Sunday, December 28, 2008
true. techno. music.
i discovered something strange today. i didn't listen to any techno/eletronic music for one whole week. i almost listened to no music at all, except for occasionally what was playing in the background. in taking a one week holiday, i accidently also took a break from music too. i cant't remember the last time i went so long - intentionally or not - without listening to some form of electronic music. i think it might have been the start of 2001. i am not sure. but it just happened by accident. i was aware it wasn't there, but i was fine. for someone who uses music as a coping mechanism (amongst other things), this situation feels a bit strange in retrospect. today that silence came to an end as i sat on the metro heading to the airport i put on shed's amazing ssg mix. wow. boy did it sound good. with slightly refreshed ears i soaked up and appreciated every minute of shed's set. once again i am in technoland and and i'm happy to be back (as i type this i am listening to the excellent random mix by rising sun - definitely worth checking). anyway, this is just a little story to introduce some of my thoughts and reflections on 2008 and the first year of mnml ssgs (cam will be posting about this soon - we recently had our first birthday).
i still haven't quite decided what to think about this year, so it might be a bit early to write this post. but if it doesn't happen now, it won't happen for a while. i know there has been much talk about whether the music we love is still keeping strong or starting to get a bit stale, and the related discussion of how 'deep' the supposed deep house revival has been, but i think i might avoid these increasingly well worn issues. thinking about 2008, there are two main currents/themes for me, and both are clearly inter-related. the first is something that just hit me today as i was returning from my holiday (from life/work/music): this year i re-discovered techno music. as shed perfectly put it, 'true. techno. music.' the way i really came into this music was through hard techno in the late '90s. mills/speedy j/advent - these were the key acts that opened my mind up. after a few years of mainly listening to this style of hard, minimal techno, my sound palette broadened considerably (even though, i must admit i remained and continue to remain somewhat closed minded in regards to some things). very slowly i listened to less and less 'true' techno. the sound tired. and so did i. increasingly it was minimal, deep house (not too many vocals please), (proper) electro, and especially that genre in between which was opened up to me by the globus mixes from herbert and dan bell, minimal house. but in 2008 i found techno again. or perhaps it found me. most likely a bit of both. for me the most exciting development of the year is a return of techno. but not as we have known it. yes, the berghainers have a major part in this. but it is far bigger and wider than just ostgut. they may be one of the flagships, but there is plenty more bubbling and going on. as pete has discussed, techno (as house) may increasingly have become a 'genre' form of music, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, and i think we are in the process of a really interesting renovation and exploration of techno, even if it is still largely remaining within its traditional structures and shapes. my bet is 2009 is going to be the continuation of this, and for me, neo-techno/mindfuck techno/whatever it is will be a defining trend in the next year. and this is definitely a good thing!
so for me, as 2008 has progressed i have found myself listening to more and more techno. harder, more sparse, dynamic, reduced sounds that pulsate and drive. i feel excited about these sounds in a way i havent felt for a while. i guess this can lead into my second discovery of 2008, which is perhaps best summed up in two words: passion and inspiration. whether it is hearing how much love and care goes into each one of bvdub's tracks; the way dozzy lets his records breathe and live; that raw and almost violent feeling silent servant, function, regis and the whole sandwell district label can generate; the thought and attention to detail that goes into cio d'or's sets - the way she crafts them as a whole; the warmth that is conveyed through benjamin brunn's nord modular; the intuition and touch steffi's displays (her new set must be listened to); the simple beauty and elegance of donnacha's 'trust' and melchoir's 'who can find me (i can't)' - i could keep listing examples but i think i've made my point. when i look at 2008, i don't see junk or banality, i see a long list of examples of people that have inspired me by their passion, dedication and love for what they do. one of the best parts of doing this blog has been getting in contact with so many people and discovering how many are in it for the right reasons. while some people might continue knocking out the latest fad and others will continue to crawl deeper up their own ass, as long as we have people that are passionate, dedicated and care, we will have true. techno. music. that is what i have really worked out this year.
i'll post all my end of year lists later, but i want to share my top 5 tracks from the RA poll here as i think it helps to demonstrate my point. what unites them is that each in their own way are all full of passion, emotion and care:
01. donnacha costello – trust [minimise]
02. melchior productions ltd - who can find me (i can't) [cadenza]
03. tobias. - i can't fight the feeling [wagon repair]
04. mathew jonson - symphony for the apocalypse [wagon repair]
05. newworldaquarium - the force [NWAQ]
for now, what i'd like to do is list names of people who have inspired and impressed me throughout 2008. i am going to miss some, but hopefully i will get most:
donato dozzy, peter van hoesen, shed, bvdub, convextion, the labyrinth organisers, smallville, benjamin brunn, cio d'or, thomas melchoir, cassy, pacotek, betalounge, samuli kemppi, tobias, sherbs, silent servant, todd burns, hard wax, teleosteopathy, basic channel, modyfier, richard brophy, ostgut, juan atkins, kraftwerk, shackleton, perlon, seth troxler, lee jones, jasper tx, marcel dettmann, andy stott, appleblim, steffi, vladislav. actually, i know the list is longer. probably much longer. but i'll just add one more then stop: my fellow ssgs, cam and pete and yes, even dave the silent ssg.
i know sometimes people don't necessarily agree with what's on mnml ssgs, and others tire of posts which may occasionally end up being a bit long, wordy and admittedly academic (sorry, this is what happens when two of us are academics), but we care and this is what is the ultimate purpose of the blog (at least as i understand it): to focus on those people doing special things, call out the shit, while questioning and discussing everything in between. we don't make any money out of this (nor are we trying to) and we all do it in our spare time. it has been a very positive experience for me discovering that one can make a direct and positive impact without being a dj, producer, label owner or whatever. while it has sometimes been frustrating and tiring, for the most part, doing mnml ssgs has been incredibly rewarding. so thank you for reading, contributing, writing, voicing opinions, engaging, debating and taking the time to see what we have to say. i'd also like to thank all the artists who have contributed in one way or another to mnml ssgs, especially to those who have taken considerable time and effort to take part in the our mix series. i know it sounds biased, but i think the quality of the series so far has been amazingly high. i was listening to some of them again today and i was floored with how good the mixes have been. so thanks. we are very proud of the series - we've tried to do something a bit different and so far it has been working tremendously well. we've got more mixes in the pipeline from people we are very excited about. so keep an eye out for future developments in '09...
ok, that's all from me for this year. 2008 has been an incredibly challenging year for me and i am looking forward to making '09 a very good one. i hope you all had a good christmas and i wish you each a happy, safe and positive 2009.