Steve Rachmad is one of the true Dutch techno legends. His breakthrough album Secret Life Of Machines was released 17 years ago. For that occasion, a remix album is going to be released in June.
As promotion for that album and to honor Steve Rachmad, who is one of the best Dutch producers of the last two decades and maybe also the coolest, most laidback dj, this mini-documentary was made. Almost the entire techno nobility (Ricardo Villalobos, Dave Clarke, DJ Rush, Richie Hawtin, Chris Liebing, and local heroes like Dimitri, 2000 and One and Joris Voorn) pays respect to him:
Listen to snippets from the new Secret Life Of Machines:
And here’s a couple of classics from the original album. Check out Astronotes and Satyricon, pure industrial, spacey techno with a classic 808 sound:
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.
Every once and a while you run into a track that makes you realize again how fucking great electronic music is.
Take this 1993 track by Plastikman (Richie Hawtin), for example. Plastikman had an epiphany in the early 1990s, resulting in some of the most original and radical electronic music ever made. ‘Plasticine‘ is a great example: running for 11 minutes, it consists of only a few different elements that come up again and again in a different composition.
The resulting sound is so dark, epic and mysterious that it’ll blow your socks off if you’re susceptible to it. Although I’m still regularly surprised by the originality of new electronic music, a 19-year old masterpiece like this is rarely outdone.
Here you go, my top 10 of 2010. It has definitely been a good year in quality pop music!
(Nice list btw Adriejan. Though I must say I was a bit surprised by it as well, because the only tune I’ve heard you playing all year is this one. Oh well, gotta keep up the hipster appearence I guess.)
For me this has been the year of the revival of acid and rave. In dance music, artists like Boys Noize, Housemeister, Fake Blood (and in a way, Richie Hawtin) dusted off the old 303′s and 808′s and fully embraced this part of dance music history. But who would have thought that the smiley faces would also turn up in indie? Artists like Delorean, Pictureplane and Teengirl Fantasy took all the happy vocals, house piano’s and acid synths and poured some hipster sauce on it. This track by Teengirl Fantasy is the epitome of this resurgence of house. The old soul vocals are mixed brilliantly with the uplifting rave vocals and a slow but strong beat is the icing on the cake. The result is an extremely powerful track, which works great on the dancefloor in the early hours.
Beach House is a very good young band. This song from their debut album Teen Dream especially caught my attention. After I heard them playing an amazing live version it became my absolute favorite. The high position of this song on the list is also based on my iTunes “played” count of this song. Be sure to also check out other tracks from Teen Dream!
Crystal Castles (II) is a great album and I like most of its songs. Vietnam, Suffocation and Violent Dreams, I all love them. Empathy is just a tad better than these songs in my opinion. That’s why this is the one that made the list.
Pantha Du Prince spent months in the Austrian Alps to work on the Black Noise album. The result was fantastic and this song is the best of the lot. I love the way it swells up in the beginning. Worked well on the “Big Wheel” stage at Melt!
At first I was pretty negative about MGMT’s second album. Months after its release I gave it another good listen and it turns out that there are actually quite a few good songs on it. The title track is my favorite. It’s very relaxed and soothing.
The masters of electronica were back in 2010 with Oversteps. This is the best track from the album in my opinion. It takes many unexpected turns and you need to listen to it at least five times to fully appreciate its richness.
It was a must to see The National live in 2010. About this song, what can I say? It’s both uplifting and melancholic, which is true for many great songs. When you look back in ten years at 2010, this will be one of the songs you remember.
It was hard to pick the best song from Real Estate’s debut album, because there are many great tracks on it. Suburbaban Beverage and Green River could easily have occupied this spot on my list. I finally went with Beach Comber though because it’s the most catchy and it’s still fresh after listening to it dozens of times. (I know, this album is from November 2009. I put it on this list anyway, because I can)
Below is my bonus list. These are the tracks that just didn’t make it to my top 10, but are worth your while nonetheless.
Last week I showed you a speech by the brilliant musical inovator Karl Heinz Stockhausen (1928-2007). Now take a look at the following interview by Wire magazine. It was taken in 1995, when Stockhausen was still creating sounds and making music. Prior to the interview they sent some tapes with “modern” electronic music from that era, including artists like Aphex Twin, Plastikman and Scanner. Then they asked Stockhausen, the “inventor of electronic music” in the 50′s, about his opinion on the songs.
Can we talk about the music we sent you? It was very good of you to listen
to it. I wonder if you could give some advice to these musicians.
I wish those musicians would not allow themselves any repetitions, and would
go faster in developing their ideas or their findings, because I don’t
appreciate at all this permanent repetitive language. It is like someone who
is stuttering all the time, and can’t get words out of his mouth. I think
musicians should have very concise figures and not rely on this fashionable
psychology. I don’t like psychology whatsoever: using music like a drug is
stupid. One shouldn’t do that : music is the product of the highest human
intelligence, and of the best senses, the listening senses and of
imagination and intuition.And as soon as it becomes just a means for
ambiance, as we say, environment, or for being used for certain purposes,
then music becomes a whore, and one should not allow that really; one should
not serve any existing demands or in particular not commercial values. That
would be terrible: that is selling out the music.
I heard the piece Aphex Twin of Richard James carefully: I think it would be
very helpful if he listens to my work Song Of The Youth, which is electronic
music, and a young boy’s voice singing with himself. Because he would then
immediately stop with all these post-African repetitions, and he would look
for changing tempi and changing rhythms, and he would not allow to repeat
any rhythm if it were varied to some extent and if it did not have a
direction in its sequence of variations.
And the other composer – musician, I don’t know if they call themselves
They’re sometimes called ‘sound artists’…
No, ‘Technocrats’, you called them. He’s called Plasticman, and in public,
Richie Hawtin. It starts with 30 or 40 – I don’t know, I haven’t counted
them – fifths in parallel, always the same perfect fifths, you see, changing
from one to the next, and then comes in hundreds of repetitions of one small
section of an African rhythm: duh-duh-dum, etc, and I think it would be
helpful if he listened to Cycle for percussion, which is only a 15 minute
long piece of mine for a percussionist, but there he will have a hell to
understand the rhythms, and I think he will get a taste for very interesting
non-metric and non-periodic rhythms. I know that he wants to have a special
effect in dancing bars, or wherever it is, on the public who like to dream
away with such repetitions, but he should be very careful, because the
public will sell him out immediately for something else, if a new kind of
musical drug is on the market. So he should be very careful and separate as
soon as possible from the belief in this kind of public.
The other is Robin Rimbaud, Scanner, I’ve heard, with radio noises. He is
very experimental, because he is searching in a realm of sound which is not
usually used for music. But I think he should transform more what he finds.
He leaves it too much in a raw state. He has a good sense of atmosphere, but
he is too repetitive again. So let him listen to my work Hymnen. There are
found objects – a lot like he finds with his scanner, you see. But I think
he should learn from the art of transformation, so that what you find sounds
completely new, as I sometimes say, like an apple on the moon.
Aphex Twin then reacted to Stockhausen’s remarks at a later time:
Following Stockhausen’s advice to our Technocrats, we decided to play them
excerpts from the compositions which the German composer suggested they
listen to and learn from. Here’s what they had to say…
Aphex Twin on Song Of The Youth
Mental! I’ve heard that song before; I like it. I didn’t agree with him. I
thought he should listen to a couple of tracks of mine: “Didgeridoo“, then
he’d stop making abstract, random patterns you can’t dance to. Do you reckon
he can dance? You could dance to Song of the Youth, but it hasn’t got a
groove in it, there’s no bassline. I know it was probably made in the 50s,
but I’ve got plenty of wicked percussion records made in the 50s that are
awesome to dance to. And they’ve got basslines. I could remix it: I don’t
know about making it better; I wouldn’t want to make it into a dance
version, but I could probably make it a bit more anally technical. But I’m
sure he could these days, because tape is really slow. I used to do things
like that with tape, but it does take forever, and I’d never do anything
like that again with tape. Once you’ve got your computer sorted out, it
pisses all over stuff like that, you can do stuff so fast. It has a
different sound, but a bit more anal.
I haven’t heard anything new by him; the last thing was a vocal record,
Stimmung, and I didn’t really like that. Would I take his comments to heart?
The ideal thing would be to meet him in a room and have a wicked discussion.
For all I know, he could be taking the piss. It’s a bit hard to have a
discussion with someone via other people.
I don’t think I care about what he thinks. It is interesting, but it’s
disappointing, because you’d imagine he’d say that anyway. It wasn’t
anything surprising. I don’t know anything about the guy, but I expected him
to have that sort of attitude. Loops are good to dance to…
He should hang out with me and my mates: that would be a laugh. I’d be quite
into having him around.