Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Swank

Miles Davis Quintet - Walkin'
Miles Davis - trumpet
Sonny Stitt - alto and tenor saxophones
Wynton Kelley - piano
Paul Chambers - bass
Jimmy Cobb - drums

I celebrated my 45th birthday last week, and one of my friends gave me this great recording of the Miles Davis Quintet from 1960. Recorded at the Olympia in Paris, it is notable for featuring Sonny Stitt on saxophones instead of long time band member John Coltrane. Miles wanted Wayne Shorter but he was unavailable, so Miles had to settle for Stitt. Their playing styles differed and there is notable stylistic tension in the music, with Miles pushing his modal style and Stitt bringing it back to the melody. Walkin' is straight up smokin'.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Funky Friday Playlist

Time for your funky Friday to get started.
I got a bunch of hot promo stuff in the inbox this week...

- two tracks from Strut Records deliver the Afro-funk - Peter King from Nigeria 70 (reissued on Mar.31st) and Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics from Inspiration Information Vol.3 (out Apr.14th).
- two cool remixes from My Dear Disco, who bring the dance rock flava to Kanye West and Franz Ferdinand.
- FC Kahuna have remixed Noah & The Whale's indie folk hit and turned it into a bit of dreamy disco.
- WhoMadeWho are a Danish trio who record dance punk for Gomma Records. Discodeine smooths out the rock edges and focuses on disco beats and strings.
- Villains remix Lykke Li and it is fuzzy goodness.

- two selections from my recent purchases -
- N.A.S.A. (stands for North America South America) is Sam Spiegel (AKA Squeak E. Clean AKA brother of Spike Jonez) and Ze Gonzales (DJ Zegon). They've recorded a great party album called The Spirit Of Apollo. Brazilian funk is the root of the songs to which the duo adds electronics, hip hop beats and a dash of indie rock into the mix. They also have a great guest list of vocalists - David Byrne, Lykke Li, Santogold, Chuck D, Ghostface Killah, Cool Kids, Seu Jorge, Karen O, George Clinton and M.I.A. are among them.
- Amadou & Mariam's new album Welcome To Mali finally hit US stores this week. It is notable that Damon Albarn helped out with production and playing on several tracks. Djuru rolls on a very laid back groove.
- Finally, Bootsy Collins is always funky. What So Never The Dance is a prime slice of old school JB's type funk.

Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics - Masengo (Radio Edit)
N.A.S.A. - Gifted (feat. Kanye West, Santogold & Lykke Li) on HypeMachine
Kanye West - Love Lockdown (My Dear Disco Remix)
Noah And The Whale - 5 Years Time (FC Kahuna Mix)
Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses (My Dear Disco Remix)
WhoMadeWho - The Plot (Discodeine Remix)
Bootsy Collins - What So Never The Dance
Lykke Li - Little Bit (Villains Remix)
Amadou & Mariam - Djuru
Peter King - Shango

DJ Elijah sent me a link to a tasty mix of left field goodness he made titled Explosions And Heart Palpitations Stars Spinning In Black Endless Space. I listened and loved. I think you will dig it too...

Explosions And Heart Palpitations Stars Spinning In Black Endless Space

Pink Skull - Ssilt
Tuomas Kantelinen - Beginning
Radiohead - Reckoner (Elijah's Horrible Wind Remix)
Dert - Dert Is Full Of Love
Panda Riot - Paper Planes
Get Stop Ticket - Ideal Day Off
Gang Gang Dance - Dust
Odd Nosdam - Cut
Passion Pit - Sleepyhead (Elijah's Beat Generation Remix)
Flying Lotus - Infinitum (Exile Remix)
The Album Leaf - Enchanted Hill
Elijah - Loved Song
Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love For Planet Earth (Elijah's Stuff And Things Remix)
Arcade Fire - Black Mirror (Elijah's Swamp Of Sadness Remix)
Radiohead - Reckoner (Julianna Barwick Remix)
Alexis Taylor - I Love My Home

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Music Tuesday

Fever Ray - When I Grow Up (Lissvik Version)
Fever Ray is the new side project from Karin Dreijer Andersson, singer of my favorite creepy Swedish band, the wholly original The Knife. The self titled album hits US shelves today. Where The Knife couched the creepiness in shiny, beat heavy electronic music, Karin strips it down to the bare bones, creating dreamy, cinematic tracks. It is still music awash in keyboards and reverb, but the beats are minimal, stripped down and clicky. The mood is dark, eerie and foreboding, and Karin's abstract sing song lyrics detail the dark sides of humanity. The androgyny of her vocals for The Knife remain, as she harmonizes with her pitch shifted self. It is challenging, oddly beautiful music - much like fellow Scandanavian Bjork. It is not a party record, but one for quiet moments alone. RCRDLBL is offering a free download of Keep The Streets Empty For Me as well as stream of three other songs from the album. It is well worth checking out

Monday, March 23, 2009

Replica Sun Machine

My latest music obsession goes by the name of The Shortwave Set. The trio of Andrew Pettitt (vocals, guitar), Ulrika Bjorsne (vocals, guitar) and David Farrell (samples, decks) formed in 2003 in London. The two Brits and a Swede released their debut album The Debt Collection in 2005 and caught the ear of Danger Mouse, who called them one of his fave acts. He asked them to open for Gnarls Barkley, and they also toured with Goldfrapp and Rilo Kiley. Last year they decamped to California to record the follow up with Danger Mouse at the controls.

The Shortwave Set - No Social
The Shortwave Set - Glitches'N'Bugs
The resulting album is Replica Sun Machine which came out last year in Europe on Wall of Sound and finally gets a US release tomorrow. It is a glorious synthesis of styles - British psychedelia and pop with a dash of Gallic old school cool, drenched in California sunshine. Several notable collaborators help out - John Cale plays viola and Van Dyke Parks handles the beautiful string arrangements. Opener Harmonia reminds me of Pink Floyd - big time. That is followed by the fuzzed out pop of Glitches'n'Bugs which has a poptastic chorus. Andrew and Ulrika share vocal duties and harmonize on most songs, and they really compliment each other. There are pastoral moments that remind one of Goldfrapp. There is a quirkiness and electronic edge that reminds me a bit of Add N To X. I hear Gainsbourg and the Flaming Lips. Danger Mouse has shown a knack for producing psychedelic gems, and this record is no exception. It is full of cool headphone moments. I'm hooked on it's sunny charm and spiky hooks and can't stop playing it. SIART highly recommends!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Funky Friday Playlist

Friday beats to move your feets. Flying Lotus remixes RJD2, from a rare white label 12". Odyssey deliver a disco classic. Harmonic 313 is fuzzy, buzzy head nodding cyber crunk. DJ Random re-edits Steely Dan's Peg into a dance floor workout. Röyksopp have a new album (Junior) out next Tuesday - this tune features the very distinctive vocals of Karin Dreijer Andersson (The Knife/Fever Ray). Madlib rearranges a Horace Silver classic. Gichy Dan is a primo slice of Ze Records '80s greatness. Pet Shop Boys gave a greatest hits CD (Story (25 Years Of Hits)) away with The Mail on Sunday - we're going all the way back to the beginning. Russian electro act D Pulse are remixed by their Siberian friends Acos Coolkas (fresh off of TIRK02). I have been on a total Thomas Dolby kick lately - I follow him on Twitter and it is fascinating. Feel the bass in your face on Dissidents.

Flying Lotus - R2D2
Odyssey - Inside Out
Harmonic 313 - Cyclotron
DJ Random - Peg (Re-Edit)
Röyksopp - This Must Be It on HypeMachine.
Madlib - Song For My Father
Gichy Dan - Cowboys And Gangsters
Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls (10" Version) on HypeMachine.
D Pulse - More (Acos Coolkas Excessive Version)
Thomas Dolby - Dissidents (The Search For Truth Part I)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hot Promo Action

The Juan MacLean - One Day (James Curd Remix)
The Juan MacLean are set to drop their new album The Future Will Come on DFA Records on April 14th. This week there is a new remix EP (on vinyl and digital) for One Day, featuring remixes by Mark Romboy, The Emperor Machine and Surkin. There is also a digital only remix by Lazaro Casanova. This James Curd Remix is an exclusive that won't be available anywhere else.

Back in the mid to late '90s one of my favorite bands was the Minneapolis duo Sukpatch. They were a kind of twee hip hop act, two white boys cutting and pasting samples over phat beats, a sort of precursor to the kind of thing Hot Chip have mastered. They put out a few records themselves, then got signed to the Beastie Boys' label Grand Royal - just in time for the label to fold. They finally called it quits in 2004.

Ultrachorus are former Sukpatch-er Chris Heidman and fellow Minneapolis studio production whiz Jeff Lorentzen. They make electronic pop with a few analog and organic twists. They have a new 7" single out - Words Kept Talking b/w Planetman. They also did a remix of 1901 by current blogosphere faves Phoenix.
Ultrachorus - Words Kept Talking
Phoenix - 1901 (Ultrachorus Remix))

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pi (π) Day

Today is Pi Day. π is one of the most important mathematical and physical constants, and is the basis of many formulae from mathematics, science, and engineering. It is also an irrational number, which I like the sound of.

Back in the days of school I was not a fan of mathematics. It was always my worst subject, the bane of my homework existence. Algebra and calculus? Why would I ever need to know any of that crap? Of course, as I got older and wiser I began to see the usefulness of math in my everyday life. When I began jacking beats and constructing little songs in the late '90s it became apparent to me how mathematical music is - I mean, it's all about numbers. As a result I have a bit more respect for math, although if I had homework I'd probably still be hating on it.

Pi is also a great movie by Darren Aronofsky that is all about math and how it is everywhere in life. Just don't let it drive you to drill a hole in your head, OK?


Here are a few of my favorite numerical numbers...

Kate Bush - π (Pi)
Kraftwerk - Numbers
De La Soul - The Magic Number
Princess - Say I'm Your Number One
Steely Dan - Rikki Don't Lose That Number

Friday, March 13, 2009

Funky Friday Playlist

Today's offerings...

- a couple of old skool hip hop classics by Cookie Crew and Grandmaster Flash
- a couple of mid '90s big beat tunes I still like from Rootless and Les Rythmes Digitales
- a cut'n'paste hip hop gem from the new Bullion record Young Heartache
- a glorious oldie from Chic
- a bitchin' Prince cover
- a cool bit of new disco from Melbourne's Junji Masayama whose Green Circle EP comes out on March 23rd
- a sweet tune from the forthcoming album by the Erlend Øye led The Whitest Boy Alive - the album Rules is out March 31st
- a new song from Minneapolis' own Mayda, who got a great feature in the local paper today.

Les Rythmes Digitales - Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - White Lines
The Whitest Boy Alive - Timebomb
Bullion - Time For Us All To Love
Cookie Crew - Secrets Of Success
Space Cowboy - I Would Die 4U
Junji Masayama - Green Circle
Chic - My Forbidden Lover
Rootless - Savannah
Mayda - Focus

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Song Of The Day

School Of Seven Bells - Half Asleep

School Of Seven Bells is ex Secret Machines-er Benjamin Curtis and On!Air!Library!'s Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. They released their debut album Alpinisms (“the art of climbing mountains.”) last fall on Ghostly International. It is a great record of shoegaze-y dream pop, blending the lines between electronics and organic instrumentation. It is Can meets the Cocteaus, a kinder, gentler My Bloody Valentine. The mountain climbing analogy of the title fits well here as the record climbs to soaring heights and falls into deep, ethereal moments of quiet. The sisters handle the vocals, full of lush harmonizing. Brandon constructs shimmery tracks that mix the prog rock background of his old band with glitchy electronics, glacial synths and occasional tribal beats. Half Asleep is the perfect synthesis of all of it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday Swank + Hot Promo Action

Solange - This Bird
If you didn't already know it, Solange is Beyonce's wacky little sister. While professionally she definitely benefits from that relationship she has chosen a different musical path from big sis. Instead of club bangers and blinging ballads she experiments with retro soul, from '60s Motown girl groups to '70s Marvin Gaye jams. There is also a collaboration with Thievery Corporation, one with The Neptunes, a couple of songs written by Cee-lo and a tune produced by Mark Ronson. The one that really got me? This Bird, which is built around a big chunk of Slow This Bird Down by Boards Of Canada (from 2005's The Campfire Headphase). Yes, that Boards Of Canada - the reclusive Scottish electronic duo. What sounds kind of wacky on paper works really well and the result is experimental, soulful,dreamy goodness.



The world was a slightly different place in 2006, the last time Tirk put out a label comp (TIRK01). Obama had just become a Senator. Merchant bankers still had their snouts in their each others’ troughs, not the taxpayers pockets. Deamau5 didn’t exist and three times as many record shops did. Minimal still sounded vaguely edgy and interesting, disco was the preserve of thirty year old men with beards and Annie Mac was about to discover Dubstep…

Now we’re got Radio One jocks devoting half of their shows to Aeroplane mixes, and “edits” are in danger of becoming a genre itself. Just as record sales head ever closer to what must finally be the bottom of the sales curve, the spirit of disco finally rises again.

It’s here in Todd Terje chopping Chaz Jankel up into piano scream up heaven, or new Russian lads Acos Coolkas creating ice cool electronic house. Prins Thomas adds Scando swing to Sorcerer’s West Coast lounge tackle and Richard Sen goes disco-psyche on Brad Vachal. Kelpe takes Architeq’s glistening glitchtronica for a warm and fuzzy slo-mo bath, Hercules&LA gets tracky on another Jankel track and Forty Thieves add West Coast bump to Morten Sorensen's timeless Start Something. We’ve again been lucky to work with some of the worlds better artists over the last couple of years, and couldn’t be more happy to round em’ up and show them off as a 2XCD set - TIRK02 (out March 16th) - before striding off into what promises to be an, um, “challenging” 2009.

Morten Sorensen - Start Something
Monomusique - Fog's Light (Hedford Vachal Redux)

The label is also running a little remix competition where you can d/l song parts and rearrange them. TIRK02 Remix Competition

Friday, March 06, 2009

Funky Friday Playlist

A little bit of something for everyone...

- Orange Juice had their biggest hit with Rip It Up. They had a totally unique style and sound - love the squelchy bass.
- Burns is a young up and comer from the UK who has just remixed Empire Of The Sun as well as SIART faves Late of The Pier. Disko is his debut single.
- The Mighy Underdogs are Lateef the Truth Speaker and Gift Of Gab alongside Headnodic. ScienceFiction features some fantastic Star Wars/Star Trek references.
- Django Django I know nothing about. IMO the tune has a sing song similarity to Hot Chip.
- Q-Tip should be huge. I love the guy. His records get my head nodding every time. His latest album The Renaissance has everything I like about a a hip hop record. Everything except chart success. Go buy the Abstract's latest and marvel at how freaking groovy it is.
- Fluke were '90s electronica almost-beens. They were always too poppy for the dance floor and dance-y for the charts. This remix is just a sublime slice of dreamy house-y goodness.
- Architeq creates glitchy hip hop goodness on his Tirk Records EP Birds Of Prey 2. French glitch hopper Fulgeance remixes. Very tasty.
- Sir Billy sent me another one of his great edits of the Incredible Bongo Band. His edits are always good and this one is no exception.
- John & Jehn are a French duo based in London who kind of remind me of Glass Candy. Gloomy disco drone anyone?
- My Tiger My Timing are another UK act starting to garner some buzz. Produced by Andy Spence from New Young Pony Club they make hypnotic, dark pop music.

Orange Juice - Rip It Up
Burns - Disko (Extended Mix)
The Mighty Underdogs - Science Fiction
Django Django - Default (Database Re-Edit)
Q-Tip feat. Amanda Diva - Manwomanboogie
Fluke - Slid (Global Communications Hypogasmix)
Architeq - Birds Of Prey (Fulgeance Emotronical Mix)
Incredible Bongo Band - Ohkey Dokey (Sir Billy Extended Edit)
John & Jehn - Looking For You (Mighty Mouse NYC Sensations Remix)
My Tiger My Timing - This Is Not The Fire (Django Django Remix)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Song Of The Day

Today at work I listened to one of my all time favorite electronic music albums, Subliminal Sandwich by Meat Beat Manifesto. A double disc set released in 1996 - the heat of the "electronica" moment - it is big and sprawling. Dub bass lines and reggae toasting rub against gritty electro beats and nightmarish sonic sample mash ups. Big rumbling break beats clatter around post-apocalyptic soundscapes. Subject matter runs from man's fascination with nukes and science and chemistry to it's effects on him - Cancer. It is dark stuff, but oh so enjoyably presented. Buried in the small print at the back of the CD booklet is this simple instruction -

IMPORTANT - Play twice before listening.

I love that.

Meat Beat Manifesto - Future Worlds
Meat Beat Manifesto - United Nations (E.T.C.)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hot Promo Action - Hermas Zoupula

Hermas Zoupula is many things. He is the youngest of 36 children. Born in a small village named Yoro, he is Burkinabe, a citizen and resident of Burkino Faso, West Africa. He is a moped enthusiast, orphanage volunteer, and internet proprietor. Hermas is also a psalmist, and Espoir is his first international recording.

Hermas sings in four different languages on the album: French, English, Dioula, and Sissali (Hermas' mother tongue). The only way to introduce Hermas' sound was to release Espoir as a two disc set. The first disc, recorded in a government studio in Burkina Faso, presents a refined and practiced Hermas. But the Hermas on the second disc, Live In Ouagadougou, is the one most Burkinabes know, just him and his guitar in his backyard.

Hermas is a big fan of Malian singer Salif Keita. He also connects with reggae music, especially the musicians who see music as a way of bringing about justice and peace. Bob Marley is an immediate inspiration, but like many Burkinabes, Hermas has a deep love for Lucky Dube, who used his music to expose government corruption in the murder of journalist Norbert Zongo. Comparisons to singer/song-writer Seu Jorge are inevitable, but listeners will find Hermas' voice sweeter and warmer. Other audible influences in Hermas' music are Afro-pop pioneer Thomas Mapfumo, King Sunny Ade, and Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra.

Hermas is currently employed as a translator by Air Burkina at the international airport in Ouagadougou. When Jonathan Dueck, the album's cover artist and Hermas' friend, last left Ouagadougou, Hermas waved good-bye to him right from the tarmac.

Hermas Zoupula - Courons Courez
Hermas Zoupula - Alpha Et Omega
Live In Ouagadougou

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sunday Swank

A random sampling of what I've been listening to this fine Sunday - Ensemble Ambrosius is a Finnish ensemble which covers the music of Frank Zappa in a baroque stylee - oboe and harpsichord in full attack! Tosca are the duo of Rupert Huber & Richard Dorfmeister, and No Hassle is their 5th album, due out in April. It is less clubby and dubby sounding, a more ambient project combining submerged samples and live instrumentation. Their goal - "to achieve an hour where you feel hassle free." I think it worked... The Cinematic Orchestra have been making moody, jazzy cinematic music for several years now, and I am a big fan. Last year they recorded the score for a Disney nature documentary called The Crimson Wing - Mystery Of The Flamingos. The film makers were impressed by the band's last record Ma Fleur, and it's themes of birth and death - themes that are represented in the movie - and brought them on board. It is a good match.

Ensemble Ambrosius - Uncle Meat
The Zappa Album

Tosca - Springer
No Hassle

The Cinematic Orchestra - The Dance
Les Ailes Pourpres