New mix: Renaissance

Renaissance mix by deemo - cover

**this mix has been taken down**

*slinks shamefully back into blogging mode*

Now that wedding season is over, I can devote some more time to this little outlet right here. Starting with this mix, which I’m feeling rather cheery about. It’s a bit more four-on-the-floor, and there’s almost no scratching; the mixing is a little tighter, and there are a few new artists in it that ought to make you spit out your retainer in delight. Look for posts soon on the latest from Rustie and Martyn (sampled below), the Radiohead remix album and more.

1. Rustie – “All Nite”
2. S-X – “Expensive Talk”
3. Radiohead – “Give Up The Ghost (Brokenchord remix)”
4. Pixelord – “Fish Touch (Busted by heRobust”
5. Ras G and the Alkebulan Space Program – “One 4 Steve EL”
6. Letherette – “Bruse”
7. Om Unit – “The Corridor (Kromestar’s Classroom Seven mix)”
8. Aphex Twin – “Quex-RD”
9. Venice – “New Earth”
10. Slugabed – “Whirlpool”
11. Lone – “Blossom Quarter”
12. Martyn – “Pop Gun”
13. Jacques Greene – “I Like You”
14. Four Tet – “Locked”

Top 5 Singles/EPs of 2011 So Far (Ivory Tower edition)

As I write these words high above downtown Torontopiaville in the 300th floor of the Communications Complex, I recognize that it isn’t as easy as it once was for me to keep in touch with the streets. Are they still watching? Who is to say, really. The next time I take my private elevator to the ground floor and straight into a waiting limo, I will pause for a moment and raise a moistened finger to the air. In the meantime you have this deeply out of touch list, which I hope will let you in on what the caviar-munching, world-travelling elites such as myself are listening to. Behold: the top singles of the year, ivory-tower edition.

1. BlawanGetting Me Down 12″ (white label)

When I heard this first on a 2562 podcast it lodged itself in my brain, but it took me a while to realize how bad I needed it in my life — prompting a frantic Sunday vinyl search on my last full day in London. You might ascribe the addictive properties of Blawan’s meisterwurk to the admittedly bitchin’ Brandy sample. But if you checked his Bohla EP (on R&S, who are giving Brainfeeder a run for their money as label of the year) you’d recognize that blend of hard, ricocheting percussion and sand-blasted tech influences with the well-oiled grooves of UK garage and funky as the mark of a singular voice. Having a vocal carry “Getting Me Down” makes it more immediate, more openly pop, than Blawan’s other stuff, but the tuneless shudder from the depths of the song’s water-tight hull makes it twice as scary � and as thrilling � as any of your harder tech or dubstep. We’re gonna need a bigger boat to haul in a sound as potently heavy as this.

Blawan ‘Getting Me Down’ (White label) by punchdrunkmusicdotcom

2. Mono/PolyManifestations EP (Brainfeeder)

The G-funk legacy hangs over the Brainfeeder stable like, um, well, guess. But where plenty of beat-types turn to the Cameo- and Isleys-sampling so beloved by Death Row alums, Mono/Poly pours the aesthetic through 36 chambers of dread and unease to produce something a little rougher than expected. “Forest Dark” is like Moroder-pop synths wandering down a dark alley and witnessing a crowd gathered around a dog fight; “Punch The Troll In The Neck” prods you with edgy tones like a riot cop on a sugar high; “Needs Deodorant” makes a pimptastic groove into a slightly screechy, agitated answer to “The Hustle.” I never liked ‘relaxing’ music that much, anyway.

Mono/Poly – Needs Deodorant by factmag

3. Four Tet/Thom Yorke/Burial – Ego/Mirror 12″ (Text)

It’s not just the name recognition that bumped this on here. I swear. (Though did I tell you I totally interviewed Four Tet, while he was holding a BABY?) Truth: the most exciting thing about this star-studded (and when has that adjective ever actually implied anything other than potential disappointment?) single is that it sounds like they pressed it inside out, upside down and backwards. Both tunes are little more than uptempo house rhythms with ghostly swirls of melody and Yorke’s vocal dancing in and out. You can sort of see why Radiohead are commissioning remixes from proper dance producers like Jacques Greene and Lone — after this single, you realize that the problem with King of Limbs isn’t that their song ideas aren’t good, it’s just that the beats are shit. Outsourcing: sorry Thom, but it’s the way of the future.

Burial, Four Tet & Thom Yorke – Mirror by ListenBeforeYouBuy

4. LoneEcholocations EP (R&S)

More R&S delectation. I like to think the classic, relaunched Belgian label is annoying the shit out of techno purists with people like James Blake and the much more fun-loving Lone, who throws all kinds of sophisticated synth processing and acid house touchstones in with blatant ‘ardkore references and other hallmarks of someone who really doesn’t give a fuck so long as it’s fun. On the other hand, I also like to think that people who are discerning enough to love Detroit techno are also smart enough to recognize genius moves like the barmy glockenspiel arpeggios all over “Coreshine Voodoo” when they hear it.

Lone – Echolocations by GammaRay

5. Azari & IIIManic 12″ (Loose Lips)

Speaking of being wildly out of touch, I haven’t heard the Azari and III album yet. (Doesn’t help that I’m over my quota with my ISP, in the latest in a series of small acts of charity that have blown up into giant pains in the ass. But enough about me.) Pretty sure it’ll be good, though, since with every release they’ve figured out ever fresher ways to make vintage Chicago house sounds without slavishly imitating them. “Manic” isn’t totally faithful to any particular era of house, which is probably why I like it — the effervescent arpeggiated basslines, the doubled n’ detuned vocals that people keep comparing to Prince for reasons I can’t quite fathom, and the straight-up DJ Sneak remix that makes it much more likely to make mainstream clubbers’ heads explode without losing most of the things that make the original awesome. Always a good sign.

Azari & III – Manic by PurplePR

Honourable Mentions:

Hudson Mohawke – Satin Panthers EP
Slugabed – Moonbeam Rider EP
TOKiMONSTA – Creature Dreams EP
Com Truise – Fairlight EP
Drake – “Headlines” (mostly for the beat)
Mo Kolours – EP1: Drum Talking
Shigeto – “And We Gonna (Samiyam Chopsticks rmx)” – Full Circle Remixes
Venice – Animals, Stars and other Psychedelic Creatures
Wiley – “Numbers In Action”
Prodigy – Complex Presents The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP
Flying Lotus – Pattern + Grid World EP
Discodeine – “Synchronize (f. Jarvis Cocker)”

The best albums of 2011 so far coming soon!

MUTEK Day 3: Git it in your soul

A day late and many miles away, but here nonetheless is my review of Saturday at MUTEK 2011. Would that it never ended.

Piknic 01: Floating Points, Simon Called Peter, Terry Lee Brown Jr.

Funnily enough, it took going to Montreal to make me really understand how British people feel when the sun pokes its way out from the neverending clouds. Stumbling into a sunny clearing in Parc Jean-Drapeau to find UK DJ Floating Points turning out a crowd with a funky edit of The Whatanauts� �Help Is On The Way� (you remember this one) scraped the residue of Toronto�s grey, miserable hell-spring outta my soul. I think the pictures pretty much tell the story.

Despite his billing as a lover of Detroit sounds�never the slickest aesthetic by any stretch�Terry Lee Brown Jr. was a little too smooth and �funky� for my taste. By the end of the weekend I was becoming downright snobbish about certain mainstream sounds�more on that in a sec. But Simon Called Peter improved things substantially with some necessarily techy roughness over at the second stage. I don�t think I was the only one who was spurred on to head down the gravel path to the GURU stage when Brown Jr�s gear conked out for a minute, letting Simon Called Peter�s mixing tempt our ears, Pied Piper style. Only a late-set cameo by an unnamed and unskilled keyboardist put a slight damper on things. Then again, a gentleman with no shirt and a rainbow choker gave me a welcoming smile during this interlude, so I can�t really complain.


A/Visions 04: Deadbeat + Lillevan, Pole

I came late to Deadbeat thanks to a line stretching around the block�the first of the fest, to the credit of the organizers�and left early from Pole�s set, so I won�t pretend to journalistic integrity in my assessment of either. Suffice it to say that Deadbeat isn�t quite my cup of chillout/downtempo/dub/what have you, and that while Pole is a lot closer, not least because he does spectacular things with noises that other producers edit out, I can�t imagine actually paying money to hear either of them. I�ve never agreed with Simon Reynolds� assessment of the likes of the Warp roster as being too refined for the dancefloor yet too laid back to be truly exciting. And yet, the description seems to fit both acts. The only caveat is that Pole sounds better the louder his music is played, and this was very loud indeed. Who needs a melody when you find yourself with a pattern of syncopated white noise stuck in your head?


Nocturne 04: Rocketnumbernine, Four Tet, James Holden

I don�t want to fault Brit duo Rocketnumbernine for not being exciting, not least in a venue where the sound man was almost certainly focused on the wholly or mostly electronic acts that were to follow. The fact that the drummer and synth-ist had an actual dynamic range seemed to confound the venue, such that when they kicked things up a notch volume-wise, the drums seemed to turn into an unpleasant roar that overwhelmed whatever groove they were developing. Still, it wasn�t quite magnetic stuff. That said, and not to pat myself on the back, but I think I did hit on something with my theory that Four Tet is a remarkable collaborator because he listens to people; when he joined Rocketnumbernine for a collaboration, things improved enormously. Evidently, he heard what was needed and provided it in spades; in this case it seemed to be artfully constructed washes of static and bursts of samples, which mingled deliciously with Rocketnumbernine�s resident synth player�s blips and barks to form something like music.

Praising Four Tet himself is almost beside the point. His own performance was so seemingly effortless, spinning the already-hypnotic gems from There Is Love In You into epic dancefloor throwdowns, that you forget he probably works just as hard at it as the others. He really does know exactly what he�s doing, while giving the impression of making it up as he goes along. The breakbeat behind �Love Cry� was a boulder, starting an avalanche that eventually took the mountain down with it, all while this grinning head of thick hair bobbed and weaved over the gear like it was all part of his plan. The only disappointment of the set was the encore, when �Angel Echoes� seemed to cut off just as it was getting going. Pshhh. Festivals.

When James Holden came on, I felt the same as I do at this very moment: I wanted to give up and go get a sandwich, but something made me keep going. Whatever it was, it wasn�t the description of Holden as a purveyor of progressive house, as misleading a genre tag as ever I heard. Anyone faced with the Teutonic synth barrage and hard but still fairly spare drums nudging them along throughout the beginning of his set would call them tech-y, if not techno outright. Holden doesn�t need more cred, given his DJ Kicks and general reputation, but the man does deserve his due for being smart enough to select tunes right on the borderline of various subgenres, and fiendishly patient enough to fool whoever writes bios into thinking he�s not after the same brain-melting relentlessness that your Surgeons or your Dettingers win tech-purist plaudits for. By the time Holden�s wave of sheer intensity started to crest, dear reader, I could hardly leave, even though I could hardly stay. Or stand. So I meekly swayed, grinning, until there was no other option but to crawl home and hope I didn�t miss too much. As I thought then, I write now: There�s always next year.