Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Friday, 20 November 2009
Here is the latest IA review.
After ‘Fast Freeze’, MyMy could do no wrong in my eyes. The song (and it is a song, not a track, or a tool, or whatever else you choose to call it) was written as a song should be: it had a beginning, a middle and an end. But more than that, it exhibited an attention to melody, to sonic craftsmanship, that more producers would do well to emulate. If subsequent MyMy releases failed to a certain extent, it was only in comparison with the singular grace and noblesse of ‘Fast Freeze’. For their latest release on Will Saul’s Aus Music, MyMy have once again stuck to what they do best – woozey synths, breezy vocals, and that trademark attention to melody - but once again struggled to reach the dizzying heights they have previously set themselves.
Opener ‘Price Tag’ kicks things off with a slap-bass riff that gets yoked to mouth-wide-open vocals from Emika. Spaghetti-western whistling heralds the arrival of more vocals that scream “playful”, but are actually only playful in the way a puppy dropped on his head is playful. ‘Lights Go Down’ exhibits a more dance floor-oriented direction with tribal-not-tribal drums stomping away whilst ascending and descending synths attempt to add an eeriness that quite frankly isn’t there. The real highlight though is the Appleblim and Komonazmuk remix that teleports MyMy into a 90s London garage club, and leaves them sounding all the better for it. Refashioned as a post-garage ode to Mousse T’s ‘I’m Horny’, the vocal snippets work far better in these disorienting 2-step environs, literally dissolving before a Wagnerian doomfest of a breakdown. The digital only Sideshow remix works in the way public transport “works”: better than a horse and cart, but no Mercedes Benz.
The public transport analogy is a good one actually. Much like the thoughts of the bus driver, constantly travelling the same route, there is little here to surprise. Thanks to sterling work from Appleblim and Komonazmuk, this is not quite seen-it-all-before ennui, but it is certainly no ‘Fast Freeze’.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Only two comments stand out as having any worth in this mutual wank-off:
- maybe it's like: once upon a time everyone wanted to be playwrights. The standard was high, the field competitive, and lots of good, memorable plays got 'wrighted'.... but how many great 'wrighters' wanna write plays anymore... probably they're writing the Wire in stead, no?
- maybe indie is the answer... like what jay-z said with indie and hip-hop. he said the indie revival is great because it has overtaken hip-hop in innovation which should "push" hip-hop producers into lifting their game
- something dies in techno everytime Richie tweets
This blog is currently experiencing its leanest period in its entire history - I feel like the Pharaoh who wished he'd followed Joseph's advice and packed every available grain silo along the Nile basin with excess wheat, before a nasty seven year famine kicked in. Too much?
Either way, my silence is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, I spent two weeks in Morocco, Tangiers to be precise. I won't say too much on it, as hopefully, there will be more to follow on the subject but I will say, that if you've never had the pleasure of stumbling across this den of iniquity before, do so ASAP. It really is the seediest, slimiest anachronistic throwback to some Evelyn Waugh-esque année dorée where men were immaculately presented and invariably hiding from something. For an Arab city, it's actually pretty liberal in terms of alcohol and night-life. One place in particular stood out.
Following my return to Berlin, it was not long before a large group or Brits arrived on my doorstep, keen to sample the delights of the German nightlife, and so off we went into the night (or should that be morning) to see Cassy's Birthday at Berghain. Arriving at about 9am, we staggered on until 8pm on Sunday night (with the party still showing little sign of stopping) having witnessed Cassy (an absolute pleasure), Zip (what a nice guy), Ricardo (seriously, get over yourself), Faki (a CD set at Berghain?), and the absolute highlight of the show and the best performance I have ever seen up or downstairs, Boris, playing the LOUDEST set of mindfuck avant-techno I, or anyone else for that matter (?), had ever heard.
So forgive my silence, and instead allow me to give a brief round up of tunes that have been entertaining me of late.
Thanks for this one Tate.
Thanks iPod Shuffle.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Here is my first review for Inverted Audio on Redshape's Dance Paradox.
Anonymous techno personas, aside from being examples of a larger current trend in techno nostalgia, are not without precedent, and Redshape, a fellow disciple of the incognito school of the genre, has clearly geeked up on his musical antecedents. His latest EP ‘Dance Paradox’ is exactly that, part dance, part paradox; a scientific exploration into the nether regions of what techno is, that could quite easily soundtrack the darker moments of an L. Ron Hubbard biopic.
Opening track ‘Seduce Me’ crafts a beat from the gentle thud of a dove’s wing, albeit a dove on nandrilone. From this eerily organic opening, Redshape wafts in and out with psytrancey flashes that merge into the opening moments of ‘Garage GT’, where organ stabs create an atmosphere of panicked heartbeats in lieu of an almost-there 4/4 beat. In ‘Bound’, Redshape wears his influences on his sleeve, but Blade Runner knifings and insistent synths allow him to create his own future-noir soundscape. In ‘Man Out of Time’, a breakbeat shuffle acts as a warped homage to Anthony Shakir, an act of deference that is coupled with darkcore swooshes, more Indonesian sweatshop terror than boxfrsesh Force Ones. Throughout the EP, there is a sense of Redshape acknowledging contemporary trends, but filtering them through the infected prism of his abstract musings. Thus ‘Globe’ flirts with a congohouse wobble, before unleashing a nostril-full of ketamine-laced hi hat horror. Likewise ‘Dead Space (Edit)’ throbs with the menacing minimalism of Donnato Dozzy at his most trance-like, but also finds space for a twenty year mash up of dance music history - be it jungle, breakbeat, house or techno - within its fuzzy parameters.
Yet for all of Dance Paradox’s knowing insouciance, its double-faced acknowledgements of musical cut and paste, it remains a Paradox, too austere for home listening and too self-reverential for slaying the dance floor. What it does, it does exceedingly well, but by doing it so well, denies itself much of the emotional impact that such cross-generational music could and should have.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
It is with great excitement that I can post the first guest mix for the site, and it seems fitting that it comes from a longtime Wunderkind collaborator, Gringo. This is a stunning mix of original and exclusive material that is completely free to download. Taking influences from across the musical spectrum, expect cumbia, Bollywood, funk, and noir samples, blended together to make something that is truly special. The mission of the mix, entitled Never in a Month of Sundays, was to record a new beat, every day for a month. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have, and check out the interview with Gringo below.
Stream it here.
How long have you been making music?
I wouldn't really call it making music - it's more like messing around with music other people have made - but I started looping samples and playing with synths with a friend, George, when I was about 14. We didn't really know what we were doing - I still don't - but it was always a fun thing to do. George is still making beats as well - definitely worth checking out.
What do you use to make your beats?
I used Logic for a bit in a Music Technology class at school, but my teacher was an ex-acid house dj and I only ever really learnt how to do rave pianos (frankly, I wish I'd stuck with that). Then I used Reason for a long time, but my computer died. My brother's got a Mac, so recently I've monopolised his computer to use GarageBand, which this whole mix is made on. It's an amazing programme, really, particularly for something that's free. This mix is just me learning how to use it properly.
What were your major musical influences growing up?
I wasn't into hip hop at all until I was about 13 or 14. I didn't even know what it was. The closest thing I'd listened to before was the Outhere Brothers - 'Boom, Boom, Boom' was the first single I bought (actually, I got my mum to buy it for me and she humiliated herself by pronouncing the name wrong). I went through the same phases as a lot of kids - britpop, then euro-house, then jungle - before ending up at hip hop. The music collection around the house wasn't up to much - my mum liked King Crimson and Hawkwind and my dad's taste didn't go far beyond Gregorian chanting and Spanish zarzuelas.
Are you strictly a hip hop man, or are there are genres that make up your musical soundtrack?
Soundtracks are something I love. For one thing they're great for samples (there's some bollywood soundtracks in the mix, plus - embarrassingly - a loop from the Twilight soundtrack), but there's also such a huge range of moods and styles. I love soul and funk, mainly because of hip hop. I love RnB, reggae, house. Klezmer, I love. In fact - without wanting to get all gap year on you - I love world music. I''m not entirely sure what world music means, but anything where I can't understand the words is good for me. Basically I'm completely undiscriminating. I even - in a moment of madness, surely - found myself bopping my head to 'Boom, Boom Pow' by the Black Eyed Peas the other day. Shameful.
A broad question, maybe too broad to answer properly, but what do you make of the state of hip hop in 2009?
I don't think hip hop's ever been a form where the important thing is careful craftsmanship or precision. The excitement has always been to just throw everything into a pot, mix it all together, and see what it tastes like. Hip hop's simple to make. It's a form that's driven by anger and adrenaline and that's why a rapper can put out umpteen mixtapes for every U2 album. The result of that incredible proliferation - I mean Tupac's still releasing songs from beyond the grave, simply because of his phenomenal output; Saigon and Statik Selectah recorded an album in 24 hours - is a saturation of the market and a lack of quality control. So yes, the hit rate's lower than it was ten years ago, but there's so much more hip hop now. When it's good it still has the power to shock and amaze ('A Milli' has to be one of the most surprising hits since 'Mr Blobby') and, because it doesn't aspire to the poetics of songwriting, it connects with people much quicker. There's so many more words in rapping - a Nas track probably has more lyrics than an entire Kings of Leon album - so it's easier for hip hop to burn out, which is why people complain that rappers have nothing new to say. I think that's untrue, or rather irrelevant. It's not what you say, it's how you say it. But if you're the type to prize the originality of material then you're probably not the sort of person that would take any interest in hip hop beats made from samples. That's more of a rant/ramble than an answer. Apologies.
Is there any musician, producer, or artist who has been making waves for you of late?
I like Nate Dogg, but he had a stroke, so he's been a bit quiet of late. That said, I discovered his song 'Shake That' (with Eminem) only in the past couple of months, so I've listened to that a lot. I've been listening to quite a lot of this sort of stuff - Miriam Makeba - which I guess is afro-jazz. I thought DJ Quik and Kurupt's album Blaqkout had some stunning production. I'd love to make that kind of West Coast hip hop - that wheezy synth sound.
What's next for you?
In terms of music, probably nothing. My brother's gone away to Japan for a few months, so my access to GarageBand has gone. I pretty much stopped making music a couple of years ago. This mix was mmainly a product of me wanting to teach myself how to use GarageBand. What I'm hoping to is put together some short films and score them myself. Easier said than done, but watch this space (just don't hold your breath).
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
An absolute no-brainer for me, this track has been killing me since I first heard it. Levon Vincent sums up everything that has been great about house and techno in 2009, and alongside 'Games Dub' and the upcoming B-side of his next Novel Sound release, we have three of the standout tracks of the last few years. I feel like I work for Boomkat saying this but seriously, ESSENTIAL.