Funafuji, “Smush Smush” (Soundcloud 2014): 43 minutes of soul-wise hi-tech slow jams from a newly-arrived New Yorker. Welcome! (NYCentric: tonight at Deep Space, early…)  

Derrick Carter’s Chicago House Blend Coffee by Dark Matter Coffee. The type of artist-local brand relationship that’s easy-to-applaud. From afar. Up close, I hope Dark Matter coffee peeps ain’t shady, and that the java gets you properly jacking. (Sorry, I had to) Comes with a mix (obviously) in the form of a limited edition cassette to the first 150 buyers. (Full disclosure: haven’t heard the mix, not co-signing it…yet.)

Derrick Carter’s Chicago House Blend Coffee by Dark Matter Coffee. The type of artist-local brand relationship that’s easy-to-applaud. From afar. Up close, I hope Dark Matter coffee peeps ain’t shady, and that the java gets you properly jacking. (Sorry, I had to) Comes with a mix (obviously) in the form of a limited edition cassette to the first 150 buyers. (Full disclosure: haven’t heard the mix, not co-signing it…yet.)

Real Life Techno Monthly: Age of Dance

Thomas Rogers, “Berghain: The Secretive, Sex-Fueled World of Techno’s Coolest Club” (Rolling Stone, February 6, 2014) // Moritz Von Oswald @ The Bunker, Output, Brooklyn (February 8, 2014) // The Man From Tomorrow (dir. Jacqueline Caux, feat. Jeff Mills), The Studio Museum (February 13, 2014) // Zeke Turner, “Brooklyn on the Spree” (New York TimesStyle, February 23, 2014)


One drizzly afternoon last November, I found myself in a bizarre situation: an hour-plus phone call with a magazine-features writer, providing background on Berlin techno culture and its famed Berghain club, which he was looking to cover for a prominent New York-based general-interest publication. He’d already written a few good music articles, expertly diving into subjects others would dismiss as skimpy, balancing analysis, insight and bystander-color to come up with the goods for both the lay-person and the nerd. And while I still harbor desires to tackle the subject of techno for the masses, such a dream (or the access to fulfilling it) remains obscure in the fog of my life. So I thought it better that this piece be written by a person of letters and ideas, rather than get slept-on by me, or tortured into being by one of the eminently employable critical recidivists, recently trying their hand at covering this beat due to the domestic EDM bubble.

The conversation went well. We were temperamentally simpatico, with enough in common (age, people, experiences, kids) that the posturing was minimal. He’d already been well tutored on the classics (Detroit, acid house, Tresor, Fabric, Ibiza), recognized the topic’s complexity, and showed to be sufficiently fluent in what may be morally questionable aspects of clubbing. (Win.) He was ready to go, and I think I was helping him get there faster. Still, it didn’t stop me from acknowledging the oddity of the moment: Here were some of my life’s most profound epiphanies, exposed to hi-beam levels of journalistic inspection, the kind usually reserved for proportionately weightier or sexier topics. It seemed odd that a micro-culture such as techno would now be ready for media Main Street (though that’s probably just another thing to blame on the Internet’s celebration of “the deep, authentic experience”). So despite noting the dissonance, my testimony was willing and unreserved, and for a few months now, I’d mostly forgotten both it and my interrogator.

The writer in question was not Thomas Rogers, whose piece on the Berghain and the Berlin scene Rolling Stone published last month, and which, knowing how big magazines work, may contribute to the spiking of my acquaintance’s story from ever appearing. But I’d be a liar if I said that reading Rogers’ piece didn’t reignite my concerns about cherished memories getting raided and cashed in for distracted effect. 

Read More

MV & EE, “Shotgun Willie” (live at Baby’s All Right, Bklyn, NY 2/17/2014) - Sunday Evening Music! I got distracted by a couple of obituaries when I came home late last night, both were for cosmonauts. One was of Commander Dale Gardner, 65, whose claim to fame was going into orbit on the space shuttle in 1984 and performing repairs on a satellite while flying a nitrogen-gas-powered jetpack. The other was of Valery Kubasov, 79, and he was best-known as one of the two Russians who flew the Soyuz spaceship in 1975 for an interstellar hook-up with an Apollo capsule - the first time two peopled rocket-ships docked in orbit - briefly lending some springtime temperatures to a Cold War climate. Their bios spark with similar, familiar elements of normal lives (families, non-heroic jobs in a field littered with legends, late-life administrative and educational careers), yet the reason they’re both here is so beyond comprehension as to make them unbelievable as characters. They were both space cadets but the everyday type, men’s men you could easily imagine listening to Willie Nelson in the backyard beer in hand (or vodka shot), mixing stories of small-town community and astro-travel. Care is placed in the spectacular, yet with the epic and the normal mixing so naturally they lend each other their own distinctive glow, well-lived and well-played. (h/t Daniel Chamberlin)


Here’s the set we built for Daft Punk’s Grammy performance tonight. This mid-century modern style set was designed by Daft Arts. Check out the old school audio equipment integrated into the set. Very cool. The recording booth is patterned after the “Mother” space craft control room from the movie Alien. The robots gold mirror mixing console actually worked and was played live.

Negra Branca, “Duro”/”Beira Beira” (Tesla Tapes 2013) - Straight outta Manchester’s Gnod family of young freaks comes Marlene Ribeiro, with two tracks originally released on an untitled Tesla tape released last year, but making their (re-mastered) vinyl debut in 2014. (See Boomkat for release details.) The former is pop-leaning inner-space analog-synth psychedelia; the latter, a jam session featuring a drunk drum-machinist, a thumb-piano, a kora and a deluded crooner pressing buttons on a stash of tape-recorders whose contents (all spoken voices) are of increasingly regressive quality. Both are wonderfully weird, but catchy in a way that experiments seldom are. They fit the category of “songs” about wrangling ghosts and drones, with the added dimension of a feminine perspective - not to mention voice. It’s modern-music dreamed up by Julian Cope’s subconscious, made material, giving one hope almost despite itself.  

Sathima Bea Benjamin (with Dollar Brand), “Africa” (1976) - Sunday Music! A massive, breathtaking slab of spiritual jazz about homecoming and renewal. They were at this point Mr. & Mrs. Abdullah Ibrahim, having returned to Apartheid South Africa from New York, with a baby daughter (now famous as the mighty Jean Grae). Cape Jazz royalty with collaborative credits ranging from Duke Ellington to Elvin Jones and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, they were more importantly creative commanders on the struggle’s culture front. Which is why this bit of renewal is also a war-/love-cry, as all sunday music should be. (The entire As-Shams/The Sun album has recently been reissued by the excellent Matsuli Music label. Read about the historical context of the label, Dollar Brand and Cape Jazz in Andy Thomas’ excellent write-up over at RBMA.)

Mark Ernestus vs. Konono No. 1, “Masikulu Dub” (Crammed 2010) - Making Herculean snowfall techno from a dub-haze of tropical rhythm. 

Levon Helm, “Little Birds” (2007) - Sunday Music! Working upstate has begun rewiring my ears, away from trax and back towards The Song, which has often meant towards storytellers and their timeless chore. Some research sprung me onto the idea that religious summer camps (a common vacation getaway throughout American history) were once set up not just for people to get right with God, but also as social gatherings, at times some of the only interactions-with-other-humans that rural folk would experience over the course of the year. So after church you had people working on other stories, their telling, their creation and, sometimes, their tawdry execution. Levon being an Arkansas boy, must have known the connection between the spiritually sacred and the spiritually functional pretty well. On the package of Dirt Farmer, for which this version was recorded, the song is credited as a “traditional,” but a cursory comb through Levon Helm critical literature says that he’s been signing it in one form or another since the early days of The Band, waiting and looking for a perfect bride all this time.    


Happy 75th, chief!


Happy 75th, chief!