May 28, 2011
Top 10: May/June 2011
Pigeon vs. hawk vs. magpie. My backyard, a month ago.
Hawk killed pigeon; magpie taunted hawk. Hawk eventually flew away, beleaguered by magpie. Is there a metaphor here? Possibly, possibly not.
Carter Bros, "Full Disco Jacket" [Rush Hour]
listen to samples here
Morning Factory, "Fantasy Check" [Clone Royal Oak]
Clone Royal Oak 009 Morning Factory - Fantasy Check by clone.nl
Falke, "Taunus" [Kann]
listen to samples here
Dorisburg, "Emotion" [Kann]
listen to samples here
Runaway, "Dead Dog Dance (Andy Ash Remix)" [On The Prowl]
(Andy Ash remix is the third segment in the SoundCloud player below)
OTP08 Runaway "Dead Dog" Sal P, Coyote, Andy Ash & Simoncino remixes by On The Prowl Records
May 14, 2011
A Lazy Mix for Mid-May
A thrown-together, easygoing mix you don't have to think too much about. 105 BPM pretty much from start to finish. Not every transition is up to my usually fastidious mixed-in-key standards, but there's nothing too jarring, either. Enjoy!
Joie Noire, "Games" [Public Release]
Snoretex, "Strange Aeons" [Buzzin' Fly]
Nikolaj Grandjean, "A Shadow (Bjorn Tørske Short Edit Remix)" [Music for Dreams]
Erdbeerschnitzel, "To An End" [Mirau Musik]
Glasser, "Mirrorage (Lindstrom Remix)" [True Panther]
Soul Center, "Psycho Set II" [max.Ernst]
Trickski, "Wilderness" [Suol]
Space Dimension Controller, "Kaleidoscopic Ecstasy" [R&S Records)
Kuniyuki, "All These Things (Theo Parrish Remix)" [Endless Flight]
April 30, 2011
Something sunny for your Sunday: last week's Jackson's Wireless Extravaganza featuring host John Osborn and a 45-minute mix from yours truly. John kicks off with Chez N Trent's "Morning Factory," which sets up the vibe perfectly, and Oni Ayhun makes a cheerful appearance later on. You can see my tracklist below.
The setlist for my portion:
Todd Terje, "Snooze 4 Love" [Running Back]
Martin Dawson, "Sunday Smoking (Jay Shepheard Remix)" [Moodmusic]
Genius of Time, "Drifting Back" [Clone Royal Oak]
Nebraska, "A Weekend on My Own" [Rush Hour]
Pal Joey, "Higher Now" [Loop D' Loop]
Eve White, "Sugardub" [Perspektiv]
Andre Lodemann, "Your Choice" [Room With a View]
Lauer, "H.R. Boss" [Live at Robert Johnson]
April 02, 2011
March 24, 2011
Two albums: Morphosis + Bnjmn
So my attempts to break back into the blog game have been less than successful; life has a way of getting in the way. (A certain opening line of Philip Larkin comes to mind.) My January top-10 list has fizzled out, morphed into February, been edited and repurposed for March, and I still don't have anything to show for it. Not for a lack of stellar material, just a lack of time to think and write about them, or even listen, really.
But this week two albums came out that, if your tastes align even slightly with mine, you need to hear.
Morphosis, What We Have Learned (Delsin)
Morphosis, recently (and wonderfully) profiled on Resident Advisor, is a Lebanese-born, Venice-based producer also known as Ra.H. His style, at least on What We Have Learned, on the Netherlands' excellent Delsin label, is a kind of roiling, undulating techno, meaty and analog in its textures, propelled by tight drum-machine programming and given shape by gorgeous, buzzing, chaotic, and also lyrical synthesizers. Classic Detroit techno, the Ostgut Ton sound, Omar-S (compare "Silent Screamer" to "Psychotic Photosynthesis") and Oni Ayhun's deranged modular fugues are all reference points, but the range displayed on the record, as well as that aforementioned lyrical quality, really make this stand out. For something so techno to its core, the tempos are refreshingly varied, and there's even an unexpected nod towards a kind of coldwave techno-pop on "Too Far"; the closing "Europa," another tangent, flirts with purplish hip-hop as filtered through Mad Professor's Massive Attack dubs. But for the core of the thing, listen to "Silent Screamer" (below), "Wild in Captivity," "Androids Among Us," the raga-like "Gate of Night," and the apocalyptic "Kawn." Masterful.
Bnjmn, Plastic World (Rush Hour)
Rush Hour just keeps 'em comin'. I discovered Bnjmn last year through a vinyl-only, store-only release for the label; now the UK producer, a relative newcomer, brings us his first album—really, his first widely-available music at all. (Although, according to Discogs, he's been recording since 2007 as Jackhigh, including a collaborative EP last year with Brainfeeder's Teebs, who was one of my favorite discoveries in 2010.) Plastic World is, at its heart, an album of house and techno, or at least I think it is, given its predominantly 4/4 grooves and its big, buzzing synthesizers; in terms of tempo, though, it ranges even more widely than Morphosis, from churning chord burners ("Wheels in Motion") to midtempo fluoro-funk glides ("Tunnel Flight," moderately comparable to Oriol's record for Planet Mu last year) to nervous, post-Drexciyan electro-techno ("Plastic World," maybe "Ocean Spray"). As with Actress or Teebs, texture here is everything—Bnjmn favors a grainy spray coming off his synths, so that the music always seems to be in a permanent state of dissipation; at the same time, his compression tricks give the music a powerful sense of presence, opening and closing like a bellows, and sometimes almost boxing you about the ears. It's a wide load of full-spectrum sonics, and there's no helping getting swept up in its wake. Hard to wrap your head around at first, but so very worth it.
March 17, 2011
Squaring the Cyrkle
Well, triangulating, anyway.
January 01, 2011
Best of 2010 (aka Schnee von Gestern)
LET'S DO THIS. Rankings are fluid within subsections, and become more so the further down the list we go. And yes, I've probably forgotten some.
Don't miss my two best-of-2010 mixes ("House" and "Home") at Made Like a Tree, featuring many of the below tracks.
Best of 2010: Albums
Teebs, Ardour [Brainfeeder]
In my review for Rhapsody, I wrote: If the debut album from Los Angeles' Teebs (aka Mtendere Mandowa) reminds you of Flying Lotus, that's probably OK: After all, FlyLo released it on his Brainfeeder label. Like other producers in his circle, Teebs' style is obviously hip-hop in its genetics, but it's evolved far beyond the genre's boom-bap roots. Rhythmically, his beats have as much to do with dubstep as hip-hop, but it's the textures that really set him apart. Full of bells, harp, flutes, strings and clicky percussion, his tracks thrum rather than thrump, with a gentle rush like a rainstick filled with feathers. This is another album that grew on me immensely over time—but then, I think the very best music usually takes a while to open up and reveal its essence. My first time through the promo, I had cherry-picked a few tracks to use in DJ mixes. The more I stumbled across them, the more I realized that there was something really special in them, and I finally dove into the album in earnest. I think what I like the most is how he takes something so busy and makes it sound so easy and fluid. There's no doubt that this is very much "beat music," but it comes across as all but beatless in its glow and drift. A stunning, stunning album.
I came to this album late, but after a few increasingly surprised listens, it went into regular rotation around the house; it's probably the album that my girlfriend and I turned to more often than any other. The production is ingenious, from the bell tones and synthesizers to the layer upon layer of vocals, which remind me of Kate Bush and Siouxsie Sioux, but more than anyone, Juana Molina. There's a real strength here, one that extends from the percussion through the melodies to Cameron Mesirow's supple, versatile voice itself. Her co-producers Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid, meanwhile, seem to have worked with admirable restraint. Comparing Glasser's original EP version of "Apply" to the album version, the latter is clearly "better," fuller, more physical, but you realize that 99% of the work was completed in the demo version. I'm particularly impressed with the approach that Mesirow has taken to translating her music to a live context, at least judging from the video below—proof that Ring was no fluke, I think, and that we can expect much more from Mesirow.
Ring's cover, designed by the frighteningly talented Tauba Auerbach, deserves special mention.
As I wrote for SPIN, Actress isn't a time-traveler, but he plays one on his second album, Splaszh. It's all scuffed and scarred silicon, like a cuneiform tablet from the future, which might explain what an album of dystopian ambient house is doing on the ethnographically inclined Honest Jon's label. (Taking Splaszh together with T++'s fascinating Wireless 2x12" for Honest Jon's, the label was responsible for some of the most compelling "beat music" of the year.) With beats muffled in cheesecloth and glassy synths resembling organs wrapped in cellophane, his palette could make YouTube sound hi-fi, in comparison. But beneath the stray bits and tape hiss, his stoned dance grooves and stumbling, slo-mo electro—a weird mixture of Moodymann, Burial and Boards of Canada—pull you into a world as immersive as the title promises.
Often I saw Actress mentioned in relation to dubstep, but I have to say that I don't hear much of it in his music—neither the tempos nor the beat structures nor the overall sonics. One of his strengths is that he doesn't really slot easily into any subgenre or micro-movement; it really is singular stuff. And I have to give him extra credit for an astonishing live show at Unsound. I've never seen a club full of such "normal" looking clubbers—weekenders, not chin-scratchers—going absolutely mental to beats as fucked-up and disorienting as his. He brings it.
(Extra points for a stunning cover.)
Demdike Stare, Forest of Evil / Liberation Through Hearing / Voices of Dust [Modern Love] Boomkat
I'll be honest: I have trouble keeping straight Demdike Stare's various records, particularly the three LPs released this year - Liberation Through Hearing, Forest of Evil, and Voices of Dust. (Sadly, I never managed to get my hands on their 2009 self-released 12"s.) Even their mix CDs tend to add to the overall blur of the duo's catalog, given that their individual albums feel less like collections of discrete tracks than disorienting assemblages of sounds and ideas, with fragments of library music colliding with dub-techno passages, and tracks tangling up like dusky vines. But it's that very sense of confusion—beginning in the music and extending to the catalog as a whole—that makes Demdike Stare's music so compelling. In a year that was brimming with brimstone, these guys were among the few to make the occult references and gothic affect seem like more than window dressing, but absolutely integral. Modern Love will shortly reissue all three albums as Tryptych.
Luke Abbott, Holkham Drones [Border Community]
Luke Abbott's name was new to me this year, and he blew me away with this playful, colorful album of warped techno. It's obviously a very Border Community type of affair—not the earlier, more trance-oriented style, but the label's current trajectory towards the wobbly edges of the dance floor, the sound that James Holden showcased on his DJ Kicks mix and his equally great (or possibly even better) XLR8R podcast, both of which included Abbott's music. That style, which you could hear traces of everywhere from Four Tet to Caribou to Aera, was one of my favorites this year, jewel-toned and off-kilter, and Abbott's album was exemplary, a riot of analog tones and unstable machine rhythms.
More Stellar Albums of 2010
Oneohtrix Point Never, Returnal [Editions Mego]
Emeralds, Does It Look Like I'm Here? [Editions Mego]
Robyn, Body Talk [Konichiwa]
Caribou, Swim [Merge]
Four Tet, There Is Love In You [Domino]
Kanye West, My Dark Twisted Fantasy [some major]
…For being the pop record that got me interested in pop, in all its occasionally glorious mess.
Surprise of the Year
LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening [DFA]
Easily their best record, even if nothing will ever top "Someone Great" and "All My Friends." As an album, it dances circles around Sound of Silver.
Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma [Swim]
Anika, Anika [Invada]
Superpitcher, Kilimanjaro [Kompakt]
Forest Swords, Dagger Paths EP [No Pain in Pop]
Shed, The Traveler [Ostgut Ton]
Swans, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope [Young God]
Tin Man, Scared [White Denim]
Bjorn Torske, Kokning [Smalltown Supersound]
Jon McMillion, Jon McMillion [Nuearth Kitchen]
Lukid, Chord [Werk]
Arp, The Soft Wave [Smalltown Supersound]
Chloe, One in Other [Kill the DJ]
Oriol, Night and Day [Planet Mu]
Roll the Dice, Roll the Dice [Digitalis]
Lorn, Nothing Else [Brainfeeder]
Barn Owl, Ancestral Star [Thrill Jockey]
Sam Prekop, Old Punch Card [Thrill Jockey]
Oval, Oh + O [Thrill Jockey]
Benoit Pioulard, Lasted [Kranky]
Loscil, Endless Falls [Kranky]
Gonzales, Ivory Tower [Boysnoize]
Reagenz, Playtime [Workshop]
Gold Panda, Lucky Shiner [Ghostly]
Wrnlrd, Death Drive [Flingco]
Tame Impala, Innerspeaker [Modular]
Supersilent, 10 [Smalltown Supersound]
Mark McGuire, Living with Yourself [Editions Mego]
James Holden, DJ Kicks [K7]
Jacob Korn, Mirrorflip [Dolly]
Discreet Unit, Shake Your Body Down [Prime Numbers]
Floating Points, People's Potential [Eglo]
Nebraska, Soho Grand [Rush Hour}
Axel Boman, Purple Drank [Pampa]
Oni Ayhun, OAR004-A [Oni Ayhun]
Four Tet, Love Cry [Domino]
James Blake, Limit to Your Love [Atlas]
Actress, Hubble [Honest Jon's]
Cosmin TRG, See Other People [Rush Hour]
Gala Drop, Rauze [Golf Channel]
Luke Abbott, Holkham Drones [Border Community]
Gunnar Wendel, 578 (Omar-S Rude Boy Warm Mix) [FXHE]
Martin Dawson, Sunday Smoking [Moodmusic]
Midnight Magic, Beam Me Up (Jacques Renault Remix) [Permanent Vacation]
Roman Flügel, How to Spread Lies [Dial]
Baz Reznik, One Arm [SD Records]
Marshall and Milosh, The Valley [New Kanada]
John Roberts, Ever or Not [Dial]
Aera, Flowers on Fire [Aleph]
Tim Toh, Floral [Philpot]
Trickski, Point 0 [Suol]
Doc Daneeka, Hold On [Ramp]
The Lady Blacktronika, Luv Hate Us [Untitled & After]
Gold Panda You, (Osborne Remix) [Ghostly]
Conforce, Grace [Delsin]
Scuba, So You Think You're Special (Joe Remix) [Hotflush]
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Garden [Greco-Roman]
Ed Davenport, Siebzehn feat. Elif Biçer [Falkplatz]
Break SL, Low Light [Uncanny Valley]
Raime, This Foundry [Blackest Ever Black]
Ekoplekz, Distended Dub [Punch Drunk]
FaltyDL, Odyssey [Planet Mu]
Jon McMillion, Climbing Out [Nuearth Kitchen]
Nosaj Thing, Fog (Jamie XX Remix) [Alpha Pup]
Reagenz, Dinner with Q [Workshop]
Joe, Clap Trap [Hessle]
DJ Koze, Der Wallach [Kompakt]
T++, Cropped [Honest Jon's]
Untold, Anaconda (Tribal Guarachero Remix) [SSSSS]
Mosca, Square One [Night Slugs]
Space Dimension Controller, Journey to the Core of the Unknown Sphere [Clone Royal Oak]
Kassem Mosse, Untitled [Laid]
October, That Placid Track (Ewan Pearson Remix) [Caravan]
Best of 2010 Podcast
Just a note to announce a new pair of mixes I've done for the fabulous Made Like a Tree series, wrapping up (in a roundabout way) my best-of-2010 picks.
The mixes are titled, respectively, "House" and "Home," which pretty much sums them up: one is an hour of house (for lack of a better term); the other is an hour of darker, slower, moodier stuff. The first is a DJ mix, recorded "live" at home (after many hours of preparation, it must be said); the second was collaged together in Ableton Live.
Overall, they take in a pretty wide range: Oneohtrix Point Never, Gunnar Wendel, Omar-S, Nebraska, Discreet Unit, Floating Points, Scuba, Joe, Tim Toh, Caribou, DJ Koze, Baz Reznik, Adam Marshall and Milosh, Roman Flügel, John Roberts, Aera, September Collective, Glasser, Forest Swords, Raime, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Benoit Pioulard, Demdike Stare, Barn Owl, Mist, Klangwart, Tin Man, Pariah, Lorn, Actress, Imaginary Softwoods, Anworth Kirk, Teebs, Reagenz, and James Blake.
(The labels include Editions Mego, FXHE, Rush Hour, Prime Numbers, Eglo, Hotflush, Philpot, City Slang, Arbor, SD Records, New Kanada, Dial, Aleph, Mosz, True Panther, No Pain in Pop, Blackest Ever Black, Leaf, Kranky, Modern Love, Thrill Jockey, Amethyst Sunset, Staubgold, White Denim, Brainfeeder, Honest Jon's, Digitalis, Pre-Cert Home Entertainment, Brainfeeder, Workshop, and Atlas. A nice little range there.)
Putting together a "best of 2010" mix wasn't easy, if only because the parameters of the project made me hyper-conscious of what was getting left out. I knew that I didn't want to simply corral together a selection of top-ranked tracks, in part because I really don't like ranking things—how do you compare Oni Ayhun and Nebraska, and say that one's music is "better"? Besides, it was important to me that each mix had its own coherence and flow. In the end, there were a few key tracks (especially on the house mix) that determined the direction of the rest. In the case of the house mix, those choices also precluded going in a darker, more warped direction, which I had hoped to do via tracks like Oni Ayhun, P. Eladan, Healing Force Project, Cub, etc. And I didn't really get to explore the Caribou/Four Tet/James Holden/Luke Abbott axis as much as I would have liked. Another day, another mix.
You can find links to both mixes, tracklists, and a short interview with me here.
Finally, I just wanted to express my gratitude to Jeremy and Made Like a Tree for giving me the opportunity to represent the best in 2010 for them; it's been an honor and (my neurotic tendencies aside) a pleasure.
I'll be posting a proper end-of-year roundup of some sort on this blog in short order.
December 02, 2010
Label of the Month: Sex Tags Mania
I'm happy to report that my Sex Tags Mania label profile for Resident Advisor is finally up, after months of work. My only regret is that I didn't have the space to write twice as much: there's no shortage of things to say or to decode about Sex Tags/Sex Tags Mania/Sex Tags Amfibia, a Norwegian duo and their collection of labels marrying classic American house aesthetics with Dischord Records' critical ethos and, most importantly, Fluxus' absurdist spirit.
One record I didn't get to mention is the new Healing Force Project -- technically on Acido, but for sale on Sex Tags' web shop, shitfuckyou.com. If you like woozy, full-throated analog techno with a lot of rhythmic slippage, do not miss it.
November 28, 2010
Cruise Collection: All-Weather Edition
This mix dates from nearly a year ago, when I began, somewhat obsessively, trying to sort out a selection of slower house and disco, with the odd smattering of hip-hop, exploring tempos around 100 and 110 BPM.
I don't want to say too much here about the tracklisting, because I think this is one of those mixes better enjoyed without advance notice. About 1/3 of the tracks are from 2009; the others are from 2010, 2006, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1998, 1997, and 1982. They come from Detroit, Brooklyn, London, Barcelona, Tokyo—the usual places. You'll find a detailed tracklisting after the jump, should you want one.
The mood ranges from tropical to damp and blustery—hence the title. A stiff drink is optional, but recommended.Continue reading "Cruise Collection: All-Weather Edition"