May 30, 2009

Ticket giveaway for Sonar 2009

I wonder if any fellow Mancunians fancy a trip to Barcelona right now? No?

The Sonar Festival is giving away a brace of tickets to their celebration of future music and art on June 8th to 10th this year. That's in about two weeks time.

To win the tickets, all you need to do is pick your top five Warp Records releases and email the list to info at bleep dot com.

Or you can pop your faves on the wall of Bleep's Facebook group. I've just joined that group, so I may see you there.

Someone had to tell me about Manchester United versus Barcelona. As a Mancunian, that's pretty shameful, but football's so off my radar, it's ridiculous. The only footie thing I like is Pop Will Eat Itself's Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina.

May 28, 2009

Harmonic 73: Prefuse goes all oversensitive on us

Okay, you've got Prefuse 73's scatter-gun beat collection Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian. What next?

Well, quite a lot as it happens. Mr 73 is also a part of Diamond Watch Wrists, a collaboration with members of overblown rock lizards Mars Volta and Hella (their album Ice Capped At Both Ends is out now). He's also teamed up with a Catalan singer Eva Puyuelo Muns for his latino-tickled Savath y Savalas moniker.

And so to this week, when Prefuse 73 releases an EP The Forest Of Oversensitivity. Prefuse is quite happy for you to have music for free, and he has given permission for track Preparations Kid's Choir to be given away here. Yes. He's given permission. Take note, Blogger Big Brother.

The five tracks on The Forest Of Oversensitivity are ethereal remixes of Ampexian album cuts. It's either melancholic harmonics with choir voices sliding down the speakers like melted Dali clocks, or old-P73 click-hop that we've come to know and love. Buy it from Boomkat (digital or vinyl only) here.

May 26, 2009

Girls! Arse! Drink! Veckatimest!

Do watch the video for my favourite song of the moment, Two Weeks. This dazzling piece was masterfully directed by Patrick Daughters, who also did Feist's annoying but watchable 1234. It was pointed out to me by the absolutely smashing chap and Greenroom exhibition co-conspirator Heroes Of Lego.

Every day I bathe in electronica. I shampoo with bleeps and glitches. I rub analogue ambience into my scalp because I'm worth it.

So when this month's big new Warp Records release is from -- shock -- a guitar band like Grizzly Bear, my skin goes wrinkly and my bubble bath goes flat.

But, actually, I don't mind Grizzly Bear's new LP Veckatimest (mentioned previously on this blog here), from which Two Weeks was taken. In fact, I'm thinking of using this instead of my usual conditioner.

Veckitamest shimmers with melody. It cuts reverberating arcs from simple sun-drenched songs to psychedelia-infused experimentalism. It is, quite simply, the best album to buy right now if you like Animal Collective and Panda Bear.

The video, incidentally, uses no special effects. Grizzly Bear glow from within like human fridges. It's a pretty cool party trick, although the hum gets annoying after a while.

May 23, 2009

Five new IDM electronica releases I intend to purchase in the near and not so near future

Wisp: The Shimmering Hour. Not an actual wisp; that would be silly. It wouldn't stay in my CD player for a start. It would just float off and diffuse into my room's usual noxious haze of dust, fart gas and the terrible, belching smoke from burning puppies.

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest. Not an actual gizzly bear. I suspect that would be inadvisable. I have no immediate intentions to go bear buying. Apart from white ones: you know, the ones with translucent fur that live on overzise mint sweets.

Biosphere: Wireless. Not an actual biosphere. Fitting all the world's ecosystems into your mp3 player may void your warranty, and in any case all that moisture would way you down when getting chased off Eamon Holmes' property. Oops. I wasn't meant to mention that.

Clark: Totems Flare. Not an actual clerk. That would be dull. I mean, if you wanted someone to take notes, perhaps do a bit of filing for my campaign for 'twazmuppet' to become the most common word in the English language, then maybe I'd buy a clerk.

Jega - Variance. Not an actual... um... at this point, the whole premise of this piece deflates like an airship in a needlework shop. *backs away from blog slowly*

May 20, 2009

Murcof's amorphous star clouds at Futuresonic 2009

Murcof's latest gig was so good, my eyes were crushed underfoot and smeared all over the wrecked remains of my eardrums.

The abstract minimalism of Mexico's premier glitch artist was accompanied by specially commissioned visuals from AntiVJ at the opening night of Manchester's Futuresonic festival.

And what visuals. A ball of shining dust throbbed and burst into an insectoid terror, at one point exploding with such ferocity, half the audience phoned their mummy. A grand vista of the universe, falling like fairy dust on the wide-eyed punters, swelled into an intense three dimensional world of amorphous galactic star clouds. Blue vertical lines harped and bowed, harsh squares graphed across the width of the stage, and dozens of hearts lurched as a black hole threatened to explode from a seething cloud of white light.

Murcof (photo by Conny Fornbäck) were no less impressive.Death Of A Forest's horror-film chords drew cold fingers up spines (copyright: every horror writer ever). Cosmos 1 or 2, whichever one it was, sounded organic and reedy then thundered to a grandious crescendo. The thin, snapping beats of Cielo and Mir sliced through the RNCM's pristine sound system, and each bass drum kicked harder and deeper than the last.

Support came from Johan Johnannsson, who I could take or leave with his basic string quartet / piano / loops set-up, and Denis Jones, who bristled with beardy beauty as he delivered a folktronica set that was simplistic in intention but full of complex twitches and layered samples.

May 17, 2009

Boom boom shit: the Black Eyed Peas get jacked by poultry

Although I have Underworld's (pictured) comical house masterpiece Mmm Skyscraper I Love You blasting from my JVC boombox, I can't shake the lyrics of the new Black Eyed Peas single from my mind.

For a bit of electro pop puff, the Peas have thrown in a lot of lyrics. They talk of poultry jacking Fergie's style. They tell of carelessly stepping on leprechauns. And for a song that will be exclusively bought by one-year-olds, there's an awful lot of "shitting".

Sing these lyrics along to any track you wish. It works.

Gotta get that, gotta get that, gotta get that,
Gotta get, that that that, that that
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (that)
Boom boom boom (that)
Boom boom boom
Boom boom boom

Yo, I got the hit that beat the block
You can get that bass overload
I got the that rock and roll
That future flow
That digital spit
Next level visual shit
I got that (Boom boom boom)
How the beat bang (Boom boom boom)

I like that boom boom pow
Them chickens jackin’ my style
They try copy my swagger
I’m on that next shit now
I’m so 3008
You so 2000 and late
I got that boom boom boom
That future boom boom boom
Let me get it now

Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (that)
Boom boom boom (that)
Boom boom boom
Boom boom boom

I’m on the supersonic boom
Y’all hear the space ship zoom
When when I step inside the room them girls go apeshit, uh
Y'all stuck on super A-shit
They're no fast stupid a bit
I’m on that HD flat
This beat go boom boom bat

I’m a beast when you turn me on
Into the future cybertron
Harder, faster, better, stronger
Sexy ladies extra longer, cuz
We got the beat that bounce
We got the beat that pound
We got the beat that 808
That the boom boom in your town

People in the place
If you wanna get down
Put your hands in the air drop the beat now

Yep yep, I be rockin’ them beats (Yep, yep)
I be rockin’ them beats (Yep yep yep, yep)

Here we go, here we go
Satellite radio
Y’all getting hit with (Boom boom)
Beats so big I’m steppin on leprechauns
Shittin’ on y’all you with the (Boom boom)
Shittin’ on y’all you with the (Boom boom)
Shittin’ on y’all you with the..
This beat be bumpin’ bumpin’
This beat go boom boom

Let the beat rock
Let the beat rock
Let the beat r...

This beat be bumpin’ pumpin’
This beat go boom boom

I like that boom boom pow
Them chickens jackin’ my style
They try copy my swagger
I’m on that next shit now
I’m so 3008
You so 2000 and late
I got that boom boom boom
That future boom boom boom
Let me get it now

Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (Gotta get that)
Boom boom boom (that)
Boom boom boom (that)
Boom boom boom
Boom boom boom

May 14, 2009

10 tips for digging for records

I had posted this to my Twitter page, but it was too good not to plonk here too.

Northern Comfort wrote a handy guide to sifting your way through a well-stocked record shop. Read it here.

It ranges from the truly geeky ("check your dates") to one of the reasons why I got into dance music in the first place: cover art.

"Obviously. If a record sleeve has a massive picture of 8 black dudes with afros looking crazy I’m going to check it, regardless of the dates or artist’s names. If it’s a homemade cover, check it out. And if anywhere on the record there’s a picture of a drum, probably a good idea too."
I wouldn't be into Sabres Of Paradise if I hadn't been wowed by the graffiti cover of Theme (pictured).

And point eight advises against buying a track because a snatch of rhythm buries its way underneath your skin. Look beyond the loop. I wish I had read this many years ago. I have so many unwise purchases, I deserve to be plastered all over the front page of the Daily Telegraph.

May 12, 2009

Hungarian cattle explosion: comparing Venetian Snares

Shall I compare Venetian Snares to a summer's day? He art less lovely and less temperate. Rough winds do shake from his bassbins of doom.

Bill "Will-I-Am" Shakespeare was a massive fan of percussion destructionist Venetian Snares, and no doubt has bought his latest album Filth on the basis of my li'l preview back in March.

Here is what other blog-botherers are saying about the album.

Tiny Mix Tapes lauds Filth as "the most accessible Venetian Snares record he has released since the critically lauded Hungarian album" and claims Mr Venetian Snares "is to Pendulum what Eminem is to Asher Roth." I'm not too sure who Asher Roth is, but guessing from the simile, his his teeth glint more than the Olsen twins' cold, glassed-over eyes.

Noiz says Filth is "interesting", while Alt Sounds finds the album "more confusing than chinese writing"and challenges you to "try dancing to this album without looking like a complete and utter mental."

The Sonic Minefield has a way with words which could earn them a Fat Roland badge of honour.  The site declares one beat "donk worthy", while another is a "low-slung dirty groove that gets shit swaggering like a Windowlicker-esq sex scene in a run down industrial estate."

Wrap your ears around Venetian Snares' Filth and let me know what you think in the comments section. The best, most poetic description wins a two week holiday ideally suited to Mr Snares' music - in other words, a fortnight buried under six feet of charred beef in a Hungarian cattle explosion.

May 10, 2009

Like New Years Day to the sound of Autechre

My recent drunken dabbles into the world of art included We Were Spending Precious Time, when some slightly stalky art types followed me around Manchester and documented my journey in an exhibition.

Part of the deal was me writing text for the exhibition, which was cut up and displayed amid a woven route on the wall of Manchester's Green Room.

Here, for the first time is that text. This is exclusive. You may want to write the word 'exclusive' inside a ten pointed star in red marker pen on your computer screen. That's how exclusive this is.

My journey traced recollections of profound silences in music events...

Three music events with three silences: one terrifying, one reflective, and one with its own strange beauty.

We started in the cold desolation of Jersey Street, where I recalled a terrifying clubbing experience at Sankey's Soap. Some, um, medication sent my body temperature into a dangerous downward spiral: the sweaty electro faded to silence as my vision tunnelled and I faced my own mortality. I recovered with the help of a friend and I was dancing again by the end of the night, but it scared me; silence has never felt so lonely, especially in the crowded vitality of Sankey's.

Track this journey: Why not play Modeselektor's 2000007 with the volume turned down?

Our next stop was Nexus Art Cafe on Dale Street. The Christian community Sanctus 1 meets here, and I am their resident DJ. I bed their services with ambient electronica, so whatever is happening -- people chatting, people taking communion, candles being lit -- there is a constant soundtrack of Boards Of Canada, Global Communication and the like. Silence in churches can be filled with fidgety echoes, but when I fade the music in Sanctus 1, the silence seems pronounced and, I hope, more reflective.

Track this journey: Why not play Susumu Yokota's Grass, Tree And Stone with the volume turned down?

We finished our journey on the balcony of Dukes 92 in Castlefield, where I remembered the days after the IRA bomb. The council threw a huge party here, with 808 State, fireworks and 20,000 party people. Other areas of town were windowless and wasted. The empty streets had a strange silence filled with unattended shop alarms -- like New Years Day to the sound of Autechre. The sparkles of glass strewn over concrete made Piccadilly Gardens more beautiful than it will ever be again.

Track this journey: Why not play 808 State's Cubik with the volume turned down?

May 8, 2009

Stick it up your bum and it plays a little tune: what I think of AGF/Delay's new album

Breaking news. Electronic music fell foul of swine flu when Four Tet cancelled a gig.

Mexico City has been, if you weren't already aware, a ghost town. The Pasaje America venue was to play host to a Four Tet gig, but it has been closed like everywhere else.

If you spot any symptoms of the pig disease killing off electronica, please get in touch, In the meantime, please don't let your mp3s go near any other mp3s, and if your music makes you sweaty, consult a doctor.

Personally, I don't like the look of AGF/Delay's recent album Symptoms (pictured). In this case, the Symptoms include light-touch electronica, plodding minimalism and vocals that waver between ethereal and sultry

Although there's a track called Outbreak, there's no chance of sweats with this album; it barely steps beyond walking pace. The whole thing leaves me a little cold (and shivery). Vladislav Delay should stick to writing songs for the Scissor Sisters.

Enough meanderings. I'll let you quarantine your CD player. In the meantime, I'm off to stick a themometer up my bum.

May 6, 2009

Two Fingers drops seven shades of gangsta

Hip hop experimentalist Two Fingers has "dropped" a "phat" one.

As I explained in this post in January, Two Fingers is blunted beat bossman Amon Tobin and fellow Brazilian beat-botherer Doubleclick. Their debut album, also called Two Fingers, hit the "streets" in April.

And it's a right cracking listen. Er... I mean... it's a "sick" record.

The presence of MC Sway (pictured above with Doubleclick and Tobin) and grimesters like Durrty Goodz leads you to think this could be a two dimensional hip hop offering. In the hands of the Tobin, however, that was never going to happen.

Instead, among the lightning rhymes, the Two Fingers album is a glistening techno monster that tunnels to the scuzzy depths of synth buggery (on Keman Rhythm and Bad Girl, for example) and claws its way to the hilly heights of progressive big beat (on That Girl) and ketamine-drenched Timbalandia* (on Not Perfect).

It feels like we've got back the Amon Tobin of old, apart from two inescapable factoids.

Factoid A: Amon never went away. Factoid B: it's not old Tobin at all. Thanks to Doubleclick, this album is truly modern, gloriously harsh and beautifully experimental. Or, in the dialect of the "hood", it's somewhat "brap", seven shades of "gangsta" and it most certainly has got "da goods".


* noun. In the style of producer Timbaland.

May 4, 2009

A scanner, starkly

Take a few moments to feast your puffy eyes on this video from Manchester photographer David Dunnico.

David tootled around Manchester taking stark shots of the city's CCTV cameras. He's set it to a spooky soundtrack, which got me wondering what Scanner's up to these days.

Some of the civil liberty debate directs its polemic at lifeless machines spying our every move. This video reminds us that beyond the cameras, there are real people. Watching. Staring. Judging.


May 1, 2009

Monthly mop-up: top class joy, too many leggings and the theme tune to the Equalizer

Here are some scabby flakes of putrid bloggery that I didn't have time to squeeze into my blog in April.

As a proud Mancunian, I like the look of Top Class Manager. Lesley Gilbert, the widow of music manager Rob Gretton, created this book from notebooks, posters, letters, and studio notes, all chronicling the short history of Joy Division. I think it came out some time ago, but I've only just noticed it - here.

Speaking of the holy land, the Manchester International Festival is approaching fast. Uber-techno-mecha-gods Kraftwerk will appear with Steve Reich, while Elbow will strike up with the Hallé Orchestra. I once performed with the Hallé, but that's for another post. Oh and the Same Teens will be doing one of their gigs for, um, teens. I found myself at one of their events once, and everyone, absolutely everyone, was wearing leggings.

Time for a B12 update. (I feel like I am a TV presenter updating you on the longest marathon in the world.) The legendary techno label is issuing lots of lovely old goodness on a series of Archive albums. I last reported them when they released Volume 3. They're now up to Volume six of seven, which spans 1992 to 1994 - read more about the whole lot at Boomkat.

Finally, I've been working on a piece called Bands From The Last Few Years That Sound Like Orbital But Aren't Orbital. I'm struggling. I'm trying to avoid obvious bands from 'back in the day' like Leftfield that Last FM or iTunes would obviously point out. So I've got Mike Paradinas, Boards of Canada, Plaid, maybe Bola, the Crystal Castles track Untrust Us, and the theme tune to the Equalizer. Long Range doesn't count because it's an Orbital spin-off. It's not a good list, is it? I thought this piece would float, but it seems to be drowning. If you can help, throw me a lifeline in the comments.