Thursday, April 30, 2009

mnml ssgs mx26: ancient methods

i think perhaps the best introduction to ancient methods, comes care of hardwax:

third method - mindblowing extreme funky industrial techno with drone atmosphere - TIP!
second method: ultra heavy & industrial / noisy atmospheric techno killer cuts - TIP!

you get the idea? if i hear hardwax say 'TIP!', i pay attention, so when i saw these records on the weekly mailout i began investigating and soon discovered their description is very accurate...

ancient methods consists of 2 guys based in berlin. there has been a bit of mystery surrounding them, but from what i can see basically for them it is all about the music and this is their priority, rather than creating an anti-brand through anonymity. so far they have put out 3 eps on their on label, each generating a lot of buzz, and rightly so. beyond the fact they are some of the most beautiful slices of vinyl i've ever seen (check this pic of AM02), these records are some seriously heavy gear fusing industrial and techno sounds. think some of the old downwards stuff and you'll start getting an idea. powerful, distinctive, uncompromising techno at its very best. so it should be pretty clear by why i approached ancient methods for a mix...

boomkat's description of ancient methods' music perfectly sums up what you can expect from their mnml ssgs mix: 'pitch black techno war funk'. just a warning. this mix is pretty fucking destructive. be prepared... for me this is techno at its very best - raw and powerful, without sacrificing quality or care.

mnml ssgs mx26: ancient methods presents 'fashion is not a part of it'

much respect to the ancient methods boys both for this mix and what they are doing. you can find more info about them at their myspace. later in the year we can expect the 4th method, as well as a split ep on RSB. and if you happen to be in the UK on 27 june, i would strongly suggest heading to leeds where they are playing at detatched.

ok, now go find yourself a dark room and a strobe light, it is time for some fucking techno.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

bleep bleep!

new dozzy set. get excited! in the leadup to the donato dozzy's debut in london on 12 june, the always excellent bleep43 has a downbeat mix from the professor:

bleep43 podcast 134 - donato dozzy

to be honest, i've been sitting on this mix for a while and i am very, very happy it is seeing the light of day. i can confidently say that this is one of the most heavily played mixes of 2009 for me. it has kept me company during many late nights in the office. he really pitches the BPMs down on this - really heady, trippy stuff...

i'm going to be heading over to london for the weekend for this party. looking forward to seeing dozzy again. and well, omar s, i guess that is just a very nice sweetner! i am presuming quite a few ssgs will be attendance so i'll see you all there.

taste test

mike dehnert has been putting out some quality techno over the last few years on his own fachwerk label. and well you know us, we like our techno... so i asked mike to do a ssg mx, and he agreed to try to put something together in the coming months for all of us. in the meantime, he kindly provided this little to treat to get us in the mood:

mike dehnert - short live act cut, berlin (april 2009)

just a warning so you don't get too excited, it is short. but. but it also happens to be really good. consider it a nice taste test for his ssg mx, which should hopefully come at some stage over the european summer...

Monday, April 27, 2009

dream stream

rarely has procrastination been as productive as it was yesterday. i hit on a couple of amazing sets which i haven't seen elsewhere. one slight problem. they. all. are. streaming. grrrrrrr. i hate streaming! and i completely lack the ability to work out what the original audio source is, or how to rip it in a way so it still sounds decent. anyway, here they are. if anyone can work out how to rip any/all of them, can they please do so and upload them onto a filesharing site and post it in the comments or email it to us? EDIT - links added. thanks ssgs.

donnacha costello livepa @ private party, berlin 1-2009

a brand new livepa from donnacha composed completely of new and recent material. 'holy crap' i hear you say. yes. holy crap. the oldest track on this is 'black bag job' and the transition he does to this from 'trust' is very nice... most of the set is made up of material from the first two releases on his new label, look long. quite a few tracks of the 2nd ep - which sound a bit weak on their own - work much better in the mix. simply put, this is totally awesome. please, please can someone get a mp3 version of this for me/us?

direct or rapidshare

tobias. livepa @ clapper, tokyo 11-2008

i came across this while trying to find a place where i could purchase a mp3 copy of tobias' new track, 'clapper', which i am big fan of. while unsuccessful in that regard, i did chance upon this recording. it doesn't include 'clapper' unfortunately, but plenty of other gems. there is also a liveset here from 2007 (which has already done the rounds) and a podcast mix (which i don't think has).

clapper (rapidshare) and island (direct)

ben klock: knister knaster radio mix

not sure what to say about this despite the obvious: it is a new set from klock. and of course, it rocks. klock is a very tight, reliable DJ. always know what you are getting with him. and that is seriously quality techno.

direct ostgut radio

continuing on with the berghainers, over at there are new/recent mixes from the gang: dettmann, fengler, steffi, tama sumo and tobias. need i say more?

there you go: heaps of awesome music you can't put on your ipod/phone/mp3player/etc. can someone please, please get a mp3 version of donnacha? it is soooooooooooooo good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

bits to pieces

ok, back from j-land and currently dealing with a nasty dose of reality... first of all, thanks to everyone who has contributed to pete's last post. i have found the whole discussion very interesting and worthwhile.

who can find me (i can now)

if you have a look to the right, you'll now notice there is a search function for the blog. our dear friend, yuri, who has more net skills than the 3 of us combined, added the function, so much thanks to her. now you can happily search for all the old ssgs you want.

tokyo adventures pt 2

after don williams really dropped the ball, i was relying on soundstream to set things right. an essential part of any visit to tokyo is a good night out at a club and this was my 2nd, and last, chance before departing. the night started off well as we arrived to a local dj, dasha, warming things up very nicely. hadn't heard of him before, and what i saw i liked. he finished with the new tobias. track, 'clapper', which i am a big fan of. sounded fantastic on a big sound system. so we were starting to get pumped up and in the mood. then the next local dj, salmon, came on. that is a picture of him on the left. and yes, he was wearing that mask when dj'ing. not exactly redshape... unsurprisingly, he was a complete vibe killer and managed to not play one decent track during his whole set. not exactly the perfect lead in to soundstream. but once salmon and his stupid ass mask left the stage, the good-ness began flowing again. soundstream knocked out a very nice 90 minute livepa of, as expected, cut up disco treats. the high level of repetition in his sound gets a bit tiring on the ears after a while, but on the whole it was a really enjoyable set. and finishing up with 'for disco play only' made me very happy. to close out the night was gonno, who i was quite interested in seeing (a) because of his name and (b) donnacha costello did a really nice remix of a track of late last year. and as it turned out, he played a great final set. very appropriate to close out things. so all in all, a fun night out. not happy that i am missing fumiya by a couple of days, though...

ssg mxs

for all the tracklist hungry readers, here are the records that XDB played in mnml ssg mx25:

part 1
1. Jitterbug "Raw Winter ep" Uzuri 006
2. MXM "Disloc8ted Science ep" AmpArt 001
3. Kenny Larkin "Keys Strings & Tambourines" Planet E
4. Re-Composed "Movement8 C2 rmx" Deutsche Grammophon
5. Levon Vincent "Invisible Bitchslap" Deconstruct 001
6. I-Robots "Laws ep Part2" Opilec Music 002
7. Risksoundsystem "Tsiy Kerry Chandler Inst." Kerry 001
8. Sasha Dive "Basic Collective pt.2" Deep Vibes 003
9. Wbeeza "New Skank ep" Third Ear 100
10. Chez Damier "Untitled" KMS 49
11. Pullen/Damier "Forever Monna" Balance 06
11. The Answer "John" Rockin House 08
12. Jitterbug "Raw Winter ep" Uzuri 006
13. Arto Mwambe "Mudhutma" Brontosaurus 004

part 2
14. Soul Capsule "Las Ramblas" Trelik 13
15. Unknown Artist "Music Institute 20th Anniversary 1/3" NDATL
16. Aril Brikha "Art Of Vengance ep" Fragile 13
17. Aril Brikha "Art Of Vengeance ep" Fragile 13
18. Jesper Dahlb├Ąck "The Persuader" Svek 11
19. Sons Of The Dragon "SOTD" SOTD 01/02
20. Robert Hood "Omega" Peacefrog 043
21. Johannes Volk "Internal Structure ep" Lifeworld 02
22. Unknown Artist "Primitive Urges 01" Primitive 01
23. Techno Grooves "Mach 4" Stealth 1191
24. R.A.Presents "Entangled" Deviate 007
25. JS 01 "JS 01" JS 01
26. Convextion "Venus In Spurs" Tektite 10
27. Aftrax "Extended Play" Nova Mute 31
28 .Levon Vincent "Six Figures ep" Novel Sound 02
29. DPLAY "Huub Sand" Running Back 018
30. Plein Soleil "Casus Belli" PlayRJC 02

the mixes have been coming pretty fast lately, so now is a good time to go back and enjoy them all again. i've got the natural/electronic.system one on as i write up this post... the next mix in the series will probably be from ancient methods. this is one we are very excited about. if you haven't heard anything from them yet, i strongly suggest checking their myspace and start joining us in a state of excitement. i have a feeling they will come up with something special. all their releases so far are seriously heavy gear... besides that, we've got some other excellent people lined up, so more good sounds on the way.

'cast crazy

i must admit one trend i have been somewhat sceptical of is the explosion of podcasts this year. there seems to be a new 'cast starting every week. i have been hesitant to say anything about it, because it'll seem like i am just being pissy and defensive. but i get the feeling having a podcast is just increasingly something you should do. what is the point, though, of having a dedicated podcast if what are being contributed are just standard mixes? there are, however, some really good 'casts out there with a specific theme/purpose. i think LWE's talking shopcast is an excellent example in this regard. anyway, this is all a very long way of highlighting 2 new podcast series which have impressed me. first up is the new timecast series from peter van hoesen's time to express. the opening mix is from eavesdropper and it really is a beauty. a very carefully composed hour of quality electronic music. definitely get on it. the other new podcast is care of mutek, and is just ridiculously strong. digging into their archive of live recordings, they've already posted 14 episodes from people like vladislav delay, closer musik and lawrence. while the write-ups are somewhat over the top (the one for lawrence is pretty ridiculous), there is no doubting the quality of the music. i think we are all very lucky the mutek crew are kind enough to share these treats with us.

ok, that's all for now. now that life will be a touch more normal, hoping to be posting more regularly. will make sure to post some new sets sometime soon too...

Monday, April 20, 2009

GFC A-Ok? We need a new house notion...? [Unplugging 'dance music' with a big douche called Bankrupt]

You might have noticed that SSGs has changed in the past few months, with a heavier emphasis on live sets and less editorializing, ranting and wanking on about various micro obsessions. ‘Good!’ I hear you say. Ahem… well, we’ve all been ridiculously busy, it’s true, but for me personally, another key factor has been my own disengagement from that understanding of electronic music known as ‘dance music’. I’ll explain.

My initial transition into electronic music came by way of electronica, especially Sonig, Warp and Sub Rosa. But by 1999 or so, when I was a first year undergraduate, it was all about the parties and the drugs: I had discovered drum’n’bass, acid techno and minimal techno, and I would head out into the night with a head full of kick drums at least once a week. It was a fix, one I enjoyed, one that connected me to the music in a viscerally embodied way. In those days, I didn’t trainspot, I just danced my anonymous dance to the anonymous beat, often being laid down by an anonymous DJ (I really mean it. I’m not sure even she knew who she was at times). Coming out of rock (noise/indie/post) it was the largest of liberations finally I was freed from the musically masturbatory cult of personality that I saw on stage accompanying almost every singer/songwriter/guitar-based musical group. A side-effect of rave culture had been the invention of a completely new and different way of relating to music, and I was young, full of the devil, and loved it.

Five years on and not only going out to listen to music, but also studying and choosing the event with the utmost care (the lineup, the venues, the soundsystem) had become integral: provoked by Tokyo, my standards had gone through the roof, and I came to demand and expect what the Eastern Capital could provide – world-class talent playing to dedicated crowds in great clubs with outstanding sound systems. I got spoilt.

Europe was a partial disappointment: Fabric was (is) an overcrowded shithole full of coked up muthafuckers; Rex is a sleazy hangover from the seventies where talent and a great system are wasted on a daggy dancefloor full of out-of-towners and Erasmus students on the pull; Berghain was fine, but everything in Berlin seemed intimately tied to getting very, very, very, very wasted for a long time…. even though it was often almost impossible to score pills. Very frustrating.

In all these places, something was ‘missing’. Or, to put it another way, the precise problem was that ‘the proper way of listening to dance music’ in the Euro understanding was intimately tied to binge culture, to hedonism, to getting wasted. Escape was inescapable, even (especially) in Berlin, where I thought a significant minority would be there for the music. And sure, a minority were… but they were wasted too. But the majority? They were only there for the drugs. Hell, I was there for the drugs too, and I still enjoyed the ‘party’ aspect of it… but the music bit had seemed to fade into the background, replaced by a scene that was driven by visual/fashion cultures – haircut techno. Was it me? Was I just getting old and crotchety? Was I sentimentally romanticizing the past, or just painfully shedding it, only to discover that the present was too cool to touch without shivering. Whatever the reasons, it was impossible for me to capture either the dance connoisseur/auteur/otaku culture I’d enjoyed in Tokyo, or the anonymous rave oblivion of the 90s. I could try if I wanted to, but once the drugs wore off, I’d remember where I was, and it wasn’t ‘then’ anymore. Worse, it was like the ‘Eels’ song from the third season of the Mighty Boosh:

‘Elements of the past, and elements of the future, combining to make something – not quite as good as either.’

Returning to Melbourne accelerated the Eels experience by a factor of five… I could certainly enjoy going out to get wasted (which I still did, but not as much, and not as often), but it was getting nigh on impossible to get back… and slowly (with the preternatural onset of middle age) my urge to go out was beginning to be met with an urge not to go out. That my Melbourne friends were overwhelmingly uninterested in staying out past three and doing drugs with a bunch of mostly cliquey, dull, unfriendly clubbers in second rate clubs might have had something to do with it… I found the whole malarkey actively alienating, and I’m convinced that ‘it’s not just me’. Even factoring in the fact that I’m spoilt, picky, snobby and over-the-hill, something has changed, and not for the better. ‘Electronic dance music’ (that particular way of relating to and understanding electronic music) had dug itself with a groove into a rut of no return. It was stuck on loop in the late 90s, with the same signifiers, the same venues, the same stale ideas about ‘the proper way of listening to dance music’: added to that was all the ‘neo’ stuff, a horrible hodge-podge of new rave and surf wear, the perfect outfit for another weekend’s worth of corporate raving and outer suburban glowstick waving, jagerbombs, methed-up bouncers, and Trentemoller. It's true there are still some good parties, some good DJs, some good events... but fewer and farther between, and overwhelmed by what has become a particularly nasty culture of hedonistic consumerism based on being glossy and getting fucked and bombed on drugs designed to reinforce ego.

And now there's just such a massive disjuncture, because production community has moved on: these days Martyn and Flying Lotus have no problem meeting and collaborating; Seth Troxler begins to snap at the heels of Ricardo Villalobos… and listeners are listening, too: even died-in-the-wool Pitchfork listeners at least try to ‘get’ Skull Disco; Mount Kimbie listens to DJ Koze, Koze plays Mount Kimbie and Animal Collective… but where the fuck is your local clubland? At 10:15 on a Saturday night, it’s waiting for its baggy to arrive is what (purchased on cash advance). And you have to have pretty strong powers of repression and denial not to see the chains of equivalence between this moribund and morbid culture of sniffing, snorting, and strutting about and its enormous toll on the earth itself, whether it’s the ridiculous number of air miles the DJ jetset culture uselessly ‘racks up’, or the current drug wars (and associated instabilities) taking place in Colombia, Mexico, in Jamaica, in West Africa. Meanwhile, back here in la la land, behind the walls, the sad old beast still has a few sniffs left in her.

To wit: 'dance music' always involved drugs, and fashion and fuckwits, no question. But at some point, a music culture that took a lot of interest in drugs became a corporatised drug-taking culture that took some interest in the brands of certain 'names' in 'dance music'. In retrospect, I think it will be associated with the worst excesses of the pre-bust era. With this in mind, I suggest keeping some happy snaps lying around to show to your grandchildren. You can say, 'beware children, for it can all go so terribly, horribly wrong.' Or, more directly: 'the planet was destroyed for this.' We can leave it up to them to decide whether it was worth it.

I have a very strong (and slightly tingling) feeling that the current economic contractions will squeeze a lot of this tired old detritus out, and as far as 90% of them is concerned, this is something I heartily welcome. Hopefully a whole parochial industry lousy with VIP laminates, redundant ideas and third-rate cocaine will get washed out into the Bay… but what’s gonna take its place? Who gives a fuck, actually. But no, as a matter of fact, I have a feeling that something good, something young, something rooted in its locality but with an ear to the world of now will grow up in its place. No doubt it will be quickly modulated, managed, and subordinated to a profitable and marketable imitation of former/same, but in the meantime, something good might happen. Something interested in what, I trust and know, all you ssgs are interested in: music.

...or please tell me that 'business as usual' is okay, and I'm just a jaded wanker... what say you?


Monday, April 13, 2009

mnml ssgs mx25: XDB

it is just under a year since we started off this series with bvdub, and now we've just cracked 25. crazy. and what better way to hit the quarter of a century mark than with XDB. 

XDB has quietly been making a name from himself with a string of impressive releases, primarily on his own label, metrolux music. along with producers like patrice scott and arne weinberg, he is pushing a sound that is clearly influenced by detroit but not trapped by that legacy. with eps scheduled on his own label and wavetec (run by francois k), remixes of aaron carl's 'crucified' on millions of moments, as well as tracks on forthcoming sistrum and workshop releases, XDB is definitely someone to be keeping an eye on over the next year. 

cam and i connected up with XDB at the labyrinth festival last year in japan. it was the opening night that he played (from memory), and he put together a deep set that really impressed us. over the weekend we had a chance to chat quite a bit and what i really noticed - beyond him being a nice guy - is his musical knowledge. i like to think that i know a fair bit when it comes to techno and house, but i felt like i complete amateur next to kosta (XDB). this guy really knows his shit. which definitely bodes well when it comes to DJ'ing...

by the time labyrinth had finished i knew he'd be perfect for the ssg series and i'm really glad he has been able to contribute. it is a live recording from a set he played recently and i think it is a good representation of his sound - a carefully blended mix of the old and the new, detroit and beyond. 

mnml ssgs mx25: XDB @ fundbureau, hamburg 13.3.09

big thanks to XDB for this. you can find more info at his myspace. and if you happen to be in or near manchester on 25 april, there is a metrolux music label night with XDB and arne weinberg that'd definitely be worth checking. it is put on by erosion, who look like one of the crews in manchester that are putting on some seriously quality parties.

ok, not sure when the next ssg mix is, so enjoy this one for now...

Friday, April 10, 2009

back in the J

sorry for the radio silence. been a ridiculous week or so. finished my phd thesis which i've spent the last 4 years of my life on, so this means a bit more time for other things, including the ssgs, so expect some more posts from me soon. this blog has been a really good outlet for stress and support a lot of the time, so thanks to everyone that has contributed along the way.

anyway, ssg headquarters is now firmly in tokyo. here on a short holiday to see my fellow ssg cam and the other delights of j-land. unfortunately, though, i managed to pick the 2 weekends when there arent many good parties on. last friday we went to catch don williams at module. after his recent set, which was excellent, i had high hopes, but in the end, we were all pretty disappointed. he started off really strong, but after about 30 minutes of cool jacking house, he got formulaic and lost us. i felt like part of it was the fact he was laptop DJ'ing. all the mixes were just a bit too nicely beatmatched. i am not sure exactly what it was, but i had a very similar reaction when i saw konrad black play a while back too. anyway, the don started with 'rise' by phuture, which i dont think i'd ever heard about before, so i'll cut him some slack. this friday will give soundstream a go, so fingers crossed he is a bit better...

in other news, glad everyone has been digging the kevin gorman mix. i've had it on repeat since first getting it. seriously special stuff. i'll be posting the next mix, which is from XDB, later day when i work out how to tag files on macs. hmm. as you may have noticed, we know much more about techno than we do about computers...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

mnml ssgs mx24: kevin gorman - elements

it is days like today that i feel very fortunate and happy with how mnml ssgs has developed. after a string of killer contributions to the series, kevin gorman then drops this bomb in my inbox. kevin is someone that has been on the ssg radar for a while, both because of his productions and DJ'ing. after listening to this mix, though, i am not sure if there is much point separating the two, as what kevin is effectively doing is disolving the border between producer and DJ. what he has provided is a stunning showcase of his new 'elements' project. 'elements' consists of 4 monthly releases on his mikrowave label - part 1 is out, part 2 hits beatport on 9 april - where all the parts of the music are released alongside the original tracks, along with bonus beats and tools. as kevin explains, 'it is music released as i would want to buy it, loads of things to tweak and layer in ableton live.'

as we all know, there has been an ongoing and rather tiresome debate about vinyl vs digitial DJ'ing. what kevin demonstrates here is a point that pete continually emphasises - it is not software or hardware that really matters, but how it is used. before the advent of ableton we had more than our fair share of shitty vinyl DJs. we still do, only now they are joined by shitty laptop DJs too. but if used carefully, and one does not get seduced by technological fetischism, DJ'ing digitally opens up great space for tremendous creativity and innovation. i think this is what kevin demonstrates with great clarity and virtuosity here.

as for the mix itself: what has attracted me to kevin's DJ'ing is it always has a really sense of dynanism and power. his sounds always have real life, energy and vigor. in the mix kevin has put together for the ssgs you can find these same feelings, but in a very restrained, precise manner. i think the best words i can use to describe this mix come from surgeon's label: dynamic tension. it reminds me a bit of marcel fengler's contribution in the way he expertly keeps control over the tempo and structure: continually building and releasing pressure (the last 10 minutes is particularly mindbending - i can imagine a lot of people suffering from meltdowns hearing this).

the mix is composed almost exclusively of tracks from kevin gorman's 'elements' series, so not too much point hiding the tracklist for this one (if you can't see the picture clearly enough, click here)

mnml ssgs mx24: kevin gorman - elements mix (direct dl)

respect to kevin both for this mix and for seeking to push techno's boundaries. if you want to find out more about the 'elements' project, check his myspace and the site for his label, mikrowave. also, at beatportal there is an interesting writeup about 'elements', and it is also considered here at a cool new blog, 'the oblique angle'.

ok. enjoy. next week is a special live DJ set from XDB (metrolux music).