#026: Questione Seria!
his time on Beatz, reviews of new releases from Greg Wilson, Cosmo Vitelli, and Sasse as well as new stuff from Plong! and BBE. But first, we have Peter Chambers debating how strong the links between nightclubbing and dance music really are.
From the Sex Drive to Beyond the Death Drive (via the Hard Drive)
The link between nightclubbing and music has always been tenuous at best. Classical music fans go out to listen to Mozart, Stones fans (still) go to see Jagger pout and strut. What do clubbers do? Clubbers go out to get wasted. Oh, and pull. Pilling and pulling (in that order) with music the distant, impoverished third link—functional for some, ornamental for most. The music is necessary, but it’s more of a soundtrack to a shared abuse trajectory than anything that people are passionate about. It’s noticeable only by its absence, like the saloon piano falling silent in a Western. The fact is that, qualitatively and quantitatively, we’re talking about a drug culture that uses music, not a music culture that uses drugs. Mikey, the drummer from Spinal Tap, really had his finger on this pulse, when he said, “Well… like, personally, I like to think about sex and drugs and rock’n’roll, you know, that’s my life… But as long as there is, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock’n’roll.”
Mikey, like the blissful majority of clubbers, is under no illusions. But then there’s those others… you know, those silly people who think that groove-based electronic music is, well, an artform ‘n’ stuff. Absurd people. Fools. Me, for example. What do you do if you want to go out, want to listen to some techno, want to have a dance? What’s a guy gotta do? Well, first of all, you’re going to have to wait until it’s late, until the wee-smalls cave in on themselves, until time becomes a wounded snail and you’re already well on the wrong side of Sunday morning. “What is it with you electronic music people?!” a photographer who covered the Red Bull Music Academy asked me recently. I get asked, “Can you make sure you get down and get some pics of DJ Blah-di-Blah’s set tonight?” “Sure,” I ask, “What time’s he playing?” “Five in the morning! For God’s sake, whose hours are those?’ I tried to explain to him that five AM is a respectable lunch time in Spain, but my dig couldn’t evade the truth his question laid bare: whose hours are those?
Well, I hate to be the fella that says, “Dude, why is there an elephant in the room?” But, the truth is that those are the hours of four groups of people: bakers, religious ascetics, insomniacs, and amphetamine users. A real hardcore beer user might get all bendy and make it ‘til five, but it’s the exception, not the rule. Only when large numbers of people are on amphetamines can there be a room full of munters who are not only awake, but who feel like having a good ‘ol boogie at 8 AM. Maybe that’s your idea of fun. If I’m not wasted, it’s a grim foretaste of eternity.
So you reach this untenable situation that’s either intensely pleasurable, darkly humorous, or tantamount to torture, depending on how you’re getting on with your pleasure and reality principles. Clubbing’s fine if you wanna tie one on, but what if you don’t want to get munted? What if you don’t smoke, or don’t even drink? What if you have to concentrate on Sunday, or it’s your only day off, or it’s your only chance to shop for groceries, develop your own musical interest, or fill those pesky potholes in your lawn? Even if it is a whole lotta fun, in the long term, it’s just not compatible with human flourishing. And then there’s the cruel irony when you realize the status quo ain’t gonna go changing, no siree. Not when the very things that make listening to music in clubs unbearable are the same conditions that ensure its profitable sustainability. So what’s it gonna take to change? Or how much?
Well, the rise of methamphetamines has solved this problem, at least temporarily. You can out-dance the death-drive, then come home, mount your partner for four hours, and still find time to polish off a literary masterpiece and two bottles of whiskey before collapsing into the loving arms of oblivion. But what about Monday? And Tuesday? And your teeth? But apart from that, it’s just great. If a bright idea is represented by a light-bulb, what does it mean that you smoke Tina out of the broken end of one? So my biographical solution to this systemic problem has been simple: I don’t go out anymore. It’s not ideal, but something had to give, and the nightlife was all take-take-take.
In certain ways, it doesn’t really matter. The internet has meant that I now have access to more incredible music than I have time to listen to, and in between downloading last night’s incredible set from Berlin and listening to it with a portable hard-drive and high-quality headphones, I stumble blissfully (and rhythmically) through the cityscape with two cans full of heaven. Last year I nearly lost it listening to Roman Flugel playing in Frankfurt, while I was in a freakin’ second-hand bookstore in the Australian suburbs. In some strange way, information technology has made everyone a DJ. As one “real” DJ said to me, the difference between a person with an iPod and a “real” DJ is that the “real” DJ plays out. That’s it. It seemed trite at first, but the truth of it has stuck. If I can get all the latest tracks for free online, Ableton can beat-match them for me and I can listen to them in an environment that’s cheap, convenient, and allows me to hear the music in the order I prefer, at a quality far above and beyond what’s presented in most clubs, why the hell would I go out anyway?
Online information networks have enabled diffuse communities of like-minded people to create a common space of critical appreciation and sharing. It’s great, but if it’s Jack, then it’s Jack the bodiless. It makes something like a dividual disco, this strange, paradoxical shared/private space that manages to be at once the promise of a universal language and the very thing that makes going out to dance to music with other “real” people less and less probable. You might be sitting opposite the girl who you were chatting with last night online—and she may be the only sexy girl in the world who likes sleeparchive. But how would you know? And if you did, would you even feel comfortable talking to her in the flesh?
Clubbing’s done the full fling with me—I’ve gone from the sex drive to beyond the death drive, via the hard-drive. My new musical community’s got everything but anybody—and I want Jack back. House nation, anyone?
Redux / REDUX001
Last year's Credit to the Edit was, for many, one of the reissues of the year, as long-time Manchester DJ Greg Wilson served up some of his finest disco, funk, electro, and boogie re-edits. The three tracks on Hardcore Boogie are Wilson's own, created using the same techniques as his re-edits, but with more layers of different source songs and various vocals thrown on top. In other words: bootlegs. "Hardcore Boogie" cuts in some orgiastic female panting and a vocoder-ized Bambaataa over a roller-disco loop. "Chocolate Factor" is an unqualified masterpiece—nearly fourteen minutes of Chocolate Milk's "Who's Getting It Now" atop a mesmerizing set of funk bass and stabs. The result is an early-morning danceathon that's the essence of boogie—spare enough to be ageless, forceful enough to keep the dedicated groover in total body-lock. The last track, "DD & Rakim" mixes Eric B & Rakim's well-worn "I Know You Got Soul" and a James Brown grunt scratched at 45 (from Dubble D's "Squelch") to create an almost introspective, broken beat-esque jazzscape. Essential productions from a living legend.
Alland Byallo / Ed Davenport
Buckets / Swantalk
Liebe Detail / ld13
Liebe Detail consolidate their reputation for quietly-confident minimal tech-house with another split/winner, this time from San Franciscan Alland Byallo and London’s Ed Davenport. Byallo’s “Buckets” is a pail full of finely twined synth lines. The business end sounds generically tech-mnml, but it’s the nicely placed melody that grooves and builds on the soundbed that keeps one coming back. It moves out of loop formation with a nod to Broker/Dealer or Mathew Jonson, then detunes and growls a little for the breakdown like a neat, house-trained version of Sweetlight’s “Abusator.” Davenport’s “Swantalk” spreads itself over the Ableton-standard length of nine minutes, but fortunately it’s fairly worth the time spent, as the track builds and breaks around a Luciano-ish mnmlatino melody that sings into the big spaces made by the slowly swaying groove.
The Truth Blending Consortium
Plong! / Plong! 22
Plong! has always released interesting, irritating music, so Dibaba’s EP fits right at home on the label. The title track hints at an anthem-leaning Areal number or one of Denis Karimani’s electro-dirt disco destroyers, until the 80s pop-vocal comes in and gives proceedings a strangely conflicted feel. The net result sounds like the disquieting mash-up of a computer-game’s theme music and a forgotten ‘87 crooner hit, and for all I know, it is. Like Mark Twain once said about Wagner, “It’s not as bad as it sounds.” Anders Ilar’s remix lifts the Scandinavian sad-sack out of the usual glummery of his icy outings. It’s not only the happiest sounding thing Ilar has laid his knobs to, it also reins in some of the more irksome elements in the title track. The B-side reaches for the now well-worn “farty basslines” (see: “Human After All”) template common to ‘lectro ‘lovin clubbers to create a club-functional track with a growly ass. It hums and grinds, but doesn’t really buzz me.
Sasse feat. Malte
Up to You
Moodmusic / MOOD 045
Playhouse headz would know Malte’s distinctive vocals from some of Losoul’s greatest tracks, like the Cameo cribbing “Lies” and his “I know they’re meaningful, but of what exactly I cannot say” part on “You Know.” Sasse’s original sits quite comfortably between 80s synth-pop and the pop-leaning minimal-house outings of Ware artists of yore. Are we witnessing a vocal house renaissance? If so, let’s hope the lyricists dig deeper than fare here and elsewhere (Koehnke/Leyers), which seems to borrow from the pseudo-philosophy of those Successories posters that arseholes who work in marketing stick on their office partition walls to remind them to “believe and achieve.” Anja Schneider’s mix ditches the main floor for the space typical to her own Mobilee productions, which is either (not the dreaded mnml again!) exquisitely sparse or deadly boring, depending on your point of view. I like it. Naughty’s mixes wear their sunglasses at night. This one turns the synth into that “dadnk-dnk dnk dnk dnk” rhythm that made his Silver and Gold EP such a trucker. The Drum Cult mix brings in a bigger kick and foregrounds some synth pads that give it a strange Satoshi Tomiie/Twilo feel, especially with the reverb added to the vocal. There’s a whole lotta interpretation going on here, but the net result is more a study in remixology than a satisfying music release.
BBE / BBE 12 041
Singer Alice Smith, brassily-voiced and unknown, helms this set of vocal and instrumental remixes from two decided non-unknowns—Freeform Five and Maurice Fulton. One in a long line of BBE's soulful house cuts, "Love Endeavor" revolves around a simple, supple bassline and a slowly accumulating wave of percussion. Freeform Five balance the vocal with an electro tinge and build to an early-house workout complete with what sound like spoons. Maurice Fulton drops a good deal of the vocal out and wields the higher end of Smith's register into a simmering gospel breakdown featuring delectably spare use of piano fills. Quite good, if a bit workmanlike at times—I'll be intrigued to hear what else Alice comes up with on her own.
I'm A Cliché / CLICHÉ 009
Like you, I checked this out for the Quiet Village remix. It's OK—basically bigger drum breaks and a pronounced italo stutter over electro-house that's more funky than Franco—but the surprise winner is the a-side. Questione Seria! Next to earlier twelves of CV's, which were boiler if you ask me, this platter's much more streamlined, less about the build, more about the groove (i.e. if Archigram were blacker, spacier, more Norwegian). And actually "I Feel Space" might be a nice foil here: if that track was all icy blues, "Delayer" is bright red and yellows, and up there with that Kris Menace/Lifelike "I Feel Music..." remix as one of the best filter tracks this year.
Mathias Schaffhauser, Ware
Ricardo Villalobos – Unflug / Good Groove & Yapacc Remix [Frisbee Tracks]
Bond & Blome – Tentacular [Sender]
Five Green Circle – Ochim EP [Meerestief]
NDKJ – Pimp / from „Put It Where You Want It EP“ [Maschine]
Oliver Koletzki – Follow Up / Kiki Remix [Stil vor Talent]
V.A. – Mobilée Remix Series Vol. 4 / Daniel Stefanik Remix [Mobilée]
Agnès – Is She He [Einmaleinsmusik]
Garnica – The Lucky Guy [Galaktika ]
And.id – Panakia EP [Ware]
Mathias Schaffhäuser vs. V.A. – RE:2 / Vinyl Selection [Multicolor]
Greg Wilson - Chocolate Factor [Redux]
Alice Smith - Love Endevour (Maurice Fulton Remix) [BBE]
Sessomatto - Movin' On (Joey Negro Remixes) [Z Records]
Tantra - The Double LP [Importe/12]
V/A - El Mejor Italo-Disco De Los 80's [Contrasena]
Skatebård - Midnight Magic [Digitalo Enterprises]
Matt & Kim - Matt & Kim [IHEARTCOMIX]
Blowfly - Blowfly's Disco Party [Weird World]
Michael F. Gill
Alan Banford – Delanox [F1]
Pheek – Magda Had A Little Troll ([a]pendics.shuffle remix) [Clever Music]
Freddie Mercury - Love Kills (More Order Rework By The Glimmers) [Parlophone]
John Dahlback - My Secret [Acid 80 Italy]
Jetone - Sufraise II [Apnea]
Arpanet - Event Horizon (Instrumental) [Record Makers]
Umwelt - Kiss In The Dark [Satamile Records]
Das Kraftfuttermischwerk - Monotonism [Tendenzen Freier Entfaltung]
Rekleiner - Sideways [Catwash Records]
Phase - Espresso [Ingoma]
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-11-10