Thursday, September 30, 2010

Aaron Carl RIP

Aaron Carl Passed away today, suddenly and unexpectedly after having been diagnosed with cancer. Here's some of his music and a few words from the man himself.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Things I Think About . . .

As well as listening to as much music as possible one does try to ingratiate oneself with as much of the arts as possible. I'd never read anythingby Malcolm Gladwell before, just heard about him and glimpsed his nerdy presence in one or two photos. In the past few weeks I've read the one that started it all "The Tipping Point" and I'm now halfway through "Blink." Both excellent reads, "Blink" is arguably the better of the two but as mentioned it's unfinished. I've got "Outliers" and "What The Dog Saw" upstairs in the bedroom to come. I had already read "Freakanomics" and its successor, "Superfreakanomics" before turning to Gladwell but, impressed as I was by the approach of those two I thought they were rather limited in the range of subjects they covered. Gladwell is more all-encompasssing knitting together more disparate data (at least that's how it seems). In anywise, thoroughly enjoying reading this data-logged stuff.

Before getting into the above, I'd finally got around to reading James Ellroy's "Blood's A Rover." I first discovered him by way of "American Tabloid" when I was living in Paris during the mid-nineties, after which I bought the LA Quartet and then followed up with The Cold Six Thousand." I've yet to read his earlier stuff but have an autographed copy of "My Dark Places." "Blood's A Rover" didn't disappoint. I won't go into detail here but this is as psychedelic a book as I've ever read. It's a macho world though, and it's difficult to believe that people like this could actually exist; but they're a select band of freaks.

Film wise, very impressed with Banksy's "Exit Through The Gift Shop" the working title for which was "How To Sell Shit To Cunts." I can well believe it. While watching the wife noticed a guy, Andre, who was a friend of hers in Paris at the end of the eighties, beginning of the nineties, so that was a moment. Got Bunuel's "Los Olivadados" to watch tonight. Great Hendrix documentary on BBC4 the other night, "Jimi Hendrix:Guitar Hero," which is part of a Hendrix season, the rest of which I'll have to catch up with on the IPlayer.

And then there's the music. I listened to tons of stuff yesterday and fed back, as you can see in the previous post. Getting sent loads of good stuff at the moment but if there's one thing I don't want this blog to turn into it's a repository for reviews and publicity. Interesting debate on Resident Advisor in the comments section of a review of the "Kalachakra EP" by Lucy on Prologue, relating to the discrepancy between what rating the reviewer, Richard Brophy in this case, would have given the release and what it was actually awarded by RA. I always enjoyed writing reviews for RA, but have gradually written fewer and fewer, my last being for the Mr G album back in July, because of the policy of RA scribes scoring reviews on the reviewers behalf, a practice that's been going on for a year or so. I hate the rating system anyway. I remember being slagged off for giving releases a five, which I did on one or two occasions, as five must be seen to represent the pinnacle of an artist's output and, by definition, can't be reached that easily. RA issued new guidelines for scoring not that long before they took over the ratings, if I had a copy of them I'd publish them, but suffice to say, no matter how good something is, giving it top marks is almost impossible to justify due to achieving this standard of excellence is something that only happens once or twice in a lifetime, if not ever. Having said that, the previous editors of RA, although more flexible with ratings, were often more than a little inflexible with words, and, it seemed to me, often had a hidden agenda when it came to criticism. My review of M.A.N.D.Y. 's "12 Great Remixes For Eleven Great Artists 2001-2007" for example was printed only after a heated round of email correspondence between myself and the then editor, who demanded that I give the review more depth, the implication being that if I didn't I could be potentially associated with holding back the group in question's artistic development (actually it wasn't implied, it was directly stated). I was left in no doubt that there were vested interests here, and would have understood a little better had I given the release a negative review. Also, after having submitted a review for Matthew Styles' debut release on Horizontal, "Sources" I was heavily patronised by the same former editor regarding my references. They declined to use it so I posted it on here anyway. Out of curiosity I contacted Mr Styles and asked him what he thought. I've never met Matthew myself and I hope he felt under no obligation to be anything else but honest. In any case he couldn't see what all the fuss was about and thought it a fair write up.

Right, I'm now going to try to enjoy what's left of the weekend. Got the remains of a green monkfish curry to finish off tonight, along with a bottle of 2009 Grenache Marsane Pays d'Oc. I've also just realised that my Tumblr page, reserved for mixes and phone photos could do with some new music, so I'll be doing a mix next weekend. Have a good one everybody.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Some Off The Cuff Words Of Wisdom

It Doesn't Matter - No Regular Play (Wolf & Lamb)

Supremely laid-back stuff with a slightly unsettling synthetic edge. 'Slide Away' sounds, in parts, like a 21st century updating of classic big city jazz. The bittersweet ambience of 'Slide Away (Zev's Endless Summer mix)' contrasts with the slightly out-of-body feel of what goes before but still retains that classic jazz vibe.

Dazin' - Morning Factory (20/20 Vision)

At last something on 20/20 worth talking about. A once great label that has consistently underperformed for the last few years finally releases something worth playing. Maybe that's a bit harsh but the label has been going through the motions for far too long. Anyway, 'Dazin'' is a great bit of house that glistens and the whole package while being very well-produced also has an essentially raw feel. Good stuff.

No Fit State Sampler - VA (Murmur)

Good EP with a vaguely Tribal (Label, not genre) feel. 'Rework' (both versions) and 'Slip, Slop, Slap' share a siimilar production style, while 'Slow Loris' is one for the graveyard shift. Very functional, but well turned-out stuff.

It's Time - Subb-an & Adam Shelton (One)

Good, bass-heavy package that fairly throbs. Original and remixes all hit the spot. Going for the narcotic feel of the DOTB remix right now, but all good. Is that a Jungle Brothers sample I wonder?

Summertime Remixes - Jamie Jones (Crosstown Rebels)

Despite its obvious appeal I was never really a fan of the original. Rob Mello well and truly sorts things out though with an infectiously funky take. The 'Jones & James Dub' is a jerky, stripped down monster. SIS remix is subaquatic.

Malibu - Burnski & Robert James (Hot Creations)

'Malibu' is excellent. Possibly the best on this label yet, which is saying something. Simple building track but everything happens at just the right time. 'Perception' ok but lacks the former's sense of drama. The'Jamie Jones Music Night Mix' turns the original into a low-slung funker and loses what makes the original so good, but it's also a very passable effort in it's own right.

Siula Grande - Bonar Bradberry (Needwant)

Good all round, but liking Burnski's 'Time To Go Dub' of 'For All Time.' Good spacey tool. Both originals offer a nice slant on downtempo sounds. P Herbert's interpretation of 'Siula Grande' not that far removed from the original, unlike Burnski's.

Hollywood Revisited - Inxec & Tolfrey (Culprit)

Quite bland really, even the Lee Curtiss mix, which is far too understated. Pity.
Love You Gotta Lose Again - Nicholas Jaar (Double Standard)

Original, melancholic and moving. Unlike anything else in its context.

La Paraiso De Las Tortugas - Ernesto Ferreyra (Cadenza)

Interesting sound. Some very good pieces on here. An album that has a little bit of everything and still manages to maintain a constant groove throughout. Deep, funky and refined.

Subjective Experiences EP - Deymare (Homemade)

'Can't Funk This Feeling' is interesting. Simultaneously downbeat and grooving. Recalls lo-fi experimentation of some of Moodymann's work. All good here. Prominsing stuff from a promising label.

Bio-Mechanical EP - DIJJ (ASRX)
I like this very much. Otherworldly techno from an insect race. The Mechanism Edit By Miniroom is particularly good. Scarey stuff that you have to hear messed up.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Nearly Forgot . . .

. . .when waffling on about the cosmic sleaze connection to mention Soul Clap, who are responsible for the latest RA podcast here. Their 'EFunk" sound though lacks the edge of the Hot Natured duo as they wallow much more in the commercial end of r&b re edits; think Warren G instead of the Pharcyde.

Udder mixes I've been enjoying over the last few days are the latest Mnml Ssgs special from Steffi as well as the Szare effort over on the Field Records Blog. There's also a recording of a Minus showcase from Berlin's Bar 25, featuring Troy Pierce, Barem and, I think, Derek Plaslaiko. God knows who's playing when though and it weighs in at a huge twelve hours. Get that here. Also, another great effort from Franco Cangelli, with Burst, a
Melbourne Deepcast from Lee Curtiss, another mix from Belgium and Evad Streaklov live at Fuse. There's also a plethora of Forward Strategy Group sets around. Two of which are Smear's Detached Podcast from the 4/9/10 here and his contribution to Modyfier's Process series here.

That's all for now. Happy listening.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Chart

Once again a random selection from the vaults.

Short Series 1 - Gregorythme (Cityfox Ltd03)

Three Sided Shape - Scuba (Hotflush)

Sierra Leone - The Parallel (Nice & Nasty)

Stripped EP - Peacock (Siteholder Uncut)

Vampire Nightclub - Art Department (Crosstown Rebels)

Prism - VA (Sonata Music)

OFI/Huesca - Model 500 (R&S)

Sun Goddess - Kyle Hall (Wild Oats)

Reborn - Walt J/DJ Qu (Curle)

The Phuture Ain't What It Used To Be - Akabu (Z Records)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Complete Club Experience . . .

. . .nowadays takes place at home. It's been a while since I've been out, the last time being in May to catch Miles Sagnia in the basement of the Soul Tree in Cambridge City Centre on a Saturday night, and it wasn't the advertisement for well-patronised underground clubbing that I hoped it would be. That's down to it being in Cambridge more than anything else though, a discerning wasteland for the most part. There are those who try and, to a certain extent manage to pull something off, but by and large it's quite awful. Of course I speak from the standpoint of never having promoted a thing and so not ever having put my money where my mouth is, but it's a young man's game and I'm middle-aged and a family man, but having lived with music all my life I'm not looking for a divorce now.

Thank the lord then that there's absolutely no shortage of good music being released; but I constantly wonder how sustainable it all is. Who gets paid in the world of electronica? With the constant back-scratching that goes on, tracks for free, guest lists so boxed-off that the paid list had to be concocted . .? How many of the staff on Resident Advisor earn a living wage? How many of todays DJs can support themselves? Music in general has, more than ever, become a house of cards built on quicksand, but it survives and I go on ruminating.

House is in a real creative cul-de-sac. Having said that there are strains that are making their presence felt more than others. Jamie Jones' and Lee Foss's Hot Natured project continues to spread its wings and works on many levels, in spite of it being commercial-sounding and hook-laden. There's links to be found with UK Funky and dubstep in the mutual friend they all have in cosmic sleaze. That's a relatively recent development that has taken me completely by surprise. How did it happen? The synthesised pimp-funk of the hot streets of black inner-city USA, particularly those of Southern California finding a home in underground urban British soundscapes? Nothing is sacred, everything is permitted, and good thing too.

A few years ago I'd just about given up on the standard US house blueprint, but now it's back in one of its many mutations it's like minimal never happened, which in fact it didn't. It was only ever a lazy journalistic term to compartmentalise, once more, that druggy, messy, congenital council estate working class Croydon SE London genre tech house. Minimal sounds less proletarian and more decadent. The Wiggle boys would never have toed the line on Ibiza, but they were DC10 before the concept existed. Not that they were the first either. The abstract nature of minimal was/is constantly emphasised by the fact that arguably it's two biggest proponents, Villalobos and Hawtin, hardly ever played what could properly be called minimal sets. They may have made it, but the DJ mind and the producer's mind are often both mutually exclusive sides of the brain, rarely coming into contact. Moreover, the two most talented of the Minus stable, as far as I'm concerned anyway, Magda and Troy Pierce, made their names from trading in funky narcolepsy, and still do brilliantly. The deep house renaissance is still with us, but became generic very quickly. Having said that, when its got an edge it's techno.

And where's the hedonism? Boxed off in vested interests in the VIP lounge. I love this stuff but it is incredibly conservative and as I grow older I'm becoming more critical of it. I remember David Holmes saying he couldn't believe 'I'm Losing Control' was made by a man who had never touched drugs. He felt really affronted by it, and so do I. What's pushing things forward at the moment? One of the most annoying terms of categorisation to appear over the last year or two has been "headfuck techno" used to describe the primitive, stripped down lo-fi trance that the Prologue label has pushed, as well as DJs like Donato Dozzy and Giorgio Gigli. Dozzy has the very nerdy look of the geeky Italian lawyer and it would seem unimaginable that he does anything more excessive than have a couple of martinis during his aperitif. I harbour hope that he takes his pleasure when he can though, even if it is to further scientific research.

So, even though my clubbing days are not completely over but for the most part behind me, (Free Rotation next year I hope), and that I've never seen, and am not really that bothered about seeing the brains behind most of the mixes on my hard drive, I'm still constantly excited about and surprised by new music in all its forms. The cross-pollination of genres/hybridisation of forms never fails to amaze me and always will. I went to Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons for lunch yesterday, spent more money than I've got on haute cuisine, and still had a techno soundtrack running through my head. The hedonistic gene is still very much intact but the complete club experience nowadays is a smorgasbord of choice stimulants with me very much the master of my own destiny. I have long been a paid-up, card carrying member of the two most shat upon groups of people in the UK, clubbers and football fans but, from the comfort of my velour armchair, cradling a glass of Armanac, puffing on a fat one and listening to the latest in the Promo Mixes series, (club concept as well as mix concept perchance?), it's payback time.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings . . .

. . . as the great Charles Aznavour once sung. I seem to be doing little more than listening to, and feeding back on "stuff" at the moment and, although I'm grateful for everything that comes my way, it's stopping me doing anything else.

Title: African Drug
Artist: Bob Holroyd
Label: Phonica
Cat Number:
Genre: House

01: African Drug (Four Tet remix)
02: African Drug (T. Williams mix)
03: African Drug (original mix)
04: African Drug (T.Williams mix 2)

The Four Tet remix is a tour de force of clashing rhythms and African ambience. The original I remember well; it reminds me of Harvey's 'Crowd Control mix' for Extended Family's 'Ulysses' on downers. Thick percussion underpins everything on here, but isn't quite as omnipresent on the 'T.Williams mix1' whose Detroitish stylings I like.

Here's a link to a free download of 'T.Williams Mix 2.'

Title: Drei
Artist: Manu Harmailapi
Label: Elektronik Milieu
Cat Number: EMH001
Genre: Techno

01: Something's Gonna Happen
02: Don't Call Me
03: Drei

'Don't call me' is resilient body music, as is 'Something's Gonna Happen' but with added funk and syncopation. 'Drei' is something else altogether, spaced out and disorientating, but not quite as satisfying.

Title: Exit Strategy EP
Artist: Audio Injection
Label: Droid Recordings
Cat Number:
Genre: Techno

A1.Normal World (original mix)
A2. Exit Strategy (original mix)
B1. I've Fallen (original mix)
B2. Normal World (Luis Flores remix)
Digital 1: Normal World (Acid Circus remix)
Digital 2: Normal World (Ambivalent remix)

No nonsense techno that takes no prisoners and leaves you with a metallic taste in your mouth. I really like it but it should be used sparingly, a set full of this will give you an out-of-body skeleton transplant. Absolutely essential though.

Title: Greatest Hits
Artist: dOP
Label: Circus Company
Cat Number:
Genre: Self-Consciously Bonkers

01. Worm Hunting
02. No More Daddy
03. 1 Gram
04. Talk Show
05. Assurance Vie
06. Happy Meal
07. L' Hopital, La Rue, La Prison
08. U R
09. Lacy Lad
10. Love Ride
11. New York
12. Final Dive
13. 3 Suitcases
14. Deaf Wagrant

They couldn't come from anywhere else but Paris, suffused as they are with the rhythm of la java and the spirit of surrealism. Some great moments on this album and, if I'm really honest, I wasn't much of a fan before I listened to it, but I am now. More than a hint of 'Swordfishtrombones' period Tom Waits also, but that's not to say that it doesn't also embrace modernity when it wants to, as the backing tracks of 'Love Ride' and 'New York' show. Ethereal and haunting and, of course, full of interesting vocals.

Title: Low Point On High Ground
Artist: Adultnapper & Big Bully
Label: Simple Records
Cat Number: SIMPLE1048
Genre: House

A1: Low Point On High Ground
B1: DJ Sprinkles Rock Bottom Mix
Digital Only: North Of Us

Lovely piece of laid-back house with a vocal that fairly floats over a shuffling beat. 'North Of Us' although good, does have the feel of an outtake of 'Low Point . . .' Meanwhile, DJ Sprinkles turns the original into a ghost of its former self, with tumbling, jarring orchestration overshadowing the beat.

Title: Same Same EP
Artist: Jobody
Label: Apologue Recordings
Cat Number: APOL001
Genre: Techno

1: Same Same
2: Same Same (Truss remix)
3: 8008
4: Aspect 3
5: E Scape 1

Sound, capacious techno with a nod towards dubstep. The Truss remix has some nice concave sounds
but the originals are the best cuts, with '8008' and 'Aspect3' standing out.

Title: Structures
Artist: Walkner. Moestl
Label: Defusion
Cat Number:
Genre: Ambient Step

01. Presence (feat. Farda P. & Didier Uwayo)
02. Meanwhile (feat. Eva)
03. Dragoneye
04.The Dawning (feat. Martin Klein)
05. Head Down
06.Ascend (feat. Eva)
07. Fragments (feat. Nina)
08. Promise (feat. Eva)
09. Bullets
10. Crab Apple
11. Follow me
12. Broken World (feat. Elle Fee)
13. Faces
14. Movement (feat. Chanda Rule)
15. Saturn
16. Outro (feat. Farda P.)

The funkier tracks, such as 'Head Down', 'Crab Apple' and 'Follow Me' are ok, but when the tempo isn't picked up it's a bit too bogged down in its own sense of self-importance. Not really my cup of tea.

Title: Three Sided Shape
Artist: Scuba
Label: Hotflush
Cat Number: TRI002
Genre: Dubstep

A: Three Sided Shape
AA: Latch (Will Saul & Mike Monday remix)

All good, with Will Saul and Mike Monday doing an excellent job on the remix. At its best when it's far underground.

Title: WaWuWe Mixed By Sebastian Mullaert
Artist: VA
Label: Mule Electronic
Cat Number:
Genre: Mix CD

01. Sebastian Mullaert – Lyssna Då Björkarna Viskar!! 
02. Claudio Fabrianesi & Donato Dozzy – Fade Out 
03. Leftover – Release 
04. Roger Gerressen – When We Were Young 
05. KAB – Social Events 
06. The Mole – Bounty Hunter 
07. El Txef A – She Kissed Me First (Minilogue Ghoest Disco) 
08. Sebastian Mullaert – Music Becomes A Function 
09. STL – Silent State 
10. Darko Esser – Balans 
11. Minilogue – Jakata B 
12. Black Jazz Consortium – Something Old 
13. Koss vs Minilogue – One 
14. Minilogue – Tzymbals 
15. Gunnar Jonsson – Massagerutin 1

1. The Machine – Fuse (åme Remix) 
2. Joe Claussell – Je Ka Jo (Drums of Passion) 
3. Oleg Poliakov – Midnight Vultures 
4. Jerome Sydenham & Dennis Ferrer – Jero (Extended) 
5. Minilogue – Intermediate State 
6. Rejected – Lost 
7. Sebastian Mullaert – Falling From Flowers 
8. Cobblestone Jazz – Chance Dub 
9. Mike Dehnert – Umlaut2 (First Version) 
10. Marlon D – Trust The Drum (Argy Edit) 
11. Samuel L Session – 101 Staccato (Beats) 
12. The Black Dog – CCTV Nation (Slam Remix) 
13. Sebastian Mullaert – Voices Around The Fire 
14. Daniel Mehlhart – Deep Crazy Synth (Minilogue’s District 7 Dub) 
15. Nsi – Dual 
16. Cio D’or – Goldbrokat 
17. XDB – My Secret Garden

Technically proficient mix displaying a range of sound from the depths of the abyss involving a selection that gradually builds, peaks and slides down the dark side of the mountain. An exemplary collection of a lot of todays tastemakers that, while not being overtly surprising is reassuringly synthetic. One small complaint. It's not really until t4 cd2 that the pace is properly picked up. Also, a little bit of unpredictability over the course of two discs would have been welcome.