Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Compulsion to Repeat / Marcel Dettman, Berghain 02

Berghain by day

A fan of techno can, in certain situations, become an occultist without any easy frame of reference for those in his company. Any doctor, however, who would grant me even the most cursory of examinations would be hard-pressed to miss a fairly simple biological explanation for why I personally keep company with techno, with repetitive music in general, with things of great duration and minimal variance. 

My own mind has at times a marked scattershot rhythm, which like any other mental condition is something one must learn to accommodate and to utilize, to put to work according to its strengths and its limitations. This is why, for example, certain substances or activities that put others to sleep tend to sharpen otherwise occasionally diffuse mental activity in my head, leaving me unable to shut down, leaving me restless in the dawn, while my evening's friends lay silent all around.

And this is why, I'd say, I find myself so often turning to repetition in art, in pictures and in words and in sounds - suddenly a space is opened where a single phenomenon commands terrific attention to the minor subtleties of its unfolding. of its modalities. Like holding a precious stone to the light and turning it slowly. 

In life, a predilection for tangents, for horizontal connections, for the subterranean resonance between disciplines. In art, the depth plunge, dragged by the sudden gravity of one event, hardened as if into a dense stellar body, a steel-grey neutron star. A weight and counterweight, a balance. 

But of course this is only one example of how art and life respond to one another, one exchange in their infinite conversation. 

Regard for art must consider biology, aesthetic criticism must become medicinal. This is not to limit the discussion to art therapy, but to expand the force of those two terms, until therapy loses its self-help connotations, until it expands to become a material science, concerned with the regulation and evaluation of humors, of speeds and intensities.

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Marcel Dettman is a resident at Berlin's Berghain club, recently voted the best overall techno club by readers of Resident Advisor. A hoary, hulking form in the urban desert of East Berlin, walking distance from what remains of the Wall. His new mix, out on Berghain's own Ostgut label, is a testament to minimal techno, trying to balance landmark tracks with contemporary developments. There are some at times off balance transitions that result from this, but the track selection is amazing, and shows all the exciting potentials and rich contours of a genre which most Americans still associate with wearing neon synthetic pants in high school. Ride for it. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Podcast: The Raw & The Crooked Vol. 2

DJ Still Life: The Raw & The Crooked Vol. 2

The latest from trusted AC associate DJ Still Life..."Volume 2 of The Raw & the Crooked has dropped. Reflective of the sticky heat, perhaps, there's of bit of dub aesthetic mixed in with the usual barrage of bust your shit open beats, rock screeches, and crunch crunch crunch. Hope it dirties up your summer."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

W//K/ND PR/NZ Podcast: A Case of Balearia

photo of Weekend Prince by Zade, lifelong balearia sufferer: Fort Tilden, 7am

Weekend Prince Presents: A Case of Balearia

David Crosby - Orleans
Giorgio Moroder & David Bowie - The Myth
Thin Lizzy - The Sun Goes Down
Tiedye - Nothing
Night Plane - Stroke You Up
Todd Terje - Bodies (Prins Thomas Orgasmatron)
Lemon - A-Freak-A
Lee Douglas - Cum N Go
Piston Fiston - Pluto's Retreat (Fabrizio Mammarella Remix)
Kelly Polar - Sea of Sine Waves
Lindstrom - Grand Ideas
Max Essa - Back to the Beach
Zero 7 feat. Jose Gonzalez - Futures
Steve Hillage - Palm Trees - Love Guitar

We: are swathed in days of stuporous heat. The search for delicious, crushed-ice refreshments and dabutt trumps all others. Every summer has its share of ailments and remedies, and every summer around this time the disease known as Balearia begins to manifest its symptoms in those it has afflicted.

The name Balearia refers to an incurable parasitic infection both contagious and hereditary. It is derived from the musical term "Balearic," which refers to a certain style of beachy, sun-melted smooth trippy disco. The designation Balearia is used in conjunction with the symptom of: always needing to go to the beach, all the damn time. Sufferers are unable to find pleasure in non-beach activities such as: extended hanging-out in an urban environment, having to wait in line for stuff, and wearing pants.

Once an addict, they say, always an addict. Do not attempt to reason with the Balearia victim or otherwise curtail his/her efforts to get a fix. This mix is intended to be played in the car ride on the way to the beach, so that those suffering from Balearia can earn some morsel of respite while they patiently wait to arrive at the shore, like white-knuckled junkies clinging to the handrest.

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I've always wanted to open a mix with "Orleans" by David Crosby, which shows up at the very end of his solo record, and has a haunting chamber music vibe. "The Myth" is a soundtrack piece from "Cat People". "Stroke You Up" by Night Plane, you know. The Lindstrom track is fiery and is from his upcoming album release, "Where You Go I Go Too." It's three tracks long and each is an epic disco voyage ala Moroder's theme for "Battlestar Galactica."

The Uncanny Valley / The Floating Head

Dakar - I've Got That Feeling
Junior Boys - No Kinda Man (Jona Remix)
Goyte - Heart's a Mess (Supermayer Remix)

All three of these tracks are awesome. If you played them together, for example, on some sort of list designed for playing, in the order they're presented to you here, you would be treated to a sweet delight of grooving minimalness braised with soulful white male.

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Perhaps the most succinct explanation for the phenomenon known as the "Uncanny Valley" is that provided to Tracy Jordan by Jonah Friedlander on 30 Rock:

The thoughtful reader will have already noted that this valley is a purely visual category. There is no uncanny valley for music, for sound, for the human voice. What unites these three recent minimal tech-house burners is that in all of them, over a relentless electronic churn, a passionate male vocal swoons unfettered, detached, for the most part, from the clanking machine that surges beneath it. It's a song structure built around a dialectics of freedom. For the msot part, none of these songs really has much sounds that bind rhythm to voice, especially the Dakar track. The singing head and the churning beats straddle a big black sonic void. The locked-in techno beats only dialectically emphasize how unbound and free the voice is.

Dakar - is new on Get Physical
Junior Boys - from Get Physical's Body Language Vol. 6, mixed by the aforementioned Boys.
Gotye - remix commissioned by Australian singer Gotye from Supermayer, then, beyond all horizons of reason, inexplicably rejected. It's been floating around on the net for a while, and we present it to you like the glorious, mesmerizing dead butterfly that it is.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Noise from A Small Town

Tussle - Transparent C

Nisennenmondai - Ikkkyokume

Smalltown Supersound
is a label in Norway that is responsible for Lindstrom, Prins Thomas & assorted other contemporary space disco impresarios. This you know well and is disputed by no one.

I bet you didn't know this: they also put out noisey, clangy rock music now.

And I bet you can easily conclude: that this is cool. If you are not able to do this, let me help you with these two examples. Enjoy please.

Tussle plays Liquidy-Liquid garagey-kraut jams. "Transparent C" is pretty ill, very gutter-percussive. The whole album "Cream Cuts" is cool and you're going to be reading alot about it soon, especially if you are a big dork. My concern actually is that for whatever reason, bands that get tagged with a sort of Liquid-Liquid urban kraut-funk kind of identity end up seriously bringing it only about half the time..the new Tussle record, like Gang Gang Dance, half of it is kind of chilled out and abstracty. Why? Why do this?

Nisenennenmondai has been already repped by this blog. They are all-girl Japanese trio and sometimes they have songs called "This Heat" and "Sonic Youth." They are pretty no-wave raw-dog, as this song can make evident to everybody except deaf people. They can make more noise than grown American menchildren twice their size.

Bonus activity: here is a picture of Lindstrom. Now, whose style is he clearly jocking?

Hint: W_ _ K _ N D P R _ N C _

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fonzworth Bentley: "Don't Stop"

Featuring Kanye and Andre 3000. Hip-hop as we know it may be dying, but guess what? It doesn't have to be replaced by the T-Pains of the world living on like cockroaches in the aftermath. There can be a whole new world of soul-powered awesomeness. Get with it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Brief History of Ambient

A Brief History of Ambient Vol 1 - Disc One
A Brief History of Ambient Vol 2 - Disc Two

A bloody stomper of a comp. A comp stomper.

There is a well-known graffiti homage to Joe Strummer in the East Village, which you have undoubtedly passed by in a state of mild distraction, during one of your many boozy, late night perambulations, the sort that ends with the impromptu ingestion of fried dough and a gnawing predilection for dialing individuals with whom, all things considered, it is probably best you maintain no further contact. You probably should just go ahead and delete their number now, while you read this, presumably at your office, and presumably sober, during one of your daily cookie breaks. [Pret a Manger is good]. Further contact, you know in the back of your mind, will lead only to further sorrow, and quite possibly a trip to the men's health clinic.

The image depicts the Clash singer wearing sunglasses, his jacket thrown over his shoulder, accentuated only with a phrase which became one of the band's many unofficial slogans, "The Future Is Unwritten."

This shouldn't be understood to say that this is a property belonging only to the time of what has not yet taken place. Because the past is also unwritten: the steady, inexorable course of present time, in all of history's incalculable twists and inversions, is constantly rewriting the past, making the hidden sonics of its concealed treasures echo in a new key.

Re-engagement with the past is especially fun in the sort of proto-time that we love to go on about at AC, in those heady, experimental open-ended periods of artistic intensity which only retroactively become parts of a movement or can be understood as contributing a genre.

Brian Eno, as every schoolchild knows, is widely credited with coining the term 'ambient music,' and the apocryphal account of the genre's inception involves Eno in an incapacitated state, lying in bed with a broken bone of some sort, listening to a record which had been put on but at an improperly low volume, such that its sonic contents were experienced at the threshold of audibility, wavering in and out of range of the human ear. Like any good materialist, Eno saw this as a new potential to be explored. The musical revolution that followed was a fulfillment as well of Erik Satie's desire to make music "to mingle with the sounds of forks and knives at dinner," rather than something to be consciously, attentively devoured by the audience. Music became wallpaper, became sculpture, became practical, became that most deliciously minor layer of stimulation that cushions you from the harsh opacity of empirical reality.

All your usual suspects are here on this comp, Mr. Fripp, Mr. Eno, Mr. Harold Budd, Mr. Tangerine Dream. Fripp & Eno's acknowledged classic "Evening Star" is here, evidence alone of Mr. Fripp's status as the Eric Clapton of Boring Music. The whole thing is just an epic list of early ethereal compositions and bugged-out melodic drift. Get with it, it wears a beard. Homeless wizards listen to it while doing yoga. Also Harold Budd's piano playing is just sick.

BTW supposedly Eno was as well influenced by a Miles Davis track called "He Loved Him Madly," which is supposed to be some epic ambient jazz dirge tribute to Duke Ellington. Does anyone have this?

Here's a ridiculously cool interview with Eno where he explains the principles behind his "Music for Airports", in which he explains the need for having music tailored for public spaces, how it should be composed so it doesn't interfere with other sounds (human communication, announcements), and so on. Subtitled in Dutch, thank God.

Jermaine, Devo, Le Omnichord

Jermaine Jackson - Let Me Tickle Your Fancy

Jermaine Jackson performs Let Me Tickle Your Fancy with DEVO

A wonderful archival WTF: tv performance of this Jackson brother lipping it to a hit 80s synth-boogie jam, 'backed' by "Spud and Pud Devo." Who are clearly engaged in the sort of top-shelf hamming one would expect from members of Devo pretending to be a pop backing band on national television. Also Jermaine's guitar "solo" is fire.

The instrument that Mark Mothersbaugh is so robotically smacking is called an Omnichord, first introduced to me by my friends Heather, Erika and Annie, who have a band called Au Revoir Simone.

You don't have to play keys on this chord, instead one has the option of depressing a chord button and then gently stroking the little magic strip, in order to produce a casionically ethereal synth twinkle.

For more on retro-future instruments you have to check out Music Thing, an amazing blog dedicated to such and related matters, as well as this recent article in the New York Times on the dinosaur Omnichord's more contemporary descendents.

"Turning Guitar Heroes Into Composers"

Addendum: as noted Jermaine Jackson enthusiast Alan Hicks notes, Jermaine's 7th and youngest child is named "Jermajesty." Look it up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chaz Jankel / Real Genius

Chaz Jankel - Glad to Know You (Todd Terje re-edit)

Resident Advisor interview with Chaz Jankel

keyboardist for UK rockers Ian Dury & the Blockheads in the 80s. Jankel had a number of 80s wonky disco hits (like "Spasticus Autisticus" with Dury) and his works are currently getting new exposure to the weirdo disco re-edit beard-wearing scene. They just reissued a 'best of' which features this re-edit by Todd Terje who is basically a trippy disco edit genius. This cut is super dubby and nicely spaced, good for standing on the dancefloor in a wobbly daze.

Chaz also had a song in the movie "Real Genius," which was a point of personal obsession for me as a young bookish misfit (nerd). While the real-life setting for RG's genius-nerd micro-realm was supposedly Caltech, it also neatly overlapped with my own boarding school experience at the Texas Academy of Math and Science.

Where two-thirds of the students were laced quite straight and the other third were the kind that dropped acid right before taking the SATs. It is also where, as a neophyte, I encountered a philosophical crisis: the suspicion that science doesn't think. That's what always annoyed me about it, slightly, and why at a tender age I forsook the lab for the library. That's to say science isn't concerned with reflecting on the conditions of its own possibility. You can't deny though how great math is, or the sheer beauty of its inhuman immortality: after all our cities lie in dust, math will still be there, like the cockroach.

Montage sequence from "Real Genius" feat. Jankel's "Number One"

The full "Number One" music video

Annie - I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me

Here's the new video from Swedish electro-pop singer Annie. I just carried out a scientific experiment where I tried to not like it. Not for any malicious reason, I simply wanted to know if it was possible. Guess what?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mix: Rooftop Special

Weekend Prince - Rooftop Special

1. Peaches and Prunes - Nightlife Unlimited (Ron Hardy edit)
2. Faze Action - Hypnotic
3. Photonz - Trembler (Discodeine mix)
4. Cappucino - Hell Dance With Me
5. Frankie Valli - Beggin' (Pilooksi edit)
6. La La La - Segun Bucknor & His Revolution
7. Paul Kalkbrenner - Bingo Bongo
8. Jessie Rose - Evening Standard
9. Gotye - Heart's a Mess (Supermayer Remix)
10. Goldfrapp - Train (Ewan Pearson Mix)

A commemorative mix.
A belated thanks to those in attendance last weekend, who helped us enjoy amazing food and discover beats. Gratitude to James a gracious host, and Wade, whose athletic, adventurous cooking efforts made the day such a success.

Special commendations:
Jesse: Medal of Bronor
Jonathan: MVB

Bonus tip: This mix opens with a disco burner, Peaches and Prunes, edited by Ron Hardy, one of the grand wizards of early Chicago house. You can listen to a bunch of his mixes from the early 80s here:

thanks to Markverydisco @ Devils Discoid for hooking a brotha up with P&P

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sun Downers / Beach Bummed

Crosby, Stills & Nash - The Lee Shore
Dennis Wilson - Moonshine
Eden Ahbez - Eden's Island
Gabor Szabo - Gypsy Gueen
Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown

Sundowning refers to a diverse set of psychological symptoms which can arise in the elderly, particularly those afflicted with Alzheimer's, during the onset of evening. Those afflicted can become restless, highly confused, begin to 'shadow' their caretaker, or experience signs of dementia. Medical science provides us with a handful of various explanations for this, but has not considered the possibility that this state might be a byproduct of the momentary alignment between the time of day and the stage of one's own life as it inexorably draws to a close. In any case, it would be reductive to assume that sundowning is only a threat to the old, and not instead recognize it as a general trait of the human condition. Man is the animal who, in the late afternoon, becomes confused. The time of late afternoon can be understood in a myriad of ways, as a time of day, as a time in one's life, and so on.

It is not difficult to imagine that all of the above compositions might have been composed under the greying light and sway of lengthening shadow.
Not included here is perhaps the epic mother of all beach-downer jams, "On the Beach" by Neil Young. In regards to AC's readership, this track perfectly occupies a meridian where either you already have it or you should go out and get it yourself. AC is about joy and love, but also about individual empowerment.

1. The Lee Shore (by David Crosby)

Superior boxed-set version of this track from 4-Way Street.

A lee shore is a shore that is closest to the leeward side of an ocean vessel. In regards to the direction of the wind, the vessel's sides are divided between windward and leeward sides - the leeward side is the side opposing the one directly facing the wind. In effect, the boat is always being slightly blown towards the lee shore, a condition which puts it interestingly at odds with the sentiments in this highly romantic-nomad, near-mystical ode to unfettered nautical wandering. Which is in fact another name for endless grift.

A highly recommended track, well-suited for the twilight hours, or any solitary nomadism. (special thanks to JF for digging this one up. Here is a photo of him in his extensive CSN archives:)

2. Dennis Wilson - Moonshine

From the recently reissued Pacific Ocean Blues by the Beach Boy's drummer - pretty much stunningly downer beach record. Wilson's voice is touchingly weary and strained in parts, and the string/choir sections so fragile, it makes Dennis seem like Nick Drake's acid casualty older brother. Sounds a bit like the most achingly convalescent Spiritualized tracks sometimes as well.

3. Eden Ahbez - Eden's Island

Emma N. sent me this. It sounds like Martin Denny meets Moondog: hazy exotica, drifty group vocals from an album recorded by an ueber-hippie who gained fame for writing "Nature Boy" for Nat King Cole. Ahbez ended up a kind of a weirdo-dropout shaman cult figure.

This is additionally pretty cool: someone has answering machine messages from Eden that they saved:

which don't really shed much light on the guy but are highly entertaining due to the musical patterns of oral communication, especially the monological ramblings of a talented eccentric, and remind one of the sorts of snippets of Americana dialogue used in Harry Partch's works.

4. Gabor Sazbo - Gypsy Queen

Hungarian guitar player, records deep soul-jazz instrumental tracks that could be DJ Shadow samples. Which is pretty much a subcategory of music now: stuff that Shadow could have sampled. This track has cool breezy beats. Plus it's fun to say "Gabor Szabo," like you're a magician.

5. Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown

It's called "Sundown." And it' s just seriously one of the best 70s folk-rocker jams, like ever. It's written about his then-girlfriend Cathy Smith, with whom he had a tumultuous affair in a time when he was married to another woman and drank alot. Smith later gained notoriety for being the person who injected John Belushi with a fatal heroin overdose - for which she wound up serving time in the California penal system.