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 ap
ocalypse [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.


Monday, December 22, 2008

mnml ssgs mx17: Lerosa

Ladies and gentle people, the SSGs are proud to present Mr Leopoldo Rosa.

We first became acquainted with Lerosa last year through his 'Design' EP on the always excellent A Touch of Class records.

Since then, Lerosa has released five other EPs, including 'Much Later' on Uzuri, this year's excellent 'Killester' (again on Touch of Class) and more recently the 'Lovers' EP on Millions of Moments.

Lerosa's style is calm, tranquil, personal and historical – tied in with Leopoldo's listening habits and histories in Detroit techno, hip-hop... but rather than listen to me gab on, I'll let the man represent himself.

Tell me a little about your musical development: what were you listening to when you were five, ten, fifteen, twenty years old? How have all of these styles shaped the development of your musical perspective?

As I kid I used to listen to the radio, mostly Italian 80s pop, Loredana Berte', Lucio Dalla but also stuff like Kraftwerk or Michael Jackson – a bit of everything. In my teens I remember listening to hip-hop from some tape from a guy who had just returned from NY, I don't know what crews were on it but I definitely remember Roxanne Shante somewhere in it. Anyway, that was me for the next few years, a complete hip-hop fiend. Public Enemy, Run DMC, Whodini, Grandmaster Flash etc, etc. It went on all the way to the early Chicago house, acid, NY stuff like Todd Terry and NuGroove and then the more Euro rave sounds on R&S, Frank de Wulf etc, etc. That was me up to my early twenties, after that I went on a bit of a bender and mostly just started listening to Led Zeppelin, blues, dub, some Orb and early electronica. I guess all these styles show up in different ways in what I do now as I still try to capture the emotion and energy I remember feeling listening to those records.

And which has had the greatest influence on the music you make now?

I think the basic stuff like NuGroove and early Trax sound, things like Marshall Jefferson, the Burrel brothers, Bobby Konders, Tyree and Joe Smooth, all these things still resonate strongly with me. Of course on top of that more recent strong inspiration has been coming from Carl Craig, Drexciya, Theo Parrish, Moodymann, Afx and Ae.

What's your musical 'guilty pleasure'?

Hmmm, old Lucio Dalla stuff, cheesy Italian pop, reminds me of road trips with my parents when i was little I suppose.

What influence has your background (family, geography, history) had on your musical development? How do you think it shapes the perspective on the music you make?

I don't know, I remember getting into hip hop and acid as an escape from the cheesiness of the sounds of 80s pop. I was a bit of an odd kid and I loved how the early house and hip hop didn't seem to have anything to do with the music on the mainstream, it was just raw and intense. I think still to this day I'm strongly attracted to music that has that aloofness and balls.

What were some of the challenges, getting into production? What's been the biggest influence on your sound and style? What's/who's been the biggest help in developing it?

Well, not having any academic music background didn't help but it was fun to figure out how things worked from a strictly technical point of view. Not knowing really how to play I mostly taught myself by listening to great producers like Carl Craig, Derrick May, Drexciya, Ae, KDJ. When I started putting my studio together these were the people I was listening to regularly so they had a really strong influence in the direction I ended up taking. I also had really great encouragement from my mate Graham and the labels I work with who are always very supportive of what I do.

Tell me a little about your composition process: (typically) where does a track begin, how long do you work on it, when does it feel 'finished'?

There's really no main process. I might start with anything and build some sort of groove with different elements. I often change the groove around some more but keep the original sounds. My best tracks are the ones that sort finish themselves, where all the groove and sounds elements quickly fall into place and I am able to jam and record this in a very short amount of time. 99% of my tracks are live jams recorded on a 2 track editor, so I normally just jam for a while, muting channels, triggering different midi clips, playing with EQ and dials until the track sort of finishes. I then check what I have recorded, see if it needs to be edited, and voila! This can take a few hours or a couple of days. It depends on the track.

What equipment do you use? Is this important? Do some producers have
an equipment fetish?

A computer, Ableton Live, Nord Rack 2, some soft synths/drums machines, midi controllers and occasionally an old groovebox called the Rm1x – but not that often anymore. I think it's important to use whatever makes you creative. If it must be an 808 and hardware only, so be it. If it's a laptop only that gets you going, fine. I never really understood the big debate. I don't personally know many producers and
find gear talk a bit too nerdy when meeting people in person.

How would you describe your style? What do other people tell you about your music?

I can't really say about what I do. It's kind of quirky and groovy. Other people seem to appreciate my stuff more that I do but then I'm my own worst critic.

What makes a great track for you? Which of your own tracks is your favourite, and why?

I guess whatever tune thats completely take you some other place, transcendent. I don't have a favourite but if I had to pick I'd say 'Tempio' off the Real Soon EP.

And in general, what are some all time classics/favourites?

That would be a looooong list. I'll just mention Juan Atkins "Off to
Battle", Carl Craig 'at les' and Kevin Saunderson 'the groove that
won't stop' as some of my favourite music

What makes a great party? And what's an important thing that some people forget to bring?


What's something that you know now (both about music and in general) that you wish somebody had told you ten years ago?

I don't know. Never go to a gig without a European mains adaptor?

What's something that music has taught you about life? And what is something that life has taught you about music?

Things might be better after a good night sleep.

Finish this sentence: 'The world would be a better place if only…'

There were no people in it!



mnml ssgs mx17: lerosa (click to dl)

Rapidshare Mirror (now fixed!)


Arctor (MOM)
Full Irish (unreleased)
Pumping curls (Quintessentials)
Ruski (Real Soon)
Subtract (unreleased)
Sperlonga (unreleased)
Namorita (unreleased)
Letdown (unreleased)
Demon (a Touch of Class)
Pussy (Enclave)
Crisis (unreleased)
Metaphor (Uzuri)
Skrull! (unreleased)
Diecow (
Design (a Touch of Class)

More info about Lerosa here at his myspace. The photo was care of Giita Hammond. Big thanks to Lerosa for putting this together for us. There will probably be a week or two break from the ssg mixes over Christmas/New Year, so more time to enjoy this and all the other ones we've thrown at you recently.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Looking Back: Ambient in 2008

Looking back, there’s been a lot of fantastic music released throughout 2008 – I recently filled out a Top 20 list of the year’s best albums, and it was something of an agonizing process for me. After much gnashing of teeth I sent off the list, and then calmed down with a cup of tea. Looking over my list again, I noticed something – quite a few of the albums were ambient releases. And I realize now that 2008 has been an excellent year for ambient. Here, then, are my ambient picks of the year.

Keeping up with Rutger Zuydervelt’s constant stream of releases under the Machinefabriek name is a task that verges on the daunting (take a look at his discogs entry and you’ll see what I mean). Thankfully, there is a starting point – skip straight to Dauw. Not only is it the strongest, most artistically coherent full-length Zuydervelt has produced, it’s one of the very best ambient releases of the year. It’s an incredibly delicate and haunting album, full of subtle yet deeply affecting shifts in tone. It’s richly textured, with Zuydervelt using a palette of gently plucked guitar strings, soft piano notes, sudden creaks and noisy crackles, warm drones. There’s a ghostly feeling to the album, particularly on ‘Fonograaf’ with its crackle and hiss that evokes images of a long-forgotten record discovered in a sealed attic and ‘Dauw’ with its spectral choir. After four shorter tracks, Zuydervelt finishes the album with the (subtly) triumphant ‘Singel’, a 25-minute piece of hushed beauty that almost imperceptibly builds in emotional power. This is amazing stuff – I can’t recommend this album highly enough.

(You can hear the hauntingly beautiful title track over at Machinefabriek’s Myspace site, and the live track that forms the basis for ‘Singel’ is available for download over at The Wire’s website.)

Back in October Pete mentioned what an amazing album Ezekiel Honig’s ‘Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band’ is. Since then I’ve had it on high rotation – there’s something really intimate and comforting about the album, with its found sounds of crowd noise and snippets of conversation that come drifting in and out alongside other everyday noises, handclap beats, muted horns, softly floating piano notes, all wrapped up with warm grooves that gently rock the listener to and fro. ‘Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band’ rewards both casual and careful listening – it’s soothing to drift away to at the end of a long day, but close attention reveals an album that is deeply engaging and emotional, yet somehow elusive. This is one of the things that keeps me coming back – with each listening I discover something new.

(You can hear two tracks from the album – plus some other tracks – over at Honig’s Myspace, where he describes his music as sounding like “bumping into a chair while humming.”)

For those who prefer ambient of the drone variety, the year saw fantastic records from Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker, and Lawrence English. Canadian artists Baker and Hecker joined forces to release ‘Fantasma Parastasie’ an album of gorgeous guitar-based drones, hiss and static that dances on the edge of melody. This is one most definitely for fans of the My Bloody Valentine school of beautiful distortion. Meanwhile, Australian artist Lawrence English explored a world of hazily obscured figures on ‘Kiri No Oto’, Japanese for “sound of mist/fog”, an album which English describes as being “concerned with transposing the visual effects of mist, mirage, snow fall and the like to a variety of acoustic situations.” The fuzzes, hums and drones certainly evoke a feeling of moving through mist, snowstorms, and blinding sprays of light.

(You can hear the final, quietest track from ‘Fantasma Parastasie’ over at Aidan Baker’s Myspace – be sure to check out his cover of Joy Division’s ’24 Hours’ while you’re there. Sadly, I can’t seem to find any full track samples from ‘Kiri No Oto’.)

The ever prolific Bvdub (Brock Van Wey) came close to rivaling Machinefabriek in terms of output this year, with four 12”s, a cassette, an MP3 EP, and two full-lengths released on his own Quietus Recordings, ‘Dreams of Red Chambers’ and ‘Return to Tonglu’. The first time I talked about Bvdub here on ssgs I associated him with the dub-techno scene, although occupying the more gaseous ambient end of the sound. However, ‘Return to Tonglu’ and ‘Dreams of Red Chambers’ see Van Wey moving away from dub and openly embracing ambient sounds and structures – ‘Dreams of Red Chambers’ is almost entirely beatless. Both albums are gorgeous, and well worth tracking down (if you can, since they’re both limited). Van Wey’s knack for crafting drifting melancholic soundscapes is a perfect fit for the ambient scene, so it’s exciting to see what he’ll come up with in 2009.

(You can hear two tracks from ‘Return to Tonglu’ and ‘Dreams of Red Chambers’ along with some other Bvdub tracks over at the Myspace site for Quietus Recordings.)

I’m not entirely sure I should be classing Mika Vainio’s latest release as Ø, ‘Oleva’, as an ambient release, but I’m not entirely sure how else I should class it. It most definitely creates an ambience of its own, and although it’s a far from relaxing album, it’s utterly engrossing. Full of subterranean basslines and frequencies, steely sinister drones, and chime-like sounds that occasionally glitter in the darkness, ‘Oleva’ explores a unique sound, one that entirely belongs to Vainio. Compelling (and sometimes unnerving) stuff.

For fans of the neo-classical sound 2008 has seen an embarrassment of riches. Those looking for a sweeping epic are advised to pick up Jóhann Jóhannsson’s ‘Fordlandia’ (listeners should prepare themselves for “full emotional release” during the peak of the 15-minute closer ‘How We Left Fordlandia’). For something a little less epic, Peter Broderick’s debut full-length ‘Float’ is highly recommended, with ten tracks built around piano, augmented by strings and subtle treatments. The arrangements are simple and uncluttered, allowing the instruments and the sweet yet melancholic melodies to come through loud and clear. Keith Kenniff released strong full-lengths under both his Helios and Goldmund names (although to be perfectly honest I’m not sure either of them are as amazing as ‘Eingya’ and ‘Corduroy Road’), and Volker Bertelmann added string arrangements to his piano pieces on his latest Hauschka release, ‘Ferndorf’.

However, my equal firsts for neo-classical album of the year are Jacaszek’s ‘Treny’ and Max Richter’s ’24 Postcards in Full Colour’. I raved about ‘Treny’ earlier this year, and everything I said then still holds true – an album of hauntingly beautiful melancholia that deftly blends classical elements with electronic manipulations, evoking hazy feelings of nostalgia for something long past. Brilliant, beautiful stuff.

Richter’s ‘Postcards’ are a very different affair – an album of 24 brief musical snapshots, all of which are under three minutes in length, and with only six tracks running longer than two minutes. Richter has said that the pieces are exercises in exploring the musical possibilities of ringtones, but for me they’re expressions of the beauty of brevity. Each piece says just enough to evoke a particular feeling, and then ends. I’ve read some reviews that were critical of this, but for me this is the album’s strength – to sketch each “postcard” in such a short space of time shows both incredible skill and restraint from Richter. I can strongly recommend flipping through this album of musical postcards.

(You can hear two tracks from ‘Fordlandia’ at Jóhannsson’s Myspace, two tracks from ‘Float’ at Peter Broderick’s Myspace, two tracks from ‘Ferndorf’ at Hauschka’s Myspace, tracks from ‘Caesura’ and ‘The Malady of Elegance’ at the Helios and Goldmund Myspace sites, two tracks from ‘Treny’ at Jacaszek’s Myspace, and all of the tracks from ’24 Postcards in Full Colour’ at this site – just click on each of the photos.)

So, there you have it – my favourite ambient releases of 2008. But how about you? What moved you (oh so quietly) this year?

Friday, December 12, 2008

mnml ssgs mx16: benjamin brunn and his nord modular

this week, a very special edition of the ssg mx series. benjamin brunn has given us a recording of his, which he says is a tribute to the nord modular - the source of those warm, loving sounds that define both his own music and his collaborations with move d. like all our contributors, brunn has a very distinctive sound palette. for me, brunn's music always feels very close and personal, intimate even. a great sense of warmth and comfort radiates throughout it. often when i am down or tired, i put on something he's done and it always makes me feel better. very few artists can have that kind of impact on me, so it's a sign (for me at least) of the depth and value of brunn's productions. the live recording he has kindly shared with us is a perfect example of this. i asked benjamin to write a bit about it:

Benjamin Brunn A tribute to the Nord Modular

I have been using my Nord Modular for 10 years now and even though I just started to use other sythesizers as well, I think it is going to stay my most important instrument for the next 10 years.

In this live set my Modular is assisted by a Roland TR-626 and Ableton Live with its Operator for some of the bass lines. For the sake of a one-flow set I played previously recorded Modular
sequences off Ableton to bridge the moments when switching from one patch to the other.

The recording took place at one of the last events at the legendary VOXXX club in my hometown
Chemnitz on Christmas Eve in 2005. This annual party was called Frequenzweihnacht, VOXXX was shut down one week later.

Frequenzweihnacht at VOXXX was to catch up with friends, some of them we had not seen for a
whole year. It was always a very warm vibe up there in the big hall. Local artists played their laid back, ambient and experimental music, suitable for the time: Right after gift giving at home with the families.

Frequenzweihnacht still happens, every Christmas Eve at a place called Weltecho in Chemnitz.


given that it is almost christmas, we thought it was the perfect moment to share this with you all and to remind us that this is the time of the year we should be spending with family and close friends. or, as the first track of 'songs from the beehive' suggests, 'love the one you're with'...

mnml ssgs mx16: benjamin brunn
rapidshare mirror

special thanks to benjamin brunn for sharing this with us. more info at his site and at his myspace. make sure to keen an eye out for his new release on binemusic, '77', which is a beauty.

next week, lerosa.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking Back: Raster-Noton in 2008

For many listeners there seems to be the long-held impression that Raster-Noton releases are intellectual exercises for the chin-stroking brigade – music that is to be appreciated and analysed rather than enjoyed. And most certainly not danced to. As a fan of the label I’ve often tried to argue against this, usually unsuccessfully. It seems to me, however, that 2008 has seen Raster-Noton raise a defiant middle finger to this impression, releasing a fantastic series of albums that show the label opening up and expanding its sound while remaining true to its core aesthetic.

The most immediately accessible of Raster-Noton’s 2008 releases was Kangding Ray’s Automne Fold. Many were no doubt surprised by the appearance of organic instruments and obvious melodies on a Raster-Noton release, although long-time followers of the label could point out that this alone was not new territory – David Letellier had previously used these elements on his Kangding Ray debut album Stabil, as did Alva Noto on his extraordinary collaborations with pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto. What was striking about ‘Automne Fold’ was the song-like structure of many of its tracks – some even had vocals. This was the Raster-Noton aesthetic given a pop twist. Who would ever have imagined? And it worked, producing a richly textured album that is highly listenable and emotional.

Meanwhile, two of the label’s founders released full-lengths that can be read as clear statements on Raster-Noton’s relationship with club music. The opening track on Byetone’s Death Of A Typographer features the sounds of footsteps moving off a busy street and descending into a club, muffled beats growing gradually louder until the crisp beats of ‘Plastic Star’ fully kick in. It’s a thrilling moment, and the energy of ‘Plastic Star’ carries through the rest of the album. Olaf Bender’s tight digital percussion is an absolute joy to listen to – combined with some seriously good grooves and moody textures, ‘Death Of A Typographer’ is a masterfully crafted album. (The Plastic Star 12” is also highly recommended, with killer remixes by Sleeparchive, Alva Noto, and Dr Walker.)

Alva Noto’s Unitxt is one of the least accessible Raster-Noton releases of 2008 with its frequent bursts of static, white noise, and high-pitched digital whines. The name, a nod to Club Unit in Tokyo where Carsten Nicolai has played a number of live sets, is however a clear sign that Nicolai absolutely views this as club music. Admittedly, I can’t imagine a DJ being brave enough to drop these tracks on a dancefloor, but this is some of the most rhythmic music Nicolai has ever done.

As a Raster-Noton fan it’s been an exciting year (I haven’t even talked about their book of Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS photography or the Coh Plays Cosey album), and I’m very interested in seeing where they will go next. There’s a real sense of vibrancy to the label at the moment – a moment that is full of possibilities. Instead of strangling their sound or becoming stale by doggedly following a single thread to the exclusion of all else, Raster-Noton have opened themselves up to different sounds and styles while still retaining their distinctive aesthetic. And, yes, they even release music you can dance to.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

mnml ssgs mx15: eli verveine

eli verveine is someone the ssgs have been wanting for the series right from the very start. we fell in love with her sounds when we chanced upon her brilliant carebear mix at the beginning of the year. while some people have it as one of their favourite sets from 2008, it is actually more than 4 years old, proof that quality music is timeless. the mix she has prepared for us shares many of the same traits - a careful, lovingly put together selection of vinyl.

one of the great charms about eli's dj'ing is that it has a very distinctive, thoughtful feel to it. when i listen to her mixes, i really get the sense she loves all the records she plays. so i thought i'd ask her to tell us a bit about her philosophy to dj'ing. this is what she wrote:

dj'ing is for me like storytelling. i love to play long sets. that way you have enough time to slowly create a mood and you can lead the audience anywhere you want.
it's easy for me to play as a warm-up dj. you just have to put your ego aside and spread the red carpet for the next dj. if the audience starts to scream during my last records before the next dj, i know i did a good job.
i also like playing during prime-time. you just have to know there are musical boundaries, no experiments accepted. but it can be very nice if you have enough time.
my absolutely favorite time to play is at sunrise. you can play whatever you want...

so there you have it...

mnml ssgs mx15: eli verveine
(no mirrors yet)

robert hood – still
octal – heavier petting
swayzak – live, part 4
claro intelecto – dependant
dj joey anderson – thee analysis
stl – orange patterns
maus und stolle – extra vergine
chiapet – westworld
herbert – over and out
steve o`sullivan – she don`t do chicks
madteo – radici

thanks to eli for making the time to share her records with us. if you head over to her myspace, you'll also notice there are a couple of other mixes she's done. i've listened to all of them and they are most definitely recommended.

next week, benjamin brunn with his nord modular.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

bits to pieces

just a quick post, as there were a couple of bits and pieces i wanted to share.

really happy that everyone has been digging the ssg mixes. sorry if they've been coming a bit fast. basically it depends on when artists get them back to us by. anyway, we've got a jam packed ssg fest to finish out the year. i'll be upping eli verveine's mix in the next day or so, and next week we have a very special christmas treat from benjamin brunn.

i saw this over at and definitely worth checking out. deadact is collecting as many examples as they can of artists faking it. it is seriously funny stuff. i dont particularly approve of the fact they've knocked up some half-assed merchandise in the last few days to go with the site, but it is worth checking for a good laugh.

also something i found on which i thought is quite an interesting idea and worth mentioning here given the debate over vinyl from pete's last post: 'Chris Liebing invites everyone who owns vinyl on the labels CLR, CLRetry, CLAU and Spinclub Recordings to download the digital version of these tracks for free from December 1st 2008 on. This will be an unlimited offer and includes all of the labels´ vinyl, no matter when or where it was bought over the last ten years. How will you get the digital download link? Just make a photo of yourself with the vinyl in your hand and mail it to us. Further details will be available on our website from December 1st 2008 on. This isn‘t all! In the future, we would also like to make one decision unnecessary for those who are still deciding between vinyl or digital purchases.. From 2009 on, we will give each vinyl buyer a code for a free download of the corresponding tracks (including the digital only versions). Chris Liebing: “It is obvious that more and more DJs are working with digital files just as I do. So I thought that maybe a few of those who like my music might appreciate getting those tracks which were once bought on vinyl, free of charge, and with little effort as digital files as well – legally and in the best possible quality.”' Certainly not a flawless idea, but definitely worth giving a shot. I guess one good thing that can come of the changing nature of the music is distributed is the potential for innovation and fresh ideas.

we've been getting lots of nice emails, which i want to respond to, but simply just don't have the time right now. i'm working anywhere from 12 - 16/17 hours 6 or 7 days a week at the moment, so even finding time for anything related to the blog is very difficult. hopefully we'll respond sooner or later. again, we really appreciate the support and interest, even if you dont always like what we are saying or doing.

finally, i know i have been flooding you with sets lately, but it is hard not to - there is just so much great stuff floating about right now. here are a handful of mixes i've really been digging:
  • cio d'or vanille 11 mix: this is a year or two old, but i only came across it the other month. it has been one of my favourite mixes of the year and has been on constant repeat. wow, this woman really has a way with records. her mixes are so perfectly put together.
  • the mighty hose (known to the government as peter van hoesen) has a new mix up over at his site. as you'd expect, quality all the way from one of my standout djs of 2008. (also, for those around brussels, he is playing live at what looks to be a cool party with ben klock).
  • j.kusti technofunk 3 mix: more talent from finland. on the deeper tip that i've been digging of late. tracklisting here.
  • petar dundov october 08 mix: to be honest, i still haven't gotten around to hearing his new album, but i'm keen to. regardless, it is good to have him back and being more active. this is a really nice techno mix, slightly more on the melodic side of things.
  • as i type this post my very sore head is being soothed by the sounds of robert henke, who has kindly provided us with a new live recording of his layering buddha project. you can find it over at his website along with instructions on what to do and not to do with it.
i need to sleep. eli verveine soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We were NEVER mnml, December 2008

In December 2007, I framed the year that had been as a ‘long glide into the deep’. 2008 felt like a year that developed and, at moments, perfected a lot of these ideas. But if 2007 was the ‘long glide into the deep’, then 2008 could be understood more as a ‘dark surge out of the dub’.

For the most compelling tracks in 2008, there was still the 2007 sense of space exploration, and a deepening through dubbing (with the powers of reverb and repetitions), but added to that was a strange, dark ecstasy. Three tracks that capture something of this for me are Portable’s ‘Release’, Shackleton’s remix of Ricardo Villalobos’ incredible ‘Minimoonstar’, and DJ Koze’s spine-tingling remix of Sascha Funke’s ‘Mango’. In each case, vocals (pitched and filtered) hosted monologues strongly evoking the disarray of the world, the need for healing and transformation, and the sense in which we are being blown backwards into the future, which is beginning to look uncannily like the void.

Meanwhile, vinyl is dying as a DJ format, physical distro is in disarray (Neuton and Kompakt are on the ropes if the rumours are to be believed), and almost nobody’s making a living wage from groove-based electronic music. Part of the story is that, in 2008, people are getting the overwhelming majority of their music digitally, and only a part of that delivery involves economic exchange. If private trackers like Oink (and its demise) were ’07, in ’08 it was all about google and rapidshare, the only two things anyone with access to broadband needed to ‘keep up’, a habit that might have cost an Australian vinyl user $3,000 or more per year, and a Beatport user perhaps a third of that.

I’ve heard all the excuses, and I’ve made a few of my own, but now I can’t help but think that the people rolling the anti-record company screed were also doing their little bit to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Much like the moments prior to the financial implosion, it seems, almost everyone has their snout in the trough, and most know what they’re doing is not only unsustainable but actively destructive – but they can’t stop downloading. Where does this lead? Ultimately to individual tactics to minimise personal cost and risk transfer that burden to the system, which creaks, shudders, then collapses.

But at the same time, this destructive digital technology is also incredibly productive and efficient: it’s lean, it’s light, it’s amazingly accessible (to those who can afford computers and have access to the internet). On a local note, Australians now have no excuse either to fail as internationally recognised producers or to be parochial about their own value as a scene, a sound and a voice. The field has never been more level, or more accessible. The opportunities are there: the rest is just mediocrity grumbling apologies for being so.

More than anything, the collapse (financial, economic, musico-industrial) is an opportunity to develop a new context for groove-based electronic music – and here comes the hard part. This is a creative opportunity that must be seized. What is to be invented is an extra-technological context for electronic music, one that is beyond the drug muppetry of corporate raving and amphetamine nightlife. But nobody wants to wake up. People just keep ripping, dropping, downloading and dancing around like it’s 1999. Meanwhile it’s 2008, and something’s on fire.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

mnml ssgs mx14: marcel fengler

as we approach the end of each year there are always attempts to try and work out what have been the major trends and themes of the last 12 months. without doubt one of the big stories of 2008 has been the continued rise and rise of the berghain club in berlin and its accompanying label, ostgut tonträger. most of the attention has been on marcel dettmann, ben klock and, more recently, shed. for whatever reason - perhaps because he hasn't produced as much - i think marcel fengler has been under-rated slightly in the process. if this is true (and it may not be), it is a situation that won't be lasting for much longer. in my books his 'friction/yaki' ep on ostgut has just quietly been one of the best releases of '08, and as a dj, he is most certainly the equal of any of the other berghain residents. listen to this mix and you'll hear what i mean. this really is a perfectly crafted mix of forward-thinking, dynamic techno that demonstrates fengler's distinctive take on the 'berghain' sound. describing his philosophy to DJing, marcel says that he likes to build his "sets up, then down again. it has to be varied and it has to snake through the night in waves." this is obviously a man who practices what he preaches, because that is exactly what he does in this ssg mix he has kindly put together for us. much like rossella's set last week, marcel keeps a very close eye on tempo and structure, carefully building something special over exactly 60 minutes.

i have, rather belatedly, asked marcel some questions (better than last week i promise) and will post them up soon. but i didn't want to sit on this mix any longer. i figure you guys need something to dance to over the weekend. and marcel's set will most definitely get the body moving. for all of us not lucky enough to be at berghain, this is a very good substitute.

mnml ssgs mx14: marcel fengler (direct dl)
mirrors: rapidshare / megaupload

no tracklisting so far and that works fine for me. as i said, q&a to follow. more info about marcel over at his myspace or at ostgut booking. much, much thanks for marcel for continuing the incredible string of mixes for the ssgs. this really is next level shit. respect to marcel. enjoy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


ok, few bits and pieces to cover in this post. first of all, get ready for the fengler ssg mix to drop at the end of this week. we've just got it, and all i can say is 'wow'. and to top it off, next week mx15 will be from the lovely ms eli verveine.

next up, pete is too modest, so i'll have to do it: if you haven't already seen it, i strongly recommend heading over to RA and reading his interview with move d. i think RA has had some really excellent features this year, and in my completely biased opinion, this is definitely ranks among the very best.

while on the topic of RA, i have to say something about their latest podcast from some dude called emerson todd. to be honest, i have been participating and involved in the melbourne/australian dance scene since around 1997 and i've never heard of the guy (admittedly he is from sydney, but i thought i knew most of the main djs/crews there, obviously not). he might be a nice guy, he might be a nice dj, but the feeling amongst the ssgs is that this was a disappointing choice as the first australian to do an RA'cast. in our opinion, there are a host of djs from down under that would have been much more appropriate. with our ssg mixes, we've made an effort not to be the slightest bit parochial. our aim, though, is that at some stage in the near future is to get a mix or two from australian artists that we think are really worth listening to.

speaking of (mis)representing, i am really quite dissatisfied with fact magazine's list of the supposedly best 20 mixes of 2008. i've got two issues with it. first, it strikes me as attempting to present itself as a list which goes across genres and is reasonably inclusive of different styles. i cannot comment on the quality of all the mixes mentioned, as i have not heard many of them, but i do not think it is a particularly broad cross-section. some genres are rather over-represented, while techno has only one clear inclusion, and there are no exemplars of the deep house sound that has been so pervasive this year (the closest they get with house are the metro area and prins thomas mixes, but neither of these fit with the deep house sound of '08). my second problem comes down to there being only representative of techno (yeah, optimo is in there but they only 1/2 count) and the inclusion is deetron. if you are going to put a mix in there, you could do much, much better with that. there are so many possibly candidates, but logical places to start would be with the dozzy labyrinth set, the cio d'or modyfier mix, or the berghain 2 cd by herr dettmann. this has been a fantastic year for techno in my books and it is a shame not to see that reflected. anyway, enough complaining. you'll be getting my list at some stage in the coming weeks.

as for good mixes, i've been absolutely drowning in them recently. here is just a small sample:

santiago salazar september 08 mix: santiago is part of the UR crew and lately has a new label, historia y violencia, with ssg favourite silent servant. you can read an interview with them about it here. anyway, like anyone associated with UR, the man can spin.

01. Mad Mike Banks Interview
02. Silent Servant - Violencia (Function Remix) - Sandwell District
03. Silent Servant - Lo Profundo - Historia y Violencia
04. 2 Noisy Heads - String Factory(Noirdegout remix) - Exit Audio
05. Matt Chester - Cut Adrift - Sula Muse
06. Lil Tony - Cosmic Afro Pan - Versatile Records
07. D.P.O.M.B. - VERSION 1 - Innervisions (Ame, Henrik Schwarz, Dixon)
08. Paul Mac - Raw Basics 3 - Stimulus
09. Rolando - Where Were You? - Delsin
10. Underground Resistance - Unreleased
11. M5 - Celestial Highways(the Plan remix) - Unreleased
12. Aroy Dee - Life Of Raw - MOS Recordings
13. Lee Holman - Depart - -Mowar
14. Nomadico - Night Walker - UR
15. C2 - untitled - CDR
16. Stefan Goldmann - Prefecture - Macro
17. Drewsky - Night Games - Nite Life
18. Seldom Seen - Arcade - Macro Promo
19. Scuba - The Upside (Martyn's down mix) - Hotflush
20. Mad Mike Banks Interview
21. Underground Resistance - Blaxplotation - Unreleased

eric cloutier @ down 20/11/08: it burns! it burns! this is one seriously slow burning affair. eric keeps a close lock on the bpms and builds a very cohesive and consistent vibe throughout the set. i love long sets like these. they can really carry you through a day when need be.

01. kris wadsworth - at 11 [static records]
02. adultnapper - tewa (nick chacona remix) [ransom note footnote]
03. joachim spieth - abi '99 b1 [kompakt]
04. round two - new day (dub) [main street records]
05. move.d - lush summer rain [shanti records]
06. edit select - need for more [edit select]
07. samuel l. session - choose one [be as one]
08. lee jones - soon (the mole remix) [aus music]
09. martin landsky - he's gone [pokerflat recordings]
10. holy ghost - hold on (mock's mod mix) [dfa records]
11. dj koze - i want to sleep [international records]
12. submania + ekmoah - funkfahrt [background]
13. peace division - in my mind [tsuba records]
14. andy toth - linwood [people mover productions]
15. alex picone - furby [cadenza]
16. superlova - something on my mind [stir15 recordings]
17. sascha dive - midnight blues [love letters from oslo]
18. guillaume & the coutu dumonts - halleluyah yeah [oslo]
19. melchior productions ltd. - different places [perlon]
20. stephane attias - distant planet [neroli]
21. cobblestone jazz - b2 [itiswhatitis]
22. oleg poliakov - midnight vultures [circus company]
23. 2000 and one - bang bang [bang bang]
24. chaton - catch the beat (agnes remix) [sthlmaudio recordings]
25. hans thalau - lassur [moonpool]
26. iron curtis - ass & cash [unreleased]
27. lil' mark - nonsense [disco 45]
28. sebo k - moved (prosumer stob dub) [mobilee]
29. steve bug - loverboy (reworked by cassy) [pokerflat recordings]
30. arto mwambe - ombala mbembo [brontosaurus]
31. alex picone - floppy [cadenza]
32. johnny d - pako mana [love letters from oslo]
33. seth troxler - love never sleeps (adam marshall's sedition mix) [crosstown rebels]
34. dj t. - before light [pokerflat recordings]
35. dorian paic + chupacabra - dub 17 [raum...musik]
36. david labiej - choose red [sushitech purple]
37. spencer parker - e lucia (federico molinari mix) [tsuba records]
38. martin madhatter - get in time [mighty rider records]
39. a guy called gerald - voodoo ray [warlock records]
40. tomoki tamura + nono - 3 years (manuel tur remix) [four:twenty recordings]
41. willie graff + tuccillo - when the sun goes down [drumpoet community]
42. gipsy family - strangers in all lands [contexterrior]
43. rhythm plate - lean [mantis recordings]
44. swayzak - so cheap [swayzak]
45. snooze - quiet alone (swag's hp dub) [ssr records]
46. africanism - les enfants du bled [yellow productions]
47. dj marley marl - beyond [west end records]
48. franck roger - dub life [real tone records]
49. roland clark - family (nick holder vocal mix) [home recordings]
50. slutbox - backseat driver (jason emsley remix) [siteholder]
51. frankie - hunt (mike shannon's let the hunt begin mix) [frankie]
52. polder - bold orange [intacto]
53. kenlou - the bounce [maw recordings]
54. slam - positive education [soma quality recordings]
55. green velvet - answering machine [music man records]
56. fingers inc. - i'm strong (instrumental mix) [r&s records]

mike huckaby @ betalounge 08/11/08: there are very few things better than a proper betalounge set. unsurprisingly huckaby steps up to the plate and delivers the goods.

i'd also strongly advise paying a visit to infinitestatemachine for their latest guest mix from m50. it's a beauty.

and last, but most certainly not least, pete was a guest on 'to and fro', a show on melbourne's triple r radio station (yes, these still exist it seems). head over here for the tracklisting and download link. as you'd expect, a quality selection from one of the ssgs. go team!

ok, more links will have to come another night. this ssg has to sleep.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

mnml ssgs mx13: rossella

at one stage during donato dozzy's labyrinth set, the last in the ssgs mix series, mike parker leaned across to me and said, 'this track is by an italian DJ, rossella. you definitely should check her out.' well mike is a man whose taste in music i most certainly trust, so i followed his advice and chased up her up. rossella is someone who has been making a name for herself in the italian scene over the last couple of years, and has also started doing some production, including a release this year on tadeo's 'cyclical tracks', entitled 'photographers'. like all the people we approach for this mix series, rossella is someone who is pursuing her own path and developing a unique voice in the scene. here she has provided the ssgs with a quality selection of deep minimal records, with the mix being defined by a carefully controlled tempo and flow throughout. this is definitely one that grows on you...

given that rossella might be a bit less known that some of the other recent contributors to the series, i thought i'd bang together a couple of crappy questions to ask her (apologies, i really didn't have the time to put any thought into coming up with some decent. in the future i may just steal the quetions LWE asks...).

ssgs: tell us about this mix.
: this mix is a summary of some of my personal experiences in almost 10 years as a dj. saying that, obviously it's not exactly what i play actually on the dancefloor...

ssgs: what is the scene like in italy?
rossella: nowadays the scene in italy is very diverse: there's a predominance of "house", but minimal-techno is spreading, especially among the very young people.

ssgs: how do you feel about techno music at the moment? what interests and excites you?
rossella: i feel there's always something interesting to me, but not so surprising.

ssgs: name some major influences on you and your music.
rossella: steve bug's style, sleeparchive's productions, alex under's feeling, tadeo's dj sets, donato dozzy's reflections and, above all, my personal sense of rhythm...

ssgs: what are you working on at the moment?
rossella: producing...

ssgs: anything else you want to share?
rossella: this is the first time i've appeared before a large audience and i'm really excited about it. thank to those who gave me this opportunity...

ok, there you have it. enough talk, on to the mix.

mnml ssgs mx13: rossella

1.Monobox-TRADE(Pantytec mix)-LOG040LP
2.Dima-MOONOLOG- BAR25-09
4.David Labeij-RENTAL-REMOTE 014
5.Todd Bodine-PARTICLES (original)- TRESOR 217
6.Onur Ozer-ENVY-VAKANT 05
7.Jens Zimmermann-C30-IF6
8.Sety-FOGO PURO (bonus beat)-CCS028
9.Dan Berkson-THE HOOLOW-CRM037
14.Kristian/Christian-FLASHES_AFULAB 04
15.Sasha Funke-VANISH (CELINE remix)- AND 010
16.Pantytec-ELASTOFLO (T:Melchior & P.Ford remix)-PERLON 26

rapidshare mirror

big thanks to rossella for taking the time to put this together. check her myspace for more info. and get ready for what is going to a pretty serious end to 2008 for the ssgs. next week mx14 comes from berghain's marcel fengler, and we've got some other people of equal quality in the pipeline after that. but for now, enjoy the sounds of rossella...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

notes and votes

ok, lots to catch up on:


on friday i was in london and unfortunately my plans of dancing to kassem mosse doing his thing live were cancelled with kassem being sick (get well soon!). very disappointing... on the plus side, it resulted in me getting to the rothko exhibition showing at the tate modern. i spent a few hours there hypnotised by his amazing paintings as i listened to donato dozzy's labyrinth set. dozzy's deep sounds matched the visuals perfectly... definitely get to the rothko show if you are anywhere near london in the coming months.

ssg mixes

again, huge thanks to all the support and feedback about donato dozzy's labyrinth set. donato and all the ssgs have been thrilled by the response. the 13th mix in the series is from another italian dj, rossella, and will be up later in the week...

dc knows

there don't seem to be as many quality mix cds coming out as there used to be, but there have been a string of goodies recently. pete will likely be posting about some of them soon, so i just want to highlight one, and that is dave clarke's 'back in the box'. it is an incredibly well put together and thought through mix of old chicago house records. i've had this on repeat since getting it. strongly recommended.


plenty has already been said over at RA about philip sherburne's thought-provoking (as always) set of reflections on the state of techno at the end of 2008, but i'd just like to add a few observations. first, i am in very close agreement with richard brophy's much more positive assessment of things. to be honest, i am not sure how anyone could listen to dozzy's ssg mix, move d and brunn's 'songs from the beehive', convextion's livepa, dettmann's dj sets, pretty much any ostgut release - the list could go on, and think there is a problem. ok, so there might be plenty of junk floating about. but lets not start building up a false nostelgia for a past that never was - there always has been plenty of crap records, beatport and myspace just make them a bit more obvious. but if you dig, you explore and you listen there is plenty of creative, amazing, inspiring music being made. quite simply, i think some people need to take a step back and reassess.

the other thought i have on this matter - and this is one i still havent quite worked through - is in regards to the way people tend to define techno and how that shapes the way it is assessed. techno is often defined - and this is the way i have traditionally understood it - as 'future music'. juan atkins recently said that, 'techno is synonymous with technology and evolution'. evolution. this is key. built into the way we think about techno is an inherent bias towards progress. for techno to be healthy, there is a general notion that it must be moving forward: onwards and upwards, developing in a way different to what has come before. but is that a realistic expectation? and should that be how techno is judged? could it be that a cyclical conception of time and development is more appropriate? rather than techno always progressing, maybe it repeats in infinitely different patterns but within a certain structure or scope? i am not suggesting this is the case, my point is that most people generally seem to be working with a very linear conception of how techno does and should operate. rather than blaming techno, perhaps we should be reflecting on how we understand it, how we define it and what it means to us. anyway, enough musings for now...

the harder they come...

speaking of techno, i've been in the mood lately for some harder, tougher sounds. these are some sets i've been enjoying:

speedy j live at rome 2008: this is speedy dj'ing with efx. i've been a longtime fan of his and one thing i have liked is the way he has managed to reinvent himself over time and stay relevant. i have a feeling he is in the process of moving into a new stage, with the launch of electric deluxe and his open collabs project. i'm very interested to see what speedy will be doing in 2009 and what he does with open collabs. i have high hopes.

surgeon - 'for dog faces only': i must admit, i've become soft. i used to love surgeon, but these days most of the time he is just too brutal for me. this set, though, isn't quite as rough. and damn, it is seriously good. the man has taste.

Ed Chamberlain — Trapese
Go Hiyama — Unreleased
Scion — Emerge (BMB remix2)
Anstam — Aeto_b
DJ Hell — Totmacher
Add Noise — Handwerk
Basic Channel — Enforcement (Mills mix)
Inigo Kennedy — Aching To Get Beneath
Kraddy — New World Empire (DiskChordians remix)
Radial — Premium
Oscar Mulero — Baskerbill's Dog (Regis remix)
Blackham — The Crusade
Warlock — TV controls your mind
Ed Chamberlain — Resistant
ScanOne — Trotter
Surgeon — Floorshow 1.1
Makaton — 41_43
Inigo Kennedy — Kaleidoscope
Jeff Mills —Humana
Monolake — Alaska (Substance remix2)
The DiskChordians — M-329 Class A
Ed Chamberlain — Charley
Go Hiyama — LisB
Anstam — Aeto_a
Ed Chamberlain — Does Ape
Joey Beltram — Drome

kevin gorman mikrowave mix, november 08: gorman is definitely another guy to keep a close eye on. part of a group of artists that are really refining techno in a way that harks back to the older stripped back sound, without being limited by it. and it ain't just ostgut. others are doing it too! (we forget this sometimes...)

Kevin Gorman - untitled (unreleased)
Damian Schwartz - Get Into
Rebotini - Horns of Innocence
Model 500 - Starlight (Soultek mix)
Shinedoe - Ibo Grooves
Brendan Moeller - Ignition
Mike Parker - Voice One
Jonas Kopp - Andregeno
Vogel - Xpute
JPLS - Combination 2
Zuni - DaHood (Kevin Gorman remix) (unreleased)
Kevin Gorman - SevenEightNine (Marcel Dettmann remix)
Kevin Gorman - Art01 (unreleased)
Alex Under - untitled (unreleased)
Alex Under - untitled (unreleased)
Kevin Gorman - untitled (unreleased)
Gideon - Need No Permission
Gideon - The Flash
Planetary Assault System - Kat
Roman Flugel - Make your move (Sterac remix)
Peter Horrevorts - Romance is Overrated
Gideon - Last Apocalypse
Rebotini - Decade of Agression
Kevin Gorman - Cyclik (unreleased)

Perc - October 2008 Radio Mix: you can put this in the same category as the mix above. shit, just look at the tracklisting. quality all the way.

1) Vapourspace - Humana Vista (Vista Stickmana Mix) - Plus8
2) Scuba - From Within (Marcel Dettmann Remix) - Hot FLush
3) Gary Beck - Drifting (Perc's Dub Mix) - Perc Trax
4) Donato Dozzy - Tropical One - Railyard
5) Planetary Assault Systems - I Am The Funkster - Peacefrog
6) Jean Ramesse - Jobby Noir (Perc Remix) - Sleaze
7) Speedy J - Red Shift - Electric Deluxe
8) Sawf - On Surface - Perc Trax
9) Haioka - Garasha - Blank Records
10) Chris Liebing - Turbular Bell - CLR
11) Simone Tavazzi - Poltergeist (Perc Remix) - Analytictrail
12) Perc - Swords (Misc Remix) - Lost Souls
13) Scuba - Ruptured (Surgeon Remix) - Hot Flush
14) Gak - Gak 1 - Warp presents Samuli Kemppi/podcast MixTape #16 2008: i've talked enough about samuli here before. this mix kind of went under the radar a bit, which is a shame because it seriously rocks.

1. Kenny Larkin - Life Goes On | R&S Records
2. Ellen Allien - Elphine | Bpitch
3. Lee Holman - Bravo | Ferox
4. Shed - Another Wedged Chicken | Ostgut Ton
5. Roman Lindau - Raumgestaltung | Fachwerk
6. Marcel Dettmann - Plain | Beatstreet
7. Steve Stoll - Was Here part 6 | True People
8. Samuli Kemppi - Välitila | Pakkas Levyt
9. MLZ - One State | Modern Love
10. Smear - Transect | Forward Strategy Group
11. Pacou - Levitate | Cache
12. Dj Rush - Unsoaked Girl | Cosmic Records
13. Schatrax - Wasichu | Schatrax
14. Plastikman - Elektrostatik | NovaMute
15. Human Resource - The Complete Dominator (Frank De Wulf #1 mix) | R&S Records

ok, that'll do for now. i've got some other sets i want to share, including an amazing cio d'or set i've had on repeat for the last month, but that can wait to next time...

Monday, November 17, 2008

quality service

hot on the heels of the excellent ssg mix that silent servant was kind enough to do for us, here are two new mixes he has completed which really show the depth and breadth of his musical knowledge (not to mention his artistic skills). no need to say anymore, by now you should associate the name 'silent servant' with quality, and the tracklistings speak for themselves...

la discoteca mix (link expired)

Laura Logic // Brute Fury
Dorothy // Softness
Pig Bag // Sunny Day
A Certain Ratio // Guess Who
Electric Chairs // So Many Ways
Capricorn // I Need Love
Simian Mobile Disco // State of Things
Alexander Robotnik // Intro for Live Performance
Padded Cell // Savage Skulls
Eddy Grant // Time Warp
Hawkeye // Born
Glass Candy // Always Say Yes
Love Fingers // Zoysia
Emperor Machine // Labocatocs (V. Markowski Remix)
Glass Candy // Computer Love
Sexual Harassment // K-I-S-S-I-N-G
Emperor Machine // Labocatocs (Original Mix)
Chaz Jankel // 3,000,000 Synths
Gina X // No Gdm
Mirage // Lady Operator

el baile mix (link expired)

Throbbing Gristle // Camera
Liaisons Dangereuses // Peut Etre ... Pas
Oppenheimer Analysis // Devil's Dancer
Fad Gadget // Love Parasite
Kraftwerk // Robots
Chris & Cosey // Hazey Daze
Fad Gadget // Collapsing New People
TGV // Partie 1
Ultravox // Mr. X
Experimental Products // Golden Hours (Brian Eno)
Cabaret Voltaire // Walls of Jericho
Throbbing Gristle // Distant Dreams part 2
No More // Suicide Commando
N.O.I.A. // Stop Thinking
Absolute Body Control // Automatic I
Christof Glowalla // Erde 80
April Orchestra

will be doing a few more posts in the coming days catching up on all the other sets that have been rocking my world of late. enjoy these ones for now...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

dis.connect mix

you may have noticed that i haven't been posting much recently (then again maybe not, since pete and cam have been doing just fine keeping the ssgs sizzling). to be honest, i have been going through an incredibly difficult transitional phase in my life. one result has been is that i have had very little time, energy or motivation to write here. one of my reactions, however, has been to turn to some of the most important records in my collection. these have provided comfort and solace in a way. listening to these inspired me to put them together in a mix (well, a mix tape is probably the more accurate description). the mix below is the result. each track i have included is one that has great significance and emotional resonance for me. when some people stupidly say that electronic music is devoid of emotion, i immediately think of these records as compelling proof against such a position. each of these compositions is dripping with emotional content. and in many ways i think the lack of words actually enhaces their power, as these records are able to convey feelings and emotions that words cannot always do justice to.

based on my current circumstances, i didn't have most of my music collection at my disposal, but i was able to include all the tracks that were absolutely essential to the mix i wanted to compose. the mix was done through ableton, which was hardly ideal because (a) i don't think it is very good for mixing and (b) i don't really know how to use it beyond the basics. but i didn't have any other options, so ableton it was. i have kept all the records at their original speed and pretty much play them out. so while the mixing itself is essentially glorified crossfading, a lot of time and thought has gone into the selection of tracks to be included and the order they were placed in. this is the first time i have done something like this, so it may have been successful, or it may not have been. i'll leave you to judge. regardless, these tracks are all intensely personal for me and in this sense, as taban hayes says when describing his modyfier mix, 'you are listening to me'. the artwork i have chosen for this mix is a painting i love by my favourite artist - 'despair' by edvard munch. despite its title, i have never found it quite so bleak. pensive and melancholic yes, but perhaps not as total as a title like 'despair' might suggest. anyway, here is the mix with an annotated tracklisting.

chris - dis.connect mix, november 2008

jeff mills - 'violet (21 counts)': this is from his little known album, 'from the 21st'. when it first came out, i was obsessed with jeff and spent a lot of time and energy getting this from japan. the album showed a more experimental and introspective side of mills than i had previously seen, and i liked it. this track may seem somewhat unremarkable, but it has always really appealed to me.

pan sonic - 'liuos': i remember reading a long time ago that one of the guys from pan sonic has a lot of trouble listening to their productions because it feels they are so intensely emotional. for some that may sound like a strange statement given what harsh and cold sounds they often use, but it completely makes sense when listening to this. it is hard for me to properly convey in words how deeply this track resonates with me; ah, i can't describe it, so i'll stop now.

vladislav delay - 'untitled': my very good friend dave introduced me to vlad. when he gave me this album on tape or cd - i cant remember - there wasn't enough space to fit the whole album on, so this track got chopped because it only lasted about 1:30 minutes and that was all the space we needed to fit the rest on. later when i got the full album, i realised how big a mistake this earlier decision had been. this is vlad at his evocative best: the short interlude creates a powerful sense of longing and loss. like much of his work, the real beauty of this track lies in the sense of fragility and incomplete-ness.

vladislav delay - 'kotilainen': another favourite track from my favourite producer. while i have never tried smack, for me this kind of sounds like the musical equivalent of being on heroin. 'kotilainen' has a real distorted, fucked up sense of beauty to it. it kind of feels like everything is falling apart, but in an incredibly beautiful and serene way.

plastikman - 'consumed': this may seem like an odd choice to follow up vlad. it probably is. i spent a lot of time working out what to do about this track because i had to include it, i just didn't quite know how. this is where i ended up placing it (which unfortunately meant me removing a track i love by the much under-sung you dee). if you've read the labyrinth post, you may recall 'consumed' means a lot to me. often i would listen to this very late at night driving home from work. it suited the mood well. as with most of plastikman's best work, it has a dark, pensive, and introspective feel to it. and like many of the tracks in this mix, i have a strong visual association with 'consumed'. i always think of the title sequence to one of my favourite movies, 'vertigo': it has that feel of infinitely spiralling down and down, deeper and deeper...

speedy j - 'patterns (remix)': this was on an old nova mute compilation i used to have, and i played it a lot. but i moved on, the cd got buried away and this track with it. suddenly a few weeks ago i had an overwhelming urge to hear it again. i dont know why exactly. nonetheless, i felt i had to listen to it again and that it must be the centrepiece of the mix i was slowly composing in my head. it is an incredibly powerful and violent record, but in a strange way i also find it very uplifting. i have always associated it with a huge thunder storm, which eventually disappears leaving behind clear skies and sun. i should say, the levels are off in the original and i decided not to tamper with them, so just a warning that parts of this are a bit louder than the rest of the mix.

speedy j - 'tuning in': this is the lead in track before the original version of 'patterns' on speedy j's excellent album 'public energy no. 1'. i have always considered this part of patterns and normally play the two together, so it was hard for me to exclude this (also it worked as a suitable transition). it does a good job of creating the strange sense of calm that comes at the end of 'patterns'. i am not quite happy with the way i mixed in or out of this, but so be it.

aphex twin - 'cliffs': i remember dave gave me a cd where he had compiled the two discs of SAW2 into one disc of all the best bits and stuff i’d like. he gave it to me at a time when i was suffering from a lot of bad headaches and migraines. i would often put the cd on and listen to it in the dark. there are a number of tracks i could have easily taken from SAW2 to include in this mix, but i ended up with this one. i am not sure why exactly – it has a certain poignancy, well, i am not sure if that is the right word, but it is a very delicate track and also very soothing.

donnacha costello - 'dry retch': i bought his first album as soon it came out. i didn’t really know who he was, but at that time I would buy pretty much anything force inc would release. i liked it a lot. but his 2nd album, which this is from, i held off buying for a while. why? because the picture had donnacha with a guitar. yep, that’s the reason. i was worried it was going to be him rocking it out on his acoustic guitar. eventually cam and i became friends, and he had a copy, which is when i found out there were no guitars on it (phew!). the whole album really is spectacular, and i fear that many people who only know donnacha through the 'colour' series may overlook this classic. on an amazing album, 'dry retch' remains the clear stand out. like pretty much everything included in this mix, this is another track i find incredibly beautiful, albeit in a slightly sad, incomplete way. i was very tempted to follow this up with an exert from the 2nd volume of william basinski's powerful 'the disintegration loops', but eventually decided that 'dry retch' was a fitting way to conclude the mix.

ok, sorry this has turned into a rather long and personal post. this was something i wanted to share with you all. take from it what you will.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Take this Mule for a ride

For the last few months I’ve been particularly enjoying Terre Thaemlitz’s full-length debut under his DJ Sprinkles moniker, Midtown 120 Blues, released on the Japanese label Mule Musiq. It’s an exquisite album of lush deep house, underscored by a note of melancholy, as Thaemlitz directly addresses the current revival/reappropriation of the deep house sound and the decontextualizing/eraser-like nature of this revival. (Scroll down to the bottom of the album page I linked to above to see Terre’s thoughts on the matter. They’re well worth reading.) However, it’d be unfair of me to rave any more about the album at this point – although it was released here in Japan in August, the rest of the world won’t get to hear it until January 26, 2009. Expect to hear more from me about the album closer to the date. (PC adds: you *can* however purchase the album and anything else from Terre's back catalog immediately, via his website. Here's the link directly to the ordering page)

What I can talk about right now though is the Mule label, which over the last few years has become a label well worth keeping an eye on. Based in Tokyo, Mule has been releasing music since the end of 2004 across three branches: Mule Musiq, Mule Electronic, and Endless Flight. Home to a stable of excellent local acts such as Kuniyuki/Koss, Dublee, and Code E, and attracting international names such as Lawrence, Thomas Fehlmann, DJ Koze, and Theo Parrish, Mule’s releases move across a number of sounds, including deep house, dub, ambient, and the more melodic end of minimal techno. The label also serves as the main point of contact in Japan for Kompakt and its affiliates, with Mule often bringing over Michael Mayer, Tobias Thomas, Lawrence, and Koze for its club events.

There have been some real gems released on Mule, so I’d like to shine a light on a few of them for you. In 2006 the label proved itself quite prescient in regards to the current deep house revival by releasing ‘You? Again?’, a compilation of ten Terre Thaemlitz tracks originally released on his Comatonse label in the late 1990s and early 2000s that were out of print and extremely hard to find (some of the original EPs were limited to only 100 copies outside of Japan). It’s the Mule release I find myself reaching for the most – deep house that’s lush, warm, and comforting with traces of sadness and some seriously good grooves. As well as making this music available to a wider audience, ‘You? Again?’ brought renewed attention to Thaemlitz, a producer who’s been doing fascinating stuff since the early 1990s (check here for an excellent in-depth interview fellow ssg Pete did with Terre). I’d also urge listeners to check out the ‘Terre’s Neu Wuss Fusion/She’s Hard’ remixes EP, featuring a gorgeous 12-minute ambient remix by Thaemlitz on the A-side, and an absolutely kicking remix by Max Mohr on the B-side.

Lawrence fans are strongly advised to pick up last year’s ‘Lowlights From The Past And Future’ CD, along with the ‘Friday’s Child’ and ‘Rabbit Tube’ EPs. The Lowlights CD is a collection of some of Lawrence’s vinyl-only highlights along with a few unreleased tracks, including ‘Spark’ (from the 2004 EP of the same name on Ghostly), ‘Further’ and ‘Lowlights From The Past’ (from the Mule ‘Lowlights’ EP), and his amazing remix of Superpitcher’s ‘Happiness’ (which, quite frankly, was the best thing to come out of the whole ‘Here Comes Love’ debacle, but the less said about that the better). This is classic Lawrence – gorgeous, gentle, and romantic.

Optimo’s incredibly eclectic yet coherent DJ sets have always gone over well with myself and the rest of the mmnl ssg crew – listening to these guys is always something of a musical education, as they trace connections between tracks and sounds I would never have previously considered. Of their mix CDs ‘Walkabout’ (on the Endless Flight sub-label) is one of their best, kicking off with the proto-techno of Throbbing Gristle and some early experiments from Pan Sonic and Wolfgang Voigt’s Grungerman project before moving into some brain-melting minimal from Thomas Brinkmann, Shane Berry, and Marc Houle, while taking detours through New York legends Suicide and the drone-metal of Japanese band Boris. As is to be expected from Optimo it’s quite a walkabout indeed, and one well worth taking.

As I mentioned earlier Mule is home to a number of excellent Japanese acts, such as Code E and Dublee. My personal pick of the litter, however, is the prolific Kuniyuki Takahashi, who records under the names Kuniyuki, Koss, and (with pianist Saiko Tsukamoto) Saikoss, moving easily between ambient, deep house (with a touch of jazz), and minimal sounds. Not long ago Pete said some very positive things about the Koss album ’Four Worlds Converge As One’, praise which I’ll echo here – for ambient fans it’s strongly recommended, particularly the opening 29-minute track. Those who enjoy their ambience with a classical touch should check out ’Kossaiko’, with Takahashi adding electronic treatments, washes, and the occasional downtempo beat to Saiko Tsukamoto’s introspective piano pieces – perfect home listening material right now as the Northern Hemisphere heads into winter. (Anybody who wants to check out Takahashi’s diverse sound palette right now can stream a live set from his website recorded earlier this year, or download it from here.)

As well as the upcoming international release of the DJ Sprinkles album (finally!), the next few months will see several remixes of Minilogue’s IMPS project, featuring the talents of Jan Jelinek, Isolee, and Move D, and the release of a mix CD from Stefan Goldmann, which Philip Sherburne recently described as “the most satisfying mix CD I’ve heard this year.” So if you haven’t already, Mule is most definitely a label you should consider taking for a ride.

You can check out quite a few Mule tracks over at their Myspace pages, here and here. Mule has also released a few retrospectives (such as this one and this one), which are pretty good entry points for those new to the label.