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February 27, 2004

Paris not Paris




Three views, August 2003.

A declaration

Ada, I want to have your babies. We will name them "Lovelace" and "And More" -- strange names for offspring, I know, but they seem so fitting -- and usher them into the chirping world, where we will place them in nests made of copper wires and spun silicon, beneath azure skies where pan pipes coo in the distance and the carnival buzz of the next village over is a soundtrack of neverending promise and merriment, and every regurgitated worm is a globule of pure pulsing tone, and the winds are made of every harmonic of the spectrum falling perfectly into its pre-arranged place, and our babies' wings will whistle as they glide far, far out into the impossible horizon.

Oh, I see -- you've already done this, exactly this, without my help at all; Areal 19 is their school portrait, spinning black and glossy on my turntable, its reflective surface a fool's pond for Narcissus musings like this. Silly me, I got carried away. Thank god for records and their plastic, partial custody.


I'm sure everyone but me already knows about this, but I found the link on Eyebeam's reBlog, so I'm going to re-re-blog it: Blazin' Blip Blop and Blar & Blee, a seamless mix of hip hop and R&B ringtones ("Crazy in Love," "Without Me," "Get Ur Freak On," etc.) with the original vocals put back into the mix. Available in two 30MB downloads. It's.... odd. As though someone took the originals and replaced the beats with bad elevator music (or cheap soundtracking from B movies). Although in some cases, what's most shocking is that I probably wouldn't have even noticed that these aren't the originals if you hadn't told me.

Do ringtones really have drum machine beats these days? Man, I need to start hanging out with people who have more blingin' mobiles, I guess.

Orly Orly allinfree

Paris, July 2003.

In Octet, the French have gotten their revenge on the Brits. The duo's (don't ask me how they get eight out of two; je n'sais pas) "Hey Bonus" takes the adamantine harpsichord twitter and pelican's swallow strings of an imaginary Magical Mystery Tour and the syrupy, heavy-lidded croon of a faux-McCartney and proceeds to chop it all hither and thither; over a perfectly tubular walking bass line, with rat-a-tatting timestretched snares and garish electric guitars, and hacking out syllables until our Englishman's spitting nonsense, they take 60s psychedelic pop and turn it into this strange new thing. It sounds almost like an Avalanches cover project, if that makes any sense, with laptoppers recreating every nostalgic sample pixel by rutted pixel.

Krikor's remix, in the meantime, proves that the Parisians (Krikor and the Karat/Katapult/Circus Company crew of co-conspirators like Ark, Kean, and Cabanne [ak ak ak ak ak]) are making a kind of techno like no other on the planet right now. Krikor chops the vocal into little gelatin chunks and proceeds to batter it with all kinds of percussive outbursts. Overblown handclaps and roughed-up harpsichord stabs swipe back and forth like sandpapered buffers in a car wash. The bass that he uses is index-fingered, jabbing more like an electro (or maybe eskibeat) riff, and it's weirdly detuned at that, so that instead of grounding the song with a cozy pedal tone, it slides askew and gives everything the feeling of being stuck inside an elevator car that's just had its cable cut.

By the time he slides into a slaloming schaffel groove midway through the track, you just want to hand him the keys and say, "You can HAVE the car, I wasn't going anywhere anyway" -- and sign over the deed while you're at it. Dude is owning techno right now anyway, and repaving the Autobahn while he drives.

February 26, 2004

If we're going to preserve the sanctity of marriage, will they give us free sugar? And what's the shelf-life on marriage preserves, anyway?

I've been meaning to write something lengthy on the same-sex marriage issue (as in, "a foul stench is issuing from the Oval Office, and I'm pretty sure it's the smell of democracy's rotting corpse"), but in the meantime I'll let O-dub say it better. Check him out on the "Oppression Olympics" and why same-sex unions are very fucking much a question of basic civil rights.

Meanwhile, Maureen Dowd compares Mel Gibson with Bush and comes up a very good question:

"If the president is truly concerned about preserving the sanctity of marriage, as one of my readers suggested, why not make divorce illegal and stone adulterers?"

Then she gets really hardcore:

"The pols keep arguing that institutions can't be changed when, in fact, they change all the time. Haven't they ever heard of the institution of slavery?"

February 25, 2004

Close to twee

Huge props to Matthew Perpetua at FluxBlog for posting an MP3 of Ce'Cile's "Rude Bwoy Thug Life", if only for the personal vindication it gives me. I discovered the "Cure" riddim on the Germaican label a year or more ago, and proudly played it out several versions of it at my Sunday night weekly at Dalva, in the Mission -- only to have a hardcore dancehall head scoff and roll his eyes at me. I don't know what he found so illegitimate about it -- the fact that it was German, or the fact that the riddim was based upon The Cure's "Close to Me," and thus way too close to electro-pop nostalgia to avoid suspicion. But that experience was perhaps the first time I experienced the poptimist's humiliation at the hands of a Keeper of Realness. Well come on, all you front-and-fessimists, it's Ce'Cile, for crying out loud -- how much more "real" can you get?

Granted, it's not my favorite Ce'Cile track, and I think that Seeed's jubilant "Release" makes far more effective use of the track's heart-tugging potential. But I do like the way she harmonizes against the track, dragging the refrain of "Man it's so nice" into a minor key while the tune sails on in a blissful major. Actually, the whole tune she sounds like she's swimming upstream, resisting the song's happy drift, determined to reach an altogether different shore. Poptimism = 1, haters = 0!

Freedom fries leave the sweetest grease stains


Thanks to the lovely lads at Robotspeak, I've got a new 120 gig external hard drive. What does this mean to you, dear reader? Why, it means that old photographs, consigned for so long to dubiously-labeled CD-Rs and hidden on inaccessible shelves, are finally ripe for the posting. (For a while, I thought that paying $150 for a storage device was kind of silly, when I could just keep burning and deleting, burning and deleting, in order to free up space on my internal hard drive. But when you figure that you'd spend at least that much for, say, a bookshelf from Ikea, which would quickly fill up with burned CD-Rs anyway, this virtual storage isn't such a bad deal after all.)

These photos are from a Trouble party in San Francisco last spring. Back in the halcyon days of spring, 2003, in the U.S., back when our country had backbone and before all those lib'rals started trying to rupture the sanctity of marriage and so on, fries were free and the French were persona non grata (that's French for "real, real bad," I believe). Trouble being a multicultural affair, however, we booked Parisians Ark and Sety to play a special Circus Company edition of the party, which was being held in a former art gallery down in the lower Mission District. In honor of our friends, the party was called "Fuck the French," flyers featured (alternately) puffy poodles or a big greazy box of freedom fries, and the door person wore a George Bush mask, a red-white-and-blue sash, and a sign saying “Americans: $5/ French: not allowed.” Nos amis took it all in good stride. (Not so the Mercedes driver who double parked outside while he ran into the liquor store. I think I scared him off when I approached him, wearing my Bush mask, and asked in a deep Texan drawl, “Say boy, that’s not a German car, is it?” – Germans also being persona nein grata back in those days of moral clarity.)

That’s probably the last truly off the hook party I’ve been to in San Francisco, thanks partly to Ark’s headbanging Atari set, thanks in part to the space – a long, narrow room with avant-garde Czech films projected along the wall, skewed perspective and all, and thanks in part to the inexplicably up-for-it crowd. (Check for Gumby in the photos. Yeah, beats me too.)








February 23, 2004

Dust Bunnies: Saving All My Love

Announcing Dust Bunnies, an occasional feature in which we discover a record on our shelves. Because a) taking inspiration from Matt Woebot, I don't pretend to be an expert on everything, but would still like to believe that I've got a little something to say about music that falls outside the boundaries of microwhatnots and screamo (I know, who knew there was other music?), and b) sometimes it's a lot more fun to write about stuff that didn't come from a publicist. Some, including this writer, may think that "Dust Bunnies" lacks gravitas, but fuck it: bunnies are cute.

Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, "Saving All My Love For You," from Avant Pop (ECM, 1986)

This is one of 60-odd records I bought off a sidewalk sale on my block for a buck a pop. From the opening trombone fillip that kicks off the Masser/Goffin tune, Bowie's version is as sugary as Whitney's from the year before. (I can't get my hands on the original 1978 recording by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., so can't offer a comparison there.) The muted, doo-wopping horns of the intro are straight Muzak, and when the triangle rings out at the end of the first four bars, you unconsciously look to see if this is your floor. But then Bowie comes in, and you realize that this is drunken sugar, steeped in rum and staggering through the halls. He's like a soused groom making karaoke promises to his blasé Vegas bride. That doesn't stop the randy trombones from giving him a good ribbing about the previous night's stag party shenanigans. It's sweet, insincere, generous and narcissistic all at once, and proof once again that covers are the best thing ever to happen to recorded music. Besides, walking tuba is way cooler than walking bass.

February 20, 2004

Extra butter on that pork, please

Who knew that the president of the United States has a private theater for viewing first-run films? In the case of our sitting indumbent, that raises a few questions:

* Who monitors his popcorn intake, to prevent another pretzel incident in the dark?

* Does George cover his eyes when boobies are shown? (Or maybe his good Christian self only requests the edited-for-TV versions, who knows.)

* Finally, and this is an actual question as opposed to me just taking useless rhetorical potshots, what is the cost to the taxpayers for this? Does the White House have a standing arrangement with movie distribution houses to lease first-run films? Given that they're not charging for tickets, it can't cost as much as it does for a commercial theatre to lease a print, but still, it must cost something, right? And if so, I really would like to know why that's something taxpayers have to pay for. And don't tell me it's to keep his finger on the pulse of the nation -- if Georgie can't be bothered to read the newspapers, surely he can get an aide to go to the cinema for him as well (which throws the security argument right out the window). And isn't this the president that's in bed by 10pm anyway? When does he have time to screen a howevermanyhour epic in Aramaic? (Ok, one more question: does someone read the subtitles to him?)

For rills, though: anyone in Hollywood land who knows the answer to my economic question, holla back!

February 19, 2004

I'd rather be raving

Instead, I'm sick in bed (ok, sick at desk), reading Tim Lawrence's Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979, which charts the rise and fall of the New York underground disco scene. (Reprising a paper he gave at the EMP Pop Conference last year, Lawrence goes so far as to investigate the colloquial origins of the very word "underground" in its countercultural context, a nice bit of "unpacking," as we used to say in grad school.) It's a fascinating, at times gossipy (in the best way) account of the scene and its major players -- Mancuso, Levan, et al -- and reading firsthand accounts of the origins of DJ tricks like beatmatching is nothing less than thrilling. When he gets to descriptions of the dance floor itself, the immersive, atemporal space of it, it just makes me want to be there. And thus (and also because I've been neglecting the visual lately), this photo from Barcelona's Moog club, June 2003.

Coming up: shameless raving about Octet, International Pony, and the next wave of electro-pop.

February 17, 2004

Dance Ditch

Ok, just to prove that I, too, have indie cred (and way too much time on my hands, apparently), I've finally contributed to ILM's fantasy Rough Guide series with The Rough Guide to Screamo, 1989 - 1994: The Golden Years (Volume 1). And since I spent like three hours on it, I'm going to reprint here:

1. Moss Icon, “Dance Ditch,” from Mahpuia Luta (Vermin Scum, 1989)
2. Born Against, “Well Fed Fuck,” from Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children (Vermiform, 1991)
3. Heroin, “Meaning Less,” from Heroin (Gravity, 1993)
4. Rorschach, “Mandible,” from Protestant (Wardance/Gern Blandsten, 1992)
5. Antioch Arrow, “Go Go,” from Antioch Arrow (Gravity, 1993?)
6. Navio Forge, “Hate Machine,” from As We Quietly Burn a Hole Into… (Shadow Catcher, 1993)
7. Antioch Arrow, “Puppy Love,” from In Love with Jetts (Gravity, 1993)
8. John Henry West, “Avoiding,” from 3/12/93 (Ebullition, 1993)
9. John Henry West, “Bullet Proof” (Gravity, 1993)
10. Born Against, “Sendero,” from Battle Hymns of the Race War (Vermiform, 1993)
11. Universal Order of Armageddon, “Symptom” (Jade Tree, 1993)
12. Han Shan, “In Autumn” (Soledad, 1993)
13. Universal Order of Armageddon, “Painfully Obvious,” from split 7” with Born Against (Gravity, 1993)
14. Unwound, “You Bite My Tongue” (Gravity, 1993)
15. Angel Hair, “Origin of Species,” from Insect Mortality (Gravity, 1994)
16. Assfactor 4, “The Weight,” from Sometimes I Suck 7" (Repercussion, 1994)
17. Mohinder, “To Satisfy” (Unleaded, 1994?)
18. Mohinder, “The Mission” (Gravity, 1994)
19. Mukilteo Fairies, “Oly Latent Boys,” from Closet Check 7" (Outpunk, 1994)
20. Swing Kids, “Disease” (Kidney Room, 199?)

So yeah, a few dates are fuzzy, it's a little heavy on Gravity (well, they did corner the screamo market in '93), the VSS and Honeywell are missing. But otherwise it seems a not bad lil' primer.

Funny, I'm surprised how well some of those tunes have held up. Not that it's a surprise with Born Against or Unwound, say. And John Henry West is still a fucking classic; hits like railroad spike in the sternum. Han Shan is a lot thinner than I remember; I remembered it being heavier, more massive. But it's thin on structure and thin on sound. And I like how you can chart the balancing act between more conventional hardcore strains (JHW, Born Against) and the all-out theatricalism (Antioch Arrow, Swing Kids) that would eventually turn into whitebelt.

One of these days if I have a rainy weekend with nothing to do, I'll put together a Rough Guide to Unwound, just for nostalgia's sake.

For an index to all the fantasy Rough Guides so far, click here.

Dance, dance, dance

Just received this email for an upcoming party in SF:

"White Out!
Friday, March 5th
Studio Z
314 11th Street at Folsom, San Francisco

Live Performances from
Gravy Train!!!
DJ's Disco Shawn and Mon Amie

An Evening of Booty Jams for the Rock Kids
B-Girl Anthems, Ghetto Trax, Old School Electro, Motown, & Funk Punk
Bump and Grind to artists like...
Salt N' Pepa/Afrika Bambaataa/ESG/Outkast/Technotronic/Chingy/
JJ Fad/Ludacris/L'Trimm/Le Tigre/DFA/Kelis/NWA/LL Cool J/James Brown
The Clash (only the disco shit)/Snoop/Dre/Grandmaster Flash/
Jackson 5/Fanny Pack & and a whole lot of other shiznit to get yo emaciated indie
ass groovin on the dance floor.

*Disclaimer: This evening will not contain difficult, challenging, or
esoteric music--this is a straight up dance revolution."

Have to admit, the whole thing stumps me a bit. Leaving aside the (ironic? unintentional?) racial reference hidden in the title -- because, let's not beat around the push, push, in the bush, this is black music for a white crowd -- what is it all about? More and more lately, it seems like I'm seeing indie/rock fans (or "kids," if you must) espousing the virutes of "booty jams" and the like. Which is great! I'm glad that folks are going out and getting swervy to good music of whatever stripe. But what puzzles me are the constraints and the aporia in the above list of records and artists to be spun.

How do the lines get drawn? Mainstream hip hop is in, old school hip hop is in, electro, funk/R&B, funk punk, dub rock, mainstream disco - all represented. Most of the artists are black, save for the white "dance rock" acts that represent the canon: The Clash, DFA, Le Tigre. Nothing wrong, of course, with white folk listening to black music, nor with setting aside one's collection of (mostly white) rock tunes for an evening of (mostly black) funk/hip hop/etc.

I'm curious, though, in the exclusion of any sort of house and techno. Maybe I'm just a sad old booster, but I'm baffled by the idea of a "straight up dance revolution" that ignores house and techno, two of the major contemporary genres of dance music. I know that indie kids tend to distrust house and techno, and perhaps in a context like this -- with a song-oriented playlist at varying tempos -- a set of 4/4 music wouldn't really work. But I can't help but suspect there's something else going on, a submerged set of preconceptions that's unflattering to house/techno and hip hop/funk alike.

(I still can't get out of my head the time that I gave a copy of my beloved Recloose's CD to a white indie rocker friend. "It's ok," she shrugged a few days later. "Sounds like something they'd play in a gay, black disco though." As though, you know, that were a problem. Dude, where do you think disco was born?)

Somewhere, somehow, in the collision of what gets included and what gets ignored, there's a logic at work. Funk is fetishized; fun is fetishized. The whole summer-vacation feel of the announcement -- that no "difficult, challenging, or esoteric music" will be played -- leads to my distrust. So this is a night off from the rigors of... Black Dice? Wolf Eyes?

I'm also sort of flummoxed that this is a night "of booty jams for the rock kids." What about the hip hop kids? Are they off throwing an indie rock party that night? Someone like Hollertronix, Z-Trip -- they bring folks of all stripes together. But the promoteres seem to want to keep this party segregated. If you ain't white, skinny, and wearing a torn blazer, you know, maybe you'd better move down the street, where the real hip hop party is. This is just, you know, a joke.

I note there's also no dancehall or grime in the list; mildly surprising, but not really. I think what I'm trying to identify is a kind of aura of reception around the musics included above -- a shared, and agreed-upon set of assumptions within a certain circle. And I really want to figure out how that works. Grime and dancehall, I would assume, are excluded because they're not perceived to be funny or kitschy in the same way as "old school booty rap" and other popular choices in Friendster profiles. (Shame they haven't seen Elephant Man, then -- they're missing out on some serious comedy, from what I've heard of his live shows.)

Or maybe I'm just a curmudgeon and I'm pissed that there won't be any house and techno and I'm jealous that all the cute indie rockers go to stuff like this but never the parties that I throw. Hey, that could be it. I never said I was a role model. But I don't think so. If anyone has similar thoughts, chime in below. And of course, if I'm off my rocker, feel free to let me know (gently, please, gently!).

February 14, 2004

Will you be my Valentines?

This is quite possibly the strangest thing I have seen on the web in a long, long time. The premise: dude is looking for female spouses to enter into a polygamous relationship with him and to bear him multiple children. Or, as he so clearly bullets it in his "Basic Plan," "2 - 6 women to have 2 - 15 children by me."

"The preferred situation tends toward the higher numbers."

But before you write this guy off as just another oat-sower, just keep reading until you get to the part where he specifies, "When the children reach 18 years of age, I would like for each of them to have 2 children with a mate selected by me" - and then proceeds to elucidate his plans for grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And you thought Fiddler on the Roof was twisted.

The strangest thing about it all, though, is the geniality of his language - it's neither highfalutinly legalistic nor black-helicopter-spottingly religious and paranoid, two things you might expect. As he puts it, "Some may wonder why I want the situation that I've presented here. I guess the simplest answer to this is that it is just what I want. Some people want to climb Mt. Everest, some want to drive race cars, some want to knit. I don't want to do any of these things. But what I do want is what I've set forth on this web-site." He comes off like Brigham Young of the Prozac Nation.

Wait til you get to the pictures. He looks, oddly enough, a little like Iggy Pop with a touch of Lee Ranaldo. (Hmmm.... the roots of his selective breeding thing?) Whatever you do, though, don't click on the "Erotica" section (or, "pictures of me that are more showy"). I have to go wash my brain out now.

February 13, 2004

Current events

Thinking about our pathetic wretch of a president -- except that he deserves not pity but only spit-flecked contempt -- who used his family's influence to weasel out of serving in Vietnam (while, it should be noted, his future vice president was infiltrating anti-war protests on college campuses at the behest of a senator who wanted to strip funding from colleges where there was anti-war activity) and then went AWOL (and possibly deserted) the cushy post he did have, it's hard not to get sick to your stomach reading this story about wounded veterans returning from Iraq.

Georgie Porgie, you're a coward and a scoundrel. There should be a nursery rhyme for you:

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie
Crippled some soldiers, let others die.
When our boys came home from the fray
Georgie Porgie ran away.

February 12, 2004

Belated platitudes part two

I know, I know, these are awful long; no wonder the Voice didn't print'em. That's what blogs are for, right? Running at the mouth - or at least the fingertips.

Death Cab for Cutie's Peter Pan Complex

Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlanticism, the Seattle band’s fourth album and first new work since 9/11, sees the band facing the uncomfortable prospect of growing up – and in doing so, it presents indie rock's crisis of adulthood. It's a generational album, tailormade for a movement of self-styled "kids" who, facing a world that seems increasingly complex and increasingly disappointing, retreat into the bubble of Livejournals and weathered mixtapes.

The whole idea of Transatlanticism is about bridging worlds -- between two people, of course, in the long-distance weepiness that comes so easily to singer Benjamin Gibbard (let’s not forget that his side project, the Postal Service, takes its raison d’etre from distance and the epistolary tradition), but also across the yawning gulf between adolescence and adulthood (despite the fact that Gibbard – like plenty of his fans – is well into his 30s). And even, why not, between "the scene" and the world outside. But at the same time, this is an isolationist album, a rejection of nation-building in favor of drawing the wagons around one’s community, one’s emotions, oneself.

What's striking about Transatlanticism is that from the opening song, Death Cab is clearly on the retreat. "So this is the new year/ and I don’t feel any different," sings Gibbard in the album’s very first line. "The clanking of crystal/ and explosions off in the distance" is the fragment that follows, as though the strange new world facing him trumped grammar itself. Of course it does: while the indie kids were batting lashes and taking roadtrips, the world came crashing back to earth, and Death Cab -- kingpins of the indie scene -- are stuck struggling to assume leadership as unexpectedly as hapless George was.

But if "The New Year" is the anthem the indie kids were waiting for (ever since The Strokes cut "NYC Cops" off their album in the wake of 9/11), the rest of the album sees Gibbard struggling with the weight of nostalgia. Just as on the wonderful Postal Service album, we're given lovely, ephemeral moments from late-night drives and bedroom conversations, the impossible-to-recover stuff of youth, preserved as beautifully, and spookily, as extinct mammals in the Museum of Natural History. But the museum's about to close and Gibbard knows it. "Our youth is fleeting, old age is just around the corner," he sings; "This is the sound of settling."

February 11, 2004

Belated platitudes part one

The first of two blog posts comprising my comments to the Pazz & Jop poll that went unused. Only now can the truth be told here!

Microhouse fattens up

Microhouse – the genre that sounds like a drum circle played with tinfoil, truck tires, and sawed-off lightning rods, while a robot sings scat with his jaw wired shut – kept up its anthill frug in 2003 with perspicacious pointillism from the usual suspects. (Most of these – Ricardo Villalobos, Matthew Dear, Pantytec – helped make Perlon’s Superlongevity 3 comp the most elegantly caffeinated example of the form yet.) But meanwhile, producers coming out of the same tradition of minimal techno and abstracted house went about quietly force-feeding their work, turning Skinny Minnie tracks into Loosey Goosey songs just ready for the carving. Ada’s “Arriba Amoeba” was a tugboat hauling massive, !!!-styled basslines through microhouse’s whitecapped wake, and the rest of her colleagues on Areal did their best to chop the waters, churning overdriven drums like prop blades through seasick-making chord swells. Curiously, Areal hardly seemed to know what it was actually up to: its website still trumpeted “Advanced Tech-Electronic Minimalism” as though it had forgotten to take off its LaMonte Young Pioneers bandanna after the fall of the regime. You want to tell them that the *Wallpaper has fallen, that white grids aren’t de rigeur any more – but whatever, they’ve clearly figured it out for themselves, which is what’s going to help their 2004 releases shift units (or at least column inches) while untold numbers of clickety-clickety 12”s from other labels are just going to help to fulfill prophecies about dance music’s stagnant sales.

Even Kompakt, once thought of as the Matron of Minimalism, went full-bore this year -- first with Speicher, a peak-hour manifesto shorn of all that Millsian karate-chop machismo; then with Schafflefieber, which is essentially music for elephants (or manatees) to waltz to; and finally, via label head Michael Mayer’s Fabric13 mix for London club Fabric, which swelled hearts with pure gothic pop as rounded and velvety red as the ropes that had been cast aside to let everyone in.

Ricardo Villalobos, meanwhile, attended to minimalism’s teleological project, not so much stripping things down further as proceeding to fill in the empty spaces with hiccups and percussive leavings – like caulking tile with the ground-up husks of Cuban drums. But “Dexter,” which was essentially Villalobos’ answer to Closer Musik’s keening “Maria,” lifted its gaze from the maddeningly detailed task at hand to get swept away with a yearning, melodic screen kiss – like a sweatshop worker churning out electronic gizmos bursting into song in a Bollywood film. At first, “Dexter” seemed like pure indulgence, an unusual shred of sentimentalism from the easygoing (capital E) glamour boy, but in light of other developments, Villalobos’ momentary rejection of microhouse’s austerity plan feels more significant, almost as if he were laying a primer coat for the thick, gloopy paint job yet to come.

February 10, 2004

Hand on the now

Pleased to note that finally, after long absence, I'll be returning to my Needle Drops column over at Neumu -- expect a new installment later this week. In the meantime, a sneak preview in the form of a link to its subject matter, the first single from Laszlo Beckett and Steve Taylor on new label Hand on the Plow. Go now and download the two MP3s. Quite possibly the best new dance tracks I've heard yet this year, and certainly from unknown artists on a new label. As I note in the forthcoming column, "This feels like a Junior Boys moment. Not just for the unexpectedness of the first hearing -- like the Junior Boys, Beckett and Taylor take on well-familiar strains and slap'em together in a way you'd never have thought to hear'em. (Ezra Pound would be pleased that they'd taken his advice.) Gospel refrains, Herbertian gristle-chomping, Chicago house, SND-style 2-bit pipsqueaks, Akufen skip and Timbaland snap -- Beckett and Taylor graft them all together and then erase only half the seams, until you can't quite decide which sound belongs to what source." Throw in scraps of Isolée and Geeez and Gosh and Dabrye, sprinkle with eggshells, and watch the mulch blossom. These guys can Rototill my lawn any ol' day.

February 09, 2004

Flying blind

We interrupt this blog to make a plea. Someone recently sent me MP3s of tunes called "Prince Charles Gone Funky" and "Stripped Down Final," both of them retardedly good acid disco bangers. Or maybe I downloaded them. Unfortunately, in a routine bit of iTunes maintenance I managed to delete the artist ID tags. If you sent them to me, or know where they came from, please let me know! While there's something sort of intriguing about mystery trax like thesse -- hey, it's my very own "Invisible Jukebox!" -- I really don't want to be tearing my hair out any longer than I need to be. I'm balding fast enough, thank you very much.

February 07, 2004

A beet, a lounge

The unstoppable beat juggernaut rolls over all who would stand in the way of shameless self-promotion. I've got yet another new mix up online, this one from Thursday night at San Francisco's hallowed Beta Lounge. Click here to launch the set. If you're looking for techno, skip to the end: the first bit of the 3.5 hour set has Hakobo and Yoshito spinning hip hop, then LA's Procussions do a peppy live hip hop set, then Ole 370 throws down a couple of tracks, and I come in around 2:53:00 with the Jochem Spieth schaffel track. What follows is 40 minutes of the usual suspects (Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, Areal -- what did you expect?) that actually doesn't sound nearly as rocky as it did at the time.

February 06, 2004

Three things you didn't know

In lieu of an actual post, three bits of ephemera from Chez Sherburne (and no, we don't know why we're so enamored of the word "chez" lately - must be our French Period).

* There's a dead pigeon stiffening on the garbage hutch in the front yard of our house. Strange thing is, it looks like he was placed there. We haven't checked for threatening notes yet, but are hoping it's not related to any recent critical statements we may have made, which we assure were half-hearted at best.

* Wearing khakis makes us nervous. They look great on other folks, but even the high-end ones -- Diesel! Margiela! -- have us casting anxious glances at our shins and thighs, unconvinced that we're not, in fact, naked. (Perhaps only khaki people suffer this anxiety?)

* If you're in San Francisco, there's a bit of a gig tomorrow that's worth checking out: Kean and Dave Aju of Circus Company, The Fresh Blend (IRIS Distribution), and DJ yours truly. Rx Gallery, 132 Eddy at Mason, San Francisco, 9pm-midnight. $5 gets you free, unlimited game play on the gallery's array of vintage stand-up arcade machines (Defender? holla!) and Atari 2600 consoles. Anyone who wants to bring it for a Tempest standoff, it's on.

February 05, 2004

The whole world just got small

Thanks to the generosity of Blentwell's Jonathan Spooner we're pleased to annouce a new mix up online for your downloading pleasure. It's less a polished set than a rough draft, but there were a few moments just too nice for me to be able to resist passing it on. It's called Barking Spider -- consider it in Beta form, and hopefully I'll hammer out a finished version one of these days. Thirty-seven minutes, 34MB, featuring tracks from St Plomb (Mental Groove), Dominik Eulberg (Traum), Jimmy Edgar (Warp), Jan Jelinek (~Scape), Donna Regina mixed by Michael Mayer (Karaoke Kalk), a whole mess of Superpitcher (Kompakt), plus a few surprises you'll have to listen for. I'll post a real tracklisting shortly. As for feedback, we're like Steve Perry with open arms.

In case you missed the link in that mess of text, you can download it here, for a limited time only, while supplies last. First person to i.d. the source of the intro wins something TBA.

Update! So here's that tracklisting I promised. Short but sweet:

* Nick Cave, "The Atra Virago," Smack My Crack (Giorno Poetry Systems)
* Dominik Eulberg, "Der Hecht im Karpfenteich" (Traum)
* St Plomb, "A Bat in My Shoe" (Mental Groove)
* Jimmy Edgar, "Re: City Alley" (Warp)
* Deadbeat, "Shmaltzing after Midnight" (Kodaira)
* Jan Jelinek avec the Exposures, "Music to Interrogate By" (~Scape)
* Donna Regina, "Star Ferry" Michael Mayer mix (Karaoke Kalk)
* Ghost Cauldron, "See What I've Become" Superpitcher Smallville mix (!K7)
* Talk Talk, "Wealth," Spirit of Eden (EMI)
* Contriva, "Stuck" Superpitcher remix (Monika)

Because you can't have "CBS" without "BS"

Crack SF correspondent Monty Luke was the first person to hit our in-box this morning with the news that Janet Jackson's been booted from the Grammys -- which, like the Super Bowl, is a CBS production. Meanwhile, and don't tell us you didn't see this coming, Justin Timberlake has reportedly not been disinvited. And with good reason, as Monty points out - "since he's up for 7 awards, they might have a really boring show without him."

What's the takeaway here? It's ok to attack women -- all the better if done in public -- but by all means let's punish the broad who set herself up for it, the slut. I didn't weigh in on the initial halftime flap because I figured there was enough pontificating going on, but fellow Bay Area blogstraordinarie Oliver Wang said the one thing I wish I'd pointed out: "Some folks have pointed out that it's not like Justin simulated, oh, forced sodomy on Janet but ripping open someone's shirt to expose their breast - especially staged - is pretty fucked up and if you think that's a prudish thing to say, then you're probably a misogynist who gets off on that sort of shit to begin with." Doesn't fucking matter whether or not the incident was planned or staged, despite what so many people seem to find so brilliantly controversial and titillating. Whether the planning came from the board or Justin just popped a woody mid-verse at the thought of humiliating a woman on stage, the shadow of sexual violence darkly dogs the high-noon figure of some asshole's seriously bad judgement. (And I can't be the only one who's more than a little queasy at the implicit power dynamic going on - c'mon, here you've got a white boy attacking a black woman for the public eye; think he would've done that to Jessica Simpson?) And now she's getting punished for it. Well, of course. She was wearing that medieval-looking metal nipple contraction, right? Clearly she was asking for it. Hey, now that you mention it, that thing looked kinda, I dunno, magical, right, on some Lord of the Rings shit? And isn't it weird how her top popped open almost without Justin's help? She could be a witch! We'd better burn her.

I think it's time to tell our friends over at the Conservative Broadcasting Syndicate, the same network that deems MoveOn.org's populist , fiscally conservative "Child's Pay" advertisement "controversial," that they're out of line. Boycott the Grammys? Hell yes. I mean, easy for me to say; I never watch that shit anyway. And I know, boycotts come to shit, but you gotta do something.

February 04, 2004

Hands on feet




I should be in bed right now, but I had a request for photos of Sutekh today, and do you see me wearing a "No Fucking Requests" t-shirt? No, you don't. Of course, that's because in cyberspace, no one can see what you're wearing (unless of course, you have a webcam, and mine is disconnected). But that's not the point; here at chez philblog we honor all reasonable requests, especially when they come from the good folk in our home town of Portland, Oregon, where rain breeds a solidarity the likes of which those easygoing Equatorial types can never hope to imagine.

So, yeah. Sutekh in Mexico City. And a rocking set it was, at that. Skippy like peanut butter. Loopy like jumprope. And enough bass to make the amoebas in yr tummy dance like dervishes. These photos were taken right before Seth disintegrated in the spray of some cosmic, Aztec particle beam. Nobody saw that coming. Well, you know what they say, pixels to pixels, and all that.

February 03, 2004

Cerro San Juan de Dios

I've been neglecting the visual for the past few days. This is the view from the communal house where the MUTEK crew stayed in Valparaiso during the runup to the Chile fest. It's a pretty sloppy photomerge -- no, the skies in Chile aren't really striped, and neither does perspective there follow De Chiricoean laws, alas (unless you've had a lot of pisco, but that's another story) -- but should give you an idea of the awesomeness of the view. The uppermost building in the center of the image is a defunct prison, now used for art events and installations; the building on stilts to its right, just to the left of the blue house, burned on our last day in Valpo, sending up sickly yellow smoke into the sky. One or two houses a day burns in Valpo, thanks to deteriorating wooden construction and the maze of streets, alleys, and stairs, all of them impossible for fire trucks to access. (Click on the image for a more generously sized popup.)

We love photomerge, by the way. Who needs Hockney now?

February 02, 2004

Not afraid to get our hands, uh, grimy

Just as we thought the grime/garage/'nuum beat (just kidding Simon, much as I like the resonance of it -- conjures New Beat and numbskull all in the same breath!) conundrum had been beaten into sublow submission, none other than the Tie-Dyed Lady weighs in with the announcement, "A new London club craze is coming to America via college radio and after-hours dance floors - it's called grimy."

Grimy? Blimey.

Are they sure about that? I've gotten so used to reading and writing "grime" in the blogosphere that I was a bit taken aback by the adjectival form, which RS writer (and my friend and flavorpill colleague Matt Diehl) raises to nominal status by calling Dizzee Rascal "grimy's flagship artist." I'd be tempted to say that Diehl had misheard the word, except that Dizzee's quoted as saying, "Crunk's the closest thing to grimy." (Meanwhile, Diehl proves that he's been reading Reynolds, or perhaps my ripoffs of Reynolds, by noting that it's "also known as sublow and gutter garage.")

But I'm still not convinced. Googling "Dizzee + grime" nets 702 hits, while "Dizzee + grimy" gets only 552 -- and the latter references are almost without fail adjectival. Searching RWD, meanwhile, turns up four hits for "grimy," used mainly adjectivally (though the sentence, "DJ Eastwood has been smashing up raves everywhere with grimy anthem ‘U Ain’t Ready’ could go either way - in this case, "grimy anthem" reads indistinguishably from "grime anthem.") Still, headlines like "Sublow: You Can Have a Good Time with Grime" would seem to support "grime" as a category.

Bloggone it, has grime's time arrived, just to unwind? I for one, would lament such a linguistic crime. Grimy's rhymey, but grime is sublime! Grimy just stymies, while grime runs numbers like primes, makes (screw)faces like mimes, sounds more forceful (and versatile - it turns on a dime). I'm sour (like lime) over the loss of our grime. Fantastic, folkloric, it rings with a chime: like parsely, sage, rosemary and thyme.