Category Archives: The Off Key Hat

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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Worshipping at the foot of a hyper-chromatic totem

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Stand in awe for some wickedly elegant nocturnal strutting brought to you by those masters of all things dark and metallic, Dissident. In ‘Emergency Calling’ the latest release by this most excellent record label, the Off-Key Hat go starkly soulful with a majestic piece of mid-tempo synthetic swing laced with a crunchy bassline that should make the Italian crew utter an amazed ‘madonna’. The perfectly produced blend of harsh arpeggios, pumping beats and melting stream-of-conciousness vocals bring to mind the best of early-era Chicago House, I am talking Frankie Knuckles and Mr. Fingers here, top styles, nuff said.

The Off-Key Hat- Emergency Calling

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And talking about arpeggio flips, here you have a tasty morsel of Minimal Wave by Graham Philip D’Ancey endowed with a lil’ bit of this and a lil’ bit of that- His 12” ‘Sacred Project‘ put out by the selfsame legendary US label is class all over, Sacred Dance is our favourite, jacking slow motion robotic glam with some native american chanting and guitar solos to boot, LSD tends not to be massively associated with minimal wave styles but that whole hyperreal overblown twin orange suns rising behind the impressions of fleeting vultures is the effect that this tune achieves, there.

Graham Philip D’Ancey- Sacred Dance

Astral playboys

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Johan Agebjörn is a constant source of good times at 20JFG HQ. Besides his excellent labour of pop sorcery piloting a tear-shaped time machine which that shy diva of snow fractal disco loveliness Sally Shapiro rides across the pink seas of pop awesomeness, his mindblowing remixes (we can’t wait to post the synthetic percussive techno odyssey into which he has transformed Lindstrom’s ‘Grand Ideas’), he also has a penchant for ambient, as demonstrated in his debut album, ‘Mossebo’, just released by Lotuspike. It is from there that ‘Ambient Computer dance’ is taken. This tune, inspired by early Autechre also reminds us of the heavenly synthetic landscapes created by Chris and Cosey.

Listening to it makes us think of astonishing panoramic vistas rendered in pale LCD green over the inky black of a command-line menu, altitude lines defining a minimalistic mountain range over which we glide gracefully in the arms of warm electronic currents, like a robotic carrier pigeon flapping slender wings of chrome to deliver a message of love in a faraway place.

Johan Agebjorn- Ambient Computer Dance

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Dissident continue blowing the flames of our faith on the future of abstract/physical dance music with their new release by the mysterious The Off Key Hat. It seems that the kids who know their shit are lapping up this brutalistic ‘Moroder via jacking bleepy Eurotechno’ kool aid like warhounds in a bloodsplattered tundra, and we very much understand why, there is a pensive aggressiveness to this whole operation manifest in those pretty utopian robo-melodies towards the end which elevates our spirits like some lost nugget of Jarre style melancholy soundtracking the muscular flexing and pumping of a gym full of tattooed Ray Bradbury obsessed lycra’d hunks

The Off Key Hat- This is Not…

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We reckon up and coming New Jersey kids Pink Stallone might be headed for places of greatness with their melancholic nouveau disco moves, you can notice the scintillating scent of 20JFG faves Glass Candy in their music, as well as the epic riffage of a Jan Hammer dusky strut, but processed thru one of those digitalising devices that turned Jeff Bridges into the program to end them all, and one that could cry too (it was the Eighties!).

Pink Stallone- Swiss Ambulance

Swiss Ambulance is total immersion in a solution of colloidal neon melodies inside which you find yourself suspended surrounded by phosphorescent algae which tinkle with nostalgic echoes of old school italo, if only you replaced the cocaine with codeine, hence all those red dragon tails coiling sexy around you. Yikes!

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And after all this nuanced intrumentalism, let us say bye for the day with with a piece of lyrical excess by the hand of proper back in the day Super Radio avengers Heartbreak, more particularly the sweet remix of Soul Transplant ‘somewhere in between Rimini and Cologne’ that our best pals Allez Allez have come up with, for devastating effect. Now, we are onto some serious shit here, a pure feral dancefloor hands in the air slo-mo skrunker sliding like an electronic boa constrictor luscious between the gatorskin trousered legs of a vocal performance so over the top we’d be excused for thinking that passion was back in pop (or it was the Eighties!).

Now set the sky on fire kids, with total high energy,

Heartbreak- Soul Transplant (Allez Allez Remix)

VISUAL BONUS

Johan sent us this unofficial video of the awesome Rude 66 remix of Spacer Woman from Mars made by Iris B. Cegarra, Psychedela, word!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNH6fQpfNfE[/youtube]

WE LIVE EAST OF COMPTON STREET

SATURDAY, last of the summer (?)

Penthouse 8-1AM

With the usual sounds: prog. disco. cosmic. primitivism and stupidity.

Free entry cheap drinks and special guests- a bit like this but the other way around:

Love to the furies & tommy boy