Wednesday, 22 September 2010

dOP Greatest Hits


Greatest Hits

Circus Company

Parisian trip dOP lurch from genre to genre on this, their first full length album (ignoring the recent Watergate 06 mix that was entirely built from their own tracks) whilst retaining a trippy deep house sensibility. The most impressive tracks are the ones where the group bring their latent melancholy to the fore with vocalist JAW's singing being an affecting addition to the Kompakt-esque dancefloor prettines on display with 'Assurance Me' and 'Final Drive' being particularly lovely. Occasional deviations into faux-jazz wankery ('Talk Show') and self-consciously ethnographic noodling ('Happy Meal') notwithstanding, Greatest Hits is a solid collection of wonked out, seasick house. Josh Baines


Key Tracks: 'Assurance Me', 'Love Ride', 'New York'

For Fans Of: DJ Koze, Nôze, Superpitcher

Monday, 7 June 2010


It’s that time of year again people when I regale you with tales of a week spent in Barcelona, primarily at the Primavera Sound festival. Sadly/luckily (delete as appropriate) this time, none of us ended up tearing IV drips out of our arms in hospital or being assaulted by riot police for pissing in a highly ornamental doorway. We did, however, spend the week drinking San Miguel, eating chorizo and using the phrase ‘pum pum dive’ non-stop.


We arrived in Barcelona at some point in the early evening and navigated our way to the Yellow Nest hostel (two quick deviations from our narrative: 1) the BCN Metro system is a dream. A total and utter dream to use. Cheap, fast, air conditioned. 2) Anyone wanting to visit the city should stay at the Nest, the place is a total and utter dream to visit. Cheap, hot showers, PRIMO BABES ON THE RECEPTION DESK). It felt good to be back in the sweltering, lightless dorm rooms, and to head up to the roof terrace surrounded, as it is, by municipal flats, youngsters learning the recorder, and rabid dogs prowling around on terracotta tiles.

After unpacking and generally just fannying around for a bit, we (me, Jess, Hannah, Jake, Emma, Jess, Joe, Gunning) bowled down to the nearest place still selling alcohol, picked up a few litres of Xibeca beer, the mythical Don Simon wine boxes and some actually pretty rank but briefly very popular lemon based lager called Damm Limon. As a group we made our way to Mammas Pizza, a nice lil’ joint a few streets away from the Nest. We proceeded to stay there for about 3 hours, drinking endless bottles of Frexinet cava and discussing rape/gypsy attacks/Damilola Taylor/Michael Jackson. It wasn’t as cringey as that makes it sound, I swear.

Not really sure what happened after that, I think we just drank some Don Simon and then went to bed.


Now, as lovely as last years holiday was, we spent the entirety of it just lying hungover in either the hostel or on the beach. This year we decided to see a bit more of the city so after having marked pretty much every page in our guidebook, we headed down to Montjuic (Jew Mountain). This isn’t just any ordinary mountain though. No way. You have to get on some Space Mountain shit to get up there. Then in a rickety cable car. Once you’re up there, BOOM, you’re soaking in the LITERALLY incredible views of the city, wandering round the castle, eating ice cream, drinking beer, popping into the Olympic stadium for a bit, admiring the mothefucking palace that houses the city’s major art gallery, gown down the mountain on escalators, sitting in fountains. Basically the place is like something from a dream, but a good one, not one when you’re

After the mountain sojourn, we queued up for our wristbands for the festival. Took an absolute age but it was good to see that everyone waiting to go inside the venue looked as if they check Pitchfork daily. After getting our wristbands on we all headed to some grotty but awesome park for the second kebab of the day. The first had been at Pitta Hut on the seafront, this was at Bang Bang Zoom Kebab House or some shit like that on Las Ramblas. The durum de pollo tasted heavenly, literally heavenly. We had a few cans, a little zooty and we were good to go and see Los Campesinos!, a band I hadn’t previously been huge on. It was a combination of the lead singers voice and they way he sings the word ‘gullet’ (one of the worst words in the english language, FACT). But actually, in the cramped, sweaty Apollo, they were really good fun. And no homo but that girl on keyboards is buff as hell. So when they went into the crowd for the encore I took my chance and grinded on her and then worried that I’d just committed light frottage.

After that we tried to meet the Infamous Irish Boys at Club KGB. The only problem with this plan was that Club KGB is no longer open. So we sat on the pavement outside looking into the metal grates, willing them to open for us just so we could listen to D’n’B and breakcore all night. They didn’t though and instead we just watched a near paralytic Jess transform into the world’s happiest woman as she stumbled down side streets shouting about zooty parties. Got back to the hostel, probably drunk some more like the hardmen we are.


Ahhhhh! Primavera day! I think we all went down to BCN beach for a few hours of ray catchin’ and swimming. Well, me, hannah and jake swam, everyone else pussied out for fear of floating AIDS needles or something.

We got to the festival site and me and Jake watched Bis. Yeah, they were fun live. Manda Rin’s looking her ago though, poor girl. Headed to the super mall (pronounced ‘mall, not ‘moll’) for a couple of cheese burgers and super strength lager before running (well, jogging) back to the festival to see The Fall. No one else was up for it which was a relief as I was incredibly worried that Mark E Smith was going to come on stage, piss on the crowd, give himself an enema and get the words wrong to The Classical. Instead he came on, chewing gum frantically throughout, and blew me away. I hate the word but his band were ludicrously ‘tight’.

After The Fall we all reconvened to watch the XX. Initially I wasn’t sure about this choice as I grew tired of the record after a few listens but yeah, it was good. I mean, it sounded exactly like having the album on quite loudly but it worked. Props to the bass player looking like an actual greased up rapist. They could do with a bit more stage presence really, but I guess that having fun would be the antithesis of their all important image.

Broken Social Scene were up next. Yeah, the new record (‘World Sick’ apart) is total unmemorable shit but they were pretttay, prettay good. If a little indulgent. Sorry for the scant report but all I remember is pissing up a hill as 7/4 Shoreline started and running down, piss streaming down my legs probably, to hear it. And lots and lots of very long guitar solos. Oh, and Owen Pallett joined them for a few songs. Which was nice.

Pretty sure we just slammed down more four euro pints until Pavement came on. Ah, Pavement. Not particularly great were they? I mean, yeah, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain is a pretty great slice of summer slacker indie, but nah, not worth the hype. The older portion of the crowd (and Primavera seems to be a festival dominated by the over 30s, which is a genuinely Good Thing) seemed to be loving it. Sort of glad I saw them but mainly just to say that I once saw Pavement.

More alcohol, then bang, we headed down to the Vice stage to catch Moderat do their heads-down-stare-at-laptop-at-all-times-ensure-you-don’t-smile-at-any-point thing. And it was good. A New Error sounded as excellent as you imagine it would by the sea in Barcelona at 4am. Highlight of the set: Jake busting out every dance move in his possession and telling us that a) “I don’t hear music…I see patterns” and b) “fuck the rhythm, I don’t need one”.

Metro home. Bed.


I hate wallowing in a hangover. Hate it. Why would you want to lie in bed all day feeling shit? WHY? So being unable to sleep for more than four hours after a night out, I got up really early, did the food shop, dossed around on the roof terrace and waited for the others to get up. They did, we ate lunch and then I got the Metro down to Parc el Forum to see motherfuckin’ Owen Pallett. It was glorious. Absurdly, incredibly, stupidly brilliant. Except for that creepy dude Owen got to play guitar. His odd, affected, spasmodic style of playing/moving made me feel quite uncomfortable. But other than that it was a 10/10 show. He did all the big hits off Heartland (aka the best record of 2010), some of the best Final Fantasy tracks and a cover of Odessa by Caribou which made the girl in front of me nearly faint with pleasure.

After OP finished I had a few hours to wander round the near empty site. It was a bit depressing really, just damp concrete and the smell of stale San Miguel. And lots of guys with beards and glasses eyeing up expensive band t-shirts. I caught a bit of Harlem, saw the New Pornographers do their only good song and then watched the end of A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s set. Wished I seen more because the girls in that band are FINE.

Caught up with everyone and saw Best Coast. Hmmm. She doesn’t really work ‘live’ like most lo-fi fuzzy indie-pop stuff. The lack of sonic hiss pretty much reveals how she’s got one song that she constantly re-writes. Basically No Age but she sings about hanging out with rad boys who like skateboards rather than skateboarding and hanging out with rad girls. oh and she did a cover of So Bored by Wavves. LOL! HOW META! BECUASE GEDDIT, WAVVES HAD A MELTDOWN AT PRIMAVERA LAST YEAR! AND THE WAVVES MAN IS HER BOYFRIEND! She’s pretty fit though.

A massive drinking session/kebab with a bloke who probably was a rapist followed. Luckily the East 17 Rapist buggered off when we excluded him from our circle and was soon replaced by a wolf. Not just any wolf though. No, Jambi was an albino wolf who belonged to a drug dealing squat dweller. Jambi’s sole purpose in life was to protect his owner (though ‘owner’ is a term he would probably refute, as after all, ownership is theft) from rampaging neo-nazis. We were put in charge of him whilst the squatter went off to buy Jake a ‘superpill’. We chilled with that wolf, a pissed wolf, a wolf who had been drinking 60 cent wine, like we were the coolest fuckers in BCN. We probably were. The squatter came back and he and Jambi walked out of our lives forever. We swapped him for Les Savy Fav. LSF are a band way better live than on record and you know what you’re gonna get from them. in a good way.

I saw Shellac next, the others saw Cold Cave. Fuck Cold Cave, I wanted to see Steve and the boys hammer out some stupidly taught mathrockwhateverthefuckitis stuff for half an hour to a crowd that seemed to scared to move. They started with Prayer to God, the rest is a blur.

It was crunch time after this. A few of our group had been jizzing themselves over the prospect of seeing Major Lazer, a group I’ve long dismissed as ironic ragga for middle class art students (Oh, I am SO edgy!). They clashed with The Pixies. I don’t really like the Pixies because I’m stuck in that stage where I refuse to listen to canonical bands but I thought I’d go and see them for a laugh. Instead I heard one song from inside a toilet and ran down to the front of the Pitchfork stage to meet the others. I made the right choice. Aging, balding rockers playing the same songs they’ve been doing for twenty years or two hours of grinding, pum pum diving, batty-whinin’, Jess posting on the FUCKING STAGE on her Blackberry, non-stop dancing, some bloke with a blonde mohican shouting WE PARTY EVERY DAY! WE PARTY EVERY DAY!? Yeah, that’s right, it’s obvious isn’t it.

Joker followed. I’d been pumped for this since he was announced a few weeks back as I’ve been a fan for a year or so now. I’ve got fond memories of him destroying the Goldsmiths student union with his bass heavy multicolour synth ejaculations so the thought of seeing him do his thing in front of a few thousand people was almost too much. He came on, looking dapper in a tweed jacket and crisp white shirt (as opposed to his normal XXXXXXL tee/purple cap) and did his usual purple wow thing - you know the drill: liquid melodies snaking round obese basslines, the odd vocal weaving in and out of the mix etc. He had the, if I’m being honest, fucking pointless MC Nomad with him which detracted somewhat. He played for a bit too long, but it was nice to hear Digidesign at least twice.

Joker bounced off stage, I went for a beer and when I came back Diplo was playing the Cirlce of Life from the Lion King. For the next two hours he played all sorts of rad stuff but the highlight was hearing Sunchyme by Dario G. Now, I’m not entirely sure if he actually played this, but in my head he did and in my head it was the most joyful moment of the decade so far. Think we made it to about half five before getting the Metro back.


I’ve actually got no recollection of what we did in the daytime. I remember we went to the mall for a nice sit down dinner at Pasta City. Ugh. Never order the cannelloni from Pasta City. The garlic bread with mozzarella was delightful though, so I musn’t grumble. This was at about eight o’clock, so I’m not sure how we didn’t see a single band before midnight. Oh. Now I remember: we hit the caffeine pills. Real drugs are for losers, who needs MDMA when you can do 500mg of caffeine instead? The side effects include uncontrollable spams that result in kicking over bottles of cava, the constant fear of shitting yourself, and numb legs. But other than that I’d recommend it.

Me, Jake and Jess saw Sunny Day Real Estate which was good. Chugging 90s emo performed by sad looking middle-aged men is always going to be a winner. I think it was after SDRE that I fell down a mountain of piss and ended up smelling like a tramp all night.

NEXT UP OMG IT WAS THE FUCKING PET SHOP BOYS!!!!!! Literally the best thing I’ve ever seen, so I can’t really sum it up in words (it was my second epiphany of the holiday; both involved me realizing that, sometimes, language cannot convey feeling. It is inadequate). But basically they played all the hits, did an incredible cover of Viva la Vida by Coldplay (which the crowd spunked themselves over), wore rad costumes, had fantastic dancers, and, for a few songs at least, essentially made me rethink my atheist standpoint.

Nothing was going to top them, so I got a hot dog and listened to a bit of Orbital’s set, which seemed to consist of the fattest kick drum of all time and Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle.

Jess and Hannah bailed like total wimps, which left me, emma and jake to soak up the last of Primavera Sound 2010. This involved standing at the front for Fake Bloods never ending, pretty boring electro/dubstep set, buzzing on caffeine pills and drinking up all our remaining beer tokens.

The set ended. The sun was coming up. The ground was covered, literally covered, in empty beer cups. People sat on the floor, not wanting to return to the real world, wishing they could be cocooned in Primavera’s otherworldly embrace forever. But we had to leave, had to get on the metro, had to get back to the hostel, had to sleep.


I have literally no recollection of what we did this day apart from seeing the magic fountain and watching jess cry because it was too emotional.


Montjuic again. The olympic swimming pool. A sauna. A steam room. Endless swinging dicks. A ramble down the hill. Mammas pizza. A zooty party. Bed.


Rather than seeing the rest of the city, we lied in a dark, stinking room watching The Mummy and the Mummy Returns before getting the plane back to Gatwick and a taxi back to New Cross.

So yeah. The best week of my life. Even if I said that last year.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Revision Avoidance

So, portfolios done and dusted, bam, now it's time to idly flick through books I should have read over the course of the year and make the odd helpful note ("READ THIS MORE", "EXPAND ON THIS", "USEFUL?"). But fuck that, let's just sit on youtube and listen to good songs all afternoon. It IS a Friday after all and the election's got me shook up or something.

No real theme today, just five sweet tunes.

1. Scritti Politti - Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)

Everyone likes highly polished 80s sophistopop right? And how can you resist a song about fancying a girl so much that you pray like ARETHA FRANKLIN? Especially when the guy singing it looks like Princess Diana.

2. Pet Shop Boys - I Want A Dog

So I'm getting superpsyched for seeing PSB at Primavera. It's a Sin. At one in the morning. In Barcelona. Christ.
This track is from Introspective, probably their best album, and it essentially created deep house. Cheers guys!

3. The Mountain Goats - Old College Try

Sound quality isn't great, but fuck it, i was at this gig and it was the best thing I've ever seen. If you don't like the Mountain Goats you must be a prat.

4. J Dilla - One for Ghost

Yeah yeah yeah liking J Dilla about 5 years after everyone else did blah blah blah whatever, Donuts is my shit these days.

5. Carmen - Time to Move


Monday, 3 May 2010


Here we go guys, final straight now so i'm going in mellower than last night. Headphones on, pens out, let's work"


Classic Moodymann. You can't be a bit of devotional house music really. The whole album this is from (Forevernevermore) is a 3am classic round mine. Highly recommended.

2.'s fucking Tessio by Luomo, need I say more?


In about 50 years time, people will come to realise that Closer Musik were one of the greatest acts of the 00s. They dropped two classic singles (this one and '1,2,3 No Gravity) and an album on Kompakt and boom, that was it.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


Yeah, so i'm meant to be re-writing some SHIT about American mythology, but fuck that, let's blast out some house bangers.

This track makes me want to go to some crappy beach party or something, get tanked up on WKD and fist pump for ten solid minutes


Taking it down now on some seduction vibe, awesome filtering going on here.

Unfuckwithable. You cannot fuck with Another Chance by Roger Sanchez. I'd pay decent money (i.e. over £3) to go to a club that plays this. The bassline man, that bassline!

I once heard this mixed into Closer than Close by Rosie Gaines on Kiss FM at 5pm on a saturday evening, i fucking went off.

The day i tire of this Todd Edwards track is the day I go back to listening to NME bands.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Stuff I've Been Digging

Sorry for the lack of posting recently, but I've been real busy y'see.

Anyway, here's a pretty self explanatory entry. Three albums that I'm vibing on at the moment. Blam.

1. Jan Jelinek - Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records (~Scape, 2001)

Real deep, sublime, glitchy clicks'n'cuts stuff. Nothing really happens. But that's a good thing; Jelinek layers the tiniest hints of melody over fuzzed-out synth washes, snippets of percussion and a thick haze of ambience.

Listen to it HERE

2. Xasthur - Telepathic with the Deceased (Moribund Records, 2004)

Gotta admit that I don't listen to a huge deal of ambient black metal. Or any black metal. So when I describe this as the best ambient black metal album I've heard in a while try not to get too excited. But it's a doozy: everything sounds really tinny (in a good way) or kinda embarrassing (in a good way). Ok, the vocals aren't great, but fuck vocals. Who needs vocals when you've got Burzum meets My Bloody Valentine meets Cluster?

Listen to it HERE

3. Life Without Buildings - Any Other City (Tugboat, 2000)

You don't need me to tell you how good Life Without Buildings were do you. Everyone knows. Been hammering 'Sorrow' recently, shit, even the Mitchell bro's would shed a tear to this at 3am.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Album of the Year

Owen Pallett - Heartland

Friday, 5 March 2010


This is a blog post about a Tumblr version of this blog

(it's already got more followers than this place for fucks sake)

Saturday, 27 February 2010


Three slabs of full on, no messing about, bangin' 90s house.



2. Love Ink - R.E.S.P.E.C.T.


3. Joey Beltram - Energy Flash


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Elijah and Skilliam interview


I've mentioned my love of grime on here before and having noticed that a good quarter of the people I follow are either MCs, producers or DJs I thought I'd see if I could grab an interview with someone on the scene. I'd been listening to Elijah Butterz and Skilliam on Rinse.FM for a while and thought I'd see if I could hit them up. Initially I thought I was just getting an interview with Elijah but BAM, Skilliam answered my questions too.

Could you tell the readers a bit about yourself?
Elijah: My names Elijah, I come from East London, I DJ only Grime music, I have a radio show on Rinse FM and I run an entity called 'Butterz' which used to be a Grime blog, and is now a record label.

Skilliam: Certified Butterz Grime DJ who loves a little mix and a skank! Got a fair few years of being in the scene under the belt, now teamed up with badman Elijah.

Was there any one tune in particular that made you think 'yeah, I want to DJ grime'?
E: I started DJing only in 2008 but I was collecting long before then, if I had to single out a track that inspires what sums up Grime to me it would be Skepta - D.T.I. DJs that im influenced by are Logan Sama and Plastician.

Growing up in the countryside, my only real way of hearing new grime material before I moved to London was through Channel U. How representative of the grime movement was the stuff they rinsed back in 2004/5 (I'm thinking Choong Fam, Wong, New Era, Southside Allstars etc)
E: That is the tip of the iceberg. Most of my favourite tracks dont have videos! Most artists picked the wrong videos to do even in at that time!

S: At the time that was fairly representative of the scene but just a small bit of it. I would say those were also the tunes that were getting plays on the radio. It was a time where MCs were doing a lot of collaboration tunes and it was quite cliquey with North East South West divides. It's not so much like that now.

Even though you and Skilliam play a lot of instrumental tracks on the Rinse show/your mixes, you still throw in a fair few vocal tracks. Who's your favorite MC lyrically and vocally?
E: All time: D Double E & Wiley hold that title equally for me. Right now P Money is leader of the new school.

S: All time it's D Double E. No contest. Currently, I would still say D Double E haha but other than him it would be P-Money. He MCs with clarity and his word play is on point and seems effortless which I like.

It seems that there's been a real resurgence in the availability of grime on vinyl - do you see 2010 being a massive year for the scene?
E: The people that are actively releasing quality music regularly and are working the live circuit will always win regardless of the genre. Now that a big producers are getting their DJ game on they are creating another avenue for themselves, it will be big for them. Right now the instrumental Grime revival is championed by Skilliam and I but lead by Terror Danjah & Swindle as they have multiple releases on Planet Mu and Hyperdub.

S: 2009 was a good year for vinyl and 2010 should also be a big year. Producers have stepped up their game and have tunes which they can confidently put out there. Definitely this year is theirs for the taking.
I think the MCs have left the vinyl format in favour of CD and Digital mediums as that's what they feel is more accessible for people and it is still working.

What do you think of Dizzee and Tinchy's (and to a lesser extent Wiley) recent commercial success? And as a sub question: can you ever see Dizzee recording another I Luv U?
E: Its good for them they deserve commercial success just off the back of the work they put into the underground. Dizzee can chart a Grime song right now if he wanted to.

S: Good on all of them. Everybody wants to be successful. They have found a formula which is working in their favour and Tinchy and Wiley still wreck a Grime tune to pieces despite their commercial involvement.
What's next on the cards for the Butterz label?
E: Terror Danjahs Bipolar is there, next we have Quality Street which is an assortment of 4 great tracks from SRC, Silencer, Royal T and Terror. After that we have Swindle's 'Open Your Mind' EP. Then we have the 'Air Bubble Remixes' which will just be a download only thing. Who knows what will happen in the next few weeks! Things change to quickly!

Which producers/MCs should we be looking out for in the near future?
E: Producers: Royal T, SRC, Mr Mitch

And finally, Next Hype: overplayed?
S: Nope!! It's served it's time well. It still is a Next Hype!

Check out the blog here:
Hit 'em up on twitter: @elijahbutterz @skilliam
Listen to their latest mix for Rinse.FM here:

Friday, 19 February 2010

Stuff to come

Woah, not updated this place in a while. Sorry. Anyway, coming up in the next few weeks.

Some album reviews. If anyone wants to review any album every just email me.
An interview with grime DJ Elijah Butterz. Hopefully.
A piece on the joys of ambient music.
A Carl Craig Top 5.
More good stuff.

Oh yeah, this is now one of Goldsmiths College's featured blogs. Things are looking up.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Notes on a Decade: Or, my first/last ten years in pop.

Notes on a Decade: Or, my first/last ten years in pop.

The year 2000 began with a whimper. Tony Blair was linking arms with the Queen in the Millennium Dome and I was in small market town in North Norfolk feeling pretty excited about being allowed to stay up late. I was ten, nearly eleven, a few months away from leaving primary school. At this point in my life music was just something that existed, just something I heard in the car. With the exception of Puff Daddy’s tribute to the Notorious B.I.G., the video to which nearly reduced me to tears every time I saw Puff fall off his motorbike in slow motion, music had no real affect on me. I was too busy drawing, playing International Superstar Soccer 1998 and getting myself incredibly worked up because it looked like it might rain. Such is life.

January of 2002 was when my love affair really began. On the last day of the Christmas holidays I walked into the Norwich branch of Virgin Megastore armed with gift vouchers and a list of albums I’d copied from an issue of the NME. I walked out with Is This It by The Strokes and Since I Left You by The Avalanches. Both records remain two of my favorites of the decade, and rather wonderfully for me, both went on to be hugely influential. The Strokes went on to spawn seemingly hundreds of identikit bands all decked in skinny jeans, battered leather jackets and Converse Chuck Taylors, who forgot that The Strokes appeal lied in them being a breath of fresh air. The Avalanches, with their album consisting of over 900 samples, never made it ‘big’, but inspired the likes of Girl Talk. The band seem to have disappeared, teasing us with the prospect of a follow up to Since… for the last eight years. After falling in love with those two bands my taste was largely stolen from the pages of NME. When they got into The White Stripes, I got into The White Stripes. When they got into Franz Ferdinand, I got into Franz Ferdinand. When they got into The Darkness, I closed the pages of the magazine and ran for the hills.

The arrival of broadband out in the sticks was another turning point for me. Sure, I’d downloaded MP3s off Kazaaa and the like, but who really had the patience to wait forty-five minutes for a low quality recording of Power Lunch by Har Mar Superstar? Though the sites had existed for years before I looked at them, the likes of ResidentAdvisor, DrownedInsound and the undisputed behemoth of online music journalism Pitchfork Media, offered a portal to music I’d never dreamt of hearing before. The writing may be overly personal (and yes, I do appreciate the irony in moaning about music writers being too self-involved), occasionally pretentious for the sake of it, but the majority of the time Pitchfork get it right; the amount of artists and albums they’ve turned me onto numbers into the hundreds. It has become easier and easier to make and release music as well as to listen and write about it. The proliferation of blogs over the last few years is something I see as hugely positive: anyone with the ability to listen to music and type can get their thoughts out there. Obviously this leads to thousands of badly written, ill-informed pieces, but the diamonds in the rough (blogs like 20jazzfunkgreats, Lower End Spasm and House Is a Feeling) are well worth searching for.
Now, where was I? Ah, yes, the development and refinement of my taste. Pre-2004 I was content to mainly listen to bands who sounded like they’d never heard a record before Is This It. Indie was dominant. I even tried to listen to Radio 1’s Evening Session with the whippet-thin, Colchester United supporting, indier-than-thou Steve Lamacq, but even I could only take so many fourth rate bands from Leighton Buzzard with names like The Knitting Needles for so long. So I did what comes naturally to middle class white boys who wear glasses: I got into grime. Grime, as you all know, is hip-hop’s scuzzy, furious, sonically filthy English cousin (and it’s important to recognize the sheer Englishness of the genre) and I was first introduced to it through Dizzee Rascal’s classic debut single ‘I Luv U’. Being steeped in guitar music, I’d never heard anything like it: the bass sounded like it was being pushed up through manhole covers, the hi-hats cut through the mix like blades and Dizzee’s screechy, teenage voice sounded alien to me. I was hooked. After ‘I Luv U’, my afternoon routine consisted of coming in from school, making a sandwich and then sitting down to watch a few hours of grime videos on Channel U. Even to this day, names like ‘D Double E’, ‘Wong’ and ‘Bearman’ hold a place in my heart and I still want to be like the stars of the videos I watched, and spend my days hanging around outside chicken shops, posing with motorbikes. Maybe it’ll happen. Hell, if Dizzee can become the first legitimate Black British Superstar then surely I can stand outside a Morley’s.

Quick detour here to look at the people who shaped the decade in pop and R’n’B: Simon Cowell and The Neptunes. Cowell has been responsible for unleashing some of the worst music of the decade on us, but idiots keep on lapping it up. In fairness, without the X-Factor we would never have heard ‘Bleeding Love’ by Leona Lewis, a song as good as any American R’n’B tune this decade. But pop in general felt stale, no one seemed to take any risks. Indie writers got hard-ons for Girls Aloud, something which continues to baffle me to this day. R’n’B was musically, far, far, far more interesting. The first few years of the decade saw The Neptunes, and to a slightly lesser extent Timbaland, at the height of their powers: The Neptunes’ rigid, coldly minimalist funk is decade defining. With tracks like ‘Hot in Herre’ by Nelly, ‘Slave 4 U’ by Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’, they produced some of the finest music of the 00s period not just in their genre. Timbaland continued to work wonders with Missy Elliot and though he’s completely lost it now, had a resurgent period working with Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtardo. Timerblake was, alongside Beyonce, the star of the 00s, and like Beyonce, released some fantastic stuff. R’n’B continues to look forward, much to the delight of nerdy white boys everywhere.

In the ‘alt’ world, it was bands like Animal Collective who ruled the roost. AC went from freak-folk/electronica weirdoes (on Sung Tongs and Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished) to a bona-fide festival headlining act capable of putting out euphoric, techno inspired Pop with a capital ‘p’ (‘My Girls’ and ‘Brothersport’ off 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion). For alternative music, the 00s was a time when the sheer availability of music, thanks to broadband and filesharing etc, lead to a huge range of sounds being incorporated, and there being a real sense of creative freedom. An ostensibly ‘indie’ band could put a seventeen minute dubstep track that featured samples of obscure Ugandan folk bands and no-one would bat an eyelid. I think this is a good thing.

Hmm, what have I missed? The absurd popularity of second rate pub rockers The Libertines. The rise and fall of UK Garage. Dubstep becoming the dominant sound in London’s clubs despite the face you can’t really dance to it. The emergence of minimal techno. The rehabilitation of funky house. Dr. Dre making a triumphant comeback with 2001 and then buggering off again. Britney going mad. Tinchy Stryder somehow becoming a superstar. Michael Jackson’s death. ‘The death of journalism’.


AND THE BEAT GOES ON: A Decade of Kompakt

Just over ten years ago, Michael Mayer, Jürgen Paape and Wolfgang Voigt founded a record label in the German city of Cologne. Despite their credentials as producers and DJs, Voigt in particular was already regarded as one of the most important figures in European electronic music, they had little idea that their label, Kompakt, would go on to be one that would define the sound of techno over the course over the next decade.

In order to assess the influence the label has on today’s music, we must place it in the wider context of techno as a genre. Three friends from the Detroit suburb of Belleville: Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson created futuristic, soulless (the lack of ‘soul’ in early techno records is largely what differentiated it from the emerging house scene that was developing in Chicago at the same time) black music that was heavily inspired by the robotic minimalism of Kraftwerk as much as the bass heavy funk of George Clinton’s Parliament and Funkadelic. They called it techno. Their music was influenced by their surroundings: by the early 80s Detroit had gone from the home of Motown and car manufacturing to a kind of post-industrial wasteland and the futuristic sound of the genre seemed apt. Eventually the scene gathered momentum, becoming a staple in clubs all over the US. Since the early days there has been an affinity between Detroit and Germany. It was Berlin that was the first city to embrace techno in a major way and the Tresor nightclub became one of the most highly regarded in the world.

Techno was, and still can be, pummeling, relentless and downright brutal. Perhaps this is why it remains ever popular with Germans. The Kompakt sound is somewhat different. The insistent 4/4-kick drum that almost defines the genre is there, but the hard edges are laced with crystalline melodies, melancholy vocals and a sense of hopeless romanticism. It is probably for this reason that techno elitists sneer at the it: the music on Kompakt appeals to people who haven’t spent their lives searching for rare Theo Parrish white labels. There is a pronounced pop sensibility to the best Kompakt material, the idea that these are songs and not just tracks, tools for DJs. In an interview with Pitchforkmedia, Mayer himself states that, ‘Techno in the early years was a lot like model trains; two guys playing with the machines all day long, super serious. We always had a different approach-- it was about having fun, having a good time, even if the music is abstract and very modern, it's still about disco and about having a good time.’

My introduction to Kompakt, and techno in general, came by chance. I spent the summer after my GCSE’s looking out of my bedroom window at cornfields and woods listening to a select few records over and over. One of these was Erlend Oye’s DJ Kicks (!K7, 2004). The first track on the album was Jürgen Paape’s beguiling ‘So Wiet Wie Noch Nie’, a record that remains, partly because of nostalgia and partly because of the sheer brilliance of it, one of my favorite songs of the decade. Built around lilting, swooning synth pads and a dusty vocal sampled from an old Sonya Lubke record, it was the most beautiful four minutes of music I’d heard. There were other examples of the microhouse sound that I would come to become obsessed with in the following years: Skatebard’s fizzy ‘Metal Chix’ and Ricardo Villalobos’ ‘Dexter’ a track that seems to both melt, and slow down time. After Erlend, I delved into the Kompakt catalogue starting with various compilations and mixes, and they were a formative part of my musical education. I got into harder, more obscure stuff as a result and for a long time, listened to nothing but minimal techno, much to the annoyance of friends and flatmates.

Kompakt are undeniably stylish. In the 90s techno was associated with austere looking bald men wearing severe glasses and green coats, and Kompakt, along with the likes of BPitch, Get Physical and Perlon, was one of the labels that made the genre ‘sexy’ again. The music was warmer than the original Detroit tracks, more inviting to outsiders and easier to dance too. The label’s aesthetic is all clean lines and bold text. This uniformity seems oddly fitting for a label that has a roster including the likes of Kaito (blissed out trance), Gui Boratto (infectious house straight out of South America) and GAS (Wolfgang Voigt’s modern-classical/ambient moniker).

It is Michael Mayer, though, who has become the undoubted star of the label. Though his solo productions aren’t necessarily among Kompakt’s finest releases he can lay claim to have put out three of the finest mixes of all time in Fabric 13, Immer and the Peel Session. DJs often talk about ‘narratives’ and ‘journeys’ and the importance of tracks flowing, combining to create something new. Mayer is the master of letting his song selections breathe, giving them time to develop, to unveil themselves fully. He doesn’t go in for the flashy mixing style like some, preferring subtle transitions. The album he released for the Farringdon based club is a perfect snapshot of the heavier side of his record collection, and the session he did for John Peel is an excellent introduction to the ‘schaffel’ (imagine glam rock meeting techno. But not as awful as that should be.) sound that briefly dominated the label’s release schedule, but it is Immer that is most deserving of a closer look. Immer is, and I have to admit that I can only talk about this record in hyperbolic terms, a masterpiece. It’s 70 minutes of the finest techno of the decade that manages to incorporate birdsong (Superpitcher’s remix of ‘Crokus’ by Carsten Jost) swathes of portentous German classical music (Tobias Thomas and Superpitcher’s edit of ‘Perfect Lovers’ by Phantom/Ghost) and what sounds like an electric saw breaking (‘Surface’ by Paul Nazca). It’s become one of the defining techno records of the decade and probably the one that secured Kompakt’s place in the electronic music canon.

They may not be releasing must-have 12”s as regularly as they were a few years back, but there’s still a lot to get excited about. Next year should see new releases from the likes of Superpitcher, DJ Koze and Ewan Pearson. The classic Kompkat sound, ‘a mix of minimalism, melody, and melancholy, often with an underlying pop sensibility’ is one that resonates with a huge number of people: Mayer and co regularly play some of the biggest clubs in the world. And, well, to end on a personal note, I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I’d never heard ‘So Weit Wie Noch Nie’ way back in 2006.


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Song of the Day pt.7

Golden Boy ft. Miss Kittin - Rippin Kittin

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Song of the Day pt.6

John Parr - St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)

Friday, 22 January 2010

Song of the Day pt.5

The Avalanches - Since I Left You (Modular, 2001)

This is, without doubt, probably the best song ever written. Instant burst of summer.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Song of the Day pt.4

Donald Byrd- Love Has Come Around

Top notch disco.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Song of the Day pt.3

Outkast - Return of the 'G' (1998)

Andre and Big Boi at their very best. I don't think they ever topped this one.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Oldies but goldies!

We've all heard that pontificating turn of phrase about the old ones being the best, but fuck me if it’s an idiom that doesn’t consistently ring true. These days more than ever I’m getting a lot of pleasure from delving head first in to the back catalogue of bands whose output had either gotten lost in the sands of time or that I’d just completely manage to miss out on due to either my own ignorance or being born in the wrong decade. As such, I’ve decide that I’ll now be taking the time to provide showcase for the forgotten classics that could of been something and the timeless tracks that I just never had the good sense to listen to before. Hopefully you’ll dig them all as

much as I do, at any rate it gives me a platform to name drop semi-obscure bands and artists without sounding too much like a pompous elitist.

To start us off today, I’ll be talking about the oft referenced, but rarely talked about (at least in the circles I move in) dance punk group Medium Medium. They came out of Nottingham and on to the post punk scene in earnest way back in ‘81 with their second single “Hungry, So Angry”; the track was and is nothing short of a belter. A full force cacophony of shrieking guitars, pained vocals and wailing sax, all accompanied a slap bass line tastefully appropriated from the funk/R&B genres that many of their contemporaries were experimenting with at the time. Though it was essentially a break up song, there was nothing fey or reserved about the way the song was delivered, it mixed gloomy post punk catharsis and woe with a hubris that wouldn’t sound at all out of place on dance floors of any of the discotheques at the time.

After a slew of positive press and adulation, and a few slots supporting U2 of all people, the band went on tour. Members left and members joined but the time their first and only album “The Glitterhouse” hit the record stores the band decided to call it quits, no more than a year after the single that bought them their fame had been cut. Singer and sax player John Rees, who had always maintained an interest in world music went on to start up the ethnically influenced C Cat Trance (who are excellent by the way) , and the band fell into relative obscurity, whilst other northern post punk groups such as Gang Of Four experienced almost meteoric rises to fame.

Despite all this, I think the “The Glitterhouse” has left a pretty audible mark on modern music of its genus, one I’d say was as prominent and as important as Gang of Four did. To listen to as a whole it sounds like an album The Rapture, Radio 4 or some other band of that ilk could have made or at least ripped off, there’s a rawness to it I’m reminded of whenever I listen to House of Jealous Lovers or something similar.

As good as Hungry, So Angry is, the best song off the album is the one that it shares its title with, The Glitterhouse. It’s a wacked out little ditty based on the ranting of a friend of the band who was going through a mental breakdown at the time and later joined a cult, it comes fully equipped with a hauntingly distant, yet entirely temperamental vocal and is bolstered by sparse, teasingly ethnic percussions. It only lasts about two minutes, one of the shortest on the whole album but there’s something very ghostly about it, both in terms of the way the song comes across and the subject matter itself, all the different aspects of the song seek to gain your full attention and by the time it’s gotten you hooked, it’s gone as quick as it arrived.

So there you have it, an oldie that is truly a goldie, I just can’t get enough of it, and you should check it out too.

Here’s a link to the album’s title track. Enjoy.

Written by Charles, originally posted here

Song of the Day pt.2

Fox the Fox - Precious Little Diamond

Classic Italo Disco. Plus the lead singer is BUFF.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Song of the Day pt. 1

Gui Boratto - No Turning Back (Kompakt, 2009)

Ignore the awful picture that illustrates the video and bask in the glow of Brazil's master of minimal at his finest.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Ewan Pearson Interview

A few weeks back, feeling slightly cocky after having a piece published in the Goldsmiths magazine (oh, the glamour!) I decided to email one of my favourite DJs/producers/remixers in the world and invited him to answer a few questions for this blog. It took a bit of time to get things sorted, but I eventually got my questions through to Ewan Pearson.

I've been a fan of Pearson's since downloading the mix he put together for Allez-Allez (which you can get here) on a whim and being spellbound by the blend of disco, deep house and with the last track on the mix (Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve's remix of Roscoe by Midlake) psychedelic folk-rock. After that I added Fabric35 to my burgeoning collection of the metal tinned series and was delighted by the harder sound within. His other official mix album, Sci-Fi-Hi-Fi Vol. 1 (Soma, 2005) was similarly wonderful and introduced me to one of the 00s forgotten classics in Broken Dream by Da Fresh.

But it's his work as a remixer that really interested me. From turning Courtney Tidwell's 'Don't Let The Stars Keep Us Tangled Up' into a 12 minute spacefolkcosmiccountryminimaldisco epic to his recent House mix of 'Hazel' by Junior Boys (a sultry 9 minute deep house slow jam) he's been consistently one of the most interesting people working within the house/techno scene.

So, many thanks to Ewan for answering the questions put forward to him.

Blank Cassettes: Is Berlin really as full of producers/DJs/artists as we're told? If so, what is it that makes the city so appealing (other than the cheap rent)?

Ewan Pearson: It does feel a bit like it sometimes - in the same way that you're never more than a metre away from a rat in New York, you could say the same in Berlin about DJs. I'm not sure why to be honest. I came here just a little before the hype really kicked in, but only because i like the atmosphere of the place rather than for musical reasons. Musically I was a bigger fan of the music coming from places like Frankfurt and Cologne, labels like Playhouse and Kompakt. We are really lucky here with the club situation though - and it's only when you travel to other places that you remember - I went out for a bit on January 2nd and there were massive queues at Weekend and Watergate despite the fact it was a couple of days after New Year's.

BC: What's been exciting you recently music wise?

EP: All sorts of things - Andrew Weatherall's album, Andre Lodemann, Azari & III, Populette, Good Guy Mikesh, Oni Ayhun, everything that DJ Koze and Paul Woolford have done this last year, John Talabot.

BC: How do you go about deciding what remix commissions to accept?

EP: It's usually just gut feeling really - is there something about the track or the artist that really appeals and do I think I can do something which I will like and will please them too? If i can't do both then I say no. There have been a couple of things I was asked to do which I was gutted not to be able to think of a way to manage - Shakira was probably the biggest act - but i couldn't think of a way to do it. I have no problem with remixing a big pop act - it's just a question of thinking of the right approach. I try never to remix something I positively dislike; when i started it wasn't always that way. I think people regard your choices as part of why they like you - if you're careful and don't just try and cash in, hopefully you have a longer career and a better reputation. That's the theory anyhow.

BC: If you could remix any track ever, past or present, what would it be and why?

EP: Erm, I used to have a no classics remix policy but then jumped at the chance to remix Depeche Mode "Enjoy The Silence" when I got offered that. There's oodles of things I guess. I would have loved to have remixed something from Kate Bush's last record - the 2nd CD of Aerial was incredible - balearic wonderfulness that could have had some extremely sympathetic treatments I think. I'd love to remix Fleetwood Mac if only to get my hands on the multitracks and sample the drums to hell.

BC: What can we expect from the forthcoming mix you're doing for Kompakt? Is it going to be as dance-floor orientated as Fabric 35 or similar to, say, the And Now To Bed... mix you did for Allez Allez?

EP: It's different again to both of those - it is a little less heads-down dancefloor than fabric, and deliberately a bit more musically diverse. It was definitely compiled with a Kompakt sensibility in mind - quite melodic, with key mixes and things. Then it gets slower and more song-based at the very end.

BC: What's next for Ewan Pearson?

EP: Well I'm on the promo trail for the mix CD. Plus, Delphic's album is coming out next week which I'm excited about - that was lots of my 2009 and so I hope people like it. The guys are really talented and they deserve massive success. Then there's a new album from Tracey Thorn which comes out in May - that's finished and quite different to Out of the Woods. She's written some amazing songs and sounds better than she ever has maybe. Then there a couple of new releases ready for Misericord, my occasional 12 label - a new thing from Al Usher and a new EP from October. And then, i'm not sure - i have some possible production things to do, but I'm not going to rush into anything. I would like to make some original music too this year, but I think I've forgotten how!

Be sure to check out his forthcoming mix album, We Are Proud of our Choices for the legendary Kompakt records, more info on which you can find here: Pearson for Kompakt

Sunday, 3 January 2010


This was originally posted on the awesome Clinic Presents blog. Posting it here with added links so you can scare yourself at night. Enjoy.

The Creepiest Headphone Songs Ever

It’s a fact that music has become invasive. Unless you find yourself in a university library or a sensory deprivation tank then it’s nigh on impossible to avoid music entirely. Anyway, lying in bed with your headphones on, preferably in the dark, is one of life’s small pleasures. Unless you happen to be listening to one of these songs:

Akon ft Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Fuck You
From the album Konvicted (Konvict Muzik, 2006)
A confession: I actually really, unironically, love this song. Mainly because I’m a sucker for Akon’s slightly alien, effeminate voice and Snoop’s laid back delivery. Plus it sounds just like the seminal Luckycharm 12” by German techno babe Ada, which leads me to believe that Akon is a big fan of the Berlin/Cologne minimal axis. But holy fuck this it’s creepy. The basic conceit is that ‘Kon’s in a strip club and sees some girl he wants to bang. Instead of asking her politely if she’d like to go for a drink, maybe a movie, hell, maybe even a meal, he just flashes the cash and repeatedly tells her how much he wants to fuck her. Except he can’t pronounce the word properly and it comes out as ‘furk’, which is worse if anything. The radio edit takes it a step further and ramps up the creepiness by having Akon tell this girl that he just wants to ‘love’ her, an idea that seems both innocent and desperate. Snoop does his normal overtly sexual thing and goes on and on about how he’s ‘bird’s eye, got a clear view, you can’t see me, but I can see you’ but you know what? ‘Pussy is just pussy’ he tells her, but she’s ‘pussy for life’. Feminism was a success wasn’t it?


Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy Jr
From the album Illinois (Asthmatic Kitty, 2005)
Let’s be serious here: John Wayne Gacy is one of the creepiest people to ever live. He raped and killed at least 33 young men. He dressed as a clown and threw block parties to entertain children. There is nothing creepier than a murderer dressed as a clown. That’s a fact. So it was surprising to see the normally quite dull Pitchfork approved Stevens to write a great song about Gacy. It’s effective because of the little details he picks out (mentioning the victims having ‘summer jobs’ sticks out in the mind) and the atmosphere of quiet desperateness that he conjures up. The last verse is an absolute killer:

And in my best behavior
I am really. Just. Like. Him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid


Lightning Bolt – Duel in the Deep
From the album Wonderful Rainbow (Load, 2003)
A few years back, I asked Father Christmas to get his elves to make me up a copy of Wonderful Rainbow because a) the cover was beyond rad b) the 30 second sample of one of the tracks I heard on Amazon got my pumped and c) it was that or It’s Always 1999 by Mindflayer (I was determined to have one album released on Load) and well, that record’s a bit gash. Saint Nick delivered the goods and I played WR over and over, reveling in its technicolour ejaculations of melody. No record before or since can get me this stoked. Except for the last track. God, that last track. 6 minutes of detuned bass ambling along, sounding like some horrendous underwater beheading. The only stuff I’ve heard that makes me feel as ill as ‘Duel in the Deep’ does is Wolf Eye’s Burned Mind (Sup Pop, 2004), which is potentially the worst thing I’ve ever heard. And I only bought it ‘cos Mojo gave it 5 stars. That was the last time I trusted those guys.


Daniel Bedingfield – Gotta Get Thru This
Single (Relentless Records, 2001)
UK Garage/2step produced some utterly amazing music that still sounds great today and is a reference point for a lot of the Hyperdub et al producers. But some of it was almost ungodly. Close your eyes and listen to Gotta Get Thru This. Picture Bedingfield’s gunty little beard, that braindead look in his eyes and the possibility that he probably still bathes with his sister. Then listen to the vocal. That horrible, whining, strained, pitched-up vocal. Then listen to the really lazy beatboxing in the background. Then listen to the lyrics. Then remember the video with Daniel chasing some bird around a stairwell. Then turn the song off and have a cold shower.


Bam Bam – Where’s Your Child?
12” (Desire Records, 1988)
A robotic voice asking you, over and over, ‘WHERE’S YOUR CHILD?” a jackin’ bassline, an insistent 3 note synth melody. Acid house could be creepy. As. Fuck. I don’t even want to imagine the terror of hearing this record on drugs. I get scared enough listening to it in bed with a glass of cherryade.

Honorable Mentions:
Xiu Xiu – I Luv The Valley OH!
Suicide – Frankie Teardrop
Rhoda with The Special AKA – The Boiler
Jandek – Nancy Sings