Thursday, October 29, 2009

vainqueur - elevation (1996, chain reaction 07)

after discussing some modern dub-techno, let's take it back to the mid 1990s and discuss one of the early proponents of the genre: rene lowe, aka vainqueur, an early contributor to the venerable post-basic channel label, chain reaction. here is one of his masterpieces: elevation.

vainqueur's music is definitely influenced by basic channel's dub-inflected minimal techno of just a few years earlier, but whereas the BC axis placed heavy emphasis on unrelenting drum loops, elevation lacks almost all 'conventional' percussion, leaving only barely-pronounced stabs of sound to indicate rhythm under a blissful, loud storm of analog noise. both tracks here extend well past the 10-minute mark; without the hyperactive drumming common in his peers' music, but with staggered rhythmic elements (in 5/4 time signatures?), vainqueur creates a spacious environment for home listening and contemplation.

i tend to dissect and analyze the music i listen to, but vainqueur's never-ending drones have, in my experience, proven basically impenetrable to such scrutiny. this is something to put on and relax to, or even sleep to. big thanks to ripped in glasgow for sharing this gem. enjoy!

deepchord - electromagnetic dowsing (2005, s y n t h)

electromagnetic dowsing is a pair of loooong, hypnotic, dub-techno tracks for your late night, courtesy of rod modell aka deepchord, on mike huckaby's label s y n t h.

"step 1" sounds like a jam session between some hippies with bongos and a geek with electronic noise generators... and it works: the acoustic percussion locks into a groove as the haze swirls above. "step 2" features a more jackin' 4/4 beat, and more defined chord progressions, accented by occasional decayed shards of sound that fall away from the motion of the track.

both tracks push the less-is-more approach for about 11 minutes apiece, combining a driving rhythm section with dubby atmospherics and little else. in other words, typical deepchord/echospace.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

false - 2007 (2007, m-nus)

ahh, matthew dear, how i love you. under his own name, as well as the aliases jabberjaw, audion, and false, the guy has carved his niche in the electronic dance music community with hypnotic, yet frustrating experiments in minimalism. while dear has been focused on his audion project recently, i still believe this false album on the m-nus imprint, 2007, is his boldest musical statement to date.

2007 is an hour-long, continuous, mid-tempo mix of 14 tracks, gradually emerging and then receding back into a haze of sound. simplistic, clicky beats are the name of the game, with heavily effected vocals popping up occasionally throughout the journey. honestly, it's hard to pick a standout section as everything just melts together. for me, the noise blasts of "fed on youth," one of my absolute favorite matthew dear productions, provide an appropriate late 'peak' before a collage of vocal snippets bring the album to its conclusion.

the album was considered by RA to be one of the best of 2007 - although i believe it should have placed above dear's own-name album asa breed. while i strongly disagree with the reviewer's claim that this "is almost not danceable" - there is too insistent of a beat to not dance, methinks - i do agree that this album is an amazing effort that sounds almost timeless. that 2007 still sounds modern and even futuristic more than two years later in this ever-evolving landscape of electronic music is testament to the strength of this album.

another sunday with monolake

how about another start to your sunday with smilecoldanatomy's favorite music wizard(s), monolake?

after the dubby ambience of last week's selections, let's try out a more immediately melancholy affair: fragment endlos from 1992. robert henke discusses this half-hour long track here, and it definitely is a dark, intimate work of art. a forlorn piano melody is looped ad infinitum, as sustained horn-like tones call out over a barren landscape occasionally inhabited by a softly chiming tone and other abstract sounds (doors opening/closing? the sound of footsteps? a passing train?). this is pure ambience - no rhythm, only the emotion carried by a few simple sounds. download here.

now let's change directions completely, with "decay," a recent and more straightforward techno track. even though i think this is a bit more evocative of monolake's ambient techno style, henke explains here his disinterest with the track, saying it is an artifact that should have been made 10 years previously. i still think it's an enjoyable listen: a steady beat thumping away as sounds reverberate endlessly. to trained ears it should sound like monolake, albeit an older track... good stuff, i think: what say you?

rounding out this sunday's monolake discussion with a more modern piece of music, take a peek at this half-hour edit of a 2008 performance by termulator x, a duo of robert henke and jay ahern. read up on the collaboration here - the equipment involved is an interesting combination of old hardware and new electronics. this track is pretty fucking relentless, made primarily of skittery, broken beats and processed synth noise-melodies. check it out here!

that's it for now. enjoy your sunday, and go bears!

rod modell - incense & black light (2007)

rod modell, a producer with a decade-long output, might be more familiar to the dub-techno enthusiasts out there as an integral member of the shadowy deepchord/echospace collective. while his works under that umbrella of aliases are known mostly for long, 10+ minute dub soundscapes, 2007's incense & black light works well as a journey through shorter tracks. the album evokes feelings similar to the deepchord/echospace sound, but the shorter tracks introduce different moods more frequently, including occasional forays into darker territory - check out the ominous swirls of "red light," as well as "temple," which has an unsettling, mechanical murmur that reminds me of pole's productions.

while it's easy to get lost in the middle of the album, which offers little in the way of percussion (it is either very muffled or nonexistent), it is book-ended properly. opener "aloeswood" sounds like a machine slowly, hesitatingly being started, and the closer "morning again" is an aptly titled, blissed-out conclusion.

the album artwork hints at the origins of this work (it was produced in hong kong) and provides a visual reference - static structures surrounded by blurry, hazy motion - for the music's interplay between reduced but insistent rhythm, and atmosphere. this is a great one for late at night (hence the late hour in which i'm discussing this), and because of its shorter track lengths, i recommend it as an accessible introduction to the world of ambient/dub/techno.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

prologue portefuille one (2009, prologue)

recently i discussed richie hawtin's plastikman project. one big reason why i like plastikman is that even though it is very minimal, he usually has some drawn out atmospheric noise in the background to settle the music within a deep, disturbing atmosphere.

during the past few months, due to some mnml ssg mixes and an RA label of the month spotlight, i've been attempting to wrap my brain around the concept of 'headfuck techno,' and i think i'm finally getting it. from the munich, germany-based label prologue comes the EP, prologue portefuille one, a trio of tracks that are definitely exemplary of a new, futuristic sound that harkens back to the simplistic subleties of plastikman, 15 years ago.

on this EP are three producers - gianluca meloni, claudio prc, and obtane - whom i had never heard of before, and each one puts forth a lengthy, hypnotic epic that focuses almost entirely on rhythm. busy drumlines phase in and out as rhythmic acid melodies gradually transform and solidify, all under a dark atmosphere that sounds like an icey wind, or a steady inhale or exhale of breath. there's not much else to these tracks, barely even a semblance of melody, but what's there carries so much depth.

this is an amazing record, one that rewards patient, introspective listening on good headphones or a nicely controlled, enclosed soundsystem. prologue's take on minimalist electronic music is refreshing and exciting; the label is barely a year old, and i can't help but think that big things are in store for these guys...

sonar 2010 dates announced: june 17-19

sonar is one of europe's premier summer music festivals, taking place in barcelona, spain. i was actually in barcelona for the week of sonar this past summer, but considering the expensive tickets, plus a wealth of other events that take place around the city that week/end, i decided against attending. i now regret not going and next year i'm hoping to make it back to barcelona and spend at least a day or night at the official festival.

according to the official sonar website, the 2010 version of the festival is due to take place june 17-19 and will actually be split between barcelona and a coruna (pardon my ignorance/inability to place a tilde over the 'n' in that latter city) - a strange idea, in my opinion, because the cities are literally on opposite sides of the country. furthermore, a full-length film to be released in chapters will reveal the religious significance of the festival's new partnership with a coruna. check out the preview at the official site; it looks interesting, to say the least. of course, expect tons of unofficial parties, particularly in barcelona, as the global edm community descends upon the city to showcase their sound and celebrate the beautiful spanish summer...

so - who wants to go to barcelona with me next summer?!

mixes for saturday

ok, i'm gonna cool off after recalling the unfortunate showing at spybar a few nights ago. here's a few mixes i've been enjoying lately, besides this bunker podcast by [a]pendics.shuffle i discussed earlier this month:

giorgio gigli - mnml ssgs mx31
when in doubt, refer to mnml ssgs. i first listened to this one a few months ago - well, technically i only listened to the first half on a night drive between chicago and northwest indiana, but i specifically remember how much bass this brought out of the car's soundsystem. i've listened to it all the way through a few times recently and still can't get over it. the first half is so dark and foreboding, slow and almost beat-less - i'll just quote the mnml ssg description which calls it a "deep, ambient soundscape." frankly i would be fine if the mix continued in this fashion, but almost precisely half-way through, the beat picks up, gaining steam for the rest of the mix and ending in an alarming, polyrhythmic whirl of sound. i only wish it would have pressed on for longer...

sandwell district - RA podcast 177
i'll admit i haven't heard much out of these guys, but i know they've been well-hyped across the internet for their modern, stark minimalism. this mix is by function, a member of the sandwell district label/collective. like everyone, my tastes are constantly evolving, but i always love a deep, insistent techno mix, and this one satisfies that craving very nicely. some techno veterans complain about how this compares or doesn't compare to a 4- or 5-hour performance in person; unfortunately, many of us are unable to see these guys live so i'll take an hour-long 'condensed' version for listening at home, thank you very much. check out the RA page for a brief interview and tracklisting.

lee burridge - RA podcast 129 - 'all day i dream of her'
this mix has since been archived on RA and is unfortunately unavailable there - i don't know why RA does this, they only share these 'casts with relatively low bitrates so i can't see their collection hogging up too much bandwidth. luckily, i tracked this set down via resonant vibes, another good dance music resource. you can read up a bit more on it (and hunt for a tracklisting in the forum) here on RA, where lee describes the mix as "lovely, dreamy, gorgeous, melancholic music," and i couldn't agree more - just listen to that first track, a melchior remix of pole's "pferd." lee just dj'ed at spybar last night, but i wasn't in the mood to go there again, especially after the nick curly fiasco from the previous night, so i turned this on to get a taste of what i was missing.

and why not an adorable picture of a smiling dog to cap off your week. hope it puts a smile on your face - happy saturday!

review: nick curly at spybar

i think i'm gonna try to make it a habit to post up some reviews of the events i attend around chicago, so i'll start by discussing the near-epic fail that was nick curly's set at spybar a few nights ago.

it was raining pretty hard thursday night, so i figured this would keep the typical club plastic away and bring out the loyal people who were genuinely enthusiastic about the music. well, it almost worked like that: arriving after 1am after getting off work, i found spybar as empty as i've ever seen it (and i only go there if the music warrants it). maybe that's why i ended up getting in for free... although i was supposed to be on the free-all-night RSVP list after confirming the "complimentary admission" with the promoter via email, my name wasn't on the list. luckily i noticed a friend was listed (if you can, always check the list with your own eyes), and had a +1; although the door guy tried to lie about her not being on the list, we ultimately got in for free.

lack of professionalism in both promoter and door guy aside, inside the dance floor was thinly populated, only filling up briefly because of a few 'VIP' parties or whatever. nick curly got on stage around 1:45am and his initial momentum had me excited that he'd throw down a set of his trademark deep-house. however, the dance floor started to clear early, leaving it almost empty by 2:30, when curly should have been deep in the groove. at about this point i felt he was basically giving up: even though he was trying to stay active and dance-y up in the booth and was playing good tracks heavy on his organic, percussive style, i just wasn't impressed by the overall dynamics.

spybar has a 4am curfew on fridays, and while i've seen some dj's - such as magda a few months ago - push the crowd for as long as possible up close to closing time, curly called it quits and the lights came on barely after 3:15am. this night had plenty of potential: i believe this was his chicago debut, and upon arrival i had hoped that a thin crowd would coax a riskier, 'weirder' set out of him, but the lack of energy definitely affected the quality of his performance. my friends and i left disappointed, but we showed as much appreciation to our german visitor as we could. hopefully, nick curly comes back to chicago, and plays a better venue with a bigger crowd.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

tomorrow: NICK CURLY at spybar!

nick curly is a deep house dj/producer from germany, and he runs two labels - 8bit and cecille - that are *the shit*. here's one of his tracks that i've been enjoying a lot recently:

and here's a sick track by ray okpara on cecille:

basically, nick curly is a huge name in the world of house and techno - many heads consider him one of the leaders of the 'new', acoustic percussion-heavy deep house movement - and i think this is his chicago debut. i'm not familiar with koji and kabuto, but i saw local dj phil stone throw down a very good set at a party earlier this summer.

check out the RA event info page for more info. the venue is not my favorite by a long shot, but they bring in some solid international talent like this guy; and if you shoot the promoter an RSVP email (, it's free all night! i think this will be my own little celebration of finally finding a job for the winter...

luna city express - hello from planet earth (2009, moon harbour)

another discovery in barcelona, i was hoping to see luna city express dj at a moon harbour label party in a mall on the harbor, but 'complications' from the previous night (that dragged into that morning) kept me from getting there in time to catch them. don't worry, i was out having other music-related fun, but i was a bit disappointed in missing some moon harbour talent that rarely if ever plays in the states - from the few tracks and mixes i'd heard, it sounds like it woulda been a good one. oh well, i still enjoyed a solid 6 or so hours of the party: matthias tanzmann vs dan drastic, reboot, and then another tag team of mike shannon and ernesto ferreyra.

luna city express - the duo of marco resmann and norman weber - have been producing tracks for moon harbour (as well as a few more) for a few years now, but i believe this is their first LP, and i think hello from planet earth is a fun journey through deep house sexiness. the lazy synth chords that i had come to expect from recordings of their dj sets are dropped throughout the album, as well as vocals both soulful and up front as well as abstract and submerged. but really, this album is all about mixing the funky and the beautiful.

the album starts with an introductory track, shouting that it's last call to hop on the train before a few upright funky tracks give way to the slow 'n sexy "orange soft cake." the following track "mr. jack" is a bit, ahem, awkward, but leads into a suite of gorgeous, spacey tracks.

hello from planet earth ends on an interesting, beat-less collage of sound, but like kaden's album, i really dig the second-to-last track, "heaven's gate," which manages to take far-away, echoed vocal snippets, and combine them with a soft, beautiful atmosphere that definitely reaches for the stars, as the percussion chugs away underneath.

a great, deep album and another arrow in moon harbour's quiver of sexy, fun dance music, hello from planet earth is definitely a musical journey worth sitting down and enjoying from start to finish. i'd recommend this one if you liked mathias kaden's recent LP which i discussed before here on smilecoldanatomy.

luke hess - light in the dark (2009, echocord)

check out this new long-player from detroit's luke hess. i first heard of this producer/dj earlier this summer, when i saw him dj with brian kage under the alias 'reference', after a friend recommended i listen to some of hess's stuff before that show.

i would definitely say that luke hess's work could be considered 'dub-techno.' but unlike the tendencies of chain reaction and deepchord/echospace toward very lengthy, hypnotic epics, most of hess's tracks last around six minutes and are rich in rhythm as well as melody. in my opinion, they dynamics are more song-oriented. some of the tracks also include indecipherable vocoded lyrics.

i think hess has created an intriguing album-length journey through dub and deep space. maybe not a contender for 'album of the year', but definitely a solid album.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

sunday morning with monolake

i wanted to share some more mellow, beatless soundscapes to help you get through your sunday, so i'm going to talk about a few half-hour-plus compositions by one of my favorites, monolake.

first up is the original, uncut version of "indigo," a track originally from the 2001 album cinemascope. most of monolake's music has an austere, academic quality to it, but works like this prove that robert henke and his little gang of nerds can also wring plenty of emotion out of so little source material. composed of simple percussive tweaks, an insistent stabbed dub 'chord', and a few drops of water, these ingredients are simply fluctuated in and out for the extent of the musical journey. less is more, indeed. check out this page for an introduction from the man himself, and try this free direct download link.

next is a 'reworked' version of "indigo" for an art installation. read this page where robert henke describes the process of recreating and recording this piece. composed mainly of atmospheric washes, i think the man himself puts it perfectly when he says indigo_transform fills a room "like a perfume." i think it's amazing how much auditory power is conveyed by a mere drop of water. we are lucky to have a freely-available edit of this 're-composition' - download here!

finally, an official monolake work from 1999, gobi. the desert ep. this is probably the most ambient of the official monolake albums, but compared to the tracks i've discussed above, this ep - actually a single long soundscape - is busier and more mechanical in nature. i think the title works perfectly for this one: i imagine a small machine, slowly moving and shifting in place, in a desert oasis as insects buzz by. again, the minimal aesthetic is applied by employing only a handful of sounds in constantly-changing arrangement.

as always, please check out the official monolake website for a wealth of information and free music, and please support these artists. also, i wouldn't mind you sending them an email encouraging robert and co. to bring their music stateside. cheers, and happy sunday!

plastikman - artifakts (bc) (1998)

plastikman is probably the most well-known production alias for minimal techno guru richie hawtin. there has been some recent buzz that, six years after the frighteningly introverted album closer, richie will be starting a new plastikman project, and he has reached out to his fans to help shape what happens next. seeing richie's m-nus record label showcase here in chicago last year really turned me on to live electronic dance music, but it's his desperately minimal yet disturbingly atmospheric plastikman productions that i'll always hold dear to my heart.

artifakts (bc) was the first plastikman album i listened to; actually it is a compilation of tracks made "before consumed" - the next proper album - hence the (bc) in the title. the album starts with the appropriately-titled "korridor," which spends five minutes ushering you into a dark, beat-less atmosphere of sustained synth tones and a repeated acid 'melody.'

the album mainly alternates between epic, 10+ minute compositions combining percussion and 303 acid lines richie was so good at creating, and drum machine workouts like "hypokondriak" and "skizofrenik." atmospheric effects - both sustained synth melodies as well as ominous washes of sound (and maybe some heavily processed vocal samples) - are dispersed throughout these 'artifakts.' i could write about plastikman forever, but i'll just say my favorite song on this album is "pakard," the slowest moving of the epics here. as simple as the concept sounds, things are always changing, shifting, moving in and out of focus. fittingly, the album ends with a tripped-out conversation between some ravers.

hopefully you're intrigued enough to check this album out. richie was and is a true innovator of the electronic music, and to me, the simplicity of his music is reason for its timeless quality. i hope he can get himself back into this headspace for the next chapter of plastikman. until then, find this album!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

[a]pendics.shuffle - elegance and malice (re-worked) (2009)

i admit i'm not too familiar with [a]pendics.shuffle's producions, seeing who was doing these reworks - thomas melchior and adultnapper - perked my antennae, so i had to give it a listen. in my opinion these tracks definitely carry the traits of their remixers, which is a good thing in both cases.

the 'disturbing idol' remix by melchior productions ltd. requires a bit of patience, but your attention will be rewarded as the track digs into a streamlined groove, starting with effected male vocals and building up a simple, mellow chord progression and a variety of soft, swirling, echoed effects.

in contrast to melchior's light, easy-going track, adultnapper's 'pineal eye remix' of 'perky slip (do you see)' aims to disorient before he brings out the zombie funk. the track starts with a heavy, tribal rhythm before fading in a distorted, swirling riff that gradually grows sharper and sharper. other melodic elements are pieced together (in very adultnapper-esque fashion) as the distortion is turned up and up and up until the track peaks... and drops hard as a new, slightly-subdued buzzsaw riff works with a hushed, incoherent (to me) male vocal under that sinister upper melody.!

at 10 minutes apiece, these tracks take a bit to build up and come down, but i think the pair work great together, offering an interesting contrast of sound and mood.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

new FREE audion track - 'instant in you'

if you know me (or at least my weirdo musical tastes), you know i'm fairly obsessed with matthew dear and the electronic dance music he creates under the names audion and false. so of course i'm pleased that he has recently shared a new audion track, 'instant in you' at his website. i will definitely be writing more about matthew's music soon, but for now, enjoy this groovy little jam and check out the pupil-popping visual art he brings to his new live show.

early warning: audion u.s. tour in november--including a show at smartbar here in chicago!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

pink floyd - 1970-12-22 - 'disgusting, hardly music'

here it is! one of the most intriguing pink floyd performances before the dark side of the moon era, or perhaps ever. just imagine being there: the year is 1970, it's just days before christmas, and you find yourself going to see pink floyd, the premier experimental rock band, perform a monster of a show, playing 7 songs over the course of two and a half hours to a quiet but appreciative audience. perhaps you've also consumed some LSD in order to enhance the experience.

i give the sound quality of this recording a B/B+... this is a very good recording, and you can hear each instrument pretty damn clearly, although there are occasional small drop-outs (my major gripes being a second-long cut right after the scream in 'careful with that axe, eugene' as well as a cut that ends 'set the controls' before the final vocal reprise). i've found many recordings lack the low end where roger waters' bass resides, but you can hear roger plunk away pretty clearly on this one. while i honestly don't think the performance is particularly great, i think it's worth a listen for its historic nature, given the interesting set opener and closer.

a very rare 'performance' of 'alan's psychedelic breakfast'--clocking in at almost thirty minutes long--opens the show. after such a rambling start (you can hear the band enjoying a meal on stage), the band breezes through extended versions of their concert staples.

the show concludes with two long renditions of pink floyd's pre-dsotm album centerpieces. first; 'a saucerful of secrets,' which is interrupted by a power outage right as they start the final section; keyboardist rick wright hops on a grand piano to keep the song alive while power is restored. and finally: a triumphant version of 'atom heart mother,' complete with a backing brass band and choir. i really like the much more common small-band versions of this with the foursome covering the choral parts themselves, but the backing choir works so well in this version. after the song, as the band presumably walks back onstage following the encore break, a perfectly audible shout requesting "bike!" goes unfulfilled (unfortunately, for this syd barrett fan), and instead the band ends the concert with a short reprise of the 'atom heart mother' main theme.

while this isn't my favorite pink floyd performance, it's worth a listen for the good sound quality and song selection. see the included notes and bootleg art for more lineage and background information. please keep this marked as mp3 (~224 vbr) if you're going to share it. enjoy!

Disc 1:
1. Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast [29:21]
2. The Embryo [14:33]
3. Fat Old Sun [15:06]
4. Careful With That Axe, Eugene [15:59]

Disc 2:
1. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun [12:21]
2. A Saucerful Of Secrets [25:21]
3. Atom Heart Mother [32:54]
4. Atom Heart Mother (encore) [2:48]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

found on resident advisor...

resident advisor aka RA is a great all-around resource for global electronic music culture. the site offers reviews (of both music and events), as well as event listings and discussion forums, besides its own podcast and other music links. i wanted to share two things that caught my eye on RA recently:

check this article on john roberts, an american dj now based out of berlin. he produces tracks on dial and laid, two related labels run in part by peter kersten aka lawrence/sten. the article also has a streaming music player, so you can listen to full tracks of john's smooth, succinct, mellow house.

RA also has 'the feed,' which provides links to outside websites with interesting edm-related content. just a few minutes ago on the feed, i found this FREE ~scape compilation. ~scape is a record label run by stefan betke, perhaps better known for his production moniker, pole. pole has made some seriously good music for over a decade, usually focused on crackling, dubby ambience. his more recent productions have gotten a bit more lively, but his second album, 2, is perhaps my favorite, with swirling delays that echo into infinity--great for late-night listening. i'm honestly not familiar with ~scape, but given the quality of pole's music, i'm definitely giving this free compilation a close listen.

that's it for now. enjoy your saturday, and stay warm!

Friday, October 9, 2009

monolake - cyan (1996, chain reaction 04)

a few days ago, i showed you some monolake tracks from earlier this year. now, we have monolake's rare first tracks, 'cyan I/II,' with the always-amazing chain reaction label.
the first time i heard of monolake, i was in a bit of a panic to make sure a term paper for my college chaucer course wouldn't be turned in too late. monolake's polygon cities kept me focused with its precise academic beats, but upon surveying monolake's catalog, i found their first album, hongkong to be perhaps my favorite of the bunch. i believe robert henke (the core member of monolake) traveled to the eponymous locale in order to gather ambient source material, and then combined them with subtle percussion tracks to make this album. from this cyan record, 'cyan' starts off with some far-off bird cries (i think?) floating over a 4 on the floor beat, and for the EP, 'cyan II' gets even more spacey than it's a-side.

i am a huuuuge fan of robert henke's work, both under the monolake name as well as his own. in my opinion, robert henke is nothing short of a genius, and deserves more recognition particularly because he designed the very popular ableton music production software. check out his website for more information about his music, tour dates, as well as an archive of free, downloadable tracks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

sts9 - summercamp 2008-5-23 day set

one of my favorite actual 'bands' nowadays is sound tribe sector 9 aka sts9 aka sector 9. i've been a fan since a friend mentioned them a few years ago to me when i was a pretty dirty hippie. they mix live instruments with midi/computer electronics. they used to be much more instrumental and jazzy and funky, but in the past year or so they've really switched over to a more computerized approach to their live show, and i'm not really sure how i feel about it...

summercamp is an early-summer music festival in central illinois. this was my first (and still only) camping festival experience, and it was tons of fun. this sts9 afternoon set was particularly fun. this band is the type that should be playing long late night sets, but here they get a 90 minute time slot before it gets dark, and in my opinion they play their set perfectly, moving quickly to give the audience as much music as they could. the set opens with a beautiful, inspired version of 'move my peeps.' i'm not that big on fan favorite 'lo swaga' anymore, but here it leads immediately into a funky 'aimlessly.' other old school jams are peppered throughout, including 'tap-in,' 'circus' and a cover of the boards of canada's 'roy g biv' played as the sun peeked out on an otherwise cloudy day, and 'kamuy.' after the classy 'kamuy,' the band ends the set with 'ehm,' a then-new song that is now indicative of their preference for live electronics; this early version has some very nice 'organic' touches--piano melodies, as well as some smooth sustained guitar tones--that accompany the glitchy effects.

at the time i was really impressed by this show--so much so that i couldn't enjoy the sounds of umphrey's mcgee later that night, or ever after for that matter--and i still think it holds up pretty well on tape. listen now!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

mixes i've been enjoying

here are a few places to go for good or at least interesting mixes:
mnml ssgs
bunker podcast
resident advisor

and here's a few mixes that i've had on steady rotation lately:

insideout - stranger things should happen
grant aaron aka insideout is a dj now based out of berlin. he runs the clink label along with camea, which produces weird, dark minimal grooves. i came across this summer dj mix a few months ago and was hooked upon the first listen. slow and sexy, just how i like it... a few weeks ago, i was at sonotheque for bruno pronsato and discovered that grant was in attendance, in between shows on a stateside tour. he later treated us to a similarly groovy set at the afterparty until the wee hours of the morning. kudos to grant for helping finish a really fun night. here's his track list for this mix:
1- moritz piske - real one / opossum
2- wolf+lamb - keep me up all night (dancing) / wolf+lamb
3- lee curtiss - south aphrika / wolf+lamb
4- dyed soundorom - she knows / freak'n'chic
5- chris wood & meat - chi-ka-go (phil's unreleased house edit) / below
6- nick höppner - makeover / osgut ton
7- matt john - sacing / perlon
8- unknown - right on tonight
9- melchior productions - choir / cadenza
10- digitaline - altra / cityfox
11- benjamin fehr - niagara / cantenaccio
12- seuil - jealous derviche / lesizmo:r
13- gadi mizrahi - i'll set your house / wolf+lamb
14- shaun reeves - patience / wolf+lamb
15- shaun reeves - cdv/ wolf+lamb
16- stl - silent state / smallville
17- baby ford - parallel life / perlon
18- losoul - deuce / playhouse

daze maxim - livePA - dusseldorf, germany - 2009-09-05
i found out about daze maxim through a collaboration with bruno pronsato under the alias 'the others.' he shares some similarity with bruno in that the music is a bit abstract, but honestly, some of his tracks aren't that impressive to me--although i adore his 'pull absurde'--but i'm a sucker for livePAs soooo we have this recent 40-minute recording of his live set; pretty neat, methinks.

[a]pendics.shuffle - livePA bunker podcast 18, 2008-06-04
a very unique name (his real name is kenneth james gibson), but i had not given this producer's music a listen until very recently. i'll definitely have to keep an eye out for this guy if his tracks are anything like this livePA. dark, deep, disorienting, and with some seductively fractured female vocals. tasty!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

mathias kaden - studio 10 (2009, vakant cd04)

earlier this summer, i went on my first trip to europe, visiting barcelona, ibiza, and amsterdam over the course of 2 weeks. of course, one goal for my trip was to get a good taste of the european dance music culture.

my personal 'white whale' was mathias kaden. turns out he's produced a bunch of tracks for vakant, and after discovering his work earlier this year, i missed out on a number of chances to see him perform in barcelona (including a vakant label party) due to other parties or exhaustion. luckily, i got to see him at awakenings festival in amsterdam, where he played to an adoring sweaty crowd dancing in a cozy white tent.

i love mathias's tracks, which are usually focused on rolling, acoustic percussion and have a really tribal feel to them. but none of it was ever really 'deep'... until the recent release of this, his debut LP, studio 10. i had wondered how his style--mostly displayed through 8-minute tracks--would work in an album-based (ie longer) aesthetic, and i must say i've been pleasantly surprised after a few listens. mathias injects this entire album with depth and soul, helped out in part by a number of lyricists. i think my favorite track is 'panic stricken,' with some smooth male vocals and jazzy call-and-response sax riffs. elsewhere, foreign female vocals speak over decaying, dubbed out beats on 'kawaba.' the album ends on a classy old-school note with '1981,' but i really prefer the penultimate 're menor,' with its mournful violin and exotic melodies.

all in all, this is a solid debut album for mathias kaden.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

monolake - atlas (2009)

check out this pair of tracks from earlier this year, by monolake aka robert henke. this music represents an excellent take on the crossover of hard techno and dub tendencies. heavy, relentless, and tribal, with organic noises (bird calls?) giving this otherwise-cold machine music a bit of warmth and familiarity... i'm a big fan of this stuff. definitely gonna write more about monolake but for now, get on this!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

adultnapper - while he sleeps (2009)

there's a storm raging outside my window, and i've found a pretty good soundtrack to the light show: while he sleeps, from new york's adultnapper. i had heard that name dropped occasionally (it is an memorable alias, don't you think?), and decided to check out day party he played here earlier this summer along with butane. butane's set was light and fun as the sun started to go down, then adultnapper took over the darkened dance floor. i was treated to a set full of weird, deep tracks... in other words, stuff that i'm really diggin' right now.

while he sleeps is a set of three tracks adultnapper released in july. the ep starts with 'kind,' which skitters along twitchy beats and a repeated dub chord, before a few pieces of melody fit together to create a moody ambience. 'sebald' is the most sinister of the three, placing a curiously subtle, bouncy bass line alongside a similarly elastic melody and fleshing it out with some distorted cymbals and a soft underpinning of rapid-fire acoustic percussion. the title track ends the journey, reprising a dreamy atmosphere similar to 'kind' as well as a bass line like the middle track. i think 'while he sleeps' is the most earnestly emotional, particularly because the two female vocal samples are the only vocals on this ep: the first is a hollowed-out exclamation, and the other is a simple claim, "trying to tell me." besides these, the track's main feature is an alternating stuttered/sustained, semi-jazzy piano melody, combined with a few more weird synth tones. the track builds the tension up to a peak, before dropping all the parts back into place.

this is a killer ep; all three tracks carry the same dark, emotional vibe, but i can't really pick a favorite. this guy has some mixes floating around the internet that are also worth listening to. check his RA page for more info and links.

thomas melchior

i've only recently discovered thomas melchior. i first found out about his music via his who can find me ep from last year; check out the b-side, 'choir,' and dig the black hole it gets sucked into during that middle section:

the dude has made music under his own name as well as the name, melchior productions ltd. he has produced for a number of labels, including cadenza and perlon. his 2007 album no disco future for perlon made resident advisor's top albums of 2007 list, and i definitely think it's an album worth an hour of your ear-time.

i love sasu ripatti !

a couple of years ago, i came across a few albums that helped steer my head into the world of danceable electronic music. one of those was luomo's vocalcity, originally from 2000. only after some time did i realize that this was one of several aliases used by sasu ripatti. the finnish producer has recently released two new albums: one under his 'vladislav delay' moniker, as well as one as part of the moritz von oswald trio. i can't wait to check out those works, but after recently re-visiting the smooth sexy house of vocalcity, i figured it was worthy of discussion here on my blahg. vocalcity is a collection of six seductive, slow-burning tracks, each clocking in over 10 minutes. the formula is basically the same throughout: put together some skittery microhouse beats, and combine them with atmospheric synths and simple, repeated vocal lines. while the album may suffer from a bit of sameness, the quality of vocalcity should become apparent with patient listening. 'market' starts off with a slightly-stuttered but still funky, soulful rhythm before dropping in a female verse about six minutes in. the transition into the following track, 'class,' is seamless, but this time around, at the half-way point, a sinister synth melody takes control. 'synkro' is the highlight for me. deep, steady-going, with shards of dubbed-out sounds--most of which seem sourced from both male and female vocals--swirling off into space under a repetitive rhythm that runs for fourteen minutes, this track is further proof of sasu's ability to ride out a groove to maximum effectiveness.

in my opinion, 'tessio' is the weakest track, but only because it's the only track that introduces vocals before filling out the rhythm, and i find the lyrical content a bit annoying after a while; it's also bound to stop dancers, especially because the last 5 minutes or so of the previous track is given over to beatless vocal samples and swirling synths. luckily, the album ends on a strong-note with 'she-center,' which drops a few bpm's to really let the funk-inflected melancholy dig in one last time.

vocalcity is all about the rhythm and feel, with little in the way of melody. i usually object to vocals in dance music, but this album is generally good at keeping the vocals as mesmerizing as the beats they're embedded in. i think what i've always liked most about it is that it's very low-key: it's sleek and stylish, it can work as sexy background music, but it should satisfy both headphone listeners and dancers who can let themselves be taken away by the rhythm.