Original post date: 01/09/2014
Pleased to say my first EP in a while has been storming up various charts...
It stormed into #8 on the Music Week Upfront Breakers chart:
And not only that it has literally stormed into #92 on the Top 100 Dance Charts. Literally! Stormed!
So, that's all good! Hoping for further developments...we shall see.
Line-1 is a melodic hypnotic groover exploring the atmostpheric end of tech-house. The Original Mix features a fat off beat sidechain bass, strong lead and half-tempo breakbeat section. The Electrophonic Mix is a deeper work out with a chunky syncopated bassline building the track up to a massive saw break. Fighta Pilot's tech house mix offers a different evolving take on the elements.
Now this was more like it! A man, a massive Doepfer modular synth and a drummer.
First up was the support though - a man who didn't introduce himself and then played fairly standard FTB (Faceless Techno Bollocks) for 40 minutes. Don't get me wrong, I like FTB as much as the next man, but when coupled with jittery double exposure 'contraversial' video of meat, old people and toddlers having their ears pierced, it doesn't really cohere as a 'thing'. So moving on...
Holden was great. Once again I'll have to retract my Sound on Sound article decrying the use of real drums in electronic music. When the electronics are as pure as this, the fizz and crackle of an acoustic kit is a perfect counterpoint, adding weight and energy. As well as a bit of visual interest!
So, yeah, an hour of hypnotic arpeggiated, full spectrum analogue synths. Some tracks reminiscent of Vangelis lusciousness with an added dash of Aphex Twin Ambient works (Blackpool Late 80s'), others more reminiscent of Tangerine Dream in their hay day (The Caterpillar's Intervention). Al of which was hypnotic enough to build up momentum and atmosphere, but avoided minimalistic austerity.
I loved it. It was my favourite thing - tight conceptual work that stimulates creativity rather than leading down a cul-de-sac. Inspiring.
So we rocked up at around 5pm in anticipation of the Main Event at 9pm – ie, the Pixies. Lovely summer day. First port of call: cash point. Dammit. Of course they charge £3.75 for a withdrawal – curse our forgetfulness in not picking up cash on the way.
Then to the beer tent. Urgh Red Stripe is not a nice beer, so weak. Especially in a can. Luckily we discovered the Greenwich Meantime truck after that.
Then to the tent in which Telegram are playing. Good honest solid rockin’. One track would work really well as a techno track if guitars were replaced by synths. They don’t seem to have much on the Spotify so I can’t prove this to you with audio evidence. I liked the first couple of tracks a lot.
Then to the dance tent as I’ve had enough guitar for now and I’m intrigued by the act name of ‘Ngunzugunzu’. As expected, African tinged minimal electro is playing. And then a power cut to the dismay of the DJ (the female half of the male/female duo). After a couple of minutes the power is back up and after a while the broken beat / Afro / minimal mash-up doesn’t really seem to be getting anywhere after the promising start.
So we go back and listen to Drenge. Who are quite scary. Luckily the tent is full so we sit on the grass outside where the sound is actually a bit better and listen to the duo’s metal-rock. It’s quality stuff, but not my bag.
We hear a little bit of the limp bed-wetting pseudo rock of The Horrors on the way to the food stalls; yuk. We wait patiently for the main event, ie, the Pixies at 9pm.
Finally it is 9pm. The Pixies play. We go home.
Ok, a bit more on the Pixies.
A) I don’t know their stuff that well.
B) Most of the rest of the crowd do.
A1) It all sounds very precisely replicated (like listening to a CD) and I don’t think they deviate from the original song structures much. Certainly no extemporising or lengthy drum solos. Or even saying hi to the crowd.
B1) The crowd don’t seem to care about that, but we are far enough back that there’s only mild swaying and the odd whoop and hands aloft when a song is recognised.
A+B = The Pixies are now a heritage band, pandering to middle-aged fans who want to be reminded of their youth, or to simply be able to say ‘I saw The Pixies.
The most common t-shirts I saw were Pixies T-shirts. But I was pleased to spot Cut Copy and Fuck Buttons.
First saw Son Lux last December and enjoyed them hugely. I love their blend of clever electronics, guitar and vox. They always does something a bit surprising musically, and the drummer is excellent theatre to watch.
The biggest difference between last year's gig at the Lexington and yesterday's at XOYO was the enthusiasm of the crowd. Son Lux seemed to have picked up several hundred very dedicated fans in those short months, which made for a great atmosphere.
Bascially go and see them live if you get a chance. The records are very good - but live is a million times better.
My first visit to The Oval Space in Hackney, and the first thing you see are the massive gasometers that are adjacent, setting the scene for a slightly otherworldly evening. I've never seen gasometers this close up and they are impressively looming objects, and allowed me the opportunity to learn all about the differences between the water sealed system and the Wiggin's dry-seal system. Almost more interesting that the music, I'm sorry to report.
We were a bit late for Luke Abbot's set, but what we heard seemed like nicely ambient semi-mangled drones; distorted but harmonically pleasant. I noticed Kieren 'Fourtet' Hebden watching, so that's probably a seal of approval.
After a half hour break, the Tyondai group mounted their five white podlike platforms, which they sat upon cross-legged, raised 5 foot in the air. Possbily the most uncomfortable were the percussionists who continually shifted to achieve some level of comfort. I'm not entirely convinced that performing cross-legged is the best position for such physical instruments, but it was pleasingly novel and conveyed an atmosphere of slight otherworldlyness.
The first track set the pattern for the rest of the evening; Tyondai and the chap to his left manipulated harsh bursts of distorted analogue synthery, whilst the three percussionists to his right played stacatto bursts of precise snare/shaker/bongos. Which gradually evolved into a more pulsed beat, locked down by a solid bass drum.
The subsequent tracks were pretty similar; precision drumming and distorto synths over the top. Musically, the percussionists were doing clever poly-rhythms and slicing up the meter in straight beats, and then triplets, etc. Which was all very clever and exceptionally well played - but just lacked a certain something to make it really engaging and interesting.
If they were working out some kind of evolution of the material it was a bit too subtle to figure out, and I'm afraid after about 20 minutes I was actively quite bored, waiting for something to really latch onto. The overall effect was kind of like Steve Reich's 'Drumming', but without the minimalist approach of setting a pattern in motion and watching the effects play out. Notable was the fact that the percussion was being played from a score so it was very precisely trying to achieve that effect, but I still didn't grasp it.
I wanted to like it, as it was an interesting concept, but struggled.
And then, almost as soon as it started it was over. I'm pretty sure the whole thing was only 40-45 minutes, which given the entry price seemed a little steep. But, on the other hand I was happy to go outside again and be overawed by the gasometers and their looming presence again.
I have seen the future of Synthesizers on this year's Eurovision! And it's round! Very round. And also, um, round. Basically round.
Musically, of course, the songs were generally awful, though less novelty than usual. (which is a shame, bad novelty music is much more entertaining that bad middle-of-the-road music).
Despite that, interesting to note the influence of drum'n'bass and dubstep on a couple of the tracks. London beats are leading the way, as ever!
Saw the Buttons of Fuck last Friday at the Barbican. Very fine indeed - first gig I've seen of theirs and I'd happily see 'em again.
Using the tactics of minimalism they deployed huge blocks of sound endlessly churning over. Despite the repetition it never settled down to a boring groove; the looping segments always yearning for something intangible and always starting afresh with a renewed urgency.
I've never seen an electronic act really give the Barbican Hall an atmosphere, but these guys managed it. Even thought it looked absurd in a seated auditorium, about a quarter of the circle rose to their feet and swayed / grooved to the physicality of the sound.
The simple device of projecting their silhouettes on the screen and overlaying it with various psychodelic nonsense also added up to the overall hypnotic effect.
I loved 'em.
Supporting were Mount Kimbie, who I wasn't so impressed by. All the faff with a metallic (noisy) parachute above the stage and 1960's era Pink Floyd reflected water ripples didn't seem to warrant the effort of 15 (count 'em) stage hands to dissassemble the mess. And various other musicians trooping on and off stage during the gig didn't seem to add much to the generally muddy, bass heavy sound.
And don't get me started on the self-regarding be-hatted photographer who posed around the place 'doing art'.
After the gig were noisy noise merchants Fenesz, who seemed quite good, but my chums & I wanted to have a conversation so we hid round the corner where we could hear ourselves speak.
Top evening all round, and top marks to http://bleep.com/ for organising it.
Lucy & I were asked to write the music to a new ident for Channel 5's digital TV channel 5*. And here it is:
It's a chilled and 'Knife-like' groove for introducting those late night movies!
Well, it is, innit?
I’m gonna get me one of these, then I can be as cool as Des.
My bro is cool. He scored tickets for Kraftwerk's gig at the Tate Modern on 12th Feb. It was the 'Techno Pop' album night - though I know it as Electric Cafe, and it will ALWAYS be Electric Cafe to me. Perhaps that's why I had a band called Cassette Electrik.
It was a cool gig - 3D visuals - Kraftwerk music - etc - etc. One could get cushions to sit on and everything. There's a moment in the Kraftwerk documentary that was broadcast a while afterwards that used footage from the gig - and you can see my bro quite clearly in the audience. Not sure where I'd got to at that precise moment - annoying!
Here are some pics I took of the event...
Sometime collaborators of Cassette Electrik and On Rails - making our cool vids - have just produced the latest ad for Diesel's Spring Collection.
It is actually a work of art and transcends mere advertising:
Nice work, guys!
Loving Google's Moog synth on their Google Doodle spot today, in honour of Robert Moog.
Here's a quick challenge for you. Play this riff and let me know which classic 80's song it's from:
C C [ [ + + [ [
2 2 9 9 [
Q Q I I P
See it here: http://www.google.com/doodles/robert-moogs-78th-birthday
Official Google blog post: A tribute to Bob Moog, sonic doodler
This is easily my favourite of the many Spotify apps out there: Boil the frog
Boil the Frog is a Spotify App that will create playlists that gradually take you from one music style to another by analysing adjacent styles and creating an arbitrary path from one to the other.
Sadly not available to the public yet, but the creator of it, Paul, kindly did me one that went from Dubstep to Beethoven. Check it out: Dub-hoven
Lucy and were asked to write a couple of idents for Channel 5's rebrand launching today, check them out below!
Channel 5 ident - VIP
Channel 5 ident - Equaliser
I recently had this video digitised. It's my hard house outfit Contact Assist performing live at the London nightclub Heaven at a Fevah party way back in the year 2000 (which was the future, then)
It was all good clean fun.