Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Is it over?

Over the last day or two I've been thinking about the process of making music, especially dance music, genres, and what it all means now.

When I first heard dance music in the early 90's (or was it the late 80's?) it did feel like "the future", and later on I bought into the idea that it was future music.  It kept evolving too, it didn't stay still, and I got into the mutations that came through, like jungle, garage, and then dubstep.  But I'm trying and I really can't think of a new genre or mutation that really got anyone's attention after dubstep?  I know there are always new micro-genres and distinctions, and there's EDM, which is basically an idiotic label for nothing, it's not new.  But there's nothing I hear now that seems really new or ground-breaking, and definitely nothing is having a massive impact like the genres mentioned above. 

So is dance-music actually like rock music now?  Where people are just making their own take on what's gone before?  I feel like that's what's happening and that electronic dance music isn't really the music of the future anymore, and I don't think anything's replaced it.  That makes me a bit sad, especially as I've taken up producing my own dance music as a hobby.  Via that I realised that there haven't really been that many innovations in the sound or the equipment since the 90's, other than most of the process going "in the box" (ie being done solely on computers).  The people I come across online seem to mostly festishize old sounds and equipment too, new takes on old drum machines. 

All this doesn't mean that good music won't be made, and isn't being made.  But I just think that thrilling edge has been lost, where I felt like what was being made and heard had never been done before.  I mean, imagine the feeling of hearing the first house record, or the first jungle record?  That's not happening any more; hopefully it will happen again, but there are no guarantees. 

For me this means I need to get back to viewing my own producing as a hobby to be enjoyed -- no need to overthink it, just have fun.

Switching it up, after a long time, here's a commute tune from this morning's show with Tom Ravenscroft.  Bloody good it is too.  I think at this time anything I blog will be slightly biased by the fact that I'm looking forward to putting together a massive tAO playlist soon! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Repeatedly heard a track I like thanks to an unlikely source, and that led to some thoughts.  The track is the Bambino Casino remix of The Time is Now by Moloko, and I keep hearing it at work, where we have Pandora radio on all the computers.  I've got one set to the Little Dragon station, and this track keeps coming up.

Streaming, and how it's changed my music consumption, is something I've been thinking about recently, as I signed up for the paid version of Spotify and immediately realised I'd probably never buy another CD.  Because more than one thing has changed -- the technology has changed, but so have my own habits.  The days where I'd listen to one album repeatedly are done, as far as I can tell.  Now I'm constantly listening to new things and moving on to more new things.  Partly because of technology, and hearing new things being so easy to do.  Partly also due to technology and the incredible amounts of information giving me ideas about what to listen to.  And also because there is so much new music out there too (which, I think, is also due to technology).  I think there's a negative to this approach in that it reduces the likelihood of me finding a new favourite album, for instance -- I just don't spend enough time with anything.  I also have this distracted feeling a lot of the time, which I think is due to this lack of focus -- or vice versa.  That has less to do with streaming and more to do with the internet and screen-time in general, but still. 

I also wonder what the point of music is for me now?  It provides a nice soundtrack to various tasks, and I also think I use it to preview shows I want to go to.  But it used to be I'd go and see acts live because I liked their music... now I think I go and see acts I like for the experience of going, but I'm not sure how meaningful that is?  Maybe it doesn't really matter.  I went to see Nick Cave despite not being a huge Nick Cave fan but I still really enjoyed it.  Supposedly we're in the age of experiences taking precedent over ownership, but is that true, or are we actually in the age of needing to do things so we can tell others what we did?  And show them via photos and videos?  There's probably a mix of reasons going on, but I don't think there's any denying the role social media, and the internet in general, is playing in changing my, and our, habits when it comes to music. 

But on the plus side are discoveries like this track, which I don't think I'd ever have heard were it not for the Pandora algorithm!  So algorithms, they're not all bad ya know.  Actually, I just realised this track is on the Moloko Back to Mine album... so in the old days I have picked that album up used somewhere and heard this ... As for the track, I loved the slowed down tempo, which I think enhances the lyrics.  I love the original track, but this is a great remix.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

November commute tunes #3: Small lizard chronicles

Aah, lovely lovely songs.  And I think they're all linked??  Most of them anyway, by Little Dragon.  I first heard of them when they featured on a Gorillaz record.  They already seemed like a band I felt I should have heard of back then.  I can't say I've paid them loads of attention since, but they'll pop up on singles I like here and there. 

First up, here they are with BadBadNotGood.  Another band who have tracks I like, but I'm not necessarily a fan.  They're also an example of a band who I didn't like as much live -- I prefer them on record, their live show was pretty unenjoyable.  Anyway, I love this track, very atmospheric:

Now, here they are with SBTRKT; I heard this next one again today:

Now here's one by just them!  It's from their latest EP, which is meant to be a dancey and positive record.  This track definitely fulfills that mandate:

Ok, last track now, and it's destroying my Little Dragon link cos I don't think this person has any link to them (I could definitely be wrong).  This is by Jon Hopkins and it's pretty great.  I saw him live once, supporting the XX.  Can't really remember much about the show, but I think he'd be good on stage. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

More Commute Tunes - November 2018 #2

I completely forgot that I'd heard the Smashing Pumpkins new track during my drives!  I really like it, it's as good as their 90's stuff, and even the video is straight from that era!  Weird seeing that one guy in it (the one posted below starts after about two minutes of boring wank, but you can go back and see it if you want).

When I first heard this I actually thought it was the Manic Street Preachers until the chorus kicked in.  I'll post a Manics track below too, because why not? 

This next track has nothing to do with commuting.  I found it via my electronic music equipment purchasing hobby.  I was looking up a Korg synthesizer that came up on Craigslist and came across various artists who'd used only that instrument to make tracks and albums, including this EP by Deceptikon.  And below is a remix version which I quite like. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Commute Tunes November 2018 #1

About time for another edition of commute tunes.  I should probably just start a Spotify playlist, but who would listen?  Not me, no time.  And then there'd be no writing for company.  I do find myself slightly overwhelmed by all the media choices I have right now.  Especially as I'm driving, which makes it a bit tuffer to take notes, or do searches right there and then.  First world problems, as Ian Brown would say (follow the link to the Ian Brown song that sounds like he took a Bontempi version of  Primal Scream's Loaded and changed the words). 

In fact, I just looked at my notes, and they're so bad that there's only one track to highlight.  Hardly seems worth it, but I will do it anyway.  It's "Offence" by Little Simz, and I love the way the drums bang and the tune's elements are pretty minimal but so effective. 

Here's a bit of news your may have missed -- Mike Skinner and The Streets are back, and you can hear their album on Spotify.  Not sure if it's elsewhere, his twitter linked to Spotify.  

Thursday, September 27, 2018

All the good things I've heard since starting to commute again

Started a new job and have a commute again so that means back to RadMac on Radio 6!  I'm very pleased, only downer is that their daily show is supposed to end and they'll move to weekends some time soon.  But, that's what the iPlayer is for.  But honestly, thanks God for RadMac.  I'll start to think I'm over music, then listen to them and get into it all over again.  Thanks guys!  Thanks the BBC!  Thanks Blighty for your eclectic radio offerings and refusal to conform to commercial viability!! 

Just going to basically post tracks without a lot of commentary as time is limited.  Dev Hynes seems like a prolific character; I remember hearing about Test Icicles when they first came around some time in the last decade, but never checked them out.  I will now though, cos I like this track by Hynes aka Blood Orange:

I've featured BC Camplight on this blog before.  Don't know tons about him/them, but I do know the main songwriter is an American who's now based in the UK (Manchester?) -- always intriguing.  This track appeals due to it's dissonant sounds and it's 80's vibes.  There are at least two 80's tracks it reminds me of, but I can't quite put my finger on either of them. 

Just read a bit about my boy BC and turns out he's an American who sees himself as a Manc who got deported from the UK a couple of years ago and ended up living in his parents' basement, depressed.  He then got EU citizenship via Italian grandparents, only for the UK to vote for Brexit!  His latest album, Deportation Blues touches upon this.  See?  Intriguing. 

Gwenno is Welsh and does electronic music.  What more do you need to know??  Ok, this is off her second album, which is in Cornish, and she used to be in subversive indie throwback girl group the Pipettes

I'm almost done, but I'm not done.  Actually I'm only halfway through.  New Gorillaz track Tranz, I like it.  Surprised the band came out with album so quickly after the last one. 

I thought this was a remix of the Fall, but it was just them!  Can't take Mark E Smith for granted, or at least you shouldn't've, when he was alive.  People probably knew that though.

Never listened to a lot of Dinosaur Jr, which is a shame really, what I've heard I've liked.  Them, Sebadoh, and Pavement -- must make time one of these days.  Or one of these commutes. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ross From Friends

Ross From Friends is the funniest artist name I've heard in a long time. It's pretty genius, actually.

Here's a short bio from him:
"When a 90's sitcom character undertakes a new role as an electronic music producer".

I discovered him via listening to - what else? - KCRW, a few choice nights ago. This is the track I heard on the radio that immediately peaked my interest:

"Don't Wake Dad" is very unique. And good.

I found this excellent Fader mix that he put out a couple of weeks ago. It's been ages since I found a mix that is as superb. Mixes as grand and good as this one come few and far in between. Thank you Ross From Friends! I have a long flight in front of me and I will thoroughly enjoy re-listening to this, again and again.

IT IS SO DAMN GOOD. I'm not even done with my first listen yet, and here I am posting about it. Brava, Ross From Friends, nice one. Also he's from...LONDON!

 Here's the full interview with Fader.