Monday, December 28, 2009

The Green Rush

After the Gold Rush, the Green Rush

In honor of Avatar's profound hues of true blue, here's a little night plane jam, its vocals clipped from a certain lost soul gem by the three degrees. You'll find it as well in the midst of my latest mix, "signs in the sky."

But although Cameron's epic may be steeped in blue, were you to puncture its gargantuan heart, green would be the color on your hands. Green, the color of cash in North America, and the color used as cultural short-hand for anything deemed remotely environmentally-conscious, is a fitting color to apply to Avatar, which will certainly see plenty of dollars as it disseminates its utopian eco-fairy tale.

While the value of Avatar may seem to lie largely in its contribution to digital cinema production, and not in its relatively heavy-handed narrative, there is actually a subtle plot point in the depiction of the indigenous Na'vi tribe. It's not a movie about technology versus nature, it's a movie about low-tech vs. high tech. And guess what? It's actually the stone-arrow firing Na'vi who are the high-tech team, not the missile-launching humans. Dr. Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver, points out that the planet Pandora functions on a biological level like a huge labyrinthine network, everything is connected to everything else. It's like if the internet were a whole biosphere. The name Pandora also refers not only to the Greek myth but to, the online music portal which generates music stations based on your preferences.

The green valley of Pandora is also silicon valley. Advances in digital and nano technology will, in the near future, more and more resemble the kind of lessons taught by Gaia spirit-mother myths: everything is connected. Human technology will continue to infiltrate the biosphere on a cellular level. Very very high-tech will more and more resemble no-tech, that is, it will trend towards resembling nature.

- - - - -

Included here is a live performance by Thom Yorke of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" at Electric Lady Studios in 2003. The lyrics of the final verse reflect a sci-fi eco-utopianism not dissimilar from Avatar's:

"Well, I dreamed I saw the silver spaceships flying
In the yellow haze of the sun
There were children crying and colors flying
All around the chosen ones
All in a dream, all in a dream
The loading had begun
Flyin' mother nature's silver seed
To a new home in the sun
Flyin' mother nature's silver seed
To a new home in the sun"

Fans of Neil will remember of course that the first verse contains the line "Look at mother nature on the run, in the nineteen seventies."

After the gold rush, the green rush. After the rush to tear precious elements out of the earth, the rush that possesses the villains of Avatar, the rush to immerse again in nature, like Avatar's protagonist.

The green rush is on for 2010: this means broader dissemination of environmental concerns and awarenesses. It's green for a second reason though, because of how capitalism works. The more that consumers and clients display concern for the environment, the more that businesses will mirror this concern for the sake of profit. The green rush is also a gold rush.

The green rush also means: the chance to profit off the increased de-criminalization of marijuana. This is the double green: the green dollar bill, and the green pot leaf. They will continue to befriend and get each other high. It is only a matter of time before you will have psychedelic suburbia: living rooms with gadgets and accessories more befitting the medicinal and recreational consumption of THC. Imagine the Skymall (tm) catalog of the near future, replete with unnecessarily inventive pot gadgets. Of all narcotics, pot is the easiest for capitalism to embrace, because not only is it comparatively harmless and friendly, but pot culture involves tons of cannabis device-making: everyone knows your stoner friend is by default also a great DIY carpenter.

Finally, green is also the color of the growing resistance movement in Iran. In 2010, green thus is the color for emergent democratic trends in the Muslim world and the Middle East, the color for eco-conscious capitalism, and for commercial developments in de-criminalized substances.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Night Plane - Signs in the Sky mix

Night Plane - Signs in the Sky

Intro: Let the Haters Hate
1. Norway Light Spiral
2. Kremlin Pyramid
3. Cava Scura
4. Blue I Feel (When I'm Feeling Down)
5. Don't Come Running
6. Here On Earth

Night Plane brings you "Signs in the Sky," a 23-minute mix of new and unreleased original material - afro/beardo/deepo styles - in honor of two recent aerial mysteries. Within twenty-four hours of one another, two strange phenomena recently occurred in the night skies of the Northern Hemisphere. The first, a swirling abyss of blue light, shone above Oslo. The second, a hovering pyramid, thought to be much as one mile long, menaced the airspace over Moscow's Red Square. Numerous eyewitness and video testimonies for both events exist. The light spiral is confirmed to have occurred on Dec 9th, and some accounts place the Kremlin pyramid around the same time. Russia's Pravda news agency, however, did not report the pyramid until Dec 18th - possibly since the spiral was announced as the result of a failed Russian missile launch, the Russian authorities did not want the event of the still-unexplained pyramid to be associated with the Norwegian light display. Some conspiracy theorists read both spiral and pyramid as related in some way to Obama's Nobel Peace prize speech given on Dec 10th. Are the spiral and pyramid related? Is one or both of extraterrestrial origin? I mean, holy shit, that's a goddamn pyramid floating over the Kremlin. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flights of the Night Plane

Refinery29 hosts their best-of 2009 playlist, mixed by Night Plane

In the UK, Converse Music has the Night Plane remix of The Detachments "Circles" for free download

Night Plane remix of "Situation" by The Dark Esquire now up on Myspace, digital release on January 25th

The Dark Esquire - Situation 12"

The spectacle is real.

The situation is real.

Available January 25th, The Dark Esquire's much-anticipated debut 12" for THISISNOTANEXIT, hand-printed silkscreen cover, 300 copies. Night Plane remix on the digital release.

Here's the vid:

Monday, December 21, 2009

occult gathering II: winter solstice

Ok, this is a little weird, but it looks like whoever organized the Brooklyn Heights occult gathering reads AC, or else is good with Google, as they found my site and sent this in, announcing a follow-up event. someone please go and tell me what happened, I just got home to texas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

pink stallone - hydroplanes

pink stallone - hydroplanes

Why did the MC/DJ model of musicmaking, embodied by, let's say, Eric B. and Rakim, fall out of fashion in hip-hop? There are several possible causes. One is the rise of the superstar producer, like Dr. Dre or Timbaland, who begins in his larger-than-life multitalentedness to overstep the artistic dividing line between MC and DJ. Another is the increased high-speed commercialization of the genre: as a result, hardly any two individuals make an entire record together anymore. A rap record today has a cherry-picked selection of beats from multiple producers and features numerous cameos.

The MC/DJ model in hip-hop was the product of a certain era. Late 80s rap can be understood by a particular level of sophistication, both on the level of technology and on the level of profit-making. It was when hip-hop was still fairly nascent that you had duos - ok you make beats, I'll rap. As of late, that model has resurfaced again, now when young white kids figured out that all you need for a group is a microphone and a sample pad - it's the High Places model.

You'll find a similar relation between singer and producer in Pink Stallone, a group from New Jersey bent on digging up and transforming the rawer sounds of classic Chicago house. The key to their current incarnation is the presence of Joey Washington, a Strictly Rhythm-era garage house singer. Seeing PS perform last night in Bushwick with Washington, I was reminded of other club genres like reggae and dancehall, where in order to keep up with the endless pulsations of rhythm, the vocalist lets loose an undulating, repetitive stream of melodic phrases, rather than reciting a fully-composed song.

The trend towards the dirty end of Chicago house parallels the resurgence of electro at the beginning of the 00s: similar tonal palette, similar cross-section of brutal beats and sexy club vibes. The house renaissance, however, goes much broader and deeper, and the dirty sound that Pink Stallone practices is only the end of a spectrum of classicist-tinged house productions that flourished in 2009.

Following the show I exchanged emails with the band, who acknowledged the insufficiency of the venue's stereo - it had in fact been quite blown-out and distorted. Not to worry, I said, it had worked in their favor: the hardware-crafted 808 beats and winding, crunchy basslines, together with Washington's fantastic soulful singing, all pushed through overdriven speakers, made it sound something like Throbbing Gristle covering Donna Summer. Also there was a fog machine and lasers. It was an exciting and relieving sight, to see electronic music with such hair on its balls, and to see three Jersey kids with synths unafraid to rock straight house beats.

Pink Stallone and Black Meteoric Star make it official - if you are an experimental stoner with some weird equipment and a psychedelic sensibility, you are no longer limited to explorations in abstract tones: you can also straight bring the fire. Pink Stallone's debut self-released 12" is out soon, click the link to learn more and stream the track.

new traditions: growing roots in an age of instability

1. Sept 11th and the subsequent War on Terror

2. The economic crisis
3. peak oil

These three events form the historical backdrop against which the rise of new traditions can be understood. The first has already occurred, the second we feel happening now, and the third will take place, given the wide variety of estimates, anywhere from 2020 to 2030. But actually all three events are taking place together: the memory of the first, the current problem of the second, and the anticipation of the third. They are intertwined, and the significance of current cultural developments must be measured by how each development shifts in light of each event.

Old-timeyness, for example, has one significance in a post 9-11 context, gains another from the context of the economic crisis, and finally has a third significance when seen from the projected future of peak oil. It begins as a retreat in the past from the wreckage of a future ruined by two fallen towers. Then in the light of a faltering economy, a new emphasis on the spartan side of old-time vibes emerges: look, remember an era where we didn't need all these things we can no longer afford. Finally, the spartan aspect of old-timeyness, and related values of simplicity and self-reliance, take on additional urgency in the countdown the end of the oil era. It will no more a question of doing without certain luxuries because this is an era of financial sobriety, of "doing-without", but because when peak oil occurs, everything, as anyone who's seen Collapse will tell you, will change - the life we are accustomed to will no longer be merely unaffordable, it will be impossible. Today new traditonalism can be restricted to retro-fetishism, nostalgia and kitsch, effects of two paradigm-shifting events, but it can also become a way to progressively prepare for the third.

The rise of new traditionalism, I'd argue, starts at the tail end of the urge towards apocalyptic fantasy that gained momentum in the wake of 9/11. Apocalypse films are a kind of cultural trauma therapy. They repeat the trauma much in the same way dreams may repeat the experience of a car crash after the fact. By repeating a traumatic experience, by staging it again, and again, one hopes to find a way to master it. Apocalypse movies since 9/11 weren't only repeating the sense of that day, however, but also the sobering realization within American culture that civilization is quite a fragile thing which can be rent asunder much easier than one would like to think. In the theaters now are two films which signify the end of apocalypse cinema: The Road and 2012. Each in their own way completes the cultural drive towards apocalyptic fantasy at the moment: there will be no such films in 2010.

As apocalyptic fantasies end, there comes the desire to orient ourselves again, within history. The rise of new traditions is sort of a grand cultural re-set. The way towards future progress has been lost, the present appears under attack, so we burrow back to the past, to grab hold of anchors and roots, to strive towards something authentic amidst cultural upheaval.

The problem, fundamentally, is that there is no way back. Authenticity itself is an old-timey idea. "Get it all this fake shit out of here, give me something real, where is the real thing?" This is the restless sentiment of the twentieth-century, what Alain Badiou calls "the passion for the real." We live in an era where the belief in something authentic is itself out-dated.

That's the very problem of an age of new traditions. The twentieth-century saw a long steady breakdown in traditions, in traditional authority, traditional values, traditional means of communication. Now in 2009-2010 we find ourselves at the other end of the stick. No longer are we faced with the burden of the past as something to be carried, but as something curiously absent, available to us only in traces, shards and scraps. How can a culture orient itself anew, and how can it wrest from the wreckage of the past the tools it needs to do so?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Occult Gathering

I saw this posted while walking home last night. I don't know what it means exactly but I'm curious to find out. Maybe Brooklyn Heights has some mystic underground that I'm not aware of.

Ministry - Every Day Is Halloween (12" version)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Farmer In The City: New York's Tradition Trend

Last Friday I went with friends to Henry Public, a new salon-style bar/restaurant found in Cobble Hill. First we were served tasty beers from a staff clad in checkers and suspenders, and then we took in an ambiance of crickety wood and photos of Frederick Douglass while devouring "hamburger sandwiches" and "french fried potatoes." In short, the experience only furthered the suspicion that any new establishment opening in new york with traction among the aged 30 crowd will most likely be old-timey.

This is not news to anyone in New York with an appetite and the ability to leave their apartments: antique is in, marked by an abundance of speakeasy-style bars and rustic-tinged restaurants: see Freeman's, Marlow and Sons, Hotel Delmano, The Richardson, Walter Foods, etc. Here a predilection for old stuff in interior design is matched at the same time by a drive towards craft in food production. There are several other places in New York culture where old-timey reigns as well. My point here is not to announce several well-observed recent trends, but to group them together in an attempt to analyze their origins and consequences. It's not hard, for example, to connect the dots from the restaurant world to the rise of old-world bakeries and butcheries, to the growing interest in locally-grown, organic food products - the rise of the so-called locavore, who out of both health and environmental interests makes locally-grown products an essential priority. Dovetailing in with locavore-ism is a broader trend towards craft and self-reliance - homemade, hand-constructed, DIY, the sorts of projects found in books like "The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living In the Heart of the City"

The contemporary value of such drives towards urban farming, local foods, and general self-reliance cannot be underestimated in light of urgent environmental and global economic problems, such as those brought to light in the riveting documentary Collapse: through his analysis of the looming deadine of peak oil production, Michael Ruppert, the engaging, slightly paranoiac expert, effectively makes the case that "urban homesteading" is more than a youthful trend, it represents the possibility for humans to continue to survive once oil production and the modern life which it sustained begins to irrevocably decline. Old-timey or traditional food production is thus in fact quite cutting-edge - it will undoubtedly play a major factor in the restructuring of society which will most likely occur in the wake of peak oil.

You'll find the old-timey vibe on city streets as well these days, thanks to an abundance of beards, solid footwear, tweeds and flannels. Sidewalkers in Brooklyn can bear a passing resemblance to The Band:

Interestingly, The Band's look in this 1969 photo is already retro, a re-do of cowboy-era duds, and their folk-rock sound at the time already a throwback in an era of plugged-in psychedelia. A recent NYT article highlights the expansion of influence by nineteenth-century styles from restaurants to men's fashion: "This Just In From the 1890s." On a further musical note, it should be pointed out that, as is often the case, music was in on the old-timey thing before restaurants figured it out: witness the blossoming of recent subgenres like "freak folk" and the "New Weird America." Before all these guys, though, there was Animal Collective, whose band name is only one example of their ingenuity, a prescient forerunner of cultural trends towards both the rural and the communal. "Sun Will Shine" by Akron Family epitomizes both these qualities, a gospely, twangy folk-rock tune expands into a choral-voiced stomper, drawing out the blues chords in a grand expansion reminiscent of Spiritualized. Akron Family specializes in shambolic folk jamborees, and they're not alone: bands that emphasize collectivity are all the rage, as are group-vocals and afro-inflected tribal beats. In this way, "Animal Collective" isn't only a particular band name, it's almost a description for a kind of band that has emerged in the past five-ten years.

Akron Family - Sun Will Shine

What do these trends, musical, ecological, and gastronomic, share in common? We might detect in them a distrust or weariness with modernity, with the excesses of industrial society and the alienated life that it perpetuates. This is prominent in discourse on contemporary food production: the large-scale industrial farming complex, documented for example in the excellent Food, Inc. wreaks havoc not only on the earth and our biological life, but our existential life as well, obliterating a sense of connectedness. The ground beef that appears in the burger I consume has traveled an invisible path, the result of an obscured production process. In all the antique restaurants, farmer's markets, beards and folk-tunes one can sense an almost a prelapsarian hearkening for a simpler time, a simpler life, a life connected to its own roots, to the past and the traditions that engendered it.

But why now? Why has this urge become so manifest? It's been in the works, you might say, ever since Sept 11, 2001. If you buy the logic behind Time Magazine's latest cover story, the decade that will close at the end of this year represents nothing less than the 'dimming' of the American dream: "Bookended by 9/11 at the start and a financial wipeout at the end, the first 10 years of this century will very likely go down as the most dispiriting and disillusioning decade Americans have lived through in the post–World War II era." The tradition trend, you can say, is in part a widespread reaction to this passing decade of American decline, an attempt to hide-out among the nostalgic ruins of the past from the bleak forecasts of the future. Such a hiding-out was acutely felt in the wake of last year's economic collapse, when at the time the highest-grossing movie in the country was "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," a comedy in which, fittingly enough,the lead character is a fallen authority figure, an incompetent, arrogant boob in the seat of power tasked with protecting the public. The American public flooded the theaters for a bit of cinematic escapism, only to get their loser president thrust once again in their faces.

Worth noting here is a concomitant but distinctly separate trend, the rise of cuteness, whose trajectory was recently expertly traced by Jim Windolf in an article for Vanity Fair, "Addicted to Cute." Here Windolf points out that cuteness exploded in Japanese culture after the end of WWII, a result of a widespread feeling of the loss of political supremacy. The same causality, Windolf argues, is at work in the rise of cuteness in the US since 2001: our entitled sense of global hegemony shattered by the attacks, we in part sought refuge in innocent, calming visions of lolcats and other adorable internet memes.

In this historical context, what cute and old-timey share as cultural values is that they mark a feeling of the loss of authority. In her essay "What Is Authority?" from the late fifties, Hannah Arendt called attention to the broad collapse of traditional authority in the twentieth-century. This collapse led, she argued, to the generation of new forms of domination, most notably the strains of fascist and socialist totalitarianism. Authority, Arendt claims, takes its strength from being beyond argument. Authority doesn't try to persuade you, it doesn't try to violently force you, it just holds an almost mythic sway over your actions and obedience. You follow authority just because. It's not hard to see how a cultural hankering for tradition might result from a certain sense of a recent loss of American supremacy in particular and a decline in political authority in general. Tradition, Arendt says, is central to maintaining authority, because authority is all about the continuing legitimacy of the past. In the wake of the hollowing out of the American dream of the past ten years, American culture began to re-organize itself, like cells in an organism working to close over a wound.

Oddly enough, I would argue that the cute trend in part reflects the same need for authority. Cuteness affects you prior to your ability to judge it. Cuteness does not persuade or force, cuteness acts on you in a primal, biological way. You cannot evaluate or criticize it, and its effect is immediate. To experience a cute thing is to take a momentary respite from the adult world of responsibilities and decision-making: neither you nor it can be criticized or taken to task. Cuteness provides a similar escape from the demands of independent, critical thinking that submission to authority does. While the tradition trend can be seen as a reaction to contemporary circumstances, it is neither inherently good or bad, productive or harmful. Like any trend, the tradition trend contains a mixture of ideological and progressive elements. In part, it is undoubtedly an escape, a national version of going to see Paul Blart for ten years. The past remembered is never the past taken place: memory, whether personal or cultural, is always a stand-in, a cheap substitute for real events. The "good old days" evoked by Henry Public and other such places were never really that good, as Merle Haggard once sang:

While recently discussing these matters, a friend remarked that an acquaintance of hers, an internet food writer of some renown, had been sharing with her dreams of moving from New York and starting a farm. An inevitable consequence, it would seem, of a rural-obsessed metropolis: move out to the sticks! wear Hunter boots! raise vegetables while wearing a beard! Pure heaven. As Merle's song points out, such images neatly leave out all the thankless toil, labor and dedication characteristic of rural life which spurred the drive for modern technological convenience in the first place. On the other hand, the correlate drives towards local produce and self-reliance generated by a cultural interest in the lifestyles of the past will be invaluable in the near future. The American dream, insofar as it has been shored up by sixty years of geopolitical arrogance and the unshakeable dogma of free-market capitalism, has proven untenable, and hopefully the trend towards tradition will provide the grounds not for regressing to an old America, but for thinking it anew, out of the possibilities left still half-buried in the past.

Finally, there's a great Scott Walker tune, from Tilt, whose title encapsulates the beards, tweeds and speakeasies of New York 2009: "Farmer in the City." This stirring and unsettling tune is carried by a protagonist, an outsider moving across a disorienting landscape, who feels like a farmer in the city, unfamiliar with his surroundings. If the tradition trend imagines us as happy together in the past, planting crops and singing in a big group, Walker imagines the solitary farmer alone in the future. In this context it's a reminder that the wilderness is not only the rural idyll we might see on the wall of a rustic-themed pub in Williamsburg, it is also the historical future which we must venture into in order to solve the problems of today, a wilderness ultimately without the comforts of a mythic past or anthropomorphic feline.

Scott Walker - Farmer in the City

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

i'm goin round in circles

Please enjoy the video for the Detachments' new single "Circles" out Nov. 30th on This Is Not an Exit. Circle Remixes Part One 12" including Night Plane remix are yes available for you please.

Let us also mention here that The Detachments are New Band #666 on The Guardian's website. More synth-pop noir! More indie-techno miserabilismus!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

little dragon

little dragon - feather

stone cold dream-pop head-nodder. Like Glass Candy/Nite Jewel, airy and glistening, with bricklaid beats. recalls "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin, aka the best song ever recorded. Thanks to Matt at Blackout Bar last night for pointing out the Swedish group Little Dragon to me, as well as their recent release on Peacefrog, "Machine Dreams." Consider "Feather" on deep repeat at A/C/K/C/L.

Greenpoint newcomer Blackout Bar has already racked up visits by a number of salted local DJs, including James Murphy and Marcos Cabral from Runaway, not to mention an enlightening set last night from Future Hunter, which yielded this delight, a sort of half-speed glistening Blondie jewel. Blackout Bar is bedecked in the old-tymey dark-wood German/Dutch gemuetlichkeit style, popular these days as a respite from the suffocating posh of modern chic. On tap are multiple Koelsch beers, including the storied Gaffel, whose crisp, near-appley flavor is well-suited for a mid-fall friday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

the essential purchase

Detachments - Circles Remixes Part One now out on This Is Not An Exit

A1 - "HAL" (Andrew Weatherall Disco Dub)

B1 - "Circles" (Beg to Differ Dub Remix)

B2- "Circles" (Night Plane Remix)


The opening track to Kompakt's Pop Ambient 2009 compilation, available here, appears in abridged form on Klimek's masterful new record, "Movies Is Magic." The album cut lacks the gorgeous, elegaic horns that intone here as if from across a great expanse, like the sound of distant vikings blowing into hollow tusks. As you might gather, "Movies is Magic" is suffused with all manner of soundtracky scraps, which Klimek has with great agility and sophistication allowed to breathe, ebb and flow like cosmic Morricone.

"Movies is Magic" has been awarded the Pleasant Cubicle award for Best New Work Music by A/C/K/C/L

Thursday, November 5, 2009

endless grift sound system - mahi dub

endless grift sound system - mahi dub

Place the wine and shallot in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and reduce the liquid down by about half, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Add one drum break and two shreds of guitar. Stir in 808 kick. Spray dubby synthesizer mist across the surface. Goes well with kryptonite.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

fuck buttons

fuck buttons - surf solar

absolutely blistering opening track from FB' s sophomore effort, Tarot Sport. Is it techno? Is it noise? Surprise, it's both and neither. "Surf Solar," like the rest of the record, uses throbbing techno beats as the launch pad for all manner of soaring sonic explorations, aswath in Eno-moody synths and heartswollen, near-Vangelis chord changes - no surprise another song on the record's called "Olympian." Oh and dance music legend Andrew Weatherall produced the whole album. Good lord.

What's more, we here at A/C/K/C/L are momentarily suspending our policy of actively NOT posting the correct cover art for tunes. This is because A/C/K/C/L is not designed to teach you anything. In our other worldly endeavors we pursue a number of pedagogical activities, both music and non-music related, so once and a damn while we're just happy to throw weird things at you and let you draw your own conclusions. In this case the surf solar cover art is so dope that we're willing to violate our own usually cast-iron editorial policy.

true widow

true widow - corpse master

we here at A/C/K/C/L are all in favor of more 90s-style grunge rock. This is not out of personal nostalgia, because personally we were a big dork in the 90s. We're cooler now, although we still are capable of feats of dorkness like leaving the stove burner on so long that the tea kettle stopper completely melts off and the kitchen is coated in a plasticky smell that reminds us of swimming pool floaties from our childhood.

a trio from our hometown of austin texas, true widow play a sort of lightly doomy, stoned-out grunge gaze, kind of like Alice in Chains except more melodic and slower. "corpse master" is our pick from true widow's self-titled release, it sounds like Cormac McCarthy taking bong hits alone in winter. You might, if you were so inclined, trace this sound back to Earth's current sound. If Earth's first incarnation as apocalyptic drone doom spawned a host of imitators, including SunnO))), we can only hope that "corpse master" is a sign that Earth's sound today, a kind of sprawling, dusty doom-country rock, played almost impossibly slow, has been having a similar effect.

Monday, October 26, 2009

why must I be the thief?

darkstar - aidy's girl is a computer

Not only am I stealing the contents of the following blog post, I'm stealing the idea of stealing these contents. Do I have no shame? Why, oh why must I live this way? Free your mind. The simple fact is, tarwater's descriptions are so pin-neat and pithy, and the idea of posting them with brazen disregard for his privacy such a good one, I had to nick them both.

Now: the involuntary posts by tarwater series

second installment: "sure, but is it dubstep?"

No idea -- I mean, it is Hyperdub's fifth anniversary comp (one disc is unreleased; the other, classics), but it has Flying Lotus on it, and I don't think he quite qualifies. Either way and thus far: the Darkstar track rules; the unreleased Burial more than hits its unloved digital ghost quota (it's called "Fostercare") and also rules - might be the best thing I've heard by him, even; and Kode 9 & The Spaceape's cover of the Specials' "Ghost Town" should earn them a guest verse on the next Sunn)))O record. Winter is almost here and this record could be your soundtrack to it -- it's almost as long.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

do you love your robot children?

patrick cowley & jorge socarras - robot children

From the forthcoming album "Catholic," recorded by Cowley & Socarras in the early eighties but never released until now. Eschewing Cowley's trademark psychedelic disco, pioneered on landmark mixes like Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," "Catholic" pursues an edgy robot-rock sound closer to Gary Numan or Brian Eno.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

matias aquayo - rollerskate

matias aquayo - rollerskate

low-key and infectious single from Aguayo's "Ay Ay Ay" out on Kompakt at the end of the month. More weirdo brilliance, infusing edgy German electronics with all the rambunctious goof of a sunshine street party. roller roller roller skate skate roller. the album is great, like El Guincho with more digital gear and some MDMA.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

deep wave

the field mice - it isn't forever

a brilliant track from forgotten 90's UK shoegaze-pop outfit the field mice, "it isn't forever" welds early New Ordery elements like jangly guitar and heartbeat kicks onto tripped-out ambient textures and echoey vocals. Totally in the pocket. It's like new wave but more psychedelic, let's call it deep wave.

Monday, September 28, 2009

kurt vile - freak train

kurt vile - freak train

A standout from Kurt's latest LP, "Childish Prodigy," "Freak Train" sounds like Suicide took a ride to New Jersey, and dosed their electro synth-punk with Bruce-sized blasts of Americana, all the late-light longing, unrequited hopes and freak-train riding that one associates with the giants of Asbury Park, but stuffed into a lo-fi bedroom burner. Over a relentless drum-machine groove Kurt wails and cuts loose, highlights being a number of spat-out exclamations like "I've never been so insulted in my whole life! Shit!" It's uplifting, energetic, driving and mildly obscene, with a strong sense of street-smart storytelling and roots-rock pathos, yet also kind of out of control and messy like Royal Trux style. Kurt Vile & The Violators play Mercury Lounge on Oct. 7th.


seefeel - quique

forged in the early 90s, seefeel's hybrid sound of shoegaze and ambient techno remains without easy parallel to this day. Their arguable acknowledged classic Quique (1993) was rereleased in 2007. A beautiful, uncompromising record, its aesthetic distilled to crystalline perfection, Quique abounds with mid-tempo dub and techno beats combined with gorgeously processed guitars and vocals. In short, it's one of my favorite records ever, and every time I hear it I can't believe no one's really followed up on it. It's an exquisite wallpaper record, filling up background space when you play it at home, content to endlessly churn its shimmering loops and bass pulses, but full of microcosmic delights when you stop to listen more closely. Please enjoy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

concert review: blackened music series

9/23/09 - Blackened Music Series at Brooklyn Masonic Temple

Sunno))), Earth, Pelican, Eagle Twin

I had a twinge of hesitation going to the temple last night. I'd seen Sunno))) play before and hadn't listened to their records since, so affected had I been by the singular force of their live show. Going to see them a second time I was wary of having my experiences dulled by repetition. I considered myself more hyped for the rare occasion to see Earth live. The Brooklyn Masonic Temple is a complete no-brainer for hosting deafening demonry - a hulking Fort Greene fortress replete with black wood doors and red trim, strange chandeliers, and no sound limitations. After a set of competent if formulaic math-metal from Pelican, we were treated to Earth, who opened with the opiate majesty of "Miami Morning Coming Down." The beer guy was ecstatic. "I used to live in Miami!" he exclaimed, handing me a Budweiser. "I was a cokehead in Miami, this was my theme song!"

Having done their time as an earbleeding drone outfit, Earth is now a doom-country group. Little wonder that an earlier album, "Hex: Or Printing In the Infernal Method" is supposedly inspired by the novel Blood Meridian, as the doom-country sound feels very close in spirit to Cormac McCarthy's metaphysically desolate, elemental westerns. Led by Dylan Carlson, the quartet has perfected a playing style which derives its narcotic power from an almost impossible slowness, taking John Fahey-style melancholic guitar licks and dragging them out as if they're echoing across an infinite Texas plain in the dark.

Then something unpleasant happened: Earth stopped playing. Whoever the tenth-level puppetmaster is who runs things at the Masonic temple, he/she apparently is a set-time stickler, so despite all manner of enthusiastic applause and catcalls from the crowd, Carlson and crew did not return. Surprising and frustrating.

Which equally characterizes the first ten minutes of sunno)))'s show. Which opened with smoke filling every nook in the shadowy hall, until the sweaty horde of metal bros were bathed in an eerie purgatorial mist. An off-stage loop played: a low thump of Olympian proportions followed by some scattered metallic clatter. This went on for an insanely long time, without the band appearing on stage. The crowd became restless, it screamed, it clapped, it lost its cool. It seemed like maybe the band would never show.

Which was exactly the point where the show began to make sense to me. At the moment when I stopped expecting anything to happen, and took this impossibly long show-intro as a thing in itself. And saw the moment as an end in itself: the looming bass drum loop, the eerie mist with a crowd of shadows, the sauna-like heat, all gathered facing in the stage, caught up in fevered anticipation without release. It was more like appreciating a sculpture, or a room-installation art piece, much like works by artists like Olafur Eliasson or James Turrell, that stage some micrological material change on a grand scale, so that you become attuned to shifts in light, or sound, or temperature.

The title of Eliasson's exhibition last year for PS1, "Take Your Time," would be a good sunno))) slogan as well. Experienced live, their music is so elementally sludgey that there's little point almost in listening to it like a song or composition, it's more like a phenomenon unto itself, not headed in any particular direction. Sunno))) are thus like the first heavy metal art project.

But their show isn't just all high-brow drone-capades, at least not anymore. These days, additional instruments and a bigger concert budget have resulted in a kind of dadaist update of Wagner. The group did everything possible not to play a concert but stage an event, with over-the-top grandeur straight outta Bayreuth.

I took to the upper level seating area to take in the show. Unlike the endless sea of churning drone I had witnessed during their last concert, Sunno))) had put together a kind of futuristic drone-opera, with movements, ranging from lightning-rod guitar feedback bursts to solo demon groan to almost-pretty horn sections, and characters on stage, who emerged from the impenetrable mist to mime on stage. There's a definite goofball metal-show theatricality that was being played with, but like certain metal music cliches, like pummelling riffs, the band had taken this stage-show theatricality, like you'd see at Gwar or Kiss or Priest, stripped it down to its skeleton and then displayed this skeleton in full-scale minimalist-maximalist overload. Towards the end of the set I went outside and found several of my friends chilling on the curb. Turns out no one else had seen the most over-the-top show element of all: a ten-foot Robocop kabuki demon, of glistening steel, who had emerged to, I am not making this up, shoot red LCD lasers in a grid-formation into the crowd. Then we had diner food and I got lost for a brief spell, sometime around 3am, making my way from clinton street back to flushing, past the navy yards, through the winding streets of Hasidia, and finally to withers and manhattan.

Friday, September 18, 2009

in the throes of summer's end

edgar froese - pinnacles (baldelli edit)

A gorgeous edit by baldelli of a solo track by ex-tangerine dream member froese, blissful midtempo cosmic which baldelli sped up and added female vocals to.

Been meaning to post this for a while and was reminded when I awoke from a nap on that small hillock of grand street ferry park, where it was blaring through a PA on a shimmering sunday down by the river, in the throes of summer's end. Boats and bridges caught by the glaring light of late afternoon.

The pinnacle is the place where everything can be seen and nothing can be done. To catch sight of the world as a whole, one must be far away, where the things of the world can't be touched. On the peak, one is like a lord without any powers, but at the same time, one can taste again a certain fount of strength that sometimes becomes obscured by the world's noise. The binds of life, its habits, its inertia, its routines, slacken their grip, and one can for a time move freely among them, measuring, evaluating, seeing them with noble disinterest. Summer is the pinnacle of the seasons; when it finds its end, one is again at the foot of the mountain, far from the peak, down again among the things of man.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NIN/Health/Gary Numan - "Anthrax" (live)

Trent, Gary and the boys from Health do a searing cover of "Anthrax" by Gang of Four during the NIN/Health tour stop in LA. Awesome.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I got the abbatoir blues

nick cave and the bad seeds - abbatoir blues

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

brutal with the millimeter

nitro deluxe - let's get brutal

A milestone in classic house, instantly recognizable not only for its peppy 80s synth riff but for its nonsensical vocal sample, "brutal with the millimeter!," "let's get brutal" is perhaps a fitting track to cap off a summer spent dissertating in Germany. For who else gets more brutal with the millimeter than Germans?

Why are Germans millimetrically brutal? Because they're afraid of disorder. The German consciousness, particularly in engineering, design, and politics, is palpably sensitive and fearful about chaos, about waste, negativity, about shit. Go to any residential German courtyard - the site of ten different trash bins for all the various subcategories of waste should be evidence enough that they are serious about shit, about calculating and containing it. Germans are brutal with the millimeter because they have a slippery-slope mentality: if things start to get a little out of hand, it's only a matter of time before they plunge headlong into the flames. This explains larger political gestures, like the government attacking Scientology, as for good reason the Germs are rather wary of cultish, power-hungry ideologes, as well as smaller gestures, like never ever jaywalking ever, or when passersby call to you when you're biking, to indicate that you are in fact biking on the wrong side of the street. It's not about the particular instance, but the fear of the inevitable spread of social decay that your particular transgression will no doubt contribute to.

Why are German milimetrically brutal? Because it's fun. Ruthlessness gives them sadistic pleasure. Take the bouncer at Berghain, last time I was there. I rolled up with a female friend from the States and two Argentinians named Nico. My friend attempted to make a casual, flirtatious joke, the kind one imagines American bouncers would warm to courteously. The Berghain guard in contrast remained glacially serious, before replying with all the threatening weight of a military officer during interrogation: "You've made a joke, but it's not funny. Look, no one is laughing."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jay Goes Cosmic

What's the opening sample on Jay-Z's "Blueprint 3," you ask? Why it's 'spirit' by Frederic Mercier, of course, from his 'Pacific' LP, a late 70s french cosmic-disco steam-roller with a head-nodding beat and glistening huge synths and, needless to say, a daniele baldelli secret weapon. Enjoy.

frederic mercier - spirit (RE-UP!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

systems breaking down

absolute classic early 80s female-led synth dirge by the mysterious Anna. File under spookiness like "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin, or "Faith"-era Cure. Note the killer outro, with wild drum fills and background screaming, everything melting like a comet descending into the ocean. Anna sings lines like "Wish my boyfriend stayed around...I think my system's breaking down," the whole thing expressing psychic turmoil, metropolitan alienation, shadows in the neon wilderness, empty streets in the dead of night, the faces of passersby like blood-drained specters. Also a tinge of intense hysteria like in Polanski's "Repulsion." Included here is also the dope tech-ed up dub version, where you hear a quiet child's voice, like some lost guardian angel, imploring "don't cry anna..."

you be the judge

"This review is a load of pompous, pseudo-intellectual tripe."

"This review is an absurd pile of pretentious garbage"

"absolutely stunning review"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

spectral empire - black shark

video for a new jam by my esteemed labelmates Spectral Empire. Images by Tommy Boy from As Restless As We Are - rugged sci-fi John Carpenter suspense on the high seas. I'm glad to have Night Plane on the same label as these guys, it's a wondrous fit. The Black Shark 12" is out this week.

night plane - drug sub mix

All tracks/edits by me aka night plane, Berlin July/August 2009, mixed together into a twenty-minute voyage of trippy disco and slow-mo house. It's the imaginary soundtrack to drug sub: the movie, the hollywood saga starring everyone's favorite homemade narcotics-smuggling submersible. The story follows the construction of a drug sub in the colombian jungle, its journey to deliver cocaine, capture by coast guard, and the final raid on the drug cartel headquarters

night plane - drug sub mix

1. out of the jungle, into the deep
2. coast is clear
3. caught by icebreaker
4. silent invasion
5. bamboo pentagon

oh and you can order the night plane record here: phonica

Saturday, August 15, 2009

mathias aguayo - walter neff

mathias aguayo - walter neff (from Kompakt Total 10)

another brilliant avant-pop dance track from aguayo, who as one-half of Closer Musik gave Kompakt some of its most original, creative releases. Aguayo has his hands and head in electronic dance music but his heart and spirit are fuelled by a savant sense for unknown pop pleasures, goofy and totally spot on at the same time, he's like a South American Arthur Russell. One of his more recent songs, "Minimal," skewered the stripped-down serious pretense of the subgenre, but it's clear that aguayo is no armchair critic, content to tear down something that he himself cannot improve on. One way out of minimal techno was into the luxuriant but essentially nostalgic grooves of deep house, another way is what aguayo along with villalobos, jamie jones and others are tuned into, a kind of mind-bending future pop radio music that doesn't exist yet. exciting stuff.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

bedroom bliss

washed out - feel it all around

M/A/R/R/S - anitina

washed out is the latest in a string of lo-fi indie acts, like neon indian and memory cassette, matching outer-space shoegaze vocals and shimmering melodies to loping machine beats. But what to call it? There's no shortage of possibilities, including chill wave, gaze wave, and Pitchforkwavegaze, but we're gonna call it 'bedroom bliss,' because it sounds like being half-passed out on your bedroom floor, drooling on your four-track.

Now that one of the forefathers of this sound is arguably, wait for it, 80s dance act M/A/R/R/S, best, or perhaps only, known for their landmark tune "Pump Up the Volume," considered the first UK number one hit to be sample-based. The group was in fact a collaborative effort between two acts, the rock-based A.R. Kane and the electronic-leaning Colourbox. "Pump Up the Volume" was essentially a Colourbox track with added guitar from Kane. The mega-hit's b-side, "Anitina" displays inverse proportions, being by and large a MBV shoegazy tune with added techno drums. It's a solid garage-y JAMC meets 80s house tune and definitely worth a "wtf, this is M/A/R/R/S?" mental hot-foot.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

night plane - "chinese shadows" out August 17th!

In 1982 Glen Larson and Stu Phillips brought you the high-tech wizardry of Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT). 1984 saw Jan-Michael Vincent and Sylvester Levay's Airwolf. Fuelled by Tangerine Dream’s synth anthems, the laser-guided Street Hawk motorcycle appeared in 1985. In July 2009, Thisisnotanexit presents Night Plane’s state-of-the-art dark disco that welds cosmic, italo and house grooves onto druggy, atmospheric rock songs. Night Plane’s debut, “Chinese Shadows,” offers three dancefloor-ready tunes teeming with cinematic suspense, conjuring up scenes of geopolitical conflict, substance abuse, underworld intrigue and sci-fi hallucinations. The sound is the result of a meticulous engineering process: to forge the Night Plane prototype, Brooklyn-based producer, DJ and critic William Rauscher took his decades of studying jazz piano and twentieth-century minimalism and applied them to the decadent energies of Fleetwood Mac and Patti Smith, the long-form disco structures of Giorgio Moroder, Gino Soccio and Patrick Cowley, and the visceral noir of Michael Mann and Brian de Palma. But Night Plane is just as much the product of the times Rauscher spent both in Germany and the US studying for his PhD – on “Chinese Shadows” one can hear the cyborg rhythms of Berlin churning alongside distinctly New York-style scuzzy rock tunes.

Chinese Shadows: On the title track, a grizzly, Rhodes-driven disco throb gets chased by a relentless incandescent dragon, barreling through a labyrinth of gangland haunts, opium dens and rain-soaked ports of call. Suffused with a neon narcosis, the track weathers bursts of electric light mixed with the strung-out howls of the half-alive, swelling into a hypnotic rollercoaster that plumbs the depths of a drug-addled netherworld.

Wave Haze: Tropical depression. A sprawling rock-tinged Balearic-disco triptych offers visions of the morning sea - a sun-soaked following a sordid all-nighter, laying face down in the sand for some bleary-eyed solace, then baptism in a saltwater tide. But in a testament to romantic longing, no amount of sweet beach relief can quell the aching in a grifter’s heart.

Walls of Stone: The EP closes with a nocturnal passage through the Lower Manhattan financial district: those grand, desolate atriums lined with marble and bejeweled chandeliers, gates of gilded bronze, monumental and inhuman, all encased in late-night solitude to form a post-punk Chirico nightmare.
Night Plane was discovered by Thisisnotanexit Records, the cult UK indie that has previously brought you releases and remixes from the likes of They Came From The Stars I Saw Them, Detachments, Parallels, Optimo, Emperor Machine, Hatchback, Prins Thomas, Professor Genius, Brennan Green, Naum Gabo, Capracara, Serge Santiago, Mungolian Jetset, Holy Ghost and Brain Machine.
Clash Magazine recently called the label “the most enigmatic and consistent new label in the UK” and “the UK’s answer to Italians Do It Better”.