Posts Tagged ‘techno’

forecast for 2011: ill music ahead.

January 8, 2011

…and another post about fresh and exciting new music. Welcome to 2011.

I should admit at the outset that musically it’s hard for me to contain my excitement; for some reason it just seems as though all the music I’ve been hearing lately is amazing. And quite a lot of the electronic dance music I’ve been hearing is really beginning to unsettle a lot of my assumptions about what that category really means. There’s just a lot of good music coming out lately. It’s an exciting time to be interested in producing music – really an exciting time for absolutely anyone interested in envisioning the future of what the “music industry” might be like.

New stuff I’ve been hearing is fresh, and interesting, and dope – and more and more, blurring the lines between genres of electronic music faster than new ones can be created. And some of the new “genres” that have been cropping up reflect (at least to me and my ironic sensibilities) some serious grasping at straws. I mean, “brostep?” “Post-dubstep?” “Future bass”?

Actually, I think the latter is sort of innovative…but overall, what does this ever-abounding and increasing proliferation of genres really signify?

And if it almost seems like a sign of desperation (this persistent generation of new categories that struggle to keep up with the unclassifiability of the more hybrid and unclassifiable new frontiers of electronic dance music today), isn’t such desperation perhaps a positive indication? It seems like our capacity for naming things is frenetically being outpaced by the creativity and originality of a lot of the newer dance music of the past couple of years. (And I’m not just referring to developments in “dubstep,” “UK funky,” and “future bass” but also to newer stuff I’ve been hearing in the somewhat more well-established genres of drum & bass, minimal house, techno, grime…really the list goes on and on.) All I can say is, wicked. Bring on the freshness for 2011!

Commence my list of some of the freshness that’s been gracing my ears lately:

First to top off the list is IKONIKA. Ikonika, a.k.a. Sara Abdel-Hamid is KILLING it right now. I really liked her track Dckhdbtch (click the link to give it a listen via Boomkat). Definitely buying some of her stuff. She’s also going to be playing a few dates stateside and at MUTEK this year, so watch for that, especially if you’re in NY or LA.

I have Resident Advisor to thank for the following lead: a cutting-edge label from Germany called Fachwerk (myspace | mix / interview via RA).

I know it’s 2011, but I’m still craving more Basic Channel (site | digital releases via Boomkat ). I just bought a couple releases from the Scion sessions. Deep, deep, deep.

More music updates to follow shortly. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Portishead will make their move back into the studio and put out new material in the foreseeable future. Their last album, while different and perhaps challenging in certain ways, was good – at least, I liked it a lot, and so did other Portishead fans I talked to. I’m looking forward to hearing new stuff coming out of the Duck Down camp (will most likely be copping Buckshot’s forthcoming book – and speaking of hip-hop literature, the forthcoming book from Malice of the Clipse called Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind, and Naked will be on the “must cop” list as well.) Overall I don’t even have much to say about hip-hop right now except that I’m well behind the times – but I do think this is a great time for hip-hop. There is tons of great stuff coming out and a high likelihood of lots more in 2011.

What else, what else? Oh yeah – I’m still really behind on the dubstep front, but one name has already captured my attention: Ramadanman (siteApplePips podcast). Great producer, and awesomely cool name too I might add. I just purchased the Ramadanman E.P. from last year, which he put out on his own imprint, Hessle Audio. I can’t resist posting the video for the last track on the E.P.: breathtakingly awesome jungle amazingness:

And, of course, there is so much more good music that’s been coming out that I’d love to write about. But it is now the following day from when I began this blog entry (no, I wasn’t writing continuously – I put it on hold last night to buy mp3s and go mix at a friend’s house), and now the shower is calling. Happy 2011 to all my bassheads, friends, and people everywhere!

music to check out…(a free association)

August 13, 2009

For someone that loves music and listens to all kinds of it, I am decidedly unadventurous about it. I don’t really buy music – that is, I pretty much only buy vinyl, and when I do it’s usually somewhat DJ oriented, and in any case I only really by stuff I come across in a shop or online.

So here I’m compiling a short list of music I’m interested in checking out (or maybe listening to a little bit more). I’m going to let it build for a little while; I think the results might be surprising.

I guess I’ve been listening to so much electronic stuff for a while that I need to diversify a bit. I’m going to try to represent some of the breadth of the musical styles that interest me in this list, and then hopefully I’ll develop some ideas of stuff to track down.

Although basically I think there are more or less two categories: newer releases or stuff I’ve missed in genres I’m pretty familiar with, and more obscure / indie / avant-garde stuff I’ve never really come across. Or actually that isn’t right at all. It’s that there’s some stuff I’m familiar with, but would like to become more so – like Sonic Youth or Fugazi (I know, weird examples) – and then other stuff that I haven’t really heard but know I would like to – like Kayo Dot, or Merzbow, or more J Dilla stuff since I’m always a couple years behind everyone else (these really are some strange examples).

Perhaps strangely, topping of the list (and the only artist that really comes to mind at the moment) is Angels of Light – which for those who don’t know is more or less the solo project of Michael Gira (Swans).

OK, this list isn’t going to make sense to anyone else anyway. So, yeah:

Angels of Light (I love the Swans. Gira is a genius. Gotta pick up at least one album)

Fugazi (I know – I’m way behind. I’ve only really listened to Repeater all the way through)

New Order (not as familiar as I should be. I have one of their much, much later albums)

Merzbow (I’ve only heard about one song they did with Discordance Axis. I’d be interested in hearing some of their stuff)

Swans (I already know and love ’em. But I need to summon up courage and listen to their back-catalog – like pre ’89. As well as just listen more to the rest of their stuff)

Sonic Youth (I really am not familiar with their stuff much)

Bikini Kill (never heard their stuff. I probably should)

The Replacements (never listened to them, feel like I should at least check them out)

(the direction this list is taking is really unexpected, but then I guess it’s a success)

Husker Du (I’ve listened to some of Bob Mould’s solo stuff, maybe I should add these guys in at this point – it seems apropos)

Desert Sessions (I wish I could put Kyuss on the list but I’ve listened to everything they’ve put out, really – except Desert Sessions)

Kayo Dot (I have all three Maudlin of the Well albums and love them, seen Kayo Dot play, loved them… now I just have to pick up their albums)

Discordance Axis (specifically The Inalienable Dreamless. I’ve listened to a lot of their other stuff. This is one of the only grindcore bands I listen to)

hm. I just actually contemplated adding Napalm Death to the list. I think I’m getting way off track here. Going to post this now. Look forward to future edits – and oh. Suggestions please (especially if you can recommend some good industrial. Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails are about the extent of my familiarity).

P.S. I can’t believe how much rock music is on this list. To my readers that don’t know me (and maybe even those that do) this list could be really misleading about my current listening habits. I basically listen to rock music once every two weeks (that should explain why there’s hardly anything contemporary about my list). But for my appalling ignorance there would be way more house music represented here. I need some help here. Or maybe just need to get out more.

I do want to get the new Martyn album (Great Lengths), and anything that D-Bridge releases (either by himself or on his label – there, click on the link and listen to the songs in the beatport player. that’s more the kind of stuff I’ve been listening to. oh, and even more so stuff like this, this, or this. you really should click on one or two of those.) And yeah it goes without saying: when it comes to Chain Reaction, Basic Channel, Rhythm & Sound – more. . . I just can’t get enough of it. (Discovering these labels…maybe it’s something like…I don’t know, the appropriate religious metaphor fails me.)

OK, it’s late. Enough. I’m off to sleep. Love to you all.

obscure beauty from the black sun

August 9, 2009

That title probably made this post sound more interesting than it will actually be.

I’m listening to a song off an E.P. I’ve long wanted to listen to but never had until last week: Black Sun Empire‘s Smoke E.P. on DSCI4.

The track that inspired this blog post was the title track, Smoke. Those who aren’t drum & bass heads might listen and wonder what the big deal was about, whereas drum & bass heads might contemptuously respond simply by asserting that the track is “old” (yeah…so?).

This track is a classic example of the style of tech-step pioneered by DSCI4. It doesn’t necessarily transgress the sort of general boundaries of that style, but I think it does exemplify the style almost perfectly. I love how Black Sun Empire can sit their drums perfectly in the mix; they don’t rely on ultra-compressed, distorted kick and huge snare to carry the entire dynamics of the track, but rather the breaks feel restrained. Instead of feeling cliche, as in many drum and bass tracks, the breaks occupy just enough space to provide structure and flow to what’s happening – and what is happening always involves some melodic intelligence and transition.

After thinking about it, though, I think what most impresses me about Black Sun Empire – and this track in general – is the way they integrate all the elements together in the mixdown. That careful precision of the mixing – to me – is as much an element of style as the aesthetic defined by their choice of samples, especially that definitive sounding stab…and it is this sense of controlled precision (at odds with the sort of menacing ambience so often evoked by the synths / samples they select) that more than anything else at that time evokes techno. (The sharpness of their drum samples and the uber-compressed cymbals that punctuate them have become a much more familiar trope by now, but I think this is something that Black Sun Empire really innovated in many ways).

And plus, this track does something else I love. Listen for the change in the second break right before the bassline comes back in…

This probably sounds overly technical, nerdy, and slightly irrelevant – all of which it is. But the feeling I had that prompted me to write this blog isn’t.

While I have been guilty of it as well (and so I’ll avoid polemicizing overly much), I think there is a widespread conceit (no doubt a proper direction for deconstructive critique) in our culture as I understand it, at least, that holds art – and especially music – to be something that offers an almost mystically transcendent experience…and this is especially evident to me in the way musicians are idealized, as though gifted with some prophetic or visionary insight somehow inexplicably lacking in the rest of us (from John Lennon to Bob Marley to Jim Morrison to 2Pac – not to mention Michael Jackson, there seems to be a cult of personality associated with music almost unparalled by anything else I can think of).

But great music isn’t achieved only through some intangible wellspring of creativity (and I would dispute those who idealize either this supposed “quality” or the process by which it is thought to produce the tangible product we ultimately enjoy so greatly). There is also the (much-reviled) technical knowledge – and experimentation, and innovation and yes, discipline that plays a role. When electronic music is stigmatized or marginalized, I wonder about the extent to which an aesthetic is at play that fetishizes the inexplicability of human processes of expression – and ultimately, I would argue, the human “creator” as well – as privileged agent of creativity. When what is heard is not solely or primarily the result of vibrations produced in a tactile, physical manner by human hands, feet, or breath, but mediated instead by systems of circuitry, software (and furthermore is often comprised of auditory objects already recorded), and sequencing – it would seem that for some, the media produced can no longer unreservedly be regarded as “music.”

And yet, to denigrate electronic music (usually out of ignorance – and perhaps also out of fear?) is to kill the messenger.

Now how the hell did I get on this tangent?

There’s something about the mechanization of rhythm in this Black Sun Empire track on an obscure EP released by DSCI4 in 2002 that is just lovely – and, I think, a precursor of things to come. Now, if you haven’t already, go click the link and listen to it at least once through.

DSCI4