Saturday, November 28, 2009

review: 'fall deep' party with wolf+lamb

this past wednesday, devoted chicago edm heads were treated to new york city's wolf+lamb - actually, it was just gadi mizrahi, half of the duo - at a 'hardt and soul' loft party on the eve (read: morning) of thanksgiving.

i arrived at the south loop location around 1:30am, after wandering around and finding the right alley. entrance into the party was low key and facilitated by a bouncer manning the door and a freight elevator shuttling party people up to the event space. the venue was one big, wide, concrete room with a low ceiling, appropriately minimal lighting, and a view overlooking the city. the soundsystem could have been louder for such a big room, but worked for the 150-200 (in my very rough estimate) people in attendance; the place definitely could have filled up at least twice as much. regardless, the crowd was wholly enthusiastic and there was plenty of room to dance.

after catching up with some friends over the ending section of philip stone's set (i recognized a "lonely people only" track he had played at a previous party), i got up close to see party promoter gianna hardt play a solid, groovy set leading up to gadi's opening.

at around 3am, gadi took the reins with enthusiasm and plenty of showmanship, wearing (and frequently taking off) a masquerade eye-mask and scarf while dancing behind the decks. his mixing was usually on and he played to the eager crowd... until about an hour into his set. nearing 4 o'clock, gadi should have been cutting it deep to the tuned-in crowd, but instead he dropped the bpm's and quickly faded into some excruciatingly slow, soulful jams. almost the entire room stopped dancing; my quick questioning of some buddies revealed that all wanted gadi to pick up the pace. one person pointed out how this was the wolf+lamb style from nyc, but here in chicago the sudden change cleared a huge chunk of people from the dance floor and out of the party.

after about 15 minutes of this nonsense, gadi emerged from his hole and brought back that steady electro-inflected 4/4 beat that everybody was craving. unfortunately, this happened a few more times, but besides the self-indulgence of these slow interludes and the occasional poor transition, i think gadi played a good set with lots of fun tracks that the crowd ate up - being the geek that i am, i noticed him cuing a bunch of wolf+lamb material on his laptop. i took off around 6:30, while gadi - still in a dazed sort of focus - kept spinning to a happy little group of a dozen or so dancers.

props to gianna and her 'hardt and soul' concept: in my opinion, the space was perfect: it was discrete yet easily-accessible via public transit. the primary lighting, coming from the dj booth and a line of floor lighting-wire, conveyed a pretty cool vibe accented by the ambience of the view outside. an open free water fountain was appreciated, along with a not-too-expensive bar. good spot, good people, good music; all in all, a solid party.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

review: audion at smartbar

this past weekend, matthew dear returned to chicago under his audion guise to present his 'hecatomb' live show. i had seen the this audio/visual show over the summer in europe twice, including the debut in barcelona, so i had a good idea of what to expect for the night, but i was still impressed.

i stepped into smartbar around 1:30am to see local dj frankie vega warming up the crowd... with some intense high-bpm techno. i immediately noticed three circular screens hung from the ceiling as well as one big screen covering part of the dance floor; my worrying that this wouldn't have the visual accompaniment was for naught, and as frankie finished his set, i could see matthew and others prepare the audio and visual equipment for his set.

as i expected, matthew started his live set verrrry slowly, with just a few fragments of sound chained together that developed into a propulsive minimal techno groove. smartbar is good for thumping bass, but not so much for mids, probably because it's pretty cave-like. when i saw this in barcelona with a bigger, taller venue, the mids sparkled (and it was amazing). at smartbar, not so much, but that's a minor gripe; you could still definitely hear matthew's trademark chords and glitches over the never-ending chug-chug rhythm. i could understand how it may have sounded boring or noisy to some but i just love this frustrating, sexual, style of edm. i absolutely loved the transitions, which seemed to make the music go in and out of focus. throughout the night, i could feel how matthew would use the set rhythm as a jumping-off point. one highlight was an excellent live take on "look at the moon", which was dropped off the 1-beat and kept like that for its duration.

the screens worked well, given the low ceiling of the club. there were a few different combinations of visuals (mostly geometric/circular shapes), which were very psychedelic, especially when matthew 'strobed' them blindingly to mess with your vision. the music reached a disorienting sort of 'peak' as matthew slowed everything down to a noisy, distorted drone, from which he built back up for one last pummeling section.

i'm pretty familiar with most of matthew dear's stuff, but i could only point out a few loops and sections of familiar material. smartbar was filled nicely and the dancefloor stayed filled for the entire set, with more than a few heads just standing and watching the displays in a trance; for this reason i wish the crowd would have been flooded with masked people like the barcelona set (see his website) just to freak everyone out a little... for the nerds: matthew used two computers. i didn't catch more than a glimpse of the computer handling the visuals, but i noticed his computer was running ableton live and he used a standard dj mixer and mpd-24 midi controller. he played about 90 minutes standalone, building his set from nothing and taking it apart at the end.

after his set i was able to chat him up briefly as he took his setup apart. he says he's got a new matthew dear (vocal) album coming out in the spring.

all in all, a great show, and a convincing statement for the power behind synchronized audio and visual art.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

i'm not dead, here's some more mixes!

hello, team - i've been absent for a long minute. my recently-acquired job has had me working lots of hours the past few weeks (including lots of overnight and early morning shifts) in preparation for the holidays... but i've still been checking out lots of fresh music - at least, fresh to me. anyhoo, here's some stuff i've been listening to:

bruno pronsato - bunker podcast 057
from one of smilecoldanatomy's favorite edm musicians comes a livePA recording from earlier this year... and here's proof that experimental-minded producers like bruno need a great soundsystem to really shine. i've seen his live sets twice now, both times at the recently-closed sonotheque, and while the music has been great, the sound could have been much better. listening to this live recording at home lets you really tune into all the polyrhythmic loops and clicks that bruno throws out. you'll hear selections from why can't we be like us? and the others' take EP, as well as snippets from his more recent epic the make up the break up sprinkled throughout this relentless yet sexy 90-minute set. killer!

dela - ten p.m.
as part of milwaukee's 'projekt' collective, dela has helped bring mil-town some solid national and international talent. unfortunately i haven't had the chance to make it up to milwaukee to attend an event... i hope to, soon! until then, i'll be appeased by this tight hour-long mix mixing some nice, smooth, dubby tracks with some more clickity-click beats. great stuff! check out dela's page on his projekt website for a tracklisting and more info.

joy orbison - doldrums 001
i think i found out about this dude via mnml ssgs. dubstep usually isn't my thing, but remove that irritating womp that so annoyingly defines the genre, and my attention may be gained. sure enough, this 40-minute long mix has virtually no womp and was indeed worthy of my attention. it still swings wildly on that percussive backbeat, but it keeps a fast tempo with colorful, happy melodies and lyrics throughout, ending with a sick pair of joy orbison's own tracks. neat! i found this blog post with more details on this london-based dj/producer as well as a tracklisting for this mix, which seems to be a preview of his soon-to-be-launced doldrums label. check out his myspace as well.

that should keep you busy. until next time, i'll be checking out plenty of other mixes, as well as a bunch of actual studio productions (mostly LP), as i formulate a list of my favorite music from this year. enjoy!

RIP: sonotheque )-;

so while i've been away from this blog, it turned out that the the murmurs were true - word had been spreading for a few weeks about a possible change in ownership at sonotheque, a nightclub just a mile west of downtown that has hosted a wealth of interesting electronic music. i had only been attending events at this club for the past year and a half or so, but i've seen a lot good music and met a lot of fun, interesting people here. unfortunately, sonotheque finally closed its doors for good this past weekend.

from the chilled-out beats of the sight below and lusine, to the minimal grooves of daniel bell, to the weirdo stylings of bruno pronsato - sonotheque became, along with smartbar, my favorite club for edm. anyone who knows me knows i only go to these sorts of places for the music, and even if people bitched about the soundsystem or the step dividing the dance floor, i still loved the vibes of the place, knowing i would see familiar faces whose focus was on the music and not on looking cool...

it's a fucking shame this happened so quickly, and with so little fanfare. a club of this caliber deserved a better send-off, but perhaps the almighty dollar didn't allow that. oh well, i can only hope that smartbar picks up the slack.

good bye, sonotheque - my memories of dancing with good people within your chic confines will not soon be forgotten!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

more mixes!

hello all, haven't had much free time lately; i've either been busy working or tuning in to a bunch of different mixes and albums, especially stuff claimed by some as "the best of 2009"... anyhoo, here's a few more mixes for your ears to digest:

juho kahilainen - together and none
found out about this guy through his recently-released EP on prologue, and had to learn more about him. on his myspace, he describes his music as "depressive trance," which i think is a good description for this assemblage of deep, ominous tracks. check out his website for more information (it's an interesting read...) and a tracklisting.

shed - live PA at sonar festival 2009, barcelona
honestly, i should have been at this. i was in barcelona and wanted to attend sonar, but seeing shed and marcel dettman's short time slots convinced me to go check out something cheaper. too bad i didn't make it... as mnml ssgs puts it, this guy knows how to "bring the hammer." his 2008 album shedding the past is a masterpiece, a modern take on dub-inflected techno full of depth and emotion. some might consider this live PA repetitive and abrasive, i just think it's marvelous. intensely hypnotic... so move your body.

insideout - bunker podcast 61
from one of my current favorites, recorded in june at a bunker party. compared to his stranger things should happen mix i discussed before, this is a bit more tech-y, with some weird, deep tracks sprinkled throughout - solid. check out the bunker podcast series for a brief blurb on the mix, as well as many more sets worth your ear-time.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

a couple fresh mixes...

happy sunday night and happy halloween! i'll bring you some monday monolake tomorrow but for now i wanted to discuss a few recent mixes i've been enjoying.

panorama bar 02 mixed by tama sumo
here is some nice deep house courtesy of the ostgut guys. i had never heard of tama sumo before this, but given this is an ostgut release, i figured it would be worth a listen. i've actually tried it a few times and it's growing on me, especially the first 60 minutes or so, although there's a vocal track near the end that sorta grinds my gears. highlights for me are the opening tinman track (this and the hype on mnml ssgs has convinced me that i'll need to check out more of his stuff), and the gorgeous 'u & i' by prosumer and murat tepeli.

simply devotion (cassy in the mix)
another house-y mix on cocoon with a good amount of female vocals, including cassy's distinctive voice but with a bit more old-school, soulful jams than tama sumo's mix above. this also ends on a very strong note... whateva!

peteone - muse DC 2009-10-22
this is a recording of a dj set from my buddy peteone. a bit more variety than the above mixes, as peteone takes the set from a fun, ethnic, tribal feel into a more tech-oriented territory before a few mellow mirko loko tracks finish things off.