Whether your with Dunbar on music and dance evolving as mass social grooming, Darwin and his strutting peacock, or feel dancing and music is tickling the brain in ways nature cannot, dancing is a part of our humanity and has been for a very long time. 2011 was a good time for music you could dance too…
Lindstrøm : De Javu When you play a Lindstrom track in your dj set its always difficult to follow. It’s normally difficult to know what to play it after too becuase, lets face it, no one else makes records that sound like this. The new album Six Cups Of Rebel is out on Small Town Supersound in February.
Buy : De Javu
James Fox: New Jack Swing James Fox laces pristine mid-tempo dance with some silky new jack swing vibes, projecting us inside an utopia of white and honey which is to mainstream house music what romance is to porn.
We are believers in the possibility of a non-fucked up after-hours club where the tribes congregate to squeeze the last ounce of physical sweetness of the ephemeral night, rather than gurn their way into infinity. If that place exists, this is its theme tune.
Buy: New Jack Swing
SebastiAn: Love In Motion Feat. Mayer Hawthrone More Stones Throw related goodness by way of the loudest Banger on Ed’s roster pitching Patrick Cowley’s Lift Off Down to an unmistakably Purple Oneesqu slowed clap groove.
Buy : Love in motion
Machinedrum: Come1 Riding last year’s bubbling up of Juke and snapping it into a piano-house ghost-ballad workout. With an opening the hits right in the feet and then proceeds to gently let up over the next six minutes Come1 is the reverse of most dancefloor equations. Drawing you in with it’s hedonistic intensity from the off then taking you on a tour of its sorrow.
The whole album’s a near effortless reminder of how good dance albums can be. building upon a Footwerk foundation to deliver everything from a dancefloor Boards of Canada (Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real) to one of the most cathartically maudlin pieces of music this year in Lay Me Down (which has the audacity to not actually be the last track on the album).
Graphics: Adjectival E Well Rounded are quickly and efficiently becoming a treasure of the Brighton Vs. Hove demilitarised zone. Graphics is the second release on offshoot, Well Rounded Individuals and is a towering example of Fractured British Dance Music. A sliced vocal looped and buried under fabric-thin waves of synth washes haunts the intricate drum programming and sweeping siren-calls that interleave and enchant. Which is not to say it’s adverse to a break and a surging refrain, that’d be silly.
Den Haan: Gods From Outer Space Bandying “macho disco” around like leather, sweat, and guitar riffs were about to go out of fashion Gods From Outer Space is probably more fun that you can actually ever have in a club, but with this as your soundtrack it would be impossible not to try.
D/R/U/G/S: Connected Connected doesn’t waste much time bringing its snippets of Techno and House to bear on the floor. Far too much has been written about ghostly reconfigurations of former genre glories and the pillars that this stands upon are amply described by the track itself in the opening minute and a half. Exercising aCraig-ian approach to the build, the drop finally arrives and the euphoria is suitably unleashed. Not ones to paddle in the pool of anti-intellectual hedonism, 20JFG are satiated by the wiring machine ballet that seems to underpin the ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE HANDS IN THE AIR PIANO HOUSE that forms the back end of the track.
Magic Touch: I can Feel the Heat Imagine a unicorn leaping out of an original pre-hipster/Urban Outfitters post-everything appropriation 1980s t-shirt, into a rainbow pond of everything that’s awesome about disco music, and out again into the garden of eternal delights that lies beyond, where it dries itself with an almighty shake, droplets of joy splattering all over in a kaleidoscopic rain which is photographed with minimum exposure, the ensuing images (or their emotional equivalent) are then pressed on vinyl for the whole world to dance to.
Buy: I can Feel the Heat
Ital: Ital’s Theme Ital soundtracks the muscular leaving party for a space marine squadron. A glimpse out of battered portholes onto the uniquely specular beauty of crystalline asteroids, for a moment…before the pounding of the room draws their attention back to the dancefloor with a heaving, looping ecstatic roll of wave after wave of 23rd century Italo instrumentals.
Buy: Ital’s theme
Death in Vegas: Trans-Love Energies Richard Fearless returned with a 7+ minute track referencing the soundtrack to New York’s The Loft and the UK Acid House scene featuring the considerable vocal talents of Katie Stelmanis of Austra, and we couldn’t stop playing it. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a 30min extended remix. The rest of the album wasn’t bad either.
Buy : Trans-love Energies
Austra : Beat and the Pulse EP This Domino records early 2011 release of haunted industrial folk has, deservedly, has stayed with us all year.
Buy : Beat and The Pulse
Hans Tanza: An Audience with Hans Tanza Nutjob consultant extraordinaire Hans Tanza convenes a board meetingto discuss the quarterly impacts of psy-trance flotations on the futures market of electro-acoustic academia circa 1976
Mi Ami: Dolphins EP Mi Ami’s vessel plunges through a forest of cyclopean futurist hulks, its distorting, tape-bent beats pounding off the walls. High above Gavin Russom watches from a former car insurance office (now sans walls) and smiles to himself in the knowledge that there are others. Glancing upwards for a moment he catches the forms of Derrick May and Carl Craig huddling around a fire, lit on an equally exposed floor of an old financial institution. Down below the vessel nears the source of the sound as light cascades from the rising sun. Hundreds of people throb around a fire giving thanks to those who came before, those who provided us with such riches. A badly painted cloth hangs from an old piece of corporate art and reads: ‘Things should be made anew before they are destroyed again.’
Virgo: Resurrection (reissue) To call this life-changing is no exaggeration. Imagine the most intimate moment of ‘It’s You’ by ESP’ time stretched across a 3 hour movie about Jamie Principle floating on the ethereal plane and perhaps you’re getting there.
Daphni: JIAOLONG001 While we found Caribou’s recent album to be not as up our street as the previous few we did very much enjoy the Daphni remix project which re-visited the gratuitous psychedelic elements we loved about Caribou’s sound.
Buy : JIAOLONG001
Wheez-ie: All Werked Up EP Texan Juke desperado Wheez-ie’s veers between hardcore footwork punishment and futuristic heartbreak – ‘Leave her Alone’ hovers above the battlefield like the X-Men’s Storm, convening from the summer skies a purple hurricane of emotion at whose eye spins a silver music box delicate ballerina.
Buy: All Werked Up
Xander Harris: I want more than Just Blood/Urban Gothic If you like your drum programming hand built from the Dopplereffekt textbook of absolute rigidity, and your synth lines played straight from the pained claws of The Phantom of Paradise, then Xander Harris is the pick for you.
Innergaze: Shadow Disco Innergaze take us in a strut through a parallel land where mirrors, glitter and dances are the holy sacraments of a mainstream religion whose father is Liquid Liquid (on a dubby bender), the son is Daniel Wang and the holy spirit Arthur Russell. On its journey it collects a thousand scuzz tropes and redistributes them across a skeletal groove so lazy, it makes E.S.G sound like a clinical minimal techno project devised by the appointed keepers of metronomic purity. Spectral hedonism, that’s our new calling.
Buy: Shadow Disco.
Factory Floor: Various 12’’ Factory Floor strip dance music down to its bare components, and configure them with the grim nonchalance of a murder squad retained by the black ops soviet. Synth loops blast like machine language glyphs straight off Nitzer Ebb’s and Front 242 body music usage dictionary. The motorik beats read like input-output flows in a 5 year programme of industrial production that measures results in terms of sweat. The shards of distortion are cruelly designed to produce collateral damage, demoralization and mass surrender.
And then there’s this…
Zomby: Dedication Zomby buries us in a frozen dead ocean, where we float surrounded by a constellation of discrete music molecules floating in stasis. They recall the past (massively compressed Jarre, blocks of primary colour which are the slices of a Jan Hammer gradient) but aren’t it. Rather, evolved echoes, nano-designed DNA blueprints for a future fauna of Cupertino Panthers and fractal wing dragonflies.
Lumpen Nobleman: Grusha Lumpen Nobleman’s (no link, alas) is all about the deepness, the abyssal and the sub-dermal, ochre drones awesome like the ornate dome of a defiled Orthodox monastery breaking through the mist, grim commandoes in ghillie suits pulling their best Snake moves up the snowy hill, an inhuman metronome ticks away at the heart of the ruins, counting down the time left for the start of the paranormal firefight.
FWY: Ventura EP We continue our love affair with Edmund Xavier and his FWY’s trucker techno-gamelan escapades. Watch out for the title track’s superb melancholy drone, like Cormac McCarthy’s existential cowboy gazing into a neuromantic dead-channel sky, a moment before stepping past the borderline.
The Passenger: \_| The Passenger’s \_| combines Armando’s optimistic bass rumbling, Orbital’s playful chimes, Wendy Carlos binary fairy-telling and the sort of acid riffs that Plastikman would have come up with if he had been commissioned to update Maurice Sendak’s bibliography, in collaboration with Paper Rad.
Pye Corner Audio: Black Mill Tapes Vol.2. The first post witch house record? Made by someone who probably never heard of witch house? Slow techno and radiophonic electronic passed through a hauntology filter to create one hell of an immersive experience. Why this isn’t on everyone’s albums of the year list is mystifying.
Buy : Black Mill Tapes Vol.2.
You enter a white office with a metal desk. It takes you a few seconds to notice a man sitting behind the desk because he really feels like part of the furniture. A replicant, obviously. He starts droning:
“Welcome to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation recruitment Office. We are looking for pilots for our class Schumpeter ships and you look like one who would be up for that kind of pan-galactic adventuring.
Lovely sights: close to home, the vast vistas of new Mars, further away the tinkling fuzz of a pregnant nebula, a supernova that blinds like the new strobes at God’s own discotheque. Join us and you are guaranteed to become the soul of the dinner or the party.
And if you are one for sports, remember that the Schumpeter class is equipped with a squadron of fighter drones armed with nuclear warheads, six gun-pods, high-bandwidth info-system infiltrators and a space marine fire-team straight out of your most shameful teenage White Dwarf fantasies.
Although the primary function of the Schumpeter is freight between the planet branches of Weyland-Yutani, all of this hardware means you can start a bit of creative destruction of your own if anyone attempts to contest our markets.
What do you say kid, are the stars your destination, or what?
You say yes of course [We know we should have given you the choice given the nature of this whole exercise but COME ON].
You are sedated and mag-levitated into an operations theatre where a smiling-eyed team of surgeons pump you with all sorts of synthetic liquids. They remove several key bones of your skeleton and drill sockets in your spine and wrists. They extirpate your eyes. By the time they are done with you, you look like the chrysalis for a future race evolved in a forlorn exoplanet.
You are now the ship navigator, submerged in a vat of amniotic fluid. You are the nervous system of this Schumpeter Class-system bad-boy christened by a Christian Bale lookalike in the orbital docks. They call you SOPHISTICATED BOOM BOOM.
Soon enough, you realise your body is great for partying. In Space, there’s nobody to complain about the noise. The colours are great, and so is the invisible rainbow of powerful radiations seeping through your shields. The strange behaviours and antics of the crew inside you make you buzz. In particular, there’s this gang of Jamaican ex-pats who have read too much William Gibson and Sufi literature. They garland your Syd Mead corridors with hydroponic gardens, and shimmy through them banging the walls with sticks of smart nano-materials. You spread the virus of neo-calypso through the Orion Arm of this Galaxy.
Space battling, privateering and fending off pirates are all variants of romance, seduction and sex.
We’ll spare you clichés inspired by the lewd remarks graffitied in the tip of your mass destruction ordnance, and what happens to your weird vital sequences when that ordnance hits the target. Ditto when it’s the other way around.
But when you cast your flotilla of fighters and the volume of space you can parse expands by an order of x106 , and you have to be supported by a coterie of muscular AIs to cope with the avalanche of feelings pumping down your every nerve, it’s like being rid by demons summoned by a fucked-up gang of Nobel prizes. You love it.
There is also great satisfaction in the day to day routine of moving matter across astounding distances, being a responsible sprite in the complex system that keeps the economy, the society and the culture of a thousand words pumping along just fine and dandy. As you go down the learning curve, your actions become more efficient, supple and graceful, the skeleton of a happy house where you are pure movement.
But of course there is a coda for your ballet through the playground of humanity: you cannot stay there forever, you need to go beyond. You bide your time, and your time comes: Excession. An inexplicable and intractable object arrives at Perseus, a ball of pure no-information acting as a magnet for cranks, treasure-hunters, You. A confederacy of weirdoes converge upon this thing.
You gaze at it like one gazes at the abyss, and the thing gazes back, you feel its ‘sight’ arriving from a new dimension, and in an inversion of Heisenberg’s principle, its attention carries a message, a gestalt snapshot of a place of pure colours where mercy is a meaningless idea because all things communion as one. You are necessarily drawn in by its infinite strength.
As you accelerate past the outer boundaries of its event horizon, you shed more and more metal until you are reduced to pure soul.
2013 ReferencesFirst of all, we were very upset about the passing of Iain M. Banks. Rest in peace/mess up with morally lagging civilisations from your newly sublimed position Mr. Banks. The ship is by Chris Foss of course. Ike Yard was featured in Sandwell District’s ace 69 Fabric mix = Giedi Prime foreman’s favourite sounds to whip their drones into a productivity frenzy. With their second 12’’ in Optimo, Golden Teacher explored the different paths through which percussive rattling can bring about the singularity. Meanwhile, Blondes’ Swisher took us into some sort of ecstasy space which is like all of the best bits about a Sonar rave at 5am, if such events made you a better person. We have been waiting for Factory Floor’s album for years now, and it sure delivers. Each of its songs – hold on, each of the shards of sound within each of its songs – is structurally perfect like some sort of new composite custom-made to undergird environments whose single purpose is to Jack. Oh, and we never made it back from Carter Tutti’s techno-mass at Heaven.
You may be aware that members of the 20jazzfunkgreats community infiltrated the sprawling Barcelonan fields where Primavera Sound took place last week. This was a great endeavour for us crowd-challenged agoraphobes, but one that bore its fruit in many a mind-blowing concert. It is with retrospective wisdom that your rapporteur has come to realise how great the overall thing was, in spite of some software issues that you may have heard about or experienced, and a lingering feeling that the whole event has reached a scale beyond what we can manage. The reason why such hijinks and concerns have faded into nothingness as we recovered from our festivalesque exertions is dead simple: some of the best shows we have seen this year, or any other year, took place at Primavera Sound 2011.
Rather than engage in a protracted description of the craziness and glory of that went on, we will over the coming weeks be referring to the festival and the acts therein represented when it feels relevant. Let us begin with Factory Floor, who utterly obliterated the ATP stage on Thursday night, with some help from one Chris Carter.
Factory Floor strip dance music down to its bare components, and configure them with the grim nonchalance of a murder squad retained by the black ops soviet. Think Dutch’s squad in Predator with no wisecracking and a snappy Helghan fashion sense.
Synth loops blast like machine language glyphs that could be translated into simple instructions such as ‘ATTACK’, ‘EXTERMINATE’, ‘CARPET BOMBING’, ‘TAKE NO PRISONERS’ or ‘FIX YOUR BAYONETS’, all straight off Nitzer Ebb’s and Front 242 body music usage dictionary. The motorik beats read like input-output flows in a 5 year programme of industrial production that measures results in terms of sweat. The shards of distortion are cruelly designed to produce collateral damage, demoralization and mass surrender.
It isn’t user friendly music, this militaristic acid groove thing, it leaves psychical scars in the shape of weird flashbacks of a tour of duty in a stressful zone of asexual physical release and automated dance alienation. It is quite fucked up and in a class of its own. Get on it if you dare.
You can find the Chris Carter remix above on this Blast First 12.
Led Er Est may well be your scribe’s favourite representatives of the new wave of cold wave (followed by Xeno and Oaklander and Blank Dogs). They have just released May, a new six-track EP with Captured Tracks, and it truly is a sweet follow up on their Dust on Common LP (one of the best albums of 2009, go get if you haven’t yet – vinyl here).
Above you can see House Plants’ video for Lonesome XOXO, an Adam Curtis-esque stream of consciousness collage of archive footage representing violent globalisation and commercial spectacle, two removers of individual agency easily linkable to the contemporary angst manifest in this paradoxically catchy dark pop hit.
In our world populated with sci-fi allagories — dark hulking things, scrapping their battered metal bulk over the purple plains of twin sunned planets — we sometimes cannot help but retreat to the warm caverns of the discothèque. A place of nebulous identity, a relativistic space of individualists and solidarity. It is dark in there for a reason.
A Ballardian conflagration of the hi-tech and sexual; the sounds of electronic music so intractably bound in the aural flourishes of lasers and deep space. Booming like stars and metallic. Vast and often beautifully empty. The forces shaping those sounds, not immediately those of craft and intricacy, but something more elemental, more eternal.
Factory Floor‘s entry into this space seems drenched in the entrails of Industrial Records. A dry black birth into a space that plays so effortlessly with brutal dehumanisation and finds beauty every, single, time. The throbbing pulse to ~ (R E A L L O V E), ritualistic and mind-controlling; relentless and comforting. A heartbeat to an impossibly vast machine. Optimo (in the form of Twitch and Dave Clarke) turn the speeding pulse from a hurtling descend into a controlled glide the makes expert use of the electro-thermal currants drifting up from the haciendas below. Nik Colk’s vocal paces between the beats and beams, delivering her lines from every corner, sometimes barely heard, sometimes brushing just by your ear. The juggernaut of early electro noise barely contained as if caught by intractable tides, constantly ready to overwhelm and gorgeously relentless.
~(R E A L L O V E) (Optimo Remix) is taken from the forthcoming Optimo Music 12″ out on April 6th.
Design A Wave take another route. Far from descending from a cloud-black sky they emerge from an ice-flow; glacial, blue and pristine. Magicar is a neon-lit Fortress of Solitude, a dance party for geological processes: glacial disco.
Magicar is taken from the Snake Jam tape out soon on (our good friends) Sex is Disgusting Records. the tape itself is made up of tracks culled from a four year period (2005-2009) but manages to slip right in to these days of synth-wave obsession. This takes us back to a time when Glass Candy and Chromatics filled these dark pages with ethereal delights and for that, we are grateful.
As your mind struggles to deal with the philosophical horrors of the singularity, a tree sprouts into view in front of you. Of Knowledge or Of Life you’re not quite sure, distracted as you are by your synthesised neurones firing off faster than your consciousness can handle.
Your mind — now massively parallelised between various secret inter-continental locations — is breaking down in much the same way that a cartoon car does at high speed. Certain parts are tearing themselves away from your conscious while all the time more trees appear. And is that a mountain range?
A mystic appears just as your memory of school (aged 13-16) is overwritten by a swap file for the Gutenberg Archives.
“My apologies,” says the mystic, “we weren’t quite prepared for the affect this whole process would have…on your reality…do you see?”
You stare blankly at him/her as you assimilate Sumerian and all recorded material on John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez — at the cost of your ability to regulate your heartbeat. You didn’t need that anyway.
“We have made for you this place.”
The trees have formed a forest and the sky is being textured. The lighting on the mountains still isn’t quite right but the way it currently filters through the leaves is quite beautiful.
Fielded – Eve of a New Moon
“You must wait here. I will return once we have decided what to do.”
Your feet touch down on the cool damp grass. Before you is a large stone worn flat. Atop the stone is a goblet containing what looks like mead. A few meters behind this is an imposing stone wall. Set into this wall are a pair of enormous iron gates.
2013 ReferencesIllustration by Ricardo Garbini for JLB’s The Circular Ruins which is totally about a rampant AI with amnesia. Finally, three of our favourite groupings of music people got together to put out this: http://youtu.be/nskM0V2OkYM Click the names to buy the music: Diego García, Omar Souleyman, William Onyeabor, Mazes, Slackk, Fielded, Not Waving, Seance centre.
One of the wonders of the Internet is how it allows curmudgeonly little bastards like ourselves to launch arbitrary assaults on whatever novel fad that happens to slip into the wrong side of the soiled bed where we lay, like the unwelcome head of a shit stallion running ahead of the pack of popular culture.
We whisper at it with wet lips. This is what dawns look like in our decayed habitat.
It is teenage vampires which concern us today, those pale and pseudo-satanic cherubs with chiselled jaws and gelled hair which have infested the wistful minds of confused youths, like acceptable role models for anorexia because the digestive system of the undead is a barren land, like Patrick Swayzee in dirty dancing if only a non-descript post-emo outfit was the house band.
Nay we say to these avatars of kitsch ferality, nay, we were weaned on the stench of Dracul the impaler, rotten gums encrusted with millennial blood-clots under a mantle of fungal Transilvanian soil, on the impressionistic shadows of Nosferatu’s derelict demesne, on Brian Lumley’s trashy Necromantic chronicles, where the wampyr thrives on the body of the infected like a cthonian cancer, projecting leprous tentacles across deformed fangs to feast on the blood of the victim, on the cryptic masquerade of the World of Darkness as illustrated by Tim Bradstreet, under the showers of gore of the slaughterhouse rave that Blade gatecrashed, even on the new wave rebellion of the Lost Boys, surely soon to be remade, perchance inadvertent antecedent of the blight that afflicts us today.
Nay we say, let us retch engulfed by the whiff of the second hand haemoglobin nourishing these super-evolved leeches, let us stare into their corrupted pupils stretching like rusty razorblades over yellow iris beyond which unhinged bloodlust lays, no morality, no restraint, these guys are not pretty, they don’t want to sleep with you, they don’t want to show off their superhuman speed like quarterbacks strutting their feathers in front of quivering cheerleaders, no, they are monsters roaming in a misty land beyond good and evil, in their lonely and sad world thirst rules absolute, you are prey, nothing else.
Some time ago we had the perverse pleasure of introducing you to the macabre delights of Mueran Humanos. Theirs are Gothic echoes of Argentina, from Argentum, latin for silver which kills werewolves, and sometimes vampires too, but also the material of which the knives wielded at satanic masses are forged, echoes we say, echoes that spread across the authoritarian landscapes of Possession-era Berlin like ink stolen from an apocryphal sequel of the house of leaves, now set in pock-marked concrete whence mouths stretch agape frozen in a silent shout.
Remember the dazzling urban landscapes of Demons? You should, smudge them with a layer of surrealism straight off a Lynch noire and slip into unsettling dreams where a coven of devilishly handsome cyphers stare at you in silence, stern examiners in the viva voce for a doctorate in the dark arts, with telepathic tendrils which are Leones en China they scour your mind in a psychic carpet-bomb operation worth of Spacemen 3’s esoteric brethren.
Over the conflagration levitates disembodied Carmen, like a Death’s Head Hawkmoth, her croon that of a rapporteur broadcasting from a dantesque scenario of satanic distortion and fluttering raven wings.
Mueran Humanos are looking for a label to release the album. Get in touch with them, the rest of it is as good as this.
The kinaesthetic optical output of EBM is a strobe shower of pillars of white light framing muscular shapes clad in leather, golden pendants dangling off ears protruding from emaciated faces, shaven scalps.
If we close the sensory loop back into sound we are confronted with the archetypical paranoid bassline, that which harkens back to a Nitzer Ebb gangbang, to a Front 242 manhunt, to a DAF riot, shock-waves project us into a tactile realm of bondage fantasies and cybernetic interfacing, the body revels against such intrusion, vomits itself back to a mechanistic dome of audiopain where beats pummel with the indifferent precision of hateful machinery.
Past this gauntlet we escape into ideological spaces where the propaganda of nihilistic politics spreads across synaptic circuits firing up like baroque weapons systems commissioned by a deranged military complex.
Faced with this lethal battery we leap into the level below.
Into another quagmire.
Like Cabaret Voltaire said, quoting the Seeds, there’s No Escape. From our hunters, or the thrill of this chase.
So here ends our descent into underbelly of the prince of darkness, a spiderleg forest leading to genitalia shrivelled like the putrescent carcass of an antediluvian white worm. The Bram Stoker reference is surely apt, for isn’t he the one who resurrected the wampyr like some clueless Transilvanian peasant spilling blood upon the tomb where Peter Cushing thought he had finally, and once and for all, laid the sucker to rest? He did, he did.
Brusque Twins’ ‘Black and Without Eyes’ brings to mind Jonathan Harker’s excursions into the forbidden sections of Dracul’s rotten manor, orchestral manoeuvres of a deathly ballet which begin down dusty corridors decorated with faded portraits projecting holographic memories of the father replicant, and continue into the boudoir that precedes damned bliss, past a door of heavy oak into a bedroom where the Wives lure the meek Englishman with mesmerising chants like venus flytraps of undead flesh, synthetic stabs stand for the caress of fangs against puritan skin, staccato drum machines for lusty foreplay against animated mannequins.
It would all be a wonderful tale of sexual awakening if it wasn’t for the fact that this millenial succubi are Satan’s own whores, weaned on the tender flesh of innocent babies.