Sunday, June 15, 2008


or, The Man-Machine and other Erotic Couples

The topic of each month's player at AC is a carefully guarded secret. It is so carefully guarded, that I myself don't know what it is until about two weeks into the month itself.
Those who are truly in tune with the monthly theme's unconscious vibrations, however, are able to jack in to its conceits and respond to them ahead of time. Such is the case with Bret P.'s uncannily prescient post of a video in which fax machines perform a cover of a Radiohead song.

What's effective about this video is not that it's inhuman, but that it's still somehow human. If it was just inhuman, who would care? It's about the persistent trace of the human, how it be displaced, occupy weird territories, be transformed.

On that note, the theme this month, as foreshadowed by Neil Young's Trans, is electronic affairs. We're talking about electronic/non-electronic cross-breeding jungle fever in general - could be, as in the case of Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon, and so on, a random dip into electronic waters by a pop artist, could be a weird mash-up, or dub or remix, or a song that serves to indicate how a whole genre took a momentary weird techno detour.

In honor of father's day, it should be noted that the father of techno music is Thomas Edison. And that, as every schoolchild knows, the original matchmaker of music and technology is Pythagoras. Edison invented the phonograph, the most important and modern intersection of music and technology. All recorded music is techno. Sorry. You may think you don't like techno, but you do. Nick Drake's albums are techno, and so are Dolly Parton's and John Fahey's.

A bazillion years ago Pythagoras invented the practice of measuring things scientifically. How so? By measuring the length needed to divide a string into fifths - Pythagora's famous ratio for doing so is 3:2.

1. Herbie Hancock - Rockit. Because duh.
2. Cerrone - Supernature

Post-Moroder Italian synth-disco genius' third record title track. A concept album about Frankensteinian abuse of experimental science: the lyrics could also allegorically be about the pairing of technology and music:

Once upon a time / Science opened up the door / We would feed the hungry fields / Tilll they could'nt eat no more / But the potion that we made / Touched the creatures down below / And they grow up in a way / That we'd never seen before / Supernature, supernature, supernature, supernature

Here's the awesome/weird video for the song, featuring man-pigs and a rainbow drum kit in the desert, very midnight-movie

3. Ricardo Villalobos - Minimoonstar
New track out on Perlon now. Villalobos continues to slay with further post-Fabric mix forays into live drums. really great little accents and riffs, sounds like minimal Bitches Brew.

4. Nico - The Sphinx
Not really electronic, but Nico's only venture into anything vaguely danceable, a malevolent, ice-y funk number very much in line with Yoko's Walking on Thin Ice, Sister Midnight by Iggy Pop, etc. Never, ever heard of this until AB showed me Howie B's Fabric podcast and Howie referred to it as "absolute stonkers." BTW Howie B is Scottish.

5. Girls on Top - I Wanna Dance With Numbers
If we're talking about cross-breedings and genre flings, mash-ups are kind of cheating, but come on. Whitney mashed on top of Kraftwerk is literally mind-blowing. And Richard X edited it in such a way that the little Kraftian bling bells perfectly match the vocal flow. I can no longer listen to the original versions of either of these tracks. SO EPIC. Really, you need this. Bitte please.

This also might be the greatest look ever.

6. Hercules & Love Affair - Roar
From a non-album 12". Way-deep Chicago-housey track featuring highly sexualized moans from Antony, you know, from the Johnsons. Really effective to hear his voice in a techno context.

7. Neil Young - We R In Control - more paranoid synth rockin from Trans.
8. Killing Joke - A Floating Leaf Always Reaches the Sea. An epic dub mix of "Requiem" from their debut album by Alex Paterson from the Orb, who was originally KJ's drum tech. Available on this compilation, which I will post as some point because it is fire.

9. Hi-Fidelity Three - Never Satisfied
Twisted, trippy rap-tech interpolation of the Stones classic, taken from the now-lost Beat Classic comp that I so awesomely posted a while ago. Both BC and the ambient comp do stellar jobs of capturing a nascent genre at the period of its wild & woolly inception, before it became a packaged and streamlined framework. In the case of Beat Classic, it was all about the noisy tech-ed up backroom experiments in early hip-hop like Rammellzee's "Beat Bop," evidence of a far-out genre swerve into near-throbbing gristle territory before everything settled down.

10. Boris - Message
Japanese noise rockers have a one-night stand with Konono NO. 1 Afro-tronics on this import-only track from their new album.

11. Soft Machine - Soft Space
The inspiration for this playlist. Soft Machine is a 70s UK group known for its prog-jazz-rock nerd fusion excursions, so I was pleasantly unsettled to find out that there's this track that had been tacked onto some random live album ("Alive and Well: Recorded in Paris) no jazz or prog trimmings at all, just an anthemic arp-synth voyage, very Moroder.

12. Spacemen 3 - Big City
A random synth-pop jam from Spacemen 3, my heroes of drone-psych. Super Krafty work. I was gonna post the video but it's mostly just them jumping around in front of multi-layered projections.

13. Black Mountain - No Hits
I like this song. It's from their first record and has nothing to do with the woolly mammoth Sabbath rock sound they're famous for, instead it's a dark almost goth synth jam. Is it coldwave? Does anyone know what coldwave is?

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