Tag Archives: Reykjavik sex farm
As I type this, I have soothing new age sounds winding out of my tiny laptop speakers as i drink endless cups of tea to stave off the lethargy (Ok, mild hangover).
This is because last night a funny thing happened. Yes last night’s REYKJAVIK SEX FARM: THE CLUB NIGHT happened in a big way. Yup, I´d say it was a success. Place got really packed, and even with the almost obligatory technical issues, everyone came through in a big way and this will surely lead onto better, bigger and brighter things. And goth. And turbo Folk probably.
But there’s no rest for the wicked as in barely a few hours, SONAR REYKJAVIK will be upon us with venomous fury. I wrote the obligatory “go and check these guys out” piece for the GV, but there are more I could add, such as Kalli & Ewok, Dasha Rush, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Tales Of Us (if you really need to see some house music) and Modeselector.
Yes there are many discussions to be had about art vs commerce, the role of Harpa, some of the acts included, etc. But this won’t be the time for them. Overall, this is a really good line for their first year with some top notch electronic music on display. I know this because i even spoke to the main guy from Samaris about this last night, also wishing him and his group well on Saturday. Fuck, I must be getting soft in my old age!!
So I will be off the grid a bit over the next couple of days. See you down in the garage!!
(To keep you sated, here’s some fine stuff from local house/techno overlord OCULUS from a couple of years ago.)
The gritty reality of live techno is often chewed over negatively on forums however, with anything less than perfect auditory clarity attracting howls of attrition. Sonically, Karenn seem to be bravely taking a similar approach to producing tracks as Guy Stevens did to producing The Clash – chair throwing, red wine in the piano, leaping ecstatic into the red.
While the past half decade has seen the Berlin-centered techno scene come massively into vogue, with a narrative all its own brought quickly into mythology (in the case of Berghain, for better or worse, a meticulously stage-managed brand of haughty abandon), it’s easy to forget that it was a sense of infectious and unpretentious fun that was the hallmark of the UK scene.
At Atomic Jam in Birmingham or The Orbit in Morley, say, you were every bit as likely to find yourself dancing next to a crew of 15-stone topless plasterers on a dozen pills as you were a clued up enthusiast wearing a Basic Channel t-shirt. For a fair percentage of the crowd, techno was simply rave music. It’s all too easy to forget that, for all the bleak situationist aesthetics, joyous, shrieking abandon was the kaleidoscopic flipside. On this exhilarating and brave EP, Karenn seem intent on reclaiming that bruised and maligned lineage.
“The application of overdriven electronics and throbbing beats is nothing new, really; the early industrialists and power electronics set, even the maddest Chicago types and gabbers have been at it for decades. But in recent times a whole new school has emerged of belligerent bastards taking license to pile on the distortion over pretty much everything. It’s in part a political/aesthetic reaction to a decade of glossy, clean-cut house and techno minimalism and also down to more base instincts that simply weren’t fully gratified by the noise underground: it can sometimes get a bit boring standing still to 40 minutes of face aching distortion; just add some churning rhythms to the equation and et voila, you’ve got a f**king party!
OK, that’s maybe a bit reductive, but if we’re going to attribute the rise of ‘Nause Techno’ to anything, it’s a craving for more visceral sensation, whether thru volume or kinaethesia, and there’s no arguing that this stuff won’t stimulate areas other sounds don’t reach. Make of it what you will, but for us, this is some of the most exciting and gratifying music available right now, offering myriad options for expression to any wayward musicians bored by the strictures of established genres.”
I do think that despite our current mass diffused-digital consciousness, music can still reflect the times we live in. After the coke fuelled me-me-me times of the last decade, followed by the we-can-still-partay times of denial over the first few year of the crash, I think people are now wanting to hear and feel music that best articulates their sense of anger and helplessness, something that you can truly lose yourself in, regaining a sense of music as catharsis. Of course that could be bullshit (we live in very different times from the early ’90s for example), but there’s no denying that there is indeed an ongoing “roughening” up of the sounds, a taking delight in the harshness of new tracks and an ever growing aversion to the orthodoxy and smoothness of what constitutes current dance music and what it represents.
And it’s being approached from both ends. On one side you have the likes of Boddika & Joy O, Blawan (who is one half of Karenn along with Pariah), and Untold who are “going techno,” as well as the resurgence of underground techno artists such as Truss, Perc Trax, Shifted, AnD, SawF, British Murder Boys, and the Downwards label. Meanwhile at the other end, you have the likes of Vatican Shadow appearing at SONAR Spain. Nearly no one in Iceland has heard of him, but as Dominick Fernow, he was a member of Cold Cave, and more importantly went for the best part of a decade as Prurient, who along with his label Hospital Records was probably the most influential noise musicians in the US over the last decade. Over the last few years he has been using dance music as an aesthetic way out of the cul-de-sac that noise music had found itself in. It’s as if AMFJ decided all of a sudden to make techno beats (If he did, then we’re truly fucked).
To be honest, what I’m looking for is not an either/or situation. I do love house music, and a full blooded disco groove will get me going along with the best of them. But right now I’m wanting and expecting MORE from my electronic music. A real sense of the ruffige and darkness that has been a little lacking over the last couple of years. and I know that I can’t be alone in thinking this as well.
So who’s up for it?
When you put the bands on was there a policy of who you booked, or was it just your own internal logic?
JG Wilkes: I remember Keith was saying lets book Whitehouse at the club and I looked up at the calender and I was like, “It’s a bank holiday Sunday,” and it’s when you get a few disco betties down and all that… and I phoned you back up and I was like, that’s a Bank Holiday and… that’s fucking genius… you know, if you ever wanted an insane night….
JD Twitch: I remember these two totally working-class Glasgow girls – 18, 19, looked like they were in the wrong club; looked like they would never into what we were doing. This girl comes up and just as Whitehouse has finished and I go, “Oh here we go, she’s gonnna give me a load of abuse for what the fuck was that about,” and she was, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I’ve never heard anything like that ever. where can I buy a CD?” On the other hand you’d have people you’d think that would be really into it just getting so angry.
JD Wilkes & JD Twitch of the Optimo club, (We love the smell of Napalm in the morning: Interview with Optimo, LOOPS Journal, Issue 1)
You know, I went to Optimo quite a few times in the late ’90s during the last years of uni when I lived in Glasgow. Very weird club night, rather mental especially as it was on a Sunday, the loneliest of all clubbing nights (It’s not the new Thursday). Even though I was in my early ’20s it was the very first time I’d actually seen people having sex in the open and not giving a metaphorical fuck (in the men’s toilets no less). It was also the first time I would hear some truly weird DJ mashes, such as taking guitar sounds from Nirvana and placing them with Detroit techno. Not the riff to “Smells Like…” mind you, more like the rumbling bits from “Negative Creep.” Blew my mind it did.
Before I go further a major caveat here – Many of the DJs in Iceland are really good at what they do and they work very hard at their craft. You could say that we’re spoiled a little for choice, eh?
But are we? To be honest you really don’t hear that much crazy stuff being played that much these days, do you. Or at least things getting mixed up in intriguing ways. It´s certainly felt that way to me over the last 12 months. Oh there are DJs who definitely know their stuff and get to mix it up, mainly because they simply are able to do pretty much what they want (Maggi Lego, KGB, the boys from Breakbeat.is and a few others), but with many others, you get this nagging sense of music as background wash, just something to nod your head/tap your feet with while having a pint while seeing people and being seen.
Mind you, can you blame them? After all Reykjavik doesn’t have a club culture right now, more a bar culture instead. And there’s a difference.
Meanwhile in lieu of me rambling on, here’s a fine mix from SURGEON at the boiler room from late last year. Some really shitty dancers I know, but the music is immense, and he too uses Whitehouse to proper effect (Track listing can be found HERE).
To be continued for a little while longer…
“Goth, industrial, the hard-edged experimental fringe of post-punk: it’s hard not to be continually amazed at the cavernous drum sounds, strafing synths and insane reverbs to be found on those sorts of records, if only on an occluded B-side instrumental or on one album track from an otherwise terrible album. But the sonic is only part of it—probably the biggest draw to that kind of music, as with the doom stuff, is the presence, sometimes a surfeit, of content, of story. I’m talking about records rich with verbal and visual allusions, a suggestion and maybe even a promise of meaning. Of course there can be presence, and weight, in absence—on first encounter the blank, wordless presentation of, say, an SND record is every bit as seductive and absorbing as a Christian Death lyric sheet—but I suppose I’d become a little bit jaded with that less-is-more approach, with minimalism as a way of life, and I wanted a return to filigree and shadow.
“What, I wondered, had happened to overreaching? I suddenly felt nauseated by the dance culture I hitherto considered myself a part of, one whose sense of its own forward-thinking masks a top-to-bottom conservatism and a fear of the mildest idiosyncrasy, let alone unabashed personal expression. There’s no risk or transgression, not right now, in calling your track “B15587” or, you know, “Wad,” however good the music might be. Nobody grills a house or dubstep producer on what their music is actually about, because we know from the outset it’s not about anything, and nor do we expect it to be. But after a while you begin to crave content, don’t you? At this point in my life I want to be provoked, I want to be romanced, I want to be made to feel stupid and confused all over again.
“I think—no, I know—it was Greil Marcus, in one of his frightfully earnest essays about punk, who wrote of music that could change the way a person performs his or her commute, and connect that act to every other, thereby calling the person’s entire way of life into question. I’m not yet immodest enough to suggest that Blackest records do that, not by a long stretch, but that’s the aim, the ambition and it’s the only one that really matters. When I listen to so much contemporary music, not least house and techno, I feel it couldn’t be further from that—it’s cosy, it’s ordered, it’s unsurprising, and it seeks to reassure the listener rather than unsettle or disconcert them. Too many engineers and not enough artists are making music today, as I never tire of complaining.
“But all that said, dance music—better to call it body music, lest the wallflowers and armchair enthusiasts feel excluded—remains of the utmost importance to me. My interest in virtually everything else is refracted through that. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear a new club record that has something novel to say, or at least says something familiar in a novel-seeming way—but that happens once, at best two or three times a year. 4/4 techno as a functional party music is timeless and inexhaustible—it quite simply works—but seems rare that it’s actually challenging or dangerous. I mean, does it tell us anything of the way we live or the way we ought to live?”
Blackest Ever Black Label founder Kiran Sande on some of the issues within dance music that drove him to start up the label in the first place.
“Despite being known for techno, you’ve talked about your love of other types of music, from post-punk, to hip hop and electro. With people today ransacking the internet for different sounds to make music, are we moving away from the puritanical idea of what electronic music is?
“Well if that’s the case, it’s a shame that many internet portals are playing minimal, uninspired, ketamine-house music then. Most of the music I get is from the artists themselves. I’m not even sure if their stuff makes it to Beatport. But there are some incredible artists out there on the edge of the genre, like Mazzula for example.”
You know, I’ve sometimes had very similar discussions in the last 6 months with friends and other people within Iceland’s electronic scene that have run along the lines to the quotes above (Though not quite as eloquent). As I said in my review of 20112, while there were some high points, overall I was just finding a lot of electronic music in Iceland to either be lacking something, or that it wasn’t playing enough stuff that was occurring outside these shores that was really interesting me a lot…
(To be Continued…)