This blog and my musical pursuits have been far too quietlately. All that bloody politics stuff. I mean, really! After thedisappointment of not being able to review my first ever Playground Weekenderlast weekend because the damn thing was cancelled due to flooding, I’ll bewriting on the Future Music Festival and the DFA after party for ResidentAdvisor and will post here.
In the meantime, here’s a little mix I put together withsome recently purchased tracks.
TRACKLIST
Whitney Houston – Dub Will Save The Day
Behling & Simpson – Left Behind
Discoshit – Strike A Pose!
The M. E. B. – M5-M6 (Brennan Green Remix)
Young Edits – Cloud Busting
Giorgio Luceri – More Heart (Feat. Indr)
FCL – Back (Arto Mwambe Remix)
Genius Of Time – Houston We Have A Problem
Storm Queen – Look Right Through (Art Department Remix)
Maceo Plex – Under The Sheets
DJ’s Rule – Get Into The Music
Kenny “Jammin” Jason with “Fast” Eddie Smith – Can U Dance
Boys Noize – Adonis
Kolsch – Opa
Rrose – Waterfall
Satori – Satori (Nu Skool Sonic Mix)
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My latest DJ Mix.

Tracklist

Tom Trago – Use Me
Floating Points – Vacuum Boogie
Motor City Drum Ensemble – Raw Cuts #5
Coco Steel & Lovebomb – Feel It
Jago – I’m Going To Go (Frankie Knuckles Instrumental Plant Mix)
Justus Köhncke – Timecode (Maxi Version)
Star You Star Me – Vega Cruises
Submantra – Fashion feat. Adam Clay (Dub Mix)
Sterling Void – Serve it Up (Extended Original Instrumental Version)
Rodriguez Jr. – Pandora
DJ Joe T. Vanelli Featuring Csilla – Play With The Voice (Original Free Voice Mix)
Yennah – Dyadic Shift (Audiomontage Bonus Beats)
Burnski – Sometimes Takes Longer
Jori Hulkkonen – The Other Side of Time
Mr. Monday – Future
DJ Yoko – Flamenco – Satoshi Fumi Geome-trick Mix
Furry Phreaks – Soothe (feat. Terra Deva)
My latest mix which is a bit 80s/90s in flavour.
Tracklist
Move D feat. DJ Laté – Theo
Sven VT – Ever Since You Came
Lee Curtiss – The Disco Dub
Das Moth – Moon – Jacques Renault Remix
Neville Watson – Time To Lose Control
Leroy Hanghofer – Pin – Jacques Lu Cont Mix
Helium Robots – Long Lost
Evan Evans – Repitition – John Daly Remix
Patrice Scott – 2000 Black
Hard Ton – Marilyn – Zoe Xenia Remix
Liberty City – If You Really Love Someone – MURK Dubs Again
Darkman – Annihilating Rhythm – Wild Pitch Mix
Kenlou – Bangin’ – Bangin’ Beats
Armando – 100% Of Disin’ You
Julian ‘Jumpin’ Perez – Jack Me Til I Scream – Jumpin’ Mix
Cajmere Featuring Dajae – Brighter Days – Underground Goodie Mix
Cabin Fever – Lovemusic
Crystal Waters – 100% Pure Love
Chez Damier – Can U Feel It – Mk Dub
Storm Queen – Look Right Through – Vox
Maceo Plex – Vibe Your Love
Talk Talk – It’s My Life – Extended Mix

My latest review at Resident Advisor:

Future Classic presents Henrik Schwarz, Beck’s Festival Bar, 13.01.2011

Live techno has never been easy to pull off. It upsets the clubland habit of dancers only occasionally paying attention to the DJ as they lose themselves in music. And it’s this gap that, with some justly celebrated exceptions, live electronic acts have found difficult to bridge.

This was how I felt about Henrik Schwarz when he last toured Australia in late 2009. His show at Sydney’s Civic Hotel struck me as a bit of a greatest hits parade that lost focus and energy at the halfway mark, as though he’d run out of things to say. He substituted bombast for performance when he could have told a tale more clearly his own. It was fun, but nowhere near matching the emotiveness and subtlety of his productions.

To my surprise, his performance for Future Classic at this year’s Sydney Festival was a qualitative leap forward. In two-and-a-half hours he seemed able to tantalise as well as pummel, perhaps finding more room to manoeuvre in the expanded setting. Schwarz followed Nathan McLay‘s favourites-filled warm-up a little after 10:00 PM by opening with deep, thumping percussion before sliding into the Afro-tinged “I Exist Because of You,” detouring into the looped house of Tenaglia‘s “Equinox,” and revising Bill Withers into soulful techno. 

Unlike 2009, Schwarz wasn’t scared to deconstruct his sounds, with sizeable stretches of pulsating low-end, tripped-out hiss, acid squelch and abstract beats. Then it was more African chants (his recent remix of “Kuar”), an interlude of polka-esque frivolity and his rousing reworking of “Think Twice” by the Detroit Experiment, replete with a teasing extended breakdown.

This was just an entree, however, to a middle peak dominated by poppy vocals, including his own “Imagination Limitation” and hysteria-inducing remix of Michael Jackson‘s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” now intensified with a crunchy acidic bassline. For a moment, the school-night punters exceeded Schwarz’s own bouncily fervent stage presence with their excitement.

After the gates were thrown open for free entry at 11:30 PM, he dropped a more soulful and musical selection that included James Brown‘s “It’s a Man’s World,” his collaboration with Kuniyuki, “Once Again,” and the sublime atmospherics of Stateless‘s “Bloodstream.” Then it was time for a finale, which included his Innervisions collaboration “Where We At” and the modern Omar-Stevie classic “Feeling You.” 

If, in 2009, I had felt that Henrik Schwarz didn’t have enough to say, this time he delivered a complex and satisfying story. And even though he was given authorial rights for the night, he also drew us all in as willing protagonists in the narrative.

Photo by Win Jie

Resident Advisor have just put up my review of Tensnake‘s live show in Sydney last week:

Adult Disco presents Tensnake, Civic Hotel, 02.01.2011

Thank goodness for Future Classic, who have not only been championing Tensnake‘s sounds for longer than most in Sydney, but for also making sure his only appearance in the city was not going to be as fine print for the Field Day festival. So as everyone was stumbling toward the end of a long weekend dominated by bloated outdoor events and hastily slapped-together sideshows, here was a little breath of fresh air.

Already heaving when I arrived before midnight, the compact and sonically immaculate venue approached sardine can status as residents Nathan McLay and Chad Gillard built the tempo and feeling. They happily segued between lighter fare like the Dead Rose reconstruction of Gladys Knight‘s “Taste of Bitter Love,” freestyle-esque tracks like Ilija Rudman‘s “Time and Time,” and trippier sounds like Harvey‘s powerful take on “Rushing to Paradise.”

As Tensnake’s live setup awaited his arrival on stage at the scheduled starting time of 1 AM, a nervous Chad suddenly popped up asking if we’d seen where the star attraction had disappeared to. The problem was quickly rectified and raucous cheering drowned out the last record of the warm-up. Immediately Marco Niemerski was away with the boogiefied “Get It Right,” persisting with the slow build delivered by the residents.

Indeed, the first half of his hour-long set was about as wonderful a revisionist exercise in joyous, soulful, early ’80s disco atmospherics as you could hope for through a laptop and Akai controller arrangement. Once he dropped “Coma Cat” at the midway point of his set, though, the subtlety of what he was doing dissipated a little and we were served a more staccato selection of “big” tracks—a dark reconfiguration of “In The End (I Want You to Cry),” the pumping Glossy edit of “Burning Love,” the Foals‘ “Cassius” and finishing on his genre-crunching remix of “Reckless with Your Love.” It was all hands-in-the-air stuff, but seemed to come to a halt too quickly—a conclusion drawn hastily by about a third of the punters, who promptly headed for the door. 

This was a shame because, once they got over some missteps in trying to recapture the mood post-Tensnake, McLay and Gillard hit their straps with some cool tuneage. At what other club night can you hear Manolo‘s Celeda-sampling “The Answer” alongside old-fashioned disco-house and Kink‘s bleepy, acidic “E79” before some banging techno sliding into ’80s synth pop? Despite the thinning crowd, those who remained were rewarded with some nice eclecticism, even if the high quality parts were sometimes greater than the whole. 

For your listening pleasure, my latest mix to listen to or download:

Tracklist
Convertion – Sweet Thing
Prins Thomas – Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)
Ray Mang – Inner City Disco
Young & Company – Legs & Co – Pete Herbert & Dicky Trisco Edit
Al Usher – Gnanfou – Swag’s Gnanby Dub
Talking Heads – Heads – Cosmic Boogie Edit
Justin Vandervolgen – Sheebooyah
Ray Mang – Letcha Body Go
Hunee – Bobo
Kink & Neville Watson – Metropole
Neville Watson – Let Me Go
Sister Sledge – Lost In Music – The Revenge Rework
Justin Vandervolgen – The Clapping Song
Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam – Steve Lawler Remix
Sister Sledge – You Fooled Around

OR: THE SONAR DIARIES, PART FOUR


Night

So for those who have never been, what is Sonar By Night really like? Well, if you can imagine one of those massive aircraft-hangar-like exhibition halls where they hold car shows and the like, located in the ’burbs, filled with tens of thousands of wasted youth, with drink queues a mile long (first for your drink ticket and then the drink itself), bumper cars and food stalls, and a cheesy rave atmosphere…. well, there you have it. Except the quality of the music is always superior—straddling the cool end of current pop and EDM tastes as well as delving into the more experimental and obscure.

But like any festival, there is always too much time spent facing crowd crush to get between stages (luckily only three this year, whereas I seem to recall there were four when I first went), and making choices that mean you get to sample more than experience those acts you want to see. So here is my blow-by-blow account of the night I had, but there were so many other nights that could’ve been had.
First up I caught the end of Hot Chip, pushing their cheery pop-electronica sound in a slightly tougher and more dance-y direction than I was expecting. Following that I scooted over to check out Dubstep-meets-tech hero of the day, Joy Orbison. Tight mixing and interesting sounds, but with an MC who seemed to be unable to move much beyond “Hello Barcelona” and “This is Joy Orbison” in his vocal stylings.

Then it was off to catch the first bit of LCD Soundsystem’s set. James Murphy looked resplendently shaggy in a creased white suit and belted out favourites from Sound Of Silver and the new album like “Us v Them” and “Drunk Girls”. As I’m seeing LCD soon in Sydney I took the opportunity to check out the return of Richie Hawtin’s alter-ego Plastikman. Now this was clearly one for the fans, accompanied not just by a fantastic light show but a dedicated iPhone app that streamed track names and times and even BPMs! It was solid, dependable acid house and techno, but I’ve gotta say it washed over me a bit. As someone once sang, “Is That All There Is?”

Then it was off to see Barcelona’s John Talabot (not his real name—does anyone know who he really is?), whose sound would probably best be described as intense, trippy and distorted nu-disco. While he was only holding a relatively small crowd (a couple of thousand at most) this was interesting, emotive and trance-inducing DJing. Even when big, obvious disco samples rose in the mix there was a modern, techy edginess to them that was truly exciting (and groovy at the same time).

Back to see Dixon (of Berlin’s Innervisions label), I was very happy to see he was pushing the darker edge of his sound, with big tribal beats and techno influences—all very appropriate for 3.30am. And a great lead-in to Booka Shade, also playing darker and less euphoric than when I’ve seen them before.
But as 5.30am rolled around it was time to stumble out the door and look for the SonarPro bus promised to those of us with “accreditations”. But where the hell was it? Happily I took Option B and entered the very modern Metro station Europa I Fira. It was a fitting and humorous end to the night as many hundreds of truly wasted dancers sitting on the platform heard the first train of the morning approach, getting their feet and cheering as if they had just been hit with the end of a massive breakdown in the middle of an epic DJ set.

Day

After an incredibly heavy six-hour sleep (could the jetlag finally be banished?) I headed out for the CCCB to catch the one last Sonar By Day act I wanted to see—Detroit’s living legend Moodyman. Now this guy is an acquired taste. Last time I saw him, he performed behind a white sheet for the first 30 minutes of his set. This time it was a white towel draped over his head (pictured above). Characteristically, this was a performance that went well beyond playing records, with Mr Dixon Jr. engaging in between-track and during-track patter, much of it hilarious.

He started with a story about how the “lady at Customs” had looked at his records and said they were the biggest CDs she’d ever seen—and what sort of CD player does he own that plays them? And as if to prove the point one of the SL-1200s he was to play on had a fault and needed to be replaced, delaying the show by 10 minutes.

Now, trainspotting is not something you get to do at a Moodyman gig*; he tells you what most of the tracks are. And this being a daytime Sonar set, he stuck with a classic sound dominated by soul, funk, disco, new wave and some hip-hop. There were De La Soul and J DillaFred WesleyJames BrownBT ExpressThe ClashThe Whispers and even Nitzer Ebb. Finally he had to be prised off the decks after his all-too-brief 90 minutes, accompanied by the sunshine breaking through after a downpour in the early stages of his set. For all the tired, post-Sonar By Night refugees, this was the perfect metaphor for the way he’d lifted our spirits on a steamy afternoon.

*That said, he played the original track that Daniel Wang’s “Free Lovin” is based on—with the weird Afro instrumentation—or maybe it was Danny’s own version. Can anybody help?