Saturday, March 31, 2007

Interview: Let's Get This Super Extra Bonus Party Started

Dublin based purveyors of jump up electronica, Super Extra Bonus Party have a name so full mouthed you'll be lucky not to choke on it. Made up of Cormac Brady and Mike Donnelly on all things machine like such as synths, samples, production and scratching, with occasional input from Sean Corcoran , then Stephen Fahey on bass, guitars, trumpet, with Gavin Elsted whacking drums and occasionally on guitar and the blogosphere's own Nialler9 on visuals.

Any time I've seen them, their fast paced live sets of swirling bleeps and beats were hyped on by the MC-ing of Brazilian Rodrigo Teles, but they are equally capable instrumentally - making
for stellar live shows at Mantua and left of centre electronic dealership Alphabet Set's Christmas party. After a string of positive reviews from both Hot Press and Mongrel, Super Extra Bonus Party have been hiding away in their bat-cave for the past few months working on a new album. Lured out with a trail of tepid Buckfast, we trapped Cormac Brady for a quick interview.

What's the background to the group? Don't most of you have a shared tragic childhood as part of some itinerant Newbridge travelling circus? Is it a continuation of the Illegal Kids and who were they anyway?

Nah it’s not a continuation of the Illegal kids, although we do retain some of the ways we used to write tunes then, we regard SEBP as a totally new thing. The first SEBP gig was in November 05, we wrote three songs to play at an open mic session in a pub in Newbridge, Mike played the sampler, fats played bass and guitar, and I played a shitty little toy drum kit and an equally shitty and ancient casio keyboard. That’s how the band formed, we got together to do that session, then we just kept writing together after that. The gig itself was all over the place, the kick pedal on the kit decided to work whenever it felt like it, and the effects on the sampler cut the ears off a few people, but the crowd liked it because we weren’t a singer song writer, and we took that as encouragement. And yeah, against all the odds we’ve all overcome the mental turmoil resulting from our childhoods with the Newbridge travelling circus, and that’s what all the tunes are about. Although Fatsy still has flashbacks, and I still do the odd nixer.

So how did a Dublin based music collective manage to stumble across a Brazilian MC in the gritty old town of Dublin? He quite adds soemthing to the live set, but you've played without him before so just how integral is he to the set up at the moment?

We put an ad in the Parish Bulletin for a Brazilian MC. The response was overwhelming so we held auditions in the town hall. Rodrigo just stood out from the rest. We were doing instrumental shows for a long time before he started jamming with us, so we still enjoy doing those shows when he’s not around, and when he is around, all the better. We find that our gigs work both ways, there’s always a lot of sound going on between guitars, bass and electronics. Rodrigo by the way is in Brazil at the moment, the lucky fucker, but he’ll be back soon.

The website and graphics for the band present you as an overly smiley bunch of gee eyed kids on a Smarties session - what the fuck is all that about and just where does that name come from?

Yeah, we’re really a bunch of depressed fuckers. We came up with the name for that open mic gig I was on about and then stuck with it. We wanted a name with balls. Whether it has balls or not is up for debate, but we like it none the less. Also we quite enjoy listening to people fuck it up when they introduce us at gigs, and explaining it to taxi drivers when we’re heading to gigs with all the equipment is always fun!

Its strikes me as unusual you have Nialler down as a member of the collective for doing visuals - are visuals and graphics important to ye?

Well, we’re calling ourselves a band now. Niall makes visuals specifically for each of our tracks, that’s a huge amount of creative input that comes through in the live shows. So yeah, for live shows he’s part of the whole experience and therefore part of Super Extra Bonus Party. He takes care of the visual side of things, and we do the tunes. We all collaborate on the artwork for sleeves and stuff.

Why do you call yourselves a collective as opposed to just a plain old simple band?

The collective idea stems from the fact that we love collaborating with people, and that so many people have played gigs with us, we’ve had had six people on stage at times. But we’ve since reverted back to calling ourselves a band, the collective thing was just throwing people off, and us too I suppose!

How do you lot feel about things in Dublin at the moment in terms of the general electronica/whatever scene?

Most of the electronic gigs I’ve been to recently have been packed out, which is encouraging. The recent Alphabet Set Christmas party we played in the Voodoo Lounge was an example, the place was jammed and that’s quite a big venue. Also, there are always innovative new acts coming on the scene, check out Nouveau Noise for example, I was introduced to their tunes recently by a friend. There’s a serious amount of talent floating around the country at the moment if you look for it I think, not just in the electronic scene, in general.

What's been the best gig you've played to date?

Hmmmm… It’s a throw up between Mantua Lives in August '06, Alphabet Set Christmas Party last December and the NCAD ball, they were all a good laugh. The mental ones are best.

According to your website you'll have a debut album out in April, how's work going on it? You seem fairly fond of the old collaborations.

It’s coming along really well, there’s a good buzz about it, there’s loads of interesting collaborations on it and lots of styles too. Right now we’re putting finishing touches to tracks we’ve done with Nina Hynes, White Noise (the human beatboxer), Paul O’Reilly from Channel One and Ian and Collie from Kill City Defectors. It’s a shitload of work, but it’s what we love, and we’re really happy that all those heads liked the tunes we gave them. We can’t wait until it’s all complete, if we could ditch the day jobs and do it for a living that would be fucking sweet!

The BBC have used you a track by you, Hot Press have recommended a demo - would you be happy to trundle around the Dublin scene with these few accolades or do you yearn for something bigger and better?

Speaking in terms of the upcoming album, we have a lot of confidence in it, so we want as many people to hear it as possible, and we want to get copies of the album to as many places as possible, and we want to do as many gigs and hopefully festivals as possible. That’s the plan.

The Super Extra Bonus Party album launch night is on April 13th in the Voodoo Lounge with Herv, noise-sters Terrordactyl and Kill City Defectors. €TBC. Their previous EP is in mp3 format on and their forthcoming album will soon be availible to buy there too.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mind Numbing Muppets: The You're A Star Voting Public

Presenting the latest Mind Numbing Muppets - in which our antagonist returns with another series of insults and a slew of failing comic sarcasms..

Number 8: The You're A Star Voting Public

That angsty little grunger shite in me really never had much time for the whole reality TV concept, especially when it came to the all singing, all dancing moronics of shows like You're A Star. What with a combination of plastic pop, over bearing music industry eyes and no risk taking - the show comes right off that shelf populated by Winning Streak and other gems from RTE's programmaing for brain injuries unit.

TV as a background noise can be quite the habit and so we were sucked into the faith of those South Eastern small town messers Scuba Dice. Motoring their way through a slew of obvious "rocker" classics, they were the naive pop-punk fly in this whole middle of the road ointment - the local punk band made good. How we loved to watch their fashion tips from Asha Boutique get more out of hand, their haircuts less stable and the banter with 21 Demands grow.

Toning up their highlights with tinfoil in thier hair and faces caked in dollops of foundation, the behind the scenes Friday evening show really left the impression that 21 Demands are a band in need of lessons in make up from the Beaut girls.

You couldn't be annoyed with either band honestly. Scuba Dice will never be heard of again apart from some charity single if they are lucky. In the case of 21 Demands despite what that Louis Walsh clone Peter and Rojo tries to tell us and their cretinous faked emotions - they'll disappear over a short horizon of Bebo stalkings. No self respecting fan of alternative rock will fall for something spawned from a reality TV show. Even Brendan O'Connor managed to lift himself up from his status as the nation's officially annointed arsehole to land running digs at Linda Martin and the rest of this orgy of the bland.

But then there was David O'Connor. You'd hope the nation would send him home with a bullet in his head rather than a smile on his face - but it was you the voting public that let us all down and voted the over sized jockey past the last furlong.

Possessing the charisma of a Students' Union welfare officer, this timid creature looks incapable of rising to the occasion of swotting off a vampire bat sucking on his knob let alone real stardom. Hopefully in the next two weeks he'll disappear into the country and western circuit of mid-lands farmers in cowboy get ups to croon his way through the hits of fucking Brit Pop. And if he doesn't? Well...

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Album Review: Kode 9 plus the Spaceape – Memories of the Future (Hyperdub)

"Strange how tings remain the same while all the time we a try fee make change." Empire has feasted and departed. The rotting "ex-colonial" is left to try sort itself out: "September…my cousin … a burning spliff……..(abyssal laughter echoes)… for the very first time…now he's burning rocks… it's June"

As spaceape's resonant voice emerges slowly from the pit of Kode9's sinous, bass heavy production a growing sense of realisation slowly dawns that "Sine" is actually Prince's dystopian eighties epic "Sign of the Times" – translated further down, right down, deep down into a the hole, the void of Babylon's absence.

The jagged mess of broken promises that remains, when Babylon "a-gone", when it has fecked off in search of new territories. Leaving nothing, not even ash and your language too is "thiefed." Inarticulate - You are left not even a voice with which to speak: "I tried hard to master your language but could only manage colloquial isms and skisms"

No past, no present and the future sure ain't what it used to be. Buy, beg, borrow steal this album and "apply de correction."

Reviewed by Krossie

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

So DJ Can You Play Club Music?

If you were to come across Drop the Lime in a darkened club, he'd probably bass the head off you. Leaving bass puns aside, Drop the Lime's a Dj and producer trained in the underground NYC party scene and responsible through his Bangers and Mash parties for introducting the UK grime and dubstep sound to stateside audiences.

There's been a tearful amount of speculation on the expected dubstep and minimal techno aesthetic collision on any given number of forums and sites at the moment. Yet stateside both dubstep and grime are getting some serious work outs from a more upbeat party directed mentality in the mixes being delivered recently by that whole Trouble and Bass crew Drop the Lime belongs to.

As a self declared NYC heavy bass champion, his mixes feature glitches and meltdowns of contemporary pop classics from Ciara and re-edits of Cutting Crew's "Died in Your Arms." Sprinke on some italo-disco flavourings, bouncing B-more "ho ho's" and dancehall skanks - then bash it all in with some vicious sub woofer action from below and you have a throbbing party soundtrack.

What makes Drop the Lime such an interesting producer is how his cross genre splicing borrows from the mash up quality of breakcore but lends itself to capturing a wider fanbase. If DTL doesn't have a major cross over popping up in mixes left right and centre soon then spank me dead because DJs all this genre specificity has got to go.

Right click your way to heaven: Theres an exclusive series of tracks from both Mathhead and Drop the Lime over on Trash Menagerie and Chain DLK carries an interview with DTL himself. Flamin' Hotz has the mix Drop the Lime..err..dropped for London's Resonnance FM. The Hype Machine will give you access to some filthy amount of material too and the sheer menace on this mix hosted by Tigerbeat's new Tigerbass subsidary is worth grabbing too!

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TV: More American Imports On TV3

Having failed to latch onto a TV series with all the addictive blockbusting aplomb I invested in my X-Files, Buffy, Battle Star Gallactica and early Stargate habits - it was opportune that TV3 returned with another of its many American imports last night. This time the Marvel comic hero and silver screen vampire slaying Blade takes the form of a TV series. With an opening script by David Goyer, the man responsible for all three feature films - expectations were rightly high.

So the lead female Krista Starr returns from Iraq to discover the mysterious death of her brother Zack the series has all the traits of another conspiracy unravelling, good versus evil epic. With the House of Chthon indenturing mortal souls as servants in return for some possible immortal status, it becomes the likely suspect for an infiltration that will no doubt lead to a space where the nocturnal underworld and Detroit's political and business highlife collide. Smacking heavily of "initiative" era Buffy, the viewer is quickly dumped into a sci-fi tinged vampire world increasingly familiar from Ultraviolet and the Russian beauty Nightwatch. With vampires as drug addicts and covens as street gangs, I'll be staying tuned anyway.

While we're breifly on the TV front a random props has to go to TnaG for its brilliant Cold Case and Ros na Run campaign. Two American hard boils quiz a Connemara cute hoor from the TV series, his attempts to feign ignoranace of anything but the cupla focal is undermined by a sudden and in the face "an dtuigeann tu anois?" as the cops drop into perfect gutteral Irish.

With such winning imagination clearly present in RTE's gaelgoir minor partner its frustrating to watch the continued zombies that haunt the mainstay of the other two terrestrials. A proliferation of lifestyle shows designed for the beneficiaries of SSIA's allowed both RTE1 and 2 to brave their way through the winter months.

RTE has a psychophrenic approach to the Celtic Tiger, in its current affairs programming it ponders the urban night time violence of binge drinking, bursting credit card debt and housing booms - then in its lighter moments it coaxes these downsides on. Only the quasi hippy meanderings of "How Long Have You To Live's" Mark Hamiliton attempt to soothe and massage the ill effects of its grasping holiday, housing and fashion lifestyle programming

Unbeknown to itself RTE manufactures moments of contrasting comic genius. Look at the clarity The Panel managed to provide on the whole drink driving debacle. On Questions and Answers Ned O'Keefe sought to lead the nation into a discussion of the merits of a two tier rural and urban drink driving limit. The stupendous nature of such discussion deserved the full on jaw drop of bafflement given to it by a comedy show like The Panel, hit and miss as it is.

The recent two epsiodes of Frank Opinion were probably the low point of its serious broadcasting. Cameras swung around the heads of pundits as useless as Terry Prone in a fashion reminescent of pressure tank game shows like The Weakest Link. Then they offered a political analysis of future election outcomes that allows political players to play into reactionary rumours and anecedotes rather than challenge them.

Last years Pure Mule really was a curve ball that proved the rule as the national broadcaster still battles with its comedy output. That awful new series Trouble in Paradise took on board every imaginable Irish cliche as it tripped over its saddling of drama and comedy. For all the mammoth boasting that accompanied Becs and Becs the show was as painful as being caught behind a gaggle of D4's giddy on wine on the bus into town on a friday night. Pat Shortt still boosts the nations recycling statistics in digging out sketches and characters that broke only a slight grimace the first time round on Killanskulley.

TV3 still remains top dog when it comes to imported fare like Blade sitting alongside homespun "pay for help" shows like Inside and Out. Witness the recent car crash viewing of a 30 something year old Dublin single mother Corina, struggling to haul in her mounting credit card debts by creating a dream book of Austin Martins and slick under wear businesses before moving on to a breast augmentation over seen by a hideously, stiff faced botoxed personal assistant in some Dublin plastic surgeon's office. Ugly, Ugly viewing.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gig Review: Modeselektor…. So tell me….

Ha ha see what I did there clever yes? No? Oh well never mind

Modeselektor are Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary a two man DJ /producer team from Germany releasing almost exclusively on Ellen Alien's Bpitch Control label their music is influenced in turns by hip-hop break beats techno and dub exemplified by their first full album Hello Mom released in 2005 and remixed and re-released in 2006 featuring the brilliant euro crunking French hip-hop crew TTC

Anyone who saw the German duo's Irish debut in the Foggy Notions tent on the last night of the Electric Picnic last year knows how crazy their live sets can be, it was easily the most explosive gig I saw all weekend. However the set up they brought to Dublin on Thursday 8th of March was very different they preformed a two hour D.J set with support from Electric City's Rian Ryan down stairs in Wax on south William street, in my opinion this claustrophobic venue is unsuited for such a gig with the dance floor being uncomfortably jammed for the majority of the set with barely room to move much less dance.

However after a slow start their use of hip hop, techno & electro went down well with "Kill Bill vol.4" and The Prodigy's "Fire" getting the warmest receptions. The crowd was once again electrified and towards the last half hour people were hanging out of the rafters standing on top of ledges and sitting on shoulders in order to dance on the packed dance floor.

As I was plastered to the glass barrier at the front for the majority of the gig I had a good view of the two men's behaviour behind the controls and it couldn't have been more different, Bronsert displayed a foppish calm, with the look of a modern day S.S. Commandant leading the crowd willingly to the aural ovens. While Szary jumped around like a 10 year old kid filled with Fanta at a wedding disco, egging the crowd on.

Infuriately the bouncers made them cut the music five minutes early just as they began to play Jeff Mill's "The Bells." To top it all off in celebration of Electric City's fourth birthday they drenched the front rows of the crowd with first a bottle of champagne and then a bottle of vodka. I left the gig sticky and highly flammable but happy and slightly stupider

There is speculation that MDSLKTR will be coming to Dublin with their full live set sometime in early summer, so keep your noses pealed people.
reviewed by Mark F

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Keep It Rollin' Dublin!

What a night of pure bombo claat twattery there was down in Traffic on Sunday night, as the long time quite on the gig front Irish jungalist pioneers Bassbin gave us all a taste of what it must have been like a few years ago in this city when they ruled over the underground. Legandary DJ Nicky Blackmarket was fanning himself down with vinyl before dropping classics like "Original Nuttah," sweat dripped from my back in a way it hasn't in about a year.

Despite the lights coming on, he cut in and out of the record and the crowd slurred/enthuased its way through such classic chats as "Ooh-yeah-eh, ooh-yeah-eh, ooh-noo-no-no-no-no-no/Bad boys inna London" and then went mental when the breaks cut back in.

While pretty ignorant on the history of drum and bass/jungle most of the music that has really captured my ears in the past two years has been heavily tinged with its early days of ragga vocal led jump up fun. Yet I've fairly been terrified of delving into drum and bass's deep end for fear of getting swiftly bored with some of the more conceptual out put identified by Simon Reynold's in Energy Flash for ruining the genre.

With this in mind Dogs on Acid has a fascinating two part history of jungle and drum and bass, while Drod from Wearie's latest contribution to the Blogriddims series deserves some serious checking out for his studious footnoting of the evolution of ragga dancehall and how it might have pared its way into the conciousness of those early jungle pioneers. You can read an interview with Nicky Blackmarket here and have gander at some live sets here. Braap brapppp!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Mary Anne Hobbes' Army of Darkness: Warrior Dubz Album Review

At its crudest dubstep is written off as a mutant drum and bass, gutted of rushing snares and cross fertilised with UK garage. Here's the album that confirms Breezeblock host Mary Anne Hobbes as the Don King of the scene, bigging up the heavy weights against any other genre that dares stand in the way of the broody glare emanating from it through out 2006.

This compilation captures a fascinating slice of the experimentalism currently coming out of the UK underground. The slow skanky riddims of Digital Myztikz's "Anti War Dub" are as deep as the anti-war sentiment it whispers. In Andy Stotts "Black" you can hear the glimmering rushs of rave's piano lines played out "20,000 leagues under the sea" as Kode9 would have it. The bounce of Plastician's "Cha Vocal" featuring Fresh, Napper & Shizzle sits alongside the see saw menace of "Versus" by the brilliant Burial and the the frightening deep throat poetics of Space Ape on Kode9's "Kingstown" simply terrify.

Benga's "Music Box" nods to that definitive skunked dubstep sound explored by Skream. Much of the album dances the line between grime and dubstep, opening with Virus Syndicate's lyrical threat of impending urban violence. JME's "Pence" is a harsh riposte of a "drugs, scams, credit card fraud" reality to any optimisitc vision of cash from underground music. If he's right and music is an anitode to being broke, then few albums find as much hope in oppresive realities as this one. As a route into the murky, stunning world of dubstep's booming bass and splintering textures you'll find no better.

This album was launched in The Mass right in the heart of Babylondon back in October, here's Soundtracksforthem's review. For the best writing on dubstep check out Blackdown, Guttabreakz and Simon Reynold's brilliant end of year piece on the links between noise, hipster metal and dubstep.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Remembering Kurt Cobain: We Hated Ourselves and Wanted To Die

Painstakingly blacking in band names on desks and copy books until every detail of a font face was engrained in my brain was certainly a habit that passed maths classes. Looking back these never strike me as more than glorified doodles. Alongside an NME special poster pull out of Kurt some of these are still etched into a panel on my bedroom wardrobe in my parents' house.

This very teenage art form of obsessive, almost mantra like dedication to particular cult celebrities is revisted by Jenny Brady and Eilis McDonalds. Two Dublin based artists who have organised an exhibition billing itself as a tribute to Kurt Cobain. So if you ever hated yourself and wanted to die as a teenager, then stopping by this exhibition is a must - you can disguise the sudden reawakening of memories of your earnest teenage self in irony if it fits. The opening of the exhibition took place upstairs on the same night as Electronic Resistances last gig, while dribbling like a retard in the wee hours an interview with the artists Eilis McDonald and Jenny Brady was well in order.

Why did you decide to do an exhibition in tribute to Kurt Cobain?

EILIS: Jenny and I were discussing suicide pacts at an exhibition opening and the conversation turned to Kurt Cobain, and we realised he was a really important early teenage obsession - the first grown up who fascinated us - inspiring these careful pencil drawings, melodramatic poetry, and scrawled journals... For some people thats the last time they sit down to make art, for others its the first time they take making art seriously.

JENNY: The kind of aspect of 'teen art' that interests me is that it seems to be a totally different impulse to the way I make art now. I don't even think that I thought what I was making was art when drawing pictures of Kurt on copybooks etc. It seems to be more of an innocent impulse where the only motivation is allowing yourself to spend time thinking about that person. It's kind of an exercise in obsession.

EILIS: We figured a lot of our peers probably had the same experiences, and we wanted to celebrate the vitality of that first expressive teenage art as much as we wanted to re-visit our old Kurt obsessions.

Is the exhibtion a piss take, steeped in irony or is there part of you that thinks its worth commemorating Kurt?

EILIS: The exhibition is quite sincere. We were aware of how it could come across as a joke, or immature, and that didn't really bother us. We knew some people would get it, and some people wouldn't. I think most people who saw the show got it.

The idea of commemorating someone like Kurt is a really confusing concept, and thats why I really wanted to do this exhibition. There's so much going on with the idea of a tribute to Kurt because he was so vocal about hating his celebrity status, but at the same time he feared being forgotten. Recently I've been really interested in that kind of moral confusion - believing in one thing while being unable or unwilling to avoid participating in its reverse. I think most Kurt Cobain fan art is trapped in that confusion.

JENNY: Yeah, I can see how the show could be interpreted as a piss-take and i think there are certain elements concerning celebrity and worship which we've attempted to undermine but essentially we're genuinely intrigued by the kind of artwork made by fans and feel that there's a kind of intensity to it that's quite unique.

EILIS: Yeah, there's an undiluted enthusiasm in it that I admire because as you get older it usually gets complicated by cynicism and art college.

Where does the vintage teenage art on display come from?

EILIS: We put the word out about our plans for the exhibition, and some friends gave us their old drawings. We also spent a lot of time on Kurt Cobain fan sites and YouTube and found a lot of people still making crazy Kurt Cobain art, and other people still proud of Kurt art they made ten years ago.

Figures like Kurt Cobain tend to inspire an obsessive fanaticism among teenagers - why was/is there such an identifaction with him and are there any comparable figures today?

EILIS: I think Kurt Cobain had an amazing charisma that's hard to find. He's kind of an eternal teenager. He was a master of apathetic melodrama - a kind of "yeah, I'm completely emotionally tortured, but.. whatever.." attitude that is achingly cool. To me Kurt Cobain isn't really a person who ever existed, he's like a fictional figure thats a part of my past, like an old imaginary friend, but one that I happen to share with millions of other people my age. I think its much easier and more rewarding to be fanatical about a dead celebrity than a living one. There's only a limited amount of information and photographs to look at, and then you get to imagine the rest yourself.

JENNY: I kind of wonder what how this kind of fanaticism would have been affected had he not committed suicide and how much this kind of 'cult of martyrdom' has affected such obsessions. These kind of stories are great fodder for documentary makers and biographers as they seem to allow myths surrounding these figures to escalate. It seems that teenagers are more susceptible and/or willing to buy into these myths.

EILIS: I can't think of any comparable figures today. I'm not sure if thats because I'm older and I'm not really interested in celebrities, or if its because popular culture and the music industry has changed so much since the early 90s. With the charts being so diverse, and the music industry getting more democratic, and everyone having huge music collections, I'm not sure its possible anymore for one persons death to affect so many people on the scale Kurt Cobain's did.

The show opened last and runs by appointment until Kurt's anniversary, the 5th of April. For more information email and check out this for more info.

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LCD Soundsystem: Some Brainless Greenday Politic-ing Meets the Robots.

Many critics conflated themselves with the voice adopted by Murphy in "Losing my Edge," oddly seeking to endear themselves to the panic of trend chasing and the danger of kids outstripping them in the hipster stakes. But wasn't this missing the point?

I'd always liked "Losing My Edge" for how it cataloged the stifling weight of 'been dones' bearing down on us since a booming American post-War economy first threw up a mass consumable pop culture. Suffering from an overwhelming hangover of cultural references leading to creative blockages the track claimed a lineage from all originators, a Faustian pop cultural pact that echoed Jaggers's hushed Satanism in "Sympathy for the Devil." This compulsive back trailing led to a healthy exorcism of all guilt or expectations of the "new" letting us revel to party soundtracks that felt right for now.

Unfortunately for James Murphy , his whole celebrated beats and guitar collision has "been done" better on LCD Soundsystem's debut. Leaked on the net months prior to its release much of the hype you might expect around the album slowly deflated, farted out across staggered reviews as the album fell into the hands of music bloggers one after the other.

"Get Innoucous" starts the album off with 'Losing My Edges' drum beat and the pulse of a straight lift from Kraftwerk's "The Robots." The eventual repetitious female vocal that creeps in will lend itself well to house edits. Its hard to find anything on the album that'll set off house party bedlam ala "Daft Punk Are Playing at My House" but perhaps their previous genius will shine on the no doubt endless amounts of dancefloor remixes set to follow.

"All My Friends" carries a harrowing piano line and sketching lyrics that paint the cinematic of a loneliness and depression that comes from reflecting on the stupid decisions of youth. "Watch the Tapes" will leave you feverish with the constant thud of musical echoes informing LCD's sound. That cocky vocal pout of "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" comes through briefly on "Time to Get Away."

"Someone great" is the only track that points to a real maturing in Murphy's sound. The only hint that he's played with a few toys other than simplistic drum machines in an attempt to recapture the stumbled on brilliance of the first album. With its swirling bleeps and crisp underlying drone, the track maps a clear direction away from disco punk antics.

If the album has a real gem its "North American Scum". Swaggering with an expected proud gait of statement, a murmouring bass line is accompanied by a brilliant theatrical wail of a chorus that runs back to fears of "kids who want to make the scene." There's also some brainless as Greenday poltic-ing as NYC becomes the "furthest place you can live from the government," Murphy's criticism of power owes more to the inability of "parties to go all night" than the imperial war of his nations leaders, urban poverty or even NYC's fierce recent gentrification dealt with on "NY I Love You" with a taste of rom-com heart break.

You'll find this album all over the net, but if you just want to gander of its flavor, its streaming over at their Myspace.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

DJ C Interview: Mashit's Mashup Maestro

Nothing has turned me onto as much ass quaking good music this past year as the track listings of DJ C mixes. Dealing in nuthin' at all but the best dance floor shakers, DJ C and his endless output is a man to pay attention to. Rampaging across genres for the ultimate ass jiving party sounds to spice up his own Boston bounce, DJ C doesn't hold back with the output. At the centre of the recent brilliant bastard rebirth of jungle fronted by showstoppers like Aaron Spectre, Mashit deserves your categoric full attention. Especially as it generously throws all of their artists output up on the net for free download.

Take a track like DJ C's Quality Diamond colloboration "Let It Billie," remashing a classic regaee version of Jackson's Billie Jean with some infectous jungle rattle that will make even the heads of the most cynical "breakbore" detractors turn. Those excited by his more recent dancehall flavoured colloborations with Chicago vocalist Zulu will be delighted to note the forth coming releases "Body Work" and a 12 inch called "Darling" with a remix by Montreal's Ghislain Poirier, both on Community Library and distributed in the UK by Baked Goods.

The early release of three tracks from his "Sonic Weapons" debut album on Bristol's Death $ucker Records will awake the attention of any genre blenders rapt to the sucker punch surprises of his copious "B" series mixes. In this interview DJ C tocuches on the frustration of experimentalism prior to Rupture's mash mainlining, Bush's re-election and how Mashit intends to kit itself out for musical distribution in the digital DJ-ing era.

What's the "C" stand for?

During one of my psychedelic phases I was having visions. I could see things that weren't there, at least not in the every-day plain of reality. This was before I was a DJ. I was making 4-track tapes and releasing albums under the name See. That name quickly morphed into Cee, and eventually became DJ C.

Whats this boston bounce all about and will my elderly rural parents like the waltz aspect of it?

There's really not too much of a waltz aspect to my bounce tracks. It's more of a swing, or a shuffle feel, with an up-tempo broken kick, and a snare or rim-shot drop on the 3. It's a sound we developed in the Beat Research labs. DJ Flack's been developing some more waltz-y tracks lately, or at least they're in 3. Not sure your parents would like them, but they're probably baby-boomers right, so who knows?

How did you get drawn into music and DJing and when did you come to really start to obssess about it as a DJ?

I've been into music since I was a young child. My father — a painter/ poet — would make percussion instruments and play them with me as an infant. All kinds of experimental, pop, and classical music was always wafting through the house. I received a guitar for my 5th birthday and felt as though I was Elvis. Before I got a real drum kit I used to make drums out of pots, pans, cardboard boxes, and pillows and play them with kitchen utensils. I would record that on my little cassette machine, and eventually I figured out that I could multi-track by playing the last recording I had made through my step-father's speakers, on his tape deck, while playing along and recording another cassette on my machine. One thing lead to another and eventually I wound up making electronic music and DJing.

You are part of the Riddim Method collective which takes an almost academic approach to mixing and the relationship between different forms of music, can you tell me how this collective nerding came into being and whats its purpose is?

Most of us are from Boston, with the exception of Kid Kameleon, but we all came together through music. 10 years ago DJ /rupture and I co-founded an event-production collective with some other folks. DJ Flack and Ripley became members of the collective over time, as did Aaron Spectre, Hrvatski, and many more. We met Kid Kameleon, Wayne&Wax, and Pace later, but it turned out they'd all been to, or been fans of those Toneburst parties.

We're all part of the Beat Research crew too. Flack and I have been running Beat Research as a weekly event for the past 3 years, and have had over 100 guest performers/DJs come through. The members of the Riddim Method crew are kind of like auxiliary Beat Research residents. The Riddim Method blog began when we realized that another group of DJs had started a blog at and we were like "Hey! that's our thing." In was actually really positive as it inspired us to start our own group blog. It's really just a forum
to talk about stuff we're into.

You and others in the Riddim Collective frantically blog about music, how do you think music blogging has affected underground music scenes?

Music blogs are really important these days. As a DJ, especially, it's a great way to find out about new music, and communicate with other folks about it. I also appreciate being able to get stuff off my chest too.

On the Mashit label you give away tonnes of free MP3s, do you not think you are taking a needless hit through this given the whole debate around music piracy? Also how come some tracks never seem to end up as pay-for-download after vinyl releases? I'm thinking of Gone-a-Jail here which an awful lot of people must want.

The business model behind Mashit when it began was to give out all the music for free in digital form, and then sell it on vinyl. The free digi-files would help spread the word, and then DJs, who were mostly still only playing vinyl, would buy the tracks if they liked them. Digital distribution is so powerful. You can put a file on a server with virtually no cost and make it available for thousands of people around the world to get it easily. If we only sold our music on vinyl, and even CD, and used traditional distribution methods, we would not have NEARLY as much of our music out there as we do, and that bodes well for touring, networking, etc. It's all worked very well.

In the past couple years there's been a big shift in the DJ industry, though; a landslide of folks shifting over to digital DJing. This has been fueled by the coming-of-age of CD players that feel like vinyl, and real vinyl controllers for digital libraries. I use Serato Scratch Live which uses time-coded vinyl records to control my iTunes library on my laptop, and it's completely opened up the way I DJ. Like it or not, this is putting a serious dent into the vinyl industry. Many major vinyl distributors and stores have been going under. Don't get me wrong, there are still a lot of folks who do use vinyl, including me sometimes, but the tides are turning.

Needless to say, Mashit's original business is doesn't apply as well today, but that's OK. Because it's incredibly cheap to distribute music digitally, and now that so many folks are DJing digitally, that's what we'll focus on going forward. Mashit will be re-tooled for the future over the next year or so.

Are your mixes fully hands on and what sort of set up do you need for a show?

In the past I tended to categorize between DJing and performing a set of my own music. I've toured in Europe 3 times with just a laptop and and 8 channel MIDI mixer which I use to control my tracks in Ableton Live. It's a really simple setup, but it allows me to present my own
material as a continuous mix while tweaking, dubbing, looping, and effecting things on the fly. I looked at DJing as a way to present other peoples music, for the most part. I'm not looking at ways of combining these together, and blurring the lines more. No need to compartmentalize, ya know?

I spent most of last summer insisting people listen to the Bouncement mix, what's your own favorite in the series and why is there such a series in the first place?

"Bouncement" was my fave for a while too. I also really like "Boots," and "Baltimore" when the mood is right. Lately I've been into the "Blentcast" mixes. Unlike the rest of the "B" series up to that point, they're fiercely eclectic, which is more like my DJ style in general.

The series began just because I had ideas for so many mixes the names of which start with the letter "b". I've still got a lot more up my sleeve. Perhaps it will shift to a different letter at some point, though.

The new Traced Milk EP really shows a more chilled out side to you, how come this is hidden away in your non-stop party mixes?

Well, again, that's part of the reason why I like the "Blentcast" mixes. I take it out there with some more mellow stuff, even some chilled out rock by folks like Wilco, TV on the Radio, and Donavan. There's also the "Berlin" mix, which is super chilled out. I actually went through a major ambient phase back in my early days as a DJ.

There's a set on my site, on the "Music" page, called "Mid '90s Style Chillout Set." It was recorded in '02, but consists of stuff I used to play back in '95/'96. Back then I recorded under the name Electro Organic Sound System. I had an album out in '96 of ambient/chillout-ish stuff, and another album out in 2000, which began to bridge the gap between my more chill and the jungle/breakcore side.

In one interview you described how impossible experimentalists in Toneburst found it to get club gigs back in the day, what sort of venues did you end up using?

Half of us were students at the Massachusetts College of Art, and the other half were students at Harvard. In the beginning we started out at a small art-space outside the city. The first party we did in Boston was at a store-front complex that a Harvard architecture student was using as a studio/living space. We eventually went on to stage events at the Boston Children's Museum (an event called Child-Style), the Boston Museum of Science, and of course Massachusetts College of Art and Harvard, as well as many other colleges.

You sometimes get characterised as 'one of those new fangled breakcore djs' when your sets are anything but confined to one genre, how do such off hand descriptions make you feel?

That's OK. It's difficult to categorize what I do and I like it that way. I'm excited to see that there's finally a movement — at least here in Boston, but I think all over too — of folks who are into eclectic genre blending. I think DJ /rupture has been a driving force behind that and folks like Diplo have helped to popularize it. In the Toneburst days, and still when we began Beat Research, we were reacting against the club and party DJs at the time. You know, the ones who when asked what style they play say "progressive-trance-breaks," or something super-specific like that. We would go out to the drum 'n' bass night and it would be the exact same beat all night long. Not only that, but they cared more that a track was new than weather it was actually any good or not. Now it's finally hip to experiment with mixing wacky things together and I'm really happy about that.

A blurb on Mashit describes how the anti-Bush mix you released prior to the election was part of a protest music "alive and well" because of the net, do you think the net facilitates other forms of dissent stateside or is it all right wing/neo-con bloggers?

Oh yeah. The net facilitates it all. There's a bunch of everything out there. As destructive as our administration has been, I have to say that free speech is alive and well. Probably in large part due to the internet, and blogs. Much of the mainstream media here really sucks 'cause they're controlled by corporations who have a lot riding on keeping things the fucked up way that they are, and during some of the more scary moments over the past few years here, the Bush admin
has struck fear into the hearts of journalists. On the other hand, the media has to keep afloat when they're losing the attention of consumers to the internet. It can be difficult to weed through all the conflicting info, but you can't say the system's not open. I'm also an avid listener to National Public Radio which generally does a great job of presenting news and information.

In a Spannered interview Ripley described being active as a street medic, were you ever active in the post-Seattle protest upsurge or do you think music is the best medium you have to make political gestures? You were involved in a group called BEATS NOT BOMBS?

I've participated in street protests from time to time, but not nearly as actively as the kind of involvement that Ripley was getting into. I tend to get more involved on the political campaigning side. When I see a candidate who I think will help to make things better, I will donate money and do fundraising events. I feel as though I should personally apologize that Bush was "reelected." I did try though. I traveled up to New Hampshire and went door to door asking people to vote for Kerry. And on election day I worked at a polling place making calls and even picking people up who needed a ride to the polls. Kerry did win New Hampshire, which had been a republican state before that, so that was a tiny ray of light on a deep and
darkly shadowy day.

Do you have much contact with Trouble and Bass and otherstate side crews doing vaguely similar things as yourself? Where should people look to follow whats happening on that side of the Atlantic?

I've played a few shows with Mathhead of Trouble and Bass, and have also met Drop the Lime and Stareyes. As a matter of fact, I just finished up a remix for Star Key, who's also part of that crew. Looks like their parties have been off the hook. I don't think there's one singular source about these type of goings on in the states. Just gotta' keep your ear to the blogs I guess.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Matt Stokes The Grave Of Rave

Hope of an interview with Matt Stokes led me to hold out on putting a blog up about recent happy hardcore on an organ shennigans down in Christchurch cathedral. Stokes's two fold work also piqued the interest of dance music fans across the city with the first exhibition of the new year in Temple Bar Gallery.

A recipient of the Beck's Futures award in 2006, Stokes' "Lost in the Rhythm" exhibition was a pared down version of his Glasglow show "Lost in Arcadia." The show focused on the pheoneonemon of rave as it expressed itself in Cumbria in the early nineties.

In city enviroments swarming with abandonned warehouses and later on sites off major motorways, shelter from state eyes was easily found, but in rural Wales local organisers like Out House Promotions used some lateral thinking to settle on quarry caves as a party zone.

The exhibition was ridiculously simple, with the artifacts of a very localised rave scene displayed in a boring set of cases like archaeological nuggets from pop cultural memory. Flyers, membership cards, t-shirts and newspaper cuttings, DJ mix tapes and a scattering of photographs were the scrap book that presented an ordering of the period within which the parties happened.

A massive section of text illustrated the rebel impulse behind a rave culture that beat against state survillance and eventual repression through the CJA. 'If you found the helicopter then you found the party' remembers one party goer quoted. Stokes locates rave in a cannon of working class popular moments of cultural outlawdom as subversive movement.

Visually the exhibition was disappointing. The accompanying film of the Northren Soul scene "Long After Tonight" seemed to be missing on the day I was there, a TV sat at an awkward floor level angle replaying a badly edited loop of TV news with a local copper summating all paniced parental fears. A speaker sat in one corner as if it had just been humped there, useless with no character or joy to it.

With an exhibition devoid of atmosphere and bereft of the enthuasism that surely had to drive the period, so Stokes should consider himself in a very lucky position to get away with this, able to present his teenage weekend music and partying habits as a work of art is a lofty privilege to aspire to. Start stockpiling those gig flyers now.

Down in Christchurch Cathedral it was a whole other story as Dr Groove briliantly describes. Arriving down early at ten to eight was useless as the 800 maximum space was already full. Being unable to get in did allow plenty of time for scheming up one liners and jokes about this conflation of mass and the rave massif. In a period of a happy hardcore famine, its no surprise the protestants would close the door on us for fear we'd disecrate the water cistern.

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