Okay, here’s the weirdest thing you’ll come across on the intertubes today.
If you want to know what, I imagine, it would feel like to find yourself in the freakiest dark gay club imaginable whilst spacing on ketamine, or some such, listen to this. This could be the soundtrack to that.
A very short documentary that sums up in three minutes the importance of the Roland TR-808 drum machine for electronic, hip hop and pop music in the last thirty years. Originally designed in 1980 as a tool for studio musicians to create demos, due to its relative cheapness it became used in the then-underground electronic and hip hop scenes to compose beats.
The by now vintage, distinctive, artificial sound of the 808 not only gave birth to the techno scene (in addition to tools like the TB-303 bass synthesizer), but also influenced the evolution of all kinds of relevant styles in the last decades. By now, their sounds are available digitally, but original machines are highly sought after. If you listen, you hear those kicks and hi-hats everywhere.
Also check out this video, already blogged about earlier, demonstrating the possibilities of the 808.
Once again, an outstanding John Maus track, being a remastered version of a previously untitled demo. An ’80s vibe so well done that it sounds like Joy Division performing from the International Space Station.
Now here’s something different! It’s been a while since I digged a track from the very first second I heard it. John Maus (a guy who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in political philosophy in Switzerland) is an old friend of that other hero, Ariel Pink, and while he has the same kind of experimental lo-fi messiness, this sounds totally different.
More like Arcade Fire meets Falco meets a synthesizer church organ meets, I don’t know. Prepare to be blown away:
As blogged before, I’ve kinda had it with the never-ending 1980s-recycling mania that has dominated the last decade, and has grown into something very hipster-predictable and boring in 2k11. Even though that decade’s music is my favourite.
Despite myself, however, I must post this great track by Junior Boys, ‘Banana Ripple’, that has 1980s written all over it. They’re doing it the right way, however. Like Destroyer, in this track they take the most kitschy, chamber poppy sounds of that decade and turn it into something cool. The track starts in a kinda boring way (and you may want to listen to it twice), but along the way it becomes something danceworthy and in the end you’ll be imaging yourself in a retro disco.
With one month left to go, looking back one thing is clear: the year 2011 has been a very poor year in indie music. Seriously: while 2010 had lots of musical highlights, from the albums High Violet by The National and Before Today by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti to The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, and from all kinds of energetic electronic-indie and synth acts like Crystal Castles, Delorean, Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club, to chillwave (which was okay for a while, with Neon Indian, Teen Daze, Luftwaffe), the past year I’ve heard almost nothing that blew my mind like those acts did.
This can mean two things: either the indie/hipster scene in 2011 is really in its dying phase, and depraved of originality – I really can’t stand every next Brooklyn retro-1980s synth-pop outfit with a “vintage” video clip; or I have heard it all and am getting old. Even the acts that are supposed to be at the top of today’s scene, like The Naked and Famous, M83 and the likes, to me in all honesty really sound like poppy rip-offs of stuff that used to be better and more original.
Last year, I had trouble putting together a ‘best of 2010′ list, because the supply was so big. In 2011, I’ll be having trouble filling it because almost nothing really cool or original came out. The one highlight I can think of is Cut Copy’s Zonoscope, and even that wasn’t exactly a game-changer.
I wonder what the next decade hype will be, actually: since every 1980s niche has by now been plundered, my bet is on either retro-1970s or retro-1990s music and trends. We’ll probably never see something new anymore.
But okay. Here’s a new 2k11 track that I actually do like. Yes, it’s synth once again… but this harks back to those early-1980s post-punk bands with an expansive sound, like Siouxsie and the Banshees and early U2, which is a niche that hasn’t been recycled that much yet. If you’re a sucker for “big” sounds, like I am, listen to this:
An absolutely brilliant track by Aphex Twin, that was actually the namesake of the first EP he released under the name of AFX, back in 1991. YouTube commenters are having a discussion about whether it is from 1987. If it is, that’s pure genius.
Regardless of the age, this is really one of the greatest electronic tracks I’ve come across. It’s got the typical Aphex Twin drum beats, but also perfect analogue bubble sounds, synths, and an acid house but also Eastern vibe that’s hard not to feel lyrical about.
Everyone’s favorite divisive freak folk/lo-fi/trash pop/bedroom artist Ariel Pink dropped, a couple of days ago on September 11, an epic 16-minute track that was first written and recorded a decade ago. So consider this Ariel Pink’s tribute to 9/11.
This once again psychedelic, synth-heavy and pop-fuzzy track, full of warm melodies, rocks from the minute it starts, and so does the video accompanying it. Directed by Ariel Pink himself, it consists of footage of a lot of different things, mostly images of the past decade (Afghanistan, terrorism) and 1980s retro stuff. It starts with Ariel Pink watching television, and that somehow reminds me of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome.
A while ago, we presented y’all a documentary on the early 1980s origins of warehouse raves and techno, Real Scenes: Detroit. Now, get ready to submerge in the following documentary on its British successor movement: acid house!
During the late 1980s, acid house, with its distinctive sound produced by Roland bass synthesizers and drum machines such as the TB 303 and TR 808, presented the first full-blown electronic dance music movement in Europe, including a booming underground scene. It also presented the first coming to the surface of ecstasy, which contributed to the summers of 1988-9 being called the second Summer of Love (after the lsd-fueled first one in 1969). Acid house parties took place in warehouses and out in the open, thus continuing the Detroit phenomenon of the “rave”. Fueled by sensationalist media reporting, however, British authorities came crashing down on the acid house scene.
This great documentary from the BBC’s World in Action strand is like a full blown acid house flashback. Broadcast in 1988 at height of acid house fever, it follows the typical weekend rituals of a group of very young fans, tracks the working life of an illegal party promoter, speaks to some of the producers of the music and charts the the then-growing moral panic which surrounded the scene and its copious drug taking. Raving, and acid house, had a huge (if subtle) effect on British culture, bringing people together in new, democratised contexts free of class and social boundaries, opening people’s ears up to a new world of music and opening their minds to new ideas.
So here’s the entire documentary. Enjoy!
More electronic music history documentaries on LSD:
Listen to this. It sounds like it was produced on a laptop yesterday, and could be played at some underground art festival or rave, possibly in Berlin or Amsterdam.
Yet, it’s from 1981 and it’s coming from Nijmegen! It’s part of the oeuvre of the New Wave/experimentalist electronic band Mekanik Kommando, that was formed in 1980 and released albums until late in the decade. How’s that for digging up some obscure shit?
Mekanik Kommando was part of the Ultra movement, a Dutch variety on the post-punk/New Wave/early electronic wave that had been developing in Germany and Great Britain since the late 1970s, with of course Joy Division being the most prominent example.
I find it very remarkable how fresh and modern the tracks by Mekanik Kommando sound (dig their name too). It they’d release stuff today, Pitchfork would be on to them. Listen to this, it’s all great:
While Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attended the oh-so-mainstream Dance Valley festival last week (you know your festival is dead when a conservative prime minister shows up), British PM David Cameron apparently knew what was cool in 1988.
Here’s footage supposedly showing a long-haired Cameron, then 22 years old, at an acid house rave. We, of course, are wondering, if it is him, whether he also used some stimuli to get in the mood. Look at that eyes and smile…
One rightwing blogger who previously organized raves unfortunately doesn’t want to let go a thing. More here and here.
It only rarely happens that you immediately fall in love with a track. This is such a case. British band The Horrors have been around for a while, but as they seemed the umpteenth Joy Division / New Wave / post-punk influenced band in town, I ignored them.
This turns out to have been a mistake. Unlike many of their peers (Editors, Interpol, White Lies, The Bravery), The Horrors actually pull it off! Tracks like the three posted below not only show their love of Joy Division, but also incorporate 1970s Krautrock and Kraftwerk influences in a very cool manner. Makes for really dark, gritty psychedelic stuff.
The hipster kids are getting younger and younger these days. Check out this clip featuring kids in the disco by Hamburg producer and dj Tensnake. Tensnake is a producer who sorta combines the good sides of the mainstream sound of some popular dj’s with a more qualitatively appealing edge: in tracks like this one and Coma Cat you’ll hear disco, dub, Balearic, Chicago and acid house influences.
De Zwarte Cross -- hét jaarlijkse evenement voor prosecco-drinkend, organisch etend, goedverdienend grachtengordel-Amsterdam met bakfiets en het hipsterdom van de confettigeneratie - krijgt dit jaar een extra twist. Want niemand minder dan Peter-Jan Rens is terug uit de bordelen van Bangkok om de modderplassen en bierpoelen in Lichtenvoorde op te vrolijken!
We won’t be surprising anyone when we state that we at LSD love techno. We like house, we like electro, we like dub, we like idm, but we especially love techno, in all its forms and varieties. And a great diversity you have, from the subtleties and understatedness of minimal, to the dream-like qualities of techhouse, to the fist-pumping grandiosity of big room “rolling train” techno.
Nowadays, everybody seems to love electronic music. In the go-to clubs and raves of Berlin and Amsterdam today, (minimal) techno and house are all the vogue. In the 1990s, electronic music exploded to incorporate anything from the early days of acid house, to the bpm-driven madness of gabber and hardcore, to the reinvention of minimal that laid the basis of today’s sound.
Before that, in the 1980s, however, techno – pure 4/4 beats with soul - was constricted to one place in particular, the place where it originated from: Detroit. To be even more particular, it were three producers who stood at the basis of this sound (you may wanna call them the ‘founding fathers’ of techno): Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson.
This documentary is about them, and how they, living in a post-industrial city, combined the sounds of Kraftwerk and Chicago house to create something truly new.
From the race riots of 1967 to the underground party scene of the late 1980s, Detroit’s economic downturn didn’t stop the invention of a new kind of music that brought international attention to its producers and their hometown.
Featuring in-depth interviews with many of the world’s best exponents of the artform, High Tech Soul focuses on the creators of the genre—Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson—and looks at the relationships and personal struggles behind the music. Artists like Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Eddie Fowlkes and a host of others explain why techno, with its abrasive tones and resonating basslines, could not have come from anywhere but Detroit.
With classic anthems such as Rhythim Is Rhythim’s “Strings of Life” and Inner City’s “Good Life,” High Tech Soul celebrates the pioneers, the promoters and the city that spawned a global phenomenon.
The film features: Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Eddie (Flashin) Fowlkes, Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, John Acquaviva, Carl Cox, Carl Craig, Blake Baxter, Stacey Pullen, Thomas Barnett, Matthew Dear, Anthony “Shake” Shakir, Keith Tucker, Delano Smith, Mike Archer, Derrick Thompson, Mike Clark, Alan Oldham, Laura Gavoor, Himawari, Scan 7, Kenny Larkin, Stacey “Hotwax” Hale, Claus Bachor, Electrifying Mojo, Niko Marks, Barbara Deyo, Dan Sordyl, Sam Valenti, Ron Murphy, George Baker, and Kwame Kilpatrick.
The film’s soundtrack includes: Aux 88, Cybotron, Inner City, Juan Atkins, Mayday, Model 500, Plastikman, Rhythim Is Rhythim, and more.
For more electronic music documentaries on LSD, check:
U2 is the only band that I consistently own all the records from (albeit a small minority only in digital format). I know a lot of people just hate them, and those people are right. They’re pretty much insufferable, don’t really stand out as individual musicians, and what they’ve produced and done the last ten years is highly shitty (the last three albums basically suck totally, except for ‘Beautiful Day’ and ‘Vertigo’, which are awesome tracks). I particularly dislike the whole commercial peace-love-understanding vibe that they’ve gotten into, and Bono’s lyrics are getting progressively worse. Plus, they’re a bunch of millionaires, and they know it.
Nevertheless: everything they produced before 2001′s All That You Can’t Leave Behind is simply fantastic. The early post-punk new wave albums are piercingly forceful and enthusiastic; the more ambient albums after that are beautiful; the Joshua Tree stuff tops everything in greatness; and their 90′s music is dark and original. The Rattle & Hum concert video, by the way, is the single best music video thing ever, maybe except for the Woodstock dvd. Compare that to other bands like The Rollling Stones, which got into ridiculousness way earlier and sooner than this band did.
So, being such at an adept, even though months can go by without listening to even a single track, I’m always happy when material pops up that I’m not familiar with. Case in point here is U2′s “lost” single, ‘A Celebration’, which was released as a single in March 1982 (between the October and War albums), yet never appeared on an album. I do remember seeing it on MTV once, but completely forgot about it had it not been for this Dangerous Minds post recollecting the history of the track, in addition to a nice interview with Bono about it.
It’s actually a pretty decent track with a very nice guitar riff. The clip was shot in Kilgainham Goal (a former prison for political prisoners in Dublin, which hosted some well-known Irish revolutionairies), where I happened to be just a couple of months ago. Here it is:
For more about this, check this blog post. Here’s a part of a 1983 radio interview with Bono about why the group disliked the track and started to ditch it:
Interviewer: I wanna play the other side of that, which is ‘A Celebration’, since we have no hope in the world of hearing this tomorrow, since the band’s forgotten it we’re gonna play that. This is a terrific track, is it ever going to appear on an album?
Bono: No…(laughs) I don’t think so. It ah -
Interviewer: Do you not like it?!
Bono: No I do like it actually, I’m… sometimes I hate it, I mean it’s like with a lot of music, if I hear it in a club it really excites me, and I think it is a forerunner to War and a lot of the themes. It was great in Europe because… A song like ‘Seconds’ people thought was very serious -- on the LP War ‘Seconds’ -- it’s anti-nuclear, it’s a statement. They didn’t see the sense of humour to it, it’s sort of black humour, where we were using a lot of clichés; y’know It takes a second to say goodbye, blah blah, and some people took it very seriously. And it is black humour, and it is to be taken sort-of seriously, but this song had the lines in it, I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, I believe in the powers that be, but they won’t overpower me. And of course a lot of people they heard I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, and they thought it was some sort of, y’know, Hitler Part II. And Europeans especially were (puts on outraged French accent) Ah non! Vive le France! and it was all like, all sorts of chaos broke out, and they said, What do you mean, you believe in the atomic bomb? And I was trying to say in the song, I believe in the third world war, because people talk about the third world war but it’s already happened, I mean it’s happened in the third world, that’s obvious. But I was saying these are facts of life, I believe in them, I believe in the powers that be BUT, they won’t overpower me. And that’s the point, but a lot of people didn’t reach the fourth line.