Category Archives: Photonz

Best of 2009 #3: All is Love

In this post we celebrate the many savants of rhythm who look into the prism of the past, and see the future. In a year emulating the grotty and overcast economic climate of 70’s New York, where we were continually perused by a string of cosmetified gangs for a murder we did not commit, our need for the majesty of disco and her many offspring was stronger than ever. Luckily for us, as we travel a further year from the handlebar moustaches and tinted sunglasses of Italian synth genii, the bongo fueled rebellion of the loft pioneers  and the lusty drum machines of Chicago, their influence appears to be as undiminished as ever.

However, it seems the surrounding wistful revivalism has already begun to move on and retreat.  The need is there, but the hyper-deflated concentration of ‘tastemakers’ has again flicked the grand musical randomiser and thundered off.  As the tide retreats and Juno’s weekly ‘Disco’ email list gets thinner, we’re left with rare gems embedded in the sand.  The sounds of Chicago beckoning our nascent Knuckles.  Indeed, it was a bunch of those meddling ‘indie kids’ that brought Jamie Principle back to teenagers dancefloors this year (but that’s for another post).

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Thankfully, we still have those that care sticking around, those that never left (which Italo revival are we on now?) and those that never cared much for email lists, record store dividers or iTunes genre tags. Time then, to climb aboard the enduring arpeggiation of our peers, and let it take us on a journey through the ecstatic syncopation explorations of 09.

Acid Washed – General Motors, Detroit, America – Frankie Knuckles found out where I live, if only I can reach the light switch in time.

Azari & III – Hungry for the power – Vocannibal House for night walkers.

Black Meteoric Star – Self Titled – A foggy encapsulation of an analogue intelligence.  Brutality in a glove of tape hiss.

Bottin – Horror Disco – Giorgio turns out to Satan, but fear dissipates when you realise he looks like Ned Flanders in a devil costume. Italians most definitely do it better.

Den Haan – Release the beast – The sound of primeval creatures arguing about mathematical equations.

Desire – Under Your Spell – Phil Spector hits the Gallery, all guns blazing. Poetic, slow motion carnage ensues.

Holy Ghost – I Will Come Back – Monstrous Italo hooks pose a threat to the 20jfg hive mind by entirely dominating its synapses.

In Flagranti – Brash and Vulgar – The creepy science teacher left a cassette in your desk. As you watch him being bundled into the police car, you feel strangely aroused.

Joakim – Milky Ways – There’s something strangely messianical about your new employee, the ‘Colin’ name badge you gave him now reads ‘he can do no wrong’.

The Juan Maclean – The Future Will Come – RIP Jerry Fuchs.  See why.

Lindstrøm & Christabelle – Real Life Is No Cool – Making Kosmische-Funk acceptable. Actually, making it pretty awesome.

Mutant Beat Dance – In a Daze – Beautifully deranged vocal house from the villa of our beloved Discos Capablanca, also one of the best intros of 09 IOHO.

Pictureplane – Dark Rift – A Euro-Trance tape run through a disintegrating deck, one hand slowing the motor until the air is turned to crystal.

Professor Genius – Heaven Sent – The speakers in the Delorian emanate further saw-wave broadcasts from the pulsating mind of the professor.

Silver Columns – Brow Beaten – We bow to Pinglewood‘s description: “this song sounds like Jimmy Somerville playing Mario Kart and that can only be a good thing.”

Slava – Dreaming Tiger – Jean-Luc Ponty goes on a 3 day bender and the results are stunningly somniferous.

Sorcerer – Chemise (Neon Lenon) – On constant rotation in the 20jfg jacuzzi room whilst we platonically scrub each others backs.

Subway – Xam – Any piece of dance music where the drums don’t come in until 4 and a half minutes, is always going to blow us away.

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From Disco to House with the click of a mouse, whilst the production rate of original tracks seemed to falter somewhat, picking a re-edit from 09 is something akin to selecting the favourite molecule in your body. We don’t dare tell you where ours is, only that we called him Goliath. Back in summer, whilst we were coolin’ out in the blood filled hot-tub with our reptilian honeyz, Ze Records unleashed a selection of reassemblages old and new from their vaults. Most were of the highest order, so for those of you out there trapped in the frosty void, with the delerium of summer a faded half-concept that you cannot attribute to memory or imagination, we present an assurance that it was in fact, real.

Gichy Dans Beachwood no 9 – On a Day Like Today (Todd Terje friendly children edit)

As is traditional, Todd amputates the songsmithery of the original to reveal a delightful refrain of innocents. They circle you, hands held, whilst the pagan lord lights the tinder piled at your feet, to incite a most rapturous of combustions.

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Terminal Twilight are so happening. Snow swirls outside the windows of the 20JFG demesne as the crystal fractals of ‘The Lovers’ begin to spread their own special brand of frosty magic all across the lounge. This is sparse soulful minimalism at its lethargic best, up there with the sweet android power ballads of our Italian comrades- think Chris and Cosey on a walkabout across strange rooms shrouded in layer after layer of scented mist, past which a confederation of strange shadows lurk- desires, questions, the id of the princess trapped in the heights of an ivory tower rising over the smog of orange LA vistas, this is a tunnel connecting it all, get strutting.

Terminal Twilight- The Lovers

The Terminal Twilight 12” is coming out on the 18th of January. You can pre-order it here.

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Deliberately omitted from the list above so we could write some extended gush in the space below are Pink Stallone. These purveyors of the loose wowed us in 09, and although the ‘hotly tipped’ label is both gift and curse, we received subconcious transmissions from the dancefloors of ‘010 telling us they were aching for their future wax. The memory of the aggregator is already nearing capacity with their data, so we push for joyous overload with exclusive mix.

Pink Stallone – 20jfg Mixtape

Recorded live at the reception of our unholy union to the cold blooded chicks of the summer, we lost the scroll containing the tracklist after a scuffle broke out between one of us and a rather unconvincing man in a lizard costume, who turned up claiming to be one of their husbands. We don’t have to tell you who won, cus our scalez is real. The scroll has been fedexed to us so if you’re hungry for the knowledge check back on this post in a few days.

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Something that will not be continuing in ‘010 is the covert operations of Dissident Records. Their vinyl-only idealism brought us a myriad of vintage dance activists including Gatto Fritto, Ali Renault and Casionova amongst others. But sadly there’s little means to facilitate the more wanton aspects of human nature in ideal ideologies. As such, their purity of vision in a zero attention-span digital world may well have spelled their demise.

Let’s strut for a trip down memory lane on how this awesome label fed into the hallucinations of 20jazzfunkgreats, in case you didn’t catch them the first time around. Listen, shed a tear, crack your knuckles and follow their example. And go to Juno and scope the vinyl, because it has a price, but it’s priceless:

Binary Chaffinch- Guitar Shaped Heart

Brassica-The Centre

The Off-Key Hat-Emergency Calling

The Off-Key Hat- This is not…

Photonz- Shaboo (Andy’s Edit)

We pay our respects to the dearly departed, and wish our man Andy Blake the best of luck with his future projects. One of which being the World Unknown party in Brixton tonight.

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The Stars My Destination

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The Thinker knows everything that goes on this side of the Galaxy, and most of what goes on the other side as well. We arrange to rendezvous in one of those lawless bars set-up in the basement of a building somewhere in the ruins of Lower Manhattan, which I should find through a guide-pill that once digested creates a humming drone inside the skull that increases as you approach the destination. This is a slightly sadistic way of getting someone somewhere, but then the Thinker is quite devious like that. The pill, which the Thinker somehow manages to smuggle in my pharmaceutical supply whenever he wants to have a chat, is the key to a location that slips through the contours of my genetic architecture, and as such useless for anyone who might intercept it, something that seems unlikely to happen, but then the Thinker is quite paranoid like that.

So picture me hovering in the night above the Stygian ossuary of concrete bones into which Lower Manhattan was turned during the war with the Bugs, trying to determine whether the hum drilling in my head increases when I turn left or right, kind of funny, I have to admit. Maybe the Thinker is playing tricks again, but then he is, well, he is a bastard 100% certified, but he also has the information a freelancing exothenologist like myself needs to keep going in this bizarre line of business: retrieving alien artefacts from abandoned ruins in the boundary between the known galaxies and the gulfs of silence and mystery beyond. Places of opportunity for an entrepreneur, places the Thinker finds using two warehouses crammed with mainframe computers crawling through infinitely expanding data-feeds from the galactic grapevine.

The humming has become almost unbearable now, so I guess my destination lies below, I leave the Lexus flyer floating on standby at a safe height with seven lethal security systems on red alert, and descend hesitant, fires burn amongst the rubble down there, blinking more uncertain than the constellations light-years above.

I feel vertigo as always, not because I am walking down an invisible staircase of thin air supported by a pair of smelly second hand gravity boots, about to land in the midst of a post-apocalyptic scenario inhabited by mutants and primitives, nah, that’s just the context of the situation, my heart is beating faster at the prospect of another expedition into the unknown, I am addicted to this shit, what can I do.

I am getting closer now, once I step inside the vectors defining the X that marks the spot the prize kicks in, a piece of music extracted from the Thinker’s vaults which sets the mood for the rendezvous, ah, we must be the last pair of romantics left in this stinking ball of mud, or at least that’s what we like to think.

Discodromo- Cosmorama (Brennan Green Dromo Arigatoo Remix)

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The Vangelis cruiser hides a couple of surprises under a mangy chassis tattooed with graffiti scrawled in ten alien languages, and the love-bites of a hundred asteroids. The most important ones are a K-class reactor enabling it to make quantum jumps across more dimensions that you would care to imagine, and a small black hole generator rather useful as a hiding place when one is smuggling alien goods past the stern rangers that patrol the frontiers of known space.

Ariadne, the ships’ Artificial Intelligence always says that when this miniature black hole is activated she feels a void inside, as if her navel had became a hole through which the sands of time and space slide with a hiss- Alas, she was initially designed to manage the archives of the English Literature Department in a forgotten University, and seems to be imbued with a taste for the poetic. This doesn’t stop her from being the most efficient AI I have had the pleasure of working with, plus hearing quotes from Homer, Nietzsche and Conrad when we step into the black voids of theoretical physics as a first step towards our destination makes me feel the way I want to be made to feel in those occasions.

Whenever I am in some dingey watering-hole in Earth, or Mars, or Cassiopea, or wherever, they are all the same, trying to describe to the drunk bum sitting by my side how it is to use the K-class reactor to jump across dimensions I find myself resorting to the same metaphor: you can’t see anything special happening, because your senses are not designed to see the reconfiguration in space and time which occurs at the Quantum level when the jump takes place. You can’t hear anything special. You can’t smell anything special. But you do feel something, you feel like a silver ball being shot into a three-dimensional pinball, hit by cosmic flaps and disappearing through rabbit holes to materialise somewhere else, suddenly you become ten identical balls all clinging and clanging hysterically, sometimes you stop in place static or become invisible but somehow keep hitting against the bumpers, tumbling down the smiling cardboard faces of Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Richard Feynman as the astronomical distances being undertaken accumulate chink*chink*chink in red LED numbers somewhere in the RAM of Ariadne’s subconscious.

You feel this at the atomic level, way deeper than the gargantuan synaptic distances between neurons, it is weird, knowing that your body and your conscience are dissolving and being simultaneously reconfigured, sometimes going back in time, a million times while the jump takes place, it gives me the creeps, but also takes me to the place I want to go.

Photonz- Shaboo (Andy’s Edit)

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It was another operation to remember, death and craziness, battling the algorithmic traps which protected the alien ruins like ancient Egyptian curses, I lost two members of the crew then and there, and another one we had to jettison into space when it became obvious he had been exposed to a exo-virus that almost crashed Ariadne when she tried to analyse it. At that point he was too far gone into the space of evolutive possibilities to even notice. I think we should have burned it rather than leave it floating in the void, maybe alive and ready to board some careless ship, but then one never knows how will these things react to fire. Oh well, that guy was aware of the possible mess he was getting into when he decided to join the trip, I will make a good contribution to the Scavenger Guild as a gesture of good will, another name etched in the memorial plaques of their vast halls.

Regarding what we found, well, what did we find? We have been manipulating the Alien artefact with robotic titanium arms inside an isolation chamber strong enough to contain an atomic conflagration of medium intensity, but no idea yet. This is a very important step of the exothenological process: identifying the properties of our bounty shall determine the potential buyer- new materials and compounds for corporations and weapons for the army. Even if we can’t find any practical use for it, I am sure some rich collector will be happy to pay millions of credits for it once its origin is verified by an independent analyst, hang it in the walls of his zero-gee pleasure palace somewhere in Saturns’ Lagrangian orbit, like some piece of modern art designed for an intractable purpose, perhaps even art originally? Who knows what went through the brains, or whatever passes for brains of these extinct alien civilisations?

Anyhow, the siren of the isolation chamber has started ringing, might this be some sort of breakthrough in our investigation, or have we started a chain-reaction that will blow up the continent? It is always exciting times in this future we live in!

The Thinker’s synthetic and I approach the portholes drilled into the thick walls, even the figure by my side seems thrilled in spite of being nothing more than an empty biological vessel being remotely operated from whatever dungeon the Thinker is currently holed up in. We behold the strange dance of the robotic arms juggling with the perfect cube which we retrieved from the labyrinthine ruins of the asteroid, small, finer and more precise appendixes being deployed like the fragile legs of a water insect, tracing lines in the smooth surfaces of the enigmatic artefact, identifying some sort of pattern which is repeated in the air like the passes of a prestidigitator, so that a mechanism can be suddenly activated, a crack opens in the side of the cube, a box with invisible hinges inside which a tiny ballerina has started to spin slowly while frail tones fills the sterilised silence of the Isolation chamber with a melancholic melody, picture us staring at our robot carefully holding in its mechanical hands a music box with a golden dedication to Elizabeth, a human memento saved from the voids of the forgotten by aliens to which we were aliens too.

What the hell are we going to do with this?

Roland Sebastian Faber- Molekular

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This post was inspired by M. John Harrison’s ‘Light’ and William Gibson’s ‘Count Zero’

Images: Ruins Ship Ballerina

About the music:

Brennan Green already showed that he could pull a Carpenter in the slow-burning ‘Escape from Chinatown’. Well, he’s done it again in his thumping remix of Discodromo’s Cosmorama, released by wonderful Internasjonal. You can imagine Snake Plissken sneaking around the ruins of NYC under the synthetic clouds of this nefarious thriller.

Dissident keep it phuture with Photonz’ Shaboo, a menacingly seductive hybrid of jacking acid house and bleepy old skool hardcore that should set the right dancefloors on fire with sinuous moves, killer!

Aube records bring us Wettkampf der Moleküle, the second release by vintage electronica wunderkind Roland Sebastian Faber, who continues on the beautiful path sketched by Vangelis and early Jarre with a blissful sequence of melodic chains written, in synthetic language, on the whiteboards of our imagination.