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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.


bummer - sign af*er "s" and before "u" errors nixed my response. i'll kick my words in when i*s fixed. peace, philip.

Hey PS - loved that Jelinek Review - man, makes we want to get on a plane & search him out ...my jaded palate needs some fresh food, know what i mean??

I really am worried by your mention of a golden age. I've been listening to so much wonderful house music in the last few months. Better than I've ever heard: so precise, so much soul, so pyshchedelic. The phrase 'golden age' had entered my mind. But I've got a family and shit to get on with. And I live in Somerset. I just KNOW I'm missing something. I want to rave my brains out.

Fair enough -- I enjoyed what you enjoyed too. But there was also a lot to question at MUTEK that you gloss over here, such as the place of experimental music in this new golden age ? Perhaps the only peace is to separate Placard and its inhabitants of weirdness from the beats ...? It's just too bad, as the hybridity is what kept MUTEK flying high for so many years. And did you really like Pole? At least for this Montrealer's ears, it sounded like a lotta shows we have from that little Constellation records camp. Sure, we're all partial, but what happened to "minima moralia" ? best, tobias

The Guide for Getting it On Outside of the Danceclub
By Kandi Conundrum

"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". – Philip Sherburne, philipsherburne.com

Music fosters community today just as it did in tribal Africa way back before there was a Moog synth or an Ultonic plugin. And yet music is most commonly “enjoyed” in lameass clubs full of dipshits. Your typical jaded beat-head who’s witnessed Sneak play Glasgow’s Subclub, Paul Oakenfold poo-puss all coked up* at London’s Home, Mr. C at Ibiza’s Space and blabbidy blah blah is kinda over all that fancypants image-before-the-music bullhonky. Kandi (that’s me, and yes, third person is fancy) started going to raves at wide-eyed 16 and still has a sense of the ORIGINAL PLUR at certain events where the heads are there to dance not glance, even if there’s no glow sticks, cuddle puddles, pacifiers or liquid moves. There’s an icky dynamic around the club scene involving meat markets that really pisses a music geek off. Eww, eww, eww, EWW! Kandi wants music candy and not a freaking JOCK-ASS MOFO eyeing her like a chicken thigh cutlet fresh outta the fryer. Kandi wants the beats without the tube top glory girls with their teased hair, silicon and codependency. Kandi is jaded with dance clubs and fake wankers. Fake tits, too.

So! Kandi goes to music festivals. While some festival events may be held in clubs, you can bet your moneymaker that most heads there will be producers or DJs or other types that are genuinely there for the golden beat, at least in my personal moneymaker betting experience. There’s a whole crap caboodle of hot blooded fests the world over, and your typical “Confessions of a Selector*” type of music industry soul (such as Kandi) is way happier Corona-dancing barefoot in the sunshine to Ricardo Villalobos and Plastikman / Richie Hawtin at Montreal’s Parc Jean Drapeau during MUTEK than having to fend off the buttwads to watch James Lavelle at New York’s APT. Happy dancy people being all PLURry in the sunshine is where it’s at. Kandi wants to give you a music festival guide now. Marinate on it.

MUTEK / Montreal, British Columbia / June / Mutek.ca

Kandi went to MUTEK last year and this year and will go every year until 2020, if she’s not arthritic beyond belief by then. Kandi attempted to go to every single MUTEK event from May 31 to June 4 until she was a slobbering, over-stimulated automaton, but it was well worth it. The festival recently celebrated its seventh annual installment of music and visual creampuffery, all while presenting a large selection of nerdy panel events and music production workshops, to boot. Performing artists have included Luciano, Isolee, Detroit Grand Pubahs, Dimbiman, Ricardo Villalobos, Jan Jelinek, Michael Mayer, Monolake, and Senor Coconut.

Sonar / Barcelona, Spain / June / Sonar.es

Sonar recently celebrated its 13th edition in mid-June with a slew of beach parties, label showcases, and multimedia extravaganzas. Sonar’s snazzy curation is satisfying as a fine sweetmeat, with performers like Germany’s Schneider TM, Modeselektor, The Knife and DJ Shadow. While many London clubkids spend thousands to get to southern Spain’s Ibiza for uninspired sets by Paul Van Dyk and Sasha, Barcelona’s Sonar is the real event for the musically minded.

Decibel / Seattle, United States / September / dbfestival.com

Decibel is arguably the largest and snappiest electronic music festival stateside. Compared to giants such as Winter Music Conference, Decibel dramatically sets itself apart as a tasteful smorgasbord of worldwide talent. You most likely won’t find ugly large-name liquor sponsor advertisement banners and at Decibel events, but you will find packed rooms featuring badass soundsystems, hot up-and-coming artists (as well as those who already came), music workshops and industry conferences. This year’s preliminary lineup features Bola, Thomas Fehlmann, Lusine, Son of Rose, Telefon Tel Aviv, and Apparat.

Loveparade / Berlin, Germany / July / loveparade.de

Photographs of Loveparade from 2000 or so feature lots of dinner plate pupil types thronging the streets of Berlin by the thousands. After massive success, the parade oddly took a two-year hiatus, but is back for 2006 with a lineup featuring far more adventurous tastes than previous years. Along with the typical Tiesto and Dave Seaman type performers, the 2006 parade features folks like Luciano, Stewart Walker and Ricardo Villalobos.

*(1 & 2) The Blacklist Magazine is not responsible for the lunatic comments of Kandi Conundrum, and her opinions of Paul Oakenpoo are wholly her own. No factual evidence substantiates a claim of Oakenpoo’s drug use. We hope Oakenpoo has way too much money and wouldn’t sue even if we didn’t get all legal disclaimer on his ass. But just in case. You never know.
*(3) That was a Tim Love Lee plug, for those who want to know. You never know.

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