Friday, 31 July 2009
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Here is a little review I did for Resident Advisor.
It's not the first time Villalobos has made me pull on my dancing shoes and head off into the night, but Motivbank's night at Watergate was the first time he has managed to do it without even appearing on the bill. Villalobos' Sei Es Drum label released Baile/Caminando to a mixed reaction earlier this year, and although "Baile" has been heralded as a DJ tool par excellence, it is Reboot's "Caminando" which is paralysing dance floors across the world. Having first heard the track in Cocoon and witnessing the Amnesia hoards succumb to it en masse, it was clear that we had a possible successor to "Heater" in our midst.
Whether or not the crowds amassed outside Watergate, though, were here for the same reason remains unclear. But if so many will have been disappointed to see Reboot in the opening slot. His Cadenza musings are summery affairs and lock firmly into the Luciano aesthetic of ass-shaking Latino merriment, but a deeper, more stripped back Frank Heinrich was on show this evening, more Detroit than Santiago. Unsurprisingly, it was cuts like Omar-S' "Day" that got people moving. There was no room for "Caminando" here—presumably it works better in hotter climes than those of a short-lived Berlin summer—and with Reboot's early slot dictating the tone, it was ultimately clear why.
Ion Ludwig's live show continued with the deep vibes where Reboot had left off, but Ludwig's attachment to his laptop screen and unwillingness to share in the excitement of the crowd led us to search out Clé downstairs. Although Watergate's upstairs lighting is rightly famous, during an extended dance floor marathon it can become a tad grating, something that is hard to say about the view over the Spree with dawn fast approaching. The Waterfloor offers one of the unparalleled views in clubbing, and the smaller, more intimate space also provides a distinct atmosphere to the main room antics of upstairs. Clé capitalised, providing a set that was both small and epic in equal proportions.
Given the fast-dissipating crowd that greeted Guido Schneider, Reboot may well have been the big draw of the night, but Schneider did what he did best, providing those that remained with plenty to enjoy, although it must be said, without ever tearing the place down. In all honesty it was an odd evening, the crowd split between in-the-know aficionados and a boozed-up, fashionable Easyjetset that never quite gelled. There were undoubtedly highs, but I set off "Caminando" into the morn feeling somewhat short-changed.
Most bizarre musical collab of all time? Apparently Charles Manson has contacted prisonmate Phil 'Wall of Sound' Spector in the hope of working together. According to the 'New York Post', Manson dispatched a guard with a note to Spector's cell in the hope that the two might be able to lay down some material. With Spector serving 15 to life, and Manson not expected out any time this millenium, lack of time will presumably not suffice as an excuse. Nonetheless, it sounds like there's nothing going from Spector's end, even after being on the receiving end of a host of platitudes from Manson. Spector's wife (now that's what I call loyalty) said: "[Manson] said he wanted him to come over to his [cell]. He said he considers Philip the greatest producer who ever lived. I think Manson wants to glean some musical advice from Phil, who was a 60s music god with his 'Wall of Sound'". Whatever's next? Huntley and Fritzl swapping beats in an incarcerated homage to Postal Service? Bernard Madoff penning lyrics to Timothy McVeigh melodies? This could be the beginning of a whole new musical genre...
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Monday, 27 July 2009
Is Colombia the number one destination for dance samples in the world? On the evidence of Michael Cleis' latest it seems so. Heralded as the tune of Ibiza 2009 (how many tracks actually compete for this title?), cumbia has once again been mined as an effective shortcut to get people dancing, just as the 'Cumbia Cienaguera' was by Samim in 2007. The original (which sounds remarkably similar) can be heard everywhere in Colombia, and I mean everywhere: pop-up street parties, Quinceañeras, hot dog stands, you name it. It's pretty awful to be honest with you, little more than the original played at 45 and looped a couple of times, but props to cumbia for being so relevant. Safe.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Thursday, 23 July 2009
This is a real heart-warming story taken from today's Guardian.
Nosy visitors can sometimes be a pain to the staff of Britain's stately homes – but Jim Pattison, a retired recording engineer and choral singing enthusiast, has turned out to be a glorious exception.
Thanks to his persistence, an extraordinary stash of original performances by the likes of Enrico Caruso and Dame Nellie Melba has been rediscovered.
On a visit to Brodsworth Hall, in Yorkshire, Pattison spotted a worn white label on an old 78rpm record.
The Doncaster mansion was displaying its old shellac records, along with books, commodes and thousands of knick-knacks, to portray its 30 rooms as they would have appeared before the first world war.
Now, crackly but clear, the sound of stars of late 19th century and early 20th century Europe flood the rooms of Brodsworth, where the records were first collected by a wealthy landowning family more than a century ago.
Torn for years by a legal dispute (which Charles Dickens used as the model for Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Bleak House), the Thellusson family relaxed between court hearings with their new-fangled records – each of which is now worth between £5,000 and £10,000.
Listen to an extract from a 1908 recording of music from La Bohème Link to this audio
Once played on an imposing Monarch gramophone that used to dominate Brodsworth's main hall, the records' importance had been overlooked when the house, along with an immense muddle of possessions, passed to English Heritage in 1989.
The records stayed as display items until Pattison and his wife, Joyce, arrived as paying customers on a tour of the house a year ago.
The 77-year-old, who has spent a lifetime in the recording industry, saw half the white label of a Monarch recording of songs from Puccini's La Bohème tucked into a magazine rack with 1960s LPs.
"I asked an attendant if I could climb over the rope and have a closer look," he said.
"Quite properly, she wouldn't let me – but after a lot of discussion, she had a look herself and confirmed what I suspected.
"We went home and I checked it out on the internet and then rang Brodsworth to tell them that, if they had more like that, then they had got something very special."
He was right. The 1908 recording of Goodbye to Sweet Awakenings, made by Caruso, Antonio Scotti, Geraldine Farrar and Gina Viafora, proved to be just one of a stack of rare originals.
Pattison was enlisted by English Heritage to help classify the collection.
He found a recording of John Philip Sousa conducting Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in 1905, just three years after its first performance, and nearly four minutes of the Ukrainian violinist Mischa Elman playing Wieniawski's Souvenir de Moscou in 1906.
Nearly 100 records were discovered in all, mostly ancient but also including tracks by Frank Sinatra and Sandie Shaw, who appealed to the hall's last owner, Sylvia Grant-Dalton, a descendant of the Thellussons, who fought a losing battle against leaking roofs and mining subsidence for 56 years.
"They tell the story of the very earliest days of the gramophone," said Pattison. "The Puccini was somehow recorded into a single acoustic horn in a studio in New Jersey.
"Other records have the trademark of the 'scribing angel', drawing lines in a circle like a record.
"That was partly a reference to a family called Angel which was involved in the business, but partly to the 'miraculous' way the sound was preserved."
Brodsworth's curator, Caroline Carr-Whitworth said: "This isn't the first time we've been helped by our visitors.
"Another enthusiast gave us details of a Doncaster taxidermist who turned out to be responsible for our many stuffed animals. We think we know about everything we've got here now, but the Thellussons amassed an awful lot."
A continuous loop of the music now plays in Brodsworth's main rooms and visitors can also make their own selection from a jukebox in the servants' quarters upstairs.
All English Heritage wants now is for someone to give a 1902 Monarch gramophone. Brodsworth's original gramophone stars in many photographs but was one of the very few things the Thellussons threw away.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Although I was hoping it wouldn't be, I was pretty sure this collaborative effort between Switch and Diplo was going to be mind-blowingly shit, but I am pleased to report it is actually pretty fucking good. The Nina Sky tune, 'Keep it Goin' Louder' is a sickly sweet pop anthem that owes more to Beyonce than Ms Thing and comes close to replicating the form of the Plantlife – Love 4 the World (Why They Gotta Hate?)/Nina Sky – Turnin’ Me On mashup that Diplo used to open his Fabric 24 mix. The standout track (and for me at least, its the looove songs that work best on this album) is the ska-influenced 'Can't Stop Now' featuring Mr Vegas (who remembers 'Heads High'?) and Jovi Rockwell which is cute and snaky, kind of like a more knowing version of Sean[da] Paul's 'I'm Still in Love With You'.
And what about the much fabled appearance of Brooklyn's finest Jahdan Blakkamoore? Well it's not bad, and Jahdan's rough and ready voice certainly lifts the track ('Cash Flow') but Diplo and Switch seem bogged down by the Tuff Gong influence and instead of letting Blakkamoore role with the punches, he sounds constrained by an atmosphere that although reared on, is not relevant to the music he is making today with Shadetek and DJ Rupture. Either way, good to see him there, and his appearance only goes to show how important the Dutty Artz material coming out really is.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Friday, 17 July 2009
I wasn't ever going to post this because it is really housey and sounds a bit like the stadium-dance of Booka Shade, but then after I finished that nu-Deep post, I was so irate with Sherburne and myself for rising to the bait that I was like fuck it, it is housey and it does sound like Booka Shade, but I like it. And I like Dennis Ferrer. And I love Strictly Rhythm. And that's all that really matters.
In his roundup of 2008, Sherburne highlights these two tracks as synonymous with the so-called nu-Deep sound, a sound conceived as a reaction to minimal saturation. Sherburne himself says: "Johnny D's "Orbitalife" and Sebo K's "Diva", both ginormous hits for the nu-deep sound, also bet the bank on earwormy vocal snippets that served as the songs' prime identifying features. It was as though ringtone culture had colonized dance music, turning everything into a series of hot-swappable jingles."
Fair enough I suppose, but only really when you take the two (quite frankly poor) tunes Sherburne does as examples. To say this nu-Deep sound is repetitive and samey may have elements of truth to it, but wasn't it exactly that reptitiveness and bandwagon-jumping that signalled the end for minimal a year previously? And if this stuff gets people dancing, who is Sherburne to dictate what DJs should be playing and people should be listening to? Everyone has respect for the DJ who's been pumping out the same shit year after year, sticking two fingers up to the prevailing musical zeitgeist, and then strikes it gold when their well-trodden sound becomes hip. But should we really beat up on those who are quick to pick up the scent and provide their own take on it?
For my money, there has been some pretty good nu-Deep (I don't like the term but for continuity's sake I'll stick with it) in 2009. Although not perhaps what Sherburne had in mind, New York is producing excellent house at the moment on the deeper end of the spectrum (although with less vocal samples than usual). Henrik Schwarz continues to plummet the depths of the lead line, as do label-mates Ame and Dixon, and Marc Romboy's Systematic is fast acquiring a roster of highly talented artists and releases.
In Berlin, Tape is the place to be. Recent nights have included showcases of Oslo, Underground Quality, and Mobilee and artists like Omar S, Motor City Drum Ensemble, DJ Qu, Fred P, House of House, Patrice Scott, Trus'Me, Sascha Dive and Theo Parrish have all appeared there, making it a creative nucleus for the sound, especially given Sascha Dive's Clubabend. Yet even the lofty expanses of Berghain (well Panoramabar) have adhered and the Mule party a few weeks back was a fine example.
So there we have it: to exist, a scene needs a location, some heads, and people to document it, and in 2009, perhaps in contrary to 2008, nu-Deep increasingly ticks all of those boxes.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Monday, 13 July 2009
Got back on Friday and still don't feel well enough to write anything yet. Just thought I would whack this up so people didn't start worrying I had died or something. Luciano killed it at Cocoon (as did Ricardo who played a tune that name dropped himself! - will try and locate that in time) and he played this tune which he also killed in 2008.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
A sad day today as Pina Bausch has passed away at the age of 68, five days after being diagnosed with cancer. I'm not going to wax lyrical about a woman who is in my opinion, the unrivalled grand dame of 20th century dance, except to say that watching The Rite of Spring and Cafe Müller in Sadler's Wells last year was one of the most breathtaking performances of any artistic medium I have ever seen. Bausch was my favourite artist - a term I use catholically to mean writer, musician, dancer, architect, painter, sculptor - and this is a sad day for the arts as a whole.