Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Human Bond

Youtube does the weirdest things to people. Take one E Dancer (AKA Kevin Saunderson) track released in 1998, cut it a bit, and upload it alongside a tongue in cheek Formula 1 parody featuring a real life Homer Simpson that inexplicably cuts out half way through. What do you get? Fucked if I know, but I'm still struggling to work out what Luis1vo was hoping to show the world, the Formula 1 sketch, or the track. Either way, I'm glad it's up there and that I can share it with you, my discerning reader/listener.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Stereo Dancer - Absolute Reason

I find it impossible to believe that this track came out in 1998! The dub-techno intro sounds very before its time, and the transition from fog-horn bleariness to sit up and take notice beat is artful and well judged. This is the first track from Danny Tenaglia's Global Undeground 'Athens' mix, which has moments of ups and downs, but overall, gives one a good idea of how important a DJ Tenaglia is. He's had residencies at Twilo, APT, Cielo, Tunnel, and Avalon in New York, rocked Ibiza, and unnusally for a New York house DJ, been a long time champion of German techno. Although Stereo Dancer are French, you really can, whether intentionally or not, hear a Basic Channel influence.

This is taken from his Wikipedia page: 'Danny Tenaglia (born March 7, 1961) is a New York-based DJ and Grammy nominated record producer. Explosive success for him came not behind a major label release, or a world tour, or a radio hit remix: It happened when enough people had the private Tenaglia experience for themselves.'

In all honesty this is 100% true - I saw him at Exit in 2007 having never heard of him, and was blown away by his performance. He wiped the floor with Hawtin, and only Magda, perhaps Marko Nastic gave him a run for his money. If you ever get the chance to see him live, jump at it.

Friday, 26 June 2009


What with the sudden death of Michael Jackson, it got me thinking about where he ranked in the heirarchy of popular 20th century (because he wasn't 21st) musicians. You have your Dylans in the list, your Neil Youngs. Leonard Cohen, Bowie, as well. Then of course you have the bands; The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Zeppelin, U2 even. I'm sure Jackson snuggles in somewhere, but one person you never see is Paul Simon. He gets credited for his work with Art Garfunkel, but usually in dialogue with the film it came to embody, The Graduate, which really does him a disservice.

Songs such as Rosemary and Thyme and Scarborough Fair are hauntingly infantile and would sit more comfortably with the Pagainsed mediaevalism of the original Wicker Man then the middle-class insecurities of Dustin Hoffman' character. Yet it works.

The medieval theme continues on the Graceland album cover, a nod to earlier material, but the music within takes its sources from an equally faraway place. The album is phenomenally pioneering in the way it incorporates the African incantations of Ladysmith Black Mambazo in a way never explored before. Rooted both musically and in spirit with the deep south of America, Simon fuses the fairytale quality of the region with the equally otherworldly elements of African singers. And moreover he does it with such poetic flair. Diamonds on The Soles of His Shoes neatly defies ideas of rich and poor, whilst Homeless sounds like a funeral dirge composed by an African chain gang. The smash hit, You Can Call Me All has a great video with Chevy Chase in it and the eponymous track Graceland has maybe my favourite lyric of all time, trumping any of Dylan's efforts:

'There is a girl in New York City,
Who calls herself the human trampoline,
And sometimes when I'm falling flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Whoa so this is what she means,
She means we're bouncing into Graceland.'

Later work shows an affinity for reggae which is a bit quaint but so pleasantly catchy (Mother and Child Reunion) and his whole career has seen a willingness to engage with new music. And he is still relevant. The sound he created is being peddled by Vampire Weekend most prominently, by TV on the Radio, and the rest of the Afrobeat heads yet it all stems from him. Let's not forget that he has aged gracefully, never averse to playing new material but always keeping it his own. As he said: “My whole artistic life has always been about change, change, change, move on, move on. It's the only thing I find interesting.”


I have never ever been a Michael Jackson fan. I don't mean to hate on the King of Pop, but the way I see it, he was a good dancer who had the good luck to work with Quincy Jones in one of the most fertile periods of his career. Nonetheless, I don't deny his levels of social significance and notoriety (even though for the last 20 years it's had more to do with negative press than anything music related), and am more than happy to add my name to the list (6 billion and counting I think) of people using the internet (#MichaelJackson) to wish him well in the afterlife. Suicide bombers dream of harems chock-a-block full of virgins with wicked french lace suspenders and a naughty glint in their eye. I reckon Jacko's view of the afterlife was a Disney World-esque set up full of little kids, troipical animals, rollercoaster rides, and him at the centre like some sort of muscial version of the Worther's Original grandpa'. Nonetheless, my thoughts and prayers are with Michael Jackson's kids. Actually, I suppose my thoughts and prayers have always been with Michael Jackson's kids.

Anyway, I'm not going to post an MJ track (well sort of), but instead put up Caetano Veloso's mash-up of Billie Jean and Eleanor Rigby. Am I alone in thinking MJ covers are more often than not better than the source material?

Friday, 19 June 2009


Woolworth's is alive and well in Berlin my friends, although with less Pick 'n Mix...

Deep Sensation - Can't Give You Up

Jus-Ed, Levon Vincent, Dj Qu, and the return of New York House

Not since Masters at Work and Nervous were still a force to be reckoned with has New York had such a buzzing and necessary house scene as it does now. The city, not known for offering much in the way of reliably consistent electronic fare, does nonetheless have a long history of affiliation with house. Levan's epic dubbed out disco sets at the Paradise Garage were always in stark contrast to the Jackin' beats eminating out of Chicago, just as they were with the more self-consciously cerebral and middle class sounds that a certain Belleville Three would make their own in Detroit, and Levan's legacy undoubtedly lived on through the 90s (particularly so in the case of Masters at Work, less so in the case of Nervous whose sound always approximated more the Jackin' Chicago aesthetic). Essentially, what is important to acknowledge is that between this triumvirate of electronic cities, a vast network of sonic experimentation took place that came to define not only the respective cities, but the musical direction those cities would take.

Thus, out of the ashes of Cybotron and the Belleville Three in Detroit came Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin, John Acquaviva, Carl Craig and the rest of the Detroit second wave. In New York, the stroy is more complicated. With the death knell of disco sounding louder than any soundsystem in New York could manage, the scene split both musically and geographically. The sound that remained in New York became more tribal, based on ancialliary percussion, foreign and exotic samples, and a less agressive beat. The young sample mavericks of New Jersey retained the lyricism and soul of Leavn's disco re-edits, but chose to cut them, splice them, rework them, leaving us with what we now know as garage (I doff my cap to you Todd Edwards).

Cue the wilderness years. Apart from a few guys who managed to leave the States behind for the pastures new of Europe (the M.A.W. heavy-hitters of Armand van Helden, Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez, Louie Vega, and Roger Sanchez, Danny Tenaglia, etc.) and a couple who kept plugging away at things in New York, living off past glories (Francois K), the scene seemed to pretty much die. Perhaps this was to be expected - it is no surprise that this epoch coincided with New York's next great musical dalliance, signalled by the arrival of two earth-shattering albums, 'Ready To Die' and 'Illmatic'.

Fast forward a few years, and with disco revivalism still an increasingly potent force to be reckoned with, and with no Hip Hop to get excited about in New York thanks to the dominance of Crunk, Chopped and Screwed and the ATL/Houston/New Orleans/even Bay area mafia, a (relatively) new generation of house producers have been recalibrating their weaponry, and are now making a full frontal attack on dancefloors around the world.

In many ways, it is Jus-Ed who has set the tone for this new breed of New York house. The basic components available to Levan are still present, the way Levan could play the same record for half an hour, drawing out a dub, then a re-dub, then the original mix, then another re-edit, and whipping crowds into a frenzy, but it is all a lot more stripped back. To a certain extent, Detroit and New York have fused, and it is no surprise that a lot of these releases are reminiscent of Omar S, Kerri Chandler or Patrice Scott tunes. Therefore, we get vocal soul samples, but often they are brutally re-rendered and placed in an off-kilter, minimal techno surrounding. Its useful to mention minimal techno and techno at large because there is a real awareness from these producers of what is going on in Europe. It's no surprise that Europe is where they make most of their cash, and there is a real appetite for this stuff at the moment.

DJ Qu is another of the stalwarts of the scene. He also releases material on Underground Quality (Jus-Ed's imprint) and retains that deep, dub-inflected soultech, which often seems so indelibly yoked to the precision and teutonic savagery of German house and techno.

However, whereas Jus-Ed and Qu have both been around for a long time, Levon Vincent is relatively new on the scene (this is actually not true, he has been around for a while, but it wasn't until his self-imposed exile in Indiana that his releases really started turning heads). 'Games Dub', released on 'Minimal Soul Part 2' by Underground Quality may well be one of the best songs I have heard this year. Jus-Ed is the Ezra Pound to Vincent's Eliot and I expect seriously big things of him.

So where does this leave the ever-changing house scene in New York? Well, in short, in a thouroughly healthy state. Personally, it has never been any other way for me. Whilst Tenaglia et al chose to ply their trade in 'Beefa, I was quite happy to slap on a Masters at Work boxset, or tune in to some Todd Edwards, maybe kick back with some Louie Vega, and it was exactly that loyalty which allowed me to tap into this new wave with such abandonment and joy. A begrudging high five does have to be extended to the DFA crew who have also shown the loyalty that allows those mentioned above to exist as a vital part of the zeitgeist (with releases by 'House of House' for example who are little more than Jus-Ed with a pop sensibility), but the future looks undeniably bright for nu-New York house.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Yes Maam (All Nite Long) (Trentemøller Remix) - Visti & Meyland

I'm always a bit wary about a Trentemøller remix not only because he is massively overhyped, but mainly because he tends to be a lot of people's first introduction to electronic music (myself included) and thus can sometimes feel a bit Dance Music 101. Nonetheless, this tune is too good not to post. It makes me feel like I did the first time I heard his 'What Else Is There' remix in Colombia in a suped-up Mitsubishi in the summer of 2004. Goosepimples.

PS. Also check out the Henrik Schwarz remix of this tune. Scorchio. Eskimo records really have what they call in the art world "a good eye".
PPS. This only has 806 views on Youtube. Madness.
PPPS. England was an ABSOLUTE pleasure.

Here is a link to it.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Yaz - Situation (US 12" Mix)

MASSIVE PROPS to whoever put this video on Youtube, as this is in no way an official video, but instead something they knocked up themselves.

London bound

Heading back to the UK today for the first time since the end of February and cannot wait. Unfortunately, I have very little time in London because of a series of prearranged engagements which is a shame because there is a veritable feast of good electronic music all weekend.

Mike Simonetti brings his 'Italians Do It Better' circus to Koko to support Lindstrom on Thursday, a venue that will really complement the sleazy cosmic turbulence produced by some of the best contemporary disco artists around. Simonetti is also playing at the Horse and Hound with Bill Brewster who I really knew fuck all about until I listened to a couple of his mixes and realized it was him who wrote 'Last Night a DJ Saved my Life'. His sets are comprised of dance music in the most vague sense from the 1970s to the present day and are really something.

On Friday, the AMAZING Omar S is in town supported by Donato Dozzy, whilst Robert Hood takes things up a notch at Cable. And on Saturday, Ellen Alien is at Fabric whilst Frankie Knuckles is at the site of what used to be The End, now called The Den & Centro (crap name).

Hats off London, that's a pretty fucking good lineup...

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Scientific Dancehall

Who isn't a Lee Perry fan? This is probably my favourite straight up Lee Perry tune. If I was to include all the stuff he produced then the list would be huge: The Meditations 'No Peace', Mikey Dread 'Dread at the Mantrols', The Congos 'Don't Blame on I', the list goes on.

'Secret Laboratory (Scientific Dancehall)' from which this track is taken, was released in 1999 and thus qualifies as late Perry material. The album is pretty so so - in fact, its actually quite shit, but the artwork is amazing. Remember Perry lives in Switzerland, shacked up with an old brothel Madam, and thus we get this pastoral Alpine scene with Perry surveying his mountainous kingdom gracing the front cover. Isn't it amazing?

DJ Rupture

I'd just like to give the briefest of shout outs to DJ Rupture. I wrote on Cumbia for one of my first ever posts on this blog, and as predicted, it really seems to be exploding. XLR8R in particular can't seem to get enough of it. Fair enough I say, but having grown up with it, and its various offshoots (Vallenato, and even to a certain extent Champeta), I feel particulalrly smug.

DJ Rupture is probably the biggest cumbia head on the scene (apart from maybe Zizek and/or Carlos Tevez - yes that's right), and he works closely with Matt Shadetek's Dutty Artz label. Shadetek and Rupture have just finished producing Jahdan Blakkamoore's new album entitled Buzzrock Warrior, and I for one am very excited about it. Interesting also to see that one of the tracks features on Diplo and Switch's much-fabled dancehall Major Lazer album. Anyone know when that is actually coming out?

Having never seen Rupture play, I can't really get a sense of the man, but I really quite dig his blog. It's pitched quite nicely, and although he gives himself quite a lot of props, he has also included some nice pieces, particularly this one on the weird Hackintosh cult. A giant fuck you to Mac djs around the world, these guys chop up their shiny Macbooks, carefully hybridising the components with older bits of gear and housing them in beaten up old Toshiba notebooks from 2002. It seems like a lot of effort, but I totally respect it. Check it out here.

In other news, Mos Def has a new album out, 'The Ecstatic', and it sounds like it's quite good. I for one could not get 'Black on Both Sides' out of my head for, like, ever, ('Hip Hop' and 'Ms Fat Booty' were too too gully, and how could I forget when he mentions Heathrow airport in 'Mr Nigga': 'They stay on Nigga patrol on american roads/And when you travel abroad they got world Nigga laws/Some folks get on a plane go as they please/But I go over seas and I get over seized/London-Heathrow, me and my people/They think that illegal's a synonym for Negro'!) and I still have time for the odd Blackstar tune. Pitchfork are feeling it, and I'm looking forward to giving it a listen, especially if all the tracks are as good as this Madlib produced monster. Lovely beat.

Deep Throat

There was a time just after 'Who's Afraid of Detroit' first dropped that Claude von Stroke was everywhere. And I mean everywhere. The San Francisco producer had everyone salivating and I could never understand why. I always thought his brand of bastardised minimal was called Wonky, but having been brushing up on the musical zeitgeist columns it seems wonky is the new breed of hip hop/bashment/electro/electroclash/house that Italians (Crookers, The Bloody Beetroots) and East London hipsters (Count of Montecristal/Sinden, Switch, even occasionally Diplo) were so into during the early summer of 2008.

Racking me brains, I believe it may have been called fidget house (what a shit name, and I mean really really really shit - is it only in the UK that there seems to be this neverending Quixotic quest to unearth barmier and less relevant names for "new" types of dance music?).

Anyway, from what I can tell, von Stroke has only really stood the test of time in the way Fedde le Grand has stood the test of time (ie. hosting a hugely lucrative if uninspiring residency in Ibiza), and that's not just because their two most famous tunes have Detroit in the name, although I could go on ad nauseam at the mindless appropraitions of Detroit over the years. I saw Justin Martin, signed to von Stroke's label Dirty Bird, at Exit in 2007 and he was fine. Housey tech-house I suppose, which is fine, but not anything to really set your pecker alight.

Having said that, Deep Throat is the sort of tune that (almost) makes me forgive all. I first heard it on Audion's Fabric mix (OK, but if you really want to see where minimal was from 2005-2007, head for Marco Carola's oft-ignored, but in my opinion essential Fabric mix) and was blown away, not so much by the beat, but by the incredible morph of the inhaled clickety breath turning into a really slow, deep, minimal beat.

I listened to the track again last night for the first time in ages, and was still really impressed with it. I could do without the "what are you having for dinner" section, but that morph really is something else. It reminds me of when I was a little kid, and used to do that exact same noise, pretending to be a rickety old door opening, to scare the shit out of my brother at night. Maybe that's why I like it , who knows, but it is cool I think.

Less cool is the fact that its got one of those MTV Dance music videos, but hey you can't win 'em all, and I did warn you about von Stroke.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Blue Note-ified Wu Tang album covers

House of House pt. 2

I quite like House of House. I'm surprised and cheered by how Fabric always seems to get it right.

Get this player from Fairtilizer!

House of House

House of House - Rushing To Paradise (Walkin' These Streets)

[This has been shortened to fit on Youtube]

Fixie Fiend

I just came across this fixie aficionado website, www.fixiefiend.com, and I need to give it a shout out, just because alongside their reviews of the latest gear, they also inject a healthy amount of fun, proving that they don't take themselves too too seriously.

Bush's Bike

Gold Fixie

Getting nailed

Draught fixie

Vote Obama

Of course, some things are just straight up gash...

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Pied Plat - Double Trouble

This is an AMAZING techno tune, as featured on Marcel Dettman's 'Berghain 02' compilation. Voted compilation of the year by RA.

Released on Amsterdam-based Rush Hour, a highly impressive record label that has released tracks from Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin and Rick Wade, this is a frustratingly simple yet complex track that makes me feel like my head is lolling to one side as I ride a bright and blaring fairground ride - you know, those suped up teacups painted yellow and purple and green with flashing lights all over them.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Berlin Calling

Not that many people in the UK have seen Berlin Calling. I'm pretty sure it didn't get a distributor, and the only reason I got to see it was that it was being hawked around UK Distributors. Obviously when I heard what it was about I was bang up for watching it.

It's OK, but that's about it. It stars Paul Kalkbrenner, a real life Berlin DJ who plays a less successful version of himself, gigging around the world but never quite making it. The premise was much better than the execution, but it was useful in solidifying the Tobias Rapp mythology if nothing else. Kalkbrenner acted in the film, made the soundtrack, and I think he also produced it.'Sky and Sand', is the theme tune if you can call it that.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Jazz Anthem

My favourite Todd Terry tune, or should that be anthem?

Snoop Dogg Millionaire

Snoop Dogg's new tune takes Chase and Status' 'Eastern Jam' (posted in a previous post) and adds Tanvi Shah (the singer of the Slumdog anthem 'Jah Ho' (I like the Nicole Scherzinger version as well for what it's worth)) to make something real dope. Snoop Dogg Millionaire? A-MAZING

Snoop Dogg - Snoop Dogg Millionaire (Feat. Tanvi Shah from Slum Dog Millionaire) [Dirty Final]

Henrik Schwarz Edit

Here's a really nice litte reworking of the below. Still really like the Tenaglia version too, but this is also pretty special. I'm becoming disturbingly obsessed with the various versions of this track.

Bill Withers, Who Is He (Henrik Schwarz Edit)

Who Is And What Is He To You

This is a wonderful Bill Withers tune that was covered by Me'Shell NdegéOcello in 1996. Bill Withers produced her version of the track. The choice of artist was perfect because Me'Shell is a big butch lesbian (ok, she might not be a lesbian but she definitely has that vibe) and the song took on a really menacing girl on girl atmosphere.

For that release, Danny Tenaglia did a whole bunch of remixes. This was during his residency at Twilo in New York and thus has a really mournful, dubby, but also overwhelmingly spacey feel to it. Imagine the quintessential house club erected by a Mississippi chain gang, humming away whilst they work.

There's a Twilo mix, a dub, and an NYDC mix. Hell I like this tune so much I bet even the instrumental kills it with that stabbing bass riff. Have scoured the internet and have been able to track down a few versions on Discogs, but it seems different remixes were attached to the various international releases. Thus, the Japanese release features no Tenaglia remixes whilst the Australian version has no remixes at all. Looks like I'm going to have to purchase it on vinyl.

Anyway, if you want to hear it, it can be found on the Larry Heard mix about 1/5th of the way through.