« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

June 27, 2006


(Photo courtesy Razz Club's Albert Uriach.

Thanks to the efforts of BCN's Boogie Man Jeff, you can now listen to my recent set from the Shitkatapult Extravaganza @ Lolita here at Play FM. (Click on "AUDIO - High Quality" to launch the player.) I'll attempt to supply a tracklist once I've figured out which songs I played from my mile-long row of records.

June 24, 2006

P.S. (to SFJ)

I didn't really phrase my last post well - post-MUTEK/Sónar grouchiness will do that to you. I realize that Sasha was specifically talking about U.S. appetites for UK pop, and there's no reason that he should have felt compelled to fold other countries or styles into the mix.

But I do remain curious about amplifying the discussion: i.e., not asking why U.S. listeners so fickly favor only certain UK pop artists, but rather why U.S. listeners so routinely ignore the sonic world outside their borders.

But then again, phrasing it that way, the answers seem so incredibly obvious that I could understand if all y'all's intelligence felt bruised and bloodied by my even raising the issue. Mayhaps I'll find a way of rephrasing the question; more likely I'll just let it drop.

(I do, however, still think that grime is a red herring and/or apple-shaped orange in the Q&A linked in the last post; grime's relative unpopularity in the U.S. seems to have far less to do with jingoism and far more with the fact that grime isn't particularly popular anywhere, for plenty of reasonable, uh, reasons. Grime may be pop in the broad, sociological sense of the term, but it's not really attempting to appeal to a broad, populist audience. [Or is it?])

NP: Lily Allen. I sort of get it, and actually find the production pretty startlingly good - but definitely not my thing.

Would rather were NP: Root 70 plays the music of Burnt Friedman & The Nu Dub Players and Flanger, aka Heaps Dub - possibly my album of the year so far. Jazz quartet reconstructs hyperreal dub, re-edited by Friedman to make it all perfectly hyper-hyperreal, or maybe that's hyper-really-real. Shockingly, given the dub underpinnings, it sounds more than a little like the Nine Horses album (though Friedman played on that too, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised). Bonus points for titling a track in 5/4, "It Ain't Rocket Science."

June 23, 2006

Neue, nuevo, new

Two new jobbies for folks what speak things other'n Engliss:


Villalobos interview in Trax España (available throughout Latin America as well)


Perlon feature in Groove Germany

June 22, 2006

Caught between a rock and Her Majesty

Sasha, mon frere: we (we United Statesians, that is) aren't just "missing out on grime"; we seem to be missing out on virtually any music that's not sung in English, or indeed, not sung at all. Rave culture — and not just the "descendants of rave" that Richard X may shoehorn into his productions — is alive and well on the Continent, if not selling at poptastic levels. (Here is one place where record sales fail to tell the whole story, because I'd wager there are tens of thousands of clubbers routinely dancing to rave music, but not actually buying the stuff.)

Re: grime: I'd also like to know how its "three or four fantastically energetic singles every month" — though I would guess, not charting like Dizzee did — fit into a discussion of pop. Is it pop because you, a (relative) popist, like it? Or are there structural reasons that make it pop? And if it pops structurally, how might we articulate that structure, in order to determine what other countries and cultures create pop music that's also ignored by the U.S. public?

Please note that I'm not merely bitching and moaning that "my" music seems invisibler than ever in the U.S. (although that it does); I'm genuinely interested in how we might formulate a definition of pop music (because ultimately I do believe that techno is pop music, albeit in pop's most elastic sense) that would allow us to address why, say, heavily percussive, computer-based, instrumental, eight-minute tracks — that may or may not carry many of the same sonic thrills as snap music — aren't just unpopular Stateside, but deemed unworthy even of critical attention, as social phenomena (the "only Euroweenies like them" dismissal I've heard from more than a few editors/writers) and musical productions alike.

Is it because internationalism has no identity politics to back it up?

P.S. I do remember that you charted DJ Koze in yr year-end thingy in the New Yorker, and I'm still glad about that. I mention this only as a way of reiterating that my query isn't personal.

P.P.S. Does anyone know the actual origin of the "50,000 [X] fans" (or maybe it's 50,000,000) "can't be wrong" trope came from? I always assumed it was Elvis, but just the other day I saw a similar conceit dating from, I believe, the '20s (sadly, can't remember what it was), leading me to believe it's been around much longer. Anyone? Beuhler?


Gah, it's Pitchfork Wednesday, and I've got nothing to show for it on the blog end. I'm still editing photos — the few that came out; still getting a handle on the new Nikon partycam — and I realized that I never did explain how my brain ended up on the floor of the DJ booth at Moog. (That's what happens when that, uh, happens.) Plus my audio interface just died, which is occupying much of my energy on this end (plus housecleaning post-Sónar, something I wouldn't wish on anyone.) The good news is that I finally have DSL at home. Only six and a half months' wait! Congrats Jazztel.

So photos and another story or two coming soon, plus hopefully capsule reactions on the mogollon of new promos I snagged at MUTEK, Sónar, and from recent shipments from the kind folks at Word and Sound.

June 07, 2006

Assume the prone position


The MUTEK panel I moderated, "Records... Dead?" featuring Tom Hoch (Beatport), Marisol Segal (IODA), Billy Kiely (Forced Exposure), Joerg Heidemann (MDM), and Pheek (Archipel) has been archived for podcasting at In Over Your Head. (Thanks to the gsnuff at Tribe for the link.) It's worth a listen — at least might make for a good dishwashing soundtrack, or some such.

Minimal mindset


In which Magda and the author show that there's more to miniMAL than cracking beats and an unbroken arc of prime, psychedelic noodle — it also requires a fierce pair of shades. (Note: I'm well aware that they look better on Magda. She also has better (and more) hair than I do, but you just can't get yourself worked up over life's little unfairnesses.) You can't see in the photo, but we're both wearing what are apparently called "minimal jeans," at least according to a disparaging comment overheard by Magda. And according to Ubercoolische, Resident Advisor and Simply Islam (where they even mention Fabric, though I can't figure out if it was a Villalobos gig or not), I seem to be wearing a "minimal scarf," though I'm not sure how it got there.

As you can see, the life of a techno journalist is not just endless junkets, bottomless drink tickets, and filing stories via wi-fi from the hot tub: it also entails a long, hard slog through the festival trenches. Which might explain why this post is giddier than the norm, since MUTEK 2006 was perhaps one of the best festival experiences I've ever had. I'll save the details for a later date, either here or in Pitchfork, but to suffice to say that despite disappointing weather, a Piknik Electronik forced to move indoors for the same reason, resulting in harshed buzz for performers and sun-worshipping listeners alike, and a few artists who either didn't quite step up their game or intentionally took the piss, MUTEK just swelled and swelled, getting better and better across its five days of programming. By the end we all were beaming: Magda, Marc Houle, Troy Pierce, and Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos ruled the park for Sunday's Piknik, when the sun finally did deign to come out — Rich and Ricardo pulling it off in a way I doubted they could, frankly, staying deep and subdued and way fucking housey, especially for Rich, whose last outdoor set I heard (at Pollerweisen, Cologne) was by and large indistinguishable from a basement techno set, at least for the first several hours. That evening at the Darling Foundry, Mike Shannon, Jan Jelinek, Pole and Deadbeat all gave the best sets I've heard from any of them, ever. Jelinek in particular was a cosmic destroyer, turning drones and Krauty motorism into some kind of four-dimensional supernova that I'll probably never find words to describe, so please just take my word for it and go see him as soon as humanly possible. But it was Deadbeat that laid waste to everyone.

Now, I've always liked Deadbeat's music, and he's also a friend of mine. But I've also never had a real moment of jaw-dropping revelation from him, either live or on record. But Sunday night, he became someone else: the dub/reggae foundation was still there, but every last shred of politeness fell away as he built up his set, reinforcing the structure with steely techno girders, kicked us behind the knees with devastating dancehall beats, and even snuck in reggaeton rhythms to truly send everything reeling. His sound design was expansive and spectacular (almost literally, in the sense that his timbral mashups sparked starry-eyed, synaesthetic images behind blissfully closed lids) and his sense of pacing and flow absolutely immaculate. He needs to record an album to reflect his live intensity — if he can capture it, not just the breadth but also the deep reach (as in, reaching inside your chest and recalibrating your very heartbeat). But the live set is truly something to behold, and maybe even more important than a recording, given how record-focused electronic music tends to be. Laptop sets just don't come this intense (angry but ecstatic, and vice versa) very often. See him. Book him. Drag along your rocker friends, because dammit, this music has been mouldering in its niches for too long.

(Oddly, when trying to think of other artists who carry the audience like Deadbeat did, the first two acts that come to mind are Modeselektor and Diplo — the former who played another killer [and highly eclectic] set at MUTEK, bridging dancehall, hip-hop, and full-on rave; the latter who DJ'd a private afterparty, unaffiliated with the festival, that turned out to be one of the week's best events, if only because it was completely unexpected. [Frankly, I've never been a huge Diplo fan, in part because of my own hipster-not-hipster baggage and a longstanding love/hate grudge with New York, but I stand corrected. He even got me to dig "Laffy Taffy," for fuck's sake. That shit's minimal as hell — can't we all just get along, already?])

A snappy kicker would say something like, "Let's be cool, move to Berlin, and buy minimal shades." But you know what? I'm over the snarky self-deprecation. Wherever we are, be it Kreuzberg or Providence or Portland, let's find the music we love and rave our brains out, because nothing lasts forever. This is the only golden age we've got, and I'm telling you: after five days (and a couple days of afters) at MUTEK, it doesn't get much more golden than this.