Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Acid Casualties: or, how to embrace silicon (and not neccesarily for the better)


Techno wouldn't be techno without shark jumpers. What ever happened to Michael Mayer? What ever happened to Luciano? One thesis: Coke + bitches (NB: only 50% of bitches are female) ...I don't want to give Richly too much of a canvas, given the reams of hypertext (yes, now issued by the ream) spunked on the fella. Nonetheless, I was round at a friend's place on the weekend, we pulled this one out (from a pile of scratched CD-Rs) and holy hawting fuck it's enough to make you ask: 'what happened?' I ask this not because we should all be shedding tears over Richly. I ask it because, from a certain point of view, what happened to Hawtin is what happened to a lot of techno...

Plastikman, Live in Wellington, 1999
*possibly/actually just Richie Hawtin, still in Wellington, 1996

Lesson? Technology ≠ progress.

50 comments:

  1. Don't agree to the lesson. Mebs: Bitches&Money != progress

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  2. Easy there grumpy pants

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  3. I would agree totally.

    The focus shifted to new products / new convenience, rather than development in the music/path itself.

    Focus shifted to the tools, not the result. Which makes sense, considering which one he will make more money out of.

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  4. Sure, Mayer, Luciano, and Hawtin all had their hey day...but even worse than their current incarnations is blaming their dying artistic visions from false causes. Michael Mayer and Luciano are strongly committed to their family which always comes first.

    I've personally been to parties where Luciano rocks the house, and then catches a flight 4 hours later back home to pick up his children while his wife is busy. Even somebody such as Villalobos has the ability and discipline to get completed wasted on the weekend and return home Sunday night to play a responsible father and be a loyal significant other.

    I think a safer assumption is that these performers get caught up in the moment and lose site of their original visions. When you have a family to take care of 5 days a week and you play 3-4 gigs in 2 days every weekend you begin to lose sight. It's a vicious circle.

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  5. @ Proof: sure. And Richie re-routed himself this way.

    Contakt, for me, was the logical outcome of the vision that Hawtin had slowly been developing since forming m_nus in 1998. It’s a vision that’s 50% starry-eyed sci-fi obsessed little kid, and 50% super savvy Silicon Valley capitalist.

    ...but I think it's important to note that it's not about Richie; Richie has just been at the forefront of a process that, I think we can say in 2009 without hyperbole, has utterly transformed 'the game' (perhaps by transforming it into 'a game', in a simulated sense).

    Get Physical gets digital; hard grooves become soft ware... and, then, the question is: where does techno 'take place'?

    ...luckily this year we've seen so many people - Ancient Methods spring to mind – who are applying a far less technologistic, technoevangelist vision of technology to the music...

    ... I feel that, really, it's not silicion, per se, just our relation to it, and the relations we build from it.

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  6. @ anonymous (regarding the families thing): being a responsible parent doesn't make you a hero...is this not simply what is expected of every parent? ...I dunno, is that the best we can do?

    My schtick on this tip: Many DJs, when they hit the top, play peaktime sets to warmed-up rooms: all they have to do is not stuff up, and they cop adulation. Very often, they become complacent in their track selection: they don't have to work for their slot, their crowd, or their recognition... ...the focus of 'recognition' becomes brand recognition... TranceCrackers, unfortunately, really nailed something important about this...

    http://www.ishkur.com/articles/trancecracker.php

    ...of course, in former days and former industries, the thing to do would be to stop touring, spend some time with the kids, write some good albums, take stock, consolidate... but the economic reality of the laptop entrepreneur and their brand is that they have to keep peddling their face and name... the groove continues long after the pulse is gone, all too often... of course, there are also many notable exceptions...

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  7. I'm sort of with anon. I'm not offended by the post PC, I thought it was funny. I just really think the problem of an artist "jumping the shark" is an interesting one.

    Hypothetical situation: let's say Michael Mayer is a really nice guy and still has the same genuine passion and respect for music that he did when he was making stuff we found inspiring. What if he just woke up one day with reduced artistic potency, through absolutely no moral fault of his own. I think that's a much more troubling situation than someone just getting caught up in fame, money, or responsibilities... those situations at least make sense to us.

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  8. @ Vapouriser: something like 'fortuna' placing a dead shark (quite small, perhaps a mere gummy shark) beneath your legs mid set, no? The sight of it scares you, you jump, game over...

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  9. Fair enough... but I still think blaming artistic decline on vice can obscure more troubling truths about creativity.

    I think your theory of the numbing effect of constant headlining is a good one. The implications of it are real downers: the very factors that allow someone to make a living on music (steady, well-paying headlining gigs and an identifiable style) might eventually compromise their output. It's as if the creative life starts to cannibalize itself. Seems like a sad truth, and I try to be sympathetic to those whose work eventually falls pray to it.

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  10. mad mike once said: don't stand in front of the speakers.

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  11. Any chance someone could host this up on Fairtilizar for me? I can't access filehosting sites and would love to hear this!

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  12. Bandwidth is a bit of an issue for me right now so I just need to ask: is the set you've posted above really a Plastikman live set, i.e. Hawtin playing Plastikman material live? Or is it a Hawtin dj set? Not that I doubt you but I've been misled many times in the past.

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  14. ..as seen/heard previously on

    http://www.lowerdepths.com/

    great set, nice discussion here, but keep in mind people have different interpretations of "progress"

    I agree with the tools/result comparison, but I think it's best to hate the game, not the player

    big up mnml ssgs for constant quality output again THANKS

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  15. The slot comment would have been great in the post as well, really fits. Though my call is that these are directly correlated: the slot brings you the bitches and the coke.

    The saddest part is that, for example me, missed those great '90s part. Kompakt 1999 compared to Kompakt 2009 kinda gets you thinking. However, good to grab mixes like the Wellington one.

    But I also think there are labels/artist/clubs that keep up the quality work for which is worth paying. and they barely have vocals :-)

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  17. it's '96, not '99.

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  18. Thanking you. Having not heard the set yet, I'm going to assume it's loads of Consumed material which will naturally be amazing.

    Why bookmark your piece with that weird little addendum though? Technology is by it's very nature progressive, no? Complacency's the enemy surely.

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  19. I thought Mayer didnt do drugs.

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  20. This dj mix won't be staying on my iPod for long. The distortion makes it barely listenable.

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  21. plastikman was so good because it was faceless. the more richie's face started to appear on his productions, the more sponsorship he got, the more pompous the m_nus press releases got, the worse the music seemed to become.

    maybe this is kind of innevitable when some people get prolonged 'success'?

    at the last contakt event, the way the music was being mixed was like it was hard house - breakdown->build-up->drop. repeat. every 2 minutes. literally, but the end of the night. ruined it for me.

    there's still a lot of positives about RH, though. his label offsets their carbon emmissions. the twitter traktor app gives wider recognition to the tracks he plays. he championed digital distribution, he acts as a mentor for his signings etc etc.

    he is going to revive plastikman next year, apparently. he's asking for feedback/market research (you decide which it is... www.plastikman.com/survey09/

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  22. - previous post a bit o/t. marzie is right, it's complacency, not new tools that are to blame.

    for every richly losing the plot with all his new gadgets, there is a skream making amazing innovative music in cheap sequeuncer software and a few plug-ins.

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  23. why are people so resistant to the idea that making music with tools that are not the computer tends to yield better results? i think that this point is proven over and over again, with the few people making good stuff exclusively in the box (ahahaha, definitely NOT Skream) being the exceptions that prove the rule.

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  24. “I reckon I’d definitely still be making music if it wasn’t for Fruityloops, but there would’ve been a bit of a delay while I saved up to buy all the equipment.”
    from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/collective/A16144904

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  25. I disagree with much of this, actually.

    Fetishising the producers and techniques of ten, fiteen, twenty years ago is a totally hopeless way of finding solutions to today's problems.

    There was a huge amount of shitty dance music being put out then too.

    No great electronic music is going to come out of whinging abut contakt.

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  26. "Fetishising the producers and techniques of ten, fiteen, twenty years ago is a totally hopeless way of finding solutions to today's problems."

    comparing results /= fetishisation

    looking back at rock music, the great studio productions of the late 60s morphed into the overproduced nonsensical concept albums of prog rock in the 70s. was the rise of punk "fetishisation" of old musicians and techniques? or was it the realisation that studio trickery was not the solution?

    of course punk went on to produce many great offshoots like 80s alternative, new wave, no wave, etc, none of which could be called guilty of looking backwards.

    dance's evolution is a bit different since disco music was such a huge studio production, but due to the nameless and faceless deejays who tempered the best music into what would become house (walter gibbons, larry levan, tee scott, etc), many times ditching much of the originally overproduced tracks, it still has something of a parallel. recent electronic music is definitely in the "overproduced 70s prog rock" phase, and going back to simpler times for inspiration is definitely called for. it is undoubtedly producing superior results.

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  27. OK, you have a point there. But it is frustrating when what's right about the modern stuff isn't given its due.

    It's not too helpful to sit around complaining that Michael Mayer and Richie Rich aren't doing much any more. Plenty of people are doing great work.

    I would rather hear a post about how what Hawtin's doing here compares to the sound of modern Detroit, for instance.

    Also, and this is specifically at you Pipecock, overexuberant comparison of results, if that's what you'd rather call it, will harm your appreciation for contemporary stuff. I'm still really surprised, for instance, that you don't hear anything exciting about what people like Ben UFO, or Narcossist, are doing. They're both more likely to play a bit of Kyle Hall than most international techno DJs as well.

    Can we agree that it's fine to compare the present to the past, but that when that process is carried too far, you start to get records, like a lot of those played at Panoramabar, that aren't even trying to find a new aesthetic. At least the worst mnml chunes were doing that.

    Also, cheers for the set, btw! top stuff

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  28. Clearly Richie's had his day, but he can still spin a set and all the Contakt stuff is stupid, but he still brought us Plastikman.

    I suppose it's a fair post though. Thanks to you mnml ssgs lot we get to hear lots of fresh stuff. Cheers.

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  29. i wrote out a long comment and it disappeared, so this one might be shorter...

    i am pretty sure this is a richie DJ set. i have never come across a recording of a plastikman livepa, except from the excepts that have been released.

    as for richie, my theory is that basically he started having too much fun. plastikman is about darkness. it is about exploring and going into the deeper and more difficult parts of ourselves. listening to this, you can hear it is music made by deep reflection, suffering, confusion, angst etc. and these are things that do not exist in richie's life to the same extent anymore. he parties, he has fun, he goes to ibiza, he has his groupies etc. the balance that was once there is gone. the darkness is lost. and this is why he cannot recreate plastikman, even if he tried. it is gone.

    plastikman is dead, long live plastikman.

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  30. I think it`s fairly safe to say that in most genres of music, artists who are around for a long time, with exceptions of course, either end up doing the same thing and losing fans who are looking for growth, or change their sound and alienate those "who were there from the beginning." It's very rare that someone can keep everyone happy. I had numerous artists/bands that I loved change their sound in a way that made me lose interest. It sucks but I've learned to deal with it. Old tools/new tools, there are people doing exciting things and people doing boring things with both. It's better just to focus on the people who are doing the interesting things (which this site does quite a good job of doing)!

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  31. "Also, and this is specifically at you Pipecock, overexuberant comparison of results, if that's what you'd rather call it, will harm your appreciation for contemporary stuff. I'm still really surprised, for instance, that you don't hear anything exciting about what people like Ben UFO, or Narcossist, are doing. They're both more likely to play a bit of Kyle Hall than most international techno DJs as well."

    i really am hypercritical of deejays, there are about 20-30 total that i give a shit about. maybe a few more. but in general, they are not the "big" names in the genres i like, theyre the creative ones. basically, if cats aren't playing all music that i am into, i'm just gonna get bored and want to go home or turn it off, depending on how i am taking in their sets. i have a Ben UFO set that i grabbed online that was decentish, but still left me mostly cold. as for the Hessle stuff in general, it is okay but i was playing 2-step records that sound just like it by cats like Phuturistix and others almost 10 years ago, it's hardly a new sound for me.

    "Can we agree that it's fine to compare the present to the past, but that when that process is carried too far, you start to get records, like a lot of those played at Panoramabar, that aren't even trying to find a new aesthetic. At least the worst mnml chunes were doing that."

    see, to me the best house and techno deejays are constantly altering their aesthetic by adding to an already considerable back catalogue with new joints, and more obscure old jams. none of it will ever sound as "new" as someone playing all new things from some new subgenre, but that is okay. i got burned out with the "hot new thing" changing every couple months by the time i was 21.

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  32. @ Bauer industries comments regarding carbon neutrality:

    please, if you can, take the time to read a piece I wrote about DJing and the environment.

    http://www.residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?1057

    To me, there is no such thing as carbon neutral: offsetting is like pigging out on deep fried mars bars and employing Kenyan runners to 'run off the calories' for you. I don't buy this idea that the trees are soaking it up: fact is, if you fly a lot, you are disproportionately responsible for the emissions that are destabilising the climate system. This is the perfect example of contemporary la la land, a la 'war without casualties', 'alcohol free beer', 'needle free acupuncture'... or, for that matter, needle free DJing!

    ...there is always a needle, there are always casualties, there is always an impact... being jetset enough to offset should not exempt you from having to take responsibility for the decisions you actively make.

    Richly also explained to me in an interview that they were going to go for black m_nus business cards, but went white - to save on ink! This, apparently, is also to save the environment.

    Is this, along with the examples you use, not perfect expressions of the kind of greenwash we get from savvy, sophisticated multi-nationals? To me, this is actually a quite frightening direction, and certainly not something to be emulated... ... a high-carbon 'business model' based on the laptop entrepreneur, her brand, and the jet-fuelled lifestyle necessary for her appearances.

    NB: for the trainspotters, the set may be '96, I saw that one floating around on the web, I'm going on nothing more than what was written on the CDR.

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  33. this has absolutely nothing to do with this string...but has anyone heard the new Sandwell District podcast on RA?

    i mean,my god.

    period.

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  34. Man, I'm loving this set, so much more exciting and unpredictable than some of the more recent Hawtin sets. I'm really nostalgic for that golden period when microhouse was in full effect and minimal was just rising in popularity (if there's a distinction). I got into techno music right at the end of that in 2005 and 2006, and, man, it was so cool!

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  35. Poor old Prog, held up in just about every musical circle as a punching bag. I always thought it was the musicians technical skill and ability and not studio trickery which flaunted. Was it not this that punk kicked against, and not studio trickery (whatever that is)? I also think labeling this a period that is somehow comparable to an era in the 70's is very suspect and assumes way too much. In fact lumping periods together in such a fashion surely creates ignorance and ignores the many subtleties and differences that occur within genres then and now. I know its comforting to reference the past, I am certainly unsure of how useful it is in predicting the future.

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  36. hmmm, and maybe this all makes this Alex Cortez spray all the more pertinent.

    http://www.testindustries.com/2009/10/alex-cortex-not-so-slight-return.html

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  37. "a rocknroll complex", I like that.

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  38. It's a Richie Hawtin 3 deck dj set - That mix is one of a two parter. I was there - the event was called Induction, 1996, Wellington New Zealand.

    That was a killer weekend, Richie on Friday in a room of maybe 200 people, then Stacey Pullen in Saturday, a legendary time in Wellington City.

    For the record, RH was a top chap, he hung out in the back room after spinning - chatted, listening to locals play - as well as delivering that blistering set.

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  39. Again the misogynous famed mnml ssgs spraying their testosteronic hate to females..
    maybe you guys where raced by biatched and your vision of women sucks but please go read some books and learn that females are not guilty for the male natural stupidity (like yours )..

    @ 3d anonymous thanks for spreading the reality.

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  40. well, didn't he got kicked out of Berghain?? his best days seem to be over.

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  41. @ PC comments regarding greenwashing

    (btw: i’m not a m-nus apologist by any means, but they are a handy example for discussing these issues, what with them having made a point of talking about it all)

    thanks for the response, i enjoyed the article - i agree with some of your points. and it is great to see some strong opinion on these issues, with regard to the world of techno, which is often too apolitical (although that can be one of it's joys when you are on the dancefloor).

    i don't think you can necessarily lump the other things i mentioned in with the carbon offsets, though. certainly not the concept of mentoring. you also didn’t mention food/diet in your article, which is the elephant in the room when it comes to carbon emissions. minimal sausages indeed ;P

    ultimately a label like m-nus sells music and some of it’s artists travel and perform. looking at their calendar, the m-nus lot don't really fly their people around that much anyway. certainly a drop in the ocean compared with the average big company in the city. i'd hazard a guess that these days, the number of ‘fans’ flying to clubs and festivals greatly outnumbers the djs.

    m-nus also buy offsets for their vinyl/cd manufacture. the artists could fly less, but what about the releases? surely a label needs to do that to exist?

    what could they do to make you happy/believe they were sincere?

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  42. @ anonymous.

    Yeah ssgs, you misogynists! I'll also add: racists, capitalists, Republicans, Onur Ozer worshippers, and paedophiles.

    Techno needs more girls anonymous! Work it through before getting angry.

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  43. @ Marzie's comment vis a vis technology:

    No, this is the most important point. Richie's being a techno-evangelist means he has a technologistic/ ?technologocentric? attitude to technology. Progress is equated precisely with technology. New software, new interface: musical development.

    Evidence from my ears? Not so!

    The point, surely, is what you make with technology. The silly debate going on this thread about old equipment, new equipment: this is still a dialogue about equipment, as if fetishising equipment will make good music!

    It's all too easy to be victimised by technology... look at any blackberry addict, or blog comment box freak...:)

    @ Bauer's comment "what could they do to make me think they're sincere":

    I think Richie *is* sincere. He *really* means it. This is also part of the problem.

    ...the issue for DJs is systemic, surely. Do you have any choice about whether to hit the road or not?

    Is it possible to stay committed to vinyl? Yes, but it's getting less and less practical. When Cio D'or switches to traktor/serato, you know things are changing.

    Also, @ the food choices thing: true of meat, but surely it's the gestalt, no? The embodied response. I mean, the way lefty neoliberal 'ethical' responses play out in Melbourne is that people 'take responsibility' by not eating meat, driving a prius, using new-school lightbulbs, reducing food miles, riding a bicycle... as if the responsibility lay with the individual, as if internalising the guilt is what makes a difference.

    Of course, everybody's actions make an infinitesimal difference, and this is ethics, and surely better, but...

    ...as long as people stay guilty, and take the issue on themselves as an individual responsibility instead of getting angry, getting in contact with other people and actually organising and doing something, very little will change...

    - this comment is coal fired. This website is probably coal fired, living out on some server farm in the Nevada desert, about two ks from your Facebook server... I dunno, but you get the point...

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  44. my thesis on the subject you drop here..

    all artists come to their pick..
    hawtin did that and now has entered an era where he enjoys what he has achieved i guess, fame, money, recognision etc. Some artists go on and still create diamonds, some otehrs lack inspiration & motivation and either stop to creat or go on with moderate works or even bullshits.
    Probably Hawtin enters the last phase of what i described above.

    Whats wrong with that? i mean for their fans who adore them, its a disenchantment but at the bottom line we shouldn't treat them as our saviors. Whats wrong with Hawtin going from his dark side of life and creating "plastikman devine artistic products" to a brighter, lighter side of enjoying, playing with his persona, etc etc...?
    Personaly if i took a guess, i believe he is having much fun in his personal life, caring much less about his career, and the creating aspect, focusing maybe more on the business part.
    I feel gratitude for what he gave as a present to the techno community and musical genre in general and its no little.. C'mon guys!
    He was a king and even if down from his throne, i still respect him MUCH no matter what his haircut, haircolour.. which i found uniquely amazing! e.g http://anvilofsound.com/torrentimg/Richie-Hawtin.jpg

    Would anyone- mutatis mutandis- stop respecting M. Jackson's contribution to music or depreciate his talent, persona, subject just because he stoped producing "diamonds" and made shitty music on the decline of his carrer..?

    Lets be generous guys! Doesn't matter what crappy stuff he does the last years (on productions on parties etc). Let him live his present & his nowdays "light bubbles" and love him for his best & glorious underground glories which we all dig here..

    p.s of course we can be critical on his artistic side & creational output, but all i say is that its natural and expected after the difficult years, the creational orgasmus, the peak... a recession to follow, a decadance..its normal, its human and so is human nature!

    i love plasticman music, i love some r. hawtin music, i ve enjoyed deadly some of his 2000's decate dj sets, i ve tripped deadly & danced like hell to some of his parties, and respect him 4 his being one of the greatest first line names in techno scene. Thats where he could get, thats what he could give so far.. and all is good,

    future is ahead, who knows what else..? and if not from him, then so many others are still thirsty, dark or sunny enough to fill our souls, hearts, brains with SOULFOOD*

    One Love!

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  45. @ Wonderli:

    "Would anyone- mutatis mutandis- stop respecting M. Jackson's contribution to music or depreciate his talent, persona, subject just because he stoped producing "diamonds" and made shitty music on the decline of his carrer..?"

    ...well, isn't that *precisely* what happened to MJ? He was a chimp-owning kiddy-fiddlin' freakbox until he died... and then, retrospectively, everyone who reviled him in life suddenly discovered they loved him, and went and bought copies of Off the Wall and Thriller...

    I dunno if it's the best example... I mean, Prince is a freaky old Jehovah's Witness, but he can still play almost anyone off the stage and, even though his new albums aren't as good, he's still making them... the MJ route is not pre-ordained... ...and I don't think people who did good shit in the past should be guaranteed our respect in the present for what they did way back when...

    ...for me, the example of Richie is interesting 'cos Richie is a resonator, a person who has been right at the interface of the technological change that has swept through electronic music.... he's both manipulator and victim, enthusiast and entrepreneur...

    ...three counter examples: Mika Vainio, Sasu Ripatti and Carsten Nicolai. Admittedly, they don't sell as many records or tickets, BUT: they have been pursuing their own sound/vision the whole time; they do their own thang, their sound keeps evolving and changing in strange, new and interesting ways... perhaps one reason is that they think very carefully about the application of technology - they use it intelligently in order to achieve a specific soundworld... they're not mistaking it for progress...

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  46. @ pc (by the way your profile pic i like much)

    i agree with your words.

    p.s its whole different story to talk about ones work and another story to talk about his personality, character etc. Sometimes by chance we are correct on our judges just because there is a line where personality reflects on work and vice versa. BUT sometimes its so different and our assumptions so wrong on artists & their works.
    For their "products" & public moves anyone can talk... For their personal life only their analysts can talk...

    Have a nice day ladies & gentlemen*

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  47. @ Wonderli:

    yes, you're quite right, I catch my self engaging in this amateur psychoanalysis and realise that it's irresponsible and probably way off the mark...

    @ axibert: M.Mayer will always have a place on my shelf, and in interviews he seems like a nice guy, but... I dunno, I can't follow him and Kompakt in the directions they've chosen... it's the end of the love affair for me, has been for a while... I wish them all the best.. :)

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  48. no idea about quality in there, but for people who have problems downloading check the alt-link at
    http://www.zshare.net/audio/67279837e4199728/

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