Space disco, italo disco, nu-disco, disco disco, electro and house, that’s what you’ll find in this new spaced-out edition of the FNS. As a matter of fact I think this is the first FNS that has absolutely no techno in it, if you don’t count the Underworld snippet. What you will get is space disco classics, Rebolledo, Todd Terje, Tornado Wallace, Studio 54 classics, Andres, great nu-disco remixes, Pachanga Boys, Psychemagik, Moroder, Space Dimension Controller and Daft Punk, and more. 24 tracks in just over 90 minutes.
Also, as you might have noticed, no more numbering in the new year. Because numbers are boring. Instead, the mixes will now have their very own extra special fantastic unique names. So strap yourself into your starship for some “Cosmic Candy”:
A while back I promised you a cooled down, chilled edition of the FNS. Well, here it is. You could even say it is more appropriate for a Sunday afternoon than a Friday night, but don’t let that put you off. This mix is filled with some great slow tracks (100-110 BPM), spanning three decades of electronic music history. From the latest minimal, to pioneers of electronica, to early-90′s acid, it’s all in there. The finale consists of a couple of my favorite ambient tracks. Fly awyay:
Techno music -- we’re not talking commercial electro crap like Deadmau5 and Skrillex that is right now gaining mainstream popularity in the US -- is and has been primarily a European thing. The acid house scene in England and techno scene in Berlin made it great. Yet, the roots of techno are firmly in America, in particularly the former industrial metropolis of Detroit. Here, in the early 1980s, a couple of black dj’s later named the Belleville Three listened to Kraftwerk (admittedly, very European) and Chicago house, and turned it into something stripped-down and industrial that reflected the place in which they were living.
NPR -- that’s the American public broadcaster -- has a nice feature on its website with 10 of the most essential Detroit techno tracks. A couple of illustrious names from the Detroit scene like Juan Atkins, Carl Craig and Jeff Mills (who can still be found dj’ing regularly all around Europe) write about these tracks. It’s nice to hear this and notice how tribal and spacey everything sounds. But this is the basis for today’s sound.
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:
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.
Funny and weird: the ‘Cigarette Duet’ by New Zealand format Princess Chelsea. Their label Lil’ Chief Records describes their sound as ”the soundtrack to an old Disney movie meets Kraftwerk fronted by Enya in a 60s production of Les Mis… set in space”.
Princess Chelsea’s debut “Lil’ Golden Book” will be a treat for all lovers of melody, musicality and originality. Deeply entrenched in the fantastical yet grounded with a somewhat sardonic lyrical wit, her musical fairy tale draws as much influence from Dr Dre as it does from Edvard Grieg. The album is a collection of stories about growing up as a teenager / young adult in modern New Zealand and features duets with Lil’ Chief labelmates Jonathan Bree (The Brunettes) and Lawrence Arabia.
- Edit: ‘Machines of Loving Grace’ is also nice, with this clip featuring good old Never Ending Story.
Here’s your Sunday chill track, even though it’s a Thursday. Norwegian producer diskJokke presents us a highly ambient, pretty stoned-out track, with lots of chimes, synths and maritime sounds. Taking some cues from Röyksopp and Kraftwerk.
It goes through several phases and is overall very happy yet mysterious, so check it out here:
A 2-hour long concert of Kraftwerk, recorded during their 2004 tour, is available on Youtube. I always wanted to see them live, but since they are not touring at the moment, this is a good alternative:
From the pioneers of electronic aesthetic comes this application for the modern-day apex of consumer electronic design: the Kraftwerk iPhone appKling Klang Machine No. 1.
I don’t really get what it does, but it looks and sounds pretty cool.
It’s a novel system that creates music and sound based on realtime data depending on your location that are continuously feeded into the app, meaning the KLING KLANG MACHINE No1 can’t be compared with other generative music apps which mostly utilize pre-programmed algorithms. There are some nice ways to manipulate sound and store personal preferences. For now the functionality is still kind of basic but the original concept will be more and more implemented in future updates and releases.
Dangerous Minds had a blog post a while ago about a 1970s German electronica pioneer other than Kraftwerk: Wolfgang Riechmann. Never heard of the man, but his sound is kinda like Kraftwerk, only a bit more expansive and psychedelic. It also reminds me of Jean-Michel Jarré. I like it. Unfortunately, Riechmann got stabbed to death in a bar just three weeks before the release of his LP Wunderbar.
At Nerdcore, a 5-minute preview of a 3-hour documentary on Kraftwerk and their (huge) influence on electronic music can be found. If you register at Veoh and download a player, you can watch the whole thing.
Here’s a YouTube preview:
As innovative as they are influential, Kraftwerk’s contribution to the development of electronic music since their formation in 1970 remains unsurpassed. Having inspired everyone from Bowie to Coldplay, Siouxsie to Radiohead, this bizarre collective have also proven partly responsible for entire genres to develop – electronica, techno and synth-pop to name but three.
This DVD reviews the career and music of Kraftwerk, from their inception in the late 1960s (as pre-Kraftwerk ensemble Organization), through their most celebrated period in the mid 1970s, and culminating with their resurgence during the 1980s with the popularity of synth-pop and techno. The film further explores how Kraftwerk both fitted in and pulled away from the electronic wing of what is often lazily referred to as ‘Krautrock’. Sparing time also for many of the groups’ contemporaries from the same field, and tracing the unfolding of electronics in German contemporary music generally, this program presents a fascinating story previously untold on film.