Jan 05

Seelenluft-The Way We Go

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Seelenluft-The Way We Go

It’s worth noting (and a real shame) that distribution problems have meant this record flew undetected past the radar last year. It’s probably my number 1 album of 2004. So it’s only an undiscovered classic cos it never had a decent chance of being discovered. Rumour has it most of them are still stuck in a factory somewhere.

Like alot of 2004 records, The Way We Go is a sort of “super-pop”, existing in that space somewhere between disco-punk, electroclash, and rock music, which seems to drip with sex and glamour. It’s perhaps comparable to Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever.It’s also the sort of record that makes you invent genre names. For instance, I like to call “Mes Amis” acid-pop. And “Strings Of Silvercity” is like an electroclash sea shanty. The vocals throughout are absolutely bubblegum, seldom big but always clever.

The Way We Go is hyper-sophisticated but at the same time kooky, it’s super-sexy and fashionable but also vulnerable and wistful. In an alternate universe the entire world dances to this music! In this sense there’s a real Wizard of Oz feel to the whole thing, was “Silvercity” in Wizard of Oz? If so that makes alot of sense! Anyway, what’s more important is that as far as verse/chorus song based music goes (and in this case very very far, for once) this is one of the freshest, sexiest, coolest and downright best albums I think I’ve ever heard. If you have ever used the phrase dream-pop………………well then you know to go and buy this!

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Jun 04

Girls Aloud-The Show

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Girls Aloud-The Show
Tom may have already written about this, but we can call this a remix. Obviously when the initial rush subsides we will all be properly capable of analysing this record, in a measured and balanced way. Ugh!

The most striking thing about “The Show” is how it reinforces, for me, an idea which I think I gleaned from Morley somewhere or other. There’s a section in “Words and Music” where he is very verbose about Dr Dre’s productions and analyses them with some depth, and then concludes by saying “in other words, he is a cool motherfucker”. Dre’s beats, like ANY really tightly executed electronic beats, just reek of arrogance. There is something utterly uncompromising and unfair about those moments when production seems rock hard and untouchable. “Rubicon” has it, “Still Dre” has it, Vitalic has it, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” had it but it seems to have faded with time. “In Da Club” converted it into medicinal strength crack and sold millions without losing a scrap of its original dignity. And “The Show” has this swagger too, without a doubt.

Whether the girls themselves are aware of just what a beat they’ve been given is unclear, though the important thing is that they appear to know exactly what is going on. “The Show” is the suffocating force of consumer driven pop music at its ruthless best, it’s the girl pop “In Da Club”, a behemoth of a production which will soon cease to depend on any opinion or anything beyond its own swaggering existence. This record is the most instantaneous pop or dance moment of 2004, the charts are its bitch.

Oct 03

My new blog

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My new blog

Sep 03

Archigram – “Carnival”

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Being a house obsessive means records are constantly jostling in your memory to be the ones which remind you of great nights out. There must be about 100 I absolutely love, and 100 more I dance to and enjoy. It’s always difficult to decide on a favourite. Impossible, maybe. The fact that dance music is such a massive ocean only makes it harder. I like some records because they are deep in the mix style belters, and I don’t expect friends to understand when I stick them on the stereo at 7 on a Friday evening (though sometimes they do, and for a few minutes our little room is like any nightclub).

The great tragedy about Carnival by Archigram, is that it was released in a year when hacks were more concerned with talking about dance music’s demise than listening to records or going out. It’s understandable, nightclubs can get pretty noisy, I once had a beer spilt on me, disgusting. I firmly believe that if 2002 was 1997 Carnival by Archigram would not only be considered a great record, it would be considered one of the greatest.

Carnival is a record for people, you don’t need to like dance music to get it, though if you don’t a few listens may be needed with your stereo turned up to 11. It’s a record which imitates the house mix in its own series of waves and undulations, from the gently rippling bassline to those tingling filters in the background which seem to make the track one endless musical climax. And the final straw is one gigantic trumpet stab doused all over the track, which can only prompt the listener to pump their fists, or jump in the air, or even play air guitar.

So it builds, and it falls, and it builds, and it endlessly builds and falls, eventually falling back into the trumpet riff again. It’s an intensely subtle record, it’s also one of the biggest “tunes” I know. How it pulls off the two is something of a miracle, I’m unsure any record since DJ Rolando’s epic Jaguar has walked this line with such verve. It’s this nonchalant feat which means Carnival makes the fan a critic and the critic a fan, with both trying to figure out why they’re dancing.


Aug 03

Capleton-Lock Up

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Capleton-Lock Up
It’s impossible to hear the vocal from Addictive by Truth Hurts without alarm bells tearing through your brain. So when Capleton manage to work the beat into something altogether more booty shaking, it’s quite a feat. Dancehall is something of a new buzz for me, as anyone who’s been reading ILM will have noticed. I guess it’s got more of an urgency to it than hiphop, and also I bloody love dancing. Lock Up makes me dream of spinning a few CDs in a club full of mates and pulling this as an ace-card, fuck dance lets jump.

Feeling quite stultified lately, possibly by paid writing having ruined my confidence, so maybe I need to get back on my feet where it all started. Or maybe this will make me worse, either way the real point of this post is to say congratulations to all involved in the FT relaunch, if I could make a living out of writing online I would. Tom once wrote his reasons for not writing for pay, I tried to find that piece and failed. But certainly paid writing simply feels like a way to listen to records and get paid for me, rather than any form of communication or art. If people are going to pay me to write then that’s great, but the chances of anything I do meaning anything to me are slim, as far as I can see.

The reality is I have to deal with editors and sub-editors and editors assistants who have no idea why someone wouldn’t like rock music. In these parts it’s easy to forget that some people automatically assume the only way you can’t love indie is by not hearing it due to the corrupt radio filling our ears with dop and pance and all the rest of the “superficial” stuff. When is it ok to have an axe to grind? If I don’t like a rock record I’m given to review, and tear it apart accordingly, the band get a bad review in a magazine with 20, 000 circulation. What about when someone doesn’t like a dance record? Someone ALREADY doesn’t fucking like a dance record, any bloody dance record.

Dance records don’t even reach the point of being torn apart by some wanker, they’re already not popular enough with the writers to get reviewed in the first place. The point being, my prejudices or axes to grind have some potentially productive end result. But it’s no life really, hacking away against an establishment which can never understand the point of the hacking in the first place. You either conform and take small satisfaction from reviewing records you love, or you give up. Either way one thing is clear, writing for money requires you to accept the utter dominance of rock music in every single thing you do. And it’s enough to fuel the fire even more. There’s something greatly ironic in the fact that those who champion silly and goofy and happy music end up the most embittered by trying to do so, and those championing the cult of the serious and the miserable are permanently self satisfied.

The beat goes on.

May 03

Linus Loves-“The Terrace”

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Linus Loves-“The Terrace”
It’s actually May. Difficult to believe. Have I been out less or have there been less good records to rave about/to?

Either way I’ve been mostly listening to my favourites from last year, aswell as compilations from last year I’ve just managed to pick up this year. Part of my problem might be actually remembering the names of the songs. I listened to Pete Tong’s show on Tuesday. I usually skip to songs where I know the producer, but somehow I heard Linus Loves and instantly recognised it as the song which was the highlight of last Saturday.

It’s very 80s for starters, not electro though. It’s a two part record, the first is an insanely catchy 80s synth loop. I haven’t heard a loop as beautiful since last November or October. The second part is a sparkly piano bridge which only exists to tease you into going crazy when the first loop comes back. Most of the big tunes so far this year have been latin style, and it’s all well and good but it’s been done ten thousand times. It’s becoming increasingly clear that electro and the french house mafia are far and away the best resources for house music to draw on. Having said that there are a whole glut of homogenised “lets remove the camp” electro house records this year, which are a waste of time. The Terrace is the best house record of 2003 so far, by a long long way.

I never doubt my doubts will be dispelled at some point, but forget how that feels almost daily.

Mar 03

Andrea Doria-Bucci Bag

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Andrea Doria-Bucci Bag
House music’s Bilderberg Group met in Miami last week and you can bet that Kissinger (Morillo) and Clinton (Fatboy) will have decided that this track is going to be one of the biggest of the year. It’s certainly one of the biggest electro-house tracks to date, and simultaneously one of the least camp. Bucci Bag is an obvious obvious record. The problem is that it’s only easy to dismiss it as that once or twice. The beat is similar to Silver Screen Shower Scene, though most of the rhythmic hoopla of the latter gives way for a gigantic 4/4 beat with every machine in the studio growling behind it. That wouldn’t be enough though, the real clincher for Bucci Bag is the sample. It rambles on for a while about fake designer clothes (or something, who cares really) and then as the beat drops out the vocal suddenly announces “and I am rrrrrready to rock!”, cue drink spilling and pogoing for the rest of the year.

The eternal trouble with this kind of track is that, while it’s easy to know the idea is about as original as showering in water, it’s still impossible not to be taken in by it. I have no doubt that this equation is the reason house music will never “die”, and the reason talk of a crisis was always slightly loopy. As long as there are camp voices to sample, throwaway cliches to use as the sucker punch for giant childrens tv fx loops, and Miami Music Conferences to tell us what to like, then everything is cool.

Mar 03

Audio Bullys-We Don’t Care

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Audio Bullys-We Don’t Care
So this is house music for hooligans? I guess the wall of aggressive looping guitar is a strong case for that. The vocal too is menacing; “there’s things I haven’t told you, I go out late at night, and if I was to tell you, you’d see my different side”.

But the truth is the Audio Bullys are a dance act, and menace seldom co-exists with such a groove. The very fact that We Don’t Care has vocals makes it less menacing by default than a decent percentage of dance music, and more cartoon in itself. I don’t know how other people are recieving the Audio Bullys. I’ve yet to see any violence erupt at my discotheque. This doesn’t surprise me.

What I do know is that We Don’t Care is generally recieved with the same kind of euphoria as most other house records which chart at 14 are in packed clubs. The chorus is anthemic, there’s no doubting that, it’s the kind everyone begins to scream along to, safe in the knowledge that the sound system removes any need for singing ability. It’s a moment of testimony if anything. Ecstacy, you see, is something of a secret (not secret) little club. I’ve often ran into someone, in some social situation far removed from the psychoville that is the dancefloor, and had to simply say “good night on Saturday eh?” with a wink or smile.

The important thing is, these people know. And I know what they’ve been up to too.

When I go to College, things are different. I generally don’t even bother with Mondays, if you’ve got no sleep Saturday and drank much too much your brain has that smoking battlefield effect going on. When I do make it in, I try to spend as little time there as possible. Social events my class and friends organise seem to float by me. I have no interest, and that’s all there is to it. I go to seminars and say nothing, or say too much, one of two extremes. I’d imagine I come across as something of a dick to all but a few people. And as obvious as it may seem that’s where that We Don’t Care chorus grabs my attention. It’s 3, or 4, or 5 and the DJ plays it and as the process of losing myself continues I think of it as a nice piece of rhythmic reason for my lack of enthusiasm for all things 2nd year Journalism. And maybe it’s the same for everyone else who feels as though they have a secret life, for every guy lying to his girlfriend or parents or simply realising they can’t really “get it”.

After all secrets don’t have to be dark. There are things I’ve never told you, I go out late at night, and if I was to tell you, you’d see my different side. This one’s for my parents eh?

Jan 03

Electric 6-Danger! High Voltage! (Les Rhythmes Digitales Thin White Duke Remix)

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Electric 6-Danger! High Voltage! (Les Rhythmes Digitales Thin White Duke Remix)

When I was younger and danced less I think at this point in my life if I was keen on finding a song for a specific feeling (I’m not) I’d have listened to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris doing “We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning”. But I’m older, I care less, and I certainly dance more. Parsons and Harris did a bit of a confessional;”We know it’s wrong to let this fire burn between us, we’ve got to stop this wild desire in me and in you”. But this lyric sounds tired itself, that’s the point I guess, it’s the ashes of an already doomed relationship which refuses to just go out.

Danger! High Voltage! is also a song about seeing someone you shouldn’t, but the difference is the Electric 6 are revelling in it. It’s the sound of two people who are downright mystified by the connection between them but can’t stop announcing it either. “Don’t you want to know why we keep startin’ fires?” You bet I do! “It’s my desire! It’s my desire!” Hey! that could be it! And all the while the sparks are flying, and it really is dangerous because there’s no Parsons style guilt here. Neither person cares and ultimately something is going to fucking explode and somebody is going to end up hurt. The Electric 6 and I guess myself say “who cares”.

Dec 02

Thomas Bangalter and DJ Falcon – “So Much Love To Give”

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I know! I know I’ve made some massive claims for this record just about everywhere, not least on The Compass and ILM. But lets get less personal on this bitch and more musical. It strikes me now that So Much Love To Give actually sounds like when a DJ leaves the box and leaves something looping and the whole night is over but kind of jars and stays alive for an extra 3 minutes. It’s kind of a real blurry dream sequence thing, and of the two times I have heard this record out in a club one of them really worked in this way. Jon Carter, November 2nd, he’s a DJ who really does avoid the hooks and just fire it out, something which means he’s a real fanbase DJ. A DJ most people get to like by seeing him at a festival or randomly 3 times and realising he blew the place up each time. Anyway this particular night I think he played harder than ever, Phil Kieran’s My House Is Your House, the poppiest tune was Underworld-Rez/Cowgirl (nice!) and then after all this really crazed banging stuff he just dropped So Much Love To Give. About 2 hours of dance energy just dissipates into love ricocheting around the room, it really is just a fucking pendulum effect, a record that’s the background music while you take stock of the myriad of shit around you which made you have a wicked night out.