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February 28, 2006

High flyerin'

Atención cono sur! Hay dos bolos más esta semana: este jueves en El Quinto Sol (Santiago) con Original Hamster y Notone; este sábado en Deck00 (Muelle Baron, Valparaiso) con Leandro Fresco y Pedro DJ. Ven!



I've been Critical Beating all day, which has led my head to beat at a pretty critical frequency itself. (Thud, thud.) But it's been more than a micro-minute since I really talked about music here, so at the very least I figured I'd leave you with a top-something list of recent and forthcoming hotness.

Klang/Ongaku/Playhouse is on a funkin' roll right now; honestly, I'm not sure I can think of a similarly high-volume label (or trinity thereof) with a better hit-to-miss ratio at the moment. Let me count the ways…

My My, Serpentine EP — their "Klatta" was genius, but "Serpentine" is simply one of the best tracks I've heard in ages — nervous, restless, charged with a bracing energy and relentless toms that just won't quit. This one somehow falls in the sweet spot between Mobilee and Border Community, which is a hard place to reach indeed. If you don't believe me, listen here.

Phage & Daniel Dreier, Beeswax — that Phage is part of Mobilee's Pan-Pot should be no surprise; this three-tracker is right in line with that label's chunky/jittery/phizzy shizz, complete with jacking chassis beneath, lots of squiggly details atop, and oodles of reverb. "Green Onions" visits Steve Reich territory; "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy" features a huge circus-organ riff that's way creepier than the sunnyday title might imply; and the title track's an endlessly perforated bumper that'll go perfectly alongside all yr Vakant, Lan Muzic and Muzik Krause records. Chikkaboom!

Johannes Heil, Freaks R Us — functional, old school, and occasionally quite funny; "Tree of Life" sounds like Green Velvet fronted by James Murphy, and the title track hits the ol' LFO-bone at just the right angle.

Soylent Green, La Forca del Destino — an early entrant for my top 10 of 2006, Roman Flügel in his Soylent Green guise takes to the housier side of things, beat-checking classic Chicago while paying unparalleled attention to the virtues of economy and restraint. Shades of Melchior Productions (and, indeed, Melchior's old My Little Yoni) project lurk in the skip and the chiming. Every single piece is simply perfect, from the most insubstantial hi-hat to the meticulously tuned snares. You won't hear all this the first time out, but keep listening; what feels at first like a solid collection of tools reveals itself to be far, far more. I can't stop listening to this. And the acidy track eight is easily a parallel to that rideeeeeculous, presumably limited one-sided Ongaku 12" that's floating around right now — I forget who's behind that one, but it's a red label and a bloody acid grind to match. (Omar, quiero mi copia ya! Cabrón…)

Also on heavy rotation are a ton of 12"s from Vakant, Mobilee, Lan Muzic, and an absolutely blistering single from Minilogue on Treibstoff sublabel Wir; sound samples here. But those and other gems will have to wait until another day…

February 24, 2006

On deck

Para los que están en Chile, pincharé el sábado 4 marzo en el famoso Deck00 de Valparaiso (sitio de los Muteks Chile), despues de un show temprano del fantástico Leandro Fresco, conocido por sus discos en Frágil, Kompakt, y Casa del Puente, y por su participación al lado de Gustavo Cerati en el supergrupo Roken con Flavio Etcheto y Gustavo Cerati (Soda Stereo).

También pincharé en un ambiente más informal este domingo, 26 febrero, durante la Feria de Nuevas Tendencias en Deck00; más información aquí.


...y, finalmente, pincharé con Original Hamster jueves el 2 de Febrero en El Quinto Sol... más detalles vendrán pronto.

February 23, 2006


Oh, yeah.

February 16, 2006

Rave Rock Strikes Back

Props to my friend Tricia Romano for a great piece on "rockstar DJs" in this week's Voice. Particularly enlightening was the fact that Martin Gore apparently beatmatches (why am I not surprised?) and, moreover, spins German minimal techno (again, not surprised!). But one graf in particular jumped out at me:

A few months ago, Sunshine was at Happy Ending when he saw Alexander Technique wearing a T-shirt that said "No Beatmatching." Alexander explained that Princess Superstar was asked to play the MisShapes party, but with a caveat: There was to be no beatmatching and no playing of electronic dance music.

This actually happened to me once, except I didn't find out until mid-gig. It was in San Francisco, one of those parties that combined rock bands with DJs, a sea of black bobs and black eyeliner and skinny black blazers — in other words, the kind of scene that invariably makes me feel old and way out of touch with Generation Myspace. The band was pretty "meh," or actually probably worse, five skinny, stylish guys with perfect hair doing a capable-but-nothing-more ape of every other guitar band on earth. Afterwards a colleague of mine played disco and electro, and the dancefloor thinned as the crowd moved increasingly toward the bar and the bathroom stalls. I thought I'd have a chance if I brought things down slow, so I kicked off with Isolée's incredible "It's About" on Freundinnen, and then worked my way up through slow, gritty jackers like Vibert's "I Love Acid" and a long, agonized Losoul B-side. (I remember the setlist only because this is a trio I drop with some embarrassing frequency.) No one was dancing, particularly. Then the promoter came up. "Could you maybe play something a little less, uh, electronic?" On another day, I could have, sure — but no one told me the brief, and I'd brought my usual bag of house and techno and minimal; they'd told me the party was intended to bring together SF's divergent rocker and raver communities.

Maybe I needed a t-shirt too. Not "No Beatmatching," but rather the one hanging in the window at Tweekin': "No Fucking Requests."

February 15, 2006

It's banging in Berlin

By now you've most likely read my little wrapup of last week's trip to Berlin for Club Transmediale, a fine festival if ever there was one. Dick El Demasiado's set was utter platanos: Dick, dressed in a black long-sleeve t-shirt emblazoned with a skeleton screen print, sweating profusely and singing/shouting into two mics in front of reconfigured videos from Argentine daytime television, assisted by a fellow with a foot-high afro mucking about on noise and effects and a Theremin — and for once, here was a guy who actually knew how to play the damn thing, and not just squeal. Cumbia freaking lunática indeed. Everyone danced, and the feathered-haired Mexican-looking dude to my left, shuffling about blissfully, warmed my heart, a vision of the pan-Latin diaspora at home in the north. (Later, though, he wandered about weakly waving his arms in time to Zip and Ricardo, and I wondered if in fact his enthusiasms simply had more to do with extreme inebriation than memories of Selena.)

Too many stories to tell — and too few that I remember — so I'll let the photos suffice.


The view from M12, in which 33.99 Records set up a temporary recording studio, inviting festival artists and other musicians to drop in and record, live to acetate, a 7" record. No copies were made of any of these recordings — each is a true, one-of-a-kind object. (I envy the person that picked up Francisco Lopez's; what'll the eBay value on that one be?) I got to record two, both spoken-word pieces; one a pair of texts about my father, adapted from last year's Wire Epiphany column; the other a more materialist take on vinyl itself, copping a move from Alvin Lucier and feeding back a single recorded sentence directly from the acetate back into the cutting machine, and ending in a lock groove. (Both of these records are still available from Berlin's Dense record shop, I do believe.)


Robag Wruhme rocking the decks at the Vakant party at Watergate.


Pretty Vakant.


The Wighnomys' Monkey Maffia always does this, holding up the sleeve of the record that's playing. I like the fact he's giving love back to the artists, and not trying to keep his selections some kind of secret.


As always, the WBs were nothing short of incendiary. What the hell was that housey track with the dancehall "Murda dem" sample they played? I heard it in a recent Diplo set as well.


Zip and Ricardo at their Club Transmediale gig at Maria. Long, late, deep, and very good. Shame that so many dancers — like the woman who insisted on sexydancing like she was in a hip-hop video (but way clumsier) kept getting in the way of total immersion.


The view from Watergate during the Vakant party. Last time I took a photo from almost the exact same angle, it was summertime, so the ice came as a bit of a shock. A week later, the ice was all but gone, and the ducks and swans had returned.


Read this as you will: thumbs up to Berlin? Or perhaps: sleep, this way.

February 01, 2006

Hannah errant

Re: Origins of Totalitarianism: If we should be awarding Jazze Pha a slot for "Lose Control," then shouldn't, by Clover's own logic, we also be making room in that slot for Cybotron? If, indeed, the collective effort is what Clover suggests we recognize, over individual genius. (And isn't this, anyway, sort of the argument of all popists [love that MS Word thinks I should be typing "papists" there] who say that it doesn't matter that Ashlee or Britney or Kelly or whomever doesn't write her/his music; that essentially the name/face is merely a synecdoche for the whole capitalist production process?) No, no poll with only artist/title/label categories will recognize producers, at least recognize them by name. That is a structural slant; but then again, the fact that Tori Alamaze's deleted (and totally disowned by her original label) version of "Don't Cha" could chart alongside the Pussycat Dolls' version (albeit without producer Cee-Lo's name attached in either instance) suggests that the poll at least reflects the slipperiness of the pop machine, and does account for moments that escape the official narrative.

And but also, and stop me if I'm jumping on a personal hobby-horse here, but I don't understand quite how the "electronic diaspora" functions in the same "crack-white" universe of singer-songwriters. (Let's not forget without whom "Lose Control" never could have come into existence.) That most of electronic-music's northern listenership is white is a red herring, I think (I mean, so is hip-hop's); doesn't the fact that artists still remain secondary in importance not only to their labels but to their very subgenres speak to a very different ethic at work? Of course, P&J is also structurally slanted away from recognizing that music on its own terms, as a collective action—although the fact that comps like Run the Road could place as high as it did (#52) shows also that there are at least some loopholes. (Albeit grime's a sticky example, being at once a collectivist phenom, and yet its individual artists seem dead-set on gaining individual fame as lyrical geniuses. Whither the producer, once again?)