So this is a little different in that I wanted to focus on particular releases and artists. The stars of this show:
Kate Simko whose new album “Lights Out” raises her profile considerably in the dance music world.
Stewart Walker whose new digital label Son Of Cataclysm takes his techno experimentalism to new depths. The Sweetnighter track is an unreleased demo from his new guitar-based project collaboration with Reynold, aka Sam Rouanet, the label boss of Trenton Records
John Tejada whose new album comes out this week. John is a producer who has released a ton of music, always of the highest quality. I wonder when he sleeps.
Reggie Dokes is one of the 4th or 5th wave of Detroit dance music producers. Detroit is really a crucial center of house music’s renewal, with a long list of amazing musicians making crucial tracks. He’s not as well known as Omar S, or Moodyman, or Theo Parish, but he’s every bit their peer, and I expect him to become even more prominent.
Not a person, but a singular constellation of genre-bending music Hessle Audio just released 116 & Rising, a label retrospective that features 12 new exclusive tracks. It’s the only current label in the UK dance music world about which I’m an absolute completist.
This EMS Putney came into my hands when I purchased it from Iowa City South East Junior High School in 1997. It is one of the unique artifacts of electronic music. The Putney & it’s close relative, the attache-case-housed Synthi, were workhorse synths at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and was a favorite of musicians like Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, and other Space Rock bands of the 70s.
It’s sonic character derives in large part from the cheapness of the design and construction. Moog Synthesizers were laboratory grade audio equipment; the Putney is cheap and difficult to use in a traditional musical context. And yet it was seductive. It’s limitations and imperfections enlarged musican’s ideas of what sounds could be musical.
Delia Derbyshire was one of the pioneers of electronic music during and after her tenure at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. She was both a gifted composer and an audacious and precise engineer. Since seeing her in documentaries, and hearing her music I’m both awed by her and have a synth-geek’s crush on her. She was on my mind as I recorded these pieces, and I dedicate them to her memory.
The 5 parts of this piece were recorded in one evening, with no editing or overdubbing. The Putney was plugged into the Stereo Memory Man pedal, and the pedal was plugged into my computer.
The only post processing applied was normalization. These recordings are as close to the original, raw sound of the instrument as I could make them.
I’ll let go of my obsession with Anika soon, really. But among the interesting covers on her debut record was of “Sadness Hides The Sun,” which was originally recorded by someone called Greta Ann.
As a child of the 60’s I’m always looking for the awesome stuff I missed out on when I was, y’know, eight years old. And listening to the song on Youtube you realize why Anika covered it, it’s a brilliant song. But who was Greta Ann, and where did she go?
A little different than the last few sets I’ve done, as I brought the computer; I just didn’t have enough fresh vinyl for a show. It’s a combination of things that have been on mind, some for months, some as recent as this week. The Darkstar album North has been haunting me since it came out last year. Incredibly moody, emotional music.
Of course, for some of us, Radiohead’s new album King Of Limbs has been a recent obsession. It’s without hit singles, per se, but it does have something of what the Darkstar album has — inventive sound design & production as a way to make emotional connections. The When Saints Go Machine song “Fail Forever” is a recommendation from my son Lucas, who is music director at the Earlham College Radio Station. I never was into Radiohead before Lucas fell hard for them when he was 11; I got him to listen to Arthur Russell, so he knew I’d like anything that had some of that AR magic to it. I’m not sure When Saints Go Machine are Arthur Russell heads, but “Fail Forever” is haunted by him.
And then there’s Anika, who I was turned onto by Peter Kirn’s interview with her. The eponymous Anika is produced by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, and has the sort of dark, noisy, rough production values that make the Jamaican work by Lee Perry and Clement Dodd so compelling. Two of the songs I played appealed to the hippy pacifist in me, Dylan’s “Masters of War” and Greta Ann’s “Sadness Hides The Sun.” Odd, but not that odd, that 60s era protest folks songs are so relevant still. Same assholes killing brown people then as now.
And there are 3 of my tracks, for better or worse. The Pete tracks are meant to get some additional instrumentation added when I can get Pete Balestrieri captured to put down some saxaphone, but I kind of like Music Minus One sounding stuff. Then there’s my shoutout to Muammar Gadaffi, “Hallucinogens in the Nescafe” which I wrote about earlier. He really is an epically evil motherfucker, and sometimes I think he says the hilarious things he does to soften the blow of his unrelenting, remorseless cruelty. He’s not Charlie Sheen, and of course, Charlie Sheen is another real-time tragedy whose humorous aspects can’t be denied.
But I couldn’t resist last night during my show when I tweeted “Thom Yorke doesn’t have tiger blood, innit? Tabby blood maybe.”
On a technical note, this mix is a cleaned up in a few places from the on-air performance — I was warping tracks in a mad rush yesterday and a couple of things were fucked up, resulting in dead air, tracks falling out of time, and one track getting played twice as fast as it ought to have been. There was one hilarious moment when somehow the tempo was following mouse movements when I wasn’t initially aware, so one track swung up and down between 120 and 200 bpm for a few seconds. But I photoshopped that out.
In the Herzog film Strozek Bruno S shows a small sculpture of twisted wire and says “this is a schematic model of how it looks inside Bruno. They’re closing all the doors on him.”
So this track goes out to my boy Muammar Gaddafi; it’s a schematic diagram of how it looks inside Muammar. Thug Life 4Ever, Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya!
Drums: Battery3 with tweaked percussion presets. Funny noises: 2 instances of Reaktor. High synth: Jupiter6 Bass: FM8 Effects: Audiodamage Dubstation delay, Audiodamage Eos reverb, UAD EMT140 Reverb (on filtered snares), a Reaktor BBD delay simulator, UAD LA2 Compressor on some tracks, Audiodamage RoughRider Compressor on others. UAD Pultec EQ on some percussion sounds.
Sequenced in Live, several passes of live recording of effects tweaks. This was actually a track that came together when I was actually focusing on something else — i.e. it was a scratch track to test something.
I don’t like all the music in that mix, but skipping through it reminded me of this map showing the relative sizes of Africa vs other continents,which shows the truth: Africa is huge.
It’s also deep, musically.
Consider for example Just A Band from Kenya, who seamlessly integrate Detroit House beats, Daft Punk, R&B and Hip Hop. Those flammed backbeats kill me. Oh and they’re sort of a boy band. A completely badass African boy Band.
Or check this craziness from Angola, on the compilation Akwaaba Sem Transporte. If you’re following the latest dance music trends, this sounds like Chicago Footwork only with guys rapping over it in Portugese.
This post has been making the rounds this week and I had to respond. Not so much because it needs defending, but because I believe this post fundamentally misunderstands Peanuts and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
“F*ck You, Charlie Brown.” Poor Charles Schultz would cringe to see that; he was a pretty old fashioned guy for whom outbursts like “Darn it!” were strong language. But these days, when coarseness and vulgarity are the order of the day, Schultz is an anachronism. He grew up in Minnesota after all, where being nice is the state religion.
What Peanuts brought to the funny pages was only rarely more than mildly funny, but the occasional wry chuckle it evoked was just a spoonful of sugar to make the strip’s exploration of human failings more palatable. Charlie Brown was insecure and depressed, a victim of the thoughtless cruelty of his friends and his own self-doubt. Lucy was sadistic, self-centered and vain. Linus was in his own world, clinging to his blanket and sucking his thumb. Peppermint Patty was well-meaning but clueless, oblivious to the embarrassment her misguided, blustery invasion of Charlie Brown’s life caused him. Snoopy was just plain nuts, a chymera of doggish impulses and fantasy. Schroeder was self involved, and the only person whose indifference could wound Lucy emotionally.
These characters were the only ones with any emotional authenticity in the funny pages. Peanuts could be occasionally jokey, but it always had heart. Schulz was a committed Christian — one of the real ones who actually worried about what Jesus would do, instead of wearing a plastic bracelet about it. The Peanuts kids had conflicts, indulged in each of the Seven Deadly Sins, but they each had a saving grace: Linus’ compassion, Lucy’s fearlessness, Charlie Brown’s humility, Sally’s innocence, Peppermint Patty’s good cheer. Moreover, Schulz’ treated his characters with loving kindness, even as he looked directly at their failings.
All of the qualities that made Peanuts special were on display in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Maybe you had to be there, but when this show came out in 1965, it was a revelation. There were kids who were sad, angry, cruel, vain, and silly. If you’d grown up on Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and even Miracle Of 34th Street, you were used to candy-colored fantasies and, not to put too fine a point on it, being lied to. Peanuts kids were like the children you knew. They felt real, and you could share their point of view.
There was funny bits, like the Snoopy Dance, and oddly touching stuff, like Linus’ long quote from Luke 2. The message of A Charlie Brown Christmas was that people can set aside their differences and baser impulses and join in community, with compassion for each other and shared joy.
As a Thomas Jefferson Christian, I have learned to appreciate what feels like the true Christian spirit of caritas and let all the supernatural stuff slide. Life and history are stories we tell each other, and reality (as Paul told the Corinthians) is essentially unknowable. Peanuts illustrated the uncertainty, loneliness, and anxiety of life, but also the loving kindness that is the only thing (as Paul said) that abides.
Another thing about Drew Magary’s post: he dismisses the work of Vince Guaraldi as “horrible slow Jazz.” Dude, seriously. I’m admittedly biased because my dad commissioned an orchestral arrangement of the Guaraldi’s music for the Peanuts special, called “The Charlie Brown Suite”, which Guaraldi performed with my dad conducting. Guaraldi used to come to parties at our house and play my mom’s Steinway, before climbing underneath and falling asleep.
“Christmastime is Here” is my favorite modern Christmas song, and Guaraldi’s version of “O Tannenbaum” rescues it from a million hideous Muzak rendition. “Linus and Lucy” is as close to perfect as a Jazz pop song can be. His “A Child Is Born” (Greensleeves) extrapolates the traditional chord sequence into something unexpected and exciting. I loved this music as a child, and as an adult I hear a rare emotional depth in it.
As my Grandmother taught me, it’s impolite to say “I don’t like tomatoes.” One should rather say “I don’t care for tomatoes, thank you.” It’s OK to not enjoy the Peanuts TV specials. Frankly they started out strong with the Christmas and Halloween specials and devolved into annoying kicking-a-dead-horse potboilers. But if you can’t appreciate a work of art in the spirit in which it was intended, “F*ck you” seems like a pretty mean way to address it.
[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-2010-12-04-KRUI.mp3|titles=2010-12-05-KRUI DJ Set|artists=Chaircrusher] http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-2010-12-04-KRUI.mp3 I usually have a track listing, but I left it at the studio last night, so you’re going to have to be surprised. Various 80s dance pop obscurities and hits, some house and a lot of Detroit techno, ending up with the Afx remix of 808 State’s “Flow Coma”
The past 2 Saturday nights I spent in the KRUI studios playing vinyl. I make no great claims for my mixing skills, but I guarantee this is 100% real for better or worse.
Rather than, as I have in the past, manually type in an HTML table, I made my track lists in Google Docs. That, unfortunately, is no way to get clean HTML tables, not only are they formatted for machine eyes only, they have tables nested in tables with annoying breaks. So I embedded the google docs with <iframe>, which has its own formatting annoyances. But it does get the information in this post with a minimum of retyping.
Oh wait, I spent 45 minutes googling around trying to come up with a nicer way to do that, & installed a WordPress plugin that was even fuglier. Oh well…
There’s some overlap in tracks played with my September DJ Mix, but this mix is longer, and starts out with a sampling of the many amazing tracks by the recently-departed and deeply missed Aaron Carl Ragland.
The funny thing about Aaron Carl is that I knew him as a person first and as a fan of his music second. When he came out with his WARMTH compilation last year I did a mix using its tracks, and I began chatting with AC on line, and spoke with him a few times on the phone. It was only after that that I started exploring his catalog and began to realize what a rare, original talent he was. It’s sad when anyone dies, but in AC’s case, he was really coming into his own as a producer and label head, and he was full of great plans both for his own music and of ways to give back to his beloved city of Detroit. When he got sick he had to cancel a European tour that I’m sure would have been a triumph. I really loved the guy, and he will be truly missed.
This is what Google Image Search comes up with if you search for “UK Bass” Sequenced live in Ableton Live — 45 tracks in 99 minutes. Starts at 100 BPM and ends at 142. I find it hard to stick with one particular beat so there are some hectic transitions.
Leslie Hall is, as far as I know, the biggest wacky internet sensation to ever come from the state of Iowa. Hanging out with Leslie at the Iowa State Fair was quite the experience. The woman who shot the video, Lisa Edwards, edited about 10 minutes of me chatting with Leslie to a pithy 30 seconds. Nicely done Lisa!
On the Leslie/video tip, I’m enamored of this song she did for her “Back 2 Back Palz” project:
“…I cannot help but think that it is flat wrong to teach anyone that he or she should not read, or love, or identify with, any book he or she pleases.”
George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, originated a great turn of phrase — “”There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,” and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy.”
Now unlike friend Fox, I’m not a Christian in the Supernatural Sky Father sense of the term, but I evaluate all art on whether it speaks to my condition. And that means that there are no boundaries: I can dig on Omar Souleyman, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Burning Spear, and Ferron. Even though I’m not a Syrian Muslim, an oppressed black man, a Rastafarian or a lesbian.
One of the things that makes them each great artists is that they can speak to my condition — their work is about the specifics of their condition, but there’s nothing narrow or specific about their ability to connect with an audience. I’m with Maria Bustillos on The Phantom Tollbooth. That book fired my imagination and I’ve always been an evangelist for it. In fact, when my brother Sean was still in grade school I gave it to him for his birthday twice the second time because I’d forgotten the first.
To paraphrase Norton Juster, our project should be to swim in the sea of knowledge and get wet. If we put blinders on for any reason no matter how well intentioned, we lose.