that Guido Schneider track

'As Dry as I Can'

guido. now there is a guy who is waaaaaaaaaay too dry for my tastes. he is kind of like the musical equivalent of that freeze dried food they give astronauts...

Yep, and one can acquire a taste for that, too....

i really don't get how oslo is dryer than neptunes... particularly when they get really electronic on tracks like Drop It Like It's Hot or on The Clipse album. i dunno maybe i'm immune to dryness.

chris if you've only heard the A on the new johnny d then you can't really judge him because it's quite different to all his other work.

who's guido btw?

if i find the first Soul Centre album brinkmann did to be the funkiest electronica ever then i must have a taste for the dryness... what's an example of funky electronica that is the opposite of dry? like electronic wet funk? and not the kind that cheats by heavily sampling funk tracks or using live instrumentation

guido schneider. you love the recent ep he did on cadenza (with galluzi and someone else). not my thing, though.

so is it possible to make funky electronic music without the use of disco/funk samples, vocals or live instrumentation?

Is <-> this a stupid question (?/.)

"Funk is what you don't play." - George Clinton

this is funking boring. haha. i am almost as funny as dave.

i'm serious! i just don't understand why you guys are referring to this olso stuff as "dry" funk... how is it different to other funk and why does it need to be differentiated by referring to it as dry? i honestly see this stuff to be just as funky as traditional funk. it sure makes me want to dance more

i think what they mean is that it is supposed to be funky, but it is actually shit and boring.

Ha! That's some Chris clarity for you.

i haven't been all that interested in discussing techno lately but oslo has sorta got me in the mood because it's exciting and fresh to my ears. and i was curious as to why you other guys haven't been sharing that excitement considering you are into mountain people / rozzo which would have suggested you'd be into it.

Like I said, I like Johnny D's first one, and one or two of the tracks on Mara.

But Rozzo's 'I wish I was a cat' is the best of all these by far.

I think the thing is also that Chris and I do research and listen to sets all day, which means we hear tracks a lot and therefore sounds get played out in a matter of weeks, rather than months.

Voracious appetites need fresh meets for good sausages.

To be honest, I haven't heard much of the Oslo stuff at all ... so I really haven't formed an opinion yet.

i only heard oslo about a month ago for the first time so yeah i'm late to get into them... and that was only one EP. i got 4 of their EPs over the weekend so that's why i'm excited now.

Oslo engages some people, sometimes. But Chris.... none of the time?

i am over exaggerating (as i often do). oslo is ok. but i dont like the johnny d. and the federico and vera mix i heard i didnt like. same with mara trax. it just sounds very derivative to me. and watered down house music.

deep house lite: that's oslo for you.

ok so i'll try this all again... just to clarify, i'm asking because i'm curious not because i want ot convince you all that oslo is the absolute shit.

the most confusing thing is why Rozzo/Serafin get the thumbs up while oslo is seen as the lesser. in my opinion both are sensational. and i can't really hear why someone would prefer one of them much more over the other. but obviously people can and do! so why is it?

and why is Hello? Repeat! and oslo seen as dry? to my ears it's the most dynamic and exciting techno out there... yeah it's very clicky and technical but it just sounds so fun... at the moment i switch between berghain and this HR/oslo sound. and i turn to the oslo when i'm thinking "hmmmm i want ot hear something FUN now!" and it makes me grin and get all giddy. so it just seems to odd to me that others tag it as dry. it's totally cool that you do but it's really mind
boggling to me. it's like calling Dettmann "chilled" or Tiesto "intellectual" and i'm not exaggerating. it really doesn't compute.

so please explain!

i dont think dry is meant in a negative sense (or so, only weakly). for me, with hello?repeat, i just can't connect. it is good for 5-10 minutes but not long after that i am wanting to switch it off. as for oslo, i wouldnt describe as dry, just not that good. i mean it is fun, but but but...

I meant 'dry' more as a technique/technical thing.

They use very short sounds with not much reverb.

On an FX tone pot (such as reverb) that would be dry/wet.

So, 'cos they use very 'dry' sounds as well (metallic, mineral, wooden... all percussive elements that would be dry and inorganic if they were physical objects)

I call it 'dry funk'

[and that is where we are up to...]


  1. cannot believe you guys are talking crap about ASTRONAUT ICE CREAM

  2. "oslo is very appropriately named. it is boring, just like the city."

    haha, awesome. :)

    Personally I like the Johnny D stuff most out of the bunch. However, I do think the crux of the issue for me is:

    "Chris and I do research and listen to sets all day, which means we hear tracks a lot and therefore sounds get played out in a matter of weeks, rather than months."

    I'm a little "new" to techno/mnml so I'm exactly the same way, I listen to sets all day to learn about new artist and labels. I come from a more house background so obviously the Oslo stuff meshes really well, it's "techno" that the house heads can digest and is great for building up to more "obscure" (meaning obscure to house purist) sounds. I Wish I Was a Cat and the new Johnny D are probably my favorites of the more recent Oslo/Mt People stuff but I hear them in so many sets that they're wearing *very* thin for me. But is that the producer's fault? Or just a result of my personal overexposure?

    Maybe there's a difference between truly being "played out" and "internet-played-out". None of these types of sounds are being played around here, but they're wearing thin in my own mind. I guess that's why record buying is such an addictive hobby...

  3. "so is it possible to make funky electronic music without the use of disco/funk samples, vocals or live instrumentation?"

    that sound you hear is my brain exploding. arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  4. "Maybe there's a difference between truly being "played out" and "internet-played-out". None of these types of sounds are being played around here, but they're wearing thin in my own mind. I guess that's why record buying is such an addictive hobby..."

    This is really interesting to me, and very true. Take one look at Beatport's bogus 'best of' list, and you'll see it's Deadmau5, Trentemoller, Booka Shade, Dirty South - all the crap that's actually big in Australian clubs, that's actually getting 'played out' in the clubspace.

    It's difficult to calculate the diffuse 'blogspace' (as clubspace/headspace) but sufficed to say, it's got a different playlist...

    ...I was at Melbourne's Revolver (Re:vulver;Revolter) for Sven V's recovery session, and the punters were confused. They hadn't heard music like that before. They were used to Boogs:


    And I get the impression that this is a common experience in many places that 'we' (being this real-and-imagined community) live.

  5. @jesse: yeah, good point. you can't exactly blame the producer. but i think you probably can point fingers at djs. i mean, if everyone else is playing the latest johnny d, do you really want to play it too, even if it is a good track?

    but i do suffer from a very short attention span when it comes from music (which is probably obvious by some of my posts here). this was already a problem before sets became so widely available on the net. these days, most sets i get are lucky to last more than a week on high rotation before i move on...

  6. @pipecock: yeah that comment i made was based on a misunderstanding on what Pete meant... but yeah i can see how it seems silly from your perspective!

    hmmm interesting what other guys here are saying about tracks getting played out in DJ sets... i actually pretty much never listen to downloaded sets. i much prefer listening to tracks and albums.

  7. @dave: we've talked about this a lot before, but plenty of it is just contextual. if i listen to individual tracks or albums, i find it very distracting when i am trying to work. the continuity of a set is much more conducive for working. but i know when you listen to music, you are much more purely focused on it. horses and courses...

  8. oh yeah i'm not saying listening to tracks is better than sets... just my preference that's all

  9. "if i listen to individual tracks or albums, i find it very distracting when i am trying to work. the continuity of a set is much more conducive for working."

    I agree. I mostly listen to sets vs. tracks to find new music I may not have come across before too. Also I find sometimes I'll pass over buying a track from hearing the clip, then when I hear it in it's "natural habitat" [dj set] it ends up appealing to me more

  10. What is the "natural habitat" of electronic music?

    What is electronic music 'for'?

    I never came at it as dance music – I got into it 'cos I was sick of the limitations of guitar-based music and I heard something that moved me deeply.

    The groove thing I can dig, and the dance thing was a side-effect of taking ecstasy and trying to find 'it' (and almost doing so), but I tend to think that, really, the contemporary position of electronic music is one that is profoundly alienated from its embodied audience.

    It only makes sense either dividually (on our headphones, one-by-one, all alone), or in private space. It *never* developed an effective way of presenting itself outside the clubs, and to people outside its vocabulary, it's still mostly 'drug music' or the soundtrack to whatever forms of hedonism.

    My experience is that, for most people, Timbaland or early MJ is much better in the clubs.

    I feel as if 'dance music' is this weird orphan, that occasionally befriends amphetamine cultures, only to spurn/be spurned by it in the daytime hours.

    Can anyone dig what I mean? Like, seeing Carsten Nicolai w/ Ryuichi Sakamoto do the whole Vrioon/Insen thing *totally* made sense and brought the music into a 'natural' frame that was unproblematic, in that:

    - the sound system/accoustics were good
    - the AV show was actually good
    - the show wasn't at 5am
    - it was 'all about the music'

    Electronic music, if such a thing can be isolated, may be unique in being unable to find a dedicated, profitable audience without bonding to other subcultures.

    Eminem was right: 'nobody listens to techno anyway', at least, not without something else to busy themselves with.

    So, what is electronic music for?

    What do you people think?


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