Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dysconnect, March 2009: Decoding Recoding [reviewing reviewing]


A couple of months ago, music reviewing reached crisis point. I wouldn’t blame you for having missed it – it barely made a sound. Or nobody was listening. Or everyone had their headphones on. And there was so much background noise.

What happened? While the desks of music editors the world over were (are!) overflowing with promo CDs nobody can be bothered listening to, people at home are deleting music… only slightly slower than they’re downloading it. Meanwhile, online websites continue to publish so-called reviews: sometimes carefully written, mostly barely skimmed, and, almost invariably now, with only the most tenuous relation between the rating and the reality.

A now infamous example of this is the 9.6 that Pitchfork doled out for Animal Collective’s new album. During a backyard ping-pong match the other week, I asked members of three of Melbourne’s indie bands – the kind of bands who, shall we say, might feasibly get an eight-point-something-or-other on said site – what they thought about the rating. Standing incredulous atop a damp underpile of envy was Mr Disbelief: how, indeed, is it possible for anyone to get a 9.6? Somehow, they agreed, 9.6 was much more than even the ‘five stars’ a top-rated film might receive. The new AC album was good, but… 9.6 had something impossible about it, something parodic. ‘Cept no-one was taking the piss. Pitchfork really meant it… they even thought it was defensible. No, more than that: they thought it was a 9.6.

The reasons for the seemingly inexorable climb toward the banality of near-perfect scores is doubtless more complex than the following, which nonetheless needs re-stating: a) music writers glamouring/clamouring to be the first to call ‘Album of the Year’ (by mid-February, if possible); b) music writers attempting to accumulate social capital by upping the impact factor/hit count for themselves and the site/blog they’re writing for by churning out an attention-grabbing review; c) the kind of aesthetic circle-jerking that transpires when the music in question is only reviewed by people whose cool is intimately bound to loving or hating the recording under review; d) the fact that reviewing is usually the ‘job’ (if, indeed, anyone is getting paid to do it) given to entry-level wannabes who, after struggling and failing to write a measured review that retains some nuance and ambivalence, opt for odes and boost the fuck out of whatever it is; e) the fact that writing a compelling review that nails the recording is actually really, really, really difficult. Especially if the conclusions reached in the course of writing mean that the rating ends up having to be three stars.

Accelerating, undermining or otherwise affecting all the above factors is the datasea: reviewers, drowning in mostly worthless promos, are expected to make watertight judgement calls about recordings they’ve only had time to listen to a few times (because Tuesday is already a week ago, and now there are already nine other new albums vying for your attention). The effect on the receiving end of the datasea (with its daily tsunamis microwaving their way toward a desktop near you) is that most people don’t take the time to read reviews carefully, negating the rewards of investing careful consideration into nuance. So what’s a reviewer to do? Tip, boost, high-five, move on, repeat.

I’m one of those old-fashioned people who believe that a culture of carefully considered, trustworthy reviews is something worth retaining, and I don’t think this has anything to do with the kind of vulgar ‘gatekeepers of high culture’ arguments I’ve heard advanced against the current situation. This is not least of all because there is no High Culture anymore: tastes and audiences have fragmented and multiplied to the nth degree, while there is less than ever before (in terms of cost and distribution) keeping you from accessing and enjoying your preferred peculiarity.

What to do then? If you accept that there is something desperately wrong with the state of music reviews, and you believe that there is a place for key sites and writers to filter and evaluate new releases, then consider the following…

1) Descriptive Previews: these short pieces work on the basis of impression, are primarily illustrative, and presume that the audience hasn’t heard the recording. They are only intended to provide a clear idea about what the recording actually sounds like (and not just to a first-year lit. major), and make no attempt to rate or otherwise evaluate the music in question. Descriptive previewing is a matter of decoding the recording.

2) Critical Reviews: these longer pieces make evaluative judgments about subjective importance or merit. They should place the recording in the broader context in which it was released, and address the general critical reception of the recording by its audience. One of the key functions of the critical review would be corrective, by up- or downgrading the impressions made in earlier previews, correcting ambient hype levels (now that the tipster apparatus has peddled its fixed-gear bicycle to the next cool thing) and rescuing poorly received, unheard or generally ignored releases from obscurity. Critical reviewing is a matter of recoding the recording.

In a way, the above suggestion has got the same whiff of futility as the ‘legislating against capitalism’ rhetoric you see Western politicians engaging in at the moment in order to appear clear, strong, and decisive in the midst of successive spasms of economic crisis that no-one has control over… but like politicians, we tend to stridently overestimate our ability to control things while timidly underestimating our ability to influence things. Being grand, saying a sovereign no, making definitive statements and issuing ultimatums… all completely useless. But they’re all actually much easier than slowing down, tuning in, and trying to give a fuck about what is being said about what has been heard. If only we took the time to write carefully, to read carefully and to foster this culture of warm engagement (as opposed to the dominant culture of cool disengagement), we’d all be making an infinitesimal difference, and that adds up. But not to a 9.6. Maybe a 4? Or a B-? Let me spend some time with it, and I’ll get back to you with something more precise.


.

Monday, March 30, 2009

bits to pieces


ok, a brief post but some sets that need sharing. thanks to all the great response from the natural/electronic.system. mix. just a warning - at this stage there is no tracklist from them so don't get your hopes up. and better late than never, but here are the ones for the previous two mixes:

mnml ssgs mx22: eric cloutier

00. potuznik - the traveler turned around [cheap records]
01. audion - i am the car [unknown]
02. dub taylor - human shades #18 [opossum recordings]
03. gonno - i don't need competition [beyond]
04. pepe bradock - deep burnt [kif recordings]
05. seth troxler - aphrika [wolf+lamb records]
06. derek marin - bright lights, dark room (osborn remix) [subtrak]
07. omar-s - psychotic photosynthesis [fxhe records]
08. pied plat - double trouble [rush hour]
09. mathias mayer + patlac - skipper [liebe*detail]
10. pan-pot - ape shall never kill ape (cassy remix) [mobilee]
11. steve bug + richie hawtin - low blow [m_nus]
12. the vision - detroit: one circle [metroplex]
13. scott grooves - atmospheric emotions [natural midi]
14. levon vincent - these games [novel sounds]
15. jeremy - #10 b1 [driftwood]

mnml ssgs mx21: cio d'or

Unknown - ? [ ??? ]
Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland [Polydor]
Alka Rex - Shapes to Phases [Supralinear]
Plastikman - Contain (Original Mix) [M_nus]
Donato Dozzy & Cio D´Or - Menta (Nuel Remix) [ ??? ] (Unreleased)
Cio D´Or - Pailletten [Unreleased]
Fernandez Manetta - Ape EP [Ape 001] (Promo)
Giorgio Gigli - Magnetic Field EP [Prologue]
Donato Dozzy & Cio D´Or - Limone [Time To Express] (Release date: 2009-05-25)
Function - Anticipation [Sandwell District]
Sleeparchive - Hospital Tracks [ZZZ]
Damon Wild - Colortheory [MMLP017]
Sleeparchive - Recycle [ZZZ]
Soulrack - Modul Age (Sleeparchive Rmx) [Lab Works Records]
Decimal - Small Moving Pieces - [Enemy LTD]
Claudio PRC - Chiaro Scuro [TQ 3]
Plastikman - Consumed (Original Mix) [M_nus]
Plastikman - Psyk (Original Mix) [M_nus]
Scuba - From Within (Marcel Dettmann Rmx) [A Mutual Antipathy]
Paul Brtschitsch & Cio D´Or - Aroma [Broque]
Ben Klock - Pulse [Klockworks]
Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland [Polydor]


also for people who enjoyed cio's mix, make sure to check her new website. as well as looking pretty fancy, she has also kindly uploaded a collection of old sets. some beauties worth checking. speaking of which, here is some of what i've been enjoying lately:

sandwell district @ planet rose 14.2.09 pt 1 / pt 2 : 4 hours of regis and function doing their thing. how's that for you? yep. i was very excited when this arrived in the inbox. i think this is the first live recording i've heard of these guys playing together, and it's just as good as you'd hope/expect. function and regis work really well together and it is interesting in hearing how different this sounds compared to stuff where regis is playing by himself or was with BMB. this is definitely a bit more restrained, and the better for it i think. that coat of arms pictured above is supposedly sandwell's. there you go... big thanks to louw for sending this through.

hubble @ beat boutique 5.3.09 and hubble @ forget me not 8.1.09: hubble is a new name to me. after cio mentioned him in a conversation i thought i should check him and yep, he's good. don't know too much, but i'm impressed but both of these sets. keen to hear more.

jacek sienkiewicz livepa @ shanti 12.3.09: jacek is a longtime favourite of the ssgs and sets from him a very rare, so enjoy this treat. haven't heard his new CD on cocoon, but very keen to.

samuli kemppi @ texno pistoleros 7.3.09: sorry, i know i post a lot of sets from samuli, but well, that is his fault... this is a collection of his own material. obviously he has been going strong for a while but after listening to this my feeling is that he is really taking his production up a notch. keep it coming.

andrew weatherall - bloodsugar mixes: sound+ come up with the goods again. seriously, the site is just one big treasure chest of amazing music. i have so much respect for what they're doing. this is a collection of mixes from weatherall from 1998-2000 and really gives an excellent representation of that moment in time. if anyone remembers the old force tracks mix weatherall did, some parts of these mixes are reminscent of that, but go far beyond. definitely worth checking.

scorn livepa @ bleep43 12.08: another great edition from the very excellent bleep43 'cast. i'm not quite sure how to describe this. scorn sounds like scorn. definitely one that warps you brain. looking forward to checking out the next bleep party in london on 12 june with omar s and ssg favourite donato dozzy.

ok, that's it. enjoy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

mnml ssgs mx23: natural/electronic.system.


ok, for those expecting kevin gorman, he should be next week. nevermind, kevin is going to have a very hard time matching what these boys came up with...

natural/electronic.system. are an italian duo i came across some time last year. it was a mix they did a few months ago (which i posted here) that really grabbed my attention. it had all the features that tend to appeal to me: careful track selection and a strong emphasis on flow, combined with the right BPMs. as soon as i contacted them asking to contribute, i knew i'd made the right call. still, when this mix arrived the other day i was completely blown away. this is on a completely different level to anything i've heard from them previously. what has particularly impressed me is the maturing over their sound. you can notice influences here (e.g. dozzy), but they are developing a very unique voice of their own.

combined with eric's contribution last week, this mix marks for us an important development in the series. a long standing aim of ours has not been necessarily to get the biggest names, but the right ones. as part of that, a specific goal we've had is building up the series so that we can use it as a forum for promoting up and coming artists who we believe are doing something special and have bright futures ahead. thanks to eric and natural/electronic.system. for delivering the goods and to our readers for trusting our judgement. anyway, enough from me, i'll let the boys introduce their mix:

natural/electronic.system. are antonio giova and valerio gomez de ayala, a dj/producers duo from a city that lies at the foot of the volcano vesuvius on the bay of napoli, italy.

the most important thing for us is not to be put in a category. we don't like to be labeled with a mark that describes our style. we're not just techno djs, or deep, or minimal house djs and so on.

the thing we like most is expressing our deeper feelings through the electronic music that influenced us in years and years of listening and research. it could sound like a commonplace, but it's just like this. nothing more.

our musical background was influenced at the beggining from the "old neapolitan school techno" and from a lot of different generes of techno, IDM, experimental, and electronic music from all the world. but over the years our attention was suddenly caught by the old and the modern sound coming from another italian city: rome. here we found special music and really special people. we want to just say "thank you" to them all. maybe we never do it before. :)

a big thanks also to all the mnml ssgs crew who have flattered us with some great feedback.

the mix "from napoli to rotterdam" is the reflection of our life situation right now. it's divided in two parts and is the result of our deeper and intimate feelings. a journey lasting over two hours of pure passion for electronic music.

mnml ssgs mx23: natural/electronic.system. present 'from napoli to rotterdam'
part one
part two

much respect to antonio and valerio for digging deep and producing this for us. we really are very proud to be hosting this mix. you can find more info about natural/electronic.system. at their myspace. enjoy...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I Can Never Return to (the) Womb



Last weekend we had a veritable slice of Berghain here in Tokyo. On Thursday night (Friday was a public holiday) Marcel Dettmann played at Module, an intimate club with an almost pitch-black dancefloor that was the perfect setting for the three-hour set of steel-edged uncompromising techno the Berghain resident served up. I’ve heard quite a few of the Dettmann sets that are floating around online and I’ve enjoyed them all immensely – but being able to totally lose myself in the darkness as the sounds carried me along at a breakneck pace turned the experience into something special. It reminded me of how utterly crucial context is.

The following night featured the killer double-bill of Ben Klock (DJ set) and Shed (live set) a mere 300 meters away at Womb, a club that is often touted as being one of the best in the world.

And I didn’t go.

I know. Klock. Shed. Part of me is still thinking, “Why the hell didn’t you go?” But then I remember why - Womb. I just can’t bring myself to go back to Womb.

Opening its doors in 2000, the four-floor superclub regularly presents many of the biggest names in house and techno. Extreme care is taken on visual presentation, with the club apparently employing its own art director, as well as boasting one of the biggest mirrorballs in the country and as many lasers as the Death Star. It came in ninth place for “Atmosphere/Vibe” in RA’s 2008 Club Awards, fifth place in DJmag’s 2008 Top 100 Club Poll, and usually receives rave reviews from first-time visitors. In other words, it seems everyone loves Womb. Except for me, that is. So why do I have such a problem with the place?

Womb has very carefully styled itself as a paragon of “cool” in Tokyo’s clubbing scene. From its visual aesthetic to its DJs (a selection of both big names and cutting-edge up and comers), everything is meticulously arranged to ensure a night out at Womb is a uniquely “cool” experience. In other words, Womb has branded itself – it is a “total club concept” that club-goers buy into. And not just club-goers – the club offers itself as a conduit that can put corporate sponsors in direct contact with the fickle and fashion-conscious urban youth demographic. (Although some elements are dated, such as the growth in Tokyo’s club scene, this article provides a fascinating glimpse into the mindset behind Womb.)

The staff, as is natural anywhere “cool”, are generally rude and stuck-up. The bouncers are arseholes who enjoy throwing their weight around. (I should stress that this is extremely unusual in Japan.) And the crowd largely consists of cool kids and scene queens who have come to the club in sunglasses and casual-yet-expensive urban wear because they’re guaranteed a cool night out. They certainly haven’t come for the music – the music is merely the soundtrack for your evening of cool, pre-packaged hedonism. (One time in line outside Womb somebody behind me asked his friend, “So, who’s playing tonight?” His friend replied, “I dunno, but with such a big line he must be good!”)

That said, don’t imagine everyone coolly standing by the bar – the dancefloor most definitely fills up. Then again, it has to – Womb has a habit of being dangerously overcrowded. The dancefloor is murderous, a churning sea of bodies, elbows constantly in ribs, as the crowd whoops excitedly at every build, peak, and kick. This may seem exciting, and at first it is, until you realize that the crowd doesn’t really care who is playing, or what they’re playing, just as long as it’s loud and it thumps like a motherfucker. Usually this leads to DJs who would normally play more nuanced or subtle sets just “banging it out”. I’ve seen far too many great DJs at Womb reduced to “banging it out” because that was what the crowd responded to.



I know. I’m starting to sound pretty elitist here. I mean, hey, what’s wrong with just going out to a club because you know you’re gonna have a good time there, regardless of who’s playing? Well, nothing I suppose. But in the end clubs get the audience they deserve. Compare the audience at Womb to the audiences at such great Tokyo clubs as Yellow (sadly defunct), the Liquid Room in Shinjuku (sadly defunct), and Unit (sadly de – oh, wait, it’s still there). Certainly there were exceptions, but most of the people at those clubs were there for the music – not because it was cool. They were clubs that (in my personal experience) honestly were “all about the music”. The atmosphere was exciting and vibrant … and honest. It certainly didn’t feel manufactured or “cool”.

I know that Womb has plenty of defenders out there. And that’s okay. I’m not saying you’re a bad person if you like going to Womb. I’m not trying to change your mind – really, I’m just trying to explain mine. But, speaking for myself, I find that there’s something very calculated about Womb. I would usually leave in the early light of dawn feeling that I’d somehow been used. In the end, I just couldn’t take the dangerously crowded dancefloor, the cool kids, the scene queens, the rude staff, the aggressive bouncers, the shitty soundsystem (even though everybody tells me it’s great – this one really mystifies me), the music-as-fashion, the corporate sponsorship, and the DJs reduced to just “banging it out” anymore. Womb’s not “cool” – it’s just cold.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

mnml ssgs mx22: eric cloutier

photo: seze devres

and the hits keep on coming... following on from cio's lovely mix, the latest edition in the mnml ssgs mx series comes from NYC's eric cloutier. eric was someone who we came across last year, i think it may have been a mix he did for the ghostly 'cast that grabbed our attention. that combined with him tending to make comments we agree with was enough for us to think that he'd make a fine addition to the series. unsurprisingly, eric has stepped up to the plate and delivered an impressive mix which shows a deft touch on the decks. it has taken a bit longer than expected for eric to come up with the mix, as he kept mindfucking himself in the process, but it was definitely worth the wait. he explained to me that, 'before i wasn't letting myself come through and was putting too much pressure on myself, but when it came down to it, relaxing and just going with what i know and feel yielded a mix that i'm exceptionally proud to share with ssgs and its audience.' and he certainly should feel proud. this one is a beauty.

mnml ssgs mx22: eric cloutier

eric puts on a monthly night in new york called 'down', which is every third thursday at oulu lounge in brooklyn. here is his discription of it: 'always free, guests here and there. almost never breaking 120bpm. it was basically created out of my own personal desire to hear something outside of the normal dancefloor affair, as well finally use some music that i've owned and adored for years that i never get to play.' sounds like pretty good logic to me. you can find more info about eric at his myspace and his webpage.

big thanks to eric for really digging deep on this mix. as everyone knows, we have a distinct concept and purpose with this series and we are always very happy when the contributor fully signs up to what we are trying to do. so much respect to eric. and sorry, we are a bit behind on things so tracklisting for cio's mix soon, plus for this one too. also, the next mix - which should be up in a week - is from kevin gorman. get excited and for now, enjoy the carefully crafted sounds of eric cloutier.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

mnml ssgs mx21: cio d'or


as many readers know, cio 'dor is a big favourite with the ssgs. her carefully crafted mixes have been on constant repeat, and the 'aroma' ep she released with paul brtschitsch was one of the best records of 2008. we are very happy she has been able to contribute a mix, as her approach to DJ'ing reflects exactly what we are trying to do with this mix series: unique, special artists digging deep and producing mixes that strongly reflect their sound and their personalities. the aim is not simply another mp3 to be deleted next week, but something that will last. and this is what cio has done: a distinctive and powerful mix of deep techno sounds. as per the standard format, we'll post the tracklisting along with an interview next week. just to give you a taste, though, the mix does have some unreleased cuts, including from a new ep by cio and donato dozzy. it is coming out in may on time to express, peter van hoesen's label which is going from strength to strength.

enough talking, on to the mix. the sound cio is playing - what we call headfuck/mindfuck techno - is what really excites me these days. stripped back, elemental techno at its very best...

mnml ssgs mx21: cio d'or presents planetary nebular 22 (fairtilizer direct dl)
rapidshare mirror

big thanks to cio for taking time out of producing (she's been putting together an album) to make this mix. you can find info at her homepage or myspace. interview + tracklisting to follow. and next week mx22 will be from eric cloutier. enjoy.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rob Acid Flashback: An interview with Mr Robert Babicz

In December 2008 I (PC) had the opportunity to interview Robert Babicz for Inpress on the eve of his tour of Australia. Parts of this interview have also appeared separately over at RA for the feature on mastering I did, but here for the first time is a re-print of the interview in full. Babicz... he's really on his own trip, what can you say? Here's looking forward to the new ambient album....

Permit me, if you will, a Rob Acid flashback. It as ’98, and I was sitting in a friend’s skanky sharehouse living room, listening while a friend of a friend gave me a lesson in acid techno. First of all, he played me some tracks from the Shizuo vs. Shizor album on Digital Hardcore Records, which was variously acid, breakcore, jungle, and commonly as hard as fuck. I wasn’t bowled over. Then, he played me a Rob Acid record, and I felt a subtle but certain ‘click’ inside me. I didn’t know what a 303 was, I’d never heard of DJ Pierre, but what I was hearing knocked my block off. I would have screamed but (being headless) I couldn’t, so I gave chase, pursuing acid techno into the night, frantically dancing my way through anywhere I thought my lost noggin might be hiding. Hint: it’s not inside the bassbin.

Flash forward to 2005. I was previewing some tracks online, and, because Kompakt was still in my ‘listen on sight’ category, I was cuing up a track called ‘Mister Head’ by one Robert Babicz. It sounded vaguely familiar, so I did a quick check on discogs, and sure enough – Robert Babicz was Rob Acid, the dude who stole my head, doing funny things to it all over again with a track that, this time at least, clearly warned me what I was in for. But this was a far cry from the music that had filled my Rob Acid flashback loungeroom. ‘Mr Head’ was different, a definite new style. The kick drum (all the percussion, in fact) was really amazingly precisely tuned. Each sound had a presence that announced itself with undeniable immediacy and personal colour. Precise, rich, and also very emotive, it managed the emotional build of a trance record without recourse to the kind of rhythmic clich├ęs, melodic sentimentality and vocal puke-worthiness that blight that genre’s stereotypes.

‘Mr Head’ was so good I ordered it and three other Babicz EPs on the spot, without even a second thought. When I received them a few days later, again, the thing I noticed straight away was that they all had this same ‘sound’: they managed to be entertaining and ‘upfront’, but listen to them intently on a pair of headphones and it was also clear that you were hearing the works of a person with highly developed and particular ideas about sound, creating an approach to production that was as personal as it was effective. It’s no accident, it turns out. “I have very strong and personal ideas about how gear should sound, how it should react,” Babicz explains. “I’ve been searching and doing research all through the history of recorded music, looking for techniques, processes and equipment. It’s reached the point where I don’t know if I’m more like a collector, a scientist, a producer or an artist.”

If you’ve got a connected device by you, stop reading now, google ‘Robert Babicz interview’, and click on the top link, which should take you to a video on Vimeo where Robert talks in detail about his studio, equipment and mastering work. This isn’t just one for the geeks: in order to understand Babicz’ music, you have to understand the extent to which the man is the studio and the studio is the instrument. This is not just some guy dropping loops and tweaking plugin presets on Ableton: Babicz carefully shepherds his signal through an intricate process that he’s been developing and refining since the early 90s. “It’s always developing. I never stop buying and searching out stuff.”

Almost nothing in Babicz’ studio is standard fare; almost every box has been opened up and tweaked, soldered and replugged to within an inch of its chip and transistor life. Clearly, the guy loves his gear, but it’s not as if Babicz is just another gear freak, because he doesn’t do it for the equipment – he does it for sounds themselves. “I really love sounds. And, more than anything, how sound conducts your emotions,” he emphasises. “I really like the details of sounds, how they live in the track… For me, every track is like a story, every sound is a character in it with their role. So every moment in the track for me is like a ‘scene’ with a particular kind of drama involving certain sound-characters, their life, decay, and dying away.”

In some sense, this is a passion that Babicz shares with a lot of studio heads (and indeed anyone who’s involved with caring for your signal), but nonetheless, he has his own way of creating his very own ‘secret life of sounds’, and a lot of it is through his totally unique approach compression. “Compression is a way of painting on the sound. You have the sound you choose when you’re composing, but compression lets you add and develop some really detailed colours.”

In 2008, compression is a political issue for people involved in any stage of the signal chain: just ask anyone who had to bin their new Metallica record, as Babicz did. “I threw the CD out after five minutes, it was just unlistenable.” Why did Metallica’s newie sound so unbearable? Because it was being strangled to death. If you want an appropriate image, imagine the classic scene from the early Simpsons seasons, where Homer growls ‘Why you little…’ and begins to wring Bart’s neck. Bart’s neck? That’s your Metallica record. Overcompression like this (called brickwalling) is so nasty it makes you want to say ‘no’ to all compression, but Babicz contends that an compressing in a way that’s intuitive and hands-on can really enhance a record. The key is to be firm, but gentle. Or, as my teenage friend once advised me (in a very different context): don’t choke it, stroke it. That’s just what Babicz does, using an array of compressors together, caressing each part of a composition element by element and tuning it by ear.

Babicz’s signature approach has become so successful that he’s now spending about a third of his time as a mastering engineer. One of the things he’s noticed about the recordings he gets sent is that, (similar to Metallica’s producers), people are really convinced that loud = good. “I get sent some really, really, really loud stuff on file, with the request: can you make it shiny and loud? They think that loud is good, and they often still think so, even after I’ve tried to convince them otherwise. I sometimes think it’s a confidence issue: maybe they’re a little unsure about their musical ideas, so they think that, if I make it loud, then the people will ‘hear me’ and like me.”

For those of you working on developing your own production skills, Babicz has this to offer by way of advice: “less is more. I think it took me ten or more years to really, really understand this. And this rule, it’s not something you can understand with your head, you know? You have to really feel it. But it’s true: if you do less, or your expression is more concentrated, you have more artwork.” As for listeners who suspect that something is wrong with what’s coming out of their earbuds, Babicz is adamant. “At the very least, get some better headphones for your iPod. And more than that, so much of the music being produced today, it has no dynamics. So seek out good music, music that has some nuance, music that isn’t just 0 and 100.”

Live, the impact of Babicz’ approach speaks itself (as anyone who witnessed his last Melbourne set will testify). Rob’s sets are always evolving, and contain new tracks, hits, as well as some untried experiments. “And in the last few months,” he adds, with some mischief, “I can feel acid creeping back in to my sets.” I sense Mr Head is in danger once again.

NB Robert has just informed me that he has a number of his works in progress available for listening online, here:


www.soundcloud.com/robbabicz


.

127.2


my turn. you can find my contribution to the modyfier series, entitled 'time is luck', here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

keeping things ticking


sorry guys, it has been a busy week or two for the ssgs. more soon. but just to keep everyone happy, a few sets i've been listening to:

STL promomix 2007: dug this up today for the first time in a while. given all the love for STL of late, i thought people might be keen for this as it flew under the radar a bit. great mix. get on it.

marcel fengler @ planet rose 31.1.09: it's fengler, enough said. i know i don't like doing IDs, but if anyone can tell me what the record is that comes in around the 17 minute mark, i'd be a happy ssg.

ben klock FACT mix: guessing most of you all have this by now, but just in case...

john osborn 'ceylon royale' mix: i'm really lacking the brain power to say anything of use right now, but if i am posting it, it means i like it. that should be sufficient.

silent servant @ re_invent: oursoundtracks is a nice little site that just got brought to my attention. got a good collection of mixes, many of which i havent seen elsewhere, such as this beauty from our man silent servant.

to finish off, there was a really fantastic response to the jost & lawrence set i posted last week, so i'll try to make a habit of posting classic sets. these are two sets from around the same time as the jost & lawrence one. the early '00s were a really special time music-wise, well for me at least... it was also when kompakt were really coming into their own (from memory), led by michael mayer, the man with the midas touch. well that really should be in past tense... one of the great disappointments of recent years is mayer's fall for grace. he still has moments, but he certainly isn't the dj he once was. there was a time when every record he dropped was pure gold - so much inspiration, feeling, beauty. i just don't feel it from him anymore. the difference is seen with particular clarity between the two immer cds, with the 2nd being a horrible parody of the first. anyway, here are two mixes from mayer that i'd put on equal footing with the first immer mix. again, these are mixes i go back to very regularly. mayer at his very best...

michael mayer @ hamburg city sessions, betalounge 23-03-2002

michael mayer @ love family park 2002

enjoy.

Friday, March 6, 2009

127.1


just a quickie. rayna from modyfier kindly asked us to contribute to her special series, which we were very happy to do. each of us put together a mix. first up is pete's, which you can find here. mine will be up next, then cam's. we'll update you with the links as they go live.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

bugging out


wow. in the de:bug readers' poll for 2008 it appears we were voted 5th for blogs (i presume this is a good thing, according to google translate it is). things like this, combined with all the kind words and notes we've received from readers, really gives us the motivation to keep mnml ssgs going strong. apologies if this post is a bit self-indulgent, but i really did just want to thank everyone out there for all the tremendous support. this is a big honour!

expect plenty more in the months to come. at the moment we are lining up some ssg casts from people we are really excited about and have quite a few other ideas we are playing around with.

thanks again for all the support.