Monday, March 29, 2010

ssg special - patrick walker (forward strategy group)

it has been a while since we've had a serious techno mix on ssgs, but no need to worry, the break ends now with this tight techno workout care of patrick walker. for those who don't recognise the name, walker is half of forward strategy group (FSG), a UK outfit that has been responsible for some really top notch techno over the last year or two. i saw FSG at plex in london last month and despite a few technical glitches at the start they put together an impressive set of power techno. what i like about FSG is that they are really building on the strong british legacy of the 90s, but doing so in an interesting and quite unique way. these guys are definitely worth keeping an eye on...

for this mix, patrick has made something which is more representative of what he has been doing when DJ'ing and working by himself. it was done using 1 laptop, 2 midi controllers + 1 technics 1210. the result is a tight, powerful mix that has a real sense of coherence and focus to it. i've been struggling a bit to find techno mixes lately that have really satisfied me, but this one definitely did the trick. i like its pace and structure.

patrick walker - ssg special mx
*tracklist in comments

FSG have a remix on the latest perc trax EP, and they've got their own release on the same label coming soon. in addition, patrick is doing some stuff by himself, and also collaborating with inigo kennedy and charlton ravenberg on a new label, destroyaliens. the first release for that is out soon. big thanks to patrick for this mix, and for doing the artwork, thereby saving everyone from my shithouse efforts. ok, techno time. enjoy!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

friday (big) fun

just a quick post. i got this mix the other day and it has been putting a big stupid smile on my face every since. this is a mix of old pop house tracks from the 1990s by tevo howard. the description he gives is: "This mix was spun circa 2005, and is in a classic Chicago dj style and format (blends spun at the break). The track selection is of some of the popular songs that got radio play circa 1990." that should give you an idea what to expect. nothing too highbrow here, just fun, carefree music. i must admit i have a huge weak spot for music from this era. i am not sure what it is exactly, but there is a real simplicity and almost naivety to many of these tracks. i'm probably just romantacising it all, i just love it.

tevo howard - '90s pophouse mix

tevo is playing a bunch of live and DJ dates across europe in the coming months. info here. i'd be very interested in live set, i think i was reading somewhere it was all analog... anyway, enjoy this mix for now. fun fun fun.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fly, Flügel, Fly!

Well, here was I thinking that the mix CD was over and that, to be frank, Roman Flügel was all washed up.

Think again, folks...

As you know, SSGs usually refrain from tipping and reviewing recordings, but...

I just received a CD promo copy of Flügel's contribution to the so far otherwise underwhelming (or perhaps 'whelming') Live @ Robert Johnson mix series.

Fuck. Roman has really hit it out of the park with this one, for real.

A tracklist and other basic info are here on RA.

In a sense, this is a 'backward looking' mix CD, one that could have been recorded at any time in the past ten years or so. Then again, the track selection and programming are totally on point, there are some really nice re-presentations of a few classics AND Flügel's own productions here, contributed for the mix, are the bomb. This is basically an acid mix, but in a very certain way... if, as I do, you love Tin Man's minimalistic, 'long trippy' acid styles but get a bit tired of the remorselessly grey, bleak atmosphere, here's a way to continue in reduced/bleepy form, but with added slap, thump, and bounce... yes, there is even a bit of boompty here, but as always with Playhouse-associated sounds, it doesn't overcrowd things. This is house, this is techno, yes to both, more please...

Roman was easily one of the most talented, subtle, supple producers of the first half of the 00s. I can't help but think that main room bombs like 'Gehts noch' and 'Rocker' overshadowed the real quality abundantly evident in his other, less populist personae. But by the time La Forza del Destino was released, it seemed like a greatest hits comp, and since that time, very little of Flügel's work - either as a DJ or as a producer - has been exciting. In my dismay, I wrote the guy off as another Marc Leclair, someone whose later works (with notable exceptions) failed to fulfil what was promised by the explosive energy of the earlier sounds.

If you don't know Flügel's solo stuff well, PLEASE remedy this and find the old EPs on Playhouse and Klang, as well as the CD compilation of his Eight Miles High works, the best of which are fucking spectacularly beautiful pieces of electronica.

...or then again, just get this mix CD. Though it is kinda retro, is at once the best representation of Flügel's inimitable style AND clear evidence of a vital talent.

In any case, get your ears around a copy ASAP, it's fucking fantastic.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


i accidently hit a button on my mp3 player which resulted in the latest RA mix coming to an early end and old plastikman starting all of a sudden. while i was kind of enjoying the house of house mix, i was not complaining when the old, warped sounds of plastikman started filling my head. and that was enough to motivate me to write this post about 2 new projects to emerge out of the m-nus / plus8 stable. the first is the new ambient mix from matthew hawtin, the second is the string of plastikman live gigs planned for this year. both have definitely got me intrigued, but at the same stage, it is noticeable that these are both backward looking projects. it *might* be a sign that richie might slowly be emerging from his own ass and realising that the avenue he has been going down has reached a dead end, yet at the same time, he has failed to work out a new creative direction to pursue... anyway, a few more thoughts on each project:

i was very happy that i actually received a promo copy for matthew hawtin's 'once again again' mix CD, composed of 90s ambient classics. it is an ode to the long lost chill out room, something the ssgs reminisced about some time ago. the mix CD is pretty solid, but doesn't quite work - there isn't enough space for the music to breathe. luckily plus8 have also put out a digital release composed of essentially the same tracks and is 3 hours long. this gives the records the space they need. i've only listened to it a couple of times, but it works really, really well from what i've heard. last saturday i put it on and went to my favourite temple in tokyo and relaxed there for about 90 minutes. it was pretty awesome. really deep, spacey ambient stuff, which is very unique to that period of the early to mid 1990s and has managed to date pretty darn well. there is nothing overly amazing about this release, but it is a very nice tribute to a special set of sounds. and because it has the m-nus/plus8 branding, one advantage is that it will introduce this whole genre to mnml heads that would have been unlikely to come across it otherwise. anyway, you can get it here. and don't be silly, make sure to get the wav version for an extra euro or two. you want a proper copy of it.

as for the plastikman live gigs. hmm... i have decidedly mixed feelings about these. on the one hand, if he plays in japan, i will be there in a heartbeat. without doubt. and i'm sure it'll be good. when richie is on it, he is amazing, no question. quite a few of the very, very best moments i've experienced with techno have been thanks to him. and the source material for plastikman is so incredibly strong that he'll definitely be able to put together a 60-90 minute performance filled with quality. but. on the other hand, something feels not quite right about resurrecting plastikman in this way. i am still angry about the god awful dubfire remix of 'spastik', one of the worst acts of musical vandalism i have had the displeasure of hearing. the fact that he let this steaming pile of shit get released is hardly a good sign... beyond that, on a deeper level, i'm just not sure if there is much of plastikman left in richie. for me, plastikman is very deep, dark, twisted music. to put it bluntly, i think richie is too happy, carefree and enjoying his superstar DJ lifestyle. this is a long way from the dark places of his brain that plastikman must have come from. also, plastikman is the very context specific - it is tied up with the 90s and the way techno was developing then. iphone apps and the mnml m-nus lifestyle is a long way from the warehouses and raves of the '90s. all in all, i think plastikman would have been better left alone. an artifakt of a different era of techno...

so where next then? the most promising - and forward thinking - thing m-nus has done in a while was one of its least promoted, the collab party it put on in berlin with the raster-noton crew late last year. raster have been moving towards a more techy sound in the last year or two, and pushing forward in a very interesting direction. and raster fits closely with richie's aesthetic and some of the more sonically interesting parts of his sound palette. the only report i heard about the gig was very positive. given how good richie was, and can be, and how prominent m-nus has become, it'd be good if they could start playing a more progressive and positive role again. i'm not confident, but there are a few positive signs. lets see...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

sunday sounds

sorry, don't think there has been a sunday mix in a while. this will have to be a quick one... still been enjoying a lot of ambient stuff lately. here are 2 ambient mixes by material object. one is completely composed of material from pete namlook's fax label. given his ridiculous output (checking his discogs it looks like he releases something about once a fortnight), this is a good entry point. the other, longer mix also contains plenty of fax material too. keeps the deep spacey ambient vibe going nicely. if you liked the ambient mix dozz did for us, chances are you might like these.

material object - fax mix

material object - ambient01 mix

like many of the sunday mixes i post, nothing too mindblowing, just quality sounds for the weekend. have a good one people...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ssg special: claudio fabrianesi

ok, this will be the first in a couple of ssg specials over the next few weeks. while we are slowing things down with the main mix series, you dont need to worry, we will still be feeding you quality mixes. and, once again, we find ourselves back in italy...

a while ago dozzy sent me some tracks he'd been working on with a friend of his, claudio fabrianesi. these were real killers - best i'd heard from dozz in a while. deep, deep house burners. when i hear a collab, my instinct is always to go & investigate more about the person i don't know so well. after hearing these tracks, i figured claudio knew a thing or two about house. and this mix he has done for us confirmed my thoughts. not much to say about it, house music done right. that simple.

claudio fabrianesi - ssg special mx

with these mixes i'll just add the tracklisting in the comments after a few days, so just check back if you want some IDs.

as well as DJ'ing,  claudio is behind the còclea music label. for more info, check his myspace. the good news is that the tracks i mentioned are coming out soon. the EP is called 'disco infecta' and will be released may 2010 on mule musiq. this is a great home for some really fantastic tracks. definitely check this EP. perfect slow burning grooves. for now, enjoy some lovely house jams care of claudio...

back into the labyrinth. again...

just a quick post to say that the dates for the 10th labyrinth festival have been announced. it will be on 18 - 20 september 2010. no more details at this stage, but you can feel confident it will be another very special event. i know some ssgs have been thinking about making the trip but are a bit worried about whether it'll sell out. well the good news is the labyrinth organiser has guaranteed any mnml ssgs readers making the trip from overseas to japan they'll be able to get a ticket. if are you are definitely coming, please email us with a really obvious email title like 'labyrinth tickets', including your name and how many tickets you want, and we will pass your information on. to be clear, we really don't have the time to be giving travel advice & stuff like that on coming to japan. i'd suggest the lonely planet guidebook. but if you've decided you will 100% be coming, send us an email and we'll make sure you will have the opportunity to buy tickets for labyrinth. i am sure it will be another special few days. both PC and myself will be in attendance. hope to see you there...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ben Frost is a wolf to man....

In developing the mix series for the blog, Chris and I have been adamant in pursuing anyone and everyone who we feel passionate about and asking them for a recording.

With this in mind, and after his mindblowing (and speaker blowing) set from Unsound which we posted a few months ago, I contacted Ben, on the off chance that some genius might have hit record while he was doing the do.

Ben has been kind enough to offer us a 'mix' of several cuts taken from live performances of his work on the recent tour.

You can really hear Ben's sound developing here. There is something... incredibly intense, vital, visceral about this man's approach to sound design and composition. The album title - 'By the Throat' - is apt. If you haven't heard it, buy the By. But as a prelude to that, and as a work in its own right, we proudly offer this gem. Enjoy. Oh, and trust me - play it LOUD.

Ben Frost - Concert excerpts from the Bedroom Community Whale Watching Tour

Ben Frost - Concert excerpts from the Bedroom Community Whale Watching Tour - Fairtilizer link, 44.1khz version

And here's a sendspace link. The file is encoded at a bitrate higher than Fairtilizer wants, so if you want it as Ben intended, here 'tis:


Anything but Melboring... (another partial re-territorialisation)

Hello all,

...actually, to be honest, I've just kind of had the wind taken out of my posting sails. I just received a DMCA complaint/takedown warning for another post I did on an event in Melbourne that shall remain nameless.

Like all our posts, this had NO link to anything that could be construed as copyright material... I don't understand it... ...this makes me think that the notices must be automated (or maybe even a pssstake or a mssstake), because any human scrutiny of the post in question (or even a non-human such as a lawyer) would have made it abundantly clear that there is nothing even remotely suss about the post... but now in order to counter-claim, I/we have to write (snail mail, not email) or fax google... geez and or gosh... assured, Chris and I are looking into ways to safeguard the archive online here.

ANYWAY... if you read my Melbourne-related posts, you might be forgiven for thinking that it's all doom, gloom, and no boom boom round these parts. Of course, the intention here is always critical and polemical, a way of provoking some kind of conflictual discussion that, I hope, will lead to a better understanding of where we at and the possibilities that might contain.

But today it's all enthusiasm. It never Waynes, it Pauls, or something. Hot on the heels of an amazing performance by the Dirty Projectors on Tuesday and Tim Hecker last Thursday comes a triple header... Over at Unfortunate Ancestor we have the Optimo boys banging the party for the cooly/munty gen Ys and their allies; somewhere in the bushy bits of Abbotsford, DJ Pete is playing in a warehouse (true story, check facebook, follow the youtube link); and down at Miss Libertines, we have a gig that is both exciting in its lineup and eminently sensible in its price and times.

Shackleton, ladies and gents. And so I cast my votes with them... hope I might see some of you there. I'll be yapping, drinking, and wearing a Stefan Marx t-shirt with some lousy animals on it, such as you might find here in the Winter 2010 collection. Gosh I am such a geekboy/fanboy... but hey, that's why we started the blog, no?

...I've been meaning to have my two cents on the whole spectrum of back-to-front, syncopated, music doing the rounds... it strikes me there is sooo much interesting going on, but also a lot of complacent re-hashing and recombining of old forms, which then gets presented as something 'new'. Of course, novelty is over-rated and sometimes functionality is enough, but.... I want more. On this tip, if you haven't, do yourself a favour and get a lossless, vinyl or CD copy of Shackleton's 3 EPs album. It is worth the effort, really one of the best releases of the past year or so, and very poorly represented by the thin mp3s that were doing the rounds. But more on that soon. In the meantime, maybe see you down the disco.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

tokyo techno spring

well, it sure looks like i hit tokyo at the right time... last weekend i caught lerosa drop a couple of hours of lovely deep house beats. and that was just the start of a busy month in tokyo. so, if you happen to be about, i'd suggest coming along to these parties. i'll planning on hitting them all:

sat 13 march: delta funktionen @ module: 2nd week in a row a ssg artist will be making their debut in tokyo. nice one!
sun 14 march: mika vainio, rashad becker, NHK @ soup: bring the noise!
tues 16 march: mika vainio, rashad becker, NHK @ superdeluxe: a 2nd serving. perfect.
fri 26 march: shackleton @ module: got a bad feeling this one is going to be overcrowded, but still super excited about this.
sat 27 march: levon vincent, terre thaemlitz @ womb: i love levon & terre more than i hate womb. i think.

put that all together and you've got a really good month of music. for a while i was feeling a bit despondent with the scene in tokyo, but this year it really feels like things are picking up. lets hope this month is a sign of things to come. now that i'm based here, will try to do more posts on upcoming parties in tokyo, as well as reports on some of the artists i catch. pump!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

mx50: peter van hoesen - tracklisting

very happy everyone has been feeling peter's mix. can't think of a better way to celebrate out 50th! and if you were wondering what some of the gems were, here is the tracklisting:

mnml ssgs mx50: peter van hoesen

Ben Frost: God Protect Me
Oval: Oval Office
Theo Parrish: Space Station
Jouem: Levitation
Peter Van Hoesen: Closing The Distance/Toy Universe
STL: Silent State
Tres Demented: Tres Demented Drums Version
Claro Intelecto: X
Photek: Glamourama
The Lady Blacktronica & Mattski: If Some Rain
Juan Atkins: Urban Tropics
Keith Worthy: Lost In Sound
Levon Vincent: These Games
Abacus: A Place In time
Juju & Jordash: Deep Blue Meanies
David Wenngren: Fragment VIII

make sure to check PvH's new album, 'entropic city', which hits on 22 march. if you want to get a taste, all tracks are now available to stream. with this and 'dettmann' arriving, the techno world is about to get 2 very strong, and very different, albums. good good.

not sure when mx51 will be up, or who exactly it'll be from... we've been listening to what people have been saying, so for the time being we are going to slow the ssg mixes down a bit. dont worry, though, plenty more gold on the way.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

thoughts on 'speaking in code'

i watched a preview copy of the new techno documentary, 'speaking in code', last night. there has been quite a lot of hype about this, and it has been a long time coming, so i was very interested to see it. and, well, to be honest, i was disappointed with it. i have mixed feelings commenting about it. through the dvd it is clear that the people that made it put a huge amount of effort and money into it. but, from the point of a view of a reviewer, effort is not always sufficient. and in this case, despite the fact they clearly care about it a great deal, the documentary just doesn't really work.

'speaking in code' attempts to show more of the human face of techno music by tracking one of the film makers - a dj and promoter in boston, as well as sherbs and some artists like the wighnomy bros and modeselektor. and while there are some worthwhile moments - like monolake geeking out on gear and robag in a much more pensive frame of mind - none of the people are really examined in enough detail to fully convey the human side of machine music. also the way europe is presented as this kind of techno oasis in contrast to a barren desert in the US is overly stylised. indeed, one of the main feelings i had about my berlin trip last week was that there is a massive case of over abundance there, and i am not sure this is a good thing (but more on that in a later post). and these are not the only problems. partly because it has taken so long for it to finally see the light of day, the film is already out of date. the sounds and artists they are focusing on are much less fresh than they were a couple of years ago - between when filming started and when it gets released this month, electronic music has hurtled forward at its usual speed.

on a more fundamental level, there just isn't enough of a coherent message/narrative throughout 'speaking in code'. simply showing artists in different contexts, removed from the club or whatever, is not sufficient to properly show the human side of techno. and when i compare it to two electronic music documentaries i recently watched - 'synth britannia' or 'we call it techno' - i really didn't feel like i learned much from this. what made these documentaries so interesting is that they contextualised developments in electronic music in the political and social contexts within which they were forming. this provided a really interesting perspective that allowed a different way of viewing and understanding the way electronic music operates and develops. you just don't find that in 'speaking in code', which instead offers a slightly superficial portrayal of the techno scene. and the key message of the movie - 'everything changes when you get lost in music' - is, to be frank, not that insightful. hell, if you are interested enough in techno to watch a documentary about it, then you are already fully aware of how powerful music can be. i am guessing basically everyone who has read this blog appreciates exactly how important music can be in influencing and shaping one's life. i don't need a documentary to tell me this. i experienced it last week in berlin. i am experiencing it right now writing this from tokyo, a place i would most definitely not be if it was not for techno.

so if you want to read a more positive review, head over to LWE, but in the end, i was left underwhelmed and frustrated after watching 'speaking in code'. techno music has been around long enough that is it documented through mediums like film, but after watching this, i feel like we still have a long way to go.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

mnml ssgs mx50: peter van hoesen

number 50... wow. hard to believe. this series started in april 2008 with bvdub and while we had plans to do something special, never did we expect it to blow up the way it has. one of the major reasons the series has been so strong is because we were lucky to have some fantastic mixes early on that set the bar high and helped to define what we were trying to do. there are a couple of pivotal mixes we've had, and for me one of them has to be peter van hoesen's first mix. what made it so important is that peter did not just make a quality mix, he made a quality mix for us - he really understood what we were trying to do and he tailored his mix accordingly. peter's was not the first killer mix in the series, but it was one of the first ssg mixes (if that makes sense). so, when it came time for mx50, peter was someone who fitted just perfectly - an excellent way to celebrate the series as a whole, and also peter's impressive rise and rise in the techno world.

i've listened to this mix a lot already, and i've been thinking carefully about what to say here. i could talk about the way peter has moved from strength to strength over the last 2 years, or his killer livepas and deftly weighted dj sets, or his new album which is going to be a highlight of 2010. but if you read ssgs, you probably know all this. and if not, check RA or something. for me it is hard to separate this mix from peter, the person. and that's what i'd like to write about. i first met peter at labyrinth 2008 and since then i've been lucky enough to forge a strong friendship with him. and i'm really proud to have him as a friend. peter just gets it. he is reflective, thoughtful and cares deeply about what he does. there are many parts of his character that impress me and i greatly respect, but perhaps above all what i appreciate is the amount of thought that lies behind his actions. and this trait defines the mix he has put together for us. that's all i'll say about it. quite simply, peter may be a quality musician, but above that he is a quality individual. much respect.

peter put together a few words about the mix:

"In September 2009 I played two dj sets, different to what I usually put on. The first set was at Panorama bar, as a part of the Lan Muzic label night. The vibe was already more than ok before I had to come on, thanks to sublime sets by Philip Sherburne and Jacopo Carreras. I continued, playing a three-hour set, starting out really slow, gradually working my way up into faster territory, but never going as full-on as I would when playing techno. That P-bar set was one of my personal highlights of last year. Along with, you guessed it, Labyrinth, which took place a few weeks later. My dj set at Labyrinth started at six in the morning. Because of this I felt like a giant alarm clock, responsible for slowly waking people up to bring them in the mood for the last day of bliss. Here also I started very slowly, without beats, trying to get people to move out of their tents, into what was going to be a very special day. There were a few difficult moments in the set, most of all related to the fact that it was hard to increase the pace at such an early hour. So I kept the tempo within limits, going near 128bpm only at the last part of the set.

I have fond memories of both dj sets, not only because of the context (the people, the space, the vibe, the love and the intensity) but also because they allowed me to do something else than usual. This was my inspiration for this mix."

mnml ssgs mx50: peter van hoesen

peter has an excellent new album, 'entropic city', which is due to drop on 22 march. definitely worth checking. for more info on PvH, check the site for his label, time to express. he's playing out quite a bit with the new album, and if anyone is near berlin on 17 april i would strongly, strongly recommend catching him at berghain. my guess is he is going to do something very special. huge thanks to peter for the mix and his ongoing support, and to all the artists and our readers that have helped us reached 50. thanks!