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.