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Thu 26 October 2006
we're all just animals looking for a home

love me till i'm dead (naive melody for a sidewalk saint)


Loefah "System" - Direct from underground London, here's dubstep legend Loefah with a track that will shiver your timbers and rattle your chains, chock full of halfstep riddim, electro shock, and destructive beat. What I love most: About two minutes in, right around the time the synthetic bird tweeter sounds fly out of the speakers, this terrific booming bass tone that sounds inexplicably louder than anything else on the track kicks in on a regular rhythm. I first heard it on my car stereo, and I swear I wouldn't've been surprised if it's doors had just blown off at that moment. The sound kind of reminds me of the crazy, ginormously ominous blimp from Blade Runner--that hovering behemoth that seems to follow Rick Deckard around the Los Angeles of 2019, endlessly and breathlessly announcing that a new life awaits YOU in the off-world colonies!! Each one of its PA messages is heralded with a similar blast. (Perhaps this hits at the core of my interest in dubstep, as I'm a huge fan of that film, and most of the best dubstep tracks sound as if they were composed from the vantage point of a dystopian Blade Runner-esque future and shuttled back to the present via a secret wormhole in the basement studio of a pirate radio station somewhere in Croydon.*)

"System" is one of several headslamming dubstep joints to be found on Tectonic Plates, an upcoming 2xCD compilation that does double-duty as a tidy overview of the Bristol-based Tectonic label**, and as a useful primer for open-minded listeners who are curious about the dubstep sound but haven't yet managed to really plug into the sound in any meaningful way. For those of you who feel totally left out of the loop, it might help to think of dubstep as a somewhat natural evolution from dub-influenced and UK-based outfits such as Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky, Roni Size, and such...it's got that same midnight-driven, deep-bass-influenced hard pop to the chops as the best tracks by those artists, but it progresses in a much more minimal direction.*** The collection also includes tracks by DJ Distance, Digital Mystikz, Skream, DQ1, Vex'd, DJ Pinch, and several other notable dubstep hard-hitters. [Tectonic Plates ships in the UK in early November; pre-order it at Boomkat. But if you only want Loefah's "System" on vinyl, Boomkat's got it now.]

Infadels "Girl That Speaks No Words (Alan Braxe and Fred Falke Remix)" - So there's this new musical genre identifier making the rounds, and apparently (depending upon who you ask) these here Infadels people are a part of it: "New Rave." Yikes, right? You've gotta wonder what the product marketers and UK music journalists (some would argue they're the same thing) were smoking when they came up with that one. But there it is, and so we've gotta deal with it.

Well I've had the pleasure of listening to a lot of these "New Rave" bands--right now, Klaxons, the band for whom this term was apparently invented, is an unavoidable cause celebre among the mp3 blog zone of the internets (as of this writing)--and near as I can tell, "new rave" is basically shorthand for "dance-punk band that isn't from NYC or produced by DFA." Feel free to let me know if I'm wrong on this account. I may be missing an important distinction here. I might be aesthetically crippled. (And yeah, I know "dance-punk" is also fairly excerable, but at least it doesn't summon the image of neo-hippies spin-dancing with glowsticks to my mind's eye. If people didn't give into the useless need to trash and reinvent musical genres every couple months, we wouldn't have to put up with this BS.)

Anyway, the original version of "Girl Who Speaks No Words" just broke into the BBC Indie Rock Charts at No. 4, and I think that's just great, because if Infadels do well it could mean more singles from them, which in turn would mean more cool remixes of those singles, and so far that's what I like best about Infadels. The remixes, I mean. They're fun. Someday I might get around to listening to "The Girl Who Speaks No Words" as Infadels created it, but for now I'm more than happy with this Braxe/Falke retouch, which paints the song with a gauzy Sunday afternoon gloss that blurs it to an abstraction of melody and then layers nice crunchy bass-heavy electrohouse synths on top so we can groove righteously to it and gradually forget that terms like "new rave" ever existed. Mmmm. Tasty nummers. [Buy it at Juno!]

Kissogram "My Friend Is A Seahorse (Radio Slave Remix)" - This expansive and picturesque minimal house treatment by Radio Slave just seems to get better and better each time I give it a spin. I won't say it's the Arc de Triumph of minimal techno tracks or anything, but it does take you on a lovely journey over the hills and through the dells with a few moments of fuzzy distorted turbulence just for drama's sake. Just as it ends, a sexy female voice utters a few scraps of spoken-word lyrics in what I'm assuming is German (update:I'm told it's def. not German. could be some Scandanavian language, or perhaps German spun backwards...). Says something about these Berlin-music-focused times maybe that I'm responding more to female vox in German than, say, French or Italian...but that's perhaps a topic best left unexamined for now.

You can find the original track on Kissogram's 2004 LP The Secret Life Of Captain Ferber, if you can find it; meanwhile this remix is part of a debut 12" by defDrive records. [Buy it at Phonica!]

Beatconductor "Let The Music Play (edit)" - I feel like I've waxed rhapsodic about the Swedish mashup producer Beatconductor**** over and over in this space, so much so that I can't help but imagine that anyone reading this must be thinking What? Beatconductor again? C'mon, Moe, get over it! But the truth is that I've actually posted tracks by Ture Sjöberg's alternate aliases, such as Beatfanatic and Southside Break Crew. It's true that this guy's work is an old standby of mine by now, but sometimes you just gotta post what you gotta post. This is a track from Beatconductor's LP A Collection of Reworks. It came out in the early spring of this year or thereabouts, but as far as I can tell it's received little if any love from the audioblog scene. And that's kinda criminal if you ask me.

So here's a magic carpet track to glide you into the weekend with a grin, if you please: an elegant, swellegant jumbo-size edit of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" that even your mom and dad will love. I can see the midnight stars over the outside garden dancefloor a'sparklin' already, and the golden glasses of sparkling champagne are all lined up on the bar, waiting for takers. Yeah, JUMBO JUMBO! [Buy it from Turntable Lab (US) or Phonica (UK)!]

*Evidence supporting this theory: the name of the debut LP from Kode9 + the Spaceape. I mean, c'mon, people, what more do you need?

**which, it must not be left out, is run by the terrifically talented DJ Pinch, a producer, label-boss, and scene organizer (if you're lucky enough to be in Bristol when one of his Subloaded parties are on offer, it would be a tragic mistake to miss it) who also happens to've created some of the toughest tracks on the dubstep block thus far. Tectonic is considered to be one of the groundbreaking labels in dubstep, alongside DMZ, Tempa, and Hyperdub.

***Of course, others will say that description of the genre is too simplistic or totally off base, and, well, sure, there's a lot more to it. But if you want people to make a connection to the sound, sometimes you need to draw them a map.

****As opposed to the alter-ego of L.A.-based hip-hop producer Madlib, just to make sure everyone's clear....


((((^_^))))


I know it's been a bit since my last post, but trust me, I'm still hangin' in there. Thanks for sticking around. The next post or two should have some musical treats based on the subjects of my columns for Alarm magazine, so stay tuned!

gimme a holla | 22 hollas heard
Thu 28 September 2006
gimme a break!

our weapons fire chrysanthemum bullets

The Hole In The Wall Gang "Breakology" - Breaks, breaks, breaks! More of them than you can throw a stick at! Coming at you like a swarm of breakdancing birds, bees, and robot drone warplanes! OMG. This one's got 'em all pretty much: the funky drummer, the Beastie Boys, the Led Zeppelin, the whole Run DMC vs Aerosmith thing, a funny slice of dread rasta, some sort of gypsy music clusterbomb, def breaks, nostalgic breaks, yo mama is so fat breaks, all kinds of crazy-ass-mofo breaks, and more. Let's just put it like this: If you could eat breaks like food, this track would exceed your average daily allowance by about a week. Drop the needle on this during your next houseparty, and you'll have to pay insane bills for the foundation repair later--but at the time you'll be dancin' too hard to care. It's all courtesy of a shady set of UK-based blendmasters who have dubbed themselves The Hole In The Wall Gang. If you know who they are, please give them my props. [Buy the Scissor Cuts Vol. 1 12"at Phonica, ya heard?]

Monareta "Matanza Funk" - Got this cheerful groover off of the soundtrack to La Mujer de Mi Hermano ("My Brother's Wife"): a steamy silver-screen-sized telenovela of mostly South American extraction* that I must've missed when it made its run across the indie moviehouses in my area. Apparently I didn't miss much; this tale of a woman who leaps outside the boundaries of her boring marriage by having an incestuous affair with her bro-in-law was panned pretty much universally across the U.S. as being pretty to look at, but shallower than a kiddie pool. You pretty much get all you need to know from the "parental advisory" that the New York Times tacked onto the end of their review of the film: "It has picturesque sex, titillating language, and excessive use of lip gloss." In other words, it's an episode of Desperate Housewives without the laughs.

So, bad movie, ok, but a really entertaining soundtrack of Latin, Mexican, and South American artists, most of whom I'd never heard of 'till now. It's got electronica (Nortec Collective, Intoxicados, Turista), dub (Mexican Institute of Sound), hip-hop (Kemo the Blaxican, Intoxicados), lush downtempo pop (Sara Valenzuela, Pinker Tones, Andrea Echiverri, Pachos), and even a rousing electro-tango cover of New Order's Blue Monday (by Tanghetto). I picked out "Matanza Funk" mainly because the robotic announcements that are peppered throughout it--most likely clips repurposed from educational English/Spanish language tapes--perfectly sum up the life of yr average hustlin' middle-class white-collar office worker, which I often seem to be when I'm not paying attention. My Spanish skills aren't up to deciphering the raps that make up the meat of the track, but I like how they sound and that's enough for me. Monareta is a two-man act out of Columbia (now based in NYC), and you can find this track and several others on their Internet-download-only debut album Electronoche. [Buy it at Musica360!]

The Juan Maclean "Tito's Way (Lindstrom and Prins Thomas Remix)" - Meanwhile, here's a tall, smooth, and lovely remix of The Juan Maclean by the ever-dependable Lindstrom and Prins Thomas. It turned up over the summer on Visitations, an Internets-only release of remixes, so it may be old news to some, but I just got myself turned on to it recently, and am loving its long, languorous groove, complete with funhouse elastic guitar riffs and spacy synth washes. It's the sort of thing I would've expected to find all over the audioblogosphere, or at least the district of it that concerns itself with electronic music and remixes and such, especially given the popularity of the folks involved...but nope. Hopefully this isn't because horrible events befall the people who dare to post this track to their humble blogs. Probably now I'm going to have the brakes go out in my car the next time I go for a drive, or maybe a meteor will strike me as I walk down the street to my favorite coffeeshop. Oh well, at least if that happens, folks can say died in the service of getting good music out to the peoples. And this can go on my tombstone: Bleep boop boop bleep. Beep bloop bloop bloop. [Buy it at iTunes, Rhapsody, MusicNow, all the usual big-name online tune retailers.]

Tony DeVivo "Percussion Suite (Osunlade Yoruba Peoples Remix)" - Finally, here's a heady blend of percussion, synth, and soulful African-esque glossolalia to sail you downriver towards your weekend bliss, whatever it may be (makes me want to crack open a beer and start weekending right now! but no, it's only Thursday as of this writing, sigh). It's part of Obliqsound Remixes Vol. 2, which, as one might justifiably expect, is full of remixes of tracks that originally were released via the Obliqsound label. For added fun, the Obliqsound people will be offering a Extra-Specially Exclusive Collector's Edition of this particular compilation that comes packaged in a funny sort of plastic "carrier bag design" that was created by famous industrial designer Karim Rashid and Brazilian footwear designer Melissa. It's only fifty bucks! A bargain for an aesthetically perfect industrial design object that will make all your stuck-up artsy ID-obssessed friends squeal and bring you untold joy for decades to come. Or maybe not, who am I kidding. Does anyone really buy these overpriced CD "collectors editions" anymore? Does anyone really buy CDs anymore? [Lucky for you, you don't have to make up your mind whether to just get the CD or the FABULOUS COLLECTOR'S EDITION just yet. The album's official release date is sometime next week. But when it comes out, you'd better act fast, or all those funny little plastic carrier cases (they're only making 2000 of them!!!!) will be ALL GONE. And then you'll be sad.]

*The director's Peruvian, and the money that backed it came from the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile, and Columbia. I think. I only bring it up because I've noticed that folks take offense if you try to state that it's specifically from [x] country.

((((^_^))))

various random announcments! click to see!Collapse )

gimme a holla | 21 hollas heard
Mon 18 September 2006
bang the pole and here it comes

in the abandoned warehouse, strange creatures lurk


Underworld "JAL to Tokyo (Paul Woolford Vocal Mix)" - Thought I'd kick things off with this remix of a track from Underworld's Riverrun Project--a download only series of Underworld releases that had its debut last November. All of the remixes are being released in 12" format throughout this month, and of the ones I've heard thus far, this remix of "JAL to Tokyo" by the celebrated British DJ/producer Paul Woolford takes the "Most Dynamic" prize in my opinion. Which may not be saying much, since Underworld's deal generally is to set up these deceptively simple grooves that seem rather unassuming on the surface but which gradually reveal hidden currents and surprising depth with each repetition (sounding). Woolford's mix is wonderfully muscular and relentless, with a central drum sound that makes me think of robots playing an endless game of handball. Layered over that, first chop 'n' diced and then somewhat straightforward are the ever-beguiling and always-entrancing abstract vocal calisthenics of Karl Hyde, without whom Underworld's rivers would most certainly run dry, at least for this devoted listener. [Buy it at Juno (UK).]

Justus Köehnicke and Dirk Leyers feat Eric D. Clark "An Ounce of Memories (Vocal Version)" - It's taken me awhile to warm up to this relatively subtle collaboration between Köehnicke and Closer Musik's Leyers. To my beat-weary ears, on first listen a few days back this minimal techno joint with lovelyquiet soul vox (courtesy of the ever-talented Eric D. Clark) seemed just a bit bland for my tastes. But then I listened to it again this Monday morning, and the song snapped right into place. You know how it is. Some songs just lie in wait for exactly the right circumstances to leap into your heart: a particular shade of indian summer sunset, the lonely hush after a big fight with your lover, that long long nightitme drive back home after a long and eventful vacation weekend. If conditions aren't right when the track plays, you get bupkis...but when they're just so, ah, then you're in for a revelation of sorts. Now I'm not going to go so far as to say that I saw the coming of the glory or anything, but for me, "An Ounce of Memories" turned out to be just the thing to iron out a bit of my wrinkled mental laundry as my work week ground into gear once again. [This 12" is due out Sept. 25 or therabouts, and should be available at all of the usual venues including Boomkat (UK) and Forced Exposure (US) at that time.]

R.D. Burman with Asha Boshle and Kishore Kumore "Aa Dekhen Jara (Edit)" - And now for something completely different. Everyone who's anyone knows that there's nothing better than the blend of the scintillating glamorama Bollywood sound with the rump-shaking, head-nodding rhythms of deep-fried '70s funk. Everyone knows this, it's almost a priori knowledge you're endowed with at birth. There's not a person in the world, for example, who, upon hearing their first blast of James Brown tearing into "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," didn't immediately think "yeah, sure, that's great, but where's the filmi orchestral backup to make it complete?" or "wouldn't it have sounded 200% better if they'd pulled in Lata Mangeshkar to spice up the track with some nice Hindi background vocals?" This lack of musical connection was for years considered one of the great tragedies of modern popular music, as fans of both genres were left feeling a profound sense of existential loss that only the combination of those forms--funk and Bollywoodi would soothe.

Luckily for fans of Bollywood, funk, and heck, the entire planet in general, a 12" series called Sitar Beat began plugging the collective hole in the hearts of music fans worldwide a couple years back. But they only offered a temporary balm, as the records were sold in limited quantities before once again falling out of print. But now we can all rejoice, as the entire series has been collected on one CD: Sitar Beat!: Indian-Style Heavy Funk Vol. 1. Praise hallelujah and hari krishna! This particular track, featuring the legendary Asha Boshle on vox and a booty-bumping arrangement by 70s Bollywood soundtrack wizard R.D. Burman, totally rocks the party with the tastiest funky guitar, drum, sitar, and tabla licks this side of the Ganges--and closes with a wonderfully wacky vocoder countdown that sends your feet shuffling right out the door and down the street. (My only complaint with this collection is that the majority of the tracks presented are edits, and often all-too-brief ones at that. It's hard to tell if they were cut down to size in order to isolate the funky parts of otherwise non-funky tracks, or rather just so they could squeeze a few extra "bonus beat" segments onto the CD. I realize the edits work out nicely for DJs, but they sort of blow the experience for everyone else.) [Get your funky sitar sounds at Turntable Lab (US) or Amazon (UK).]

Jst★r "Unbreak My Dub" - And finally here's a nice blend from Jst★r, a London-based producer who has made his name in the creation of "blends" -- essentially mashups between the generes of soul, hip-hop, reggae, dancehall, disco, and dub (other notable actors in this genre include Red Astaire, Freddy Crueger, Dr Rubberfunk, Mark E, Beatconductor, 7 Samurai, Nostalgia 77, and just about anyone who appears on a GAMM Enterprises release). This particular track happens to be a dreamy soundclash between Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart"* and Lee "Scratch" Perry's "Words of My Mouth," and it originally came out last year. I put "Unbreak My Dub" up in my vast iTunes archive some months ago without listening to it first, and then was stunned by when it finally dropped in the shuffle a few days back...I especially loved how the whole thing has that sort of lo-fi tinny-crunchy sound of 70s' era Lee Perry productions (though that could also be a reflection of the quality of this vinyl to mp3 transfer). In any case, for a brief while, colors seemed brighter, shadows seemed darker, all the world around me came into perfect contrast, clairity, and focus. And then the magic was gone. [Seems to be out of stock at most UK shops, but apparently Fat City still has a copy or two...]

*Currently becoming notorious in North America due to its inclusion in a seemingly ubiquitous TV ad for Citibank about identity theft--which itself refers to the song's undying popularity amongst [any country name here] Idol contestants worldwide.

((((^_^))))


gimme a holla | 15 hollas heard
Thu 31 August 2006
back to the monastery of sound

bubbles burstin' overtime in the sucka free

Well I guess we can all chalk 2006 down as "The Year That Ate Moe Rex" as it seems the one constant with me lately is my being very, very spotty and inconsistent, and even downright missing in action a lot of the time. Oh well. Here I am again. Let's see how long it takes people to figure out I've put up something new....

Grails "Black Tar Frequencies" - I figured what better song for my return from the dark ether than this awesomely eldritch broadcast by Grails, a Portland foursome who specialize in a weird sort of instrumentally supercerebal folk-damaged psych-rock. It sounds literally like something you might faintly hear bubbling up out of sewer drains well after midnight in Dead Town, a sound that, if you were to set off on an expedition to track it back to its source, would lead you on a long descent: through rat-infested storm drains, down slick and dripping access tunnels, past long-forgotten subway annexes, and across cursed Indian graveyards. In the end, you'll uncover Grails' vast subterranean concert hall, where--lit by the pale fire of phosphorescent algae and bioluminescent bats--a shadowy four-piece band plays to a huge audience of enraptured cellar-dwelling weirdlings. And before you know it, before you can put up even a pretense of resistance, you're down on the concert floor with them, swaying in unison to Grails' deep, deep rhythm forevermore. Goodbye, blue skies. Hello, black tar.

If you're not interested in physically taking this doomed one-way trip to the netherworld, you can buy Grails' latest LP, Black Tar Prophecies vol's 1, 2, and 3--a collection of previously-released and generally quite rare European 12-inches, plus two new tracks--and just tell people you did, but somehow lived to return and tell the tale. [Buy it at Forced Exposure (US) or Boomkat (UK).]

Radiq (feat. Paul St. Hilaire) "The Grass Roots (Radiq's Babylon Dub Mix)" - Damn, I burned through my entire ration of subterranean imagery on that last track, and here we are with this wonderfully heavy chunk of dubwise electronica from Yoshihiro Hanno (aka Radiq). Oh well, just going to have to do the best I can. This comes direct from a 12-inch EP featuring remixes of "The Grass Roots," a track from Tomorrow's Quest, Radiq's recent full-length release. The EP also features excellent remixes by Afuken and Dimbiman, but Radiq's own version of the track was the one I liked best--it takes a somewhat traditional deep-bass dub sound and arcwelds a crazed and fractal grillwork of experimental electronic percussion around its perimeters. About two-thirds of the way in, a string orchestra glides in out of nowhere and sort of smooths the track out momentarily before it explodes in a penultimate frenzy of beats and infinite echo. Vocals are provided by the always-awesome Paul St. Hilaire (formerly Tikiman), best known for his varying collaborations with German dubmasters Rhythm & Sound. [Buy it at Boomkat (UK); also available in mp3 form via Bleep.]

San Quinn "Holdin' Back These Years" - This is a track I've been wanting to share for a few months now, ever since San Quinn's The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds dropped earlier this year. For those of you who don't follow the Bay Area hip-hop scene, San Quinn is a San Francisco-based rapper whose projected profile tends to be that of the quintessential gangsta, tougher than adamantium and meaner than a rabid, three-headed pitbull. So as you might expect, The Rock is made up of one steroidal slap after another, tracks packed with enough corner king braggadocio and tough talk tall tale-spinning to hold you over for weeks. Which is why this joint, which comes along fairly deep into the album, really threw me for a loop when it first turned up on my stereo. Because who would expect a harder-than-hard, more macho-than-macho G like San Quinn to turn around and put out a wistful hard-luck-life reverie based entirely around a song by...Simply Red? It's the sort of thing that makes you stop in your tracks the moment you first hear it (lucky I didn't, though, because I was driving on a freeway at the time).

Despite the fact that I'm growing a bit weary of the gangsta aspect of the hyphy scene, now that it's become evermore apparent that as hyphy rises in prominence, so too does the Bay Area body count,* I have to say I heart this track enormously, especially the manner in which Quinn's flow occasionally plays call and response with Mick Hucknall's sampled vocals. It's a slow burner, but it's got real heart, and if you play it in a crowded room, people will listen, guaranteed. [Yo, keepin' it real is a habit, man. Buy it at Amazon.]

Jay-R "My Other Car Is A Beatle" - I know that a handful of folks out there amongst the mp3 blogscene have pushed this track at one point or another over the summer, but I figure there have got to be a few more pairs of ears out there that have yet to pick up on it. If those left-out ears happen to be yours, well you're in for a tasty treat, for this is a turbocharged nitroburning funnycar bastard pop romp that features Gary Numan's "Cars," L'Trim's "The Cars That Go Boom," Armand Van Helden, and a bit of The Beatles' "Drive My Car." It's unbelievably good, as far as this sort of thing goes, and one of the highlights of The Best Mashups In The World Ever Come From San Francisco 2, a compilation CD that you should be able to find at various Bay Area and Los Angeles record stores while supplies last (and probably other places 'round the country as well, keep yr peepers peeped). This compilation, like its predecessor was put together by a lot of the same people who are also behind Bootie, the long-running San Francisco-based club night that celebrates everything bastardly and poppy and mush-mashed up real good. [UK folks, don't feel left out, you can get it at Juno!]

*I can't say there's a direct connection, but all the same I get a bit twitchy when it comes to promoting artists whose music celebrates the same culture of violence that gets kids shot dead in real life. I feel like I might as well sing the praises of Hezbollah marching songs, White Power oi jams, or the playlist on George Bush's iPod.

((((^_^))))

All I have to say down here is yikes, where did the summer go? And yikes, where did I go? I'm still trying to figure it all out. Well, keep yr fingers crossed for a relatively timely entry to follow this one. I'm making no promises...have learned my lesson on that score the hard way.

My non-musical link of the day: Olbermann's response to Rumsfeld's speech, in which Rumsfeld basically equated criticism of the Iraq war and Bush administration foreign policy with appeasement of Nazis. About time someone in the cable news media started talking like this. More, much more, please.

And now...off to Wisconsin, for a short little family get-together over the Labor Day weekend. Hope all's well for you and yours, wherever you are.

gimme a holla | 28 hollas heard
Fri 2 June 2006
let all yr basslines be unbound

damage in a lonely place

Sometimes, when you go away, the hardest thing to do is come back. There's an event horizon that you pass, and afterwards, each successive opportunity for return seems somehow evermore diminishing. You spin around and are frightened by the lateness of the day, by the way your shadow just stretches and stretches down the street, all the way to the hazy edge. So much time has passed...surely they must have forgotten you by now? Is there really a "there" to return to? Was it all a dream?

Well here's a thanks to all my friends and fans who made absolutely sure to remind me that I was, in fact, missed . And apologies to everyone. I do go AWOL from time to time, it's true, but this was an astonishingly long break. But most of all, here's to the music that wakes us up, that keeps the earth moving under our feet, that reminds us that change is gonna come, that sends us to sleep with dreams of bold new tomorrows.

Tolcha "Rising Tides (feat. Rider Shafique and RQM)" - Here's the first of four tracks that have two things in common: awesomely tectonic levels of bass...and Berlin, that lovely, sweatsoaked, circuitry enwrapped European metropolis that is the pulsating vortex of so much midnight sound and motion nowadays. Tolcha, for example, hail from that city's shadowy, subterranean domains, where they turn out tracks that I can only describe as masterful blends of dub, dubstep, grime, and bleeding-edge alt.hip-hop. After bruising ears with a couple of 12" releases, Tolcha finally delivered their debut LP, Gestalt, via Meta Polyp, their new "digi-hop" label, and I'm pleased to report that it's a stunning work of cybernoir mystery and intrigue, with features from a variety of talented rappers and toasters out of Germany, the UK, and the US, including Sasha Perera (of Jahcoozi), Al-Haca, Ras T-Weed (of Rockers HiFi), Maxx (of The Goats) and Neonman, among others. There's a pretty strong chance that it'll find its way onto my personal tops of the year list, actually.

As a case in point, I love the insidious slow creep of this track, the way it seems to be loping along, watching you over your shoulder, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. And then you have UK soundbwoy Rider Shafique joining forces with rapper RQM (best known for his collaborations with The Tape and Al-Haca) to spit out the deepest lyrics this side of the Marianas Trench. You're swimming down there with them, feeling the crushing pressure of the urban life, finding your way forward using the faint light from bioluminescent graffiti, putting all of your strength into meditations on a life free from stress and strife. Drumming in there like a fetus in a mom's pregnant belly / This is the equivalent of royal jelly / With some ginseng and ginko / Here to stimulate and make you think fo / a minute about it's good to be alive. [buy it at Forced Exposure (US)!]

Muallem "Are You Ready (Turn Off The Lights) (feat. Amazon)" - As we continue cruise our way into the realm of posthuman cyborgian 21st century hiphop, take a listen to the chrome-burnished beats of this joint by Munich's* Muallem, from his recent LP release Frankie Splits. It's the kind of punch to the face that you find yourself setting yourself up for over and over again, perhaps because it's being delivered by a female MC who sounds like she can sling punishing verbiage, dominate the dancefloor, and tear up the bedsheets in equal measure. I know that, elsewhere, music bloggers have celebrated some of the other guest spots on this album (Beans, Lyrics Born, The Droids, Shawn Lee (of UNKLE) all make appearances) but this track is the one I keep coming back to for more. Are you willing to stay 'till they turn off the the lights? Hells yeah, you are. [buy it at Amazon (US)!]

Team Shadetek "Brooklyn Anthem (feat. 77Klash and Jahdan)" - Though Team Shadetek moved from Manhattan to Berlin to get Pale Fire their debut LP, together (recording in, among other places, Modeselektor's studios), my initial takeaway after hearing a rough cut of the upcoming record** is that it's the best representation of a truly American version of grime and ragga that I've heard thus far (for what it's worth). The version I heard stretched out to eighteen or so pyrotechnic tracks of soundestruktion and earbone jamming frequencies, with a whole stack of interesting dancehall and hip-hop MCs doing their thing throughout. (My version of the advance didn't list who was on each track, and I'm not gonna try to guess, though a few voices sounded pretty damn familiar....)

What I can tell you is that "Brooklyn Anthem"--featuring vox by 77Klash and Jahdan, two NYC-based dancehall MCs--is their first official single for Pale Fire, and as such it gives you a pretty decent idea of what you'll be in for in a few months, though I'd argue that it's definitely not the most dynamic cut on the record. But this track will sound great at your next Prospect Heights soundclash blockparty experience--not only will it get everyone up and down the street dancing and pumping fists out they windows--it'll set all the car alarms in the vicinity off as well. [Buy it at Boomkat (UK)!]

The Field "Over The Ice" - And finally, to even your Friday out and set you into a smooth and cotton-encased glidepath to the weekend, here's a new slice of techno from the fine folks over at Kompakt (keeping the German thing going, yeah...though The Field is actually a Swedish producer by the name of Axel Willner). It's glacially cool, with finely looped divavox and [what sounds like] classical strings, and that ever-present bassboom heartbeat rhythm overlaying everything like a eiderdown comforter. Depending upon your musical predilections, the final effect will either provoke sensations of smothered claustrophobia or comfort and peace (accompanied by semi-involuntary headnodding)--I choose the latter, of course. [Buy The Field's Sun and Ice 12" at Boomkat (UK) or Forced Exposure (US)!]

*ok, yeah, not exactly Berlin. But Berlin's not a long trainride away....
** supposed to be out sometime in Sept/Oct as of this writing


((((^_^))))


Whew! Anyway, back, I am! Got a job, got my life in order, things are looking bright....

gimme a holla | 37 hollas heard
Mon 10 April 2006
oh no it's a beat that you're missing!

in through the out door

Bell X1 "Flame (Chicken Lips Mix)" - So here's the deal: Despite the fact that Bell X1 is huge, huge, huge in its home country, with Flock, its third album, going straight to the top of the Ireland pop charts in the first week of its October 2005 release--so far this remixed track (and the much more abstract Solid Groove remix that it came packaged with) is the only thing I've ever heard by them, though I've seen their name 'round here and there over the years (and have always assumed, for some reason, that they were a techno act, maybe on account of their name, which sounds kinda like it could be a high-end synthesizer of some sort).

And it's sad, actually, because this is the sort of stuff I most feel like listening to on this sunny Saturday afternoon: jaunty, disco-fabulous indiepop loveballads chock full of all of the finest hooting and holleration and the best David Byrne-esque vox this side of The Arcade Fire.** I don't know how this happens, how I miss the interoffice memo on bands like this.* Perhaps I need to break down and actually sit through an entire season of The OC--that's where a track from Music In Mouth, Bell X1's sophomore LP, appeared last year. Despite the fact that it looks to my jaded eyes like a retread of Melrose Place for the Naughty Oughties, it cannot be denied that The OC is introducing a lot more cool music to the masses than your average primetime teenage mashnote soap opera.

I wanna be near you and blink in your light / and toast marshmallows on a cold dark night. There's my chorus of the week, folks.*** Run down the sundappled sidewalk while rattling a great big cowbell and sing it to the top stories. [If you live in Ireland or the UK you can buy Flock at Amazon.co.uk or pretty much the music vendor of your choice. In the US, though, you'll have to put up with heavy import charges on copies via Amazon. Get the Flame EP at Phonica (UK).]

Herbert "Birds of a Feather" - It was a slow-dawning morning after an endless night of pouring rain and oil-slick dreams. On the kitchen table, I found a note and a rather large ivory box. The note read: Until just a few moments ago, we were lost, lost in the Aviary. The noise was deafening! Parrots squawking, cockatoos and vocatively arguing from the highest trees. All manner of chirping and hooting and wild birdly chatter...the very universe seemed to be erupting in bewildering cacophony, and it erased our sense of place, of time, of direction almost entirely. To make sense of this place, this landscape, this situation we found ourselves in, we set to work organizing the noise against a steady rhythm: finding the signal amongst the noise. We almost missed the beat, but we found it, and we tied it down, and we made it plot our way through the thicket of unruly sound. Still, this wasn't enough, visibility was still minimal at best, and we risked stumbling into one or more of the many gilded, man-size cages that had been left as traps for incautious birdwatchers. So we finessed the mix with our trademark ace in the pocket: beautiful arrangements of symphonic jazz melody: horns, strings, bits of romantically plucked acoustic guitar. It smoothed the rough edges right over, locked those cagedoors shut, gave us a clear path to the exit. But we couldn't leave our aural lifeline behind, so we recorded it, and Dani worked her final bit of magic: she added her voice over the track, retold a version of our adventure in the form of a song. When the track was complete, we were free. Open the gift and hear it for yourself.

So I did what my friend said, and I won't lie: I was puzzled at first. Within the ivory cube I found what looked like an immaculately white ostrich egg resting on pale gray satin, perfect in its ovoid simplicity. When I picked it up, I discovered that it was as light as air, however, and resonated with the faint anarchy of hundreds of birdcalls when jostled. I steeled myself, broke the shell over the sink, and the kitchen was momentarily filled with the most amazing sound. For a brief moment I saw the Aviary myself, and was almost captured. [From Herbert's new album Scale, which is still upcoming, as far as I can tell. I've seen some statements that it was released May 30, but if so, it's not being carried by many stores yet. Check !K7 for more details.]

Voom Voom "Oggi" - We here at the R. R. Moe Rex Aural Joy Research Institute can't help but turn our ears to the bright, clean, future-forward-yet-oddly-retro sound of Detroit-style electrotechno when it's done well; this track by Voom Voom (a project of Peter Kruder (of, yea, Kruder & Dorfmeister), Christian Prommer, and Roland Appel (both of Truby Trio and Fauna Flash) had our ears set to vibrate and our heads spinning with reckless abandonment. Those synths, those arpeggios, those handclaps, those bright, crystalline synth tones. They roar right along until...what is that, a Blade Runner-esque sample straight out of Eno and Byrne's My Life In The Bush of Ghosts in the middle? Brilliant. That's followed by a brief interlude of lush keyboard melodies, which in turn fade out for a last few moments of wind-down electro rhythm. Cool as a tall glass of lemon-essenced sparkling water on a spring afternoon, and maybe twice as refreshing.

This is currently available on the third of four Voom Voom vinyl-only 12" releases; after all four are released the entire set of twelve tracks will be made available in the form of the LP Peng Peng. All of the tracks clock in at 125 bpm for easy mixing, but they display a fairly amazing variety of approaches and styles of creative attack, sometimes seeming to veer tricksterlike from electro to techno to house to a sort of loopy spaceage funk without ever shifting tempo. The end result: addictive listening experience du jour, par excellance, and so forth. Rawr. [Get "Oggi" on the third of the Voom Voom Peng Peng EPs at Juno (UK), or wait 'till Peng Peng comes out in a month or so (as above, check !K7 for more news on Peng Peng.).]


*I'm guessing it has a bit of something to do with the fact that Bell X1 is so far mostly an Irish act--they only started to sell out their UK shows in the past few months. But they sound like they'd kill here in the States the moment someone gives them a bit of domestic distribution.
**Apparently Bell X1 also gets compared to Radiohead a lot--and comparisons of that sort always raise red flags in my mind, because nothing sounds worse than watered-down Thom Yorke imitations a la Coldplay--but I'm not hearing that here.
***Even though it sorta provides a ticklish image of a bedheaded hipster character holding a stickful of marshmallows over his beloved's beautiful brow, waiting in vain for them to get nice 'n melty-crispy. Oh pop music, you are so delightfully silly sometimes!

((((^_^))))


gimme a holla | 8 hollas heard
Fri 31 March 2006
Ghostriding To Glory On The Yellow Bus

new day and age, new Bay, new flow and song to play

Well, it should be fairly obvious that March 2006 will eventually go down in the history books as The Month When Hyphy Broke. I mean really broke. Sure, the hardcore hip hop heads of the world have been well aware of what's been going down in the Yay Area since Federation first dropped "Hyphy" back in 2004, but it took the much ballyhooed release of E-40's My Ghetto Report Card to actually push this thing past the tipping point. I don't think I'm overstating this--when long-overlooked rappers like E-40 and his 18-year-old genius producer son Droop-E end up with a full-page spread in the NYT Sunday A&E section, you just know the jig is up.*

So now here we are, with hyphy and thizzin' poised to finally, at long last, replace crunk as the leading street hip-hop sound of the land. It's a pretty heady time, and though I'll probably never pass as an expert in this stuff, I feel obliged to serve up a post with a few of my favorite recent New Bay slaps. Yay Area stand up, yadadamean!!!

Balance "Let The Bass Go" - At the risk of going all Stephen Colbert on your ass, I just gotta say: I called it. In my fancypants SF Weekly interview last summer, I told folks to keep their eyes popped for the debut Balance album, that in my opinion it was going to be a real slammer when it finally dropped. This opinion was based entirely on a few tracks of his I'd heard on various locally-produced mixtapes around town; you could tell he had the gravity and lyrical flow to turn out a truly asphalt-shattering LP if he had the chance. Well, Young & Restless dropped last week and it delivers the goods: block-rocking soundwork from Bay Area superproducers like E-A-Ski and Rick Rock, a beefy strongman vocal flow, with lyrical chops that resonate for days, and guest appearances from local luminaries like Keak Da Sneak and The Frontline as well as notable outliers such as Chamillionare. Balance--who up 'till now was far better known for his dj skills as "DJ Balance The Bay Area Mixtape King"--has finally proven he is a fully well-rounded as his street name suggests.

"Let The Bass Go" is the opening cut on the new record, and it's an E-A-Ski production through and through, lined with exactly the sort of velvety smooth bass riddims that you might expect, given the song's title. A great deal of New Bay** rap is designed for urban driving; the wild and crazy tracks (see below) were almost expressly designed for "stupid, dumb, and retarded" automotive hijinx like ghostriding the whip or swinging your candy-color scraper at one of Oakland's notorious sideshows. But cuts like "Let The Bass Go" are for city driving experiences of an, er, more subtle nature: long cruises down the interminably long avenues that stretch across the length and breadth of the East Bay after an evening partying at the clubs, or long 3 am hauls across one of the Bay Area bridges after completing some sort of underworld deal. Music for forward motion, sure and straight, with intensity of purpose always forefront in the lyrical delivery and the beat that undergirds it. [Buy it at Amazon (US) or wherever quality hip-hop is sold.]

E-40 feat. Stress-Matic "The Dummy" - And here's the rubber-band voiced hero of the New Bay himself, E-40, collaborating with Stress-Matic on one of many tracks that cheerlead the "GO D-U-M-B!" aspect of the hyphy scene, which, for all the brothers from other planets out there, basically translates to "partying like a damn fool 'till you cain't party no more." Or at least, that's the basic gist of it, anyway.

You can find this track on the The Bay Bridges Compilation, Vol. 1, a various artists collection that was entirely produced by Droop-E, E-40's amazingly talented son. Those solid production chops are in full effect here--those bubbly acid synth lines serve to perk up the ears of any body within listening range, while the minimal beats emphasize the rubberband vocal calisthenics that E-40 and Stress-Matic put on display. The chorus repeats a certain hyphy catchphrase almost ad-infinitum: I do the dummy retarded and ride the yellow bus. Now, if you haven't heard that one already, prepare yourself, because I have a pretty good feeling it's going to be well-nigh inescapable before the year is out. [Pick up E-40 Presents: The Bay Bridges Compilation, Vol. 1 from RapBay (US).]

Mistah F.A.B. feat Messy Marv and Mr Kev "City Limits" - Oh, man. You just can't beat a strong, street-based rap track about the Sucka Free City that successfully uses the theme from "Streets of San Francisco" as its backing track. This is East Oakland's Mistah F.A.B., definitely of the more risingest stars of the of the Bay Scene, reporting atcha with fellow SF rappers Messy Marv and Mr. Kee on support. This stunna strikes like a piledriver and takes no mercy, but I'm also drawn to it because it's one of the rare Yay Area tracks to actually focus on my city. 95% of hyphy hip-hop is revolves around Vallejo, East Oakland, Hayward, and other locations in the east bay--with the exception of snarky references to the crazy rents and cost of living here, San Francisco rarely rates even a mention.

You can find this track on Son of a Pimp, Mistah F.A.B.'s brilliant sophomore LP, released last fall. Along with gangsta bangers like "City Limits" and the requisite hyphy club tracks***, the album also includes a number of unusually deep and at times even painfully autobiographical works like "Mama Song," "Where's My Daddy," and "U R My Angel," in which Mistah F.A.B. reveals that his mother was a drug addict, that his father was indeed a pimp who eventually died from AIDS, and that his brother served ten years in a penitentiary while Fabby was growing up. It's totally worth an investment of your listening time and money.[Buy it at Amazon (US).]

Mistah F.A.B. and Scweez "Stupid, Dumb, Hyphy" - Damn, couldn't resist slinging out another slice from the madcap mind of Mistah Fabby Davis Jr. It's based on "I Think They Like Me," a track by Dem Franchize Boys that seems to've attracted the rework and remix treatment from a variety of Bay Area based folk (see also Goldie Gold's "Oh They Think They Hyphy"). It is pretty much what it says it is: dumb as a sack of hammers, stupid as a long ghostride off a short pier, and hyphy as all get out. In other words: it's gravy--slop it on that soundsystem and blast it tight to get your party grooving right.

*And perhaps not just up but over--it's long been my suspicion that whenever the Gray Lady catches on to a music trend, it usually means that trend has peaked and is on its way out.
**"New Bay" is a term that Balance originally coined, btw.
***Coincidentally, Fabby coined the above-mentioned "I do the dummy retarded and ride the yellow bus" catchphrase in "Supa Sic Wid It," another track from Son Of A Pimp. His next album will be titled The Yellow Busdrivah.


((((^_^))))

I'd be a fool to try to give the impression that I know the hip-hop terrain of the New Bay through and through--it's so dynamic and ever-changing that you really need to specialize in it to do it justice, and obviously, most of the time, my focus is on other sorts of musics from other parts of the world. Luckily for us, the frighteningly exponential growth of the mp3 blog scene over the past year or so brought with it a good handful of excellent New Bay-focused blogs to keep us somewhat on top of the local game. Unfortunately, the maniest of these blogs--notable for its amazing ability to grab onto exclusive and at times more underground-than-underground tracks--was Get Stoopid, and it ceased operations for whatever reason at the end of last year. But the silver lining on that raincloud is the fact that shortly before that happened, all the tracks on Get Stoopid were re-upped to RapidShare and are (as of this writing anyway) still very much available. Go there now to get a good musical primer on all things stupid, dumb, hyphy and Yay Area, while you still can.

And there are a number of notable and still quite operative music blogs in a Yay state of mind out there for your education and entertainment. They include Nation of Thizzlam, Strivin', Yay Mecca, Pacific Standard (recently moved to Melatone Music), and The Bay Area, which makes up for its not terribly imaginative name by providing a fairly decent selection of tracks. Also notable is Bay.Watch!, a newish blog by someone named Teemoney ("T$" for short, heh) that offers lots of great pics, video clips, interviews, and essays in place of mp3s. I liked Teemoney's recent hyphy essay (great shots of hyphy dancin'!) and Droop-E interview.

gimme a holla | 11 hollas heard
Fri 24 March 2006
we don't blog music for nerds to make math to

survey says: yes!

Juiceboxxx "Do U Want 2 Hear It?" - Get your crash helmet on and hold on tight, because Juiceboxxx, the rappin' kid wonder of Mequon, Wisconsin, is here. Though he's generally not that well known outside of the Milwaukee metropolitan area, I get the impression that it's only a matter of time before a virulent attack of Juiceboxxx mania eventually takes root across the globe. Here's why I feel this way: The average Juiceboxxx tune is basically the aural equivalent of one of those really noisy MySpace pages, complete with lurid color clashes, clusterbombs of obscene animated gifts, unfortunate photographs of wide-eyed gawkygeeky teens in embarrassing situations, and insane exclamation-point-peppered 36 pt boasts in migraine-inducing l337 speak and clipped text message syntax. When you consider the number of MySpace pages, Xanga accounts, and Livejournals that adopt this graphic design scheme (well past a million, I'd guess), it just stands to reason that Juiceboxx--a wiry 19-going-on-14-year-old otaku type* who generally rocks his live shows wearing little more than sunglasses, a necklace or two, track pants, and sneakers--could be the next big teenpop superstar. All he needs a push to get the ball rolling a bit.**

Or...maybe I'd be better off just waiting for monkeys to fly out of my butt. In any case, this Juiceboxxx is good for a listen, a laugh, a raucous pogo dance around the family room and on the couch. (Just don't let mom catch you!) Sure, it's way cheesy...but it is from Wisconsin, after all. [Buy R U There God? Itz Me...Juiceboxxx direct from Vicious Pop Records, a brand-new Wisconsin-based label that, as it turns out, will also soon be putting out a new EP from Tittsworth, the much ballyhooed prodigy of the B'more club scene.]

Headman "Everybody (featuring Ben Rymer and Erol Alkan)" - On, the new Headman album, contains a big ol' stack of that crowdpleasing discodancepunk stuff, with all sorts of musicians and guest vocalists partying as if it were NYC circa 1981 in pretty much the same mode as the DFA, OutHud, !!!, and their various overwrought legions of retrohipster imitators, cowbells, bongos, and all. So you'll either find more to love there or tons to hate, all depending upon whether or not your patience with that sort of thing has given out.

To be honest, when the whole electrohouse/dancepunk/mutantdisco revival started up in earnest a few years back, I was pretty much over it the moment I first heard it. It wasn't until LCD Soundsystem put out "Losing My Edge" that I started to make my peace with the whole thing, because that could've easily been me expressing all that snarky "I was there...." sentiment and jaded outlook towards the current musical tableaux rather than James Murphy. It was mighty refreshing to hear someone mocking that scene (and the snobs who ridiculed it, such as myself) while simultaneously producing some of the greatest examples of the genre. It was a sort of "how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb," moment, perhaps.

Of course, Headman certainly isn't any James Murphy or DFA--not by a longshot--but I can't help liking "Everybody," a bonus track tacked onto the end of the album that was probably intended to be a sort of throwaway deal. On one hand, it's unabashedly stupid, relying on the sort of insipid pun that somehow gets funnier through dogged repetition (a comedy tactic that fans of David Letterman should be well familiar of). On the other, it's a solid dancefloor burner, the sort of thing that should keep things bumping along even as it provokes a chuckle or two here and there. And finally, who can't love a dancepunk song in which Erol Alkan and Ben "Fat Trucker" Rymer, of all people, provides vox and proceeds to serve up shoutouts to the likes of Tiga, Soulwax, and Trevor Jackson? In summation: dumb, sure, but also dancable and quite delightful, in a perverse kinda way. [Buy On at Juno (UK).]

The Blow "The Love That I Crave (Strategy's Strata Club Remix)" - To be bluntly honest now, I'm really only just barely coming around to the brilliant candy shop of wonders that is the current Portland music scene, mostly courtesy of the Audio Dregs label and the amazing artists that are linked to it either directly or tangentially. Another Stumptown musical touchstone is Holocene, a nightclub that has apparently taken on the mission of bringing the more forward-thinking facets of Portland's music community into focus and instigating brilliant mixes and matches of local talent. The bountiful fruits of their efforts are demonstrated on It's Importland to Me To Be One Step Further Than One Step Beyond, a remix compilation from Holocene's new record label that features a variety of collaborations between artists located in or near the Portland metropolitan area (Menomena remixed by Talkdemonic, Y.A.C.H.T. remixed by Emergency Ghost, Bobby Birdman remixed by Toothfairy, Hustler White remixed by a certain DJ ASSCLAPP, and so on). In doing so, the comp paints a picture of a seemingly mythical city in which laptop glitch kidz, psychedelic folksters, IDM nerds, electropunk revival scenesters, indierock clubbers, gritty garage band assassins, and brigadiers of the experimental music avant garde somehow gather together in common ground to found new harmonies, new aural domains, new theories of sound. ImPortland, city of the future of music? Well, it's one of them, anyway.

This electropop + dubwise Strategy remix of The Blow is one of my fave tracks on the It's Importland.... comp, and it will probably come as no surprise that it's also going to be one of Holocene's first 12" singles as well. It drops you into a lush constellation of lovely female vox that whirl and spin around your head even as a rich house beat whips your feets into synchronized motion; when amazing lines like "the love that I crave is a polar bear to gore me" caress your ears, you won't flinch one bit. My research on The Internets has taught me that The Blow is mostly the work of a bewitching lass by the name of Khalea Maricich who is already well-known to everyone that matters via her releases on Kill Rock Stars. Apparently, Ms Maricich's bewitching stage presence and general joi de vive have inspired huge chunks of the Pacific Northwest hipster population to develop intense, heartstopping crushes upon her that seem to defy all conventions of gender and sexual orientation.*** Given that, I'm not sure if it would be a good idea for me to catch The Blow when they next come to San Francisco--my wife will probably require me to attend with a blindfold on and ears plugged with candlewax, so as to block out Maricich's siren-like powers, and what's the point of that? [The It's Importland To Me.... comp supposedly won't be officially released until April 18, though I've seen limited copies of the album available here and there online. You can get The Blow's "The Love That I Crave" 12" from Boomkat (UK) and Audraglint Recordings (US).]

Music A.M. "Stars On 45" - Last but not least, here's a track from the bran' new Music A.M. release Unwound From The Wood, a joint project between whispery voiced crooner Luke Sutherland (formerly of Long Fin Killie and Bows), Stefan Schneider (also of To Rococo Rot) and Volker Bertelmann. I like how it starts out in a woozy, lithium-medicated haze, as if all the instruments and even the vocalist were wrapped in bandages, and gradually builds up to some semblance of pop radio bombast before going abruptly dark, all lights out. Music A.M. is known for creating smooth fusions of click/cut electronics and acoustic instruments that are both tranquil and tranquilized, soothing and somnolent. But "Stars on 45" is an example of a handful of tracks on Unwound that exhibit a new willingness to open up a bit of dynamic tension within the band's standard sonic gameplan, which should please both longtime fans and new listeners. For best results, play it just before you go to sleep or right after you wake. [Buy it at Forced Exposure (US) or Juno (UK)]

*At least, he's supposed to be that young. For all we know this could be another carefully contrived Andy Milonakis-style age scam, and Juiceboxxx is actually a 38-year-old substitute teacher who is supporting two teenage kids from his first marriage. But I hope not.
**Actually, music critic Jessica Hopper gave the Juiceboxxx a few good squeezes last year, but apparently her patronage wasn't enough to set off significant popstar-fame brushfires for Our Hero. I dunno if this entry will get him any closer to being a household name, but every bit of kindling helps, I suppose....
***One commenter to You Ain't No Picasso was actually driven to say that Ms. Maricich is "really awesome at thrusting her hips on stage." Obviously she's on a mission to return such moves to the occult status that people used to apply Elvis Presley's onstage antics way way back in the day.


((((^_^))))

Well. It's been a crazy few weeks: unemployment hysteria, job interview neurotics, a trip to visit my parents in Colorado, computer breakdowns, and internet connectivity snafus. Plus also writer's block. I'm kinda burned out! Will write more in my next post. Ask me interesting questions in the comments, though, and I'll try my best to give you some interesting answers.

gimme a holla | 10 hollas heard
Thu 2 March 2006
captain kid bling's patented funtime bass + beats therapy, just for you

you are now entering the domain of BLING KID FUN, the trickster king. bring the bass and leave yr knives at home.

This post features a set of far-out bass-heavy sound explorations for y'alls pleasure & enjoyment. Guaranteed to make seismograph needles bounce off the charts all over yr hood, or yr money back.

Joe Dukie and DJ Fitchie "Midnight Marauders (Lightning Head Version)" - "Midnight Marauders" started out as a limited-edition 12" single by Joe Dukie (aka Dallas Tamaira) and DJ Fitchie (aka Mu), two blokes from Wellington, New Zealand. When the song was first released in 2002, it probably seemed like it would never get heard outside of its creators' home nation. But when the dubplate came to the attention of the electronic musician Recloose (who had recently relocated himself from Detroit to NZ), he quickly realized that the song was far too strong to be confined to just one country. Recloose brought the NZ-only 12" to to the attention of the good people at Berlin's Sonar Kollectiv, who promptly went mad over the track and speedily arranged to give it a Continental release later that same year. And from there, "Midnight Marauders" quickly rose in prominence as it was promoted by the likes of Giles Peterson, Jazzanova, Nightmares on Wax, and Ben Watt (who would eventually describe the track as "the most delicate and deep dub record of recent times" in the March '05 ish of Dazed and Confused), helping ultimately to set the stage for the international debut of Fat Freddy's Drop, Dukie and Fitichie's amazing soul/reggae/dub/techno big band, with the 2005 release of Based On A True Story.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Glyn "Bigga" Bush--the DJ, producer, and former Rockers Hi-Fi member--has his psychic shortwave apparatus switched on, scanning incessantly for the most infectious and soul-enriching sounds in world music and occasionally remixing them as "Biggabush" and "Lightning Head," the latter moniker being reserved for the fusion of "the funkiest aspects of Jamaican, Nu Yorican, and Brazillian sounds into a joyful soundclash of dub, salsa, and batucada." In January 2006 he released the mix album "Sound Sensation," which presents a masterful blend of a surprisingly disparate group of styles (latin jazz, dubstep, Ghanian funk, dancehall, dub, reggae, salsa) and artists (Robert Wyatt, Kode9, dj/rupture, Pressure Drop, Up, Bustle, and Out). And one of the best tracks on the record happens to be his "Lightning Head" version of "Midnight Marauders," which uses the languid tone of the original as its foundation and then ratchets up the energy level by quite a few notches

I just love the way this mix starts out--a tiny bit of echoey guitar and then the sound of crickets chirping; it's late at night on a Wellington summer's eve and you're taking a bit of respite from a neighborhood house party, getting yourself a bit of cool air on the back porch with a frosty bottle of Mac's Wicked Blonde in hand, as a couple of your mates strum on a guitar and start to do a bit of soulful singing. But no respite lasts forever, especially at this party--and before too long you've got an amazing latin percussion jam going on right there in the backyard. Lightning fast beats are making feets move all over the place, and off in the distance you can hear the neighborhood dogs starting to howl along with the joyous noise. [Buy the original "Midnight Marauders" 12" (containing original + dub versions) from the Sonar Kollectiv. If you live in the UK, you can purchase the vinyl 2XLP version of Sound Sensation now from Juno (it's missing 6 tracks that are on the CD); meanwhile folks in the US will have to preorder their copy of the CD; it's supposed to be available April 25.]

Eight Frozen Modules "Elephantitus of the Man" - I don't know how many of you have ever read William Gibson's Count Zero--the second novel in his paradigm shifting, literary award-draped "Sprawl Trilogy"--but if you have, you'll remember that a great deal of it involved the manifestation of various and ancient Voudoun gods, or Loa, within cyberspace. People jack themselves into the Net and the next thing they know, one or more of the Loa are "riding" them, controlling them, making them do their bidding within the meatworld. If you've ever wondered just what it might sound like to be contacted via the Matrix by Papa Legba, Lord of the Crossroads, just slip in your trusty earbuds and press play on this mindblowing remix of Elephant Man material by the LA-based producer Eight Frozen Modules. But don't blame me if you find your bed on fire and chicken blood all over the walls when you wake up. [You can find this track on the DJ, Riddim, and Source EP. It's available in mp3 format via Bleep.com or in vinyl either from Boomkat (UK) or my pals at Forced Exposure (US)]

Enduser "More Distant Than You Think (Larvae Remix)" - When they're done well, I just love recontextualizations and reconfigurations of Bollywood music. I've put up a few of them over the years, such as a Nigerian hip hop track (anchored around a sample from the soundtrack to the 2002 film Humraaz) and a bot-rocking electo remix of a Bollywood love ballad. From there, of course, it's obvious which trick of musical syncretion we'll try next: Bollywood vs Breakcore, of course! That's right: syrupy strings and lovely female vocals leap into the fray against frenzied jackhammer beats, slice & dice production techniques, and other forms of sonic terror. And who better to pull this off than the Brooklyn-based Enduser, one of the breakcore scene's most prolific and experimental maestros? I dunno for sure, but he gave it a try with his 2004 Bollywood Breaks EP...and all kidding aside, he actually made it work beautifully.

This track, which was remixed to some degree by Larvae, is actually quite swoonworthy, in all senses of the word. I love how the vox swell up like shortwave transmissions in the composition's opening moments, drawing you in even as the beats gradually start kicking into high gear. Breakcore often goes out of its way to be as abrasive and mindshredding as possible, but not so here--the beauty of the Hindi vocals somehow act as a perfect counterpoint to the jagged edges of the beats, enfolding them lovingly in a sort of "paper wraps rock" sort of gesture. In the end, both teams come out on top, to our enormous benefit. [You can order a copy of the Bollywood Breaks EP directly through Ad Noisiam.]

Modeselektor "Fake Emotion (Dabrye Remix)" - There are some who say that in the end it will all come down to the Last Riddim, the Ur-Riddim, the oscillating sinewave at the root of our collective consciousness, upon whose architecture both photons and neurons perform their complicated dances and quantum reality shifts in and out of phase. The Last Riddim is the force that unites even as it destroys, and it will be the last thing our universe hears (just moments before it kickstarts the next Big Bang). And I can't say for sure that Dabrye has tapped into this root-level phenomenon for this remix of "Fake Emotion," but he seems to know something of its depth of feeling, its all-encompassing beauty and strikingly deceptive simplicity. Modeselektor's quirky clockwork dub percussion has been stricken from the set, and replaced by something that is vast and only vaguely discernable, seeming to extend into dimensions of sound not accessbile to mere humans. Over it all, Paul St. Hillare's ghostly voice whispers instructions, passes judgement, and warns obliquely of dark events yet to come. [Buy the Hello Mom! Remixes EP from ]

((((^_^))))

I'll come out and just say it straight: I'm a bit of an idiot savant when it comes to sourcing the music for this space that's not already been passed my way by kindly friends, fans, artists, bands, distributors, labels, and promotion people. Because I've generally been more about breadth rather than depth of musical knowledge, most of my music-loving life (which basically takes me from about age four on up), I've never been the sort who settles on a chosen musical sound, style, or subgenre and then somehow mindmelds with all of the scholars, uberfans, and leading thinkers/creators/producers working in that area to get a detailed 3D analytical model of that scene's past, present, and future up and spinning in in my mind's eye. I just don't have the patience for that kind of sustained focus of concentration. The world's far, far too big; there are way too many distracting bright and shiny musics out there to for me to stay tuned to one station for very long.

What I tend to do instead is flit from place to place and topic to topic, spelunking through newly discovered realms of subterranian sound and panning for gold in mountain streams of underheard music, searching always for the unique, the moving, the truly remarkable. Along the way I pick up a lot of facts about a lot of things, but I'm usually moving too fast and too erratically to develop detailed mental databases about anything. And somehow I find myself stumbling across a wide variety of offbeat sounds that I can't wait to tell the rest of you about. It's a state of affairs that's uniquely suited to the eclectic-minded musicblogger--you never stay on one topic long enough to bore either yourself or your readers, and you always manage to keep in some sort of touch with the big picture(s) of where things are going, musically.

But the flipside of this scattershot music sourcing methodology is that you end up depending upon journalists, academics, DJs, and bloggers with deep-rooted knowedge of specific musical territories to guide you to the newest sounds on the map. Which is why all of this exposition has really been a preamble to explain why I'm dedicating this post to my friend Matt Earp, aka Kid Kameleon; he's all of those things and more, and in my opinion, he's masterfully documenting and promoting the sounds found at the locus of the ragga, grime, dub, dubstep, breakcore, hip hop, bmore bounce, and mashup scenes, which collectively represents a good chunk of the most forward-thinking and truly 21st century music your ears can hear at present.* Two of my selections for this post (Eight Frozen Modules and Enduser) were directly inspired by mentions in both his blog and his brand-new monthly column "Everlasting Bass," which debuted in the March issue of XLR8R magazine, and the other two are more-or-less tangentially related to the sort of stuff he writes about and/or plays in his DJ sets. If you ever have the chance to see Kid Kamelion play, do take advantage of it (bonus for you if DJ Ripley, his chief partner-in-crime, is on the bill as well!). In the meantime you can read his writings at XLR8R, Grooves, the group blog Riddim Method, and his personal blog, which also links to several of the many DJ mixes he's done for folks all over the globe. Check this stuff out, and get knowledgized.

*As much as I love the retrostylings of recent musics inspired by 80's electro and late 70's post-punk and/or mutant disco, it's nice to know that somewhere people are still daring to make truly new stuff. The coffeeshop where I'm writing this--a caffeination HQ for all the best-of-breed technohipsters in San Francisco--has been on an awful music kick as of late: the last few times I've come in, they've been playing a mix that I can only classify as "The Most Horrible Music Ever Made in the Eighties." All the scenester baristas are singing along to the awful, saccharine, empty crap that got heavy rotation on MTV during the middle and latter third of that decade: Irene Cara, Def Leppard, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Sensation, Kenny Loggins, Phil Collins, etc. It's stuff that was considered bad music even then, stuff that I rebelled against throughout junior high and high school, and it's bringing back nightmare visions of sad suburban teenage keg parties where the Top Gun soundtrack and Bob Dylan's "Everyone Must Get Stoned" were considered the twin heights of musical innovation EVAR. If it weren't for my friendly iPod, chock full of my own speical blend of sonic therapy, I might grab the knitting needles from the guy sitting next to me (no SF hipster cafe today is complete without at least one smug beardy guy knitting a hat or scarf, it seems, though this trend may be on its way out) and plunge them through my eardrums. Ugh. Okay, grumpy old guy rant is over. Usually they play pretty good stuff, which is why I'm mouthing off.

gimme a holla | 18 hollas heard
Sun 19 February 2006
don't need no hateration, holleration for our electricity

and baby, i hear you talking to me. and shugah, i wanna set you free.

Roy Ayers "Touch Of Class (Matthew Herbert's Touch Of Ass Remix)" - Someone wants you to go out of your apartment right now, they want you to pull on those clonkity-clonk boot-shoes that you only wear when you want to project that certain air of Meaning Business and they want you to go out, yes, out and down to the street, to march up and down the boulevards of your fair city, banging away on whatever improvised drums you can cobble together: pots, pans, empty gas cans, empty buckets buckets, those dusty tablas you've squired away in your hallway closet, anything that can make a noise and make it loud. This is because there is love to declare, brazenly and publicly and with certain rhythm--for your spouse, your family, your friends, your hood, all the good dogs and cats, the everchanging weather, the color blue--whatever, it doesn't matter. Just get out there and proclaim.

That's the message I hear in Matthew Herbert's percolating remix of Roy Ayers' "Touch of Class," though unquestionably and understandably your results may differ. But I think few would deny the assertion that it is one of the more interesting and successful experiments to be found on Virgin Ubiquity Remixed, in which a number of tracks from Virgin Ubiquity: Unreleased Recordings 1976-1981 and Virgin Ubiquity II: Unreleased Recordings 1976-1981 are revamped, revised, stirred, blended, diced, chopped, folded, spindled, and (some will surely say) even mutilated to varying effect across the space of two discs. I won't say it isn't an uneven compilation--the entirely successful remix comp is a very rare animal indeed, and the longer these compilations get, the more chance there seems to be that trash has found a way onboard. But when the remixes do shine, they shine brightly. Herbert's effort is definitely one of the brighter tracks, and I think folks will also find Ame's tech house mix of "Tarzan", Sir Piers soulful version of "Brand New Feeling," and Pepe Bradock's wonderful deep house take on "I Am Your Mind, Part II" to be especially enlightening. [Buy it at Amazon]

Tayo "Wildlife Dub" - I'm generally not the sort of music blogger who writes about the same artist two posts in a row. But shortly after my last entry, I ran across this brand new track by Tayo, the upstart breakbeat producer and BBC Radio One DJ, and I absolutely could not resist. I'm sure once you press Play on this one you'll forgive me for the repetition...this skillful blend of classic reggae, dub, and breakbeat is absolutely stellar from start to finish. It starts out in first gear with a lot of overlaid samples from various reggae tracks, and then kicks into bass pounding high gear about a minute in. This is the sort of track that rules dancefloors with an iron fist in a velvet glove; parts of you start moving despite your best intentions whenever you hear it. [buy it at Juno (UK)]

Azymuth "Roda Piao (Spiritual South Remix)" - Here's more bang-on-a-can jazz-funk-type stuff--a bit of wildness from Brazil's Azymuth that's been filtered through the aurally kaleidoscopic mind of Spiritual South (aka Mark Robertson), one of Britain's premier remixers of worldly beat-oriented tunage. Ideally, you should hear it blasted over a towering soundsystem in a huge arena filled with pumped-up revelers, batucada drummers, and samba dancers in far-too-revealing-for-American-television Carnival costumes to get the full effect, but if that particular scene isn't readily available to you, just pop in some earbuds and put the party in your head for now. The whole thing really takes off about four minutes into the track, when a bit of baile funk bass buzz roars in to send the song screaming into the stratosphere.

Azymuth calls their jazzy, funky, sambadelic sound "Samba Doido," or "Crazy Samba," and it's perfectly represented by both the original and Spirtual Southalized versions of the "Roda Piao." The original track appeared on the 2004 album Brazilian Soul, and you'll be able to find this remix both in 12" format and on a bonus CD of Azymuth remixes that will be included with Pure (The Far Out Years 1995-2006), a "best of" comp covering Azymuth's releases on Far Out Recordings. [Get Pure directly from Far Out (UK), or preorder the 12" from Timewarp Distribution (UK)]

Mary J Blige "Family Affair (DJ Copy 8 Bit Remix)" - It's a proven fact that in homes and workplaces all across the nation (any nation) nothing improves gloomy emotional weathersystems like the loud playing of pop songs that have had their complicated production replaced by crudely simplistic 8-bit Atari 2600 versions of same. Put this hot number on the stereo, turn it up loud, and watch the results: once darkened rooms will seem to fill with light, sorrows will dissolve and fade away in the face of the onslaught of Mary's good vibes, and all the grievances left unexpressed by spouses and housemates will suddenly seem as petty and inconsequential as last year's news or this year's Winter Olympics (husbands! did you forget to take out the garbage again? play this song and all will be well!). We here at Moe Rex Laboratories will not go so far as to say that DJ Copy's fabulous The Diva Mixtape, V1 is a sure-fire recipe for world peace and good will 'pon humankind...but anything that inspires folks to boogie rather than bomb is probably a good thing in the long run.

Of course, you clever mp3 blog trainspotter types know that The Diva Mixtape was already chatted up by both my friends at Music Fer Robots and that lovely Grilla Vs Bear site a week or two back. But we live in a humongously big world, and I reckon it's going to take a lot of promotion for this track to really effect a change, world-peace-wise. So, for those of you who missed the this incoming call the first couple times around: here you go. Now venture forth, spread the beat, and let a thousand flowers of peace bloom! [The Audio Dregs label is offering The Divas Mixtape with every purchase of Mobius Beard, Copy's full length CD of original songs (it's not named after this blog, far as I know). Not a bad deal for something that could potentially end war as we know it. Get it here.]

((((^_^))))

So these are passing strange days for your intrepid host: a week ago Thursday I was laid off from my software job of the past four years. Yeah, a tragedy, kinda, but then again it's also par for the course in that industry, especially when you're a tech writer working for a company that's been aggressively outsourcing tech writing jobs to India for a few years now. Bummer, dude! But then again, maybe not. The economy's strangely perky in the local tech sector, and it looks like there's actually a lot of work in my specialty to be had in these parts. So with any luck I'll be back in the saddle again before too long. And to be honest, I really needed to move on from that last place anyway. (If you happen to have an opening for a tech writer with 10 years of experience in the ERP industry that can write both end-user and developer-level doc, preferably in the SF Bay Area...don't be a stranger, get in touch.)

And in the meantime, I'm going to take a few moments to get some stuff done and enjoy life a bit. Part of that involves working a bit more on this blog, maybe even getting a few rapid-fire entries out before my next legitimate workday. I spent a lot of time this week wandering 'round my city, doing something that I've not had much time for over the past few months: taking pictures of street art ephemera. Some pretty amazing graff went up around town while I was distracted by other things (like working through weekends, ha) and now I'm busy trying to capture pics of the best of it before it all gets buffed or written over. So far I've managed to track down some amazing stuff; the shot gracing this entry is just one example of the kind of things I've turned up. More to come!

I'm also going to try to spread my freelance writing wings a bit, so if any of you magazine editors out there are looking for someone to cover a piece or two for your zine, drop me a line. I'm good for reviews, essays, articles, whichever. Time to try to do all the sorts of things I used to complain that I never had time to do, eh?

And that's enough about my tragicomic life. Let's talk about Henry Rollins' tragicomic life instead. Have you heard about what's gone down with him in Australia? Apparently he just got put on some sort of terrorist watchlist over there. Why might that be? Well, it's simple, really: Someone apparently objected to his choice of in-flight reading material. Cripes. Next thing you know I'll find out the NSA is tapping my phone because I have Lawrence of Arabia in my Netflix queue.

gimme a holla | 12 hollas heard
Mon 6 February 2006
the handsome devils of alpha centauri

holy crap! that dj soundsystem just turned into a transformer battle robot! and it's wearing adidas!

Basement Jaxx Featuring Glamma Kid "Flylife (Tayo and The Undersound Remix Two)" - This classic Basement Jaxx single from 1997 has been remixed many times and many ways over the past nine years, but after hearing BBC Radio One's Tayo and The Undersound flip it into the anarchic borderlands of dubstep and breakbeat, you'll wonder if the track has finally met its intended destiny...if you buy the theory that some songs are meant to continue evolving after their original composers release them into the musical ecosystem. Whatever you believe, this bombastic, unstoppable incarnation of "Flylife" is most definitely an attention grabber, especially when that furious percussion loop of congas and cowbells is placed front and center during the latter third of the track. Sounds to me like a call to get that Glamma Kid back in the studio, if nothing else. [buy it at Juno (UK)]

Argy "Poke Her Flat" - Here's a track from the latest release by Poker Flat Recordings, which has become quite the cult label among lovers of minimal tech house over the past couple years. And cheekily enough, it's titled "Poke Her Flat." (Ha ha. I guess.)  But Argy's getting off without even a slap on the wrist on this one because this track, along with the two other compositions on his new Night Ritual EP, is quite good, actually. Weird, too. It starts off simply enough, with a typical blend of crunchy beat, pounding bass, and a quirky, tight sample of what could be a plucked guitar. But it gradually builds up into a bewildering and beautiful dubwise soundclash, complete with spacey splashes of synth, random echo effects, and odd snatches of sung lyric. My favorite part comes in about a minute from the end, when an orchestral movement seems to ramp up briefly in the background before quickly fading into the interstellar void of space. It's one of those deceptively simple tracks that keeps you listening just to find out what it'll throw at you next. [buy it at Conzoom (EU)]

Telex "On The Road Again (Playgroup Remix)" - Telex, the Belgian outfit that's best remembered for its 1979 electro-pop hit "Moskow Diskow," and which--along with fellow bands like Kraftwerk--is often mentioned as one of the groups that laid the groundwork for the rise of techno--is apparently staging a comeback. And, appropriately enough, their first single is a cover of Canned Heat's "On The Road Again." The album version of the song shows that all the Telex hallmark traits are back in play--whimsically vocoderized vox laid over minimalist prototechno beats--but despite this they don't sound like much of an anachronism thanks to the current vogue for minimalist tech house and the revival of post-punk electroclash. Given all that, I have to say I love Trevor Jackson's Playgroup mix of the track...the vox are pushed to the background and rendered gauzy, almost insubstantial, as if they're being broadcast from a passing comet. Then a lovely, fat tech-house beat kicks in to carry you forth on an eight-minute journey as the vox return to wash above, below, and through you over and over again until everything gets overwhelmed by bursts of white noise. Dreamlike and splendorous, the sort of thing that would really hit the spot on late night radio as you're taking the long road home from the club. [buy it at Juno (UK)]

My Robot Friend "Swallow" - Have you been introduced to My Robot Friend? If not, here's your chance. This robot ain't your run-of-the-mill domestic service model by any means, and it's mos def no pansy-ass "protocol droid" either. No, My Robot Friend is apparently some sort of independently conscious musician AI that whiles away its time creating electroclash odes to Walt Whitman and quirky technoid covers of Blondie ("Rapture") and Luna ("23 Minutes In Brussels") that are more than a little bit reminiscent of folks like The Soft Pink Truth ...when it's not walking around the seamier bits of New York City weirding people out with its Tron-man suit and freaky-deaky lightning bolt fingernails, that is. "Swallow," then, is My Robot Friend's grand statement about the unfettered joys of rampantly polymorphous perversity--a position My Robot Friend might be able to take with a certain sense of ease, perhaps, because it is, like most robots, essentially genderless (after all, gender is meaningless when you can instantly modify yourself with an arsenal of amazingly naughty snap-on, snap-off attachments, right?). Of course, only My Robot Friend knows his status for sure, and I'm not planning to get "friendly" enough with My Robot Friend to find out for myself anytime soon.*

In any case I don't really know what to say about a song that includes timeless lyrics like From beginner to advanced / Drop your hangups, drop your pants / It's all release and relaxation / With no weird breakfast conversation and Tri-bi-metro-omnisexual / homo, hetero, yo, I'm flexible / horizontal, in a pile / doggy dragon lotus style...except that it sounds like it should be the collective theme song of of the events typically featured on Last Night's Party. [This song is from Dial 0, My Robot Friend's upcoming release. The first single from that release is the cover of "23 Minutes In Brussels," which will feature a remix by Tommy Sunshine. Check with Scotland's Soma Records for more info in the days to come.]

*My Robot Friend's press packet claims that My Robot Friend is in fact "a robosexual who neither desires, nor is capable of having sex with human beings." But that just sounds like a clever line to me.

((((^_^))))

Yeah, I promised some sort of cogent political content for this entry, but as of late thinking about writing political screeds has been a lot easier for me than actually writing them. And half the time all I get is grief in return. But I will say I've been listening to the NSA hearings off and on today, and as far as I can tell, the Democratic side of the panel sounds like they're really giving Gonzales (and by extension, the Bush Administration) hell without making many embarrassing missteps, which is great. (Check out Senator Leahy's opening statement this morning--it's marvelous.) And the liveblogging going on at Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory and Corrente has been great. (See Greenwald--a brilliant constitutional law attorney--take on a crazy-ass C-SPAN caller here. His point: this is not a Democrats vs. Republicans, Liberals vs. Conservatives debate...this is about core American values being disregarded.)

click for the rest of this *very exciting* screedletCollapse )

gimme a holla | 5 hollas heard
Fri 27 January 2006
heaven is a place where nothing ever happens

the endless nights, the bitter cold, the soft, wet fluttering of blood-shot butterflies


Ugh. A month's absence. Nobody's more horrified than me about it, let me assure you. But I won't bore everyone with the usual excuses (because they are the usual excuses: dayjob, family obligations, other writing work, etc. etc.). So let's get on with it, shall we?

Kaiser Chiefs "Every Day I Love You Less and Less (Boys Noize Mix)" - This is the song I've been wanting to play for you throughout this past month of MoeRex radio silence. It's actually been around for quite awhile--since late last August, to be exact--but only in the form of a fairly rare UK-only 2-CD single set for "I Predict A Riot" and "Sink That Ship" that appears to be out of print now. Throughout the fall and early winter it's gradually risen in prominence and glamor, especially after the likes of Tiga and 2ManyDJs started using it to blow up their sets. Suddenly club kids all over the world were breathlessly hitting up Internet messageboards the moment they got home to ask OMG what was that Kaiser Chiefs remix that they played?!!!?! And for awhile, only those DJs and the freakishly obsessive Kaiser Chiefs completists out there (many of whom think the remix massacres their favorite band, by the way) knew for sure.

And it's true that the track does sound like a cruel joke in its first few moments--that snarkily heliumized loop of the chorus at the start just grates on the ears in all the wrong ways--but when the mix shifts into high gear about a minute in,  there's absolutely no denying that this thing is 200% fan-fucking-tabulus. You can't listen to it without imagining a room of late-nite revelers going stark raving mad at the breakdown, screaming, waving hands wildly in the air, smearing their mascara all over the walls in a frenzied orgy of electropunk'd musical abandonment. It's the sort of amped-up sound that has you spontaneously hollering "hells yea!" into the sky and plugging into that mean 'n' vengeful dancegroove that that can only spawn from the bitter end of romance. [buy it used on CD from Amazon UK (maybe) or rare bootleg whitelabel one-sided vinyl.]

Pressure Featuring Warrior Queen "Money Honey (Remix)" - I hope you can get past the somewhat sketchy quality of this vinyl to digital transfer and hear the brilliance of this new cut from Pressure (aka The Bug aka Ice aka God aka 1/2 of Techno Animal aka Kevin Martin) and ragga-tech superstar vocalist Warrior Queen, as released by Kode 9's Hyperdub: the label that truly put the term "dubstep" on the on the musical map and is now in the process of erecting massive, cyclopean soundsystems of pure, unfettered boom and bass all around it. This track is the bloody raw edge of the New right here, I'm telling you now, and it'll give you whiplash if you don't buckle yourself in tight. There's no short service: the WQ's pitchshifting vox and Pressure's ultrabass rhythm attack are designed to rewire the minds of all who come within listening distance. Which leads me to wonder: was this rip's poor quality an intentional move? Perhaps this example of the future-shocked 21st century bashment sound isn't meant for unaided ears and unmodified brains...do you dare to give it a try? [buy the vinyl 12" at Boomkat. Or download a pristine mp3 of the track from Warp. (but remember: safety first! put on yr goggles and flame-retardant suit before listening!)]

James Murphy & Munk "Kick Out The Chairs (Replayed by WhoMadeWho)" - Here we are with the DFA's James Murphy again, this time with a song that took quite the rondelay around the mp3 blog scene when it first appeared in 2004. I just couldn't resist this remix, which was officially released as a 12" last year on the German Gomma label and now appears on Gommagang 3, the latest in Gomma's ongoing series of DJ mix'd comps of their best hits, remixes, and unreleased tracks. On this "replay" WhoMadeWho basically scrap the original backing music for the track and give it a gritty, stripped-down funk/soul sheen that I find to be radically superior to the original track's standard electrohouse theatrics. Apparently Munk doesn't feel too bad about this recontexualization, because he's the DJ behind this particular Gommagang mix, which also includes tracks by Headman, Tomboy, Hiltmeyer Inc, Midnight Mike, and even The Rammellzee. We are all custom-made...and lifelike! [Buy Gommagang 3 from Phonicia Records (UK). Forced Exposure (US) is bound to have it eventually as well.]

Biosphere "Warmed By The Drift" - And this, friends, is probably the best track of the bunch. No beats, no rhythm, no melody to speak of, just transcendent aural beauty. It's the kind of music that constructs soothing images in the mind's eye--which for me were of a deceptively desolate desert landscape at dawn, as viewed from the perspective of a driver who's been making an all-night trek. She's been witness to the gradual brightening of the sky, watching the shadows appear and slowly start to edge across the distant bluffs on the horizon. It's been a long and lonely stretch, with nothing on the radio but preachers and country music to keep her company, but the miles have ticked down to double digits and home (and breakfast) isn't far away now. The stillness and peace of the surrounding landscape as it warms to another day is awesome, overwhelming, stunningly beautiful.

It's funny that that should pop into my head, because Biosphere is usually associated with the frosty fjords and snowbound forests of Norway, where Geir Jennsson (the man behind the music) makes his home. But my mind works from its own experience: I've not logged much time in the permafrosted parts of the world, but I did spend formative years of my life in southwestern Arizona, and, later, made several drives through Nevada and down I-5 in California. You make do with what you have. The lovely thing about Dropsonde*, Biosphere's forthcoming CD release, is that it works with you to construct your own vision of peace and tranquility. Very highly recommended, especially for those of you dealing with stressful times (ah, but who isn't?). [Dropsonde will be available January 30 in the UK (make advance orders via Touch) and February 21 in the US (where you'll be able to buy it from Forced Exposure).]

*From Touch's description of the new album: "A 'dropsonde' is a weather reconnaissance device designed to be dropped from an airplane or similar craft at altitude to take telemetry as it falls to the ground. It typically relays information to a computer in the dropping airplane by radio. The fall may be slowed by a parachute. Information collected by a typical dropsonde may include wind speed, temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure."

((((^_^))))


So sorry for the prolonged absence. Things seem to be stabilizing on my end somewhat so we should see entries on a more regular basis going forward.

Hey, if you haven't done so already, go to the voting page for this years Bloggies Awards and vote for Said The Gramophone in the "Best Writing of a Weblog" category--you've got 'till this Tuesday, January 31 to make your voice heard. If it wasn't for Sean and his amazing work there, I might not have been inspired to get into the mp3 blog racket. When I first started doing this stuff, the beautiful poetic lyricism in his best work was my benchmark for "good music blog writing," and it gave me something to aim for every time I set out to write a new post.

Also, I finally got around to updating my blogroll--lots of good folks out there whose sites I've been sleeping on. So...say hi to TAPE, Myself Myself, Green Peaness, Dilated Choonz, and Gorilla Vs Bear. All these peoples really "bring it," as I've heard they like to say in the music biz, so if you're not checking them out yet, go now and get schooled.  (Update: I also added You Ain't No Picasso and Best Foot Forward, just to ensure the selection is suitably well-rounded. More to come, maybe.)

More coming up much sooner rather than later, I think. Next post will include a few cuts that relate to Important Political Issues Of Our Times, so...woo! Watch out for it.

gimme a holla | 17 hollas heard
Fri 23 December 2005
enter into my cool world (superquick before i fly away edition)

all rise for dj frosty freeze, cold rockin' tha cool beatz

Oh look what you found in your cyberstocking! One last final Ready Rock Moe Rex posting before 2006! It's a veritable Xmas miracle!

Blo "Get That Groove In" - We'll kick this one off with a prime example of the musical genre that everyone's looking to listen to at year's end, especially those of us in the chilly wintery parts of the world. And what genre is that, you might ask? Well, classic African disco, of course! (What? You were expecting something else?) This year's classic African disco track comes courtesy of Blo, a Nigerian outfit that put out five albums over the ten years between 1972 and 1982. They started out as a Grateful Dead-sy sort of psychedelic rock jam band, if you can believe that, but their sound morphed with the times, flowing from psych rock to funk to r&b soul over the following decade before finally settling into a disco groove in their final days. Despite their changes of sound and tempo, they never took a wrong turn, musically--every phase of their evolution produced some top-notch music. (Some say their turn towards disco at the end of their career was ill-advised, but as you might expect, I'm all over it, at least as long as it sounds as good as this.)

Strut Records came out with an excellent Blo compilation back in 2002 called Phases,1972-1982, but the CD isn't so easy to come by since Strut shut down operations in 2003. However, it looks like you can still obtain copies on Amazon via resellers.

Infadels "Can't Get Enough (Mekon Remix)" - Here's the forthcoming single from the UK's Infadels, full of dirty fuzz bass and a slight hint of the Clash. It's all searchlights wheeling wildly skyward, creeping their beams over tall skyscrapers and gleaming glass towers, as the formerly winterbound streets below writhe with reveling crowds of golden-eyed and hope-filled scenesters. Wave your boas and fluffy scarves in the air, let that glitter drift gently upon your upturned face...the new year is only minutes away. Can you get enough? [Buy it at RecordStore.co.uk on Jan 23. And keep an eye out for the Infadels' debut album We Are Not The Infadels, will appear on UK shelves on January 30.]

Friendly "Nobody" - This breakbeat track by Friendly--a UK-based Aussie producer--is oddly schizophrenic, in that it's equal parts hopeful and uplifting, melancholy and sad. It pulls you in with a wonderfully gritty + squelchy synth line and some lovely high-frequency tones that spin around yr head like wild winter faeries...and then drops off into gentle breakdowns that feature some quiet, balmy female jazz vocals. It's a sort of blue holiday track, perfect for those of you who don't dig this time of year at all and are looking for a tune that simultaneously raises your spirits while acknowledging yr lonesome state. Dance that pain away, sweetheart, and remember to love yourself if nobody else will do it for you. [Buy it at Juno (UK)]

The Coctails "Holiday In Paradise" - Here's a track by one of my favorite defunct Chicago-based bands of the '90s...The Coctails. This band is probably mostly notable these days for the fact that it was one of the outfits that brought Archer Prewett to the notice of the musical intelligentsia (along with his membership in The Sea And Cake around the same timeperiod). They tended to excel in a sort of anachronistic, melodic, kitschy jazz-pop sound, which they played up live by appearing onstage in wedding band outfits. This instrumental track, which comes off as a sort of Martin Denny style Christmas tune--showed up on their 1993 Winter Wonderland EP.  As you listen to it, you can pretend you're sipping pina colladas with me in Nuevo Vallarta, talking about the sonic treasures to be unearthed in the year to come. [You can find this track on the box set Popcorn, which nicely sums up the band's career in three tidy discs. Buy it from Amazon.]

((((^_^))))

Very soon now--tomorrow morning, in fact--my sweetheart Molls and I will be boarding yet another jet plane to yet another sunny tropical wonderland (well, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, to be exact), where we will spend next week enjoying sun, sand, surf, and, most importantly, the all-inclusive margaritas and gin 'n' tonics--in the company of a few members of our extended family. Sounds delightful, though all this traveling/vacationing is starting to take its toll on us, and I'm looking forward to a stretch of a few months at least when we're not obsessing fretfully about plane, transportation, and lodging arrangements, waking up at ungodly hours for early morning departures, suffering endless airport security lines, and feeling assaulted by unexpected flight itinerary changes and surprise connecting flights. Lately I've been feeling like that old country duet: No, we're not the jet set, we're the old Chevrolet set! (I don't feel like arguing with the "our steak and martinis is draft beer and weenies" line, either--though personally I prefer a good Hefeweizen if I can find it on tap.)

Anyways. I protest too much, obviously. Farewell, 2005, hello 2006. Amazing to think that in a few short months I'll have been doing this mp3 blogging thing for two years. I should consider throwing an anniversary party in March or April. Would any of you come?

click to read about why my cup of awsomeness spilleth over at year's endCollapse )

Cheers to the Moe Rex Massive--all my longtime readers, dedicated linkers, erudite emailers, and thoughtful comment posters--and welcome all you folks who might be visiting this site for the first time! Best wishes for the season, whatever it means to you...and here's to more hot beats and scintillating photographic eyestunnas in the year to come!

--Matt (Moe Rex)

gimme a holla | 15 hollas heard
Mon 19 December 2005
ozsome ozcillations

sullen and shirtless, she smokes her cig and silently susses out the Sydney scene


OMG it has been well over two weeks since I last posted. Damn you, Christmas holiday season, filling my spare time with absurd agendas and onerous obligations, and plus also making me go on vacation AGAIN just when I've finally recovered from the last one! Xmas, I wish I knew how to quit you! Keep this up and before you know it, someone--I'm not sayin' me, now,  but someone--will snap, I don't know, like, declare war against you or something. And that'll show you, I just bet! You'll rue the day you ever tried to make me go to all those holiday parties and eat those festive cookies and drink all that Anchor Steam Christmas Ale (mmm).

Ok, enough with the shameless holiday blame-deferring, and on to the tunage. As promised, here are a few examples of the choice Aussie music I picked up during my visit to AU last month. (Okay, the last two tracks are obviously from elsewhere, but I'm sure y'all won't mind.)

Wolfmother "Dimension (Stereogamous Dimensional Kooky Mix)" - Wolfmother is a Sydney-based indie-rock three-piece that's been experiencing wild success in their home country ever since they released their initial four-song EP back in early 2004. They sell out shows everywhere they play, and their first self-titled full-length album was recently declared winner of the (soon to be) prestigious J Award for Australian Album of the Year. Their prowess hasn't gone unnoticed back here in North America--they reportedly slayed audiences at both SXSW and CMJ this year, and the word is that the question of their album getting a stateside release isn't an "if" question but "when."

Wolfmother's schtick is decidedly retro--it's basically a passionate and addictive polaroid transfer of your favorite early-to-mid-70s metal records (Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin, (early) Pink Floyd, Meatloaf, etc.) with a few on-point references to beloved contemporary retro-rockers like The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the White Stripes tossed in for good measure. If you're curious as to how well they pull this off, check out the full-album stream that Modular Records has set up for them. It's pretty killer stuff. If someone told me that this was a thirty-year old record that had recently been unearthed by a psych-rock obsessed cratedigger, I wouldn'tve doubted it for a second.

"Dimension" first appeared on Wolfmother's debut EP and turns up again on their new album, and on its own, it's a fine collection of meaty guitar riffs, howling vocals, and perfectly absurd lyrics. This remix is something else entirely, though. I've been playing it over and over these past few weeks since my return, jacking up the volume a notch with each repetition, and goddamn if it doesn't just keep getting better and better. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to reach the tolerance limits of my home stereo equipment, which means I'm probably going to have to invest in a hefty club-ready soundsystem to keep the joy increasing. This will probably result in angry neighbors, lawsuits, visits from uniformed police officers, and various degredations to the structure of my apartment building (it may just slip off of its foundations), not to mention deafness, but that's ok, it'll all be worth it, I'm sure. [Buy Wolfmother's various releases from the Modular Records store (keep in mind that all prices are listed in AU$$!). If you want this remix, you can find it on the fairly rare Club Kooky 10 compilation, available at the club and selected record stores in Australia (scroll down for listing)]

Paul Mac "Heaven Where You Find It (Featuring Lenka)" - It's no secret that numerous disco and house tunes have been infused with the soaring sound and and inspirational power of contemporary gospel music over the years, and it's no wonder, either: after all, both churches and nightclubs have their own regular congregants, who go to those sacred spaces in order to find sanctuary from the pressures of ordinary life and, in communion together, reach a higher plane.

This track, from Sydney-based producer Paul Mac's new album Panic Room, follows in that hallowed tradtion with a stirring track that blends beats and bass with a message about the courage required to love both onself and others without expecting perfection in return. With a chorus like "I believe Heaven is where you find it baby--you save me, and I'll save you," the song's obviously not operating as a strict Christian Fundie tract by any means, but even so, there's a good chance that it might open a few closed hearts even as it sets bodies in motion.

Paul Mac got his career started as a remixer for the likes of Silverchair, Powderfinger, and Savage Garden back in the mid-'90s. In 2001, he came out with his first solo album 3000 Feet High, which sold gold in Australia, and which established his modus operandi of producing catchy dancefloor pop tunes with a rotating stable of vocalists, some of whom have become quite well known throughout the continent based on their association with his music. Panic Room continues that tradition, with vocals by a variety of folks, including the Sleepy Jackson's Luke Steele, his returning star performers Peta Morris and Anna Dobson, and newcomers Ngare (from Papua New Gunea) and Aaradhna (New Zealand). And then there's this song, "Heaven Where You Find It" and the title track of Panic Room, which both feature the seductive talents of Lenka, singer for The Decoder Ring, a terrifically popular Melbourne-based dancefloor indierawk act that's taken Australia by storm over the past few years. [Buy Panic Room at Amazon (US), if you don't mind the import prices. While you're at it, pick up last year's album by The Disassociatives, the group Mac formed with Silverchair's Daniel Johns. It's cheaper.]

Music Vs Physics "Letters and Words" - While in Sydney, I luckily (and almost literally) stumbled across Red Eye Records, which turned out to be a true music geek's paradise if I've ever seen one. I discovered Music Vs Physics' album Oblong Data in the store's hip-hop section, and on a whim, decided to buy it and hope for the best. Happily, it didn't dissapoint me when I finally managed to give it a spin after my return to San Francisco. This Melbourne threesome creates the sort of brainy, idea-packed hip-hop that you might expect to hear from linguistic philosophy graduate students or championship Scrabble wizards. There's not a hint of down-low urban grittiness to their stuff, but that's to their credit, in a way--they've got skills, and they're using them to craft beats and verses that goof on high-end wordplay and map out the Mensa mindset to intriguing effect. It doesn't hurt, though, that Beatrix, the female MC featured in this song, also has a lovely singing voice; all the songs that feature it shine just that much brighter. [Buy it from Red Eye Records.]

Goldfrapp "Slide In (DFA Remix)" - If you're a true blue music fiend, you probably grabbed this super-rare DFA remix (only 100 copies pressed to vinyl) when it popped up over on BigStereo earlier this month. And that's great, that's cool--Travis and the other good folks at BigStereo deserve mucho props for getting the song up and out to the masses, especially when you consider how many people were apparently chomping at the bit to get their mitts on it the moment the news that such a remix was in the works entered the ether. However, some of you may have noticed that it was a somewhat low-fidelity 64 kbps file. Now, I dunno why that was, 'zactly--maybe it was all the BigStereo folks could find at the time, maybe they reduced the filesize to make it easier to store on their servers, or perhaps they were asked to only make a lo-fi version of the track available. Whatever the case, I figured I'd go for broke here and offer a markedly, richer, fuller version of the track for your amusement. As a sort of holiday present, let's say. And we'll see what happens....

This version of the track isn't perfect either--it's quite obviously a vinyl to mp3 rip, and as such could've been recorded with a bit more care than it was (like, maybe they could've avoided bumping the needle at the outset of the song)--but it'll definitely do for the vast amount of folks out there, at least until Goldfrapp or the DFA deign to give it an official release so everyone can buy a copy for themselves. Like Travis BigStereo (for lack of a better name), I'm not terrifically impressed with the Goldfrapp part of the song, mainly because I've never been that sold on Goldfrapp to begin with--but I love how the track gradually mutates into a wonderful anarchist panopoly of percussive sound and rhythm. Its a remix approach that I can't help feeling I should be growing weary of by now...but am still knocked out by, for the time being, hurrah.

Nathan Fake "Silent Night" - And I didn't think I'd be putting up any holiday songs up in here this year, but then I ran across this glitchtronic gem by UK experimental electronica auteur Nathan Fake, and couldn't resist. Once again, it's already been put on offer by another mp3 blog or two*, but in case you missed it, here you go. I'm going to get another couple tracks up before the end of the week, but just in case I don't make it, here's a little something to simultaneously put you in the holiday spirit and annoy your family/friends/neighbors/pets. Enjoy. [Buy it from Juno (UK).]

*The mp3 blogging scene is getting so crowded these days that I realized awhile back that there's just no point in fussing over the conundrum of not being the first to cover this or that band or song. We're all playing to a vast audience across the world here from a thousand stages, so there's always going to be people among that audience who were distracted by something shiny the first time a song made an appearance.

((((-_-))))


So on Christmas Eve Molls and I are flying off again--another vacation, this time to a resort in Mexico. I could protest that I'm sick of flying, sick of travelling, etc. etc, but I kinda doubt that many of you would buy it. I'll be gone for a week, and will be back in the new year. As I said above, I'll try to get a couple more tracks up before I split, I really will. I've got tons of music to share, but no time to write about it. Cue sad violins, closeup on my frowning face. Pauvre Moebius....

Sorry, no travelogue yet. When the world stops spinning like a...a crazy fast spinning thing...I'll get photos and related stories up in my Fickr account and you will all be amazed/astounded. I promise. Australia was great, New Zealand was great. Had lots of fun: attended weddings, toured rainforests, snorkled the Great Barrier Reef, saw Auckland and Sydney, visited pretty beaches, drank great beer, and much more. Many thanks to NZ's Stinky Jim (dj/label owner/music writer extraordinare) and OZ's DJ Seymour Butz** (of Club Kooky and Sauna Sessions) for their help; they both passed on to me some amazing music I never would've run across on my own.

As always, if you like the tracks offered in this post, have any questions, or just want to say heya, drop me a line below. Cheers.

**no, not the American porn producer/Showtime documentary star. By a longshot. Though, then again, perhaps there are similarities.

gimme a holla | 6 hollas heard
Fri 2 December 2005
aotearoa a-ok!

in auckland, music & graff go together like biscuits & jam

I'm back! Yes! It took me a few days to recover from the surprisingly overwhelming jet-lag, and then a couple more to listen to all the tunes I'd picked up in New Zealand and Australia, so as to make the selections you'll find below and in the posts to follow. Thanks for hanging in there--I know I've been more sporadic than usual the past few months.

So I'll start off with a big stack of music (to make up for my absence) from the first stop of our trip: New Zealand. It's an amazing country with a lot of pretty amazing music, and sadly, not as much of it makes it to my side of the world (North America) as I'd like....

International Observer "Vale Bengali" - It was a few years ago that I first noticed that something was seriously up with New Zealand and dub music. I can't remember the exact connection that led me there; I think I was checking out a German electronic dub label that was tangentially related to the whole Burial Mix / Rhythm & Sound scene, and they were just going off on the magnificence of NZ band Fat Freddie's Drop in general and the talents of that band's vocalist, Joe Dukie, in specific. After that, I just kept seeing more Kiwi dub connections--it was one of those "once you notice it, you can't stop seeing it" sort of things. For example, German electronic artist Burnt Friedman started up his Nu Dub Players during a vacation in NZ back in 1997. And nowadays, when you look at the local pop charts in NZ, dub is all over the place; besides the ubiquitous Fat Freddy's Drop, you'll also find outfits like Salmonella Dub, Pitch Black, Sola Rosa, and Rhombus pushing dub science into the homes and hearts of people all across that nation.

International Observer's All Played Out is one of the latest NZ LPs to advance a special slice of sweet dub love out to the world; it's the sort of stuff you can just sink into and wrap around yourself like a warm blanket on a chilly Sunday morning. And this track, "Vale Bengali" was, for me, one of the highlights of the album--a bit of tabla spice, a peck of roots reggae horns & melodica, and a whole lot of lovely, spaceagey production, with an entertaining variety of odd samples and quirky effects to keep the melody interesting as it unfurls.*

The brain behind International Observer is Tom Bailey, who some of the older trainspotters out there might recognize as 1/2 of the Thompson Twins--awhile back he moved from the UK to the NZ and this is what he's up to now. Good for him, and good for us, too. It's sweet as. [buy it at nzmusic.com--and check out the other good Kiwi music they've got there while you're at it!]

Che Fu "Not That Special" - Those of us with ears close to the tracks have been hearing a lot of hype about the burgeoning New Zealand hip-hop scene rumbling down the line, so when we went there I was especially interested in tracking down some of this stuff for myself. Hip-hop in Aotearoa is largely owned by the country's Maori** population, and some of its promoters have been trying to link it to a greater "Urban Pacific" hip-hop scene that would presumably link it to acts originating from other Pacific Islander nations and cultures, including Fiji, Samoa, and perhaps even Hawaii. I quickly discovered that while much of the hype is just that--a lot of minor labels in NZ are throwing a bewildering number of mediocre rap acts at the wall right now in the desperate hope that one or two might stick, apparently--the cream of the hip-hop crop over there are making music worthy of a global audience.

Che Fu is considered one of the elder statesmen of the NZ hip-hop world; his 1998 debut 2b S.Pacific was one of the first home-grown rap records to go multi-platinum in New Zealand, and his follow up The Navigator did just as well. It's a fair bet that just about every hip-hop head in the country has at least one of his records. Che Fu is half-Niuean, half-Maori and all-the-way Rastafarian, and he invests all of his songs with a subtle blend of conventional hip-hop signifiers, experimental beats and samples, and subtle (but effective) references to Pacific Islander history and politics.

"Not That Special" is from Che Fu's latest release, Beneath The Radar, and I like it for its emphasis on vocal rhythm and the bouncy, kickin' the ball down the road feel that it projects. It's the sort of thing that'll infect any roomful of people with the irresistable need to bob they heads and move they feets. Just like the finer New Zealand wines, you won't need to announce its country of origin at first; just serve it up and wait for people to say "wow! what was that?" later. Don't be afraid / It's impossible for you to catch it all first / We ' bout to spread out Aotearoa hip-hop throughout the universe! [buy it at nzmusic.com]

Frontline "Night Time" - Frontline*** is an NZ hip-hop act of a different order than Che-Fu; lyrically they're a bit more aggro, and musically they're a bit more cutthroat, moody, and urbanized. Made up of Con Psy (vox) and 41 (beats, samples, production), Frontline's tracks all sound like they've been created by guys who tend to have their backs up against the wall more often than not--as if they're rapping not for idle entertainment, but rather to defend their honor, maybe even their lives. Perhaps the urgency they project has something to do with Con Psy's status as a seemingly white rapper in a Maori hip-hop world (in the song "Screwloose," he contends that he's part Samoan) or the band's placement on the knifedge separating the pop and underground hip-hop scenes, but whatever the case, their debut album Borrowed Time is a true mindblower of a release, full of great lyrics, lightning-fast-yet-sharply-enunciated raps (one of Con Psy's trademarks), and solid, apartment-block-rocking beats. With its story of a wild night on the town, this track, "Night Time," is one of the lighter, funnier cuts on the new LP.  I love the way it talks about the "rugby dudes dancin' with their thumbs up and tryin' to bust their moves" at the local nightclub; after my visit to NZ, it's a scene I can easily envision. [buy it at nzmusic.com]

James Duncan "Do U?" - Alt-rock fans in New Zealand may recognize James Duncan as the lead guitarist for the somewhat unclassifiable band SJD, which performs a smooth blend of post-rock, clouds-floating-by indie-pop, and beautiful downbeat electronica. But Duncan's a man of many talents and interests, and with his recent limited-edition solo EP Mirror Minor, he's found brand new set of grooves. Case in point: this sly, cheeky snippet of electrotech. The only thing I see wrong with it is the length; I dunno why it couldn't be maybe twice or even three times as long. But then again, perhaps Duncan just knew where to stop with all that "I am every drunk / Do you like the way I shake my booty?" talk. [get it from Real Groovy Records (NZ)]

Ulrich Schnauss "As If You've Never Been Away" - When I first arrived home from our grand trip, I found myself gravitating towards music that complimented the woozy, out-of-phase sensation brought on by the jetlag one tends to get when they fail to fall asleep on a 13 hour, halfway round the world plane flight. That International Observer album (see above) fit the slot quite nicely, but so did Ulrich Schnauss' 2001 debut Far Away Trains Passing By, which was reissued with a bonus disc including six rare tracks early last month. One of those six tracks was this appropriately-named cut. Schnauss is a big fan of that old-timey dreampop noise of the late 80s and early 90s; you can hear it in those starlit washes of perfect sound and steady, seemingly biorhythm-based beats. Perfect listening for those post-travel moments when the foundations of time seem to've slipped a bit out of joint. [buy it at Amazon]

*If you're a Richard Dorfmeister fan, you might note that a different mix of this track (a much mellower one, if can imagine it) appeared on his A Different Drummer Compilation back in 2003.
**which, in case you're unaware, is pronounced  "mow-ree," not "may-oh-ree."
***not to be confused with the excellent Yay Area hip-hop duo with the same name, yo.


((((^_^))))


How did the trip go? What did we do? I'll reveal more in my next post. This one's gone a bit long, as you can see. Cheers, mates.

gimme a holla | 13 hollas heard
Wed 9 November 2005
flying on a jet plane

walking the songlines of the grafitti Dreaming

I'm off on a two-week trip starting Friday, so this'll be the last entry (with music, anyway) for at least that long, so here's a nice fat set of tunes to tide you over 'till I return. I've tried to keep the music commentary relatively short, to save time....

Various Production "Hater" - I fell in love with this vicious blend of sublow and triphop last summer through thirty second soundlcips on Boomkat, but only came across the 7" recently. And man, is it good. Lovely, chilling, dreadful, exhilerating, all in turns. It's like hearing a song sung by that cold-hearted but oh-so-seductive ex-girlfriend you thought you'd never see again: you know very well that just hearing her voice again is bad for you, but you can't turn the stereo off, all the same. [Order it from Boomkat, or waIt for the fabled Various Production LP that'll supposedly be released by Warp or Mu or Leaf one of these days....]

Ed Macfarlane "Let's Split Up" - This excellent cut from up-and-comer Ed Macfarlane's excellent ModelWork EP says one thing with its title and quite another with its chorus. But all I care about is the tightly-controled glitchpop chaos he presents here; it's the kind of fast-paced electronic music that has both texture and depth. Play it in a warm room dimly lit by sparkling red christmas lights and white votive candles, pour yourself a glass of wine, and watch the shadows furiously breakdance on the ceiling.[buy this at City16.com (UK)]

Voluntarios De Patria "Io Io (Tim 'Love' Lee Edit)" - From the Nao Wave Revisited EP, which features reworks of tracks from the excellent Nao Wave: Brazillian Post-Punk 1982-1988, a compilation that rocked the hipper record shops of the globe last summer. This was my fave remix of the set; it retained the dark drive and powerful vocals of the original song while loading its undercarriage with an entertaining variety of subtle sonic tweaks and tricks, including the addition of a theremin. [Grab it from the fine folks at Forced Exposure]

Grace Jones "Slave to the Rhythm (Serge Santiago Special Edit)" - The golden age of the club music re-edit was in the late '70s and early '80s, when disco DJs like Danny Krivit would painstakingly splice magnetic tape to create magnificent extended "for dancefloors only" versions of well-known funk, soul, and disco songs--usually by extending drum solos, repeating choruses, and sometimes editing vocals out almost altogether. The art of the re-edit fell into a sort of semi-obscurity as dance music production techniques went digital, but it seems to be entering a small renaissance of sorts with the success of Greg Wilson's Credit to the Edit series and a variety of similar releases by both well-known and obscure DJs. This fantastic, beat-wild re-cut of "Slave To The Rhythm" is one of Serge Santiago's recent contributions to the genre; I shudder to think of how awesome it would sound in a cavernous club with a killer soundsystem. [buy it at Juno]

Southside Break Crew "Freshest Jam" - Here's a summery rollerskate blockparty joint to close this selection out. Press play and your grey fall skies will part, bright rays of sunshine will break through, and your barbecue grill will light itself up. Some may be a bit astonished to learn that the Southside Break Crew is from Sweden (it's the alter ego of the slightly better-known Beatfanatic), but there's actually been a great deal of cool old-school hip-hop inspired dance music flowing from that nation for awhile now. [You can find this track and several other Swedish housequakers on the new Swedish Brandy: Current Cuts compilation album...buy it at Groove Distribution (US)]

((((^_^))))

So it's Wednesday evening now and the departing flight for our NZ-OZ Grand Adventure is almost upon us, looming overhead like an enormous teddybear--friendly-looking, but also nervous-making as well. We have been frantic of course--that's our default mode just before a long trip and I guess we see no point in switching up our routine at this point in our lives. Molls is rushing around at home, furiously trying to wrap up several different school projects simultaneously, while I have been more-or-less imitiating her moves at the office. And in all the brief and flashing interstitial moments that come between work and sleep, we have been fulfilling various errands and last minute need-to-dos, crossing off list items and trying to catch our collective breath.

But soon! Soon we'll be on one of those storied Air New Zealand planes, napping or reading or gazing stuporously into the glow of our private seatback vidscreens, w/nothing left to "do" but relax and wait for destiny to clasp us in its warm hands and carry us into the rainbow-gilded unknown. It's gearing up to be a pretty wild little trip. In NZ we'll be staying with the endlessly clever and cool explode and darren131, who are being lovely and taking a couple days off from work to hang out and show us a few of their favorite things in Auckland and its surrounding environs. In Port Douglas, Australia, we'll be attending not one, but two weddings, both involving the same two people! And there are more connections and conjunctions in the works that may or may not work out, in both countries--a number of old friends and new names have been coming up, all excited that we're coming to visit. We will be drinking beer and seeing sights, exploring jungles, coral reefs, and the exciting streets of unfamiliar cities. (I have also heard rumors that certain people are preparing care packages of Aussie and NZ music for us. I hope this turns out to be true.)

While I'm away, you can get yourself in a Kiwi state of mind by checking out the streaming feed from 95bFM. It's the station of choice for all of NZ's best-of-breed hepcats. (If you keep listening 'till I return, you'll be eligible for your very own Honorary Kiwi Hepcat Merit Badge!)
Click for 95bFM

and here's some additional blather about the books I'm taking on the trip, just in case anyone's interestedCollapse )

gimme a holla | 24 hollas heard
Mon 31 October 2005
we have no spooks in our house

can we return to the crayola cities of our childhood?

I was planning to have this whole big long huge black-n-orange-toned Halloweeny post that woulda been full of dark and spooky tunage up in this space today...but various flavors of chaos and sad luck conspired to flip that script against my wishes. So instead, please find attached the most party-ready of the songs I had planned for All Hallows Eve alongside a set of tracks that coulda shoulda woulda gone up last week had the fates and stars and my own dumb ass had their collective acts together...

Phon.O "Trick or Treat (Funkstörung's Phunked Up Rmx)" - You want some candy? I'll put my mask on.... Here with a message for all you erstwhile ghosties and goblins who might be planning to go doorbell ringing tonight is Carsten Aermes--otherwise known as the German electronics wunderkind Phon.O--which features none other than Kevin Blechdom taking on the role of Bizarro 50 Cent in the candy shop. When Phon.O first turned up around 2000, he was putting out a fairly civilized and urbane variant of minimalist glitch-dub. But over the years he sought to "rough up" his image a bit, and ended up with last August's Burn Down The Town, a comparatively raucous full-length array of tracks featuring tropes from ghetto-tech to grime-dancehall to booty-bangin' hip-hop (Tigerbeat6, his North American distributor, calls the album "D'n'B meets BDSM").

Funkstörung's remix of "Trick Or Treat" doesn't try hard to make sense of Blechdom's lyrical anarchy, but it does jack the affair up with a precious dose of glitched-up, post-Cuisinart Prince-style funk, baking a much-needed layer of new jack soul onto what was already a fairly high-calorie dish. The song's peppered with all manner of fake-erotic grunts & groans, along with playground taunts and a bit of bewildering gangsta-feminíste balladeering towards the end (I die for my bitches! I die for my hoes!). It's sort of a traditional Haloween party tune recontextualized as an epileptic seizure. It whips though you and leaves you on the floor gasping for another bite. [grab both Burn Down The Town and the Trick Or Treat EP (which also features a Kit Clayton remix) from Forced Exposure. Bonus: You can get yr Kevin Blechdom solo releases there as well!]

The Drones "Sharkfin Blues" - The Drones' sound roars straight out of a solid Australian tradition of crashed and burned, alcohol-wrecked and relationship-ruined blues-rock; they sound like they've been raging for a thousand long days and weary nights from the same loveless and ancient outback pub that spawned acts like The Birthday Party, Scientists, Crime and the City Solution, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Beasts of Bourbon, and The Dirty Three. Every Drones song is an eschatology of sorts, sung from the viewpoint of people who haven't quite reached the end of the world yet but can see it quite clearly from where they stand.

"Sharkfin Blues" is from Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By, their enigmatically-named second album, which was released in April in their home country (where it's now up for the J Award for Australian Album of the Year) and had its North American debut last week. It's a true howling howitzer of a punk-rock blues ballad, lit aflame with soaring, distorted guitars and frontman Gareth Liddard's seemingly stretched-to-the-breaking point vox. But amidst the pain and the suffering implicit in this maelstrom, there's a certain sort of celebratory catharsis going on as well. The man is going down with his ship in this song, but he's taking the poisons of the world with him, lending us a momentary respite from the large and small insanities that plague our daily lives. [get it from Forced Exposure]

Coldcut "Everything Is Under Control (feat. Jon Spencer & Mike Ladd)" - Speaking of yowling, howling, raggedy-voiced garage rock 'n' roll bluesmen, here's Jon Spencer, doing what he does best alongside indie rapper Mike Ladd, in service of a forthcoming track by Coldcut that blends hip-hop beats with searing guitar licks and deep-bass synth pulses. Ladd weaves a dense rap thick with conspiracy theories and paranoia, systematically linking black helicopters and "Illuminati partners" with Dick Cheney and Rupert Murdoch. In the meantime, Spencer lays down the Voice of Authority, which wants you to know that everything's oh, clearly under control--in that charming "oh FEMA's on it's way, it'll be here any, um, day now" tongue-in-cheek kinda way. In other words: the world is coming apart at its seams, but if you just sit tight and keep watching Fox and Friends and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, you won't need to worry about a thing. Get on up and get down, baby. Your soul's under control. [The Everything's Under Control EP will be released November 14 and will contain this track plus a whole stack of remixes. "Everything Is Under Control" is the lead single from Coldcut's upcoming full-length album Sound Mirrors, which is due January 2006.]

Jan Jelinek "Lithiummelodie 1" - After all that noise and drama, you need to relax. This track from Kosmischer Pitch (Cosmic Pitch), Jan Jelinek's new album of mesmerizing, minimalist, loop-based sound constructions, might be just the thing.

Jelinek's a huge name in the electronic music scene that Phon.O (see above) left behind; his click 'n' cut constructions broke new ground when he used them to utterly recontextualize jazz music with 2001's Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records and soul classics in 2003's La Nouvelle Pauvreté, while his recordings under the names Farben and and Gramm broke new ground in microhouse, turning petri dishes into rave parties all over the world. Kosmischer Pitch may be Jelinek's masterpiece-to-date, though. Each track opens a window onto a pastel-hued wonderland of subtle sound, where sound loops and odd rhythms overlap, combine, reconfigure, and recontextualize each other over the course of long periods of time. In each case, seemingly simple layerings of sound reveal vast spaces of depth and discovery. It's one of those recordings that sounds slightly different each time it's played, depending on a wide range of variables, from the listening environment to the time of day to the mood you happen to be in when you press Play. There are rooms within rooms in this house and you can go on exploring them forever.

"Lithiummelodie 1" was my favorite of all the tracks on the album, mainly because I adore the way it starts out like a slowed-down minimal house groove, only with plucked guitar chords--and then slowly gets overtaken by what sounds like an entire tropical forest, and then fades away to a low, groaning hum before disappearing altogether. It's oddly majestic, in it's own small way. But to really get what I'm talking about, you need to hear this track in the context of the album as a whole. [buy Kosmischer Pitch at--yep, that's right--Forced Exposure]

((((^_^))))

Apologies for the three-week hiatus. Thanks to all of you who kept checking in these past several days!

NZ/OZ trip, less than two weeks away now...!

Will write more down here soon....

gimme a holla | 5 hollas heard
Fri 7 October 2005
poplocking and roboting

take a stroll through the grafdoor

Modeselektor "Dancing Box (feat. TTC)" - Whenever I play Modeselektor's new album Hello Mom! I start rocking out like Animal from the Muppet Show of bygone days--complete with demented openmouth grin, wild eyes and crazy hair, the random banging on percussive objects, the whole thing. It's sort of astonishing to watch, especially when I make the error of listening to the new record on headphones in the office. Inevitably something gets wrecked, and my normally placid-beyond-belief software-coding coworkers are starting to wonder about it. How many monitors can "accidentally tumble off of my desk" in a week? Surely there's something strange going on there, right? And the "oh, it's ok, I'm just having a small epileptic fit" routine will only work as a cover for so long. I'm going to have to get smart soon and limit my Modeselektor listening experiences to, oh, I don't know, urban public parks or something, where people just look the other way when guys suddenly start raving about, yelping incessantly, and running in circles like they're on fire.

"Dancing Box," the lead-off number from the new record, is a case-in-point. It's a collaboration between Modeselektor and TTC, a French electro-hop trio who have been getting quite a few mushy lovenotes from the uberhipster intelligentsia at Fader these days, and it shreds--literally. Once the track really gets going, beats, words, and movements are chopped, diced, sliced, and pureed at blinding krushgroove speed, while a tight electro rhythm keeps your head nodding at a steady--if somewhat frenetic--rate. The lyrics are in French but even if you're a fluent speaker, you won't have any idea of what they're saying before too long, and what's more, you won't need to know. Your body will have it all figured out for you. And that's just the first bit of insane glee to be sampled from Modeselektor's garden of electronic delights. Their track "Kill Bill Vol.4" will slay any dancefloor, and "Silikon" (featuring Jahcoozi's amazing Sasha Perera*) takes you back to the sonic scene that "Dancing Box" is rooted in. There's a few cool-down tracks too, just so you don't, um, pop a joint or blow a gasket or whatever. [grab it from Forced Exposure (US) and go crazy!]

Quio "Great (feat. Lise)" - Also pushing crazy hip-hop beats and lyrics out of Germany is the ever-charming and loveably quirky Quio, whose debut full-length album Like Oooh! (an explanation of how to pronounce her name) should be dropping from AGF Produktion and Kitty Yo Records on October 25. Quio's stuff tends to mix 'n' match rap, drum & bass, breakbeat, grime, and wild snippets from a dozen other genres--in one track on her upcoming record, she even takes on reggaeton--to generally excellent effect. More proof that Germany--and especially Berlin--has to be approaching some sort of critical mass moment of talent and audacity; every time I turn around it seems like artists there are upping the ante for everyone else, especially when it comes to women in electronic music. Quio, Sasha Perera, Ellen Allien, Barbara Morgenstern, producer Antye Greie (AGF), and Miss Kittin (to name a few) all rule my world more or less. [pre-order it at Amazon (US, UK, or DE) or buy it directly from Forced Exposure (US) when it comes out]

Turf Talk "Do The Robot" - I have to admit my astonishment when I discovered that my friends at Music Fer Robots hadn't already claimed this song as yet another of their flagship robot-related tracks. You know, the sort of thing that blasts out of the PA whenever Robot Mark or Robot Blair make one of their patented "royal entrances" into a club event that they've promoted or are DJing at. Ah well. They're on top of a lot, those folks, but every now and then a gem slips by them, and I do my best to snatch those songs up and make sure they get their due. So here you go: a brief bit of pop-lockin' suparobotic hip-hop bodyrock for all your weekend revelry needs, courtesy of Vallejo's own Turf Talk (reppin' the 707 and the hyphy Yay Area hip-hop scene alongside Federation, E-40, the Frontline, Keak Da Sneak, etc.). You can find this track on his debut album The Street Novelist, which hit the streets just over a year back. [buy The Street Novelist from Amazon. A new Turf Talk release called The West Coast Vaccine is rumored to be coming out soon...keep an eye out for it!]

Pashmina "Chori Chori Gori Se (Rama Electro Mix)" - Normally I only put up four-song posts when more than a week has elapsed since my previous entry. But I just couldn't resist sharing this bonus track. I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned few things are really more charming than the fusion of Bollywood rave-ups and electro--though it's rare that they're done even halfway right, when they're attempted at all. I think the problem is that the few producers out there that have taken the Bollywood sound down this route have taken their remixes to DumbTown and Overblown City by tossing in tons of extra instrumentation, creating needlessly dull ten-minute-long housemusic club tracks, and the like. This rework*, on the other hand, cuts out nearly all of the song's original symphonic arrangement and puts vocoderized vox samples and disco-punky synth stabs in its place. It's short, sweet, relentlessly catchy, and best of all, fun. The day may yet come when the retro electro craze truly dies out in the west, but it would be a shame if the elektrofunk virus didn't catch and spread throughout India for at least a short while, 'cos I need to hear more stuff like this. [I actually haven't been able to turn up any vendors for the "Chori Chori Gori Se" release; if anyone knows of one, let me know and I'll link to it.]

*After I wrote about Sasha Perera's band Jahcoozi a couple posts back, I learned that: 1) Sascha runs Grimetime, which is both a grime-oriented nightclub event in Berlin and an excellent grime-focused mp3 blog and 2) Jahcoozi will be releasing their debut album Pure Breed Mongrel on Kitty Yo in the US later this month (Oct. 25, perhaps). Check as many of those things out as you can....

**Which, by the way, was likely made for the European market rather than the Indian one. Bollywood and bhangra clubmusic crossover tunes seem to be fairly popular in Eastern Europe and the Scandinavian countries, as well as in the UK and other places in Europe with large immigrant populations of folks from places like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.


((((^_^))))


gimme a holla | 6 hollas heard
Wed 28 September 2005
everything the light touches is our kingdom

tigerkisses and skeletonsongs weave through the night and send us home

Paavoharju "Valo Tihkuu Kaiken Läpi" - Whenever I hear this song, I like to pretend that it was something unearthed, something found frozen deep within the permafrost of collective memory. I find myself thinking that someone must have traveled far to recover this lost transmission, must have braved difficult weather and fearsome deprivation of spirit to bring this music--however fragmentary, however distorted--back to whatever this is that we call "modern" civilization. The singer's voice breaks upon my ears like waves, like the shimmering bands of the Northern Lights. And the electronic tones--which may be part of the original transmission or something added later (it no longer matters)--conspire to send the song heavenward and I feel myself wanting to follow it. But alas, my feet are rooted here, on the solid earth, in my living room, where I sit next to my cat who sleeps the sound sleep of the well-fed and deeply unconcerned. All I can do is play the song again.

Perhaps some of you have heard about this new, beautiful, and often incredibly touching music that's been drifting out of Finland over the past year or so. It tends to involve a heady blend of experimental folk, psychedelica, and (sometimes) electronics, and folks who catch on to it often find themselves likening it to everything from Björk and Boards of Canada to Henry Flynt and the Beatles. Paavoharju is one of the most promising of these "Finnish psychedelic folk" outfits that I've heard yet (and I will go on the record now and say that I don't think I've heard nearly enough: someone needs to put together a few good compilations of this stuff).

When you listen to this track*, you'll know what I mean. It sounds like the stuff of forgotten dreams. Acoustic instruments and lo-fi recording techniques, a lot of calculated distortion, ethereal (at times, almost Bollywood-y) female vocals, and, here and there, an overlay of IDM electronica all add up to what I think is probably one of the most special listening treats of the year. Do check them out if you can, as well as the other Finnish folk groups on Fonal (such as Islaja, Kemialliset Ystävät, and Es) (their label). Or you might investigate some of the other groups associated with the scene. [buy it at forced exposure, dude]

Sly Fi "Wild Wild Child" - Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows I give quite a bit of latitude to tracks that others might consider to be fairly trivial novelties. Life's too short to spend all my time looking for the Rock of Ages in the firehose flood of new music that comes out each week--and besides, sometimes nothing hits the sweet spot better than a well-done bit of musical novelty. But all that said, even I dismissed "Wild Wild Child" when I first encountered it. Oh, it's just a loop of curse words and obscene phrases, I remember thinking during that test listen, perhaps six weeks ago. How...lovely. Next!

Of course, as you might've guessed, "Wild Wild Child" wasn't quite done with me yet. It somehow found its way onto my iPod (I swear, ghosts must've put it on there, because I certainly don't remember doing it) and before long it came up in Ye Olde Random Shuffle. When the breakbeats started gearing up, I just sort of nodded my head with the rhythm, as I tend to do whenever beats are in the vicinity of my ears. And then the loop started up--that naughty, perverse, childish and yet robotic repetition--and I had two reactions, one after the other: Damn, it's that song again...let's click through to the next track and shit, this song is pretty catchy! And after that, the loop sort of took over. When I went to pay for a burrito a few moments later, I almost blurted out "cumsuckingmotherfuckingcuntkissinpantypissinass..." in Tourette's style monotone before coming to my senses and muttering "Thanks" to the cashier instead. The song's like a virus, man. Don't listen to it in a biker bar unless you want to find yourself getting chairs broken over your head.... [buy it at Juno, of course!]

The Kingsbury Manx "Nova" - Out here in the Bay Area we've been enjoying a burst of great days--lots of sun, a wonderfully warming dry heat, and cool breezes wafting down the streets, rustling the trees and making their fall-turning leaves drift away. It's my favorite time of year around here--that last burst of perfection before the truly cold winds start blowing in off the coast and the end-of-year rains start falling. It's excellent weather for weekend blockparties, indian summer beach runs, and lazy afternoons spent reading and chatting at coffeeshop curbside tables. This track from The Kingsbury Manx's new record The Fast Rise and Fall Of The South is absolutely spot on for these delightful transitional times, when the sun's out and the heat's coming down, but you can feel fall setting into place all around you. I love how it comes on light and sweet, airy and poppy, with an irresistible rhythm that gradually pulls you into a (still light and sweet, somehow) sound-field of sonic distortion and dissolution. It makes me want to go to the park, run with the hounds, share a pitcher of beers with my friends, climb a tree. And what's more: the whole record is like this, to varying degrees: excellent autumn music. Highly recommended. [Buy it directly from Yep Roc, or wherever good music is sold.]

*The title, by the way, translates to "Light Trickles Through Everything." In case you were curious.

((((^_^))))

Our Lost Weekend: Despite the fact that the weather here has been 200% gorgeous lately, Molls and I ended up spending the bulk of last weekend inside, away from the elements, other people, and social activity of just about every stripe. Why? Well, it goes like this: I missed the opening episodes of Lost last year, and decided to just wait 'till the first season DVD package came out so I could just watch it in a nice, holistic, start-to-finish manner. So it came out last week (too late for the first episode of the second season, which I watched w/o much comprehension) and I rented the first disc on Thursday, thinking I might get through another disc or two by the time the next episode aired. But oh, man. That show is like CRACK. As soon as the first disc was finished, we were scheming to get another "hit." Ended up basically watching almost the entire series through the weekend (the entire series is something like 16 hours and 40 minutes long). It was crazy at the video store too; when I went in there on Thursday, the first disc was almost impossible to get, and by Sunday evening it was the sixth and final disc that people were bartering away their paychecks and firstborn for. (The guys at the videostore were calling the series "the blue demon" based on the predominant color of its packaging.) We finally obtained Disc 6 yesterday and got our minds nice 'n' blown--just in time for tonight's new episode. OMG. 9 PM cannot come soon enough. (check out new all-LOST-all-the-time blog FLIGHT 815, written by famed mp3 blogger Chris Lemon-Red and music critic Jon Caramancia for all kinds of Lost-related goodies!)

Videogame I'm a'waitin for: Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. Don't know if that's the most catchy title I've ever seen, but the premise is pretty much right up my alley: you are an outlaw graffiti artist whose mission is to make a name for himself by coating an imaginary city (apparently it's part NYC and part Kowloon, of all places) with tags, burners, and full on graf masterpieces, under the tutelage of real-life graf artists like Cope2, Futura, Shephard Fairley (Obey), Seen, and Smith. It's full of graf culture nods (when you start out as a novice, the game refers to you as a "toy") and--based on the videos the site has on offer--will feature great graphics and gameplay. And it's all the brainchild of urban fashion impresario Marc Ecko, who ran into trouble with Mayor Bloomberg when he tried to stage a "graffiti party" in NYC to promote the upcoming game. It should be shipping this November.... [headnod to the Dirty Shadows Projekt for the link]

And now: Politix time! Yay! In teensy-tiny font, for maximum reading challenge!
  • Christmas in September: Tom DeLay's indictment. The counterspin against his prosecutor is already in high gear, but fortunately you are smart and know the truth, and won't buy it.
  • Dirty Tricks U.: Where College Republicans go to hone their craft.
  • Our "Pump and Dump" political culture: "Everything from war to tax policy to energy policy to the Medicare bill is a short-term effort to boost the president's political stock, with the long-term costs left to some bigger sucker." As goes Frist, so goes Iraq. [Via The Poor Man Institute]
  • A soldier speaks out against torture and abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq: "If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession." Politiblogger Andrew Sullivan reports that Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying this about the whistleblowing soldier: "Either break him or destroy him, and do it quickly." People are going to try to "swiftboat" Lt. Fishback, the same way they have tried to ruin the reputations of every other person who's spoken out against this rotten-to-the-core administration. It's a culture of fear and repression, folks, and loyalty to the administration and their ever-changing PR messages is all these people care about. Not "honor" or "competence" or "honesty" or any of the other values we'd like to think are what make our country great. Sooner or later you have to take a stand against this kind of thing, if you have any self respect at all.
  • Of course it would be just horrible if Bush was really hitting the bottle again. Simply awful. Though it might explain a few things. Anyway, of all the sober takes on the issue I've read, I thought The Editors' spiel from last Friday was surely the most soberingest.


gimme a holla | 13 hollas heard
Thu 15 September 2005
pulling ourselves free of the undertow

everyone needs a hero


Bing Li Jing "Everyday" - Everyday, in every damn way, I'm gonna sing a song for ya baby! A song for ya baby! Yeah, I know that from a certain perspective this new tune by Bing Li Jing is just the ultimate height of musical fromage, but I'm one of those folks who firmly believes that tough times call for cheesy tunes--or at least a strong playlist or two composed of songs of a decidedly light and airy sort. Because you can't acheive liftoff from bluesland when you're carrying nothing but heavy baggage, y'know? And there's no band better for that special boogie-tastic, leave-your-cares-behind sound than Bing Li Jing, who might argue that his music isn't so much cheesy as "icy creamy" (as every devoted Bing Li Jing fan knows well, his name translates to "ice cream" in Mandarin Chinese). This tasty treat--an ode to good music and the way love can make you feel like a new pair of boots, among other things--comes from Bing Li Jing's upcoming release Fire and Ice Cream, and based on what I've heard of it thus far, it's going to roll forth like a full-force electric fantasy parade, complete with giant baloon animals and claymation clowns. Be ready to lap it up when it comes out.

Bing Li Jing and his Ice Cream Band are really something to see live, by the way. I caught them around midsummer here in SF (their hometown), where they performed to a full house of funky, freaky revelers. A compliment of sexy "Ice Cream Girls" were on hand in the back of the room, preparing free sundaes for those needing a break from the dancefloor heat; later on they adjourned to the balcony and did some booty shakin' of they own. Since that show, Bing Li Jing and band have gone on to establish a monthly residency at the Hollywood branch of the Knitting Factory and have also made the journey to Tokyo, Japan, where they melted hearts and made converts. And now Bing Li Jing is at the CMJ festival in New York City, where he'll be playing a solo set at Max Fish, a Lower East Side bar, next Saturday (Sept. 17). Also on the bill: Bing Li Jing's good friend and frequent collaborator Tommy Guerrero, as well as the Brazilian artist Curumin, who happens to be a new Quannum Records signing. Show starts at 8 pm. Check 'em out if you can!

Jahcoozi "Black Barbie" - Somewhere far from where you're sitting right now, in a shadowy catacomb deep underneath a robot city filled with gigantic steam engines, enormous factories, and coloseums featuring battles between hulking, despondent, doomed cybernetic gladiators, three creatures huddle over decaying machines that skate on the edge of failure, defiantly spinning forth a strange, compelling work of bastard hip-hop. The subject of their song: an otherworldly savior, a woman of superheroic powers and complete disregard for law and convention. As their beats skipstutter and shuffle around samples of long-forgotten radio transmissions, they attempt to conjure up a champion who will set their world right and enable them to see the light again.

This mysterious outfit collectively refers to themselves as Jahcoozi, and in the real world they are MC Sasha Perera, Robot Koch, and Oren Gerliz, a Berlin-based multinational trio that blends hip-hop, dub, and a post-punky, grime-skewed, lo-fi brand of electronica together into a decidedly heady psychotronic stew. You can find this track on the Black Barbie EP (Kitty Yo), which includes a remix by German electro-dub kings Stereotyp and a couple other tracks. [Buy the Black Barbie EP from Forced Exposure (US) or Juno (UK).]

Mylo vs. Miami Sound Machine "Doctor Pressure (Dirty Club Mix)" - Well, if anyone had asked me before I heard this track I would've told them I was pretty much Mylo'ed out on Mylo. The guy hit the club scene like an army of ten thousand last year, what with his debut album Destroy Rock and Roll, his nearly ubiquitous remixes of other artists, and all the versions of "Drop the Pressure" that were floating around by year's end. And by last spring I'd started to feel, well, a bit overrun by the dude, y'know? But then I heard this boot-knockin' blend of his aforementioned signature tune with the Miami Sound Machine's classic Latinized club track "Doctor Beat," and realized that there's always room for a bit more Mylo love in my heart. And maybe a bit of newfound love for the Miami Sound Machine as well. Such is the power of a well-done mashup, I suppose.

"Doctor Pressure" was originally the mutant creation of mashup maestros Phil 'n' Dog, and was strictly bootleg material, not for official resale. But when Mylo happened upon it, he liked it muchly, and after Gloria Estefan and crew gave the track their thumbs up, he made plans to put it on the re-release of Destroy Rock and Roll. And so it was, and is, and shall be: shortly after the track was released, it entered the UK charts at number 3. As a bonus, check out Hexstatic's "Doctor Pressure" video--which was created before Mylo discovered the track--here (click the Multimedia link). [You can buy the Doctor Pressure EP at Juno, and the reissue of Destroy Rock and Roll at record shops throughout the UK.]

Caroline "Where's My Love" - Keeping on the sweet and sugary tip, here's an interesting track by newcomer Caroline, a singer/musician who was born in Japan, educated at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and who currently calls Los Angeles her home. I'll freely admit this song is a bit of an unlikely pick for me, because the lyrics and singing style take the twee syrupy sentimental approach one usually finds in Hallmark cards and Disney cartoon musical interludes--not generally usually my favorite listening material. But the subtle, understated glitchtronica arrangement and production is terrific, and about halfway through the track I always find myself doing a bit of sympathetic swooning despite myself. (I've been trying to blame that reaction on all the cold medicine I've been taking this week, but I don't know how much longer that excuse will last.)

Caroline's been getting much acclaim for this song from the MySpace set for several months now, and it looks like all that underground love has paid off: the label Temporary Residence will be releasing her debut album in March '06. [In the meantime you can pick up the Where's My Love CD single--which includes a remix and a brand new track--directly from her label.]

((((^_^))))

As I hinted above, I've been whammied by an ugly cold this week. I'm typing now during what could be my recovery, or merely a calm period before another onslaught of mucus and blah and groggy exhaustion. I'm not especially interested in going through that again if I don't have to, though I have to admit I do sort of dig the way these colds make my voice all bassoprofundo deep and scratchy. It's fun to talk to my Molls on the phone when my voice is in that state and say Barry White things to her; the illusion holds pretty well until the inevitable moment when I let out three consecutive sneezes (they always come in three, dunno why). Anways, that's my unique excuse for why this post is about a week late. I was sick, and the cats ate my mp3s while I was asleep.

What's good "music to listen to while suffering a cold?" I guess instinctively I'd start with selections from Brian Eno's ambient work, super-laid back gauzy dub, and anything by Iron and Wine. Send me yr playlists.

gimme a holla | 7 hollas heard
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