Monday, September 29, 2008
a new country, a new timezone, but it is a sunday and still a find myself working in the office (admittedly a new one, but more of the same in too many ways). what to listen to? after enjoying the new convextion album, i headed over to bar25. nup. bog standard mnml. nothing happening there. and then while distracting myself, i came across this treat from julietta. just like ana, who provided us with the 10th ssg mix, julietta is a resident at harry klein. it is pretty obvious to hear why she has the gig after listening to this mix. just over 2 hours of deft mixing, keeping perfect control of the tempo and vibe. the result is an incredibly smooth ride: plenty of nice records and the BPMs never get too high. all in all, it has been exactly what i was in the mood for. TIP! (i think i may have to permanently steal this from hardwax).
julietta - 11pm mix (september 2008)
Friday, September 26, 2008
ok, just a quick post. here are some of the sets i've grabbed and have been enjoying in the last week since arriving in the UK. normally i listen to sets quite a lot before posting them, but in this case most have been only listened to once or twice. with that proviso in mind, let us begin:
convextion @ faktion manchester 25.4.08
this set did the rounds when it was first released, but i made a note of avoiding it because i didn't want it to spoil seeing him at labyrinth. after his amazing livepa there, of course i was super keen to hear this. and it is brilliant. definitely check it if you haven't already.
bunker podcast 33: seth troxler
only listened to it once, but sounds like a keeper. seth really has something going on. so much life and joy in his DJing. it is impressive how much depth there is in his sound, you'd think he has been around forever.
bodytoniclive: shed livepa @ berghain
do i really need to bother describing this one to you? all i'll say is that it is as good as you'd expect. the opening is especially nice...
ed davenport @ betalounge 19.04.2008
this follows in the true betalounge tradition. seriously deep, special, chill vibes best suited for when the world has left you tired and in need of a musical pick me up. very glad someone has taken the time to rip this. fantastic stuff. as the hardwax crew would say, TIP!
serafin @ cityfox, zürich 10.08.2008
to be honest, i haven't listened to this closely, but i know there are quite a lot of people out there who like our suisse friend and may be keen for this. i wonder when the next production from serafin and/or mountain people is going to drop. overdue!
radio slave @ ibiza sonica 16.09.08
i'm pretty sure mr slave must be a good DJ. but i've never seen him live and i've felt that the few recordings i've heard have not done him justice. this is much better. and much closer to his productions. bit more warped and stretched out. it is ruined a bit by the annoying radio announcers but still worth grabbing.
mixmag.info presents dolshik, podcast #14 
our russian friends have been coming up with some really great mixes in their series, and this is another beauty. dolshik is someone new to me, and to be honest, i still don't know anything more than this mix. if the tracklisting isn't enough to convince you, hopefully my praise is. it finishes with a really amazing rhythm & sound record i hadn't heard before, but am now loving.
1.Masse/Memoire "Eta Merinae"
3.Fumiya Tanaka "For Set #3a"
4.DJ Bone "The Funk "
5.Norman Fairbanks "Engine Kiss"
6.Brendon Moeller "Humpback"
7.Deepchord "A1 - Untitled"
8.Daniel Stefanik "Dubplate"
9.Carl Craig "(B1) Demented Drums (Version)"
10.Nsi. Non Standard Institut "Clara Ghavami Extented"
12.Rhythm & Sound w/ Rod Of Iron "Lightning Storm"
samuli kemppi - dubiteknomiks 4
last up something from one of our favourite finns (he also has a mix coming up for the mixmag.info series i believe, so keep an eye out for that too). again, the tracklisting speaks for itself. just a very nice selection of dub cuts.
1. Atheus - Unendlich | Styrax Records
2. Pulshar - Nospheratu (Echospace Reduction) | Phonobox Records
3. Intrusion - Tswana Dub | (Brendon Moeller's Beat Pharmacy Dub) | Intrusion
4. Quantec - Greenfield Mill | Meanwhile
5. UB313 - Track 6 (Echospace Dub Mix) | Fortune
6. Claro Intelecto - Hunt You Down | Modern Love
7. Freund Der Familie - Sark | FDF
8. Petar Dundov- Oasis (Substance & Vainqueur Remix) | Music Man
9. MLZ - New Analogue Century | Modern Love
10. Deepchnord - Electromagnetic Dowsing Step 1. (Mike Huckaby Remix) | Synth
alright, that is plenty for the time being. enjoy...
*edit* here is a mirror of mnml ssgs mx10 by ana. apologies it has taken so long to get one up.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
labyrinth. it is hard to know where to start in describing the few days i spent there. i am not at all religious or spiritual, but this was about as close i have had to that kind of experience. it was a unique, special couple of days. i have been listening to electronic music and going to parties since around 1997 and this was by far and away the best party i have been to. the artists, the sound, the environment, the people - all were amazing. saying this, there were still a number of major hiccups (including move d's late cancellation, which was a major disappointment) and the whole party was on a very slippery and muddy knife's edge for a period time. but things were worked out and everything came together just right.
a few of general remarks and observations, before giving a more detailed account:
- the sound system was simply incredible. i have never heard anything like it. it was a funktion one, but with a lot more muscle and clarity than others i have heard. talking to the artists there was a general consensus that this was one of the best sound systems they had played on. so when i explain how good the music was, you need to keep in mind that it was on a sound system that is most likely far superior than anything you have heard.
- most of the artists there were very friendly, warm, cool people and i spent a lot of the weekend hanging out and talking to shit with them. also, the crowd was equally nice and good natured, which all made for an excellent environment to enjoy the party in. speaking with some of the artists, they were all very positive about what we've been doing with mnml ssgs, and this really gave me some extra motivation to keep working hard and trying to do my bit. also, i think i managed to convince some of the guys there to do ssg mixes for us...
ok, onto what happened. i arrived in japan on the friday morning (my birthday), and headed up to the campsite in gunma early evening. it is located about 2 hours north of tokyo. it is set on the side of the hill, with a really nice view. we got there just in time to see dj pete from scion open proceedings. after about 20 minutes of ambient sounds, he moved into the sound he is most closely associated with, and despite the mixing sometimes not quite being there, he put together an enjoyable set filled with rhythm and sound goodness. it was a treat to be able to hear these records on the sound system. next up XDB played. really nice sounds again. before this i didnt know XDB that well, but now i do, and will be keeping an eye out. i was impressed with his set. and also with his musical knowledge. this guy really knows his shit. missed the end of his set, though, as i was delirious from lack of sleep and passed out for a bit. i woke up to caught the last half of peter van hoesen rocking it out with an impressive livepa. given that peter has not been putting out records for too long (to my knowledge), his live show is already at a really high standard. rocking stuff. after that MLZ dj'd for a few hours. he pulled it back quite a bit and focused on deeper, more dub based sounds, as you'd expect someone from modern love to do. i know he played some really bomb tracks, but i am not even close to remembering what exactly they were. supposedly he finished with 'spastik', which would have sounded amazing, but i was passed out again by that stage, having given up about 2 hours into his set. after sleeping for a few hours got around 11am to see deepchord play a semi-live ambient set. donato dozzy was supposed to be doing an ambient set in this slot, but his records had yet to make it to japan, so deepchord got moved there. despite most people being sitting around or sleeping by this stage, the deepchord guys put together a lovely set of lush, ambient sounds. again, a privilege to hear it on the sound system. they finished off around midday (i think) and that was the end of day one. not bad at all. after that, we headed off to the hot spring for some relaxation, before trying to get some more sleep.
on waking up around 9pm, we heard that it had begun to rain. this was not good, since deepchord were on at 10pm, and well, it is an outdoor party. and then it starts raining harder. and harder. we made it down to the main indoor area near the dancefloor, but when 10pm came around the music was yet to start. and soon the word going about was that the police had made a few arrests, they were now searching the campsite and were threatening to shut the whole party down. meanwhile, still no music and the rain had turned into a torrental downpour. to say things were not looking good would be an understatement; there was a sense that the whole thing might come to a very, very premature end. but then, somehow, things started to turn around. deepchord started playing around 11.30 (i think) despite the rain continuing to bucket down. they even had about 20 or so crazy people out there dancing to them. we were not that devoted/stupid and stayed undercover. i think deepchord were good but hard to say, the rain and the chance of the party being shut down basically destroyed their set. a big shame for everyone, as they were undoubtedly one of the most anticipated acts there (on a side note, spent a lot of time talking to the deepchord guys. really really cool individuals. what is hilarious is that for people that make some of the most relaxing, calm music, these guys talk non-stop. anyway...). somehow (perhaps a combo of rain and smooth talking) the cops left and didnt shut the party down and then the skies cleared up. things were going to be ok. and what better way to celebrate that fact than the hose knocking out a killer dj set. if anyone has heard his ssg mix, you know this guy can really play. he put together a great set, with the highlight for me undoubtedly being when he dropped 'positive education' by slam (which he also plays in the ssg mix). hearing that in such an environment caused me to almost go into meltdown, but i survived. just. wow. what a track. much respect to peter for both of his sets and for playing that. next up was fellow ssg mixer mike parker, who provided an impressive set of deep, dark and twisted sounds. what really grabbed me about mike's set - and this was something that many of the artists there shared - was a very distinctive sound. mike played some serious headfuck techno, which was perfect for the setting. from memory, mike dropping an old school jeff mills track was the highlight of his set for me. also, keep an eye out for a couple of new releases from mike. definitely capable of serious damage. on another side note, chatted with both peter and mike a lot of the weekend. not only are they great musicians, but they are also fantastic people - very genuine and warm. after that, it was time for more sleep.
got up around 10am to discover that the clouds and rain had been replaced by a beautiful clear, hot, sunny day. around 11am convextion started and proceded to deliver what would be the first of 3 sets i heard that i would describe as 'perfect'. for a long time, i used to constantly talk about the 'best set i've heard', but a while ago i realised that this just doesn't work, because i have seen quite a few perfect sets, ones which would score a full 10 out of 10 (if i used a points system, which i don't). anyway, convextion. wow. i haven't heard any of his live recordings before so didnt know quite what to expect. his livepa was incredibly tight, carefully structured and well put together. pretty much everyone was losing their shit while he played. i am still kind of in shock by it. he finished the set with a track (which i'd later discover is untitled and unreleased), which was well, i dont even know quite how to describe it, but fuck me it was good. to finish procedings for day 2 was donato dozzy doing the ambient thing, as his records had arrived. given that the crowd was still very much up for it when convextion finished, dozzy did a very good job of handling things and slowly bringing the tempo down. the set begun with beats under the ambient sounds, but these slowly disappeared as he continued. supposedly he played a bit of old school aphex twin from SAW 2, but by this stage we were again at the hot spring trying to recover from too much dancing and mud. after that, we went back for some much needed sleep.
onto the final night/day, which somehow managed to top the 2 excellent nights that had come before it. pendle coven kicked things off with a livepa. perhaps because of a limited amount of releases, and being overshadowed by their bigger name labelmates claro intellecto and andy stott, i think these guys tend to fly under the radar a bit. i have to admit, i only chanced upon their productions reasonably recently. well my advice would be to make the effort to keep an eye on them, as they have definitely got something good going on. their sound has the modern love feel to it - deep, dubby soundscapes. you can find a recording of a livepa they did earlier this year at samurai.fm. i would recommend heading over there and giving it a go. anyway, a very nice opening to the last night by the manchester guys. respect. next up was oliver ho. i used to love ho's tribal stuff on meta back in the day, but havent really been following his raudive releases. i was still keen to see him, though, as he has always put in a good performance when i have seen him. well, not that night. to be honest, of all the major artists, oliver ho was the one guy who really came up short in my books. his set was ok, but even that might be a bit generous. it lacked coherence and focus, with a collection of big tracks but not much linking them together. shame, because i know he is normally much better. and there was a really strange moment when he played dubfire's stinky ass 'ribcage' but then mixed DBX's 'losing control' in. of course i was excited to hear DBX, but it somehow felt tainted by being mixed with dubfire. once ho had finished it was time for the scion boys. i had been waiting a long, long time to see them, and they were who i was probably most excited about seeing. despite me having incredibly high expectations, they still managed to exceed them. scion's 2.5 hour livepa would prove to be the 2nd perfect set of the party. it was exactly what you'd expect from scion. again, a very distinctive sound signature. the whole set had this kind of infinite feeling to it, like it could just go on and on forever. the best description i can come up with is that it felt like a spiral looping round and round, with each loop being simultaneously similar but different. it was at this stage that the hose provided us with one of the calls of the weekend: 'this is fantastic. ... but if you didn't get it, it would sound so fucking boring and repetitive'. luckily we got it... there was no roof, but had there been one, i am sure scion would have brought it down. immediately following was pete playing as substance. i missed the first half of his set having a break, but was back to enjoy him closing his short set with a pretty serious remix of monolake's 'alaska melting' (i think). to be honest, after scion i would have been happy to pack up my bags and go, but there was still more to come, most notably the closing set from dozzy. but first i needed some more sleep.
after about a 2 hour power nap i got up for pier bucci playing at 10am. about 15 minutes into his show his mac laptop completely died and that was the end of him. shame, i had been looking forward to seeing bucci. from what i have heard he has a seriously impressive live show. ah well, much respect to bucci for being so chill about it all. he took it incredibly well... when bucci's set came to an unexpected finish, mathias kaden got on the decks a bit early and started doing his thing. he barely managed to walk a tightrope between enjoyable tribal house and bog standard german minimal. the set was enjoyable enough, but it suffered in comparison to what came before and would soon come after it. also, i am not particularly sympathetic to the sound he was playing. still, he did played 'higher state of consciousness', which was pretty fucking cool. but. but. i dunno. i think others liked him more than me. and then dozzy. dozzy dozzy dozzy. i wondered why they had him closing the festival, surely they could have put him on earlier? well once he started playing i knew why. he took things to a different plane and created the perfect, intimate vibe to close out a very special couple of days. with no disrespect to the other djs that played at the party, donato's set was totally next level shit. it was incredibly deep, warped, mindfuck music. i barely recognised anything he was playing, though much of it sounded old. what was really impressive was the way he managed to forge a completely distinctive and unique sound. every record had a 'dozzy' stamp on it. considering he was not using a computer at all it was amazing the sound signature he created throughout the set. i know we have been pushing donato for a while here, but let me simply say, keep a very, very close eye on the man. he truly is something special. without doubt the highlight of the set was when donato dropped 'consumed' by plastikman. this would probably be in my top 10 alltime records and it evokes very strong emotions in me. i had never heard it out before, and i never expected it to. but when donato put it on, i recognised it from the very first bar. and i then proceeded to go into complete meltdown. while this record was playing the whole festival was crystallised and condensed into 10 minutes of complete perfection and bliss. i can honestly say that this represented not only one of the high points of my techno career, but my life. it was a strong reminder of how incredibly powerful and elemental this music we listen to can be. donato, if are you reading this, thank you. that moment - and indeed the set as a whole - was the perfect statement of what this music is about and should be about. as dozzy continued, fog rolled down over the mountains and reality became even more distant and removed. it felt like you were in a different realm, totally separate. no one wanted it to end, but eventually around 7pm, the party finished and slowly reality begun to return as we left the music and campsite behind for the metropolis of tokyo. normally something like this would feel like a dream, but the whole experience was so powerful and inspirational it remained with you long after the funktion ones had been shut down.
i could keep on going, but i shall stop. much respect to the organisers, artists and everyone there for all contributing to such a unique, special event. i have never experienced anything like this. and doubt i will. at least until next year...
*edit*: one of the organisers of labyrinth asked me to clarify that the rumours about the police on the saturday night were just rumours: 'no arrests had been made, and the officials never threatened closing the event. the officials who showed up at that time were making a scheduled appearance to see what the music of the event was like.' cool. given the propensity for japanese police to be a bit heavy, the organisers did a great job of making sure that there were no problems. actually, that reminds me of one thing i forgot to mention in my review - something which was really obvious was how much care and attention to detail had been put into the whole event, and the different it made was huge.
I'm a man who likes his creature comforts. I don't like camping, and I feel distinctly uncomfortable in the great outdoors. And yet, for the third year running, I've enthusiastically made the trek up into the forested mountains of Gunma, Japan, for a three-night outdoor electronic music festival (or a "bush doof", as we'd say in Australia). And I'll do it again next year. That's because I can say, without a trace of hyperbole, that when it comes to techno the experiences I've had at Labyrinth have been some of the best I've had in my life.
Labyrinth isn't your standard "let's just throw some speakers into a field and see what happens" set-up. The organizers have an incredible eye for detail, and it's this attentiveness and care that's poured into even the most minute of details ('cos they know that's where the devil lives) that transforms the event into such a special experience. For starters, there's the location. The site itself is gorgeous, nestled in the forested mountains of Gunma, with an almost magical mist that rolls in some evenings. The natural beauty is subtly augmented with some candles and some tasteful lighting (and a bonfire or two) ... no lasers or cheesy strobes here. It's wonderfully soothing and relaxing place to be.
Then there's the sound system. Special mention needs to be made of this. The sound system takes a beautiful location and turns it into audiophile heaven. It is, quite frankly, the best sound I have ever heard in my life. The organizers bring in a truckload of Funktion-One speakers, and then very carefully calibrate it (the festival gets a special mention on the news page of the Funktion-One website). To hear (and feel) some of the world's best electronic music on such a beautifully clear system is an absolute joy.
Did I mention some of the world's best electronic music? Yes I did. The last few years have seen some stellar acts at Labyrinth, but this year was an embarrassment of riches, with some sets that were nothing short of utterly brain-melting. Both of Peter Van Hoesen's sets (live and DJ) were fantastic, as was Mike Parker's super deep/dark DJ set. Deepchord's daytime ambient set was lovely, with waves washing out over the forest. Pendle Coven's live set was a great evening starter, with some great ambient dub gradually giving way to more and more beats. And XDB is now on my radar after a really nice set.
And then there was Convextion, Scion, and Donato Dozzy. These three sets were absolutely amazing ... each of them filled with countless moments when I looked around me to see people with their mouths open in awe, the words "sweet Jesus, what the fuck is this" written all over their faces. And each of these sets was a perfect example of an artist taking a style/sound, making it their own, and then diving as deep and as far as they could possibly go. Convextion and his precise dub-tech with a hint of IDM, Scion and their surging spiraling loops of metallic dub-tech, Dozzy and his deep headfuck techno ... All three acts totally and utterly owned their sound ... and as a consequence they completely owned the festival.
After all of this, coming down from the mountain and returning to reality was hard. Everything seemed dreamlike up there ... looking back it seems even more-so now. I think it's because Labyrinth is more than just a "music event". Even the word "festival" doesn't do it justice (although if you're thinking more along the lines of "festive" you're on the right track). It's a celebration, a ritual, a ceremony ... a place where nature, sound, people and artists come together to create something truly special.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
'fuck you. this is techno!' that is probably how we'd describe the message conveyed in the latest ssg mix from silent servant. this is some serious techno. wow. it makes for a very nice contrast to the summer beats of the last ssg mix by ana. but then again, when you ask someone from sandwell district to do a mix for you, what do you expect? silent servant has released two eps on the shadowy label, and may well have some more in the pipeline (lets hope so). if you want to find out more about sandwell district, make sure to check richard brophy's excellent piece on them over at RA (for my mind one of the best features on RA all year). since then, we've been thinking about getting someone from the label to do a ssg mx, and silent servant seemed like the perfect candidate. and as you'll hear, he really came through with the goods. this mix carries on in the mighty tradition of the downwards collective, mixing together a set of raw, dynamic, pulsating sounds. enough talk, onto the tracklisting and mix.
mnml ssgs mx11: silent servant (mixed live 6.9.08)
(rapidshare mirror - mix in m4a format)
ROBERT HOOD // AND THEN WE PLANNED OUR ESCAPE
DMO // MOVEMENT
SLEEPARCHIVE // QCD
STEWART WALKER // 10 YEARS OF ANGER
JONAS BERING // UNTITLED
BANDULU // FOUNDATION SOUNDWORKS
IGNACIO // ORGANA
DAMON WILD // UNCONDITIONAL
FUNCTION // DISAFFECTED
NORMAN // GREENROOM
G-MAN // DEFO
REGIS // GAYSCENE
MARCEL DETTMANN // LATTICE
SILVER & KASH // VORTEX
CH-SIGNAL LABORATORIES (8003 LUCERNE// SCALE 1
BASIC CHANNEL // Q1.1/3
TRONIKHOUSE // SMOOTH GROOVE
SOUNDERS DEPARTMENT// COSMOPOLITAN (MIX 2)
WAX NO. 10001 // A
FUNCTION // REYKJAVIK
MILLSART (JEFF MILLS) // GAMMA PLAYER
PLANETARY ASSAULT SYSTEMS // KAT
SILENT SERVANT // DOOM DEFERRED
STEWART WALKER // JAPANESE MAPLE
much respect to silent servant for taking the time to put this mix together and apologies for the slight delay in getting it out there. for more info on silent servant, make sure to check his myspace. enjoy...
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Another very brief post ... on returning from The Labyrinth last night I checked my email to discover that the ever-prolific Bvdub has released a new four-track EP on his Quietus Recordings label called Return To Tonglu.
Limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, the first hundred are available directly through Quietus Recordings (hit the link in the first paragraph). As a huge Bvdub fan I didn't even listen to the samples, but instead immediately hit "Buy" ... and it appears copies are still available (insert sigh of relief here) ... but don't snooze as I'm sure these will go quickly!
Limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, the first hundred are available directly through Quietus Recordings (hit the link in the first paragraph). As a huge Bvdub fan I didn't even listen to the samples, but instead immediately hit "Buy" ... and it appears copies are still available (insert sigh of relief here) ... but don't snooze as I'm sure these will go quickly!
Posted by Cam at 12:55 PM
just back from the labyrinth festival, and a very quick post now before retiring. i'll do a full report on the event later, but suffice to say, i have been listening to electronic music since about 97 and i have never experienced anything like what i did over the past few days. truly amazing and inspirational. so many highlights, with my favourites being convexion putting together a pretty much flawless livepa, scion destroying it for about 2.5 hours, and donato dozzy closing the festival with an absolutely mindblowing set. this guy is seriously something special. as i said, more to come, but for now, much respect to the organisers, all the artists and those that made it the event it was.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
when we decided to put together the ssg mx series, ana was the first person we contacted. it has taken a while, but she has come through with the goods, providing us all with a lovely mix of summer sounds. like all the contributors to this series, what attracted us to ana was her unique sound and skills, which we were introduced to through ezoo radio and the weekly recordings from the harry klein club, where she is a resident dj. i am flying out in less than a day, so unfortunately i don't have the time to keep talking about how much we all like ana. i'll just let the mix do the talking:
mnml ssgs mx10: ana (fairtilizer direct dl)
more info about ana at her myspace and homepage. big thanks to ana for taking the time to put together the mix for us. next week we've got a serious techno workout from silent servant off sandwell district. after that, we've got artists from circus company, raster norton and ostgut that are all doing ssg mixes. plenty more great sounds of the way. in the meantime, enjoy the 10th in the series from ana.
just a quickie - i am currently in transit on my (eventual) way through to the UK, so i won't be posting much in the next few weeks as i sort out basic things like finding a place to live etc. also, apologies to those who have contacted us. i am in charge of that department, but i haven't been able to reply to emails because i've been so busy. will get back to people eventually, so feel free to write to us, just don't be offended if there is a delay in the reply!
i'll be posting the latest ssgmx from ana very soon. in the meantime, here is the latest from the club where she is a resident dj, harry klein. this is a monster recording from their birthday celebrations. i've just put it on now. 367 minutes long. nice.
marcel dettmann, marcel fengler, violett, ana, julietta @ 5 jahre harry klein 6.9.2008
that is a pretty serious lineup. can't wait to hear the fresh goodies the ostgut boys have in store for us. also a teaser, ana isn't the only person in that lineup who has an upcoming ssgmx...
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Southern spring is sprung! And although those brave enough to venture forth in t-shirts will still be met with diamond tipped nips and goose flesh, there’s an undeniable feeling of something being lifted. 'Tis also the season for some exceptional EPs, adding to what’s shaping up to be a bumper year for those who like lashings of quirk and sophistication with their boom boom. You really get the feeling that groove-based electronic music is growing up and settling down to write music that’s comfortable with an understated, refined sense of its own groove and purpose.
An EP which is emblematic in this regard is Lee Jones’ Soon on Aus, which takes (another) two of the outstanding tracks from Jones’ poised, quietly confident album Digital Frank. This is minimal house in no hurry to be or say anything – so relax, and let it enfold your ears. The A2 is MDMAzing, which is full of a kind of soft rushing euphoria that sounds like Booka Shade’s Mandarine Girl – but re-done in aquarelles. Also included on this EP is the Mole’s remix of Soon, which is yet another demonstration of his deft handling of loops, taking apparently simple sounds and weaving them into a mesmerising flow.
Another equally hypnotic piece of low-fuss, low-friction excellence is Thomas Melchior’s Who Can Find Me EP on Cadenza. Melchior’s got his mojo working here, with the A Who Can’t Find Me showing off his prediliction for soft, white, female vocal loops, and layer upon layer of rhythmic intrications that sit buried in background of the mix, until you turn it up – then it’s a party full of butterflies, just like the cover art (great as always) depicts. Choir, on the flip, as got more of the roll, clump and tock you expect from Melchior, as well as those tight, dry little snares. As with the Mole’s remix of Jones, what I like here is the non-apparence of the groove – you really have to look in, but the closer you peer, the deeper (and more subtle) the reward.
So much for getting butter fluffy about drumwork – what if you want the kind of melodic minimalism that’s perfect for the breezy, cloudbursting spring mornings we’ve been having? Well then, you must check out Donnacha Costellos’ newie on his own Minimise imprint. As with his best ambient works, this EP is all about the incredible emotional mileage Donnacha can get out of the simplest possible arrangement. There’s such an abundance of space here: on It Simply Is (the A) it’s filled with dry metallic pads that carry much, much more expressive punch than they should (by rights). Ditto the B, Trust, which floats (where It Simply Is ascends), harking back to some of the later EPs in his fantastic colours series. Damned if this doesn’t get me every time.
Last but certainly not least for this my pick of the month, the new debut EP on Dial by newcomer John Robert, and… damn. You can hear it all here: Kassem Mosse meets Thomas Brinkmann (with a touch of Suguru Kusumi) performing a highly polished duet for Dial. The samples are superb (pianos, whips, thrown, spun, beaten-down and re-pitched drums), the arrangements fresh and engaging, but decisively the overall effect is extremely listenable. It’s crazy to think that this the debut EP by an artist under the age of twenty-five. Filthy old negativo curmudgeons (like me) take heed: the future looks like a spring bright sky.
And, because we SSGs are so smitten with John Robert's new EP, we've contacted him for a quick Q&A to fill in those blanks. Here 'tis:
Tell me a little about your musical development: what were you listening to at ten, fifteen, twenty, and twenty five?
When I was ten i was mostly listening to jammin 92.3, a hip-hop radio station in Cleveland, along with these Kris Kross and Vanilla Ice tapes that I had. When I was 15 I was listening to more radio rap and r'n'b and just getting into ghetto house. I found a record store in Cleveland that sold these house mixtapes from Chicago so I started collecting those and listening to them a lot. When I was 20 I was getting pretty into 80s Chicago house, deep house, and starting to listen to some overseas labels like perlon and playhouse. I'm not 25 yet but i've been pretty into 80s r'n'b lately and I imagine ill still be listening to that in a few months.
Was there any epiphanic moment with electronic music? What records and circumstances did it involve?
The first time I ever heard Cajmere / Green Velvet's "Percolator" is something I think about sometimes. I was at this sort of mainstream underage club when I was about 14 and when the vocal of that track came in everyone started going nuts. I had never heard it before so I didn't know what to expect but everyone went so wild for it. I guess I realized then that a track can be very simple but completely catchy and timeless at the same time. I still go nuts when I hear that track now; I don't care who says its played out.
Tell me a little about some inspirations and influences (of course focusing on, but not limited to, music):
I feel like one of my biggest influence will always be listening to rap and r'n'b on the radio. It's just something that i've done forever and i still love it so much. Going to second-hand record shops is pretty important to me too...i'm really picky when it comes to buying records so i love when i find one that im willing to spend money on. I also have a visual aesthetic that i try to work with alongside the music that im making, so a lot of the images that i collect for that are inspiration for me. I try to loosely work on a soundtrack for those images I guess.
How did you begin production?
I started producing after a long period of asking people how they made music. No one would really give me a clear answer and at that time I didn't understand why. Eventually my friend Adam (Atomly) showed me this program called a tracker that he was using to sequence tracks. It basically works by each sample having a number, and plotting out these numbers on a grid of more numbers. I hated it at first, but now I love it and still use it for a lot of the final sequencing that I do.
How has your process developed - tell me a little about how you work.
I just relocated to Berlin so my process is changing slightly again, but when i was living in New York I would go to the record store for a couple hours, buy some old records to sample, take them home, and record what I wanted. Then a different day I would work with some of my friend's synths and record those. The end was always me laying down with my laptop in bed or on the couch and doing the sequencing of the tracks. I think its important to be comfortable while you're working.
Where do you get your samples from?
old records, synthesizers, drum machines, and field recordings.
How did your relationship with Dial begin?
I got a message from Romy (Snow) saying how much she liked my tracks. I was visiting Berlin in February and asked her to meet me for a coffee. We got along really well and she told me how she was also a DJ and worked with Dial. She was actually moving to New York for awhile so I got a message the day before she left saying something like, "see you soon, tonight is my going away dinner, im going to give all of the dial people your tracks on CD." Later that night I got the most flattering e-mail from David (Carsten Jost) and Hendrik (Pantha du Prince) saying how much they wanted me to be a part of the label. It was the best letter i've ever received for sure.
What are you working on at the moment? What directions is it pulling you in?
Right now i'm working on finishing my next EP for Dial, and some tracks for the full length album. The track im doing now for the EP is more dancefloor oriented and the tracks for the album are quite slow so i think its giving me a nice balance instead of pulling me in a certain direction.
What's something that music has taught you about life, and vice versa?
I guess i've learned from both that it's important to have a good time and enjoy what you're doing. If you aren't enjoying it you should try something new.
What do you know now (perhaps about music) that you wish someone had told you ten years ago?
That there is no 'right' way to do anything.
Finish this: 'The world would be a better place, if only... '
intercontinental flights were free.
What's something the world needs to know about John Robert (that it doesn't already)?
I can't come up with an answer for this one that doesn't make me sound totally pompous so i'll just take this opportunity to say THANK YOU.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
the other week i bitched to you all about missing what is shaping up to be one of the best techno parties invented because the brits had decided to take their sweet time with my work visa. well, as fate would have it, the techno gods intervened and my passport magically appeared, with the correct visa, about a month earlier than expected. luckily the labyrinth ticket i'd asked for had still been saved, which means it's on and two of the ssg crew will be attending. rock! the only slight problem is that the short notice meant i've had to pack up my life in less than 2 weeks, while still working full-time. i'll spare you the details, but it hasn't been fun. besides peter van hoesen's really excellent ssg mix, here is some of the music that has been keeping me sane through this rather challenging period:
nd_baumecker @ berghain 9.2.08
i came across this gem completely by chance. it is a 5 hour recording from one of the berghain/panorama residents. supposedly he dj's more at panorama, but this night he was on the berghain floor and explored deeper and darker sounds. this is a really great representation of what berghain sounds like - dynamic, a well balanced set of old and new, quality throughout. the mixing is sometimes a bit rough and ready, but that comes with the territory. he opens with alex cortex and it is nonstop fun from there on in. excellent stuff.
andré galluzzi @ mystery land afterparty studio 80 amsterdam 23.8.08
for some reason, i've always had a bit of a mental block with galluzzi. just never really been able to get into him. and to be honest, i'd largely given up. after hearing his excellent 'cocoon morphs tokyo' release with guido, i thought it might be worth trying again. and the fact that this was an afterparty sealed the deal. i love the afterparty vibe and it often works really well in letting a dj explore a bit more and come up with something special. this is the case here.
those two sets will have to do for the time being, as i am bit pressed for time. will be posting the next mnml ssgs mix either tomorrow or the following day. it's a lovely mix put together by harry klein resident ana (i know she didn't have a track included in PVH's mix, that person will most likely be the next in the series. we shall see!). also a couple of records i have really been digging:
- the new melchoir on cadenza: how good is 'who can find me (i can't)'?! the whole thing just magically floats... i have seriously gone off cadenza in a big way, but this is an exception. melchoir really has such an amazing touch. so perfectly composed and put together. you hear this and so much else sounds like complete and utter rubbish in comparison.
- the forthcoming donnacha costello on minimise: i love this guy, always have. i just wish he'd realise more because everything he does is gold. well, perhaps that is why. like melchoir, there is a real beauty in the simplicity of his tracks, even though this simplicity is actually rather complex (if that makes any sense). two melodic gems. essential.
- the new shed album on ostgut: this has been getting rave reviews for a reason. amazing album.
- the new sten album on dial: in one sense this is a bit disappointing, sten/lawrence doesn't move out of/escape his signature sound pattern, and he does include that god awful 'take me to the fridge' track. but then again, the sten/lawrence sound is a lovely one and his tracks are well put together. this is not the most exciting album, but it is enjoyable. kind of like the musical equivalent of comfort food.
- the remixes of sascha funke's overly ripe 'mango': the supermayer mix is actually pretty good. but it suffers in comparison to dj koze's special effort. this guy has always been an amazing producer, nonetheless, he is seriously on an impressive run right now. just quietly one of the top producers of '08...
- the two latest perlons: fellow ssg dave really doesn't like these at all, but i strongly disagree. it is interesting to see perlon branching out to different artists and i reckon the results are worthwhile. 'release' by portable is especially nice (as is his RA'cast).