Thursday, October 10, 2019

Non-Hostile Environment

I've heard this Janet Kay reggae track at various times over the last few weeks.  It's popped up on mixes, on radio shows.  When I heard it, I assumed it was some obscure dusty thing that's been rediscovered somehow. I mean, it does sound a bit off, and Tom Ravenscroft is playing it on 6 Music.  Then I looked it up and it turns out it was #2 in the UK in 1979!  #2!!  A hit, in other words, and Janet Kay, the singer, was on Top of the Pops

This wouldn't be a very big deal, but given everything that's in the news these days, the hostility and anger, and how important identity, race, background, has seemingly become (at least online), it's kind of cool to go back to 1979 and a time when things were probably pretty bad, race-wise, and yet this slightly strange track made it all the way to #2 in the UK (it was apparently a hit around Europe too).  What does it mean?  I don't know to be honest... maybe that it doesn't have to be this way, that there are better parts of our nature we should be tapping into?  Or maybe it just means that a good pop song can transcend boundaries -- or at least it used to be able to.  Is pop culture the answer to our troubles?  It's possible (as an aside, when I looked up #TopBoy on Twitter, I came across quite a few users with England flag emojis in their name who'd enjoyed the show...). 

It also reminds me of just how important Black music is to pop music in general.  Especially in the US and UK, one could argue that without Black music there'd be no pop music, no rock music, no dance music, nothing; we'd be listening to skiffle boards, country (maybe?), folk, and who knows what else.  It'd be pretty shit.  So check out this video -- I hope it makes you smile. 



Also, on Tom Ravenscroft, I heard Metronomy do a live track and I have to say it sounded like... something from Flight of the Conchords.  And I like Metronomy.  I wonder if it's meant to be funny?  The official version actually sounds pretty good:






Saturday, July 6, 2019

Tunes from earthquake/KCRW drive

So during last night's earthquake at 8:19pm I was having a very pleasant and relaxing drive to Pasadena, listening to...KCRW. Of course. They were playing these tunes back-to-back, and unlike the day before, I completely didn't feel or notice the earthquake, probably because I was so attracted to the music.

So first up was this tune (right as the earthquake happened) - really nice and smooth, one of the producers is Machinedrum. "Ocean Ppl" by J-E-T-S - sort of hard to find!



Next was this, "Weekend en Casa" by Intermittent:



My roommate phoned me and as I was driving on the 110 about to go through downtown, I didn't pick up, and also because this tune started playing. Really enjoyed this one. I realize now that the DJ was playing a joke - nice one DJ! I had no idea, later I heard the voicemail from the roomie, asking if I was alright post-earthquake (as I had no idea what to do, the day before, like a typical stupid outsider to Los Angeles). Her Mum texted me too. Hilarious. Anyway - this is a really nice one! "Faultline" - it's a remix, interestingly it seems DEDE is from Grizzly Bear.

This one is my favourite of the bunch of course. Great house tune. Makes me wanna clap my hands. Hope to DJ this tune soon! Will be playing this on repeat a lot, but I don't think my neighbours will mind.



This one was the last tune I heard as my drive ended. Thanks KCRW for distracting me during the earthquake and for all of this new music!

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 BBC 6 music 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

Pandering

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.