Tuesday, May 26, 2009

return mix

back from a fantastic night out in manchester with the erosion boys, marcel fengler and the seldom felt crew. i have some thoughts coming out of all that, which i plan to write about soon. for now i just wanted to share with you this mix i put together last weekend. if you've heard either of the other two mixes i've posted online before, you'll have a fair idea of what to expect: deep, emotive techno sounds focused on the heart and mind, rather than the feet. an important differences, though, is that i have developed a much better sense of how ableton works now, so this mix is a lot cleaner in terms of both mixing and sound quality. this mix occupies a roughly similar location on the sound seascape (i think sound seascape is actually more accurate as a crappy analogy than sound landscape), but i think the feeling is definitely lighter - no doubt a reflection of my slowly changing mood. the picture accompanying it is one i took the other week on the coast of wales. while at first it may look a bit bleak, i find it uplifting. i am happy and proud of this picture, and the mix too. i'll put the tracklist in the comments section so it is your choice if/when you have a look at what the mix is composed of. all records are left at original speed and the mixing is basically just laying, but that is all that is necessary for my purposes.

chris - return mix (55 min, 320kbps)

from my techno heart to yours.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Here come di hotstepper [word 'em up]

Ah, the 90s.... thank God that's over!

To me, 2009 has been the year where dubstep has fulfilled a lot of its promise. As you can read here in my Scuba feature, it feels like we're no longer dealing with the 'angry boy music' a la Casio of the grime era.... not only that, but a lot of the producers are now taking on a lot of what was interesting about the earlier 2-step/garage patterns... Ramadanman's Humber (and the Sven Weisemann flip) even have shades of Force Tracks, to my ear.

Here come di Philip Sherburne with a mix that, for me, perfectly pitches all these influences into a 90 minute curveball.... this is such a great mix, a perfect episode for what is shaping up to be a great series by the Hose and Yves de May.

Get on it here

Also, I'm hardly sure I need to tell you about Scuba... for any of you who missed it, here's the mix he did for XLR8R. Keen SSGs also take note that we may be seeing more from Mr P Rose on this URL soon...(not just 'cos he looks a bit like Chris) but 'nuff on that for now, here's that most musical of diving apparatii, in the mix. The closing tracks are fucking slamming, every time I hear 'em I bump the stereo and ruin my relationship with my neighbours (again).

Dive, Dive!

Last, but certainly not least, another fantastic mix, this time from Untold (Jack Dunning), whose latest EP (which appears on Sherbs' mix) is one of the freshest and most exciting to have been released this year... not even sure *what* you call Untold's music. It's far too original to be genrework.... this fella is making genres. And this mix is also dope.

You've been told

Okay, back to the hokey 90s clips... ...more proof of the fertility of Jamaican rhythms, I guess...


Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Darling Buds of May – 2009 So Far

Can you believe that the year is already over a third done? It feels like only a few weeks ago we were just getting 2009 underway. An even more frightening thought – in about six weeks from now we’ll be standing at the year’s halfway mark. So before those darling buds of May get beaten down by the summer sun, and too much more of the year slides away from me, I thought this would be a good time to cast an eye over what’s come out this year so far, and pick out a few releases that have really struck a chord with me.

It’s a little strange for me to think of DJ Sprinkles’ ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ as a 2009 release – it dropped internationally in January, but I picked it up in a Tokyo record store in August last year as Mule often releases its records in Japan quite a few months before the rest of the world. I can’t help but feel it was a mistake of Mule to hold off the international release in the case of this album – in many ways ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ can be read as a direct response from Terre Thaemlitz on the deep house revival of 2007/2008, and a 2008 release would have made the international appearance of the album extremely timely. (I saw Thaemlitz perform a live set of much of this material in April of 2008, so it’s clear that he’d been crafting his response to the deep house revival for a while.)

Of course, the timing of the release doesn’t change the quality of the album a jot – and the quality is very high indeed. Thaemlitz serves up well over an hour of beautifully lush deep house (almost entirely instrumental, I might add – the only vocals are a handful of monologues and looped vocal samples), shot through with twinges of melancholy and sadness. If you care to read more of my ravings about this album you can read a review I did, but to save you time I’ll repeat here the final paragraph of that review:

‘Midtown 120 Blues’ is an incredibly deep album – not just in terms of the “deepness” of the house on offer, but emotionally and intellectually so, as Thaemlitz maps out the sound in a deeply personal way. A meditation on the “meaning” of house, a critique of the recent deep house revival, an exploration of one man’s personal relationship with the sound – ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ is all of these things, not to mention being some of the best deep house you’ll hear in a very long time.

Without a doubt, this is absolutely one of my favourite albums of the (this? last?) year, and one that I hope won’t be forgotten by the year’s end.

(By the by, long-time ssg readers are probably no doubt well aware of our fondness for Terre Thaemlitz. However, those who are either new to the blog or Thaemlitz may want to check out a lengthy interview fellow ssg Pete did with Thaemlitz back in March of 2008 that is both revealing and a great read. Pete also recently did a review
of ‘Dead Stock Archive’, for those interested in acquiring absolutely everything Thaemlitz has ever done.)

Another January release that I hope won’t be forgotten come December (well, late October, ‘cos that’s when everyone puts together their “best of” lists) is Intrusion’s ‘The Seduction of Silence’. I get the feeling that Stephen Hitchell’s contributions to Echospace are often overlooked – with Rod Modell having such a strong hand in Echospace’s sound signature, it’s easy to think of Hitchell as “the other guy” (particularly if you’re not familiar with his solo work as Soultek). ‘The Seduction of Silence’ puts paid to this, with Hitchell crafting over an hour of extremely warm and mellow dub-techno with a hint of reggae. It’s a soothing, enveloping album that I find incredibly calming – yet there’s a lively pulse here too that keeps the album grounded and earthy, instead of drifting off into the coldness of deep space. When the album ends I find myself feeling not only calmed, but also positive.

(It’s also nice to see that Hitchell gives Japan’s 2008 Labyrinth festival a shout-out with the track “A Night To Remember”. Also, I see in the intro text for Hitchell’s Intrusion podcast over at RA that he’s working on an interpretive album of material by Brock Van Wey – better known to us as ssg favourite Bvdub. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing that.)

The amazing run the Raster-Noton label had last year continues into 2009 with Alva Noto’s ‘Xerrox Vol. 2’ Reading the blurb for Carsten Nicolai’s second Xerrox outing over at the label website is interesting, as it claims that ‘Xerrox Vol. 2’ is an exploration of the New World while Vol. 1 referenced the Old World “with its tradition deeply rooted in classical music” – yet I find the music on Vol. 2 is far more orchestrated and symphonic than Vol. 1, with clearly discernable strings on quite a few of the tracks. In fact, I’ve never heard Nicolai be more, dare I say, musical. But none of this should be read as criticism – it’s a very exciting direction for Nicolai to take, and the results are fantastic. The three central tracks that form the album’s emotional core (“Xerrox Sora”, “Xerrox Monophaser 1” and “Xerrox Monophaser 2”) are some of the best things I’ve ever heard from Nicolai – “Monophaser 1” in particular is astoundingly beautiful with its delicate strings accompanied by a distant rumbling that summons up images of cracking arctic ice.

That said, there are still signature Alva Noto moments of bracing white noise; “Xerrox Meta Phaser”, the album’s fourth track which is the really the climax of a single piece in four movements, builds in power and intensity before falling away into silence. These moments of power combined with moments of delicate beauty make listening to ‘Xerrox Vol. 2’ an experience that is involving, emotional, and rewarding.

(By the way, I haven’t gotten around to hearing the other major releases on Raster-Noton this year so far by Atom TM, Pixel, and SND, but I haven’t heard a bad word said about any of them.)

I lost faith with Kompakt’s Pop Ambient series a few years ago – since I discovered the series with the exceptional ‘Pop Ambient 2002’ (which introduced me to Donnacha Costello’s ‘Together Is The New Alone’) I bought each instalment every year without fail, but eventually I found the Pop Ambient sound becoming tired. Artists stuck a little too closely to the formula, and the results came closer and closer to aural wallpaper. ‘Pop Ambient 2009’ however, is a rather striking return to form – it’s clear that the formula has been shaken up a little here, with the inclusion of some new non-Kompakt artists (The Fun Years, Sylvain Chauveau, Tim Hecker), and the resident Kompakt artists introducing a slight edge to their contributions, making proceedings a little bit darker than usual. Special note needs to be made of Sebastian Meissner in his Klimek guise – he’s at the top of his game here, turning in the highlights of a very strong compilation; “The Godfather (For William Basinski & Snoop Dogg)” is 10 minutes of chilly choral ambience that hovers very close to a lot of dark ambient stuff I used to listen to. I’m really looking forward to the Klimek full-length that Meissner has said is coming out this year. Great stuff, and highly recommended (and furthermore, the vinyl version comes bundled with a free copy of the CD version – in my local record store for exactly the same price as the CD version alone!).

I’m actually surprising myself a little here by not putting the new Junior Boys album ‘Begone Dull Care’ in this list. I thought ‘Last Exit’ was great, and I practically obsessed over ‘So This Is Goodbye’, so I’m slightly shocked to find that I’m not clicking with the new album, despite giving it quite a few listens. I suspect this is a case of, “it’s not you, it’s me”, because I know a lot of people out there really love ‘Begone Dull Care’. Actually, perhaps the reason I’m not clicking with it is revealed in the title – the touch of melancholy and heartbreak that inhabited the first two albums is largely absent here (begone!), and perhaps that misty-eyed aesthetic is what endeared me to the Junior Boys.

Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list of the best stuff that’s come out this year (thus far). There’s heaps of stuff that I literally just haven’t gotten around to listening to – there are CDs that have been sitting on my desk for weeks that I haven’t even taken out of the plastic yet. (I’m really looking forward to giving these proper listens sometime soon, with stuff from Tim Hecker, Mokira, Pan American, The Sight Below, Hildur Gudnadottir, Jacaszek, and William Basinski) You’ve also no doubt noticed that I’ve only been talking about full-length albums here – there’s been so much great stuff coming out this year that I haven’t even been able to keep track of EPs and remixes. (That said, I think Donnacha Costello’s ‘The Only Way To Win Is Not To Play The Game’ and Ancient Methods’ ‘Third Method’ are both amazing.)

So, how about all you ssgs out there? What’s really grabbed you this year? Let us know about your favourite full-length, or EP, or track/remix in the comments section.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

bits to pieces

picture this

there are two new visual blogs i have started following recently. first up is surgeon's 'back in the grinder', where he takes random pics of different people, places and things from his travels. there is something kind of intimate i like about it. second is from the sandwell district boys, who have started a blog 'where next?' of 'influences, information, disinformation and photos/videos of sandwell gigs'. all very interesting (the pic on the left is an example).

mixed up

it has been a while since i've posted some sets. time to change that. here are some of my recent favourites:

petar dundov @ air 4.4.09: this took place a few days before i arrived in tokyo. i am seriously pissed i missed it. a really beautifully crafted 2 hours of techno.

DEMF 2008: a couple of very special recordings from the festival last year. DBX live speaks for itself. as does deepchord live. a rare recording of a dj set from zip is further evidence of why he is one of the best, and most under-rated djs about, while this is one of the best sets from cassy i've heard in a while. there are other recordings from DEMF floating about but these are the creme, from what i've heard so far.

byetone @ mutek: if you aren't keeping up with the mutek 'casts, this is one that is worth grabbing. recorded back in 2000 but still sounds super fresh - evidence of how far ahead of the game the raster-noton guys have been.

dave siska - grey sky cracks: from the lovely 'sonic sunsets' page. the mix starts with fokewulf's totally awesome 'body heat' then just sets sail from there. the mix has a great sense of coherence in the feel of the records - 'retro-future analog visions' is the description they give for the mix. whatever. just give it a run (enjoying it as i type this).

peter van hoesen - ensoniq.fm mix: the hose knows. that simple. deadly stuff.

move d @ frei 8.5.09: great find by adriaan. regardless of move d's productions, one thing i have noticed is that his dj'ing has improved out of sight over the last year. the track selection has always been there, now the mixing is tighter. a lovely mix from d.

giorgio gigli - electronique 'cast: around the same time i was organising giorgio to do a ssg mix for us, this appeared and made me very glad he has agreed to do one for us too. this is a stunning mix - deep, timeless sounds.

manchester manchester

now that i am a bit more of a free man i am looking at getting out to some more parties, and manchester has some beauties coming up. planning to go see marcel fengler and seldom felt play on the 23rd at the next erosion party. very excited to see ssg mixer fengler in the act, and keen to see what the unknown seldom felt guys are like (their records are top notch). also hoping i can make it the following week on the 29th to the faktion party with female and andy stott - both have been on my 'to see' list for a long time... with crews and events like these, i dont think i will be bothering with london much anytime soon!

ok, that is all from me. have a good weekend ssgs..

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dysconnect, April 2009: Deterritorialising Piles [as files]

~ a reprint of my monthly column from Inpress ~
Flashback five years: it’s April 2004, and I’m standing outside Cisco Techno in Shibuya (RIP), trying to send an email on my phone while juggling an unwieldy shoulder bag, an umbrella, and another record bag heavy with my latest EP purchases – if I recall, it was the lion’s share of the early Musik Krause back-catalog, and one or two EPs by James Din A4. My bag was unwieldy because of what it contained: I was toting my recently bought G4 Powerbook and a USB hard drive, which I’d been invited to bring over to my friend’s place in order to ‘get some music’.

And boy did he give me some: in one night, he transferred nearly 100 GB of music from the collection stored on his USB hard drive. I watched, gobsmacked, while album after album of classic music transferred in seconds between my spanking new super smooth laptop and his even more frighteningly powerful watercooled G5 Power Mac. When I made to leave, my hard drive was so hot I could barely touch it – and yet it weighed a little less than the seven or so vinyl EPs I was also about to carry home on the train with me. In hindsight, it was a pivotal moment for me – but what was truly pivotal was that I was only one of tens of millions of people all around the world who were starting to do just the same thing.

In April 2009, sharing entire music collections in this way is a commonplace. Ironically, the vintage of my G4 Powerbook – still lumbering on as I write this like some desk-living Chevrolet in Havana – means it doesn’t support unpowered USB drives, a periodic problem when interstate friends arrive toting card-size drives and demanding their 'rightful copy' of the collection.

…which I’ve become a bit ‘thing’ about giving over, actually. ‘Cos there’s an icky aftertaste that follows the initial exhilaration of acquiring music in this way, and it affects you even if you don’t taste it. Let’s be clear, I like the sharing bit: music’s becoming common certainly de-commodifies and de-fetishises what was once the purview of the febrile trainspotter, whose manic passions for dusty crates of records, combined with her equally peculiar passion for particular artists, produced a collection that was idiosyncratic, irreducible, flammable, dust-gathering, cumbersome, and almost impossible to ‘share’.

But the ickiness sets in when you give things away without their due, without filtration, to be anonymously filed on some stupid magneto-optical device (that gets ‘all hot’ when you load it), unloved, unnoticed, un-curated. Despite (and indeed because of) all that quantity, it’s actually a very shitty way to ‘get’ music: podcasts, radio, playlists, mixtapes – much better, for the common reason that there’s someone applying their peculiar ‘plastic passions’ to your earspace.

For my own part, I decided to stop letting the pace of releases dictate the pace of listening-digestion. ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’ll take all the promos as they come, but I’m just going to get through them at my own pace.’ Well, shucks, let’s count ‘em – it’s April 2009, and I have eighty-seven unlistened to long recordings (albums and mixes), and 37 EPs sitting in a ‘clearing folder’ on my desktop, a folder I created in December 2008. It’s not even necessary for me to engage in piracy: I have a hard enough time getting through a fraction of what I legitimately receive and should be listening to in my capacity as a professional peddler of interpretations on recorded music.

‘We’ve come a long way’ in five years… but what kind of progress is this? Anecdotally, this is how almost all of my friends acquire new music now: only two still regularly buy CDs, and fewer and fewer are buying records, while those like me who still do are buying them more selectively/retrospectively, in fewer numbers… and soon much of it will all be deterritorialised, uploaded onto the common cloud… it’s a funny old world, what’s materially left of it.

...fellow SSG readers... how does this accord with your experience?

NB: this is not a 'format war' post, and no correspondence on the superiority of any given format will be entered into.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

ancient methods mix - tracklist

mnml ssgs mx26: ancient methods

1. Intro: Vestigial – The Coming (Cold Meat Industry 183)
2. Cangaroo Planet – System Support (Airlock 1215) / Haus Arafna – Invisible (Galakthorrö 014)
3. Wassermann – A2 (Profan 027) / Atom TM – Schlußwort (Raster-Noton R-N 99)
4. Brian Aneurysm – Brot (Sub Static 028) / Robert Henke – Studies For Thunder (Imbalance ICM 05)
5. Omen’s Jot – Toe Job (Ampoule 06) / Nordvargr – Talamaur (Old Europa Café OECD 097)
6. Detroit Diesel – Moto-Rmx (DUM 018) / Ø – Jään alla (Beneath The Ice) – (Sähkö 019)
7. Traktor – Traktor Mood (Traktor) / Fennesz – Live in Japan (A) – (Autofact 09)
8. Richard Devine – Krake Technomix (Detroit Underground 09)
9. Heiko Laux – The Mightiest Beep On Earth (Missile 037) / Front 242 – Operation Tracks (Red Rhino Europe MK1)
10. Roger Rotor – The Bastard Burns In My Head (Ant-Zen 154.4)
11. DJ Dex – Blight (UR7-61)
12. Ancient Methods – White Flames (Ancient Methods 03) / Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works D1 (Warp LP21)
13. Gizz TV & Walker – Little Lovesome Astronaut A2 (Force Inc. 077)
14. Mugon – Untitled A (E-COM 015) / Raison d’ être – The Slow Ascent (Cold Meat Industry 078)
15. Patrick Pulsinger – Construction Tool (Disko B 025) / BJ Nilsen – Purple Phase (Touch TO:65)
16. Continuous Mode – Disinformation Design (Klang 049)
17. Ostia – Paved (Seico Corp 03)
18. Various Artists – 8 (Ae Mix) (Fat Cat 08) / Transient Waves – 8.80 (Fat Cat LP02)
19. British Murder Boys – Court of Conscience (Counterbalance 012)
20. Phoenecia – Conummity Coolge (Laboratory Instinct LP01)
21. Function – Semantics (Warm Up 014) / Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker – Phantom On A Pedestal (Alien8 LP81)
22. Brethren – Turn The Other (Sect 02) / Venetian Snares – Room 379 (Planet Mu 199)
23. Luka Baumann – Boys Will Be Boys (Emergence 09)
24. Future/Past – Clinically Inclined (R&S 92010) / Lawrence English – Organs Lost At Sea (Touch 031)
25. Thomas Bangaltar – Outrage (Roulé 309)
26. Adam X – Shifted Gears (Sonic Groove 0835)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

listen to chris

listen to me. go and download this. now. i am not going to bother with explanations, but all i will say is:
- this is not what you'd expect
- this is one of the best mixes i have heard in a long time

that is all you need to know.

gtc061 - speedy j & george issakidis (direct link)

get on it. this is hot hot hot.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Modes of Music, pt 1

~ NB Please click on the image above for a close-up of the Difference Engine ~

Last week, in the wake of my contentious post on 'dance music', I've been continuing to think about how we understand electronic musics of different kinds.

One of the things that fell by the wayside in the comments section of that post was that, at heart, what I was trying to do was to de-naturalise a given, to suggest that the dominant mode by which electronic music is currently understood (as dance music) is a historical phenomenon – not timeless, natural, proper, or inevitable.

With this in mind, I contacted some people I know (RS, AF, AC, TH - anonymity retained on the request of some, imposed on all for uniformity): these are people who are all avid music lovers, music makers, peddlers of opinions and interpretations, and passionate listeners to electronic music.... but they're also people who, I think, have never been primarily interested in electronic music's dance music modes (with exceptions).

So, to clarify some of my arguments, to bring in some of theirs, and to think a little more (and a little differently) about what so many of you appeared to be soooo keen to talk about, I sent them questionnaires.

The responses were fascinating... and long. So for digestability's sake, I've split 'em up into four parts. This, the part one, asks basic/fundamental questions about electronic music (dance music is pt II). Okay, here goes:

~ NB: I would appreciate it if you would read slowly and carefully, and try to get the sympathetic 'gist' of what people are saying... I don't want to be drawn in to a flame war with someone who has read a sentence, become angry, and gone straight for the comments section... simpatico, simpatico ~

1) What do you think about when I say 'electronic music'? What is electronic music about? What does it explore... using what tools and methods? What would you say are its histories, its innovations, its developments?

I see electronic music simply as "music produced electronically" - ie - using instruments other than acoustic or analogue (including electrified acoustic) instruments - computers, drum machines, samplers, sequencers, midi etc.

I think because of the inherent restrictions in early electronic music technology electronic music grew initially with a high level of repetition (of both rhythms and sounds) which I think led to a new way of looking at music - suddenly it was extremely *easy* to produce an identical loop (something very difficult with acoustic instruments) and this influenced general music composition.

Jeez, you sneak in a lot of questions under 1)! Electronic music, at its best, is concerned with creating sound. That is, it is a means to manipulating the compression of air (through speakers or headphones) to affect a particular reaction with the listener, as opposed to reproducing a live musical event. Recordings of classical music, the most extreme opposite, steadfastly refuse to 'pollute' a live recording with input from the studio. The studio is transparent. If only some inspired bastard would do a studio version of Rimsky-Korsakov!

Of course, ever since music was recorded and played back, there has been a tension between purely reproducing, with the greatest fidelity possible, a live musical event, and producing an aesthetically pleasing sound. Electronic music is concerned with the latter. (Which is why I think 'live' electronic sets are disingenuous - the live event is a reproduction of the recording, which inverses the chicken-and-egg order of performance and recording).

Electronic music is music made by electronic (transistor powered) as opposed to electric (tube stuff like guitars, basses and early keyboards that needed tube amps) music generators.

Electronic music is about many things for many people. Having fun, annoying neighbours/family, being seriously into technology, programming, exploring space, taking drugs, being cool, innovation, mimicking the contemporary urban sound environment and probably heaps of other stuff too.

Electronic music is interesting in its history in that it seems to have roots in more places (geographical), styles and genres than a lot of other genres. Its comparatively easy to say where rock, funk, classical, pop or lots of other genres come from. Electronic music seems to have become a tag attached to a sound in the 80s but there were heaps of people from different geographical places and musical backgrounds (Cage, Kraftwerk, 'Scratch' Perry, dare I say Joy Division?) who perhaps didn't identify as electronic music who were considered the forefathers of the genre by self described electronic musicians of later generations.

Literally, and without being disingenuous, music that's electronic. Tools and methods: I suppose synths and computers spring to mind, particularly these days where pretty much anyone can set themselves up with a little home studio. What's it about? I think you can say in general those making electronic music are more interested in sound than somebody picking up a guitar; for all that the two strands have converged, I'd say rock music is still more lyrically-based than electronic music; it's more about getting the words across, whereas electronic music is less concerned with this and more concerned with the possibilities of sound.

Its innovations are manifold; synth pop in the '80s and the rise of commercial dance music in the late '80s/early '90s expanded pop music beyond the guitar/bass/drums format - and over the last 10 years, a lot of those innovations have now been reabsorbed into guitar music. And there's also the proto-electronica of the '60s and '70s, which was astonishingly innovative and ahead of its time.

2) What are the contexts and sites proper to the production and reception of electronic music? Where does electronic music happen? Where do people listen to it?

Anywhere else other music happens - ie - everywhere that there are people. And electricity. I don't think it's appropriate to speak of "proper" sites when it comes to any musical form, but that's just me.

The means of production, for me, are unimportant. It's a means to an end, which is the entire point. In some senses, I would consider Radiohead's (awesome, awesome) In Rainbows, as electronic music because, as you said in reference to Sly and the Family Stone, the studio is the instrument.

I listen to electronic music with headphones on my own, and find any other way kinda weird. While genres of music are inherently social (eg folk, hip hop, telling stories, messages with the music there to engage) electronic music needs the quiet to appreciate the intellectual appeal of its inherent abstraction. A night club is possibly the worst venue because the music is relegated to be on par with the wallpaper. If its loud enough, you can't socialise anyway, so why pretend? If want to socialise, then to a pub w/ a jukebox. Harsh, I know, but I think electronic music blindly follows the tradition of live music (which is exactly what it is not) uncritically. The 12k thing in Japan you told me about sounds intriguing. If any public broadcast of electronic music is appropriate, it would be some kind of installation, rather than a club.

Okay, the one or two times I've done the drugs and clubbing thing it was fun, but you could put the Chemical Brothers on and I would have enjoyed it. Nup, electronic music is for downtime, maybe the washing up, headphones, and you listen to it.

The word 'proper' should not be used in conjuction with any kind of music let alone something as young electronic music. Proper suggests a right and wrong dichotomy. Personal Computers are probably simultaneously the most common sites for both the production and reception of electronic music. Electronic music happens in bedrooms, studios, clubs and raves.

I think the picture here is more diverse than it used to be. Whereas once the majority of electronic music listeners would have listened to it in a club, that's not necessarily the case any more. Club culture is clearly still an important part of electronic music, but it's not the only part - Portishead's Dummy and Air's Moon Safari
soundtracked every mid-'90s yuppie dinner party.

3) What are your favourite works of electronic music? What is it about them that you love?

Bjork - "hyperballad" (actually my first strong memory of a piece of electronic that had any effect on me at all)
- The Ricardo Villalobos stuff you've given me recently
- Likewise the Donnacha Costello pieces, especially "Together is the New Alone"
- M83 - "dead seas..." album
- I'd actually like to put Kate Bush "running up that hill" in this list as another example. And while I'm at it, the original "Doctor Who" theme music.

The common element seems to be a focus on slow melodic development, repetition, and an almost incidental use of "electronics" - all the pieces I like would be inherently valuable pieces of composition if they were played on regular "analogue" instruments.

Vlad Delay/Uusitalo, Mouse on Mars, Villalobos, Frank Bretschneider, Andreas Tilliander, Gas, Rhythm & Sound - nothing within the last five years, I fear. All because of the complexity of their compositions, the quality and uniqueness of their production and the enigmatic imagination of their vision.

I should add that imagination and abstraction is, for me, the major appeal of electronic music. Where you're not limited to the restrictions of an instrument and anything that can be expressed in a soundwave is possible, it's a true blank canvass.

Model 500, Night Drive
Kraftwerk, anything
Carl Craig, More songs about...
Frankie Knuckles, Traxx Classics
KLF, Chill Out

Great electronic music utilises sounds that are 'new' or unfamiliar to the listener. The chief excitement in listening to electronic music is marvelling at all the indescribable sounds that you hear coming from the record. All of the above introduced me to sounds that I was previously unfamiliar with. Model 500 and Frankie Knuckles were also very funky.

Massive Attack's Blue Lines (the track in particular, as well as the album): Minimalism. Subtlety. The sense of space in the music.
Casiotone For The PAinfully Alone's Twinkle Echo: The DIY idea of using shitty cheap keyboards, the lyrics, the fact that this is electronic music and almost kinda folk music at the same time
The Doctor Who theme: for creating this crazy other-worldly sound with
tape loops and simple analogue synths
Chromatics' In The City: more minimalism and space, and a glacial synth sound

Monday, May 4, 2009


now that life is a bit more normal, i've been listening to more EPs and LPs again. so one thing i'm going to try to start doing is putting together charts and posting them now and again. this is what i've been digging:

jacek sienkiewicz - 'modern dance' [cocoon]: i've been waiting quite a while for this one to drop, and it was definitely worth it. a very carefully composed album and i am particularly like that the whole thing is all mixed in together. one of my picks of the year so far.

tobias. - 'clapper' [diamonds & pearls]: the efdemin contribution to this split EP is surprisingly weak, but the tobias. track? boom. big room killer. absolutely love the old school riff in this.

donnacha costello - 'the only way to win is not to play the game' [look long]: while i think this is one seriously bullshit title for the EP, i have no problem with the tracks. the more i listen to them, the more they've grown on me. simple, emotive, beautiful. essential.

byetone - 'plastic star remixes' [raster-noton]: ok, this is not new but i only just discovered it. while the sleeparchive remix is great, it is the alvo noto one that really does it for me. it would be seriously destructive dropped at just the right moment...

planetary assault systems - 'temporary suspension' [ostgut]: a very logical pairing, as the influence of the early planetary assault systems gear is crystal clear in the ostgut/berghain brand of techno. slater delivers the goods with the title track - so much pressure. combined with the right bass kick and i can see this really doing damage on dancefloors.

peter van hoesen - 'face of smoke / continued care' [komisch records]: you can just feel the momentum the hose is gathering, can't you? this is the first release from a new label that has the support and backing of some people whose opinions i greatly respect, so i think this might be one worth paying attention to. and it starts in fine form - i think this is one of the best things peter has done. he is continuing to build a powerful, distinctive take on techno. looking forward to seeing what the rest of '09 has in store for him.

silent servant - 'la noche' [historia y violencia]: this is silent servant's new bomb on his label with santiago salazar. while santiago's track is very nice, i can't escape 'la noche'. this one reminds me of the harder edged basic channel stuff but is most definitely not trapped by that legacy. just like his other sandwell labelmates, basically everything he is doing right now is gold. i am not sure when this ep is coming out, but when it does, get it.

sandwell district - variance edits [sandwell district]: you have one mix from function, one from marcel dettmann and one from regis. need a say more? all are top notch techno and each one reflects exactly what you'd expect from the different producers. sandwell continues its excellent run...

bvdub - 'a prayer to false gods' [shoreless] and 'to live' [smallfishrecords]: a pair of releases i just picked up from bvdub. both continue his fine form of late. 'a prayer to false gods' is - i think - a bit more ambient than many of his previous releases (i may be wrong on this). anyway, i really like it. and 'to live' is simply stunning. a 20 minute musical reflection on life from brock. i am not sure whether there is anyone more musically honest than this guy. there is so much feeling in what he does, i sometimes really struggle listening to it actually.

ok, that's it (i think). i'd be very keen to find out what everyone has been listening to, so please feel free to add charts, tracks to check etc. in the comments.