Monday, 30 November 2009

"Concierto de Aranjuez” performed at Carnegie Hall New York on May 19, 1961

To compliment the posting of 'Sketches of Spain' over at (Son of), here is a recording of "Concierto de Aranjuez” performed at Carnegie Hall, NY on May 19, 1961. It was to my knowledge the only time that it was performed live.

I have also recently been guest posting some live 1973 Miles recordings over at 'Pathway To New Worlds', with more to come...

阿部薫 1977.9.24 福島「パスタン」Kaoru Abe

Diamanda Galas - Double Barrel Prayer

Suicide - Ghost Rider (Live)

King Midas Sound - Waiting For You Micromix by Kode9


On-U Sound…30 years on and still going strong - Free Sampler

Morrisey on Desert Island Discs (29-11-09)

Get it
(Warning contains fugn Klaus Nomi but at least be grateful there was no Jobriath!!!)

Remember kiddies...

Hitler reacts to Kraftwerk "The Catalogue"

Elizabeth Fraser talks to The Guardian

There Are No Others, There Is Only Us

Music by Ben Frost


Sunday, 29 November 2009

Hashashan - Unreleased Songs

Hashashan is Fritz Catlin (AKA Fritz Haaman, Jackie Chanalogue, Firebomb Fritz etc.) who was a founder member of 23 Skidoo and also played with Last Few Days and Laibach in the 1980's. In the 90's he did various production/remixes including "Real Sugar" with Paban Das Baul and Sam Mills . Recent projects include mixing Susheela Raman's 33 1/3 cd, working on Siouxsie and Grace Jones remixes and various fashion shows for Mekon and a live music project with Michael Joseph called Skintologists. In the pipeline is an international coollaboration with DJ Retroblast and other virtual jammers.


Claret 'n' Blues (Harmonica by Sketch)
Early (Scratching by Deckwrecka)
Hausmixdown (Guitar by Sam Mills)
Honeymixxa (Sax by Adam Pretty)
On Mi Way

Get them

Check out Hashashan's MySpace page for more music.

(My thanx to Fritz for this 'Exile' exclusive)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Glissando - 'Floods' (live @ The Union Chapel London 20/12/08)

Record of the year..?

St Kilda - EP
Catalog#: PHCD001
Format: CDr, Mini, EP, Limited Edition
Country: UK
Released: 2009
Drone, Ambient


1 This Small Boat 5:19
2 You Are In Every Dream 4:06
3 Clutching At Straws 5:15
4 The Sirens 6:14
Music & Photography - Graham Richardson
Limited to 70 copies.

Probably not, but very close.
It is that time of the year when I try and work out which records rocked my soul.
A difficult task as there were SO many great releases, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
As for the records of the decade?
Well two records to my ears stand head and shoulders above the rest...
To be continued...

Adele Bertei/Anubian Lights - Wild Winter

Great video!
Very Barbara Kruger!

Adele Bertei - When It's Over (featuring Green)

Produced by Adele Bertei, Fred Maher and David Gamson.

Steve Goodman (Kode9) on 5 years of Hyperdub

The thing DJ, producer, writer and academic Steve Goodman wants you to know about his record label is that it's not really a record label: it's a virus. "That's the way I understand music culture. There's a history of music, particularly dub and reggae, being described as a virus – Hyperdub is a mutation of British electronic music, infected by Jamaican soundsystem culture: from dub and reggae, through jungle, right up to grime, dubstep and funky. It's a way of thinking about how musical change and evolution takes place."
The label that brought Burial to the world is now celebrating five years of these mutations with a double-CD compilation of new and classic material, called simply Hyperdub 5 – spanning the various genres mentioned above, as well as lots of gloriously twisted electronic music so new that it has yet to take a street name.
Originally from Glasgow, Goodman moved to London to be closer to the music he loved at the end of the 1990s, and started Hyperdub as a web magazine in 2001. "The main editorial remit was the Jamaican influence on London electronic music," he says. Under the name Kode9, Goodman has been making music since 1995, and turned Hyperdub into a label to put out his own Sine of the Dub in 2004, after prompting from Kevin Martin, aka the Bug. "I was interviewing him for XLR8R magazine and he said, 'You should release it yourself,'" Goodman says. There's never been any grand plan though: "The whole thing's been a series of accidents."
Without an A&R policy, an office, or even any employees, Hyperdub is a remarkably successful one-man empire, although that does have its drawbacks: he gets sent a lot of music. "It's just painful," he says, "I'm really drowning in it. Especially now I've broadened out the remit of the label, so it's not just one genre of stuff I'm being sent."
Key among the series of accidents that has seen Hyperdub championed from the NME to the New Yorker, presumably, was releasing Burial's music, and it becoming unexpectedly popular. "Yeah, that was completely unforeseen," he laughs. "I was worried about putting his album out – I didn't think anyone would be into it. It was quite a weird take on garage."
Goodman was "hugely relieved" when Elbow pipped Burial, who had been the bookies' favourite, to last year's Mercury Music Prize, so protective is he of Will Bevan, the man behind the music, who was desperate to avoid the full glare of the media spotlight. "There are certain tunes on there that are obviously not that sophisticated," Bevan told me self-deprecatingly in a Film & Music interview prior to the album's release, when he was still able to protect his identity. "I'm just pretty defensive about it, because I was never really expecting so many people to hear the record."
With Bevan clear that all he wanted was a quiet life, Gordon Smart, editor of the Sun's Bizarre gossip pages, started a campaign to unmask Burial last summer. That forced Bevan to reveal his identity – he was not, as Smart had suggested, Fatboy Slim working under an alias – and triggered a litany of revenge fantasies for Goodman. "I went through how each one of these scenarios would play out, and they all seemed to result in me imprisoned for the rest of my life – you know, 'Sun Journalist Kneecapped' – it's not a good look," he sighs. "So it was just me quietly, in the privacy of my own home, cathartically burning a copy of the Sun. That was as close to voodoo as I could get on a Wednesday afternoon."
A more positive effect of Burial's success was that it meant Goodman could plough the money Hyperdub made off the album back into the label – into releasing more regular vinyl releases, into compiling Hyperdub 5, into imminent albums by the likes of Darkstar and Ikonika, who grew up on dubstep and garage, but are now taking it into bold, bright new directions. It's a mutation Goodman has been eager to incubate.
'It's like hearing circuitry cry'
By about 2007 I was getting left a little cold by the greyness of dubstep: stuff that is literally just drum and bass, with no tone colour. That minimalism felt fresh at the time, but that freshness doesn't last, it leads to stagnation, and gets predictable." So the virus mutates? "Yeah, your immunity to it increases. And like any drug experience, your response becomes, 'I don't get high off that anymore.'"
The new Hyperdub sound is all about synthesisers: sci-fi melodies as the host for this restlessly progressive London dance aesthetic. "It's like hearing circuitry crying," Goodman has said of this recent output, and for new signings Darkstar this idea of computer love is a real fascination. The duo talk with gusto about studying film post-production, about 2001: A Space Odyssey, John Carpenter, and the "robot dialogues" on their forthcoming album. Their new single Aidy's Girl Is a Computer is one of the stand-out tracks on Hyperdub 5, and the pair tried to use a particularly robotic vocal on it: "When we were making it we did actually spend a lot of time trying to get our Mac to sing to us … but it started to get a little bit too strange," says Darkstar's James Young.
As with Burial's new contribution to the compilation, Fostercare, you can hear discernible syllables in the distorted, chopped-up vocal that Darkstar eventually used, and your brain tricks you into thinking you're singing along; but listen more closely and you realise the vocals have been tuned just beyond recognition. The sense you get from Aidy's Girl is that the human, physical world has revolved ever so slightly out of reach. It's heartbreakingly beautiful.
For Goodman, the way forward seems to be akin to taking a set of felt-tip pens to dubstep's blank, monochrome outlines. "It's the tone colour of synths that's become important to the sound, how to fill in the mid-range without becoming annoying." For him – and for so many of this new generation of Hyperdub artists – synths are there "to create euphoria, or to create hooks, or to create something that's colourful and memorable and catchy, that's maybe slightly unsettling at the same time. I've always been fascinated by these little squiggly synths, whether it's been in jazz funk, or gangsta rap, or 80s synth-pop. That's what I love most about grime, too, that hyper-coloured sound."
'I've always been fascinated by these little squiggly synths …that hyper-coloured sound'
Sometimes this relationship with colour and art takes on a truly vivid quality: one can find blogs where the parallels between Hyperdub's music and abstract art are discussed in detail. One of those cited in such discussions is Zomby, another maverick, anonymous producer. "It's quite an odd sensation," he tells me about his occasionally synaesthesiac relationship with music. "The colours are intermittent," he says, "but the chemical that shoots through your body is the same." He cites the tonal language and "colour representation of scales" explored by Russian composer Alexander Scriabin as an inspiration.
Hyperdub artists make dance music that is hedonistically enjoyed in clubs – but with an undeniably cerebral approach that comes from the man at the top. As well as teaching the music culture BA at the University of East London, Goodman has just finished writing a book, Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear, which will be published by MIT Press in December. This covers the use of the Sesame Street theme tune as a military torture device, worrying new police technology such as Long Range Acoustic Devices ("they're like acoustic water-cannons"), and the "infrasonic hum" the planet has endured since the dawn of time: "We live in the echo of the Big Bang, so the heat death of the universe is the dying out of this echo."
Another mysterious strain of the Hyperdub virus is the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), which Goodman helped create in the late 1990s, while studying at Warwick University. "We were all graduate philosophy students, but writing about jungle and philosophy, or Cronenberg films and philosophy, for example. We were told it didn't fit into the discipline – it never really got acknowledged by Warwick.
"It was an attempt to look at popular culture, cyber culture and rave culture, and bring it together with difficult French philosophers. We were treating popular culture as serious cultural production because it has inherent value, not just as pop …" he pauses, and self-corrects. "But that's not fair on pop – it's exactly because it was pop that it was interesting."
Despite having DJed in more than 20 countries, and having signed tracks by artists from America, Japan and Denmark, Goodman emphasises that London is still very much the heart of the label. "Even when you leave London, you don't really leave London – you still carry it with you, like a thin layer of grime on your skin. London music culture is so strong because every few years it manages to refresh itself, and rejuvenate what has become staid. Just as you're getting bored, the elements twist in a different way."
Musical mutations ... five essential Hyperdub recordings
Burial: Etched Headplate (2007)
From the Mercury-nominated album Untrue, this encapsulates Burial's unique and astonishing ability to turn an emotional breakdown on a London night-bus into six minutes of absolute musical transcendence.
Ikonika: Please (2008)
Sara Abdel-Hamid grew up on Pretty Girls Make Graves and R&B, rather than weary cliches about the greats of the UK dance music canon. This utterly addictive single combines the urgency of the former with the hooks of the latter to take electronic music to strange, punch-drunk new places.
Kode9: Black Sun (2009)
With Steve Goodman's early releases drawing deep on the well of Jamaican dread, it was his boredom with dubstep's monochrome landscapes that prompted this new direction. It's the sound of a true auteur donning the cloak of house music for the first time: but only after deliberately putting it on too hot a wash, so that all the colours run into one another.
2000F + Jkamata: You Don't Know What Love Is (2009)
A one-off by two Danish producers, this is arguably the greatest example of the "purple funk" that is currently steering dubstep towards the sexy and psychedelic, featuring a towering vocoder-treated vocal with synths straight from the west-coast G-funk of Nate Dogg and Warren G.
Darkstar: Aidy's Girl is a Computer (2009)
The newest Hyperdub 12in vinyl release, an NME favourite and one of the singles of the year. Remember in the 1990s when cyborg theorists talked about our increasing dependence on technology, about post-physical humans, and about computers with emotions? Well they only sounded slightly silly at the time because their soundtrack had not arrived; it has now. DH
@'The Guardian'

Breaking News:Tiger Woods Injured in Car Accident

Rumour: New Australian festival w/ Massive Attack in March or April?

There are rumours that Michael Coppel Presents and Modular are set to collaborate on a new national festival. Mooted to take place in late March/early April – the space previously reserved in the calendar by V Festival – this venture is said to boast Massive Attack in the headline spot, with a strong line-up behind them.
With Modular’s annual summer party NeverEverLand a notable absentee in 2009 and Michael Coppel Presents cutting its ties from V Festival, the timing and fit seems right. In an interview with triple j, Massive Attack revealed an Australian tour was planned for the new year. The esteemed Bristol outfit has also just finalised details of its much-anticipated fifth album Heligoland, which will surface at last in early February.

RePost - Dudu Pukwana

Dudu Pukwana & Spear
'Flute Music'

As already mentioned here I was lucky enough to live in London when Dudu was playing around town.
In fact I saw him in London, Glasgow, Liverpool & Amsterdam.
I also worked at a jazz club in London for a while (100 Club) and when he would play there we would have a few ales...
At the end of the night we often found ourselves catching the same bus and Dudu would play his sax to me and whoever else was there at the bus stop.
Wish that I had thought to record those impromptu sessions on my walkman.

This music is just perfect as the weather starts warming up.

There is a Dudu Pukwana discography to be found here.

Interview w/ Derek Bailey from 1973

Where to start with the late Derek Bailey?
Well you could try this.
Due to the fact that when I was living in London in the late 70's to early 80's I was often to be found at the London Musicians Collective and through that got to know a lot of the prime movers of the improvised music scene of the time and one of the highlights of every year was the Company week of concerts that were instigated by Derek.
There is no doubt that improvised music to my mind polarises people like no other style but please do yourself a favour and dip your toe into it. If you do like it you will be rewarded by hearing some of the most invigorating music of all time!

Derek Bailey 'On The Edge ' (Part 1 of 3:doco about improvisation)

A great find by the 'Big Fat Satanist'.
Please visit his blog to watch parts 2 & 3.
More info here.

Carl Sagan - 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed)

(Thanx MrX indeed!)


(Thanx SirMick!)

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Mona

Quicksilver Messenger Service with an outstanding outdoor performance in 1969. From Ralph J. Gleason's "Go Ride the Music" produced for KQED.

 I John Cipollina

Friday, 27 November 2009

David Thomas: "Pere Ubu is like a cup." (?)

The Black Dog - UR We Are Mix, Resident Advisor (RA.123)

01. Underground Resistance - Antimatter
02. Voice Of Electrifying Mojo
03. Underground Resistance - Afrogermanic
04. Underground Resistance - Mirage
05. Underground Resistance - Windchime
06. Underground Resistance - Talkin2Z
07. Underground Resistance - Final Frontier
08. Underground Resistance - In Or Out
09. Underground Resistance - Maroon
10. Underground Resistance - Death of My Neighbor
11. Underground Resistance - Baghdad Express
12. Underground Resistance - Inversions
13. Underground Resistance - Technology Gap
14. Underground Resistance - Antimatter
15. Underground Resistance - I Am UR
16. Underground Resistance - Tazumal
17. Underground Resistance - Hunting the Program
18. Underground Resistance - Toxic Broadcast
19. Underground Resistance - Detonate
20. Underground Resistance - Orbit (The Black Dog)
21. Underground Resistance - Riot
22. Underground Resistance - Base Camp Alpha 808
23. Underground Resistance - Entering Quadrant 5
24. Underground Resistance - Adrenalin
25. Underground Resistance - Gamma Ray
26. Underground Resistance - Ambush
27. Underground Resistance - Sea Quake
28. Underground Resistance - Kill My Radio Station

Welcome to the wibbly, wobbly, techno world of The Black Dog!

The ’00s: How ‘Idioteque’ explains a decade

In October, 2000, months before the year that would come to define much of the next decade, Radiohead released Kid A, the first part of what was, essentially – along with its successor, Amnesiac – a two-part album. In his 2005 book, Killing Yourself To Live: 85% Of a True Story, Chuck Klosterman posits that when people talk about 9/11, it’s like they’re talking about a dream they had, and they’re telling you about it because they want to say something about themselves without doing it overtly. Then he writes,
Kid A has no gaps in logic, perhaps because its logic is never overt; it almost seems like a musical storyboard for that particular day.
The first song on Kid A paints the Manhattan skyline at 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday morning; the song is titled, “Everything in Its Right Place.”… You can imagine humans walking to work, riding elevators, getting off the C train and the 3 train, and thinking about a future that will be a lot like the present, only better.
Now in 2009, TIME magazine is calling the ’00s “the Decade From Hell.
So what then, do we do with a song like “Idioteque” – number 8 on the Kid A track list, and one that Klosterman passes by quickly in his analysis? We discuss it as an analogy for the entire decade, because the last ten years have felt like a dream, and the only way we can wrap our stupid heads around it is to let Thom Yorke do it for us. It’s nice to look back at a piece of music that seems now to have predicted the future, because we always like to assume that someone, somewhere, knows what’s coming. That’s never true.
Evaluating the 00’s objectively is impossible because they’re not really over. We still lack the context or the hindsight that can only come with another decade or two of living with the consequences of our recent actions. “Idioteque,” like any decade-in-review, lacks the capability to understand the things we did, it only points out that we did them. So what were they?
We panicked through Y2K and 9/11 (Who’s in a bunker? Who’s in a bunker? Women and children first/ And the children first); we became distracted by something called “reality” television because we couldn’t deal with our own (I laugh until my head comes off); ate like moron kings (Swallow ‘til I burst/ Until I burst); watched some more T.V. (I’ve seen too much/ You haven’t seen enough/ You haven’t seen it/ Laugh until my head comes off); and panicked some more (Women and children first/ And the children first).
Then we embraced the Internet (Here I am alive/ Everything all of the time).
And then there were the arguments. First, the never-ending debate over climate change (Ice age coming/ Let me hear both sides/ Ice age coming/ Throw them all in the fire). And also about the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the on-going threat of global terror, whether in London, Madrid, India, or at home (We’re not scare mongering/ This is really happening). Not to mention the collapse of the economy, and the questions we’re still asking to find where to lay the blame (Mobiles quirking/ Mobiles chirping/ Take the money and run/ Take the money and run/ Take the money and run).
And always – always – the Internet. The blogosphere and social media furthered our alternate selves, projecting a persona that exists in a meta-reality, both everywhere and nowhere simultaneously (Here I’m alive/ Everything all of the time), while the bodies in front of the keyboards are still always ready for the next panic – maybe a pandemic, or a fear for the world we’re leaving for future generations (this one is for the children…).
And while it all might seem a bit depressing, the greatest thing that “Idioteque” tells us about our decade was that it also contained moments of ingenuity, complete magic, and great beauty. It was the decade of Banksy and LeBron James. Of finding evidence of water on Mars, Mad Men, iPods, and completing the human genome project. The decade of Alexander Ovechkin, the Royal Tenenbaums, and a guy who can draw the New York City skyline by memory; of football in HD, an airplane landing on the Hudson River, Usain Bolt, legalized gay marriage, TED talks that are available to everyone, Jon Stewart, etc. etc. And it’s the decade when we heard Is This It, Stankonia, Funeral, Elephant, Takk, and yes – Kid A.

Colin Horgan @'True Slant'

Courtney Love Cobain on Facebook

"IF something happens to me, NO my will is NOT at Greenberg Glusker, that will is FORGERY…i created a new one per lISA FERGUSONs attorney who cannot be FOUND

but that needs altering as it has Edward in it and Norton doesn’t have a CLUE how evil his own BM is he wont fuck a future Senator/Film Actor but hell purposfully refinance Kim Cobains Property i bought her cash outright, for the 12th time using a phony address due to some fuck up on some Bogus “ART FORM OF THE CH 13” R TODD used, leavng KIM COBAINS PROPERTY REPOS…SESED< “you have an hour to get your things” wtf did Kim Cobain do to YOU… so its best to never tell let alone kiss and trell i m shcoked at myself i never kiss and tell unless im really mad at an ex for like LOSING 300,000$ of my kid hes supposed to be paternal abouts money, oh yeah Norton just LOST 300k"

britneys dad molested her , imagine the father that molested you owning you for slavery while your forced to sing songs picked for thier sexual content every night, insane right? i have it on First had authority, and fight as hard as she is and does she still didnt pull that card, its a pride thing i can relate to, However they want to play dirty, lets go, Im SO not affraid of the little trolls who hit this when i was fucked up who are called lawyers. lets GO.


Men who do not openly express their anger if they are unfairly treated at work double their risk of a heart attack, Swedish research suggests.
The researchers looked at 2,755 male employees in Stockholm who had not had a heart attack when the study began.
They were asked about how they coped with conflict at work, either with superiors or colleagues.
The researchers say their study shows a strong relationship between pent-up anger and heart disease.
Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers called the various strategies for keeping things bottled up, covert coping.
The men were asked what methods they adopted: whether they dealt with things head-on, whether they let things pass without saying anything, walked away from conflict, developed symptoms like headache or stomach ache or got into a bad temper at home...

Tom Verlaine - Bomb (The Tube 1987 backed by Love & Money)

Freedom, Rhythm & Sound: Revolutionary Jazz Cover Art 1960-78

Review by Kevan Harris

Freedom Rhythm and Sound: Revolutionary Jazz Original Cover Art 1965-83
Compiled by Giles Peterson and Stuart Baker
Soul Jazz Records Publishing, 179 pp.

In the early days of African political independence, Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister and then President of Ghana, used to tell a story to the crowds in Accra who gathered to catch a glimpse of him. In the 1930s, Nkrumah had received a scholarship to attend Lincoln University in Philadelphia. He arrived in D.C. and traveled by bus to Philly to begin his studies. The bus stopped halfway between, in Baltimore, for a break. Nkrumah got out, headed into a diner, and asked for a glass of water. The waiter behind the counter pointed at the spittoon and said he could get his drink from there. Nkrumah went on to teach classes in Greek and African philosophy at Lincoln University, before he headed to the U.K. and began his career as a political activist championing de-colonization and Pan-African unity.

The year that Nkrumah became Prime Minister, in 1957, the US government organized a trip for Louis Armstrong to play a concert in Moscow. This was on the heels of several successful jazz tours of Africa the U.S. had sponsored for artists such as Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie (along with racially integrated jazz orchestras). After President Eisenhower refused to send federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce integration in schools in accordance with Brown v. Board of Education, Armstrong cancelled the trip. Long adored in the public realm for his gentle and unthreatening persona, Armstrong is quoted to have said, “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell.”

The year after Nkrumah became Prime Minster, securing Ghanaian independence, Ornette Coleman released his first album, Something Else!!!!

While jazz is often celebrated as the only sui generis American art form, especially in the hidebound version that ends up in a Ken Burns documentary, we tend to forget that it had quite an internationalist bent. And unlike rock n’ roll, which mostly flowed in one direction from First World countries to the Second and Third, jazz depended much more on ideas and identities from extra-American sources. Why?

After the Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans, the media liked to remind us that jazz has creole origins – a descent and mixture of African and European ancestry. What could be more American than that? But “creole” comes from the Spanish “criollo” and the Portuguese “crioulo,” meaning a black person born in the New World, and pushing the etymology back further one reaches “criar” – “to produce” or “to breed.” Creole culture in pockets of the U.S. South, though it might have been a bit more permissive in its social codes, was by no means egalitarian. How could it have been, when many of the French creoles that populated New Orleans came there having fled the Haitian Revolution as slave-owners themselves? Not to mention that when the hero of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, extended the vote to all white males under his “populist” presidency, the vote was taken away from property-holding blacks. During the most brutal periods of Jim Crow rule in the late 19th and 20th centuries, white southerners were legally allowed to commit acts against blacks that few European colonial powers would have sanctioned in their own African colonies. When a South African pro-segregationist visited the U.S. South in the early 20th century, he described the treatment he saw of African Americans “appalling.”

Understandably, many Americans have been led to believe that what I have just written has little to do with jazz. If they spend a few minutes glancing through Freedom Rhythm and Sound, a compilation of jazz album artwork from the late 1960s and 1970s, they might change their mind. Soul Jazz Records’ first foray into print (Exile Ed - er I think that would have been 'New York Noise'), Freedom is a pictographic overview of an artistic world that is long overdue.

As George Lewis points out in his social history of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), A Power Stronger than Itself (2008), writing and criticism on jazz is “dominated by autobiography … [and tends] to avoid addressing issues of intellectual development, social context, racial conditions or the subjects’ view of culture, history, and philosophy.” Who played the alto solo on “Stolen Moments” in the second set at Birdland in 1961 is the kind of information that jazz writers and collectors seem to fetishize, putting individual players on pedestals, then, later on, often ghost-writing their memoirs. Jazz and improvisational music is supposed to be a collective endeavor, but a corporate and celebrity driven culture will have none of that. We need stars, dammit! This is why, for the last 20 years or so, it has been very difficult to tell the difference between the cover of a bestselling jazz album and bestselling country album – both feature a sexually alluring and clean cut individual who is always smiling.

It used to be different; indeed, it was so different that self-appointed keepers of “official” jazz history worked hard to efface any trace of most of the music seen in Freedom. The AACM members – Muhal Richard Abrams, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, George Lewis himself – took a harsh view of the standard improvisational approach of “cutting,” where each soloist tries to top the previous one. In fact, what probably seemed the most disconcerting to the jazz nomenklatura of the 1960s – many of whom didn’t mind the “new thing” as long as it was loud and alpha-male – was the powerful use of silence and constraint on many of the records displayed in this collection. Silence requires confidence, and this art exudes confidence in both aesthetic and political forms.

Much of this music was embedded in local black working-class communities, eschewing traditional jazz clubs and creating new autonomous venues, record labels, and allies. The AACM in South Side Chicago, the Black Artists Guild (BAG – Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Joseph Bowie) in St. Louis, Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS – Leroi Jones/Amira Baraka) in Harlem, Tribe (Wendell Harrison, Phil Ranelin) in Detroit, and Horace Tapscott’s Underground Musicians Association in Watts are a few of the collectives discussed in sidebars in this collection. (Tapscott’s building in L.A. was shared by the Black Panthers, “with weapons and meetings upstairs, musicians in the basement.”)

The DIY aesthetic went along with the very local politics of creating experimental music, with Sun Ra’s El Saturn Records and 1950s black-owned R&B labels providing the model. Sun Ra kept his politics utopian, the Marcus Garvey of avant-garde jazz. Garvey did organize a Back to Africa cruise line, Black Star, but it failed. Sun Ra had a spaceship built for the movie Space is the Place, which successfully launched, albeit onscreen. Others opted for a more down to earth perspective, and identified with (and participated in) Black Nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements of the day. We must remember that by the late 1960s, the liberal Cold War U.S. consensus (under which Ornette Coleman and a Jackson Pollack cover could come together on Atlantic Records with Free Jazz and the CIA probably thought it worked as anti-Soviet propaganda) had come undone. The assimilationist ethos of the 1950s civil rights movement had been largely replaced by projects to create new black subjectivities outside of the mainstream, which required new identities, myths, histories and art. This meant reclaiming the past and, by doing so, forcing others to confront it. These albums are often militant, but not bitter; optimistic, but not nostalgic; reflexive, but not narcissistic.

It also meant taking control of the means of musical and symbolic production. This was not simply a hodgepodge appropriation of pyramids, ankhs and dashikis, though if you’re in the market, this book has plenty of that too. At its most innovative, thoughtful, and, therefore, threatening to the jazz bought and relaxed to by mainstream America, black experimental music in this period could act like an unwanted détournement – a derailing of the expected modes of behavior that equaled any Fluxus performance. Here is how George Lewis describes a 1968 performance of Joseph Jarman’s Bridge Piece at the University of Chicago’s Ida Noyes Hall:

    A woman hung aluminum wrapping paper on audience members while a Top 40 station blared on a portable radio. The first night consisted of a live band and a tape of that band, playing simultaneously the same composition. The variation came in the mistakes . . . the musicians made playing the composition. After the notated parts, those spaces where improvisation occurred were different. It sounded like two of the same person playing a solo . . . The audience was given a sack that they would have to put over their heads. They were directed into areas where they would have to sit down or stand up. There were two people walking through the audience with portable radios. There was a juggler . . . and a tumbler who had to tumble over people. The place was super-packed, crowded with strobe lights, smoke, all kinds of stuff happening . . . The following night was complete formal attire. The band was in complete tuxes and you could not get in if you were not formally dressed . . . a lot of people were turned away. That turning away was as much a part of the performance as attendance. The demand for formal conformity . . . turned a lot of people off.

Marginalized, many of these musicians ended up in France, Germany, or North Africa by the early 1970s, while Psychedelic Miles and Herbie’s Headhunters sold millions on Columbia (not that this was a bad thing – after all, ABC-Impulse started putting out Sun Ra records in the early 1970s). Working in college radio in Chicago in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I had a chance to meet a few AACM members in person over the years, and none of them were bitter or angry. They were still performing revelatory music to a generally young audience, and unlike most musicians, they probably knew what they were getting into when they started. To its credit, there is a lot of music in Freedom I had no idea existed, much of it leading well into the 1980s, and it deserves wider attention. Hopefully this book – issued by a British record label – will form one part of a small new reclamation of American history, sitting by someone’s stereo (or laptop) instead of on one’s coffee table.

Writing this piece from the periphery of the United States’ world reach[1], I cannot help but read this collection as a book that is anti-Obama, though this is assuredly not the editors’ intention. After all, given what has occurred in the U.S. between January and now, it seems we are experiencing the fastest unraveling of a liberal consensus since the Weimar Republic. In 2008, the Obama campaign was astonishingly able to get 18-24 year olds from around the country to knock on doors in poor neighborhoods, engage strangers in debate, go sleepless nights occupied with political action that many had told them was futile and impossibly naïve (I know, because they constantly were skipping my classes to go to places like Iowa and South Carolina). These individuals have the rare experience of being involved in a social movement that actually wins what it sets out to accomplish.

Did it, though? It was recently reported that Obama’s staff had to get the President “fired up” to take on his critics before his recent address to Congress on health care. The passage from New York Review of Books is telling: “Obama, whose high self-esteem is well known among close observers, had previously assumed that a ‘following,’ a ‘movement,’ would be there without his having to do much to stimulate it.” Frankly, the movement is already gone, so someone should let him down easy. But it was Obama and his technocratic centrism that demobilized it, and the guy’s just too damn charismatic for anyone to admit it.

What if we lived in a world where all that youth energy, filled with utopian visions, knowing that history was on our side, foregoing the established routes of behavior, was directed into something other than the amnesia-inducing process known as an American presidential election? Something more locally and globally minded than simply a re-branded nationalism? Maybe, it would have produced something comparable to the arts, movements and lasting social resonance that underlie this book.

By the way in case you were wondering what the 'A' is for...


Inverz - Slow (2009)

Inverz is Thessaloniki-born Savvas Metaxas, who runs the excellent Granny Records stable. Influenced by the
likes of Fennesz, Pan American, Alva Noto and My Bloody Valentine, Metaxas utilizes acoustic &
electric guitars and an arsenal of pedal effects and field recordings, to create a sound rich in texture and
panoramic in depth.

Slow‘ is the third Inverz release to date, a suite of four meticulously crafted long-form compositions that transcend
the standard notions of Ambient/Drone.

Everything In Order‘ bathes in dreamy reverb, like Labradford or Chihei Hatakeyama at their most thoughtful.
The title track tantalizingly weaves fretboard scratches, human breath and flickers of static round cut and
spliced guitar recalling Fridge at their most experimental. The slide-rule attention to detail of both book-ending
pieces ‘Home End‘ & ‘New Found Lands, New Found Sounds‘, on the other hand, shows why Metaxas was
hand-picked to collaborate with Greg Haines and perform with Machinefabriek.

A very fine piece of work indeed.
Get it:


Thursday, 26 November 2009

Enjoy Poverty (please)

Radiohead - Paranoid Android (Live @ Later with Jools Holland)

Beck, Wilco, Feist et al - Little Hands

Charis Wilson - The Eloquent Nude

Quantec - Lunar Orbiter

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

RePost - Quintessential (Why Lou Reed should have listened to Bob Quine more)

Bob Quine
1942 - 2004

"Someday Quine will be recognized for the pivotal figure that he is on his instrument, he is the first guitarist to take the breakthroughs of early Lou Reed and  James Williamson and work through them to a new, individual vocabulary, driven into odd places by obsessive attention to 'On The Corner'  era Miles Davis." (Lester Bangs)

Ikue Mori, Bob Quine & Marc Ribot - El Dorado
Jody Harris & Bob Quine - Flagpole Jitters
Bob Quine & Fred Maher - Village
Bob Quine - Film Music 9 (unreleased)
You can get them all here.

Quine's favourite piece of music 'He Loved Him Madly' by Miles Davis here.
Recent article on Quine's death by James Marshall and more music here and here.
Richard Hell on Quine here.

(In a recent Invisible Jukebox that Lou Reed did for The Wire, he was played Miles' 'He Loved Him Madly' and professed to not knowing it but agreeing that it sounded very similar to his Metal Machine Trio. Should have listened to Quine...)

Bvdub - Don't Look Back

Out for the count...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


So what if the new proletarian position is that of the inhabitants of slums in the new megalopolises? The explosive growth of slums in the last decades, especially in the Third World megalopolises from Mexico City and other Latin American capitals through Africa (Lagos, Chad) to India, China, Philippines and Indonesia, is perhaps the crucial geopolitical event of our times. It is effectively surprising how many features of slum dwellers fit the good old Marxist determination of the proletarian revolutionary subject: they are "free" in the double meaning of the word even more than the classic proletariat ("freed" from all substantial ties; dwelling in a free space, outside the police regulations of the state); they are a large collective, forcibly thrown together, "thrown" into a situation where they have to invent some mode of being-together, and simultaneously deprived of any support in traditional ways of life, in inherited religious or ethnic life-forms.

While today's society is often characterized as the society of total control, slums are the territories within a state boundaries from which the state (partially, at least) withdrew its control, territories which function as white spots, blanks, in the official map of a state territory. Although they are de facto included into a state by the links of black economy, organized crime, religious groups, etc., the state control is nonetheless suspended there, they are domains outside the rule of law.  

Artūras Bumšteinas - Transparent Ears

Arturas Bumsteinas - Untitled (Tuto) @ Tebunie Naktis 2009

"Untitled (Tuto)" is a electroacoustic music composition for electronics and folk musicians. Performed by its' author and Tuto ensemble in Let There Be Night concert in Vilnius (European capital of culture 2009).


A US sailor has been cleared of rape in a Sydney brothel...
Pety Officer Timothy Davies denied forcing himself on the woman, saying that he had only wanted his money back.
The 25 year old  had admitted that he used a 'lock down manoeuvre' on the woman.
The woman told the court that she had protected consensual sex with the 'customer' who had been told the house rules that a condom must be worn 'at all times'.
He became aggressive when she offered alternative services after the sailor, who had been drinking, could not complete the sex act before his half hour was up. She said he ripped his condom off., telling her that he paid for sex and he was going to finish it 'like a real man'.
The woman said that he pushed her head into the pillow, started suffocating her and had unprotected sex for 30 seconds.
The jury was shown police photos depicting scratches on the woman, who described Mr Davis as an 'animal during an angry outburst at the trial.
The sailor admitted using a 'lock down manoeuvre' to pin the woman to the bed when she said that she wanted to stop.
@'The Australian' 

MACHINE SOUL: A History Of Techno by Jon Savage

[This article originally appeared in The Village Voice Summer 1993 “Rock & Roll Quarterly” insert.]
Oooh oooh Techno city
Hope you enjoy your stay
Welcome to Techno city
You will never want to go away

Cybotron, “Techno City” (1984)
“The ’soul’ of the machines has always been a part of our music. Trance always belongs to repetition, and everybody is looking for trance in life… in sex, in the emotional, in pleasure, in anything… so, the machines produce an absolutely perfec t trance.”
Ralf Hütter , 1991, quoted in Kraftwerk: Man Machine and Music, Pascal Bussy
“It’s like a cry for survival,” a panicked male voice calls out. The beat pauses, but the dancers do not. Then Orbital throw us back into the maelstrom: into a blasting Terry Riley sample, into the relentless machine rhythm, into a total environment of light and sound. We forget about the fact that we’re tired, that the person in front of us is invading our space with his flailing arms. Then, suddenly, we’re there: locked into the trance, the higher energy. It does happen, just like everybody always says: along with thousands of others, we lift off.
The Brixton Academy is a 3500-capacity venue in South London. Built at the turn of the century in the style of a Moorish temple, it may look beautiful but it’s hard to enliven: groups as diverse as the Beastie Boys and Pavement have disappeared into its dark, grimy corners. Tonight, however, it is full of white light and movement: the whole stage is a mass of projections, strobes and dry ice, in front of which a raised dance floor has been put in. Above us is stretched white cloth: at the sides of the building, the alcoves are lit up and flanked by projections of pulsating globules.
The whole scene reminds me of the place I wanted to be when I was 18, the same age as most of this audience: the Avalon Ballroom. Never mind that most of the dancers were born long after the San Francisco scene had passed: they’re busy chasing that everlasting present. The sound is techno but psychedelic references abound: in the light shows, the fashions (everything ranging from beatnik to short-hair to late ’60s long-hair), the T-shirts that read “Feed Your Head” (that climactic line from Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”), the polydrug use that is going on all around us.
This event is called Midi Circus: an ambitious attempt by the London promoters Megadog to make dance music performance work. It’s obvious from the lightness of the atmosphere that time and energy have been spent on the staging. The acts selected –the Orb, Orbital, the Aphex Twin– are the most interesting working in the techno/psych crossover that has moved into areas formerly associated with rock: large public events, raves, festivals. It’s here you will find the millenarian subculture of techno primitives, half in electronic noise, half in earth-centered paganism.
Orbital’s name is taken from the M25 Orbital motorway that circles London; it comes from the period, three years ago, when huge raves were held around the capital’s outer limits. They’ve had a couple of hits, and have just released a fine second LP (due out in the U.S. next month). Tonight, they stand behind their synths wearing helmets with two beams roughly where their eyes would be. When the dry ice and the strobes are in full effect, they look like trolls from Star Wars, or, perhaps more unsettling, coal miners. And then, as machine noise swirls around us, it hits me. This is industrial displacement. Now that England has lost most of its heavy industry, its children are simulating an industrial experience for their entertainment and transcendence.
At first the art of music sought and achieved purity, limpidity and sweetness of sound. Then different sounds were amalgamated, care being taken, however, to caress the ear with gentle harmonies. Today music, as it becomes continually more complicated, strives to amalgamate the most dissonant, strange and harsh sounds. In this way we come ever closer to noise-sound.
Luigi Russolo: “The Art of Noises” (1913)
Punk rock, new wave, and soul
Pop music, salsa, rock & roll
Calypso, reggae, rhythm and blues
Master mix those number one blues.

G.L.O.B.E. and Whiz Kid: “Play That Beat Mr. DJ” (1983)
Techno is everywhere in England this year. Beginning as a term applying to a specific form of dance music –the minimal, electronic cuts that Detroiters like Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Kevin Saunderson were making in the mid ’80s– techno has become a catchall pop buzzword: this year’s grunge. When an unabashed Europop record like 2 Unlimited’s “No Limit” –think Snap, think Black Box– blithely includes a rap that goes “Techno techno techno techno,” you know that you’re living within a major pop phenomenon.
My experience of it has been colored by my recent circumstances: frequent travel, usually by car. Techno is the perfect travelling music, being all about speed: its repetitive rhythms, minimal melodies, and textural modulations are perfect for the constantly shifting perspectives offered by high-speed travel. Alternatively, the fizzing electronic sounds all too accurately reproduce the snap of synapses forced to process a relentless, swelling flood of electronic information. 
If there is one central idea in techno, it is of the harmony between man and machine. As Juan Atkins puts it: “You gotta look at it like, techno is technological. It’s an attitude to making music that sounds futuristic: something that hasn’t been done before.” This idea is commonplace throughout much of avant-garde 20th-century art –early musical examples include Russolo’s 1913 Art of Noises manifesto and ’20s ballets by Erik Satie (”Relâche”) and George Antheil (”Ballet méchanique”). Many of Russolo’s ideas prefigure today’s techno in everything but the available hardware, like the use of nonmusical instruments in his 1914 composition, Awakening of a City.
Postwar pop culture is predicated on technology, and its use in mass production and consumption. Today’s music technology inevitably favors unlimited mass reproduction, which is one of the reasons why the music industry, using the weapon of copyright, is always fighting a rearguard battle against its free availability. Just think of those “Home Taping Is Killing Music” stickers, the restrictive prices placed on every new Playback/Record facility (the twin tape deck, the DAT), the legal battles between samplers and copyright holders.
There are obviously ethical considerations here –it’s easy to understand James Brown’s outrage as his uncredited beats and screams underpin much of today’s black music– but at its best, today’s new digital, or integrated analog and digital, technology c an encourage a free interplay of ideas, a real exchange of information. Most recording studios in the U.S. and Europe will have a sampler and a rack of CDs: a basic electronic library of Kraftwerk, James Brown, Led Zeppelin –today’s Sound Bank.
Rap is where you first heard it –Grandmaster Flash’s 1981 “Wheels of Steel,” which scratched together Queen, Blondie, the Sugarhill Gang, the Furious Five, Sequence, and Spoonie Gee –but what is sampling if not digitized scratching? If rap is more an American phenomenon, techno is where it all comes together in Europe as producers and musicians engage in a dialogue of dazzling speed.
Synthetic electronic sounds
Industrial rhythms all around
Musique nonstop
Techno pop

Kraftwerk: “Techno Pop” (1986)
Kraftwerk stand at the bridge between the old, European avant-garde and today’s Euro-American pop culture. Like many others of their generation, Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter were presented with a blank slate in postwar Germany: as Hutter explains, “When we started, it was like shock, silence. Where do we stand? Nothing. We had no father figures, no continuous tradition of entertainment. Through the ’50s and ’60s, everything was Americanized, directed toward consumer behavior. We were part of this 1968 movement, where suddenly there were possibilities, then we started to establish some form of German industrial sound.”
In the late ’60s, there was a concerted attempt to create a distinctively German popular music. Liberated by the influence of Fluxus (LaMonte Young and Tony Conrad were frequent visitors to Germany during this period) and Anglo-American psychedelia, groups like Can and Amon Duul began to sing in German –the first step in countering pop’s Anglo-American centrism. Another element in the mix was particularly European: electronic composers like Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen, who, like Fluxus, continued Russolo’s fascination with the use of nonmusical instruments.
Classically trained, Hutter and Schneider avoided the excesses of their contemporaries, along with the guitar/bass/drums format. Their early records are full of long, moody electronic pieces, using noise and industrial elements –music being indivisible from everyday sounds. Allied to this was a strong sense of presentation (the group logo for their first three records was a traffic cone) which was part of a general move toward control over every aspect of the music and image-making process: in 1973-74, the group built their own studio in Dusseldorf, Kling Klang.
At the same time, Kraftwerk bought a Moog synthesizer, which enabled them to harness their long electronic pieces to a drum machine. The first fruit of this was “Autobahn,” a 22-minute motorway journey, from the noises of a car starting up to the hum of cooling machinery. In 1975, an edited version of “Autobahn” was a top 10 hit. It wasn’t the first synth hit –that honor belongs to Gershon Kingsley’s hissing “Popcorn,” performed by studio group Hot Butter– but it wasn’t a pure novelty either.
The breakthrough came with 1977’s Trans-Europe Express: again, the concentration on speed, travel, pan-Europeanism. The album’s center is the 13-minute sequence that simulates a rail journey: the click-clack of metal wheels on metal rails, the rise and fade of a whistle as the train passes, the creaking of coach bodies, the final screech of metal on metal as the train stops. If this wasn’t astounding enough, 1978’s Man Machine further developed ideas of an international language, of the synthesis between man and machine.
The influence of these two records –and 1981’s Computer World, with its concentration on emerging computer technology –was immense. In England, a new generation of synth groups emerged from the entrails of punk: Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, the Normal all began as brutalist noise groups, for whom entropy and destruction were as important a part of technology as progress, but all of them were moving toward industrial dance rhythms by 1976-79.
The idea of electronic dance music was in the air from 1977 on. Released as disco 12″ records in the U.S., cuts like “Trans-Europe Express” and “The Robots” coincided with Giorgio Moroder’s electronic productions for Donna Summer, especially “I Feel Love.” This in turn had a huge influence on Patrick Cowley’s late ’70s productions for Sylvester: synth cuts like “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” and “Stars” were the start of gay disco. Before he died in 1982, Cowley made his own synthetic disco record, the dystopian “Mind Warp.”
More surprisingly, Kraftwerk had an immediate impact on black dance music: as Afrika Bambaataa says in David Toop’s Rap Attack, “I don’t think they even knew how big they were among the black masses back in ‘77 when they came out with ‘Trans-Europe Express.’ When that came out, I thought that was one of the best and weirdest records I ever heard in my life.” In 1981, Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, together with producer Arthur Baker, paid tribute with “Planet Rock,” which used the melody from “Trans-Europe Express” over the rhythm from “Numbers.” In the process they created electro and moved rap out of the Sugarhill age.
The Techno Rebels are, whether they recognize it or not, agents of the Third Wave. They will not vanish but multiply in the years ahead. For they are as much part of the advance to a new stage of civilisation as our missions to Venus, our amazing computers, our biological discoveries, or our explorations of the oceanic depths.
Alvin Toffler: The Third Wave (1980)
Music is prophecy: its styles and economic organisation are ahead of the rest of society because it explores, much faster than material reality can, the entire range of possibilities in a given code. It makes audible the new world that will gradually become visible.
Jacques Atalli: Noise (1977)
In the inevitable movement of musical ideas from the avant-garde to pop, from black to white and back again, it’s easy to forget that blacks –who to many people in England must be the repository of qualities like soul and authenticity –are equally as capable, if not more, of being technological and futuristic as whites. A veiled racism is at work here. If you want black concepts and black futurism, you need go no further than the mid-’70s Parliafunkadelicment Thang, with its P-Funk language and extraterrestrial visitations.
Derrick May once described techno as “just like Detroit, a complete mistake. It’s like George Clinton and Kraftwerk stuck in an elevator.” “I’ve always been a music lover,” says Juan Atkins. “Everything has a subconscious effect on what I do. In the 1970s I was into Parliament, Funkadelic; as far back as ‘69 they were making records like Maggot Brain, America Eats Its Young. But if you want the reason why that happened in Detroit, you have to look at a DJ called Electrifying Mojo: he had five hours every night, with no format restrictions. It was on his show that I first heard Kraftwerk.”
In 1981, Atkins teamed up with a fellow Washtenaw Community College student, Vietnam veteran Richard Davies, who had decided to simply call himself 3070. “He was very isolated,” Atkins says; “He had one of the first Roland sequencers, a Roland MSK-100. I was around when you had to get a bass player, a guitarist, a drummer to make records: you had all these egos flying around, it was hard to get a consistent thought. I wanted to make electronic music but thought you had to be a computer programmer to do it. I found out it wasn’t as complicated as I thought. Our first record was ‘Alleys of Your Mind.’ It sold about 15,000 locally.”
Atkins and 3070 called themselves Cybotron, a futuristic name in line with the ideas they had taken from science fiction, P-Funk, Kraftwerk, and Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave. “We had always been into futurism. We had a whole load of concepts for Cybotron: a whole techno-speak dictionary, an overall idea which we called the Grid. It was like a video game which you entered on different levels.” By 1984-85, they had racked up some of the finest electronic records ever, produced in their home studio in Ypsilanti: tough, otherworldly yet warm cuts like “Clear,” “R-9″, and the song that launched the style, “Techno City.”
Like Kraftwerk, Cybotron celebrated the romance of technology, of the city, of speed, using purely electronic instruments and sounds. One of their last records, “Night Drive,” features a disembodied voice whispering details of rapid, nocturnal transit in an intimate, seductive tone –this set against a background of terminal industrial decay. After the riots of June 1967, Detroit went, as Ze’ev Chafets writes in Devil’s Night, “in one generation from a wealthy white industrial giant to a poverty- stricken black metropolis.” Starved of resources while the wealth remains in rich, white suburbs, the inner city has, largely, been left to rot.
Much has been made of Detroit’s blasted state –and indeed, analogous environments can be found in England, in parts of London, Manchester, Sheffield, which may well account for techno’s popularity there– but Atkins remains optimistic. “You can look at the state of Detroit as a plus,” says Atkins. “All right, you only take 15 minutes to get from one side of the city center to the other, and the main department store is boarded up, but we’re at the forefron here. When the new technology came in, Detroit collapsed as an industrial city, but Detroit is techno city. It’s getting better, it’s coming back around.”
By 1985, 3070 was gone, permanently damaged by Vietnam. Atkins hooked up with fellow Belleville High alumni Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. The three of them began recording together and separately, under various names: Model 500 (Atkins), Reese (Saunderson), Mayday, R-Tyme, and Rhythim is Rhythim (May). All shared an attitude toward making records –using the latest in computer technology without letting machines do everything– and a determination to overcome their environment; like May has said, ” We can do nothing but look forward.”
The trio put out a stream of records in the Detroit area on the Transmat and KMS labels: many of these, like “No UFO’s,” “Strings of Life,” “Rock to the Beat,” and “When He Used To Play,” have the same tempo, about 120 bpm, and feature blank, otherworldly voices –which, paradoxically, communicate intense emotion. These records –now rereleased in Europe on compilations like Retro Techno Detroit Definitive (Network U.K.) or Model 500: Classics (R&S Belgium)– were as good, if not better, as anything coming out of New York or even Chicago, but because of Detroit’s isolation few people in the U.S. heard them at the time. It took English entrepreneurs to give them their correct place in the mainstream of dance culture.
Like many others, Neil Rushton was galvanized by the electronic music coming out of Chicago mid-decade, which was successfully codified in the English market under the trade name “house.” A similar thing happened in Chicago as in Detroit: away from the musical mainstream on both coasts, DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson had revived a forgotten musical form, disco, and adapted it to the environment of gay clubs like the Warehouse. The result was a spacey, electronic sound, released on local labels like Trax and DJ International: funkier and more soulful than techno, but futuristic. As soon as it was marketed in the U.K. as house in early 1987, it because a national obsession with No. 1 hits like “Love Can’t Turn Around” and “Jack Your Body.”
House irrevocably turned around English pop music. After the successes of these early records by Steve “Silk” Hurley and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk (with disco diva Darryl Pandy), pop music was dance music, and, more often than not, futuristic black dance music at that. The apparent simplicity of these records coincided with the coming onstream of digital technology whereby, in Atkins’s words, “you have the capability of storing a vast amount of information in a smaller place.” The success of the original house records opened up more trends: acid house –featuring the Roland 303– was followed by Italian house, and later, Belgian New Beat’s slower, more industrial dance rhythms.
“The U.K. likes discovering trends,” Rushton says. “Because of the way that the media works, dance culture happens very quickly. It’s not hard to hype something up.” House slotted right into the mainstream English pop taste for fast, four-on-the-floor black dance music that began with Tamla in the early ’60s (for many English people the first black music they heard). In the ’70s, obscure mid-’60s Detroit area records had been turned into a way of life, a religion even, in the style called “Northern Soul” by dance writer Dave Godin.
“I was always a Northern Soul freak,” says Rushton. “When the first techno records came in, the early Model 500, Reese, and Derrick May material, I wanted to follow up the Detroit connection. I took a flyer and called up Transmat; I got Derrick May and we started to release his records in England. At that time, Derrick was recording on very primitive analog equipment: ‘Nude Photo,’ for instance, was done straight onto cassette, and that was the master. When you’re using that equipment, you must keep the mixes very simple. You can’t overdub, or drop too many things in; that’s why it’s so sparse.
“Derrick came over with a bag of tapes, some of which didn’t have any name: tracks which are now classics, like ‘Sinister’ and ‘Strings of Life.’ Derrick then introduced us to Kevin Saunderson, and we quickly realized that there was a cohesive sound of these records, and that we could do a really good compilation album. We got backing from Virgin Records and flew to Detroit. We met Derrick, Kevin, and Juan and went out to dinner, trying to think of a name.
“At the time, everything was house, house house. We thought of Motor City House Music, that kind of thing, but Derrick, Kevin, and Juan kept on using the word techno. They had it in their heads without articulating it; it was already part of their language.” Rushton’s team returned to England with 12 tracks, which were released on an album called Techno! The New Dance School of Detroit, with a picture of the Detroit waterfront at night. At the time, it seemed like just another hype, but within a couple of months Kevin Saunderson had a huge U.K. hit with Inner City’s pop oriented “Big Fun,” and techno entered the language.
In the future, all pop music will bring everyone a little closer together –gay or straight, black or white, one nation under a groove.
LFO: “Intro” (1991)
The sheer exponential expansion of dance music in Europe since house is attributable to several factors. First, the sheer quality of the records coming out of the U.S., whether swingbeat, rap, New York garage, house or techno. Secondly acid house –acid being a Chicago term for the wobbly bassline and trancey sounds that started to come in from 1987 on– coincided with the widespread European use of the psychedelic Ecstasy. In Europe, acid house meant psychedelic house, and this drug-derived subculture has become the single largest fashion in England and across the continent; gatherings of up to 5000 people were common after 1988 and have become an important circuit for breaking hits.
Thirdly, the deceptively simple sound of the Detroit and Chicago records, together with the spread of digital technology like the Roland 808 sequencer [sic.], encouraged Europeans to make their own records cheaply, often in their own home studios, from the mid decade. The long delay between Kraftwerk’s 1981 Computer World and 1986 Electric Cafe occurred in part because the group was converting its Kling Klang studio from analog to digital. The result is greater flexibility, more storage space, and more sonic possibilities –vital in an area of music as fast-moving and competitive as the dance economy.
The big English breakthrough came in 1988 with S’Express’s no. 1 hit “Theme From S’Express” –a playful reworking of that old travel motif, with Karen Finley and hairspray samples for percussion. The acid sound development from the Roland 808 explorations of Phuture’s “Acid Tracks” –the sound of buzzing bees discovered by accident from a synthesizer straight out of the shop. Squeezed, bent, oscillated, this buzz became the staple of the 1988-89 acid boom; you can hear an early English version on Baby Ford’s proto-hardcore “Ooochy Koochy Fuck You Baby Yeah Yeah.”
By 1990, the relentless demand for new dance music was such that, in Neil Rushton’s words, “The Detroit innovators couldn’t take it to the next stage. What did was that kids in the U.K. and Europe started learning how to make those techno records. They weren’t as well-made, but they had the same energy. And, by 1990-91, things became more interesting, because instead of three people in Detroit, you suddenly had 23 people making techno, in Belgium, in Sheffield.”
Beltram’s “Energy Flash” released on the Belgian R&S Records in early 1991, defined the new mood. Inherent in the man/machine aesthetic is a certain brutality that goes right back to the macho posturings of the Futurist F.T. Marinetti: even in records as soulful as those made by Model 500, you’ll find titles like “Off to Battle.” With its in-your-face bass, speeded up industrial rhythms and whispered chants of “Ecstasy,” “Energy Flash” caught the transition from Detroit techno to today’s hardcore –the aesthetic laid out for all time on Human Resource’s “Dominator:” “I’m bigger and bolder and rougher and tougher / In other words, sucker, there is no other / I wanna kiss myself.”
“In Belgium we had all the influences,” says R&S label owner Renaat Vandepapeliere. “We had new beat, which was slowed-down industrial music. Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle were very big in Belgium. Detroit techno and acid house came in and everything got mixed up together.” Other Beltram cuts like “Sub-Bass Experience,” with its sensuous psychedelic textures and rock samples, pointed the way forward to other R&S releases like the Aphex Twin’s “Analogue Bubblebath,” which spun techno off into yet another direction.
In England, the techno take-up came not in London or Manchester (which by then was busy with rock/dance groups like the Happy Mondays), but in Sheffield, an industrial city about 200 miles away from London, on the other side of the Pennine Hills from Manchester, which in the late ’70s spawned its own electronic scene with Cabaret Voltaire and The Human League. “There are no live venues here in Sheffield,” says WARP Records co-owner Rob Mitchell. “The only way to be in a band and be successful is to make dance records.
“All these industrial places influence the music that you make. Electronic music is relevant because of the subliminal influence of industrial sounds. You go around Sheffield and it’s full of crap concrete architecture built in the ’60’s; you go down in to an area called the Canyon and you have these massive black factories belching out smoke, banging away. They don’t sound a lot different from the music.” You can hear this in early industrial cuts by Cabaret Voltaire, like 1978’s “The Set Up,” with its deep throbbing pulse.
In 1989, CV’s Richard Kirk was looking for a new way to operate. “Cabaret Voltaire had just finished a period on a major label, EMI, and we weren’t working together. I spent a lot of time going to clubs, and working in the studio with Parrot, a DJ who ran the city’s main club night, Jive Turkey. We made a record, as Sweet Exorcist, called ‘Test One,’ which we made to play in the club. It was very, very minimal. WARP was a shop where everyone bought American imports, and they put it out. We started to move seriously in that direction.”
WARP released “Test One” in mid 1990. By the end of the year they had two top 20 hits with LFO and Tricky Disco, both with eponymous dance cuts. The WARP material is less brutal than the Belgian techno: still using crunch industrial sounds, but more minimal, more playful. And then another change occurred as techno went hardcore in 1991. “I didn’t like the hardcore stuff,” says Mitchell. “It was too simplistic, crude and aggressive. We were getting sent lots of tracks that we couldn’t sell on singles, so we thought, ‘Let’s just do an LP.’ We got the title, Artificial Intelligence, and a concept: ‘Electronic music for the mind created by trans-global electronic innovators who prove music is the one true universal language.’”
The cover of Artificial Intelligence is a computer-generated image: a robot lies back in an armchair, relaxing after a Sapporo and what looks like a joint. On the floor surrounding him are album sleeves: the first WARP compilation, featuring LFO and Sweet Exorcist among others, Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The music inside has slower beats, and is a ways away from the minimal funkiness of Detroit techno; cuts by the Dice Man, the Orb, and Musicology are nothing other than a modern, dance-oriented psychedelia.
Featured on the album was the then 17-year-old Richard James, who, under his most familiar pseudonym Aphex Twin, has become the star of what most people now call ambient techno –although it doesn’t quite have a name yet. Coincidental to the Artificial Intelligence compilation, R&S released the Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, which developed a huge underground reputation at the end of last year. With its minimal, archetypal graphics –a mutated boomerang shape on the sleeve– the Ambient Works album trashed the boundaries between acid, techno, ambient, and psychedelic. It defined a new techno primitive romanticism.
When Richard James was finally found and interviewed, he came up with a story that has already become myth: how the by-now 19-year-old student from Cornwall (a remote part of the U.K.) recorded under a bewildering variety of pseudonyms –the Aphex Twin, Polygon Window, Dice Man, and Caustic Window, to name but a few– how he built his own electronic machines to make the speaker-shredding noises you hear on his records; how he already has 20 albums recorded and ready to go. WARP plans to release his next ambient collection as a triple-CD set with a graphic novel.
The Aphex Twin’s success comes at a moment when, in England and on the continent, one wing of techno is going toward ambience. The slowing pace is partly in response to the still-popular working class fashion of hardcore, which regularly throws up generic chart hits like those by Altern-8 and the Prodigy. At the same time as the drug supply in clubland has changed from Ecstasy to amphetamines, hardcore has gone far beyond the linear brutalities of “The Dominator” into a seamless dystopia of speeded up breakbeats, horror lyrics, and ur-punk vocal chants. Like gangsta rap, it’s scary, and it’s meant to be.
“Ninety per cent of the techno records you hear now are made for a fucked-up dance floor,” says Renaat Vandepapeliere. “That’s what I see now in a lot of clubs: no vibe, no motivation, aggression –the drugs have taken over. The majority don’t understand it yet, but most of the guys who are really good, like Derrick May, don’t take drugs. Techno was a sound but it is now an attitude, and that’s to make records for drug-oriented people. There is another category, where people are making music for you to pay attention with your full mind, and we’re trying to make something now that will last.”
“I believe that the ’70s are parallel for what’s going on in the ’90s,” says WARP’s Rob Mitchell. “Musical moods tend to be a reaction against what has just gone on; we’ve just had a very aggressive period. The original Detroit techno is very sophisticated. What we’re putting out now –Wild Planet, F.U.S.E.– has a similar level of sophistication. The real change for us since we started is the fact that this music is 99 per cent white, but the idea of raising techno to an artier level is really exciting.”
If the ’70s are back, then it’s the early part of the decade: you can see 1970-71 in the long hair and loose clothes of R&S/WARP acts like the Aphex Twin, Source, C.J. Bolland; you can read it in their titles (”Neuromancer,” “Aquadrive,” “Hedphelym”); you can hear the hints of Terry Riley, German romanticists Cluster and Klaus Schulze, even Jean-Michel Jarre. The very idea of boy keyboard wizards goes back to that moment in the early ’70s when Kraftwerk began their electronic experiments, when rock went progressive. Techno has moved into psychedelia with groups like Orbital; now it’s gone prog.
It’s hard to avoid the impression that ambient has come as a godsend to the music industry. The very success of the dance-music economy has thrown up problems, as Rob Mitchell explains: “There is virtually no artist loyalty in dance music; the record is more important than the artist. Dance is incredibly fast moving, which is good, but very difficult to build careers in.” With ambient acts like the Aphex Twin, the music industry has something it recognizes and knows how to promote: the definable white rock artists, as opposed to the anonymous, often black, record. And ambient techno also slots directly into the music industry’s most profitable form of hardware: the CD.
The term ambient was popularized by Brian Eno in the late ’70s. The percussionless, subtle tonalities of records like Music for Airports were perfect for the CD format when it came onstream in the mid ’80s. Ambient techno and its kitsch associate, New Age, are the modern equivalent of the exotic sound experience that developed to fit the technologies of the ’50s. Just as mass distribution of the LP and the home hi-fi gave us film soundtracks and Martin Denny, the CD and the Discman have given us ambient techno.
Ambient could go horribly wrong, but hasn’t yet. A cyberpunk/computer games aesthetic is always patched somewhere into the screen, but is not obtrusive. Inherent in the genre is a lightness of touch, and a rhythmic discipline that comes from its Detroit source. The best material, like Biosphere’s Microgravity and Sandoz’s Digital Lifeforms, also has a holistic spirituality that goes back to the Detroit records. As Sandoz’s Richard Kirk says, “I’ve been making music for a long time. Much of it has been very cold, very aggressive, very stark. It’s time to do something that makes you feel good, that makes you feel warm.”
Recorded by a 27-year-old from Norway, Geir Jennsen (a/k/a Biosphere), Microgravity stands at the apex of ambient. Its nine cuts (sample title: “Cloudwater II”) form a perfectly segued 45-minute whole that balances the utopian/dystopian pull inherent in the machine aesthetic. Their ebb and flow, between fast and slow, between playful and awful, between moon and sun, holds some of the queasy balance within which we live. At the end, a resolution: “Biosphere” merges the sound of technology –the thrum of heavy industry, an electric alarm– into a bass pulse and atmospheric effects, warning but enclosing. The last sound is wind.
There’s something in the air called objectivity.
There’s something in the air like electricity.
There’s something in the air, and it’s in the air, the air.
There’s something in the air that’s pure silliness.
There’s something in the air that you can’t resist.
There’s something in the air, and it’s in the air,
And you can’t get it out of the air.

–Theme song, Schiffer-Spoliansky revue: “Es Liegt in der Luft(There’s something in the air) (1928)
Techno, how far can you go? “A lot of it was kind of as we planned,” says Juan Atkins, “but nobody knew it would be a global thing as it is now, from little Detroit.” “We have played and been understood in Detroit and Japan,” says Ralf Hutter; “That’s the most fascinating thing that could happen. Electronic music is a kind of world music. It may be a couple of generations yet, but I think that the global village is coming.”
The computer virus is loose. Right now, techno presents itself as a paradox of possibilities (and limitations, the most glaring being gender: where are the women in this boys’ world?). In its many forms, techno shows that within technology there is emotion, that within information access there is overload, that within speed lies entropy, that within progress lies destruction, that within the materiality of inanimate objects can lie spirituality.
These tensions have been programmed into our art and culture since the turn of the century, and it is fitting that at the century’s end, a form has come along which can synthesize the encroaching vortex of the millennium. You can do anything with techno, and people will. As our past, present, and future start to spin before our eyes, and our feet start to slip, the positivism inherent in techno remains a guide: like Juan Atkins says, “I’m very optimistic. This is a very good time to be alive right now.”

See also: Simon Reynold's 'Energy Flash'