Tag Archive: house music

There I Was, Changed

Here’s my latest DJ mixtape/podcast for you to download, share and enjoy – a little sunshine from the southern summer to light up your holy days (though not exactly Christmas-themed, unless Christmas is about peace, love, music and having fun).

I’m psyched about this one – it’s a mix of newer sounds on abstract, funky tangents beyond the usual house, with elements including indie, disco, electronica, pop and weirder stuff. Call it post-house, except it still has a raw classic-house feel, reminiscent of the adventurous days before modern subgenres and formats. It’s definitely a party-time sound, but also moody and dramatic. About the only way to categorize these tracks as a group is they’re hard to categorize, and they make me happy.

“You changed my way to something new…”

Track list:
1. Nico Purman – “Melina” [Crosstown Rebels]
2. Robag Wruhme – “Pnom Gobal” [Pampa]
3. WhoMadeWho – “Keep Me in My Plane” (DJ Koze Hudson River Dub) [Gomma]
4. Fresh Tee – “Nordic Waves” (Andreas Saag Remix) [EleFlight]
5. Mario & Vidis featuring Ernesto – “Changed” (André Lodemann Remix) [Future Classic]
6. Chris Malinchak – “Kuzari” [French Express]
7. Hot Chip – “How Do You Do?” (Todd Terje Remix) [Domino]
8. Chris Malinchak – “There I Was” [French Express]
9. Flight Facilities featuring Grosvenor – “With You“ (David August Remix) [Future Classic]
10. Joe – “MB” [Hemlock]
11. Blagger – “Strange Behaviour” (DJ Koze aka Swahaimi Remix) [Perspective]
12. Edward – “Naxa” [Merc]
13. Diles Mavis – “Be Somebody” [French Express]
14. Alex Gopher – “Super Disco” [Different]

“There’s not a problem…
’Cause I can do it in the mix…”


We Ain’t Dead Yet

Just had my review of Planet E’s fantastic 20th-anniversary compilation published on inthemix:

20 F@#%ing Years of Planet E

I love the sleeve design:

A number of tunes on the album have Youtube or Soundcloud links embedded in the review. But since I also mention several Carl Craig and Planet E classics that didn’t make the album, but were a huge influence on me back in the day, I thought I’d link them here. I’ve also thrown in a few more favorites for good measure.

Even a short playlist of old Planet E tunes (or new ones for that matter) quickly becomes a pretty formidable collection – the range and quality of this music never ceases to amaze me. I don’t get tired of it – there’s nothing quaint or kitschy about it. In that sense it has much in common with the timelessness of classic garage and house. In general this compilation really brings out how huge C2 and Planet E have been in my life.

69 – “My Machines”

Quadrant – “Hyperprism”

Paperclip People – “Throw”

Paperclip People – “Throw” (Basic Reshape)

Paperclip People – “The Climax”

Maurizio – “Domina” (C Craig’s Mind Mix)

Moodymann “I Can’t Kick This Feelin’ When It Hits”

Innerzone Orchestra – “Bug in the Bassbin” (Street Mix)

Recloose – “Can’t Take It” (Carl Craig Mix)

He’s a Superstar

I got to see Roy Ayers in concert here in Sydney last week. My review was just published on inthemix:

Roy Ayers @ The Basement, Sydney, 20/2/11

I had issues with the show, as you’ll see from the review, but still it was a treat. Since then, I’ve naturally been revisiting Roy’s old tunes.

Here’s a classic, one of those primal creations that sounds as fresh now as it must have back in the day, thanks to its bulletproof groove and off-kilter, melancholy orchestration:

I love these kinds of Youtube videos, where you just watch the record spinning on the turntable. Having spent a lot of my life staring at records while they play, I’m right there with the fans who upload this stuff.

“We Live in Brooklyn, Baby” is from one of my favorite albums: Roy Ayers Ubiquity’s He’s Coming, released in 1971. I first got it when I was living in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. I was broke, and trying to make it, baby – and I can’t explain how much its lyrics and atmosphere meant to me. The sound of it takes me right back to the smell of the brownstone I lived in, the sound of the kids playing and the roosters crowing in the back.

I love the non-sequitur quality of these lines:

Days have passed
And all the queen bee’s drones are dying

I don’t think Roy anticipated colony collapse disorder. I’m not sure what it means, it’s just a funky lyric. I was disappointed when he left that line out of the song last week – as if it would have been too weird for the occasion.

Here’s another one from the same album. Righteous lyrics, an arrangement that just keeps building, an incredible bassline. Try to listen to “Ain’t Got Time” without feeling something:

“What war?”

By the way, the “he” in the album’s title refers to that he. You know, the one who makes the whole thing happen. Same goes with “He’s a Superstar”:

I was listening to this the other day, and got to wondering, what happened to this kind of music, this kind of message? I take it for granted that gospel is a part of soul, but now if someone released a song like this, it’d be a big deal. But back then you got direct affirmations of faith in the music of Stevie Wonder, the O’Jays, Curtis Mayfield, all the heavy hitters. That is some of the best music ever recorded, documenting a profoundly urgent epoch in American history, revolutionizing black culture and inspiring people everywhere – and it was powered by faith. So what the hell happened?

Oh, well. It’s a question for another day. By the way, on the same album, Ayers/Ubiquity do an instrumental version of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” from Jesus Christ Superstar, which was still new at that time. Maybe that’s where Ayers got the concept for “He’s a Superstar.” In general I don’t have much to say about the phenomenon of that musical, as I’m not too familiar with it. (I don’t really do showtunes. Sorry.)

Moving on to another era, can’t forget about this one, probably my favorite of all:

There’s no other record like it. How can I wax poetic about that percussion, that bassline, the tension between the sweetness of the track and the weird drama of the layered vocals? Just listen – and try to keep from knocking over stuff in your living room while dancing.

Like much of  Roy Ayers’ music, “Running Away” was ahead of its time, or out of time – I’d say 1977 seems unbelievable, but I think it would seem unbelievable no matter what year it came out. Not only does it foreshadow house, but it kind of is house in a way, just as “We Live in Brooklyn, Baby” is part and parcel of hip hop. It’s fitting, because Roy went on to record house in the 90s.

Speaking of that, here’s the original version of “Sweet Tears,” which later became a hit when Roy collaborated with Masters at Work/NuYorican Soul on a reworked house version:

Just to be pedantic, the remake:

It’s pretty cheesy – it threatens to collapse into disco house, which was never my thing, and it can’t even come close to matching the smoking-hot vibe of “Running Away” – but I like it anyway.

And just to end things on a completely different note, here’s Roy in electro/R&B/smooth operator/comedian mode in 1984:

Trust me, I wouldn’t post a tune with the phrase “poo poo” in the title if it wasn’t worth your time.

We Can Survive the Transition

The Saturday before last, Detroit techno troubadours Octave One had the honor of closing out this year’s Sydney Festival with a live performance at the Mad Racket party at Beck’s Festival Bar. Mad Racket is a long-running and popular house-music monthly featuring international guest DJs alongside residents Simon Caldwell and Ken Cloud. It normally takes place in a bowling club in Marrickville, so the large midsummer’s event they throw once a year for Sydney Festival is a hot ticket.

The shindig lived up to its billing and then some. It was a gorgeous night at the end of January, and the fabulous Festival Bar, an open-air venue at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum smack dab in the middle of the city, was packed with a good mixed crowd party people, including me, my lovely wife and some old friends of ours. As detailed here, I love this venue, and I was sorry to see it close down for another year.

Here’s my review of the gig on Music Feeds.

And here’s a clip of Octave One playing that night that I shot on my iPhone:

Yes, I’ve joined the legions of people who upload cheap videos shot at live gigs. The sound is distorted, but I like this footage because it gives you a sense of the great vibe on the dancefloor and the enthusiasm of the Burden brothers. You also get a glimpse of the shape of the huge marquee (canopy) that covers part of the venue along with the projections and the awesome light sculpture overhead.

Someone else got better footage than I did, closer to the stage, with better sound:

Note the terrific use of footage from The Shining in the video projections.

The week after I saw the gig I still had Octave One’s music on my mind and did some searches for their stuff online. Here’s a clip of them performing live in the studio.

It’s part of a longer video starring Jeff Mills (well worth checking out; Mills mixes techno like no one else in the world). I love this video because it shows the geeky, obsessive, knob-twiddling characteristics universal to electronic musicians, while at the same time highlighting the musicality and soul of the Detroit sound – e.g., the Latin percussion in the drum tracks, the improvised live keyboard playing. I can’t remember seeing any other videos of electronic musicians playing in the studio, and it makes me think we need more of this kind of thing. But the Burdens are special in any case.

And I found this tune off my favorite Octave One record from back in the day, Generations of Soul by Random Noise Generation (one of the Burden brothers’ other monikers on their homegrown label, 430 West). I lost this record years ago and was so happy to see this. The subtle, deep, minimal sound epitomizes the “second wave” of Detroit techno (along with Mills and Robert Hood).

It’s not only the music; I love everything about this EP. I love the name of the project, with its plays on the word “generation.” I love the muted colors and design of the sleeve and label, the fonts, the image of the buffalo soldiers. Collecting music is about so much more than the signal coming from the speakers, it’s also about the peripheral stuff, the collateral, the communication that takes place on the side. The feeling that in this big world with its cynical divisions and entertainment apparatus, you’ve come across evidence that someone else in a distant city has something in common with you, thinks the same things are cool.

I love the song titles:

We Can Survive
The Transition
Last Campaign
My Soul “Will Be Free One Day”

Especially the way the first two run together on side A in so that it seems like a statement: We Can Survive The Transition. In the years since I lost this record, I may have forgotten other details, but that phrase stuck in my head and became a weird little “found” slogan that touches on a lot of things in the world today. We can survive the transition. Indeed.