Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A repost:

Hey Man, Slow Down
Forward-thinking producers free themselves from high tempos

In the worlds of house and techno, beats-per-minute counts have traditionally strained forward, assuming that dance-floor impact is directly proportionate to tempo. But now, several DJs and producers are reaching back to dance music's roots to focus on a core, hypnotic groove that has gone neglected in recent years. Though the late-'80s Belgian "new beat" sound — rumored to have started with a DJ playing 45 BPM acid records at 33 — emphasized this ethic, it largely disappeared in '90s subgenres like techno, trance, and even house. But today, it seems, producers are rediscovering the appeal of a slow, plodding, yet powerful 4/4 beat used in lieu of barnstorming tempos.

"Before house and techno became so dominant in the clubs, dance music ranged from below 100 BPM to above 130 BPM, with an entire spectrum of tempos and rhythms played within a night," says Greg Wilson, a hugely influential British DJ at the forefront of the early '80s electro-funk scene. "For me, one of the flaws with the dance-music culture of the late '80s and early '90s was that the majority of DJs began to believe that a record had to be uptempo and 4/4 to be suitable to play. As a result, a whole area of dance music was generally ignored."

A "faster equals better" sentiment has held true for much house and techno music produced throughout the past 15 years; jungle and speed garage offer obvious examples of dance music's desire to accelerate. Aside from disco nouveau producers like Metro Area and Danny Wang, who have never ventured far from disco's groove-based roots, it's been difficult to find many DJs selecting peak-hour tracks that fall below 130 BPM. One exception is Ewan Pearson, who says he "rarely goes over 126 [BPM]" and that "slower doesn't mean deeper or mellower; it ends up being quite hypnotic — trance-y, in the old, acid-house sense."

But more and more DJs and producers have started to rediscover the effect the sluggish, New Beat-inspired groove can have on an educated dance-floor crowd. The intensity of Motiivi:Tuntematon's "1939," included on Annie's DJ Kicks installment, is made all the more urgent by the fact that it never ventures above 110 BPM, setting adrift grumbling synthesizers and howling filter sweeps. Pearson's "Slow NRG" edit of Alter Ego's "Beat the Bush," meanwhile, is a techno anthem transformed into a lumbering, panting beast, and Sebastian's "Dolami" also shows that techno doesn't have to break the BPM bank to attain the same raw energy and intensity that faster records seek to achieve.

As to just what is it about these rediscovered tempos that makes them so appealing, Beats in Space host Tim Sweeney thinks slower selections add to the overall dynamic of a set, while Optimo's JD Twitch says that a 110 BPM track "gives a completely different bump and grind than 130 BPM techno. Basically, it's a sleazy, sexy tempo that engenders different dance moves." But Twitch also suggests a remarkably commonsense motivation: "It's also good to have a break from the tyranny of high tempos." (CJN)

Photo credit: Sabrina Winogrond
Here's one of the better party mixes I've heard in a long time. It's courtesy of my buddy Alex from K7 and Joe from Hot Chip. Blair's got it hosted over at the essential Music for Robots, and I strongly suggest you check it, esp the track at 31 minutes in.

Alex !K7 & Joe Hot Chip - A GrecoRoman Mix

Saturday, November 25, 2006

One of my favorite things in the world is Tim Sweeney's Beats in Space program. It has become incredibly influential around the world, and Tim is doing very well for himself as a DJ. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Here are two of my favorite mixes ever from the show:

Paul Psychonaut- May 16, 2002

The Avalanches- November 29, 2001

Drop me a comment and let me know what your fav sets are on there. Also, do keep an eye out for my interview with Tim over at The Pop Manifesto in the coming month or so.
Clashing Egos- Aminjig Nebere (I trust you) (Joakim's Afrobot mix)
One of the best tracks I've heard lately:

Pheek: Orage Solaire

And, to those who say LCD Soundsystem have sold out with their recent collaboration with Nike, I say piss off. 45:33 is an incredibly good listen, and well worth the price of admission. No rhyme intended.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Greetings from rainy Berlin. I’m drying off next to an extremely convenient fireplace in the hotel lobby, bathed in glorious wi-fi. I arrived Saturday morning and checked out Watergate that night but didn't partake in the inevitable Panoramabar after-hours due to the volatile combination of jet lag, fatigue, and an empty stomach full of Beck's Gold. Yikes. I'm not going to live my early departure (8 am?!) down. Anyhow, the highlight upstairs was an inspired set from London-based Will Saul (of Aus Music), who’s one of my favorite DJs around at the moment. His background comes from the breaks world (he also runs Simple Records), and he has an exceptional ear for melody and pretty much played across all genres, a refreshing change from many Berlin-based DJs staying in the pocket of minimal-ness for the course of the night. His best tune was unquestionably Latex- "The Porcupine" which apparently is a pseudonym of Loco Dice. It’s an incredible cut, blue-hued vibrato stabs and all. Don’t sleep on it.

I didn't catch much of Jesse Rose's set, though he played jacking, tight, techy-sounds including a filthy mix of Switch and some chopped-up, stuttering remix of Simian Mobile Disco's "Hustler" at the end of his set that absolutely brought the house down. Also enjoyed a few leadoff cuts from BPitch's Kiki, before heading downstairs to see arguably the nicest man in dance music, Mr. Ewan Pearson, playing with Phonica's Heidi for most of the night downstairs. It was nice to finally hear his collaboration with Al Usher, "Cruising," on a nice warm sound system, and the two went back to back, playing loads of stuff I haven't yet heard, so I look forward to the latest installment of Ewan’s Enthusiasm selections as well as some of the new stuff at Phonica...

I’ve got a long day in the air tomorrow- TXL-EWR-PHX, so my next dispatch will be from some much-needed desert sun. Looking forward to drying out. Stay tuned for some music you need to hear on this humble site, and be sure to tune in each week to the Flavorpill show on Viva-Radio for my latest picks alongside the impeccable selections of Jake Lancaster.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Al Jazeera International launches today, though no US cable providers have signed on to distribute it. The Washington Post gives a good summary of the new outlet's operations:

In some respects, Al Jazeera English will be worlds apart from its established, decade-old sibling. Al-Jazeera focuses primarily on news of the Middle East, for an audience of mostly Arabic-speaking Muslims. AJE will have broader horizons, aiming to draw a billion-plus English speakers from Madagascar to Maine -- for Muslims, yes, but also for anyone else who wants another perspective on the day's news.

In other words, AJE -- based in the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar -- is hoping to become the first non-Western source to challenge the global info-supremacy of CNN and the BBC. This, although it's not yet available over broadcast frequencies in the United States.

AJE has established four news hubs -- in Washington, Qatar, London and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- around which its 24-hour broadcast will revolve. It also has positioned many of its 500-plus journalists outside of traditional news centers in Europe and North America, in a necklace of bureaus spanning Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East...

While I've had my qualms with the Arabic version's "teething problems" and tendency to blur the lines between news and editorial, I think that having a non-western 24 hour news outlet can only be a good thing. I spoke with Dave Marash (formerly of ABC and now an anchor for the channel) several months ago as they were ramping up, and tend to agree with his assessment of the possibilities for a wider array of coverage and perspectives, and as he bluntly puts it, "to be freed of the blonde-of-the-month story" that so many US cable news channels find themselves beholden to for ratings.

The channel has hired some very credible Western journalists-- Sir David Frost, Riz Kahn (formerly of CNN and BBC), and perhaps most notably, Josh Rushing, the public affairs officer featured prominently in Control Room, who will report on military affairs. It will be interesting to watch how the channel unfolds. For those of you in the US, you can watch the channel online here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A nice interview with Squarepusher over at the Warp Records Youtube site.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Blogger mon, why you treat me like anniemal?

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been having some technical difficulties stemming from Blogger's recent version upgrade.

Haterz. Anyhow, some nice music for you:

Ost & Kjeks- Have you Seen the Moon in Dallas (Maurice Fulton Remix)
Marc Houle- Kicker
Pet Shop Boys- Flamboyant (Michael Mayer Remix)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In yet another example of the so-called "Long Tail" spilling over into mainstream culture, I watched a Dell commercial this morning with a 13th Floor Elevators soundtrack...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Here's a quick list of things I've really enjoyed this year. Would love to hear your recommendations as to things I need to check. Leave a comment!

Alex Smoke- Paradolia
Brightblack Morning Light- S/T
Delta 5- Singles and Sessions 1979-1981
Duplex- Late Night Driving
Ellen Allien & Apparat- Orchestra of Bubbles
The Black Keys- Magic Potion
The Blow- Paper Television
Bonobo- Days to Come
Booka Shade- Movements
Burial- S/T
Cassy- Panoramabar 01
Cat Power- The Greatest
Crowdpleaser and St. Plomb- 2006
Dabrye- Two/Three
Dwayne Sodahberk- Cut Open
Ezekiel Honig- Scattered Practices
Georgia Anne Muldrow- Olesi: Fragments of an Earth
Girl Talk- Night Ripper
Heiko Voss- Two Sides
Jan Jelinek- Kosmicher Pitch
Junior Boys- So this is Goodbye
The Knife- Silent Shout
Love is All- Nine Times that Same Song
Luciano- Sci.Fi.Hi.Fi Volume 2
Michael Mayer- Immer 2
Modeselektor- Hello Mom!
My My- Songs for the Gentle
Peter Bjorn and John- Writer's Block
Rhythmm and Sound- See Mi Yah Remixes
Richie Hawtin- DE9 Transitions
SCSI-9- The Line of Nine
Skatebard- Midnight Magic
Who Made Who- S/T

Friday, November 03, 2006

There has been a lot of chatter re: Youtube purging copyrighted content from its servers, namely Daily Show clips, etc. But, look how easy it is to circumvent the process. Instead of typing and tagging Daily Show, the user just substituted a few numbers for letters. It is that simple. Google bought Youtube for 1.65 billion last month, with some of the harshest critics of the deal suggesting there are copyright lawsuits waiting for a place to happen. Given how easy it is to get around this (as demonstrated above), draw your own conclusions...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Peter Bjorn and John- Young Folks

Pop single of the moment for me. Love the overall treatment/vibe of the vox and especially the girl's endearing accent. Perfect.
Jimmy Jung with a great piece on Michael Mayer's Immer 2 mix in this week's Time Out NY.

An excerpt:
Hypnotically balanced with dance-floor bangers and cascading comedowns, haunting soundscapes and strained funk, Immer 2 continues in this same tradition. After building up to the boiling point, the mix bursts with the one-two punch of neu-disco boys Justus K√∂hncke and Lindstrom. But rather than keep energy levels redlined, Mayer then segues into the album’s subdued second half, downshifting into the pillowy melodies of the Rice Twins’ “For Dan.” It’s an unorthodox yet utterly seductive move, one that Mayer credits to his experience as a DJ. “The most interesting moments in a club night, the most emotional moments, are the breaks, when there is a shift in the atmosphere,” he explains. “After two hours of peak time, you’ll play a melancholic record and people become much more introverted. It’s within these moments that people suddenly take off their party masks and things get more real.”