Amoeblog

Lindstrøm in San Francisco

Posted by Mike Battaglia, February 3, 2009 01:49pm | Post a Comment

This past weekend San Francisco was one of a select few cities to welcome Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, who brought his Cosmic Disco jams to the newly-reopened Paradise Lounge on a far-too-short three city tour (including Chicago and NYC). Lindstrøm's most recent full-length, Where You Go I Go Too, made many Best of 2008 lists including yours truly's and Amoeba SF's Electronica section's, as well as Pitchfork's (#12), Mixmag's, Time Out's and more, and for good reason. Branching out from making 6-minute dancefloor singles, Lindstrom crafted the title track into a 30-minute epic piece that rises and falls like the tides, taking the listener on a proper journey through disco basslines, laser FX and a vibe that brings to mind Can and Jan Hammer locked in a room with Hamilton Bohannon.

Touching down in SF alongside locals Conor, Beat Broker and TK Disko, Lindstrøm took the crowd to new heights after a blinding set of intense space disco by Ryan "Beat Broker," maxing out the dancefloor and propelling us through a selection of his best ("Contemporary Fix," "Another Station," "I Feel Space") and some new, unrecognizable jams, all threaded through the epic soundscapes of music from his current album.

Despite a mid-set laptop crash, a veritable midieval horde of pushy drunk dudes threatening to turn the party into an unthinkable sausage-fest (including fighting on the dancefloor), and more photographers getting in the way than on Sunset on a Saturday night, the set was uplifting, groovy as all hell and a joy to behold. But don't take my word for it -- YouTube user derekbobus sacrificed his pure experience of the moment so he could bring you an 11-part video series of the set, with above-decent audio quality for a YT video, embedded below for your convenience and listening pleasure.




TECHNO IS BLACK!

Posted by Mike Battaglia, February 2, 2009 11:00am | Post a Comment

              

Even five short years ago, many clubbers, ravers and dance music fans would be hard pressed to recognize the names Ron Hardy or Larry Levan (above, R-L), let alone acknowledge African American influence on the music they get freaky to on the weekends. Even in the black community, whole generations seem completely oblivious to this part of their musical heritage. Thankfully, that's changing. With a renewed interest in disco, 80's uptempo R&B aka boogie, techno and early house music over the past few years, knowledge of dance music's history and the role blacks (and gays and latinos) played in its inception is growing. Nightclubs where the music was allowed to evolve, like Levan's Paradise Garage (right) in New York, Hardy's Music Box and Frankie Knuckles' Warehouse in Chicago (the latter being where the name House Music was coined) and Detroit's Music Institute remain legendary not because of the venues themselves or the people who owned them, but due to the DJ's who made those places immortal by performing an aural alchemy that transformed the American soundscape.

In honor of Black History Month 2009, I plan on taking a look at these legends so that they might gain a foothold with a new audience. People like The Belleville Three, legendary innovators of techno music from Detroit, or DJ's and producers like Tony Humphries at New Jersey's Zanzibar, that bridged the gap between disco's firey, racist and homophobic "death" and the birth of house and techno. I'd like to visit the lives and careers of people who changed the face of music forever, as well as ask a few questions. Questions like: Why is it that DJ's like Tiesto, Sasha & Digweed, Paul Oakenfold or Paul Van Dyk remain the most recognizable faces in mainstream dance music while Theo Parrish (left) remains an "undiscovered talent," or that popular knowledge of its history seems to go no further than the 90's, when white folks finally caught on en masse to what black folks in Chicago, Detroit and New York had already known for years? Or that the most popular strains of dance and electronic music seem to have erased all trace of African American influence? In a press release for a 2006 conference on techno's black origins at Indiana University, author and professor of folklore and ethnomusicology Portia Maultsby said:

"It is interesting how the music migrated from Detroit to Europe, and...became associated with rave parties, and then migrated back to the U.S., and Americans became involved...and the African American identity became invisible. Music can be appropriated and re-appropriated, and history can be distorted as a result of that ...Very few people associate techno with its African American origins."

                     

(The Belleville Three, L-R - Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson)

I may not even have answers to these questions (but would love to hear people's ideas in the comments), but I think raising them is almost enough. Questioning the status quo has never been a popular idea in dance music, but it's something that skeptical ol' me is hardwired for.

Now, obviously things are changing. These men have been regarded as gods in the underground for nearly 20 years and as new generations discover this music for the first time, it seems that it's the essence they immediately attach themselves to; the music's late 70's and early 80's beginnings are attracting the kids and new artists alike, such as Hercules and Love Affair or New York's DFA label, headed by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. These artists either consciously or unconsciously are realizing a concept-- that house/dance/electronic music (whatever you want to call it) has lost its way and needs to step back a bit to reflect, to capture what made it great in the first place. To remember the groove.
 

Continue reading...

The Accolade break barriers in Saudi Arabia

Posted by Mike Battaglia, November 23, 2008 10:50pm | Post a Comment

Thanks to user Navelgazer at community blog Metafilter, I was turned on to this interesting story recently published by the New York Times about an all-female Saudi rock band called The Accolade, most probably the first one of its kind ever. There are no photos of The Accolade because they are forbidden from posing for them. They have a MySpace page though, where you can listen to their first single, "Pinocchio." It is the sound of cultural awakening.

Daz I Kue's "Funky President" Remix Celebrates Obama's Victory

Posted by Mike Battaglia, November 19, 2008 10:54pm | Post a Comment

My good buddy Daz I Kue of London's pioneering Broken Beat crew Bugz In The Attic recently sent me this fantastic remix of James Brown's "Funky President" that he's done under his Bloodfire alias -- one he's applied to cheeky less-than-official reworks of other jams like Syl Johnson's "Is It Because I'm Black" and Syreeta's Stevie-penned "To Know You Is To Love You," both of which are fantastic and worth the tracking down, if you can find either out-of-print 12".

Recently married and residing in Atlanta, Daz channeled his emotions over the recent presidential election into this fantastic bit of dancefloor badness which juxtaposes the untouchable original with "Yes We Can" chants, putting the whole thing into glorious, evocative focus.

Many thanks to Daz for giving us permission to post the track here. No MP3 either, this is a full-spectrum AIFF CD-quality soundfile, suitable for club play. Play it loud!

Bloodfire V Funky President (Yes We Can Rehash) (sendshare link to 71mb AIFF)
and here's a 16MB MP3 in case you're balking at the file size!

Sorcerer, Hatchback and Windsurf

Posted by Mike Battaglia, September 25, 2007 03:25pm | Post a Comment


Little did I know that the amazing 12" by Sorcerer that I had picked up earlier this year was by an artist living in my backyard! I had been initially attracted to "Surfing At Midnight" due to its fantastic Prins Thomas remix and the fact that it was on white-hot UK label Tirk (aka the folks behind the highly revered Nuphonic imprint), but I was further intrigued - who is/are Sorcerer? Well, it didn't take too long to find out.



Sorcerer's debut full-length White Magic was released in August and the SF Electronica section has been singing its praises ever since. The album is chock-full of sun-drenched beach vibes, slow tempos, wistful guitar melodies and gentle, rolling beats - basically everything I'm feeling in 2007. I finally met Daniel Judd - Mr. Sorcerer himself - recently, at Prins Thomas' SF debut earlier this month and got to tell him how great I thought his music was. He's a chill, friendly guy, not unlike his music unsurprisingly, and he introduced me to his partner Sam Grawe aka Hatchback, who recently released a fantastic 12" on SoCal boutique label Sentrall Records, and who Daniel collaborates with as Windsurf. Not long after we exchanged pleasantries, Thomas played a tune that was so great I *had* to find out what it was. Lo and behold - it was Windsurf's remix of "Us vs Them" by LCD Soundsystem, coming out soon on the Bunch of Stuff EP on DFA. Awestruck, I walked over to Sam and Daniel. "This is your tune?!", I gushed. They confirmed it, and it was then I knew I had a new favorite artist. I invited the duo to play a DJ set for Mandala, Amoeba SF's weekly DJ series, which they will be doing this Friday at 7pm. In the meantime, I asked them some questions via email; here are their responses:

MB: Okay, let's start at the beginning. Who are you guys and what have you done before Sorcerer/Hatchback/Windsurf? Are you studio heads or instrumentalists? What do you play?

Sam Grawe/Hatchback: I've been in bands and making computer music since I was in high school, but I never really knew anyone who put records out or how to put a record out, so I did it for myself mostly, first on tapes, and then to cd-r's. A few years ago, Dan, who played guitar and wrote songs for Call & Response (and was also in bands through-out high school and college), and I started jamming together on Saturday mornings and we liked the vibe of the tunes, which was different from the stuff we made on our own. Just stuff that was fun to listen to on BART or in the car. Eventually that evolved into a live show we did under the name Brown Rainbow with our bass-playing pal Adrian Meyer Dentzel (who subsequently moved back to Santa Barbara). We played our first gig on a sidewalk in Sacramento in 2004. In 2005 we played a bunch of shows around town, mostly with our friends Run_Return. Somewhere around that time, I think it was early 2006, the idea for Windsurf was born—not as in, we're going to rule the world—but it gave our Saturday jams a little more direction.

Dan plays guitars, keyboards, and MPC. I play keyboards and do the vocals. Usually a song starts with a beat or a loop or something one of us has cooked up on our own and we just jam until we hit something we like. We both have Logic and share the nerdy production responsibilities. 

MB: Are you both Bay Area natives? Your music has a particular sun-drenched vibe to it, is that a result of a California upbringing? 

SG: Dan grew up in Oakland and then later moved down to Santa Barbara. After college he made his way back up to the bay. I think you can hear the California in his tunes. I grew up in Washington DC and India, and traveled a lot when I was a kid. We used to go to vacation in Goa in the early 1980's... I never heard Goa Trance though. I think you can hear the fact that I listened to too much prog rock in high school in my tunes.

MB: How did the two of you meet, was it love at first sight?

SG: We keep it professional. There's also a no touching rule... we once reached to tweak the same knob at once and it was totally awkward.

We met through our friend Simone Rubi, the keyboardist in Call & Response. I think I first hung out with Dan the night they accepted a CMJ Award in Oakland. He played some Sorcerer tunes at the afterparty, I played him some Boards of Canada style thing I had been messing about with. I think we said we should meet up and jam sometime. 

MB: What influences you guys? Musically? Non-musically? What current ("new") music is working for you?


SG:



MB: Can you give me a chart with your top five songs of all time?
 

SG: Africa - Toto
Why I Came To California - Leon Ware
Give It Up For Love - Ned Doheny
Worry Beads - Haruomi Hosono
Half Forgotten Daydreams - John Cameron

MB: If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be? Any special circumstances (like, say, live at the Acropolis)?

SG: We hope Ned Doheny will bust some vocals for us one day. No special circumstances, but it would probably only happen if we came to Malibu.

MB: Your sound seems to have found a foothold in this burgeoning Cosmic Disco/Balearic scene. Do you feel any affinity towards it, or do you think you're being mis-categorized? If so, what *is* the Windsurf ethos? 

SG: It's cool that people have actually found a way to categorize our music, but we certainly didn't set out to make Balearic or cosmic disco. 

The Windsurf ethos is to treat each song like its own universe with its own set of rules. For the next song you have to start over. That sort of defies categorization.

MB: Who would you say are your contemporaries, ie, artists you would say share a similar vibe to what you're doing? 

SG: There are the Europeans and then our Pacifica crew (as in the genre, not the city)...

over there you've got Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas, Studio, Aeroplane, Smith & Mudd, White Light Circus

over here you've got The Beat Broker, Rollmottle, Project Sandro, Mardu

MB: What's your view on technology in music? A means to an end, or The End?

SG: We wouldn't be making music if it weren't for the availability of quality home recording devices, so technology is amazing. but we also think its important to leave some humanity in the music... mistakes, live takes, analog bloops and bleeps, etc. Sometimes its cool just to use the computer like you would an 8-track, but other times its cool to dig into some crazy plug-in synth. All in all its just about making what sounds good.

MB: You've got records coming out on Prins Thomas' new label Internasjonal, and have had releases on influential labels like Tirk and Sentrall. How were those connections made?

SG: Dan and I have been posting our "track of the day" over on http://www.dreamchimney.com for a long time. Just sharing music with friends. That pretty much used to be our entire forum for releasing Hatchback and Sorcerer and eventually Windsurf into the world. People seemed to be into it (and we had no idea how many lurkers are on that site) and eventually they started contacting us, well Dan. Tirk asked Prins Thomas to do a Sorcerer remix while THISISNOTANEXIT asked Prins to do a Hatchback remix. Prins put together the dots and found out about Windsurf and asked if he could put out the EP and then finally a full-length.

MB: How come all these fancy-schmancy Scandinavian and European DJ's know all about you, yet most San Franciscans would be hard pressed to even recognize your names? 

SG: Isn't Train from San Francisco? There you go....

MB: Are you guys hippies?

SG: No. We have jobs.

MB: It seems there are a ton of rock/electronic fusion bands/acts around these days, but rarely does it mesh so well as with what you guys are doing. why is that?

SG: We've just been doing our thing for ourselves and just making music that sounds good to us. We listen to music all the time and we're pretty critical of it, not in a "that sucks" way, but in a way that when it comes to making a new track you push for something you haven't heard before. We also listen to a lot of things outside of one genre. I like Simon & Garfunkel, Dan likes MF Doom, and it all adds up to something unique. We're not listening to LCD Soundsystem or !!! and thinking, "ok, we need to get a chunky rhythm guitar and cowbell."

MB: So what's next? Any releases coming up from either of you guys? What should we be looking for in the shop, and when? 

SG: Sorcerer's "Surfing at Midnight" is on the new Milky Disco compilation on Lo Recordings. He's also got two 12" on Tirk in addition to the full length. Hatchback has a 3-track 12" EP on Sentrall, and "White Diamond" b/w Prins Thomas' mix is coming out next week from THISISNOTANEXIT records. Faze Action just remixed the follow up to that which is called "Jetlag," which is going to come out in February of 2008.

In Windsurf news the LCD Soundsystem remix we did is available from iTunes and is supposedly coming out on vinyl and maybe CD on October 22.

From Internasjonal, the Windsurf EP should be coming out on vinyl any minute now. And we're just putting the finishing touches on our full length record.

Thats about it for the moment, but we'd like to do more remixes.

MB: Any plans to take it live?

SG: Once we finish the record. Dan is trying to find a MIDI guitar.

MB: Well, thanks for your time!

Windsurf DJ live at Amoeba SF this Friday the 28th at 7pm, and it's FREE! Come down and check it out. Want to hear some sound samples? Many of the links above feature playable audio, just get to clicking!
Hatchback's "White Diamond" 12" with an amazing 18-minute Prins Thomas remix is available the week of October 1st and his killer "Carefree Highway" 12" on Sentrall is out now. Sorcerer's White Magic album is out and in stock now.
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