Friday, August 29, 2008

mnml ssgs mx09: peter van hoesen

ok, back with another ssgcast and what a beauty we have, this time from a ssg favourite, peter van hoesen. a while ago i posted about some impressive mixes by peter (or 'the hose' as i incorrectly dubbed him). after that we knew he'd be perfect for a ssgmix and luckily he agreed. again, the results are something special. rather than try to describe the mix, i'll just give you peter's description of what he tried to do with it:

"the idea behind the mix was to combine tracks i normally don't play out with a few classics and some new tunes. as the mnmlssgs mixes offer a chance to do something different i wanted to have the mix evolve - not only from start to finish, but also along the way. so it is not your usual calm beginning and pounding end, but more like a constant oscillation between dancefloor-friendly tunes and less known tracks such as dynamo, the baby ford one and a made up sound. and then there's a snippet from one of my all-time favourite experimental electronic albums, document 2, released by the australian dorobo label. to top it off i included two of my latest tracks: it is the first time i send these in to the world. no beats, only textures."

as the description suggests, peter is a producer, as well as an excellent dj. his new label 'time to express' is definitely worth keeping an eye on, with the last release including remixes from fellow ssgcaster norman nodge and shurbs. next up is the 'casual care' ep, which has a pretty serious remix from samuli kemppi (which you can hear it at samuli's myspace). more info about peter can be found at the 'time to express' site (including links to some dj sets and livepa). and if you are lucky enough to be going to labyrinth, you can catch peter doing his thing there, otherwise he is also playing what looks to be an excellent party, nyckelpigaa, in brussels.

enough talking! here is the mix and the tracklisting. thanks to peter for doing this and much respect for a fantastic mix.

peter van hoesen mnml ssgs mix (fairtilizer direct dl)
megaupload mirror

Ryoji Ikeda - Zone 3 - Dorobo
Oval - Lens-Flared Capital - Thrill Jockey
69 - Sub Seducer - R&S
Isolee - Lost / Forever Lost by The Glimmers - Playhouse
Kassem Mosse - Untitled - Workshop
Dynamo - Voraus - DIN
Claro Intelecto - Momento - Modern Love
Blake Baxter - Brother's Gonna Work It Out - Logic
T++ - Space Pong - Erosion
Function - Burn - Sandwell District
Redshape - Plonk - Present
Slam - Positive Eduction - Soma
Melody Boy 2000 - Monotone Fantastique - Futuro Advertising Agency
Mike Dehnert - Take Me To - Fachwerk
Baby Ford & The i-Fach Collective - Word for Word - Klang Elektronik
A Made Up Sound - Sleepwalk - Soloaction
Substance - Relish / Shed remix - Scion Versions
Silent Servant - Doom Deferred - Sandwell District
Underground Resistance - Transition - UR
Peter Van Hoesen - New Station Intro - unreleased
Peter Van Hoesen - lto_mess Widespace version - unreleased

you'll have to wait and see who is next up in the ssgmx series, but here's a hint - peter plays a record by this producer...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Beach house, Playhouse, Klang! (bandwidth, bit-depth)

Every few weeks my lady and I escape the confines of unit and routine and head for the beach.

One of the best things about being away is having a circumstance-imposed break from email, broadband, and ‘keeping up’ with what’s happening.

Another thing that it forces me to do is listen to purchased CDs: the old CD player down there takes exception to CD-Rs, apparently, and won’t play them.

So I went over a few things, some of which are still amazing, some of which have lost a touch of glitter with the passing of years.

Here are a few that I was listening to:

Eight Miles High – Katalog: I don’t know why this collection isn’t more esteemed… or so I think to myself, then I listen through from start to finish and remember. It’s bitsy, doesn’t flow well as a collection, and has a few duds on it. Having said that, the best material here is just astonishingly beautiful. Roman Flügel’s is some of the most inspired and skilful sound design in the business – factor in some on-song writing, and you get some of the most astonishing pieces of chamber electronica written in the past decade. At the same time, there’s a weird earnestness to this record, as evinced by the stupid cover… to my eyes it reads like a piss-take, but… I think it’s actually for real. It represents the whole thing as an ‘important’ collection by a ‘serious artist’… the hard fringe, the black skivvy, the curator’s spectacle frames. But who cares when you’re listening to ‘Pure Beauty’, ‘Reflexed’ or ‘Told’?

Isolée - Rest: a lot of words have been written about this album. What can I offer except something like ‘Rest is so good that no hyperbole would be possible’. No, but seriously, this album is just so beautiful, and so thoroughly unlike anything else. Rajko manages to coax the most improbable sounds out of his machines. They’re interesting as sounds, they’re great as productions, but they’re also really amazing compositions. The disc is gold – it’s like they knew exactly the value of what they’re putting out.

Farben – Textar: I love all these EPs so much… but it just doesn’t work on CD. I don’t know why – it doesn’t flow, or something. Still, get it, chuck it on your file player, and when shuffle brings one of these splendid tracks out of the ether, you’ll be able to say ‘Holy fuck, what the hell is this shit’ and really mean it. It’s a shame Jan Jelinek stopped exploring house grooves… not for him, of course, but for us.

Losoul – Belong: ‘I don’t get why people like this album’, I say to myself, then I keep listening. The last few tracks are really good, but I dunno… something’s always missing here. I want to like it, but my ears say otherwise.

All these collections came out in the first half of the 2000s... many of them contain tracks from the late 90s. Some of them were the reasons I saw the beauty of the groove in the first place. Others appear completely different to the way they were (in my mind and to my ears) when I first heard them. The landscape has changed and, it seems, Playhouse and Klang are no longer on the ball creatively. I wonder what happened.

Having ample time to digest these records (the space of years) made me think about informational culture, and the demands it places on us, not only as listeners, but also as filters, hacks... perhaps even (oh ho) critics.

In the quick Q&A conducted for his RA podcast, Gerd Janson said something I thought was interesting, true, and applied to me to some extent.

You also do some music journalism on the side. Ever change your mind about a record review after turning it in?

Every time. Either I decide that I actually hate the record or that I should have hated it.

Apropos Jansens' point: I think I really disagree with what I was saying in the Devo post about 2008 - I actually think there have been some superbly creative albums released this year... next post I'll talk about some of them. But now I just wanna indulge myself... so stop reading if you can't be bothered engaging with my scattered speculations... I've got this growing archive of frantic notes, and I'm determined to get some of them out there, lest they languish on my hard drive.

I wrote this note to myself the other day:

Stories of judgement are murder as media; received as messages, contemplated in haste (and in a general state of distraction) the presentation of ‘the facts’ can yield no representation of pathos, no time for judgement, and no space for silence.

Of course, things change in your estimation, and us media proles are forced to make evaluations with incomplete information in conditions of haste. In a positive sense, you could say that the network provides the possibility of playfully retrieving fragments and recombining them in our own ‘mix’, which is fundamentally important for the repossession of understanding from information. Ad-hoc, rolling evaluation enables us to re-embed fragments of information into a personal space which can also become a new means of imaginative expression - the joy of blogging. Information becomes the raw material, the junk (not garbage) out of which new relations of understanding are potentially formed. The nimble tapdance of keys on a keyboard is emblematic, not of melodies, but of relaying moments into the non-purposive movement of information flows. As the creative re-possession of information it presents participants with a means without end, a non-purposive, non-linear affective relationship that contains the immanent possibility of relatively free association, of co-operation without restraint.

...either that, or, there's no time to judge anymore, no horizon for judgement.

Many people want soundbites... and they also want soundbites that just reinforce the opinions they already have – it's just a discourse of confirmation.

But who am I to judge?

Maybe the web, blogs, sites and so forth are inhospitable to bit-depth: maybe they can only accomodate bandwidth.

But what effects is this having on our ability to engage deeply with the fine grain of things? To listen carefully: to the music, and each other?

Friday, August 22, 2008

altered states

care of hardwax, i just discovered that ron trent's 'altered states' has joined the list of stone cold classics to be remastered and reissued this year. i am not a dj, nor do i collect vinyl, but if i fell into either (or more likely both) of those categories chances are i'd already have a copy of this record. if not, i'd be ordering one from hardwax right now. 'altered states' is pure perfection. one of those rare records that evokes a certain feeling and emotion which reminds you of the true power and beauty of this music we love. this is a timeless record, everytime i hear it i get completely lost, and it still sounds just as amazing as the first time it knocked me off my feet. with any luck, hopefully this reissue results in it being played a bit more. if i were a dj, this is one record that would never leave my crate. much respect to ron trent. 'altered states' is what this music is all about. i know i am preaching to the converted here anyway, but if by chance you haven't heard it, or want to hear it again, here it is:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

lost in the labyrinth.

[rant start]

sorry, time for some venting. i am in the process of relocating from australia to take up a job in the UK. originally i was supposed to be leaving end of this month and stopping over in japan for wire08 before arriving in the UK. then my work permit got delayed, but that was ok, because it then looked like it would time perfectly so i could hit japan for the labyrinth festival (someone please tell me how RA didn't include this in their best festivals in september?). then i submitted my work visa application and i was told it would take 30 working days and not the advertised 20. great. and they took my passport. no labyrinth for chris. what does that mean? check below to see the lineup i am missing. keep in mind this is an outdoor party in the hills of japan. and with a funktion one sound system. i hate the world so much right now. but specifically the british home office. if someone can give me a good explanation for why i need to apply for a work permit and then a work visa, i am all ears... (i started applying for this in the middle of june and i won't get the bloody visa until the end of september). if i ever make it to the UK, i am going to be arriving with a very, very bad taste in my mouth (i should add that i will be based in wales, so it is not like i am going to have access to lots of parties in london or manchester either). ok, here is the lineup. if you are anywhere near japan, you should be booking yourself a ticket to labyrinth.

Substance & Vainqueur present Scion Versions [ chain reaction / scion versions: germany ]
Deepchord presents Echospace [ modern love / echospace : usa ]
Convextion [ down low / matrix : usa ]
Substance [ chain reaction / scion versions: germany ]
Pier Bucci [ crosstown rebels : chile ]
Move D [ smallville / modern love / binemusic / source records: germany ]
Pendle Coven [ modern love : uk ]
Peter van Hoesen [ time to express / lan muzic : belgium ]

Three [ hallucination / crosstown rebels : usa ]
Donato Dozzy [ dozzy records / persona / electronnica romana : italy ]
Mathias Kaden [ vakant / freude am tanzen : germany ]
Lee Burridge [ 365 / tyrant / global underground : uk ]
Dave Mothersole [ swag records / mos : uk ]
Ben Annand [ moontribe / tropical house : usa ]
Mike Parker [ dozzy records / orange groove / geophone: usa ]
Raudive aka Oliver Ho [ klang electronic / drumcode / meta : uk ]
MLZ [ pendle coven / modern love : uk ]
XDB [ metrolux / sistrum / deep space : germany ]
Move D [ smallville / modern love / binemusic / source records : germany ]
Peter van Hoesen [ time to express / lan muzic : belgium ]
So [ labyrinth / tri-bute : japan ]
Echospace [ modern love / echospace : usa ]
Hiyoshi [ dakini / global chillage : japan ]

more info here. it is fantastic to see that there are promoters putting on special parties like this. it would be even more fantastic if i was actually able to go.

[rant over]

Notes from a tram seat

Hello hello,

A strange thing happened to me the other day. I was on a tram coming back from the city when I looked across at the seat opposite me. No, not a pretty lady clasping a Villalobos record, not even a person. Just a few scraps of mangy looking paper.

I reached over to look at the notes – scrawled in unbelievably bad handwriting on paper that looked like it had been scrumpled up, then flattened - and there it was, a whole bunch of...thoughts, I guess. Or maybe some things jotted down from a conversation – the tone seems to indicate that.

I have no idea where these scraps came from or whose they are, but I figured that if I didn't rescue them, they'd be lost. If they're yours, please let us know. For everyone else? Enjoy!

I don’t think any of the technological developments have altered what’s fundamental about DJing.

Digital DJing is fine, as long as the files being used aren’t mp3s. If you use WAVs at 16 or even 24 bit, then obviously the sound is going to be great, provided you have good D/A converters and you use the mixer properly.

But you’re adding in so many new factors and so much complexity, and you get a lot of inexperienced DJs not using the tools properly. And a lot of this goes on through a bad Pioneer mixer through a dodgy sound system – and then once you factor in the high possibility of digital distortion at any point in such a long signal chain, your chance of getting good sound quality, of hearing music that’s actually pleasant to listen to for a number of hours, well, it’s just about nil.

And if you’re playing to people who’ve paid to see you, then you should absolutely make sure that your sound is spot on.

The possibilities are exciting, because all the boundaries between production, DJing and musical performance are being blurred. But there’s also the possibility of a lot of fiddling, and not leaving the record alone, just letting the record play.

On top of that, the digital technology allows you to get a new record on really quickly, so you have DJs introducing a new record every thirty seconds, just because they can. Or playing records that don’t actually fit together, but the technology means that you can fit them together. So you have people playing long mixes that would otherwise be out of key, out of time and with the swing of the beats mismatched.

The technology is getting cheaper, which makes it more democratic – anyone can participate, and that’s great for giving people opportunities, but at the same time, there’s just so much bad music. Twenty years ago, it stayed in people’s bedrooms or made it on to a few cassettes. Now, it’s out there for all the world to hear.

I’d really rather people practice a bit more before letting themselves loose on the world – just ‘cos you’re contributing to the amount of rubbish that’s out there.

As a DJ, you’ve got to learn your records inside out. If you go through and slowly, thoroughly learn each piece inside out, you’ll have a really strong foundation to build on.

If you have one box, and it doesn’t do very much, you’ll learn it all inside out.
And in this way, limitation will also make you more inventive, just because you have to be decisive and ruthless. When you had a ten second sampling time, you had ten seconds to make something engaging.

But at the same time, I don’t want to be one of those moaning middle-aged men telling you it’s not as good as it used to be – nothing is (or ever was) how it used to be, and I welcome innovation.

It’s so important that people hear the music the way it was intended, otherwise it doesn’t communicate. And if you want to do anything that’s subtle on a large scale, you need a properly powerful, body-shaking and clear soundsystem.

I really want people to hear the records as they’re intended.

A lot of DJs just ‘turn it up’

Either it’s set up with so many limiters and so much protection that it doesn’t let the system breathe, just to stop some young DJ turning all the gains up and blowing the speakers.

Clubs should employ a sound engineer, or at least somebody to look after these things.

But when the system is breathing and there’s no limiters and no compression, and you’ve got everything EQd properly, the difference it makes is enormous.

I don’t mind hard music, but there’s got to be some space in there, and it’s got to move me in some way, stuff which is just too full-on, or too compressed and loud, it just does my head in – and it will make people leave the venue early.

It’s also important to feed people different kinds of textures and frequencies at different times of the night.

The psychology of clubbing, dancing and how people behave in a nightclub environment, that’s all really fascinating. That’s why I love to play for the whole night, so you can really see that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

all aboard!

a while ago fellow ssg pete started telling the rest of us (and anyone else who would listen) about how good this new guy on modern love, andy stott, was. it took me a while to get on board, but since then i've been happily sailing with HMAS stott (hmm perhaps taking the 'on board' analogy a bit too far). the quality and depth of his output, especially given that he is a relative newcomer, is seriously impressive. what really grabs me about stott's productions is that they have a gravity, a certain weight to them, which give all his records a very distinctive and powerful feel. his sound manages to convey something quite unique and special. and now for the good news. a livepa of his has just been released. this is the first live recording of his i've come across, the only other one being the RA podcast with claro. having just finished listening to it, this has confirmed my impression that stott is definitely one of the best producers going about at the moment. and considering that at moments this recording struggles to deal with the bass (or that could be my soundcard), i am sure his livepa would sound amazing live. the recording is from the excellent club transmediale festival, held every february (i think) in berlin and definitely worth checking if you are about - good, forward thinking people and program. this is from a livestream over at they've got a couple of other gems from transmediale up including a full livepa from prosumer and murat tepeli. will try and get an mp3 version of that soon too. in the meantime, get on board and enjoy some of the stott!

andy stott @ club transmediale 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who's afraid of... (The Dreaded Minimal)?

Hello SSG fanciers,

I've written a review of the new 'Watergate' mix by Onur Özer here

...when people talk about 'the dreaded minimal', or in Matias Aguayo's case, sing about it, maybe this is what they're talking about. What say you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Music criticism ... via checklist

Ambient music sadly doesn't get a lot of attention in the press. Perhaps because it's not as sexy or glamorous as other forms of music. Perhaps the genre succeeded too well at soundtracking our lives, blending so well into the background that we've forgotten it's there (Satie would be so proud). But I spend a lot of time listening to this kind of music, so I'm always happy whenever I see an article talking about the sound, such as Fact Magazine's recent "20 best: ambient records ever made" article.

But reading through this list of "best" ambient records quickly left me feeling frustrated and annoyed. There's a distinct feeling of going through a checklist here, ticking off albums because they are "important" (a word used several times through the article) or because they represent a particular sub-genre of ambient.

Brian Eno? Check (several times). The Orb? Check. The KLF? Check. Aphex? Check. GAS? Check. Ash Ra Tempel? Check. Kraftwerk? Check. Dub ambient? Check. Dark ambient? Check. Field recordings? Check. Chill out room ambience? Check. (Hey, we're already over halfway to 20!)

It's all here, the artists and sub-genres that you would expect to see name-checked. (Well, okay, I raised an eyebrow at Kraftwerk.) But does it necessarily follow that because these artists and sub-genres are "important", the albums chosen are actually the very best of the ambient genre? Or have they been chosen because the collective wisdom dictates that these are the albums that "should" be chosen?

The omissions are, quite frankly, glaring. What about 'Together Is The New Alone' by Donnacha Costello? Or 'Anima' by Vladislav Delay? But there's no room for these guys when you're filling up the checklist and paying homage to the masters. (At least Vlad gets a mention, in relation to Pole. And while we're at it, why 'Pole 3' instead of 'Pole 1'?)

On top of this, the descriptions of the albums that have been chosen sometimes suggest only a cursory understanding. Eno's 'Ambient 1: Music For Airports' is described as owing something in sound to Arvo Pärt. While there is a touch of classical minimalism to Eno's ambient work, it's a far cry in sound from Pärt's sacred minimalism. Meanwhile, 'Pop,' the final GAS album, is described as, "Post-Basic Channel with tracks that sound like sheets of muted industrial texture." This is completely off-base, with the album sounding neither "industrial" nor "post-Basic Channel."

'Music For Airports' and 'Pop' are indeed both brilliant, and fully deserve to be on a list of "best ambient records ever made." But the descriptions suggest that the writer hasn't fully grasped the albums, and is listing them because everyone else says they're masterpieces and "should" be listed.

And this is what frustrates and annoys me about the article. I have no idea if the writer truly believes these are the 20 "best" ambient records ever made or not. ("Significant" or "important" ambient records? Perhaps, but that isn't what the article claims to be about.) The feeling of a checklist combined with some utterly off-target descriptions calls the whole piece into question.

This style of music criticism sits very uneasily with me. What's the point if all you're doing is just passing on the collective wisdom?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

two more from/for the floor.

despite even writing a list of the sets i planned to post yesterday, i still managed to forget two. and i would hate to keep them from you, so here they are:

first, when sent this new label mix for wolf + lamb, i also discovered a new recording of seth troxler and ryan crosson spinning at club de visionaire. haven't heard the the label mix yet, so cant comment on it (tracklist is here), but on first listen the seth and ryan tag set is lovely, refreshing stuff.

second, another huge recording from a night at harry klein, this time consisting of margaret dygas, the mole and dj ppf. i was happy to come across this as i'm a huge fan of ms dygas. think she has managed to carve out a very distinctive sound. i have made my way through most of it and plenty of quality records throughout. i don't know who is playing when, but it doesn't really matter in this case. as it is a big recording, it is split into three parts: 1, 2, 3.

that's all for now.

Monday, August 11, 2008

watch out! it's another set-up.

ok, before we get to some of the music i've been listening to over the last week, here are two sets which were promised:

1. one of our readers, alex from germany, kindly sent the ssgs this undated set from prosumer @ panorama bar. nice...

2. pete mentioned this recording of sven weisemann in london doing his thing back in may. the mixing is sometimes a bit rough and ready, but very hard to fault his track selection. and ultimately that's a lot of what counts when it comes to dj'ing...

now, here are some other goodies:

- recently i posted a set of guido schneider, which i am still really digging. i found another one and it is also quality. minimal with funk. something many try, but most fail miserably at.
guido schneider @ welcome to the future 8.2.08

- much like guido, half hawaii also produce some really, really dry stuff. a bit too dry for my tastes. but not for many others. anyway, this new livepa of half hawaii at watergate may be of interest to you peeps. it is undoubtedly good, but not quite my thing.

- one mix i have been listening to a lot lately is the latest LWE podcast by newcomer leonid. head over to LWE for the mix and tracklisting. this is strongly recommended. well composed.

- last up is a fantastic mix from samuli kemppi. what is really interesting about this is the way he combines the berghain sounds with the deep hypnotic ones of dozzy/parker etc. these records are most definitely compatible, but i hadn't really heard them put together before. kemppi - both as a dj and a producer - is most definitely one to keep an eye on. i think he is really coming into his own and fully discovering his sound.

Samuli Kemppi Beat Boutique Mix

1. Dash Rush - Ashteblift - Full Panda
2. Function - Reykjavik - Sandwell District
3. Samuli Kemppi - Komentomoduuli - Pakkas Levyt
4. Mike Parker - Hiss - Dozzy Records
5. Function - Disaffected - Sandwell District
6. Mike Parker - untitled (Inversions vol 3) - Geophone
7. D. Dozzy & Nuel - untitled - Aquaplano
8. Norman - Balance - Synewave
9. tobias. - Balance - Ostgut Tonträger
10. Peter Van Hoesen - Trusted (Norman Nodge reconstruction) - Time to Express
11. Alex Cortex - Reticarga pt 3 - Klang Elektronik
12. Taron-Trekka - Secret Findler (Marcel Dettmann remix) - brut!
13. Peter Van Hoesen - L.O.C. - LAN
14. Function - Burn - Sandwell District

enjoy. more soon.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Re-Release Hysteris

Last week I went to see DEVO. It was fun. They were good. I was surrounded by middle aged men wearing 'sensible IT project manager' clothes and the signature three-tiered plastic hat that the band has conceived, promoted and has successfully marketed to its loyal fans. Savvy bunch, Devo.

Devo themselves were as they had always been: mixing the off-kilter with sharp riffs and pointed social commentary, all fed back through a highly developed sense of the ridiculous. This is, after all, a group whose key concept is de-evolution.

Devo didn't end up playing 'We're Through Being Cool', but they needn't have. What was abundantly obvious from their 08 presentation of their 80s material is that they know that their creativity has passed them by, and so, with the 'nothing to prove' comfort of AC DC or Iron Maiden, they belted out classic after classic. The paunches didn't matter - neither the bands nor the audience's - everyone knew the tunes, everyone had a dance, everyone had a gee whiz bang good time.

As electronic music approaches middle age, I can't help but think that a similar thing has happened. Some of the evidence is amorphous and subjective: DJs have always been disproportionately fat and bald... now increasing numbers of their audience are too. iTunes and Traktor aren't the only reason that 'everyone's a DJ' now. And note also the unwholesome insistence on high-fidelity and acoustics in the building of new clubs (I confess this is an annoying bugbear of mine). Soon, people will be demanding floor-side box seats: 'I just don't have the stamina to actually dance anymore.' Like I said, these things are subjective. They might be happening, but then again, it might also be me - my observations just the condensed reflection of my own paranoia, paunch, and absurd insistence on correct speaker placement.

But then there's the actual, material evidence of the shift. To wit: has anyone else noticed the number of high-profile re-mastered re-releases that have appeared in the past few months?

X102, Gas, Basic Channel, Pole, Monolake, the Aphex Twin and Vladislav Delay (Anima) – all these artists are re-issuing re-mastered editions of their works, often with the added incentive (for cashed-up middle-aged people) of boxed sets and extensive sleeve notes.

I remember my dad buying boxed sets of his favourites (Lou Reed, Bob Marley, Tim Buckley, Robert Johnson) in the early 90s. Part of the attraction then, no doubt, was the consolidation of cumbersome, fragile vinyl LPs onto a new format that promised ease-of-use and much greater fidelity. And the fact that, for the most part, the anthologised artists were dead. In 2008, this alone is hardly sufficient, especially when you consider that these were already beautifully recorded CDs when they were released, in the digital era, ten or more years ago. Oh, and the fact that none of the artists are dead. So why is it happening? I tend to think there are a number of factors driving it, but chief among them might be the following:

1) moribund electronica - electronic music, especially groove-based electronic music, appears short on ideas in 08. There was a time in the 90s when I couldn't even describe what I was hearing. When I first heard albums like Tri Repetae, Niun Niggung and the Richard D. James album, it was like... fuck, it was like hearing music from space. What's happened? Well, I got old, of course. But in another sense, there are only so many combinations you can run through before you've exhausted all the possible permutations. To some extent, this is about accepting the limitations of a given formula. The continual reproduction of such formulas might also indicate that the audience has become more conservative, and craves familiarity, golden greats, and 'the good old days'. But this also links to

2) the emergence of the 90s as 'the past' – yes, not one, but several heydays are way, way behind us now. Even post-millenial musical tropes like punk-funk, electroclash, mash-up appear to be from 'there and then' now, with B-more, Baile funk, dubstep and bassline chasing them toward the curvature of the horizon. What kind of horizon? Oblivion, re-release, the past - it's hard to say. The other month, my sister considered having a 90s retro party, and this is only recently something that has become not only thinkable, but appealing as a form of nostalgic remembrance. But maybe it's all to do with

3) what people are willing to buy – the logic of the 'essential purchase'. There are just so many fucking releases vying for the attentions of a shrinking market. If it's average or ephemeral, you just download it, right? 'Cos what's the point of investing in something that will be redundant in a week? But if it's a stone cold classic, something you think you'll be listening to for years... no doubt the producers of such 'classics' realise this on some level. And hey, we all need to eat.

I know that this has also profoundly affected the kinds of records I mail order these days. I've become conservative. I usually sit on an mp3 for a few months before I decide to translate it into a record I own. And it's not like I can go down the local record shop and browse any more - they're all gone. And looking at the records I've bought over the past six months or so, this means that, on the one hand, everything I buy is a fantastic record. I waste less money buying fewer duds, and this is better for the environment and will (hopefully) force labels to lift their game... but maybe not. How many of your favourite records were bought on the off chance? How many of your most cherished records were found by digging, through a process of selection that was exploratory and risky?

People are into electronic music for different reasons. Some like it 'cos they like groove. For others, it's the expression of some kind of weird techno-evangelism: a fetish for 'advancement' and the technology that (re)produces it. Others are part of a social scene. Some people like to party, take drugs, get wasted. But then there are those who like it because it's exploratory – full of possibilities. For those whose interests tend toward experimentation, possibility, and openness to something new, weird and different... what does it mean that we're more interested in buying boxed sets of records from ten, even fifteen years ago, rather than new music (which most people just download, let's be honest)?

A lot of people are happy that the whole dark minimal thing played itself out – people were always jumping out of their skin to disavow minimal, tell you how boring it was, how glad they are it's all over. But for what? Maybe, to throw the current doxa on its head, groove-based electronic music lost its last form of exploratory music with minimal – groups of people who were saying, willy-nilly, how far can we push this, how much can our minds an bodies handle before we crash, or just get bored? Often times the results were, indeed, very boring. But the ideas that lay behind it were committed to exploring possibilities. And now, the same audiences who disavowed it have willingly condemned themselves to the quasi-infinite recapitulation of old forms and golden greats from previous decades. Hey, at least it's 'funky' and 'soulful', right?

Of course, there are some false choices being presented here. We can buy boxed sets and new releases. We can pursue exploratory music and enjoy getting wasted and listening to Oslo. But is this a pattern you tend to see? Are these habits you see people cultivating, markets that you see being generated, scenes you see blosssoming? In fact, if I could characterie 2008, I would say never has there been so much potential, and never has it been so under-realised.

In another sense, potential and possibilities are all about unfulfilled promises. And it's not like there ever was a golden age. But at the same time, the fact that we are awash in re-releases is both a symptom of staleness and an enormous possibility for people to see that for what it might be... and sell merchandise. Either that, or get the fuck out of our comfort zones and engage in some destructive creativity. Time for some errorism. Time for something completely different.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

back to basics

since i was first introduced to the sounds of basic channel and the related projects surrounding it, i don't think there is any sound that has influenced me more greatly. and despite a tendency of mine to use and abuse music, where i am always looking for a new hit, the creations of moritz von oswald, mark ernestus and their close collaborators are ones that i never stop returning to. i know i am hardly alone in this regard. their music is truly timeless. its breadth, depth and general goodness never cease to amaze me.

something i've often struggled with is the most basic issue of defining what exactly the music i listen to is. what is techno? for me, the best i have managed is that it is more of an ethos, or an aesthetic, than something strictly definable. i am highly sceptical of definitions in general, and especially ones that serve to limit and exclude. where does this relate to basic channel? well, i guess for me they have always been - and remain - perhaps the purest, and best representation of what techno is to me. their music really embodies the very essence of those indefinables that lead me to listen to these sounds day after day, after day...

this is all a very long prelude to a special treat that has just appeared. a rare live recording of the mighty moritz. here is a recent live workout with regular collaborator tikiman (keep track for how many times he uses the word 'massive'. it is a truly massive amount).

mortiz von oswald with tikiman @ shanti, moscow 11.04.08

respect to the basic channel massive. massive respect.

ssg mixes

ok, it looks like one or two of the links for previous ssg mixes have expired, so i've up'd them all through fairtilizer now. here they are, in case you've missed any:

ssgmx01: bvdub
ssgmx02: norman nodge
ssgmx03: benjamin fehr
ssgmx04: shed
ssgmx05: luke hess
ssgmx06: mike parker
ssgmx07: jackmate
ssgmx08: jasper tx

also, we really don't know what to do with our podcast. if we have more than 1 mix a month we burn our limit as the one we are using at the moment only gives us about 25gb a month. really, what we really need double that, or a bit more - maybe 50 or 60gb a month. i know there are other podcasting services, but for that kind of traffic you need to pay a monthly fee, and at this stage we don't want to introduce any advertising to the blog to cover such costs. if any one has any suggestions, please leave a comment or email us at:

we are not sure who the next ssgmx will be from - we've got a couple in the pipeline. will just have to wait and see what comes through...