Sunday, 27 December 2009
Following a tip from Kyle Hall, it is with great pleasure that I can introduce the fourth installment in the Wunderkind mix series, and this time it comes from Aaron Atkins, nephew of the original techno pioneer Juan Atkins, and an outstanding electro producer in his own right. 2010 should be a big year for vintage electro, and Aaron's sound, represented here by cuts from fellow Detroit native and Micron Audio co-conspirator, DJ Stingray 313, and AUX 88 pays testament to the enduring appeal of the sound. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to some of the not-quite-DnB currently being explored by artists like Instra:Mental and D-Bridge, Aaron delivers a powerful journey through the heyday of electro, and gives us an insight into where it may well be heading in the not too distant future.
It is rare to come across someone as in love with classic electro as yourself. Could you tell me what it is you love about it?
As far as electro,I like the energy, the sounds and pace and the arrangements.
Coming from Detroit, do you not feel pressure to be more into house or techno?
Well not exactly. In one of my sets I'll play a house record called Adonis 'No Way Back' and mix it in with a techno record like Juan Atkins 'Infinti Game One' and then put on an electro record called 'Future Cities' by the Advent. I really try not to get boxed in because its all electronic music.
Your uncle is Juan Atkins, one of the original founders of techno, does he have any interaction with your music?
Well just like any uncle he gives me advice but in terms of being hands on the answer is no, and he really pushes me to learn things on my own.
Growing up with that around you, did it influence what you listened to growing up as a kid?
No I listen to all types of music: Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, AUX 88, Dopplereffekt, Drexciya, The Advent, DJ stingray. In terms of hip hop, TI, Gucci Mane and OJ da Juice Man, Young Jeezy too. You know, just music man.
Could you tell us more about Micron? Is it a record label, or a collective?
Micron Audio is both a record label and collective ran by Sherad Ingram with 8 or 9 different artists including myself from all over the world who are makeing electro music.
How do you make your music (ie. with what equipment)?
I like to keep that confidential but I will tell you I like to use a mixture of machines and software.
Do you play much in Detroit?
Not as much as I would like to but that is changing.
Do you have any plans for releasing your music? If so, how (what label etc.)?
Look from material from me from Underground Resistance, Metroplex and Micron audio on wax or mp3.
The electro sound is a timeless one, but also to a certain extent, a dated one. Do you see evidence of it starting to enter more into modern productions?
I don't agree with the term dated i think the problem is with how people classified electronic music i mean how can something be timeless and dated at the same time?
Are there any contemporary electro artists that really stand out for you?
AUX 88, Mike Banks of Underground Resistance, the Illektrolab, DJ Skurge, and DJ Stingray.
Are there any non-electro artists working at the moment who really interest you?
DJ Skurge, Kyle Hall, and Omar S. Like I mentioned before, I'm interested in electronic music period.
What's next for you personally?
Well I will continue to work hard, release some hot records out in the year 2010, hopefully play more gigs in Detroit or overseas if possible, and just develop myself better as a artist.
Intro - Alien Contact
1 Cybotron - Clear
2 Chaos - Afrogermanic
3 Aux 88 - Direct Drive
4 Aux 88 - Space Satellites
5 Aux 88 - Let it Ride
6 Aux 88 - Erase the Time
7 DJ Stingray 313 - Microthol
8 The Exaltics - The Truth
9 DJ Stingray aka Urban Tribe - Her
10 DJ stingray aka Urban Tribe - RNA
11 Aril Brikha - Groove la Chord
12 Los Hermanos - Birth of 3000
13 Cybotron - Alleys of your mind
14 Cybotron - El Salvador
15 Cybotron - Cosmic Cars
16 Model 500 - Night Drive Time Space
17 Model 500 - Technicolor
18 Cybotron - Cosmic Raindance
19 Kraftwerk - Tour de France
20 Kraftwerk - It's more fun to compute
21 hasim its time extended mix
22 DJ Stingray 313 - Serotonin
23 DJ Stingray 313 - Counter Surveillance
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Given all this end of year, end of decade nonsense, and the fact that I find myself back in the UK for only the second time in a year, I thought it a fitting time to address an issue that has been bugging me for a while. RA have just delivered their end of year lists, as have LWE and FACT.
What can we take from these lists? Well, firstly, and perhaps inescapably (I'm keen to get this out of the way as quickly as possible), it has been a good year for Joy Orbision. His 'Hyph Mngo' tops the FACT and RA lists. I side with Reynolds on this one - an uninspiring track 'for the headz to nod off to'. What else?
Well, it's clear that 2009 has been the year shit got deep. The transition from minimal crustiness to how-deep-can-we-go insouciance is pretty well documented, and I don't really want to go into it here. However, after a year living in Berlin, I thought I would try to examine where this has left minimal. Philip Sherburne is doing some interesting archival work on his website examining how minimal (or mnml) has changed over the last decade, but it remains a thoroughly retrospective exercise, the blogosphere's intellectualized version of "I Love the Noughties". We all laugh as Richie tweets his set lists, safe in the knowledge that listening to the DJ Sprinkles album makes us a better man than him, but to acknowledge the fall of minimal is also to try and trace its continued relevance, just as DnB took over the rest of Europe whilst it spluttered to a ghastly death in the UK.
Ironically, for all the critical/blogosphere idolisation of Berlin (and London for those funky/UK bass/dubstep/future garage headz out there) as the epicentre for all things tech, deep house has arguably had a lesser impact there than it has had in other places (namely specialised sites for the consumption of deep house: think Sud nights in London, Trus Me's Disco3K festival in Croatia, late Sunday afternoons in Panoramabar). Berlin actually still has a lingering love affair with mnml that reminds me of London's love/hate position towards DnB at the turn of the millennium. You can't forget that it was mnml which created the modern electronic Disneyland that is the "Berlin" of the Easyjetset's wildest dreams, and the sound persists in a stubborn, uncompromising form.
One need only go into any club that isn't Watergate or Berghain, preferably mid-week, to be assaulted by this new breed of minimal from labels such as Autist, Budenzauber, Italo Business and at the more well-known end of the spectrum, Tom Clarke's Highgrade. The sound pushed by these labels, and the associated artists, is an updated form of mnml. Tracks like this, and this, perfectly sum up this new breed. We've still got what Sherburne calls the clicks and cuts (although if anything, less cliques and cuts), but these have been yoked to an avowedly un-mnml beat that has borrowed freely from 2007/8's tech-house paradigm (think Nick Curly, Jamie Jones et al).
The other thing that is interesting about this new wave of neo-mnmlism is that very little of it is German. Arguably, this has always been the case: Robert Hood, Steve Reich, Richie Hawtin, John Acquaviva and so on were adopted and consumed by the German early to mid-noughties minimalists in the same way that Motorcity Drum Ensemble and Sascha Dive are consuming the Strictly Rhythm back catalogue at the moment. But these neo-mnmlists are by and large, Italian. Sure you always had your Marco Carolas, but the new face of mnmlism is, on the whole, more Latin than Teutonic: Andrea Giuliani, Luca Rossetti, Andrea Tamburini, Stephan Barnem. Oh, and they're young. Fucking young. Usually late teens, early twenties. Perhaps most intriguingly though, is the fact that they all seem to be coming through at the same time. Check out Francesco Bonora's '18 minutes to 2009' released on Model in February. The implication, clear as day, is that 2009 is not about this critically adored/maligned deep house business, but instead Italian mnml.
Yet this isn't an isolated Italian scene, taking place somewhere on the Neapolitan peninsula. It has its aim fixed squarely on BLN. One need only check the best compilation of this stuff yet to surface. It's called 'Winter In Berlin'. It's even got a track called 'Open the Watergate' by M_Ferri (note the interesting reappropriation of the M_nus logo/name). And if you still don't believe me, go to Golden Gate, a club under Jannowitzbrücke, on a Thursday or Friday evening. Not only will tunes of this ilk be rinsed until 3pm of the next day, everyone in there, and especially those selling drugs, will be Italian.
It seems to me like the situation we had a few years back when Umek and Marko Nastic borrowed freely from northern European, and US techno, but fitted it for their European audiences in Serbia and Slovenia. They upped the BPM, toned down the industrial austerity, and ratcheted up the progressive, almost psychedelic elements, and in so doing, like Stephen Daedalus in 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man', they 'forge in the smithy of [their] souls the uncreated conscience of [their] race.'
I have no desire to speculate what this neo-mnmlism says about the uncreated conscience of young Italian mnml producers, or if it plays any part in a larger Italian socio-political narrative, but I will say that under their tutelage, mnml, for the first time in at least five or six years, feels important again. Whether or not this is an act of nostalgia, prompted by the critical ubiquity of deep house (even if that critical ubiquity is not paralleled by a physical ubiquity in Berlin), remains to be seen, but in a fucked up, quasi-nostalgic way, here's hoping. Avanti ragazzi.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Music journalist Joe Muggs has posted a mix of proto-dubstep beatsman El-B, playing strictly Colombian music. Apparently:
'his real passion, and what has always given his own productions a unique syncopation, is Colombian music. As Lewis himself says in the interview I did with him for the Wire (incidentally, the interview which inspired me to start this site) “you might not even like it but you can’t help it, you have to move a hip or an elbow or something… it’s infectiously bouncy… just really fucking dancey”.'
Although I admire El-B's appetite and passion for Colombian music in all its forms, this mix has more than a touch of a Dilpo or DJ/Rupture set from late 2007, early 2008. Nonetheless, big up musica Colombiana, good to see it finally getting the props it deserves. Heck I may even post my own cumbia mix shortly...
El-B Mundo Musica Cumbia Mix by veryverymuch
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Next up in the Wunderkind mix series is David Schwertfeger, an Ableton employee who runs the quite frankly excellent Carambolage dub-techno night in Berlin. Here he drops an hour of serious dubwise pressure including cuts from Scuba, Sigha, and the incredible Variance IV (Regis Edit) released on Sandwell District. Interview to follow shortly.
01 Intrusion - Montego Bay [Echospace]
02 Pinch - 136 Trak [Punch Drunk]
03 Sigha & Spherix - Separation [Immerse Records]
04 Headhunter - Lifeform [Tempa]
05 Scuba - Golden [Hotflush]
06 Sigha - Hold Your Heart Up To The Light [Hotflush]
07 Resoe - Cosmic Blast [Baum Records]
08 Deadbeat & Fenin - Teach The Devil's Son [Echocord Colour]
09 Kalon - Man Is The Superior Animal [Sandwell District]
10 Claro Intelecto - X [Modern Love]
11 N/A - Variance IV (Regis Edit) [Sandwell District]
12 Monolake - Titan [Monolake / Imbalance Computer Music]
...dust to dust? Could 2010 be the year Minimal stopped being a dirty word, and stepped up to the plate, unfurling its ashen wings, rising from out of the fiery embers of deep house mediocrity, and make a cause for why it is still valid? Perhaps if the Italians have anything to do with it, as per this monster (on which more to follow), but I think 2010 is going to be the year we rediscover electro en masse. Big up UR, Mad Mike Banks, and the HI TECH SOUL fraternity. Watch this space, you have been warned.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Here is the latest IA review, Mike Shannon's 'Under the Radar' [Cynosure].
Mike Shannon and his Cynosure label have been around for a while now, and although they’ve yet to register a full-blown hit, they consistently deliver difficult but deeply rewarding avant-techno fare. Shannon worked with vocalist Fadilla Demirtas on the excellent Sweets, a haunting, esoteric workout, that confounded and pleased in equal measure, and she returns on ‘Under the Radar’, a title that could well encapsulate the Canadian’s long presence in electronic music.
Shannon’s original cut adopts a more techy beat than previous outings, and he once again puts Demirtas to good use, coming across as a house diva for the Arab world. Villalobos too, provides a neat fit with Cynosure, and his remix is a welcome, if underwhelming addition. Harking back to the not-quite-walking, not-quite jogging pace of Alcachofa, he shows there’s still life to his micro-house aesthetic. The highlight though, is Deadbeat’s slowburner (with which Shannon began his FACT mix), a sultry beast that couples a steppas growl with twinkley chimes for over four minutes before relapsing into a crunchy, ritualistic release. Rozzo plums Motorcity Drum Ensemble territory for his take, all conveyor belt chords, cymbals, and a hint of handclaps.
The great revelation of the EP however, is not the beats, all competent as you please, but the way in which each artist makes Demirtas sound so different. Part Muezzin, part diva, with just a hint of Dancehall chanteuse, Shannon has found a more than suitable accomplice for his musical skulduggery. Under the radar? Probably not for long.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Apparently I'm a "valued contributor" to RA, so they've asked me to assemble a list for their Albums of the Decade list. Albums eh? Didn't they start becoming irrelevant after Ok Computer? Well, even so, here goes, in no particular order apart from the top three:
1 Metro Area - Metro Area (Environ)
2 Burial - Untrue (Hyperdub)
3 Kelley Polar - Love Songs of the Hanging Gardens (Environ)
4 DJ Koze - Kosi Comes Around (Kompakt)
5 Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III (Cash Money)
6 Rhythm and Sound - See Mi Yah (Burial Mix)
7 Sally Shapiro - Disco Romance (Discokaine)
8 Mayaan Nidam (aka Miss Fitz) - Nightlong (Powershovel)
9 Vitalic -Ok Cowboy (Play it again Sam)
10 Shed - Shedding the Past (Ostgut-Ton)
11 The Strokes - Is This It (RCA)
12 Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (XL)
13 Kings of Convenience - Riot on an Empty Street (XL)
14 Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (Island)
15 Skream - Skream (Tempa)
16 Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins (Polyvinyl Records)
17 Jonny Greenwood - There Will Be Blood (Atlantic)
18 Portishead - Third (Mercury)
19 Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism (Barsuk)
20 Pinch - Underwater Dancehall (Tectonic)
21 Burial - Burial (Hyperdub)
22 Mungolian Jetset - We Gave it away…now we're taking it back (Small Town Supersound)
23 Damian Marley - Welcome to Jamrock (Umvd)
24 Vincent Gallo - When (Warp)
25 The xx - xx (Young Turks)
26 Onra -Chinoiseries (Label Rouge)
27 Dr Dre 2001 (Interscope)
28 Dizzee Rascal - Boy in Da Corner (XL)
29 Matthew Dear - Asa Breed (Ghostly International)
30 Calle 13 - Calle 13 (Norte)
31 Jaylib - Champion Sound (Stones Throw)
32 The Strokes - Room on Fire (RCA)
33 Gui Borratto - Chromophobia (Kompakt)
34 Kanye West - The College Dropout (Roc-a-fella)
35 Davendra Banhart - Cripple Crow (XL)
36 Amadou et Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako (Nonesuch)
37 Kelley Polar - I Need You to Hold On While The Sky is Falling (Environ)
38 Hercules and Love Affair -Hercules and Love Affair (DFA)
Next up, compilations and mixes, once again in no particular order after Dimitri from Paris:
1 Erlend Oye -Dj Kicks (K7)
2 Michael Mayer -Fabric 13 (Fabric)
3 Various Kompakt -100 (Kompakt)
4 Omar S -Fabric 45 (Fabric)
5 Ricardo Villalobos -Fabric 36 (Fabric)
6 Dimitri From Paris -After the Playboy Mansion (Respect is Burning)
7 Royksopp -Back To Mine (Back to Mine)
8 Paul Kalkbrenner -Berlin Calling (Bpitch Control)
9 Various -Box of Dub (Soul Jazz Records)
10 Various -Disco Not Disco (Post Punk, Electro & Leftfield Disco Classics) (Strut)
11 DJ /rupture -Uproot (Agriculture)
12 Marco Carola -Fabric 31 (Fabric)
13 Marcel Dettman -Berghain 02 (Ostgut-Ton)
14 Cassy -Panoramabar 01 (Ostgut-Ton)
15 Various -The Dark Side Of Disco Vol. 1 (?)
16 Spankrock -Fabriclive 33 (Fabric)
17 Danny Tenaglia -Global Underground: Athens (Global Underground)
18 Various -Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Nigerian Blues. 1970-6 (Soundway)
19 Underground Qualtiy -Tape Club Berlin Presents Underground Quality (UQ)
20 Various -Twice As Nice: Sexy & Stylish Volume 1 (Twice as Nice)
21 Various Artists -Freerange Colour Series White 06 (Freerange)
22 Colombiafrica - The Mystic Orchestra -Voodoo Love Inna Champeta-Land (World Music Network/Riverboat)
23 Various -Warrior Dubz (Planet Mu)
24 Various -2OO (Planet Mu)
25 Various -10 Tons Heavy (Planet Mu)
26 Hyperdub -5 Years: Hyperdub (Hyperdub)
27 Various -The Roots Of Dubstep (Tempa)
28 Various -The Very Best Of Ethiopiques (Manteca)
And finally, here are my top 20 tracks of the decade. These have a far more electronic slant given the nature of the publication, apart from A Milli which I just felt HAD to be in there. In defense of Lil Wayne's breakout anthem, I have heard it dropped by artists as disparate as Drop The Lime, and Loco Dice, so it must have some electronic currency. There is no real order outside of the top 5.
1 Miura -Metro Area (Environ)
2 MyMy -Fast Freeze (Cocoon)
3 Lil Wayne -A Milli (Cash Money)
4 Burial -Unite (Soul Jazz)
5 Levon Vincent -Games Dub (Underground Quality)
6 Ada -Les Danseuses (Kompakt)
7 Nathan Fake -Sky Is Pink (James Holden Remix) (Border Community)
8 Claude Von Stroke -Deep Throat (Dirty Bird)
9 Feist -My Moon My Man (Boys Noize Remix) (Universal)
10 Wet Summer -John Dahlback (Kompakt)
11 Blood On My Hands (Ricardo Villalobos Apocalypso Now Mix Part 1) - Shackleton (Skull Disco)
12 Hercules and Love Affair -Blind (DFA)
13 Lindstrom -I Feel Space (Smalltown Supersound)
14 Matthew Dear -Don and Sherri (Ghostly International)
15 Samim -Heater (Data)
16 T2 -Heartbroken (All Around the World)
17 Burial -Archangel (Hyperdub)
18 Cheshire Catz -Ringshifter (Berwick Street Records)
19 Digital Mystikz -Earth a Run Red (Soul Jazz)
20 Precious System -The Voice From Planet Love (Running Back)
Monday, 7 December 2009
The latest guest mix, comes from Detroit Wunderkind Kyle Hall, a prodigious young talent with a genuine flair for classic mid-Western house and techno. With a recent Hyperdub remix for Darkstar under his belt, and his own record label Wild Oats, alongside releases on FXHE, Kyle's doing pretty well for an 18 year old. His mix is a thrilling ride through the more jacking and soulful elements of house music. Interview after the drop.
The electronic music scene in Detroit seems to be based on the idea of heritage. The older guys still hold a lot of sway. You are often hailed as a bright light of the scene. Are there other people of your age coming through the ranks and picking up where the older guys have left off?
Yes there are a few other people aside from myself. One of them being the nephew of Techno Pioneer Juan Atkins. His name is Aaron Atkins, he has been working on quite a few really dope electro tracks lately that have caught my ear. Check out his myspace page. Of course The Quran he’s actually featured on the new wo-30000 on the track Lax Adrenalin. He’s continuously working on very interesting music. In addition to those guys, the kids I teach at Youthville (a Detroit after school program) show some promise especially this one kid who's 12! OMG hes on his way to being a beast on the Beats his name is Reuel Walker . Its crazy because hes actually quite skilled its scary one of these days I'm going to make a Youtube video of him throwin down on the beats. Trust Me this Kid is SICK! Detroit has much young growing talent for real.
Your meeting with Omar S seems to be by now legendary. How has his influence shaped your artistic development?
Omar has influenced me in a since when it comes to the approach to sound and making songs. Omar is very much an out of the box type of guy when it comes making music hearing him do what he does just furthered promoted my experimentalism in my music. He was also one of the people who supported the idea of me starting my own label.
You've already set up your own record label, an impressive feat for someone of your age. How does that differ from producing and DJing. Is it something you enjoy?
Running a label pretty cool. You have control over every decision made with a release but with control comes the cost. How it differs from producing and djing is that you are thinking about an overall end result of a package as opposed to when your producing your thinking about the song you are working on. Running a label is very much about materializing a vision you have in your head to your medium of choice.
You did a remix for Hyperdub. How did that come about?
The remix I did for Hyperdub came about through me getting in contact with a guy from Warp. This same guy also works at Hyperdub. So through that person Darkstar contacted me about in doing a remix for a new track of theirs. I said yes and went to work.
In your opinion, can house and techno fully interact with dubstep?
Yes I do definitely feel that House and Techno can fully interact with Dubstep. If you listen to artist like shed and Martyn that fact is made evident. I feel a lot of the stuff I’m hearing in Dubstep has very close qualities to the sounds that are in my head. Dubstep seems to me as a genre that is very much connected to many forms of electronic music. So for me I feel right at home with much of the stuff. Some of the music that is categorized as dubstep I don’t know if I would have made a separate genre if the name dubstep didn’t exist. A lot the music Could be house or techno and Hip Hop also.
You've mentioned that you are into 4x4 garage. A lot of the music coming out of the UK that used to be called garage now has a much housier flavour. Do you think there is a natural correlation between the two?
Yeah easily. I think that whole genre is a melting pot of sound and to include house into that pot is not surprising. House is what really came first and has had a lasting affect on dance music so naturally elements from that would be infused into garage music. So the correlation makes plenty since to me.
You also work under the name DJ Kase n Point. Is there any difference between the two personas?
Yes. Originally Kase N Point was intended for hip hop production but on and off in Detroit I would use it as a Dj name. So I decided to do a mix cd under that name. Sometimes Kyle and Kase cross paths but in the future I plan on them to be separate. Kase N Point will have some projects out that will really distinguish his personality from Kyle Hall.
You come from the home of Motown and your music places you firmly within the history of soulful music in America. Is that something that is important to you, tracing a line from the past and onwards into the future?
Yes it is important acknowledge and honor that but honestly I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I’m trying to do new shit that is connected as little as possible to my for fathers. I want people to think of me when my music is heard not Berry Gordy.
Aside from you and your friends, what are the kids listening to at the moment that is really shaping the musical consciousness of America?
It really changes every month it seems. Last time I checked though it was Oj the Juice man and Drake. Though I think Kanye has really shaped the musical Consciousness in America. He introduced a kind of European flavor to American "Hip Pop music". That and old school mismatched hipster 80s gear. I think in a way Kanye has opened the doors for more unconventional music to be accepted by the normal commercial realm simply because its different. So essentially today in America kids just want to be all Hipster and Different so that means anything that can be placed in the category of hipster and different has a chance commercially, which could potentially include the entire dance music world. SO GOOD 4 U$ LOL! Kay stay payed!