Shit, life is good again. I have no more work to do for ten weeks, so I'm free to use this blog to mindlessly emote about robotic music instead of bleating on insufferably about my stupid essay titles. Wooh. So yeah, if I don't fall asleep, this is going to be a long and unforgiving post. I'm talking lots of tunes, lots of self-indulgent anecdotes and a crucial joie de vivre that I've been lacking in recent weeks. Bum.
I received a fantastic head injury last week, which means throbbing techno has been low on my list of recuperative priorities...Celebrating the end of my long, embattled term, I got tremendously and childishly pissed (as you do). Around 3am, I'd already tried to make myself sick a few times (to no avail - I wanted vomit and I got astringent, whisky-dried phlegm. It happens), and realized that unless I got something solid down me I was probably going to die of self-generated nausea (for once, my innards were too volatile even to hold down a kebab). So I told myself, get your fucking shit together, get home and make a bacon sandwich. I got up to the kitchen, turned on the grill and waited for my bacon to sizzle. About twenty-five minutes passed, by which point I was just staring, with one eye closed, at the plug socket to which the fridge was connected. Snapping out of it (which seems inaccurate, 'cos I was very much still in 'it'), I rejoiced in the fact that my bacon would be done. Of course, wrenching open the door of the grill, it quickly became apparent that I'd neglected to put any bacon in there, and instead had just filled the kitchen with noxious black smoke. Error. At which point I knocked my own glasses off my head, and accidentally stomped on them. If you knew how I blind I was, you'd realize what a mistake this was. I managed to achieve just enough focus to realize that the frame was fucked, but the lenses were unsmashed and intact - the best kind of pince-nez injury. Unfortunately, God, joker that he is, seemed to have decided that not only my specs would be getting injured that night; as I walked out onto the landing I forgot that there was a staircase ahead of me; before I knew it I was falling spectacularly through the air, down the stairs, upside down, legs akimbo, all that. I was very, very drunk, and it happened very quickly, but I remember an intense moment of consciousness mid-fall, when I realized that I had a choice between smashing my face against the wall or carrying on falling and risking the breakage of my neck. Consummate survivalist that I am, I chose smashing my face against the wall. I remember hearing the sound of impact, and thinking, that's not a sound I ever want to hear again. I groaned loudly for five minutes, then passed out for ten minutes (or so I think), before managing to crawl to my bed where I awoke seven hours later, knowing vaguely that something bad had happened. I was naturally very hungover, so when I felt my head throb, I thought nothing of it. Then it all came back...The broken glasses, the spectacular tumble. I went to the mirror and took a good look - and there it is, one side of my face liberally, extensively bruised. I look like someone's smacked me repeatedly with a hot iron. But you know, it's novel, and it kinda makes the most of my cheekbones, so you know...
God. That was hugely self-indulgent. But you know, I've been busy, so I feel all my recent entries have been grimly cursory and to-the-point, and I want to make reparations. But let's get to the music. Right now I'm listening to the Metro Area album; if you don't own it, for God's sake get your act together. It's now deleted in the UK, not sure what its worldwide availability is, but Phonica have a few copies in at the mo', so if you have fourteen squid to spare, you could do a hell of a lot worse than fling 'em at that. Jesus, I spent that much on cigarettes yesterday. I can sort of remember when/why I got into Metro Area (pictured above left). Before I knew Puffin as a mate, back when he worked at Imperial Records, and I was still an unremitting indie/trip-hopper (Christ) kid unhealthily preoccupied with Wilco and Definitive Jux, I was slowly being seduced by the in sound from way out (Black Strobe, Tiefschwarz and so on - I think the last ever issue of the by then painfully erratic Jockey Slut - R.I.P. one of the finest magazines ever - was very influential in this regard). Every time I went into the shop (which was, like, every day) Puffin would recommend the latest Metro Area EP to me (#5 - 'Nerves'/'Proton Candy'). Considering how close to my heart that 12" now is, it's hard to imagine a time when that was a sound I wasn't familiar with, a time when I could put the tune on, sorta think it was alright, but not really think it was quite for me. Of course, Puffin kept popping it in my listening rack, I kept giving it a brisk spin, and then suddenly, one day, it all became clear. I bought the fucker, and I've never looked back. It's beautiful music which rewards a love, and knowledge, of music - brazenly funky, infinitely referential, insanely melodic; makes me think of summer sun, youth and vitality and that feeling at 5.30am when you're chewing your face off and you think the night is over and that you'll never think straight again but then someone puts something on the stereo which is exactly exactly exactly what you want to hear though you would never've thought of it yourself and suddenly you feel high again and everyone's grinning and jiving and you think maybe - just maybe - you might never come down (bollocks, of course). And, while we're at it, maybe also that feeling when the sun is out and its the morning-after-the-night-before but you kind of feel with it, and you've fixed yourself up a little bit and you're just strutting to the local shop to buy some food and Copella fruit juice and you're still drunk enough to think that girls are checking you out, and your cigarette tastes really fucking splendid and so on and so on...You know, it's that good. It's almost impossible to select highlights, you really need to hear it all if you haven't already, but for a quick fix, I give you what I take to be two of Darshan & Morgan's finest moments (I exclude 'Miura' 'cos it's so good and reasonably famous that if you haven't heard it you just need to lay out some cashmoney and rectify that sorry fact- just grab it off itunes or summat, at the least): 'Nerves' from #5 and the immaculate 'Caught Up'. I wasn't big on the last EP, #6 - 'Honey Circuit' was cool, but not quite of the same stature as the older stuff, not as breezily chunky(?). You know, M&D are really fine, fine producers. God bless 'em.
Metro Area - Nerves // Environ
Metro Area - Caught Up // Environ
As you may have gathered from our recent charts, both Carnage and I were more than a little disappointed with the 12" remix pack of tracks from Drowning in a Sea of Love, Nathan Fake's debut LP for Border Community. Even Fairmont's effort on 'Long Sunny' (I fucking love Fairmont) - supposedly the most club-friendly of the mixes - was nuttin' but a straightforward tech-house effort with insufficient low-end beef to rock anything but the most far-gone and careless (that's different to care-free) of dancefloors. That lack of beefiness worked a treat on 'Gazebo' - I hate Sebastian Leger's tougher version - but not here. The only re-version which tickled my fancy was the re-building of 'Charlie's House' by Apparat, who thanks to his album with Ellen Allien and a steady aggregate of forward-thinking releases on Shitkatapult, is fast becoming an A-lister in our fickle world. I think the problem with the DIASOL mixes is that all the commissioned artists were trying desperately to avoid sounding like Holden's mix of 'The Sky Was Pink', and in that very effort sorta lost their way completely...Apparat was the only one to absorb this pressure and make something new-sounding, full of lush BC pads and effects, but anchored by a dislocated bass throb to take us out of the nu-prog ghetto and have us making unusual shapes on the dancefloor (and golly, we need new shapes). TAPE applauds you, Apparat. Anyway, what of Fake's album itself? Much has been made of the boy's acknowledged debt to Boards of Canada, Godspeed you black emperor!, and My Bloody Valentine (I mean, how MBV is the LP's title??), and I for one therefore approached the album with some caution - after all, it's not going to be better than Millions Now Living Will Never Die, is it? Anyway, I found myself listening to 'Grandfathered' last night and, yes, I was rather taken with its pitched-down, chummy and melodic psychedelia...It made me think of summer; the days are getting longer, the temperature is rising, and pretty soon I'll be lying in an Oxford garden off my face on mushrooms requiring something to tickle my senses that's just a little less frenetic than the breakneck electro-house that is my daily bread and butter. Well, along with Villalobos, Lindstrom and all the other music with tripped-out sensibilities that I usually only encounter when e'd up or sober, I realize now that I will be turning to Drowning in a Sea of Love - 'cos there's summat wonderfully pastoral going on....
Nathan Fake - Grandfathered // Border Community
Just make sure there's a Holden remix on your next 12", young Nathan.
Along with the mild guarantee of high temperatures, flagrant drug abuse and a percipient lift in national mood, this summer sees the arrival of....THE MOTHERFUCKING WORLD CUP. Yes, that's right, the World Cup. Not only one of the most dramatic, tearful, gut-wrenching and enjoyable events in the civilized world, but also one of the funniest. I will also, praise God, be attending Sonar for the first time in my pathetic, uneventful life...Yes, Sonar. To anyone not going, feel free to spit at the screen in protest at my unashamed gloating, but - motherfucking SONAR! Having twice been to the mighty Benicassim festival (the first time, in 2003, I had the strongest e I've ever had and caught 2ManyDJs rinsing it - ground zero for Mr Soft & acid house; the second, last year, included the greatest after-party I've ever attended, with Mayer rupturing the floor of the beautiful, sunny outdoor club Freezer with trendy-trance goodness and, crucially, a winning smile), I've really got the bug for raving in Spain - along with untold legions of beautiful, friendly girls from across the Continent, the simple love of life which propels people through parties, whether narced or not, is incredible - and you can never look stupid dancing 'cos there's always at least thirty gays doing so with infinitely more abandon and far less shame. Shit, them Spaniards just love dancing, and what's more, they love hard, minimal electro-house. I cannot fucking wait. The Kompakt beach party, a staple of recent Sonars is, as far as I'm aware, scheduled to take place again this year. Those three words together - Kompakt beach party - sound like some magical elixir that only dreams could concoct. Well. Fingers crossed, I'll get there. People I want to see? Hawtin vs Villalobos, Mayer, Luciano, Pier Bucci, Apparat, the usual - let's hope they're all there. Fuck. I cannot wait.
Here, then, are some old classics: Mayer's most camp, hands-in-the-air, tasteful trance juggernaut; some killer Luciano/Bucci jousting; and Ricardo at his twisted, abstracted best.
Superpitcher - Happiness (M. Mayer Remix) // Kompakt Pop
Lucien-n-Luciano & Pier Bucci - Ameal // Cadenza
Ricardo Villalobos - Miami // Perlon
Ed Banger. The kids love it, that's for sure. My favourite release on the label itself remains SebastiAn's peripatetic sludgefest 'Smoking Kills'/'Dolomi', while Justice's mix of Simian ('Never Be Alone') on IDG is, you'll all admit, something of a generational anthem...'Waters of Nazareth' I liked, but found that the fact that it sounded like it had been recorded underwater kinda restrained the beast I really craved...Well Erol Alkan, who has a fairer claim than practically anyone to being the most-loved person in electrodom, has stepped up to turn 'Waters of Nazareth' into exactly that beast - keeping the distortion on the guitars, but making the rhythm more linear and giving it plenty of room to breathe, without losing that choppy, edit-heavy style that defined the original. The result is a masterful, functional remix. I can imagine Erol's a little weary of the criticism he might encounter if he decides to start producing his own material, and to be honest, I can't see how it would make his life happier - at the moment, he's noughties London's answer to Larry Levan, and who would want to risk not being that?? Anyway, it goes without saying that Alkan's rework of Franz's 'Do You Want To' was a sublime, dancefloor-decimating thang(I don't know who his engineer is, but fair play to him for facilitating such a heavy, heavy drop); next up, good ol' Justice have a go at turning FF into electro/disco gold...And how did they do? Well, I guess if you ignore the fact that it's crap, you could say it's good...Seriously, it's fine, but sometimes that whole overdriven geetar shtick that the Frenchmen have made their trademark is just a little tiresome...Oizo (with his mix of 'Nazis') and Alkan [EDIT - it was actually Justice who remixed Oizo, not the other way round, which kind of ruins my point, but as some junkie once said, oh well, whatever, nevermind] sure know how to edit those cartoonish metal-fantasies into something more percussive and persuasive, but I fear that the boys themselves do not...I know a lot of you cats LOVE Justice so I don't want to piss in the swimming pool; but come on, this mix isn't what we'd hoped for, is it? Of course, it'll still sound rude down the indie disco, but after the attendant eleven pints of Carling, what doesn't?
Justice - Waters of Nazareth (Erol Alkan's Dur Dur Durr Re-Edit) // Ed Banger
Franz Ferdinand - The Fallen (Justice Remix) // White