Friday, October 22, 2010
Delicious Records Monthly @ Bistrouge
432 East 13th St. b/w 1st Av. & Av. A
11PM - 3AM
Facebook Invite: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=137909926256341
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The special guest for this month is Will Burnett aka DJ Speculator- owner of W.T. Records and electro producer under the pseudonym Grackle. For more info on Will please visit the Facebook page for the party… for now here is some awesome music produced and / or released by Will!
Friday, June 25, 2010
We arrived at our chosen hotel, The Motor City Hotel & Casino, on Friday night. After hitting the room service for dinner we made our way over to Bookie’s Tavern for the annual Bang Tech party. Every year we’ve been to DEMF this has been the starting point for our weekend. While the Bang Tech crew may not have a ton of global headliner names, you can easily tell they have a ton of heart- gathering all of their DJs for one huge Movement pre-party every year. Spread over three floors of a sports bar, the surroundings for this techno party are always a total trip: flat screen TVs on ESPN and sports memorabilia hanging everywhere. However, what makes this space stand out is the awesome outdoor roof deck on the third floor. As we made our way up, an unknown DJ was banging out a house mix in pure old school style: scratches, back spins, rapid cross fader manipulations etc. While I never managed to find out who the guy spinning was, he gets mad props for getting the entire terrace moving and dropping one of my all-time favorite house classics: Black Science Orchestra’s “New Jersey Deep”.
Near 1am we decided to make a move to the next party. Divided between the Third Ear and Beretta party we chose the latter as all of us were eager to catch Omar-S in action in his hometown. When we got to the venue, the main FXHE man was just setting up on stage. Unusually for Omar-S he was sporting quite a large smile and looked quite satisfied with the large local and international crowd gathered to see him perform. Dropping a set which moved rapidly between vocal house and jacking techno, he had the whole place on fire.
At around 4am we decided we’d had enough for the night and took a leisurely stroll through a strange half-warehouse / half-residential neighborhood to get back to our hotel. After the crew made a bit of cash gambling we hit the beds round 5am for a few hours of shut-eye before the main event…
Waking up with the usual DEMF hangover at 2pm on Saturday, we decided to skip a proper lunch in favor of getting to the festival early. We were rewarded for our efforts by being able to catch the latter half of Patrice Scott’s set at the Real Detroit stage. His mix of deep Detroit tech with tribal(ish) house was the perfect start to the afternoon. While I had a hard time recognizing the vast majority of what he dropped, I do recall him playing the beats version of Ferrer and Sydenham’s “Timbuktu” which actually sounded really powerful in the concrete Underground stage. The crowd was pretty decent at this point, with a good mix of break-dancers, ravers, chin-strokers and random locals and out-of-town visitors. Unfortunately Niko Marks failed to capitalize on the momentum generated by Patrice with his ‘live’ performance of classic house and techno tracks. While I can understand Niko’s desire to play a tribute to his favorite producers, hearing him sing over classic tracks such as “Sun Can’t Compare” was unfortunately not very exciting. I believe the crowd felt the same way as the dancers quickly thinned out to look for other thrills.
The early evening was a bit of a mixed bag with talented Detroit DJs such as Rick Wilhite and Kyle Hall forced to play mostly heavy techno tracks due to the acoustics of the Underground stage. The one pleasant surprise was A-Trak’s tribute to J-Dilla at the Red Bull stage. After a lot of noisy, electro stuff, the Canadian DJ killed the music for a second before scratching up some Dilla beats while JD images and footage went up on the screen behind him.
At around 11pm it was time to head for the main stage for Richie Hawtin’s closing act as Plastikman. At this point we were pretty beat from running around in the sun all day, so it was no surprise that the onslaught of multi-colored lazers, static noise, crackles and syncopated kicks failed to really get us going. After “Panik Attak” was finally dropped to raucous screaming and applause, we quickly made our escape back to the hotel for some rest before the after-parties.
Arriving at Kai Alce’s annual ‘Deep Detroit Party’ at around 1am, it became clear to us that the party had grown enormously in popularity this year. While last year’s event had a pretty intimate feel, this year felt like an all out, crazy house party complete with a keg in the attic and tons of discount booze in plastic bottles. Kai dropped an impeccable selection of disco, italo and house and then Theo followed up with similar fare. The highlight track of the night proved to be the recently reissued Ron Hardy edit of Jamie Principle’s “Bad Boy”. Overall, ‘Deep Detroit’ managed to easily meet the high standards achieved by last year’s party and proved to be one of the best events all weekend.
Sunday we got to the festival around 5pm in the afternoon and were immediately confused at the lack of quality music options available. DJ Pierre was moving gracelessly between tough acid tracks and commercial club hits, Ryan Crosson was playing dry, and uninspiring minimal at the Underground stage while our other options were Kid Sister (no) and Martinez Brothers (mehhh). Instead we chose to chill for a while, waiting for Larry Heard to take the main stage. Eventually the Chicago legend came on but failed to generate much crowd momentum as the dancers at this point were worn down from Pierre’s commercial onslaught. Things would start to heat up once Larry dropped Adonis’ “No Way Back” but for the most part his set failed to really grab our attention.
After Kelli wrapped up, Anthony “Shake” Shakir delivered a fantastic set full of classic Detroit techno, with tracks such as Reese’s “Truth is Self-Evident” keeping the energy level up throughout the early evening. The only minor gripe was that Shake bungled a few mixes here and there, however, it was easy to put up with some minor sound clashes given the excellent track selection. Eventually Rolando took the stage and began pummeling the crowd with a mix of Detroit classics and more current underground productions such as Silent Servant’s “Lo Profundo” and Tony Lionni’s “Found a Place”. As expected (demanded?) Rolando dished out his hit “Jaguar” in the form of massive remix that seemed to last 15 minutes. As predictable as it was, the crowd reaction was fantastic with everyone screaming and dancing with total abandon.Finally at 10pm the man we’d all been waiting for took the stage… Robert Hood looked dead serious as he set up his machines in the DJ booth. Focused and calm he laid down an initial 808 pattern. While we couldn’t see the equipment from our vantage point, this set was billed as a live show so we figured that Robert was up there doing some serious machine programming. The ensuing two-hours were surely the most intense of the entire Movement weekend: pummeling techno at its relentless best. With the temperature at boiling point and the lights shifting between being totally off to just entirely8 RED, the entire dance-floor felt as if it was suspended in a parallel dimension. Hood gave us all what we wanted, covering some of his best early work as well as newer material. “Unix”, “Station Rider E”, “Alpha”, “Omega”, “Museum”, “The Pace” all flew by with mechanical precision. Finally with the crowd in a sweaty mess and the evening ready to end, the well-known synth-line from “Minus” came on, hypnotizing everyone left standing before the final onslaught of kick drums arrived to send us home.
The Sunday night after-party scene was all about Soul Skate and we headed directly from Hart Plaza out to Northland Roller Skating Rink on 8 mile at around midnight. While I probably hadn’t skated in the last 6 years or so, I felt like living on the edge after the Robert Hood show so strapped on some wheels. While it was initially terrifying going out on a rink packed with talented local skaters, eventually I got the hang of it and had an awesome time rolling to classic jams selected by Moodymann. There is nothing quite like skating along to “Sharevari” while everyone is sporting a huge smile and top skaters are busting crazy stunt moves all around you. Overall Soul Skate definitely proved to be as fun as it is unique and I will most definitely be heading back for the next edition.
Monday was a bit of a struggle. Two days of dancing, drinking and screaming were finally starting to catch up with our bodies and to make matters worse, it was raining outside. Eventually we dragged ourselves back to Hart Plaza, heading for the nearest cover we could find from the rain- the Red Bull Stage. This proved to be a rather fortuitous choice as DJ Koze was playing some cool records such as Ron Hardy’s “Hiccup Track” and Robert Hood’s “Funky Souls”. His mixing was strangely out of sync but I imagine it was likely due to the sound engineers moving things around to keep the equipment dry. Next up was Michael Mayer who started off slowly with the melodic, soft-hued techno his Kompakt label is known for. While this scared off a good chunk of the crowd, I put my faith in Michael pulling a few choice selections out of his record bag. Having seen the German spin a few times, I was certain he’d deliver a quality set… We were definitely not disappointed! His mix of emotive techno and warm house ended up being the perfect complement to the rainy weather and the crowd ended up loving it as people crowd surfed and climbed on stage as the afternoon progressed.
After the sun set Simian Mobile Disco took the stage and started playing brash, electro tracks which we took as our cue to go check out some of the other stages. Over on the Beatport stage Chris Liebing was experimenting with kick drums on his laptops during what proved to be a pretty boring and repetitive set of nothing but drums and sound effects. Magda meanwhile was busy laying down a staid, mnml groove in the underground. Bored at our options and somewhat unimpressed with Kenny Larkin’s live show, we caught the beginning of Model 500’s set before heading home for a bit of rest.The final after-party during DEMF weekend is always a bitter-sweet affair. On the one hand your body is screaming for you to give it a rest while your mind is slightly depressed that the fun is almost over. This year however we were to be treated to a very special Sarcastic Disco performance by DJ Harvey at the TV Bar. Unfortunately the Detroit Police Department had another idea as the party got shut down at 2am just as Harvey was hitting his stride- a truly sad ending to an otherwise amazing Memorial Day Weekend in Detroit.
Looking back almost a month on from the festival, only the positive memories really stand out for me. While the weekend had a few setbacks, I felt that there were no major problems that kept it from being a truly enjoyable experience. Having been three times now, I can say that this year definitely felt just as well run and orchestrated as any other time and that the sound at the Underground stage was markedly improved. That said, it would be fantastic if the Underground stage was reserved specifically for techno-focused acts as opposed to just generally Detroit artists. While Robert Hood and Patrice Scott’s set actually sounded pretty great down there, it was a true shame hearing the track selection of artists like Theo Parrish, Rick Wilhite, Minx and Kyle Hall sound completely muddled just because they dared play melodic house or disco. Besides the gripe with the programming of the Underground stage, the rest of the festival was well-run and enjoyable with the after-parties matching the excitement delivered at Hart Plaza. All in all, Memorial Day was once again Real Right in Detroit. Real Right.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
1) Make sure you know which way you're going when jumping in a cab late at night. While most cabbies are extremely friendly in the D, we have been screwed for being idiot techno tourists at times... No need to drive by Wayne State at 3am on a Friday night ;-) Have a map of the city, use GPS on your phone or use your sixth sense but know where you're headed...
2) Eat the festival food with caution. Chicken on a stick + hot sauce may taste delicious for hangover-heavy lunch but the facilities at Hart plaza get seriously rammed and messy later in the day...
3) Focus your time on the Detroit DJs! It’s the reason the festival exists in the first place! The venues you'll hear them spin at (whether stage or after-party) consistently have the best vibes. Satisfy your other music cravings at the Beatport, Red Bull and Torino stages but make sure to spend a few hours every day with the hometown heroes. Pretty much all of them are guaranteed to blow your mind even if you’ve never heard of them!
4) Hit up the labels parked near the festival entrance. You'll often find well-priced and hard to find records. Last year the Mahogani stand was a treasure trove of hot Moodymann records priced to sell at reasonable prices. I picked up this and this for FAR below Discogs value… Matrix also had the goods with new and classic releases from Shawn Rudiman and Convextion. UR has been a bit weaker recently when I've stopped by but maybe they'll have some hot stuff this year? I'm hoping other labels come out to the fest this year too as doing a bit of digging is a nice break from the action.
5) Talk to the locals. I've found people are extremely friendly and cool in Detroit. I realize this is somewhat of a silly recommendation but most of my fondest memories have come from partying and hanging out with random local DJs, promoters and fans. In general I find DEMF is for music lovers eager to meet other cool like-minded people. Get to chatting while bouncing.
I hope the above is a bit helpful.
For those about to DEMF... We salute you!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Voodoo Funk: Lagos Disco Inferno
DAMN. This is serious! A compilation of disco music produced in Nigeria in the 70s, this is an amalgamation of some truly raw funk. While I expected sound quality to suffer on some cuts due to the source material, I was pleasantly surprised with how well this entire thing plays- even on a loud system. However, what is truly mind blowing about this release is that the vast majority of the material can easily slot into a modern disco set today and not sound out of whack. Good examples of tunes that can accomplish this on the comp are Geraldo Pino’s “African Hustle” and Grotto’s “Bad City Girls”. The latter is definitely my favorite piece on the double LP: a burning disco jam with fuzzy guitars and vocals about bad, bad, bad girls in the city. The jam starts out loose and dirty and then really takes off when the entire thing is interrupted by a an ambulance siren blaring over a funky bass solo. Madness! Don’t sleep on this one, and, if you can, catch one of Frank’s equally nuts Voodoo Funk DJ sets this summer.
Samples & Frank's Blog can be found here:
Skudge – Convolution
Dub techno is a genre much maligned for trying to match the heights achieved by its progenitors through imitation. Towards late 2009 there was a feeling in the techno community that everyone was more or less sick and tired of limited edition, pretty-colored Echo-something records. Fans felt like the structural possibilities established by Basic Channel, Chain Reaction, Convextion and others had been exhausted… However, every once in a while a record will still come out of the scene that manages to innovate within this general framework. While I don’t think this Skudge record is necessarily ‘ground-breaking’ I do think it’s very cool in that it adds an element of funk to dub-techno that is not often apparent in this sound. On the A-side here the Swedish producer throws a heavily-treated disco diva sample into an otherwise straight-forward techno track. The effect is pretty trippy as it essentially sounds like Loleatta Holoway spinning and falling through a black hole. I know this may be a bit of a ‘cheap thrill’ but this record has definitely been growing on me…. If you want to hear how it performs ‘in the mix’ I highly suggest checking out Fudge Fingaz’ excellent RA podcast (minute 40 or so). There has also been a follow-up 12'' by the same producer on this label but I have yet to get that one although I'll definitely be hunting for it...
Listen Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9PAMGRbNyE
Bubble Club – Violet Morning Moon
This is going to be a bit of summertime gem...Warm, heavily delayed guitars swim amongst filtered synths and digital bongo patterns… It really does feel like bubbles are coming out of the speakers?! There is a mix by Rub n' Tug's Eric Duncan on the flip which seems to add MORE filters to the mix and make this even more blissed out. This is what Balearic / Cosmic disco should sound like in 2010... Can't wait to catch this in some tripped out disco sets. Maybe DJ Harvey will drop it at his DEMF after-party next Monday?
Listen here: http://soundcloud.com/bubble-club
Keith Worthy – Moments in Rhythm Vol. 2
There was a moment in 2009 when I almost gave up on buying Keith Worthy records… Even before putting them on the platter I was fairly confident what the sounds coming out of the speakers were going to be like: muted tones, analog drums and soft pads… I dreamed and prayed for something as riveting as ‘Deep for Dayz’. I finally feel the moment has arrived with “Now That’s House”. Abandoning the soft pads for electro / futuristic synths, I think Keith is channeling the sci-fi spirit of vintage Derrick May on here and it’s definitely working! While the pads return on both versions of “Rockit Science” they are nicely coupled here with some menacing synth-work that keeps the futuristic feel in the mix. Overall this is probably one of my favorite Detroit-originated records of the year...hell, its one of my favorite records of the year PERIOD!
Samples here: http://www.rushhour.nl/store_detailed.php?item=53939
…And Wrapping Up… Nebraska – A Weekend on My Own EP
While not necessarily ‘new’ I feel I have to give a shout to Nebraska’s incredible ‘A Weekend on My Own’ EP. Honestly this is some truly captivating stuff from Ali Gibbs that deserves much more exposure. Beautiful drum arrangements and constantly shifting melodies- this music easily holds your attention while getting you in a deep groove. Definitely am planning on hunting down the rest of the man’s back catalogue!
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBCx_sW4Uqc
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Over the past two years deep house has become the most popular sound of the global club circuit. After mnml techno was denounced as ‘soulless’ by clued-in dance fans around 2008, labels everywhere seemed to turn to house as a means of preserving their credibility (and cash flow). Overnight, DJs that had been all about spinning the sleek, aerodynamic minimal sound were suddenly desperate for the raw and direct feel of vintage US house! In response to this phenomenon, many labels tried to cash-in on the trend by releasing tunes crafted in the mold of classics on Prescription, Cajual, Nuphonic and other great labels… While the majority of these copycat releases quickly proved to be throwaway records (or worse, throwaway mp3s), one label that managed to differentiate itself from the pack was We Play House.
Run by veteran DJ and producer Red D, the label carefully toed-the-line between playing homage to styles inherited from the 80s and 90s while keeping things fresh and exciting. Last year when trendy producers were releasing ‘deep’ records full of software-pack percussion and elevator jazz flirtations, WPH went on a limb and started putting out records with vocals… Mind, these weren’t ‘vocals’ as in samples of Black Panther speeches or sound bites of random conversations between African Americans, but heartfelt lyrics sung by real singers!
Out of the pack of records released by the Belgian label last year, the one which really blew me away was Dynamodyse’s amazing Christmas-time warmer “Gare du Nord”. Built on a chunky, syncopated house pattern, the beautiful vocals on this track were powerful enough to mix comfortably alongside the most classic vocal house tracks of the 90s.
2010 has seen a great slew of releases from the label, with FCL’s “Vocals for Everyone” standing out as one of my favorite records released so far this year. Now WPH have just released a new album-sampler EP from San Soda which is packed with emotive house music. Make sure to check out “Ode Aan De Verkeersdrempel” which fuses euphoric Detroit-techno style synths with a solid groove.
In celebration of our appreciation for this label, we are sharing an amazing funk, disco and house mix that Red D put together for the site. I asked him to make it extra funky and that’s just what we got! Gracefully shifting between vintage funk and disco to contemporary sounds, this is true house: not only in SOUND but in ATTITUDE. As the weather gets nice and warm in the northern hemisphere, make sure to rock this on your Ipod and take that spring-time warmth to the next level!
Messing with Your Emotions:
1) Common Sense – Voices Inside My Head
2) Trus’me – Sucker For A Pretty Face
3) Sylvia Striplin – Give Me Your Love
4) San Soda – Birdies That Fly
5) Chez Damier – Why (D’s Deep Mix)
6) Unknown WPH…
7) Marcello Napoletano – What’s Going On Detroit?
8) Duckbeats – Repeat Prescription
9) FCL – More Than Seven
10) Tensnake – Come Cat
11) Argy – Sometimes I’m Blind
12) Chymera – The Rumours Of My Demise
13) San Soda – Home Alone Again
14) José James – Blackmagic (Joy Orbison’s Recreation)
15) Simian Mobile Disco – Cruel Intentions (Joker Remix)
16) Asusu – Small Hours
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Entro Senestre – La Caccia
I threw together a review for RA for this one a little while back. Since then I haven’t been able to stop playing all the sides. Just pure old-school electro like they hardly make anymore! Will from WT Records has been playing samples on his radio show from the upcoming WT004 by a New Orleans producer and those are also sounding very nice... This young label is still keeping their hit rate extremely high!
FCL – Vocals for Everyone
Speaking of hit rates, I think no one in the business right now is releasing as much consistent quality as the guys from WePlayHouse over in Ghent City, BE. This 12’’ is just ridiculously solid with NO wasted wax on any of the sides! Rare is the house record nowadays that doesn’t have at least one (or two) throwaway ‘deep’ excursions that are more apt for putting infants to bed than dancing. This is definitely NOT one of those records.
Move D / Fred P / Steve Oh – Earth Tones
Unfortunately this record on Fred P’s Earthtones suffers a bit from the phenomenon mentioned above. You get the beautiful, creative ‘Om’ but it comes packaged with two deep house tracks mired in molasses by Move D and Steve Oh. While these aren’t ‘bad’ tracks per se they are both somewhat forgettable and in the current environment with so much quality about, it’s hard to think you’ll spend much time spinning these.
Trus’ Me – In the Red
Another sad disappointment for me was the new(ish) Trus’ Me album. Seriously, I felt this production was just painfully cheesy most of the time. ‘In The Red’ with Piranhahead in particular was pretty painful… A lackluster uninspired jam with foreboding lyrics about the dangers of 8 mile… blah… There were a few salvageable moments on the LP such as “?” and “Sweet Mother” but for the most part this was a huge disappointment after the brilliance that was ‘Working Nights’. Unfortunately Prime Numbers in general hasn’t been doing much for me with the label seemingly stuck in a dull pattern- the last MCDE / Mr. Scruff / Andres 12’’ was decent but nothing too creative or unexpected happening. I’m hoping the British label will get it together in 2H 2010 and hit us with something truly unexpected.
New Disco Edits... Discotheque Wreckers & Secrets 001
On the disco-side of business, two great records that I’ve been spinning consistently are Discotheque Wreckers and Secrets 001. The first is a set of edits by UK crew Psychemagik that feature all of the right elements to heat up the dance floor: dramatic strings, electric guitars, bongos and trumpets. No slow-mo wannabe ‘Cosmic’ posturing here- just pure, intense, stomping disco. The latter release is by Brooklyn-based, Detroit-transplant, Matt Abott and consists of two moodier, slightly Balearic cuts that are great for setting the right mood at any laid-back springtime party. My only complaint is the B-side on this suffers from the slow-mo sickness that seems to be rampant within the disco scene at the moment. That said, pitching the track up to +6 gets the groove going at a more appropriate party-time tempo.
Massive Attack - Heligoland
On the album front I’ve been slowly growing fonder of the new Massive Attack album ‘Heligoland’. Like a lot of the work from this collective, it takes multiple plays to really start feeling comfortable with their brooding, intricate structures. While I don’t feel this is quite on the level as ‘Mezzanine’ or even ‘Protection’, it certainly has some very beautiful compositions such as “Pray for Rain” and “Paradise Circus”. I have tickets to their NYC show in a couple of weeks and am expecting big things from this legendary band. Look for a mini-report and opinions on that here…
Addison Groove – Footcrab
Finally, I am not sure if I am completely insane for enjoying Addison Groove’s “Footcrab”? Apparently this repetitive track which heavily borrows from Chicago juke style music has been making the rounds in the UK and Europe blowing up techno and 2-step / dub-step dance-floors. Does anyone even know wtf a footcrab is?! In any case, I expect this one to gain momentum throughout the warmer months… we’ll see how quickly everyone gets sick of it! For now though, enjoy doing the footcrab, footcrab , footcrab, footcrab, footcrab, footcrab, footcrab, footcrab,.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Unsound NYC... Carl Craig soundtracking Andy Warhol, MVO Trio, Levon Vincent, Shake, Mike Huckaby and Petre Inspirescu
I’ve been a very bad blogerrr these past few months. With the craziness of work it’s been tough to get back on the word-generating hobby horse. That said, I wanted to share the below review I pulled together of the Unsound Festival which was held here in NYC this past winter. Originally this was meant for RA but as time slipped it got to be too late so instead I've posted it here for anyone interested. Hope you enjoy it. I promise that right after this a record wrap up is coming along with a very worthwhile guest mix y’all need to check out!
From February 4th to 14th, 2010 New York City hosted the first North American edition of the Unsound Music Festival. Launched in Poland in 2003, the festival which aims to host “music and sound art that involves experimentation and risk”, has served as a platform for unconventional musicians from all over the world to perform for global audiences. For this first American edition, the Unsound team partnered with several NYC promoters and cultural institutions to host daily sound art exhibits, concerts and parties throughout the entire two-week running time. During this period I was fortunate enough to be able to attend three events, each of which proved to be unique relative to the standard DJ and Live Performances which form the bread-and-butter of the city’s electronic music scene.
My first Unsound experience was at the festival’s Warhol Program at Lincoln Center where two classic Warhol short-films were screened along to live performances by NSI and Carl Craig. First to play this evening were Berliners NSI, comprised of Max Loderbauer and Finnish techno producer Sasu Ripatti. The latter was actually sitting in for founding member Tobias Freund, who was sadly not able to attend after his passport was lost in the mail prior to this event. Playing along to Warhol’s film of couples in passionate embrace, NSI’s soundtrack managed to accentuate the impact of the film and elevate the feelings communicated by the images. During a scene where an older, potentially married, couple are kissing, the music was slow and melodic, communicating feelings of love and care evident from the relation between the on-screen participants. Later, during a scene showing a passionate kiss between a white woman and a black man, the music was devoid of melody, instead full of the anxious throb of modular synths on overdrive. At the time these films were made in the 1960s this would have been a controversial scene, likely unsettling to a wider audience, which is perhaps why NSI chose to use such ‘unnerving’ sounds during this segment. Unfortunately, the NSI performance was not as seamless as expected, with equipment issues forcing the performance to be interrupted for several minutes. Nevertheless, the overall results were certainly impressive, with the soundtrack accentuating the emotional impact of the film.
After the European duo left the stage, Carl Craig took his spot behind a stack of synthesizers, a mixer and a laptop for his soundtrack performance to Andy Warhol’s film “Blow Job”. Taking a different approach from NSI, Carl’s composition was almost entirely devoid of melody or major shifts in style, instead, focusing entirely on a modulating drone which was occasionally accompanied by a heavy 4-4 kick and a few well-placed bleeps and clicks. Despite this minimal sound palette, the music managed to convey the feelings being experienced by the on-stage participant- the sounds becoming louder and more rhythmic overtime. The result was turning an awkward experience, even more awkward and tense. Throughout the entire performance the crowd would move between deadly-focused silence and awkward, self-conscious laughs. At the end of the film, Carl stood up with a huge smile to loud applause, and suddenly, it was as if all the accumulated tension in the room was released- somewhat of a strange analogy to what occurred on the film. While C2’s performance had been awkward and at times disturbing, nobody in the room could deny that it had been a powerful experience for everyone fortunate enough to witness it. While the Warhol program only finished at midnight, unfortunate scheduling meant that I had missed the Newworldaquarium and Legowelt performances happening across town at the Bunker party in Brooklyn. Slightly dismayed, I headed home for the evening.
The following morning all feelings of disappointment at missing out on the Bunker were quickly forgotten as I began counting down the hours anxiously for the US debut of the Moritz Von Oswald trio that evening. The group’s “Vertical Ascent” album had been a fantastic blend of improvised percussion and abstract textures, and the thought of catching an exclusive, live ‘jam session’ was definitely a riveting prospect.
Arriving at Poisson Rouge at midnight, Moritz Von Oswald, Max Loderbauer and Sasu Rippatti were diligently setting up their gear on stage while the house DJ was dropping old school Jamaican dub tunes. To my great surprise, Carl Craig and Francois K were also on stage setting up equipment: were they just lending friends a helping hand or would they be jumping in the mix as players themselves? As the lights dimmed it became apparent that the audience tonight would be lucky enough to witness something fairly historic- an improvised performance of the Moritz Von Oswald trio accompanied by two other dance music legends. With Craig on a modular synth and Francois K behind the mixing desk, this was definitely going to be a total trip. What followed was a hypnotic, undulating jam session which sounded like the equivalent of an entirely new MVO album. Nothing was familiar or predictable, and although at times the sounds were almost grating or uncomfortable, the group would quickly recover to explore new and exciting grooves. While this type of music would not seem to be the kind of thing that could trigger dancing or screaming, during the more intense passages the crowd would certainly cheer and jump, with the players responding with fervor as Sasu pounded his high hats harder or Francois cut the bass only to bring it back louder. After the 1-hour performance Moritz thanked the crowd for coming out and his dear friends Carl and Francois for joining in the performance. Passing the mic to Carl, the Detroit native announced that the group had had a pretty good session at Fabric…but that this had been ‘the best one yet’. With the crowd clearly elated, the group pushed things even further by playing a brief encore to close out the concert portion of the night. As the last sound textures faded out, Levon Vincent popped up behind two turntables and began dropping old school house tunes. His mix would be full of Strictly Rhythm and Nu Groove classics expertly mixed alongside Underground Quality gems. On any other evening it would have probably been the highlight of the night, however, on a night like this it merely proved to be the cherry on top of a very special sundae.
Taking a hiatus from Unsound events for a week, I decided to close out the festival by attending the Bunker’s second Unsound party. Arriving at the infamous Brooklyn venue around midnight on a cold winter night, I was extremely excited for the talent-packed lineup. The front room would be hosting Detroit legends Anthony “Shake” Shakir and Mike Huckaby while the back room would be jumping to the sounds of Romanian techno visionary Petre Inspirescu and Underground Quality’s DJ Qu. Popping into the bar area with high expectations, I was initially dismayed to find a slightly empty room and sound-system lacking the capacity to fill the large space. The $30 cover at the door had deterred all but the most die-hard fans which resulted in a highly motivated crowd, albeit smaller than usual for the Bunker. Nevertheless, the music in the front room was still of excellent quality with Shake and Mike tag-teaming and dropping vintage disco, italo, house and techno records all night.
The back room was a very different affair… dark and loud, the crowd was already jumping and shaking to DJ Qu’s deep house tunes as we found our spot on the floor. The Underground Quality man proved himself to be an adept selector, expertly reading the crowd and keeping the mood positive and full of excitement. Finally, as his set reached an energetic peak he handed over the controls to Petre Inspirescu.
Beginning with a groovy selection of abstract techno, the Romanian DJ quickly proved to everyone present that the hype surrounding his DJ skills was certainly merited. In my many years of attending parties, I have seen very few DJs as incredibly smooth on vinyl as Petre. However, not only were the Romanian’s technical skills incredibly on-point, his selection was particularly elegant- wrapping a dense spider-web of house and techno grooves around the audience that was impossible to escape. And so the night quickly and rapidly faded into day as the crowd remained firmly hypnotized for hours by the effortless layering and teasing of grooves. Sometimes deep, sometimes outright funky, everything blended together and apart at the perfect time. If there were unique traits that I would use to describe Petre’s style of DJ’ing it would be patience and subtlety- an approach that relies much more on intrigue and surprise than build-ups or big tunes.
As I stepped into the first rays of light of a bitter winter morning I felt deeply satisfied with my Unsound experience. While this had only been the first North American incarnation of the festival, the level of production and quality of events offered had made it seem as if the promoters had been doing this in NYC for years. In a city with such a rich history of art and dance music, I can only hope that Unsound chooses to return for several more years to continue impressing US audiences with their unique selection of cutting edge music and art.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Kyle Hall @ the Yard, Brooklyn
Kyle Hall came to New York City for his debut DJ set this past summer facing enormous expectations. His records on Wild Oats had triggered everyone’s curiosity… His unique syncopated and unconventional house rhythms sounded great on the home hi-fi but would they really work a floor? Luckily our man proved that he was up to the task. Easing the crowd into the weirdness with some vintage Italo, disco and deep house, he easily kept the crowd bouncing past sundown. I am extremely excited to hear more from him in 2010.
What can you say about Levon that hasn’t been said already multiple times? The guy delivered banger after banger all year. Fusing dub techno textures with 90’s house rhythms, his sound had the sultry intrigue of the darkest Basic Channel releases combined with the raw funk of vintage Strictly Rhythm and Nu Groove drum programming. His RA podcast was one of the best of the year and his DJing all over the world has been top notch.
2009 was a particularly fruitful year for reissues. As a newer collector of vinyl, I found this particularly fantastic, although it caused controversy for many older heads that had to witness the Discogs prices of their rarest holdings drop over and over again. Ultimately though, Crème, Rush Hour, Clone and Mojuba should be praised for their commitment to bringing modern audiences the best music from the past in high quality audio. THANK YOU!
Kai Alce & Chez Damier at Bert’s on Broadway DEMF Weekend
This was hands down my favorite event of the entire year. This DEMF after-party represented pretty much everything that I love about dance music…. Held at the mythical Music Institute building, this get-together was the definition of good vibes. Attracting local Detroiters as well as plenty of outsiders with absolutely no bullshit or arrogance- it was smiling faces and stomping feet all around throughout the evening. Unable to obtain a legit liquor license the promoters hid some kegs in the attic behind the DJ booth and periodically invited the crowd to make their way up for drinks. The beats provided on vinyl by Chez Damier and Kai Alce were, as to be expected, ridiculously funky and eclectic, serving up long work outs of deep house interspaced with disco. Overall when I think about how much elitism has crept into dance music with Berghain’s notorious door policies, label-only parties at WMC and ‘unknown artist’ records it was refreshing to see that in the home of techno some straight up real shit could still happen.
I still do not know where this mix came from and who is truly the author… Floating in the RA forums at the beginning of the year, I downloaded it on the (almost unfathomable) pretense that it was truly a collaboration set between the Moodiest and Trus Me. However, the file came tagged as ‘Sports Rainier’ which would lead me to think it might have something to do with a club or DJ in France? In any case, if you haven’t heard this yet you owe your ears a favor… Comfortably segueing between boogie, disco, Omar-S, salsa, Marvin Gaye, Marcellus and just about all forms of funky music it manages to easily demonstrate the elements which bind all of these disparate style with enormous amounts of class and grace. Mixes like this are truly very, very rare so do not miss out on obtaining this wonderful selection before it vanishes into interwebs. Download below.
Another mix that blew me away this year was Patrice’s ‘Deep in Detroit’ mix. When this popped up in the forums last winter, Patrice’s records on Sistrum were appearing in everyone’s sets all over the world. As a result this had maximum attention from all the heads… And rightfully so! This mix demonstrates the power of melody and harmony in house music like few others. If this is not sitting on you Ipod yet you need to give it a spin IMMEDIATLEY. Download is below for your enjoyment.
This was one of the last parties which ever happened at Studio B. While the venue will be (somewhat?) sorely missed, this was certainly one of my favorite parties I went to in NYC all year. Hours of beautiful dubbed out techno from all of the masters from Manchester. I won’t go into too much detail here but if anyone wants to refresh their memory check out the review I did for RA. Unfortunately 2009 was a bit of a mixed bag for Modern Love. While the individual 12’’s by Claro Intelecto, Andy Stott and MLZ were all exciting, functional techno, the label did not blow me away quite as much as in ’07 and ’08. Let’s hope the boys have something crazy planned for 2010.
Of all the things that I am grateful for from 2009, perhaps the one that is most important is the amount of great NEW music that came out during the year. While several classic labels had a fantastic year, I was pleasantly surprised by the work of 3 newer labels: WT Records, We Play House and Lunar Disko. Each of these brought something fresh to the scene and had a phenomenally high hit rate with their releases. WT gave an outlet to brilliant yet woefully undiscovered producers, We Play House provided us with unpretentious, non-cliché vocal house and Lunar Disko kept the flag flying for Italodisco and REAL electro. Definitely three labels to closely watch in 2010…
And that my friends is what I will remember 2009 for… a year which had a ton of excellent new music, fantastic represses and which marked the arrival of several new brilliant producers to the scene.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
First of all I must apologize dear readers for my lack of posting in the month of January... The return to reality after a blissful December break in Peru was harsh. Freezing rain and snow, endless hours at the office and weekends full of random, obnoxious errands.
In the spots of free time I've had, I've been working on a little year-end wrap up. That's right. This will be the last 2009 wrap-up you'll read! The fact that it comes in 2010 may prove an actual benefit... By only getting up to this now, I've had the ability to truly reflect on what was, and was not, the bomb in '09.
Anyways, the wrap up is coming this weekend... For now please enjoy this mix of raw house music to get you through the cold weather...
I picked up these records throughout 2009. Many of them are represses, some are new and some are stuff I slept on for too long! Anyways, you'll find some old gems from Chez Damier, Kerry Chandler and Saunderson alongside newer hot sh1t from Underground Quality, Modern Love and Mathematics. Hope-u-enjoi.
THIS IS SOME RAW HOUSE SON!
Chicago Underground Council - 2 Days [Peacefrog 1996]
Levon Vincent - Deeper [Underground Quality 2008]
Anton Zap - I'm Fine [Underground Quality 2009]
Chez Damier - Untitled [KMS 1993]
Trailer Ends - Runnin' Around (Dark Swing Mix) [Downtown 161 1993]
Rick Wade - First Darkness [Laid 2009]
Chez Damier & Carl Craig - Help Myself [KMS 1992]
Reese - Rock to the Beat (Mayday Mix) [KMS 1989]
Leron Carson - Red Lightbulb [Sound Signature 2009]
Omar-S - Groove On [FXHE 2005]
Claro Intelecto - Above [Modern Love 2009]
Unknown Artist - BAUHAUS01 (Version 2) [BHLTD 2009]
Levon Vincent - Games Dub [Underground Quality 2009]
Contra Communem Opinionem - Dreaming [Mathematics 2008]
--Everything mixed on two 1200's on vinyl and a Vestax VMC-002XLu w/o any editting--BBGB