Amoeblog

Guy Talk

Posted by Mike Battaglia, June 19, 2007 07:24pm | Post a Comment



Here's something you don't see every day: Newsweek columnist Steven Levy pairs up the unlikely combination of hipster mash-up laptop god Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk and Democrat Congressman Mike Doyle, who counts Pittsburgh, Gillis' home, among the areas he represents, to discuss the Copyfight and what sort of compromise, if any, can be made between the current generation of media-saturated sample-heavy artists and the clampdown attitude held by corporate copyright holders. Doyle seems like one of the good ones, especially when he puts his money where his mouth is - back at the House Telecom Subcommittee. Read the article right here.

Thou Shalt Always Kill

Posted by Mike Battaglia, May 14, 2007 10:03am | Post a Comment


While it's quite obviously inspired by LCD Soundsystem, this gem of a single from Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip has wormed its way into my brain and continues to make me chuckle upon repeated listenings/viewings. "Thou Shalt Always Kill" is the best kind of rant: one that is intended ultimately to be beneficial for the listener. Sac and Pip are (presumably) both English, and there are a few references in the tune that non-Britishes might not get, like Stephen Fry, but the rest of this list of commandments applies everywhere - and definitely in San Francisco. Check out the video:




Love that video, especially how it gets more visually clever as the song progresses. While it starts with a couple of cute and slightly cheesy puns like the pedestal, the bit about using music to get into girls' heads then appearing in the woman's thought bubble to tell her "thou shalt not watch Holyoaks", it gets better with the animated map of global inequity and the photocopier running off  "repetitive generic music".

These two seem to be part of the loosely-grouped scene of message-board mashup DJ's, IDM-influenced laptop glitch producers and booty-music afficionados that's been rumbling about since the early days of the century. The single has been quite hard to find but is blowing up iPods virally via the 'net, which is a good place to keep up with these two.  Also of note is that this single is put out by the venerable Lex Records, a Warp-affiliated label that puts out lots of other great music from the likes of Boom Bip and Amoeba's Own Subtle. Lex has been around for a few years now and is worth your time and money, so check them out.

Here's another video, this time a live performance of "Thou Shalt Always Kill":



The single is on sale now but hard to find. You're better off checking out the Amazon or iTunes download links on the Lex website. Enjoy!

A London Sumting

Posted by Mike Battaglia, May 2, 2007 12:49am | Post a Comment



London's stalwart pirate radio underground has been an essential tool for the growth of electronic dance music since the mid-80's, specifically Acid House, Breakbeat Hardcore, Jungle/Drum'n'Bass, Ragga and now Grime/Dubstep. It provides, free of charge to the listening public, a wealth of brand new music, often produced right in their own neighborhoods, that mainstream radio either can't or won't play (although that's changed greatly in recent years), as well as offering a community rallying point culturally. There are a few perspectives of pirate radio, one from The Powers That Be concerning "theft" of the airwaves and another that's more about the music. Here's a local news item from the early 90's with the "official" message:



Another London news clip, this one from 1994, the early days of Jungle, with squareness in full effect:




There's a sense of mystery surrounding pirate radio that lies in its clandestine nature - both musically as well as physically. Jungle and Ragga both got very little attention from the mainstream during their inception periods but flourished through the pirates via dedicated DJ's and promoters, some of whom turned their popularity into lasting careers in radio, with a few stations actually going legit. Throughout the "Second Summer of Love", as the heady Acid House-drenched summer of 1988 is often called, pirate radio was the beacon in the night, guiding clubland refugees to the nonstop party. This UK documentary from '94 shows a bit more of a balanced viewpoint, particularly showing the establishment's skewered views in stark light. Check the intro for a track that tweaks a sample from the news clip above!

Part One:


Part Two:



Here's another documentary from 1996 that heavily features Kool FM, one of Jungle's most popular pirates, still on the air to this day! Lots of killer shots with leading figures from the scene like DJ Brockie and DJ Ron:

Part One:



Part Two:



Part Three:



There's well over an hour's worth of video up there, so kick back and take it in at your leisure. If you're still interested in the pirates, you can check out this regularly updated list of all the pirates in London, and then use this scanner to actually listen to them!

New Music Tech:

Posted by Mike Battaglia, May 1, 2007 09:16pm | Post a Comment



Reactable is a new music-making interface coming out of Barcelona that I've been wanting to feature in this blog before I knew I'd be writing it - it was part of my pitch, actually. Now that It's been Boing-Boing-ed I feel I should probably get this post out about it considering it's quite of-the-minute, about which I'll get to later.

Reactable:



While it's been around for a couple of years now, folks are only starting to catch on. Thanks to this past weekend, I'm guessing A LOT more people will be exposed in the near future. This video above is the first exposure I had to the technology, and I was pretty mesmerized. WTF was going on here? One initial observation is that it's like a modular synth that you literally build as you use it, which turned out to be partially correct. The Reactable was developed by Sergi Jordà, Martin Kaltenbrunner, Günter Geiger, and Marcos Alonso of the Music Technology Group at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. These demo videos are fairly self-explanatory, especially after multiple viewings, so I don't think that not having a base knowledge of synthesis or electonic music-making is necessarily a hindrance to appreciating or enjoying Reactable.



It's also a sequencer, any number of effects and a sampler, all integrated seamlessly into a work environment extremely conducive to spontaneity. There's bound to be widespread application directly because of that, hopefully changing the performance landscape as a result (because laptop shows are boring). Here is Reactable in action live:



I'm extremely anxious to see this onstage, it's a step in the right direction for electronic music performance. Apparently Bjork feels the same way - her current tour setup includes a Reactable, unveiled at her performance this past weekend at the Coachella festival:





There's a bunch more videos on YouTube regarding the Reactable, go check them out. I wonder what one costs...

The Cream of the Crop

Posted by Mike Battaglia, April 25, 2007 02:50pm | Post a Comment

That's right - I said hott - with two "t"'s please. Lots of great music only comes out on vinyl. Here's a few 12" releases that are killin' it for the SF crew:

























































Dub Pistols - "Rapture" (Sunday Best)
Chin Chin - "Toot D'Amore" (Dialect)

Two seperate 12"s here, with the connection being their solid Prins Thomas remixes. "Rapture" is indeed a cover of the Blondie classic with ex-Specials vocalist Terry Hall on vocals, and it works just fine with its bubbling underbelly of faux-acid, big beat guitar riffs and hip-house. Flip the record over, however, and you get some *actual* acid as Thomas' mix is where it's at, adding a smidge of swing and sounding like some proper Chicago action. Chin Chin, on the other hand, come out on top with no less than three PT mixes on one 12". The Diskomiks is a funky congo affair replete with horn section and hella-funky afrodisco percussion while you get two 'bonus beat' tracks that work great as DJ tools or full songs in their own right. SF Electronica floorperson Brian is super geeked out on this as well, so i'll give it two thumbs up.






























Random Factor - "Digitize - The Emperor Machine Remixes" (2020Vision)


Another funky, tripped-out disco remix from The Emperor Machine on this 12" from 20/20 Vision, out this week. Phased sounds begin the uptempo track which is immediately anchored by a gigantic bassline and chicken-scratch guitar licks that firmly plant this remix in rock territory. This groove is worked, heads-down, with vocal bits scattered here and there, straight down to the bone in a punk-funk stylee and it's excellent. As usual, it's the dub on the A-side which wins out, eliminating the vocal and introducing an equally-gigantic 4/4 kick while the track echoes off into space. I will be dropping this at a party this Saturday night, and I have no doubt it'll blow the place up.






Christian Prommer's Drumlesson - "Strings of Life" (Sonar Kollektiv)

Yep, it's Derrick May's stone Detroit classic, reworked in a dancefloor jazz style by Christian Prommer of Fauna Flash & Trüby Trio. I'll admit that I wish it had a bit more kick but it'll still induce dance moves, which I can testify to from hearing this tune played out on CDR in the club by folks like Alex from Jazzanova. After experiencing this on the floor, I picked it up the minute it came in.
Prommer has assembled a trio here, and they finesse their way through the tune in one go with exciting results. The drums are hitting all the right spots and *those* piano chords never sounded so good outside their original use as they do here floating on top a rolling, syncopated rhythm section. No real surprises here, but this will work a treat on more adventurous dancefloors. Flip for "Space Jam 2000.17", a more electronic affair featuring congas, an ethereal atmosphere and a steady house kick, very Joe Claussell and living up to its title.































Attias - "Nebukai" (Still Music)

Finally, we've got two dance-music-producing brothers from Switzerland named Attias. Alex Attias you may know from his high activity in the Broken Beat/Nu Jazz scene under a variety of different monikers and from working with folks like Dego McFarlane of 4 Hero. His brother Stephane is also accomplished, with a slew of releases under his belt for labels like Compost and Laws of Motion (including "Listen Luv", one of my favorite nujazz tracks, off of Compost's Future Sound of Jazz Vol. 7 compilation).
"Nebukai" is a missive sent straight to the heart of the "new deep house" movement, the major proponents of which are folks like Âme, Henrik Schwarz and Dixon and whose sound is a mixture of Detroit techno, NYC soulful house and German ingenuity. The tune sits well in tech-house & electrohouse sets, but also swings enough to compete with yer Osunlades and Kerry Chandlers. It's melodic, thumping, and sets the vibe perfectly. Grab this one now, as it keeps selling out!

More 12" reviews to come next week!


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