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Mixes: 8Tracks: The Rollicking Revenge of the Maxed-out Retro Rave Zombies!

 

It´s a Saturday afternoon and therefore it should be time to give you some tracks for your lunchtime listening. When it came to this one, I seem to have realised that over the last couple of months,  I’ve been buying a lot of music that’s been heavily “influenced” by the glory days of rave. Music crammed with rolling jungle breaks, Hoover synths, and all sorts of pilled up madness. I do admit that this is a bit of a weak spot of mine as some of it is as washed out and retro as anything else you can chuck shit at these days, but I guess I´m giving a lot of this a free pass as it’s the muzick of ma youth, etc, etc.

Anyway, listen and enjoy!

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2013 in mixes

 

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The Sunday Cult Film Corner: ‘Vibrations (1996)’

Vibrations!!

 

OK, this is going to be a quick post as starting tonight (In about 30 minutes), there is a REAL display of extreme cult cinema over at Bio Paradis as their Svartir Sunnudagur (Black Sunday) series of films. “In the Realm Of The Senses,” “120 Days Of Sodom,” “Cannibal Holocaust” and much more great fun entertainment for all the family! I want some of that action!

So tonight we’re going down a slightly different route. The great thing about cult films is that new one crop up all the time and often out of nowhere. And tonight’s edition of THE SUNDAY CULT FILM CORNER (ER-ER-ER-ER) is one that has become a recently cult favourite thanks to the recent internet viral success of its best scene. Ladies and gentlemen. I give you VIBRATIONS.

Now here’s the plot that is up on its IMDB page

“Rising rock star, TJ Cray, gets the shot of a lifetime, an audition with a A&R man. On the way into the city, a carload of drunks smash into his car, severing his hands. He drops out of the business and becomes a homeless drunk. Cray wakes up to a pulsing beat in an abandoned warehouse, where a “rave” party is in full action. To his rescue comes Anamika, a computer artist, who takes him outside for fresh air. They become friends and eventually reinvent TJ’s career. With the help of friends, they replace his hands with prosthetics and design a metallic cyber looking suit. TJ quickly becomes an overnight sensation, known as Cyberstorm. The finale is a dramatic scenario where TJ has to make crucial decisions about his new life.”

Now as a plot, that is definitely one of the more mental ones! Many people will not know this film, but many people will likely have seen the video of its best/worst scene. I won’t post it (Pretty much because it’s one of the integral parts of the film), but you can see it here.

Man this film is perfect cult film fodder. It’s so brilliantly awful in its direction, script, acting (When Christina Applegate is the best thing in the film, then you know the bar was not set that high) and most importantly, the MUSIC. Yes, even though it’s supposed to be a soppy love story, this is really a film about this new fangled rave “scene” and “techno” music. But of course the director or scriptwriter have obviously never heard a techno track or been to an actual rave in their lives. Less Aphex Twin and Jeff Mills, more Betty Boo and Jack Magnet. And the thing is that despite all the unintentional laughs, it takes itself so, so seriously!

It’s the little scenes that will have you choking on your eccies, such as the attack by the thugs (I mean WHY would they actually o that in the first place?), or the reunion between TJ and his cop had, of the scene with the English music manager (“what a bunch of WANKERS!”) and the truly wincing new-age inflected gobbledigook spouted by the “raveheads.” It’s like the Hacienda never happened.

But don’t take my word for it, watch for yourself. For best results wear a white boiler suit and smear your face with vicks vaporub. ‘Vibrations” is probably the best documentary on EDM I´ve seen in ages….

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Film

 

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Music Moment Special: Various Artists, “ICERAVE”

Woo!!

A special music moment for you tonight pop pickers. A couple of days ago the wonderful Icelandic electronic music site Raftonar.is posted a link on their Facebook page for an old piece they published about ICERAVE, the seminal  Icelandic music compilation that came out in 1992 and for many was the beginning of Rave music and modern electronic music making in Iceland (you can read it here, but be warned Icelandic alert!).

Funnily enough i was talking about this exact CD last week with DJ Andre during his Extreme Chill night, noting that i was finding it very hard to source a copy. He said that he would give me his copy if it were completely covered in scratches. But i couldn’t find it in any of the shops, the local library, or the usual music websites I visit.

But last night, I chanced my luck on an Icelandic music site to see if it was there. and LO AND BEHOLD there it was in all it shining digital glory! One credit card and a couple of minutes later, I was the proud owner of a copy. And just so you all don’t get left out, I uploaded the album to YouTube this evening so you to can indulge in the totally old school delights.The original hardcore of Ajax “Ruffage” and some interesting classic breakbeat sounds from the likes of Di Di Seven (AKA Bix) and Mind In Motion. All cool old school sounds.

Funnily enough there are a few moments where you can hear a lot of scratches and even the occasional wobble. Also the master volume at times seems to be well down. I wonder if tonlist.is simply took an old CD and ripped to make some sales from it? wouldn’t put it past them…

Goodnight

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Iceland, music, Video

 

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Music Moment: Unknown (HATE Records), “Pretty Boys Don’t Survive Up North”

Buzzzz, buzzzzz…..

I don’t know. today was a day of trying to avoid the IRL boss, for real (And imagined) misdeeds, while ideas just floated in and out of my brain like a fly that buzzes around your head just out of eye range. Every time i tried to make it concrete in my head, it would just evaporate. Some days are like that I guess.

But today was all about getting back on the “journalistic” treadmill-finishing off reviews, arranging interviews. Ho hum. In lighter news, a new mixtape is on the way and should be ready by later this week. Also the poster designs have come back from my lovely designer friend for the RSF club night in a few weeks. And even if i say so they will kick aesthetic ass. All will be revealed this week.

Now what am I listening to tonight  well actually a record from persons unknown who would like to keep their identities secret apparently. It all centres around HATE records, an offshoot of the esoteric label Modern Love (Of Demdike Stare fame). here’s the blurb….

Majority of the material on this label is previously unreleased,

Original junglist hardcore dating back to 1991-1994 from producers who wish to remain anonymous.

A carload full of dubplates and DAT tapes full of unreleased material was handed over to the label at Sowerby bridge in Yorkshire sometime in 2008. The material (several hundred original tracks) has been gradually catalogued,With a few tracks already planned for release this year. HATE is a Modern Love project and the label might also feature,Occasional new versions from different producers. All HATE transmissions will be limited to 300 stamped copies.

This is the past coming to bite you on the ass!!

Now that is certainly a mysterious, if rather far-fetched, back story, but the music is as spectral and mysterious as the label itself. Take this track, “Pretty Boys Don’t Survive Up North,” Lots of warped buzzing jungle/rave synths, and that obligatory urban sample with a slowed down amen break. Scarily similar to what Andy Stott did with “Up the Box” on his ‘Luxury Problems’ album. It sounds of the ’90s, but feels strangely dislocated. More like an uploading of someone’s memory of the time than an actual instead instead.

Interesting to see that with this, Lee Gamble’s efforts and even Moon Wiring Club making epic mixes of ’90s ambient rave tunes, the revisiting of ’90s electronic music and it’s energy/signifiers as being something outside of time/space/location is something that’s picking up in earnest.

Goodnight…

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in music, Video

 

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Mixes: Nordic Interstitial Thresholds: The Revenge Of The Hypertime Wrecking Krew!

The nights are now long and the people are restless….

OK I was going to wait until tomorrow to do this, but all of…. two people asked to hear it RIGHT NOW so i thought i would at least do it for them. Nordic Interstitial Thresholds is back with the last mix of 2012  and Maaaan it’s rather epic in size and scope. I wasn’t really sure where i was “going” with this mix. but what I do remember was being rather angry when I made it, which possibly explains the tone of the audio samples/snippets. But as we all know, sometimes the best music is made when anger, strife, injustice and boredom linger on the background.

Get your ears around this. If you like what you are hearing and you want a copy to listen in your own time, then you can download a high quality MP3 of the mix HERE.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in mixes, music

 

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Music Moment: Legowelt, “The Paranormal Soul”

So where were you in ’92…..?

Well i don’t know about you but I was slowly losing my mind out on a local hillside, or at a semi-legal party/rave in a near abandoned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, with only a dozen crates of beer, a cabinet size speaker system and 150 people and a flock of sheep for company   (Shades of Hacker Farm there). Thanks to such jolly times, there’s a heavy imprint of the good old days of rave/techno/house in the deep neural crevices of my memory banks (And praise be for that!).

This link to the past has meant that one aspect of this year’s electronic environment in 2012 rather intrigued me. It’s kind of ironic the way I’ve noted that some of Iceland’s local music scene seemed to be stuck in the ’90s, when at the same time, so many of today’s young n’ fresh artists have been using the likes of Youtube and archival websites to explore, source and strip-mine many of the original sounds and styles of the first wave of rave for today’s productions. You’ve got the revival of the classic “Mentalism” Hoover synth, playing rinsed out hardcore breaks and rhythms with a straight face, early ’90s style house jacks, and explorations in old school acid sounds. And that’s before we even get to “Hipster House.” There is a lot more out there, believe me!

But when you have a guy like LEGOWELT, then there is something about his music that takes you back to that time, that place. Also known to his mum as dutch producer Danny Wolfers, he’s been releasing an extraordinary amount of music under numerous pseudonyms for nearly a decade now. Clearly not buckling to any kind of trend of standard evolution in electronic music, he simply makes what he likes, what he likes being  old school electro style techno and house, swathed in thick blankets of smooooooth analogue synth lines that just open your neural pathways back to the early days of those Warp releases and crazy imports from Detroit.

He’s got a new album out right now, ‘The Paranormal Soul,’ and each track is very much a belter in their own way. But it’s the 2-track combo near the beginning of the album that caused my serotonin levels to red line. “Elements Of Houz Music,” has a simply deceptive bleep and bass style, riding on a single throbbing bass line with the synth pads floating around it like moths to a flame, all the while the high hats are skittering away. “Rave Till Dawn,” meanwhile tinkers with an nice hardcore breakbeat and single note synth lines that give this all a weightless feel to it.

To paraphrase a friend, I’m not always looking for cutting edge modernity, and I don’t mind looking back, or being nostalgic with my music. But if you don’t jack properly into the feelings and atmospherics of those times like LEGOWELT is doing with his music right now, them I’m not really interests, thanks.

Goodnight…

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in music, Video

 

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Musings n’ Shit: Nu-Dance Music – I´M OLD! KILL IT WITH FUCKING FIRE! THEN KILL IT AGAIN!

On a Sunday most people sit down with a pot of tea and read the Sunday papers as a way of killing a few hours of their precious time. And in a way I’m not that different, except i use Sunday to wade through my RSS feeder, parsing and analysing blog posts, mixes, observations etc.

On occasion i come across a piece that NAILS what many people like myself have been pondering and skirted around for a while now, but haven’t really gone at with all guns blazing.

Such a piece was on the excellent MNML SSGS blog today where resident poster Chris posted about the rise of the nu-trance-pop-rave phenomenon (or EDM as he calls it).

For a while now many people (including myself) have noted the inexorable rise of nu-dance music over the last couple of years. A style of music that has taken a vice-like grip on the balls of the music landscape in the US and to a lesser extent, in Europe, where it originated. Writers like Simon Reynold has written about both the Ibiza-fication of modern US pop and R&B music, as well as appropriation of Rock N’ Roll excess in their videos and songs. Heck, even i wrote a (unpublished) piece last year about how the rise of cocaine as the main party drug of the last decade has helped to fuel the rise of ego bullshit and both in dance music and the club scene, both in Iceland and abroad (I´ll post it at the end of this rant).

But the MMNM SSGS post goes much better to explain why we should be paying to attention to this new form of music, and why it’s potentially damaging to how electronic music is perceived by people. The piece really picks up on how warped the idea of a rave is in the US. In the US and the UK, while its getitng harder to go clubbing as it becomes harder for clubs to open and stay open with increasingly stricter licencing and environmental laws, the “new rave” has assimilated certain superficial facets of dance culture (especially glow sticks and paint), yet is more akin to a rock gig or festival like Lollapalooza. And this ties in with the rise of the Supergod DJ and dance acts who behave more, on stage and off, like strutting rock stars than the slightly anonymous acts of the past.

Take Skrillex for example. He used to be in a screamo band before discovering electronic music. But his take on dubstep has the dynamics found rock/hardcore/metal. When they linked him with old rockers The Doors in the following documentary, despite the oscillating blasts  of noise, it really wasn’t that much of a leap into the unknown for him.

What seems to be concerning is also the fact that a lot of the acts that are currently riding high on this new wave really are not that much cop technically speaking. The MMNL SSGS post has two videos where “world’s greatest DJ” David Guetta commit a truly shocking piece of mixing, while the second piece has Steve Aoki effectively turn a DJ’s equipment into mere props.

Also what’s interesting is the way that much of this scene is incredibly objectified, the way that the party scenes seem to be a form of aesthetic hedonism. Many of these videos show women as mere eye candy that you would have expected in a Rap or R&B video. This has changed the way that a lot of the party scene is more concerned about looking good and being seen partying, instead of actually letting go of your ego and getting on with it. People look buffed, teased and coiffed so that they are more ready to take part in a photo shoot than something that actually appropriates itself as really fun. There is a major emphasis on coolness, on having a model’s look and body (for the women), or looking pumped, ripped and tanned (for the boys). Anyone who has spent more than a weekend partying in downtown Reykjavik will immediately recognise and understand this.

Of course there is a massive undeniable energy to a lot of this music. Stuff like LMFAO might be easily to ridicule, but in terms of music it’s almost breathtaking in the near cynical away it packs more bangs and hooks for you buck in under 4,minutes, honing the obligatory rave “rush” to near bludgeoning levels. It’s the quintessential music for Euroshopper energy drinks!

Am i showing my age? Probably. Maybe it’s just how things are evolving for a certain type of music to be accepted by a mainstream audience. But when it comes to partying? Well, i still have a few good years left in me yet, and since my looks were knackered at birth, i have no need to look good, just feel good instead.

(my unpublished piece for the Grapevine from 2011)

Bloody Hell, It’s All Gone Pete Tong!

Today’s dance music is a watered down pastiche of past hedonisms

Have you listened to FLASS FM recently? No, I’m serious about this. I started listening to it again a few weeks ago after a friend of mine posted a rant online about how most mainstream dance music had become this awful chimera of ‘boyband/diva singing, Eurotrance beats and frankly awful rap.’ I sat looking at the words thinking ‘surely things can’t be that bad!’ So I decided to change the dial to hear it for myself.

And I’m sad to report he’s completely right. Listening to the station’s playlist was being witness to a car crash of brutalist synths, pedestrian techno beats and big time chorus singing that’s completely autotuned up the wazoo. What started harmlessly enough with the Black Eyed Peas, over the last the last 18 months has spread like a virulent form of foot and mouth. Rap and R&B stars such as Chris brown, Kelly Rowland Nicky Minaj, Pitbull, and even Snoop Dogg are queuing to have their music transformed by the likes of Benny Benassi and the Gallic Voldermort of Euro dance, David Guetta. Meanwhile Techno warhorses like Pete Tong and DJ Tiesto are taking up residencies in Las Vegas, where, according to the Swedish House Mafia, ‘they come to rave for two to eight hours. It’s not unusual for the best table at top clubs to have a minimum spend of $50,000 (5.75 million ISK).’ Just what the hell is going on??

It seems that techno music is finally making it big in mainstream USA several years after everyone else. Americans are now wanting to feel the rave experience for themselves, and the mainstream rap and R&B acts are getting in on the act in manufacturing the party feel and ‘rush’ of 90’s dance culture. It’s a shame though that all their efforts to target our musical pleasure centres are completely removed from the original context and atmosphere of what rave culture at that time was all about.

One of the main factors in all of this is down to drugs. Now before I continue any further, I’m required by law when talking about drugs to consult the Kastljós handbook on discussing drugs in a serious manner. Let’s see… (Puts Portishead’s ‘Mysterons’ on the stereo, lowers lighting and voice, pixelates face). That’s better. Right, now if you were around during the ‘90s, then there was one major catalyst in generating the atmosphere associated with rave culture. And that catalyst was ecstasy. Whatever your feeling about drugs in general, the use of ecstasy contributed to a communal, inclusive effect as hundreds of thousands of people from different backgrounds and social strata turned away from the mainstream culture of the day and experienced a form of ‘hivemind hedonism’. Everyone dancing and experiencing the same rush of the techno music’s ‘soar’. And while the hedonism wasn’t political or focused, it certainly was radical, radical enough for the government of the time to pass numerous laws to ban it all. Even when illegal raving gave way to legal clubbing and the superclubs, ecstasy was still prevalent in its use.

But at the beginning of the last decade, the UK (and to a lesser extent the US, which had the likes of crystal meth) became awash with cocaine. So awash in fact that in the UK alone, its use quadrupled from 0.6% to 2.4% of all 16- to 59-year-olds in 2009-10. Despite a marked decrease in use last year, it’s still the most common illegal drug after cannabis and is now the dominant drug (allied with copious amounts of alcohol) when having a night out.

As a result of the change in drug use, the game changed in clubbing. Despite the price drop and varying purity, cocaine is still seen as a ‘players’ drug, a drug of exclusivity that invites self-aggrandisement and bullshit instead of inclusiveness and sweaty hugs. As time passed, group hedonism made way for a pseudo ‘chic’ hedonism that was, along with celebrity culture, commodified and packaged to the masses as the pinnacle of an ‘edgy’ good time. Most clubs and bars became have become tawdry affairs as people seemed more prepared to hang around the toilets and go through the motions of being ‘on it’, but with extra aggro and nobody connecting with each other.

And the change in clubbing created an echo chamber effect on the music. The dance pop of now may sound similar to late ‘90s techno, but it has a more aggressive, braggart feel that reeks of ego and roid rage. Instead of lyrics about losing yourself to the experience and ‘taking yourself higher’, nowadays it’s all about drawing attention to yourself, while finding ‘where dem girls at’. Looking at their videos, it seems they’re trying to tell you that they’re having THE BEST PARTY EVER IN THE WORLD. Yet these party shots look empty, with a lack of real togetherness and soul. It looks for all as though they’re doing it through gritted teeth, trying to convince themselves that they aren´t leaving lives of quiet desperation.

And this new trance-ified pop and the associated lifestyle is acting as the perfect blueprint for Iceland’s VIP chode party scene. With its emphasis on the fashion, the makeup, the blank faces and pinprick eyes, the self-importance and stiff poses, the puffed up barely concealed acres of orange flesh and the whole ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ dance of banality, you can definitely say that the sounds of David Guetta and Flo Rida have found their spiritual home on Laugavegur and Austurstræti.

The soundtrack of summer 2011 is not powered by water, E and a feeling of togetherness, but coke, steroids, expensive champagne and separation.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in literature, music

 

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