May 25, 2007

Thinking Out Loud: Physical vs. Digital

Thinking Out Loud developed from a series of open-ended email conversations and ruminations between Beatz staff members. In this article, Michael F. Gill and Peter Chambers discuss the merits of dance music on vinyl and MP3.


December 22, 2006

2006 Year In Review: Individual Writer Lists

As a companion piece to our 2006 year in review, here are the individual lists/charts from each of our contributors. Happy reading…


September 15, 2006

Robbie Williams - Rudebox

Apparently some people think this is the worst song ever made. I wouldn’t know, since the twelve doesn’t have the radio edit, nor would I care, since the Robbie Williams saga of popular disappointment and considerable national embarrassment was not on my soil or in my internet. Flogging or praising this guy, who was something of the shit in the early 90s I’m finding out, would be no cap-feather of mine. All I know is that the Chicken Lips remix has the monstrous helium-balloon synths and patient disco thrash that all the best CL/Emperor Machine remixes have, and if their “Rudebox” had had one of those naked funk outros a la their “What Else Is There?” remix for Ryksopp, it might have been their best. Chalk up another win for Riton, meanwhile, who put himself back on 2006’s map with that acidfreakout re-rub of “Angerman” and keeps himself on with this vicious maximal groove/minimal melody hard techno remix. Riton’s “Rudebox” could cousin-kiss the Cajmere remix of Juan Maclean’s “Give Me Every Little Thing,” especially given how both turn sung vocals into hoarse, robotic shouts. If you dare: Do the rudebox.

Chrysalis / 12CHS 5161
[Nick Sylvester]

July 14, 2006

Dondolo - Dragon

Tracks like this give punkfunk/discorock its piss-poor reputation. I’m glad Dondolo’s heard “Shack Up” too but that doesn’t mean he needs to tell everybody with his own famished, probably unfinished, sub-ringtone quality take on it. When they should slice like knives, those rhythm guitar strokes hit like paper cuts. The cowbell’s utterly charmless, which is a feat, and the “funky” bassline sounds so forced, so unnatural, a veritable square into the circle hole. Neo-disco flavor of the month Brennan Green does Dondolo a solid by streamlining the mess into bare requisites, giving it a proper breakdown, treating the snare hits with reverb, rewriting the guy’s bassline, etc., etc., etc. so the track’s passable, but he could only do so much without hurting the guy’s feelings. Shit Robot has fewer scruples. While his bass goes upfront overdriven and hiccuping, he turns the rest of Dondolo’s turd into technicolor: a miraculous glaze of old movie theater MGM horn drones, complete with the doppler-like shifts in tone, though the disco melancholy’s intact. There’s a reason they gave Robot the whole back side.

Tiny Sticks / stick 006
[Nick Sylvester]

May 5, 2006

Bus Station John / Tubesteak Connection

Nobody I know ever saw Larry Levan. But can you really separate him from the Paradise Garage as a venue? I mean, the club unexpectedly closed in 1987, and Larry battled drug abuse until 1992 when everything finally caught up with him so his personal history was always distinct from the club, and the era. As much as he did as a DJ, nobody can deny that a movement is never about any one person. Either way, because Ill never see him spin, and Ill never be clubbing at the Garage back in the 80s, all I can do is try to understand what happened and try to appreciate it.

The spirit of what it is that I, in an incredibly limited personal sense, appreciate about that place and time is alive and well. Not just in some metaphysical sense, but in my own city: San Francisco.

Notoriously secretive about where he finds his art, typically 70s gay porno, and endearingly pure about his motives, DJ Bus Station John has been all the rage on the internet for about the last month. Why? Well, anyone who can supply big screen b-boy projections, cheap drinks, early electro rarities, legit italo tracks, funky disco, and danceable champagne soul can find at least one person, in a room packed with people losing their shit, to go home and spread the word.

My first encounter with him was at a club called Aunt Charlies Lounge in the Tenderloin District for a weekly event called Tubesteak Connection. Anyone who has lived, or had an extended stay, in San Francisco knows that the Tenderloin is the neighborhood where sex workers battle pimps and the marginalized heroes of yesteryear beg for change and cigarettes. Even if you have a car, taking a cab is a good idea.

After paying my three bucks, I walk in to a small, dimly red lit room full of drinks clanking, Munich Machine posters, vintage gay porn flickering on a television, and shirtless man dancing to their hearts content. To me, Aunt Charlies isnt a dingy gay bar downtown, its one of the only places that Ive been where you can hear serious early dance music without any sense of self-seriousness. Theres no retro value in any of the mashups, because there are none. Bus Stations style is simply classic to classic via the fade. Its a night all about track selection, not about the DJs ego, and what you are there for is the trip that he wants to take you on. And its great because this is a night where he shows the disco dorks and the disco devoid a perfect place to hook-up: the dancefloor.

Well versed in all of the relevant Mutant Disco, I-Robots, and countless numbers of Italo Disco compilations, I was floored by Bus Station. By the end of the night, and several very strong and inexpensive drinks later, I went home recognizing only one song: Lectric Warriors Robot is Systematic. But the thing about it all was not that he just played random twenty five cent finds off of Prelude Records or TSR, but every song is amazing each one better than the last. First Choice, Invisible Mans Band, Carol Hahn, Fascination, Gina and the Felixix, and Aural Exciters sit next to Lectric Warriors as the nights token oh-yeah-you-obviously-know-this tracks. Um, we do?

But more than anything, its about the music and the energy of the night. Its not about obscurity, or DJ worship, but its about the way that he works the crowd and the environment that he provides. On one hand, the nights are definitely about hooking-up. After all, each event is at a gay club with porno on both the flyers and the projection screens. And I dont want to ignore that aspect of Bus Stations nights. I dont want to gloss over the subcultural context and simply opt for the commodification of someone elses culture. But on the other hand, each event has a certain honesty, a certain what-you-see-is-what-you-get, about it that would prevent scenesters from ever completely infiltrating. And honestly, DJ Bus Station John doesnt seem like the sort of guy whos going to sell out his crowd for a shot in the Cobra Snake or Last Nights Party. When youre at one of his parties, you definitely get the feeling that you are in his world, and youre welcome there but its not about you, or even him for that matter. As I mentioned above, Bus Station seems to embody everything that I can only speculate about the Paradise Garage: movement, energy, a safe community, and fun. Pure, unadulterated fun. So, you can feel good about putting down the black hair dye and grabbing your dancing shoes.

[Cameron Octigan]

May 5, 2006

Shit Robot - Wrong Galaxy

Mallory ODonnell: How the DFA have taken such an immediately identifiable sound and worked upon it in so many different satisfying ways is a great mystery for me, but this is another new single from them that refashions the familiar into the shimmeringly fresh. The A-side and title track is great enough, calling all the old ghosts of EBM and New Beat out to dance on the floor, spinning ’round with them, then finally laying them to rest with a vintage synth stab. B-side “Triumph,” on the other hand, is exactly that. Sounding like they’ve been smoking some of Lindstrom’s killer space disco dust, Shit Robot evoke old and new, everything and nothing in particular with seven-plus minutes of wonky joy. Vintage synthesizer sounds abound, but it’s really the faded chorus of “you got it…” wandering around underneath the beat that sells me on this track. The bastard lovechild of Gonzalaz & Russom’s “Rise (DFA Remix)” and the Juan Maclean.

Nate De Young: If theres been an emphasis of slowing down tempo recently, then Shit Robots Triumph might be best bastard concoction of the current bumpngrind. Playing b-side to Wrong Galaxys electro-and-beyond, Triumph is the stunning slow jam, gently releasing cosmo-synths into the horizon. Underneath it all are DFA-trademarked cowbells and handclaps, coupled with a fuzz-pop guitar line and In-a-Gadda-Vidda floor-toms that gently ease you into the stoned realm between dance and rock. Although you could call it an anthem, Triumph will probably soundtrack more road-trips than Ibiza-tripsmaking the end chants of you got the Earth hypnotically streak past like street lights in the middle of the night.

DFA / dfaemi 2156

May 5, 2006

Charts: May 5 2006

Mallory O’Donnell
Sten - Third Season
Todosantos - Bahia
Shit Robot - Triumph
Telex - How Do You Dance (Tomboy Remix)
Lindstrom & Prins Thomas - En Dag I Mai
Trussel - Love Injection
Stephanie Mills - You Can Get Over
Ashford & Simpson - Street Corner

Ronan Fitzgerald
Steadycam - Knock-Kneed
Anja Schneider - Lily of the Valley
Tabula Rasa - Argon
Dada Life - Bigtime (Linus Loves Mix)
Eyerer and Chopstick - Electric (Williams Mix)
Booka Shade - Movements
I-Robots - Spacer Frau (Boys Noize Mix)
Dash Dude - Revenge of the Nerd (Argy Mix)
M.A.N.D.Y.- Jah (Jona Mix)
Tiga - Essential Mix (Radio 1)

Cameron Octigan
Clashing Egos Aminjig Nebere (I Trust You) (Joakim’s Afrobot mix)
Daft Punk Burnin
Double Vision Clock on the Wall
First Choice Double Cross
In Flagranti Genital Blue Room
Luomo What Good
Matt John Joker Family Park Two
Plastikman Spastik
The Rice Twins For Penny and Alexis
Skyy Lets Turn It Out

Todd Hutlock
Troy Pierce - 25 Bitches (Too Many Bitches Makeover)
69 - Pungtang (Original)
Two Lone Swordsmen - Glide-By Shooting
808 State - Pacific 313
Adam Kroll - Squonk
James Cotton - T-Y-O-C Painkillers (2 AM/FM Remix)
Matt John - Joker Family Park Two
Espiritu - Conquistador (Sabres of Paradise No. 3 Mix)
Linton Kwesi Johnson - Inglan Is a Bitch
Rhythm & Sound - Free for All (Soundstream Remix)

Michael F. Gill
Various Artists - Studio One Soul
Yello - Forward Pussy Cat
Sunbelt - Spin It
Lime - Youre My Magician
Extras - Haven’t Been Funked Enough (Instrumental)
Sly Mongoose - Snakes & Ladder (Rub N Tug Mix)
Avril - French Kiss
Petter - All Together
Paul Nazca Verdure
Terrence Dixon Detroit City Lights

February 24, 2006

Charts: February 24 2006

Guest Chart
Alex Smoke, Soma

01. Sleepless Crew - Spell House
02. Murmur - Section EP
03. Automat - Preludes
04. Tangible - Game Over
05. The Policy Unit - Arp Egg
06. Sixtoo - Songs From “Next: A Primer On Urban Painting”
07. Claro Intelecto - Warehouse Sessions Vol.1
08. Poke - Poker 11:34
09. Villalobos - Achso
10. Break 3000 - Light

Mallory ODonnell
Codebreaker - Caller
Colder - To the Music (Engel Remix)
Chromeo - Needy Girl (Phillipe Zdar Dub)
Telex - On the Road Again (Marco Passarani Remix)
The Knife - Silent Shout (Williams Acidic Cicuits Remix)
Francisco - Venti Venti
Shit Robot - Triumph
Alex Smoke - Meany
Prince - Black Sweat
Ellen Allien & Apparat - Leave Me Alone
Lindstrom & Prins Thomas - Mighty Girl (Feel PM)
Kid Frost - La Raza

Todd Hutlock
0733 - Record Bass Story
Jeff Samuel - Endpoint
New Order - Fine Time (Silk Mix)
Villalobos - For Disco Only 2
Jeff Mills - Circus (reworked)
Underground Resistance - Ma Ya Ya
Berg Nixon - Box Escape EP
Osborne - Daylight (Isolee Rmx)
LNR - Work It To The Bone
Pier Bucci - Familia

Michael F. Gill
[a]pendics Shuffle Dirty Bed
Kirk Degiorgio - EP4
Dominik Eulberg - Blueten Sind Dem Grossen Schillerfalter Fremd
Serafin Starship Discotheque
Kerri Chandler - Sunshine & Twilight
Wookie Battle
Mark E Scared
Tod Foster Dancin
The Glass Family Crazy
Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr Shine On Silver Moon