Friday, January 31, 2020

dream a soundgarden

I had a lot of fun with the researching- which among other things involved spending time in three different LA gardens - and writing of this survey-of-the-2010s feature on Ambient and New Age for Resident Advisor. It's part of a swathe of looking-back-at-the-past-decade coverage they're doing this week.

Big up to the interviewees: Spencer Doran (Visible Cloaks / Kankyō Ongaku), India Jordan (New Atlantis), Matthewdavid (Leaving Records), William Thomas (Sounds of the Dawn), and Droid (No Place Like Drone / Dissensus).

One thing I didn't get to explore is the ambient quality of certain genres that on the face of it would seem to be about as politically and philosophically distant from ambient / new age values as imaginable. Such as  trap. Lyrically it's all triumphalism and machismo - the opposite of ego-melting surrender and androgny. But the production drapes glistening wooze over the hard beats-and-bass. Wistful melody-riffs loop endlessly in a way that recalls the more idyllic kinds of Nineties IDM. 

In many ways, trap is one of the last bastions of minimalism on the radio. Achieving its effects through accumulative sameness, trap - like UK drill - is designed for immersive and inattentive listening: it’s purpose-built to slip back into being background music, the soundtrack to driving or chilling. 

You could call it Ambien Music, after the sedative-hypnotic prescription drug, given the way that trap MCs so frequently reference pain-killing, anxiety-deadening drugs like Percocet and Xanax.  The result is the characteristic affect of this music: glazed, numb, insulated, oddly passive.  Auto-Tune etherializes rappers like Quavo, Rich the Kid, Playboi Carti (with his famous “baby” voice) and Young Thug to the point where they sometimes seem barely-there - angelic boy-men whose vocal texture contradicts the overt meaning of the text.  

So pretty, so hypnotic, so chill - the chiming glistening glide of the backing track to "Motorsport" sounds like nothing so much as systems-music. Except that it rolls out at a  calm steady pace, almost screwed tempo, rather than the typically highly-strung, frantic, fidgety feel of a Michael Nyman or Philip Glass movie score.  

Monday, January 27, 2020

mystery tune #8 - "Demon Terror Bass"

off a Don FM tape from 93, I call this one "Demon Terror Bass" - for reasons that will become apparent when you click play

Sunday, January 26, 2020

the return of Mystery Tracks

phew time flies don't it?

resumed after a gap of a couple of years - the Mystery Track Quest resumes

here's Mystery Track #7 - what I titled "Tinglemania 2" on my old pirate tapes

callin the cognoscenti!

Friday, January 24, 2020


i do love the label's graphics


but also love the sonics inside the packaging

this one - watch your bassbins i'm telling ya

that one made the glass shake in my window frames

another genius piece of darkbleep

Network's attempt at pop crossover

although they actually achieved it with this lot

nexus 21 in 'rave loons' alias

hark at the Nitro Deluxe "on a mission" sample in that last tune - even as rave japesters they knew their history (i've long thought "Let's Get Brutal" / "This Brutal House" = THE bleep'n'bass prototype)

and fuck me another Nitro Deluxe sample in this tune - this time plucked from "Brutal" itself

post not exactly in honour of, but in acknowledgement of this recent publication

whose contents i cannot comment upon, not having been sent it  (go figure indeed) but i expect it's a necessary and thorough work

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Electronic Dance Music

more avant-garde music made for ballet!

compiled by Cacophonic / Finders Keepers / Andy Votel and released back in 2014

I'm always surprised that people don't send this kind of thing to me, or at least tip me off - given that i'd be fairly certain to review it somewhere, or at least give it a plugg on the blogg -


1 –Henk Badings Arioso
Choreography – Jan Zielstra
from "Cain & Abel" choreographed 1956

2 –Lasry-Baschet* Ballet Jeux D'ombres
Choreography – Jean Guelis
from "Jeux D'Ombres" choreographed 1959

3 –Alwin Nikolais Glymistry
Choreography – Alwin Nikolais
from "Prism" choreographed 1956

4 –Remi Gassmann Scherzo
Choreography – Georges Balanchine*
from "Electronics" choreographed 1961

5 –Pierre Henry Tam Tam
Choreography – Maurice Béjart
from "Orphée" choreographed 1958 / 1962

6 –Karl-Birger Blomdahl The Yurg / The Mimarobe
Choreography – Birgit Åkesson
excerpts from "Aniara" choreographed 1959

7 –Henk Badings Ragtime
Choreography – Yvonne Georgi
from "Evolutions" choreographed 1961

8 –Jean-Claude Vannier L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches Sur La Plage
Choreography – René Goliard
from "La Lucarne Magique" choreographed 1971

9 –Henk Badings Konflikt
Choreography – Jan Zielstra
from "Cain & Abel" choreographed 1956

10 –Lasry-Baschet* Ballet Du Soho 5:57
from "Ballet Du Soho" unknown choreographer 1959

11 –Igor Wakhevitch* Danse Sacrale
Choreography – Norbert Schmucki
from "Logos" choreographed 1970

12 –Alwin Nikolais Aeolus
Choreography – Alwin Nikolais
from "The Steve Allen Show" choreographed 1959

13 –Jean-Claude Vannier Le Ballet Des Accoucheuses 2:00
from "Le Ballet Des Accoucheuses", unknown choreographer

14 –Pierre Henry Transfiguration
Choreography – Maurice Béjart
from "Orphée" choreographed 1958/1962

There's loads more examples of the avant-garde dance / avant-garde music crossover

e.g. this dude

Commissioned by the San Francisco Ballet Company. Premiered at the San Francisco Opera House April 1967. Performed on national tour and at the Palace of Fine Arts 1972 and by the San Francisco Dance Spectrum at Grace Cathedral 1971 - 1972.

review by me here (of the reissue, not the original performance, when i was 3 and three quarters)

Bruce Levenstein chips in with a suggestion: 

You used to be able to hear a bit of "The Reprieve" here -  where I borrowed this chunk of text below - but alas no more: 

In an interview [Mitchell, C.J. 'Warmth a characteristic of Ann Southam's electronic music,' MSc , 269, Jan-Feb 1973]  Southam spoke of her interest in collaborating with choreographers to create modern dance works rather than ballet, in which visual patterns often replace audible ones. In modern dance the music and dancers work independently and in conjunction, creating tensions that are doubly suggestive and effective. She has also explored composing to existing choreography and this has allowed her the opportunity to deal with what she refers to as "chance relationships".

An example of Southam electronic music used for modern dance is The Reprieve (1976), which was choreographed by Patricia Beatty for Toronto Dance Theatre.

Ann Southam was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1937 but has lived most of her life in Toronto. After completing musical studies at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music, Ann began a teaching and composing career which has included a long and productive association with modern dance. As well as creating music for some of Canada's major modern dance companies and choreographers including The Toronto Dance Theatre, Danny Grossman, Dancemakers, Patricia Beatty, Christopher House and Rachel Browne, she has been an instructor in electronic music at the Royal Conservatory of Music and has participated in many "composer-in-the-classroom" programs.

While much of her work has been electroacoustic music on tape, she has become increasingly interested in music for acoustic instruments. She has composed concert music for a variety of acoustic instruments and ensembles, working with such artists and ensembles as Eve Egoyan, Beverley Johnston and Arraymusic. Southam is a member of the Canadian Music Centre, the Canadian League of Composers and a founding member of the Association of Canadian Women Composers.

Then there is this favorite of mine by Daria Semegen and Bulent Arel (not collaborating but sharing an album)

Semegen's Arc: Music for Dancers, for electronics (1977)

The piece consists of five parts whose themes, tempos, and "orchestrations" are arranged in the shape of an arc (A B C B A). Each section is itself divided into a smaller arc (a b a). After a brief introduction of phrases in groups of three beats each, the first part begins with two motivic elements arranged in a simple question-answer idea: lower range sounds on the beat, and contrasting high echoed flourishes in alternation. Section B introduces both a new tempo and "orchestration" or sound texture, as well as a new motive featuring a tremolo effect on harsh sounds alternated in various patterns from one channel to the other. A six note ostinato appears toward the middle of this section and is gradually integrated into a polyphonic pasage. Section C's theme resembles an orchestral "tutti" and is followed by a variation of the tremolo idea and echo figurations heard previously. Although the music is essentially tonal and establishes various temporary tonal centers throughout, microtones and the characteristically rich textures of electronic sound sources provide dissonant impressions counterbalancing the tonal aspects. The work was composed using a Buchla series 200 synthesizer and classic studio techniques. The music tape was synchronized at Bell Telephone Labs with the program of the Mimi Garrard Dance Theatre's portable computer-controlled lighting system by Mimi Ganard and James Seawright in preparation for Arc's first presentation in May of 1977. --Daria Semegen

Saturday, January 4, 2020

the other Santana

a 91 tekno slammer I never heard before

from the Dynomite EP!!  - and yes the exclamation marks are part of the title but come after the EP

also from the EP:

technotronic music has come a long way since '91 - but in a way, it hasn't

Liquid Metal = Omar Santana, the edit maestro

i remember his name first as the edits chappy on Mantronix productions like

and this megamix of the entirety of Music Madness the LP, heard after you'd listened to the whole thing as tracks (the edits credit here shared with Chep Nunez and Carlos Berrios, fellow Edit Kings)

yes his roots go way back to the early 80s - to freestyle and electro

hence the Cutting Records connection

but they go way forward into gabba - like this track from Mokum

subtlety's never been Omar's forte - and he knows it!

(and anyway - as Mike Skinner put it, "subtle" is too often a synonym for boring)

original (c)rude boy

discogs bio:

This tale from the hardside begins back in the early '80's in the metropolis that we know as New York City. John "Jellybean" Benitez's residency at The Funhouse Club in Manhattan had fulfilled the job of inspiring a whole new generation to take the sound of dance music well into the future and beyond.

One of these disciples went by the name of Omar Santana. Straight outta the borough of Queens in New York, Omar slowly began to make a name for himself by Dj'ing as part of the Dynamic Rockers crew, putting on jams, sound-battles and creating a solid underground vibe to rock the city with. Through this, Omar started linking up with likes of Arthur Baker as well as the Tommy Boy and Sleeping Bag Records camps. This led on to much studio action as he started producing in a big way and during the '80's worked alongside some of the true sound pioneers like Mantronix, Boogie Boys, T la Rock and Stetsasonic.

The man was now on a proper roll and going from strength to strength by editing and remixing such artists as Public Enemy, Janet Jackson, Simply Red, Quincy Jones and The Rolling Stones. The list is endless..... Omar was in serious demand and very quickly became known as one of the "Editing Kings" who would consequently stand the test of time as an inspiration for all future warriors in the trade of cut-up beats and sound.

The time had come for Omar to create an outlet for his material, so H2oh Recordings the came into being, releasing it's own brand of Hardcore flava, the label built up a strong reputation for itself and such was it's succes that a sister label by name of Tricked Out Recordings was brought into operation to concentrate and add even greater ammunition to the audio warfare in beats that was going on inside his head by setting the agenda for the Hard Hop/breaks sounds in America

Thursday, January 2, 2020


tuff 'n ruff 'n sweet 'n neet

also from the Part Two EP

same chap responsible for this lovely tune

he done a lot, under several names - must must do the proper auteur job

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

remembered phuture

bonus phuturism:

Mover comrade Miro with a very creditable stab at techstep

there was a moment where i fantasised about a merger or coming back into alignment of No U Turn style drum + bass and the doomcore strain of gabba:

The "tech" refers not to Detroit... but to the Belgium/Beltram sound
of 1991 hardcore. Ed Rush and Trace have been namechecking early R&S,
Frank De Wulf, Human Resource's "Dominator", etc. The death-ray malignancy
of the Mentasm stab was in turn a huge influence on the first wave of '92/93
breakbeat darkcore --Doc Scott, 4 Hero, Rufige Cru, Bizzy B. That drum &
bass people are again genuflecting towards "Mentasm" as opposed to "Bug In
The Bassbin", is the most hopeful sign in a long while.
R&S/Dominator/Mentasm is of course the roots of gabba. So my prediction
(mad pipe-dream, more like) for 1997 is a link-up between the terrorcore
end of gabba nd the techstep sound, resulting in the re-integration
of the original, pan-European hardcore of 1991

.... there's a similar doomy, gloomy vibe, dystopian cyberpunk imagery, dirge-beats, entropic
drones, the obsession with low-end frequencies ('Slaves To the Rave' starts
with this groaned "need a bass!!"--although gabba-kidz mean the kick-drum
not the B-line when they refer to bass), and above all, PCP and techstep
share this searing coldness of sound. Some of the techstep I taped off the
Grooverider on KISS show when last in England has this almost Numanoid grandeur
about it. Then you've got tracks like the Boymerang dubplate forthcoming
on Grooverider's Prototype label, with its dirge-bass riff packing the doomquake
heft of Black Sabbath. The gap between this stuff and gabba is only that
thin, and as the Doc Scott/Drumz 95/Machines style "butcher's block" beats
get more simplistic and punishin' and funkless, it's gonna verge on the gabba
4/4 kick-drum.... 

what wouldn't i give for an official instrumental of "Motorsport"?

it doesn't exist, so I must sate the craving with ersatz - the "type beats"

none of these re-productions quite capture the ethereality, the mistiness  of the original by Murda Beats & Cubeatz  -  like systems music screwed, a few bars of Michael Nyman in a deep tranquilizer trance

but fun to listen to all in a row - or even simultaneously

likewise what wouldn't i give for a vocal-free "Goosebumps" beatscape?

What would Adorno say about this?

Or about the phenomenon of loop-makers  -  hustling cottage-industries churning out not even beats but sub-beat components, in hopes of a way into the biz 

Theodor's concepts of pseudo-individuation and part-interchangeabilty fit the way contemporary pop is made: a hit built  from elements developed in different studios round the world, people never actually meeting, extreme specialization (so you have a guy whose only job is working on the vocals, another on beats, yet another on the mix of the final assemblage).  the loop-maker sweatshop-of-one is   the ultimate extension of Adorno-ite analysis, somewhere between vagabondage, longshoremen crowding the dock in hopes of getting some work that day, and unpaid internships

The sample packs with kick drums etc on peddled by labels or producers with a rep are related, but from the other way around: a name selling off their trademark sounds, fx, etc to hopeful aspirants 

I think also, on the subject of type beats, of the ceramics sculptor Ken Price and his remark: "A craftsman knows what he's going to make and an artist doesn't know what he's going to make, or what the finished product is going to look like"