Showing posts from December, 2009

Best of 2009: The singers: The XX, Fink, Cortney Tidwell, God help the girl, Soap & Skin, jj

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.8 The XX The XX, a very young London band, consisting of three 20-year olds (the fourth member dropped out due to exhaustion during their dangerously massive world tour), topped virtually all charts of 2009. And I think it’s one of those cases when the hype is totally justified. Interesting is the contrast between the hype and the music itself – it’s not your typical chart-topper flashy hyperactivity blitz; instead what you get is softly flangered guitars, hushed murmurs of vocalists Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft (who both remind me, a little bit - visually and audibly - of Tricky circa “Maxinquaye” and Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl), minimalistic drum machines and synths reserved enough to leave a lot of precious space between the notes and give a stylish pulsation but never rock the party hard. On top of that you get a real musical taste, great melodies and charisma. Plus a bunch of unexpecting covers and remixes (fantastic remix…

Best of 2009: Shackleton “Three EPs”

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.7After closing up his and Appleblim’s label Skull Disco with “Soundboy’s Gravestone Gets Desecrated By Vandals”, Shackleton was a bit quiet in 2009, a few remixes and reissues, but no substantial new material. And then in autumn, after a preview session on Mary Anne Hobbs’ “Breezeblock”, a bomb dropped on Perlon. And oh my, what a nuclear bomb that was…

The words “genius” and “unique” are lame in their subjectivity. How can I explain the greatness of these tracks then? Well… I’ll try to outline “uniqueness”, leaving the “genius” up you.
Shackleton, who always sounded unlike anyone else, now doesn’t exactly sound even like himself… I mean, the percussive intricacy and ghostly atmospheres are here, but with a few exceptions there are no replications of the sounds heavily featured on Skull Disco releases. Tracks like “(No More) Negative Thoughts” and “Let Go” are not scary; rather you could call them… quirky. Voice samples, organ sounds, basslines d…

Best of 2009: Wixel and his “a year in albums” diary-project

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.6 This summer, browsing thru a well-known torrent tracker, I accidentally stumbled upon a curiosity – an album of Sonic Youth covers by unknown to me project called Wixel. I downloaded and… was shocked by the freshness, originality of the music, and easiness with which it seemed to emit the hands and the minds of the player(s). After quick googling I found out that Wixel is the one-man project (with support by long-time collaborators when performing live) by a Belgian guy Wim Maesschalck, who released several albums, plays/ed in a few bands, runs a label Slaapwel Records (which translates as Sleep Well Records) and a blog or even a few. Further reading is revealed that the guy is very intelligent, full of ideas, energy, very generous on words (reading his elaborate and inventive musings written in a good language is serious, er, fun) and as it turned out – also on the music.

Because his latest Awesome Stupid Project (one of many! Check musical so…

Best of 2009: Wolf + Lamb

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.5 If I have to name one record label that rocked my world in 2009, it was Wolf + Lamb. Since I discovered this Brooklyn-based label after an educating feature on Nicolas Jaar in Resident Advisor by Philip Sherburne, I couldn’t stop checking, listening and dancefloor-testing any releases I could find. What makes this labels so special? The label owners, Gadi Mizrahi and Zev, once said that “the only constant thing about W+L is permanent change”, which is close to truth – ok, within more or less party-oriented music, that is. In short, equalizing and summarizing the moods that range from functional minimal of Lee Curtis thru classic disco/funk edits of Soul Clap thru minimal disco of Michael J Collins to currently most-prevalent sound of deep, jazzy, loose house (but never cheesy, never band-wagon jumping), and ending with “fuck-dance-let’s-art” jazzy experiments of Nicolas Jaar, I would call the music “minimal lounge”.

With some exceptions, this …

Best of 2009: Best mixes of 2009

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.4 Andrei0id – Vakars pie Ezera aka Minipower podcast 037 This is one of the best mixes I heard, ever. Why? Because of extremely deep and very natural integration of tunes, most of which I heard before but in the context of mix they got a new life, sometimes I almost felt as if I was listening to them for the first time; and even more importantly - because of the pace of the mix. It’s not a party mix, surely more for attentive listening at home or on a car-ride, and the way it takes me out there of this world is absolutely psychedelic.
Sven Weisemann – Groove magazine #119 mix Very tasty house music, varied, groovy though not peak-time, no cheese. Again, the ultimate reason for being my 2009 fave is the pace/development (modern classical intro (Max Richter), then slow-mo deep house from Sven himself, then unfolding and getting groovier, more minimal, dubbier, and all of sudden – you can hardly even noitice – we’re in 140bpm territory, and ending w…

Best of 2009: Funkstep and other unnamed dubstep mutations

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.3
Some people like to play with genre names, others make fun of these attempts and seriously allege that the former kill music by doing so, and there are only two types of music – good and bad (forgetting that there are as many good and band musics, as there are people, multiplied on their changing moods and ages). Whatever, let’s not go deep in the etymology and genealogy wars, let’s just have a look at a certain area of music that some people called Funkstep, no matter how long this name will survive.

A couple years ago dubstep, which was mostly known to people outside the game as gloomy, teutonic half-stepping hardly-danceable monster with wobbling basses (which was partially – but only partly! - true), started both dividing, cross-pollinating and reaching out to wider audiences, impregnating other musics and intervening countries and scenes. Some branches, crossing over with techno, become very uplifting and sometimes turning straight-b…

Best of 2009: Autonomic Podcasts

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.2 This one is related to “Best of 2009: The rise of mnml db”, but I decided that it deserves a separate mention. So… at a certain moment of time a very simple-looking website‑ that has exactly one simple page with links to monthly podcasts with no tracklists and no credits has attracted hundreds of thousands of downloads and crashed, so the de-jure anonymous people behind it had to change the internet provider.

Why the hype? Because each podcast, roughly about 1-2 hours long, consisted of delicious, fresh-out-of-oven, mostly unreleased mnml dnb yummies in a mixed section, wrapped in the “Influences” enclosure, that featured ANYTHING that was considered influential by the people behind Autonomic crew – dBridge and Instra:mental guys (Al Bleek and Kid Drama). Both sections were just mind-blowingly tasty, but I think it’s exactly due to the enclosure these podcasts have become THAT popular. Mostly consisting of absolutely non-d…

Best of 2009: The rise of mnml dnb scene

Things I was excited about in 2009 pt.1 More or less 10 years passed since I lost any interest in drum’n’bass scene after it lost any funk and becoming all boring drum loops + wobbling/howling basses attractive only for die-hard scenesters. I did checked the scene a couple of times, always getting added evidence that nothing really beats the golden era of jungle and artcore; even the best attempts sounded well-executed, sonically and rhythmically complex, but… just not fresh, stagnant.

So I was totally excited this year, when thanx to an excellent local DJ Dann I got introduced to the radically new sound of 180 bpm-based music, which AFAIK hasn’t got a new keenly designed genre name, so can be referred to as “minimal d’n’b”. This stuff, simply put, ditches everything I hate in traditional drum’n’bass: distorted basses, emphasized mid-range frequencies, pummeling or at least metronomic drums, sticking to tried formula, and hardcore “smashing you with the sound” ethos - all of which rem…

[after]live @ Space : Garage 19.12.2009

This is a recreation of the set I played @ Space:Garage on Disco Not Disco party. Recreation, because... I forgot to press that red record button, ya know... ;) And I really, really liked the vibe, so I just mixed exactly the same records in exactly the same order a couple of days later, hot on the heels of love, so to say. I also wanted to replicate that loose club feeling, playing around with tracks or rather letting them play with me... So it's the most precise reconstruction of a lost live recording possible.

Well, honestly, almost... except for the last 2 tracks, to be 100% precise. Mike Monday's unofficial remix of Animal Collective's "My Girls" is a good tool and a proper peak banger, but... fairly enough, the original is unbeatable, and I actually wanted to play the latter that night, but for some reason haven't done it, so now - revenge (two in one)! And after all, it's nice to close the 2009 with totally the best song released this year :)


Snapshots at an Exhibition (mix for Tik Tak Radio)

An epic journey! Unlike my previous mixes - Introvertech and Slowtech, this one is not that moody, in parts even quite uplifting... But still don't expect a steady dancefloor action anyway - it's not one-flavour mix for sure. As always, it's a mixture of brand-new and old tunes. Some of them are my favorites of the year - Goldmann's grandiose remix of "Arcade", Solomun's remix of "Una Peña", "Leave It All Behind" (one of the many fruits from the garden of Autonomic delights), a fragment of Bruno Pronsato's opus magnum, and Villalobos' majestic "rework of the rework" (although nominally released in December 2008, exactly a year ago, but let's consider it a tune of the 2009). So, if you wish, take it as a short summary of the year...