Monday, April 21, 2014

Interview Exclusive | Droog

Interview Exclusive | Droog

by Joshua P. Ferguson

A multi-faceted trio party-loving guys, Droog is known in their home city of LA and throughout the world for the personal spin Brett Griffin, Justin Sloe, and Andrei Osyka have put on the Southern California's house scene with a full frontal assault of parties, label releases, and original productions. Founders of the Culprit label, the threesome have helped  propel the careers of well-to-do names like Lee Foss and the Climbers, not to mention their own.

With five years under their collective belt as label owners and a handful more as DJs and party promoters, the Droog boys have been on tour this month to celebrate, and we caught up with Osyka in the midst of it all to chat about their early days on the LA scene, where the label has been, and more importantly, where it's going. We hope to have a full Q&A up in the days to come, but in the meantime, press play on the live segment which originally aired on Abstract Science, here in Chicago on WLUW 88.7FM and on the web at


A special edition of Abstract Science, in addition to our Droog interview we also celebrated the life, light, and music of Frankie Knuckles. Listen to the full show here:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Album Reviews | Todd Terje + Prins Thomas

Updates from Outerspace
Todd Terje and Prins Thomas Launch New Albums
by Joshua P. Ferguson

Affectionately referred to as the holy trinity of Norwegian space disco alongside fellow musical cosmonaut Lindstrøm, veteran producers Todd Terje and Prins Thomas are both embarking on new territory with albums releases this month. The former's It's Album Time, Terje's long overdue full-length debut, is freshly out as of yesterday on his own Olsen Records, while Thomas' third LP, fittingly titled III, is scheduled for release later this month on Full Pupp, the label he runs with Steve Kotey (which is also celebrating its 10th birthday this year).

Both artists share a common genesis point encompassing balearic, old school electro, psychedelia, dub, and, of course, disco, and yet each record displays just how much the two can take these common roots and weave them into strikingly different works that build on the sound they helped create and propel its diversity. 

Terje's It's Album Time is the culmination of the breezy, tiki-lounge disco that took summer dance floors by storm with "Inspector Norse," Terje's runaway 2012 hit and probably his biggest track to date. Across the record, he stays the course he set early on with singles like "Eurodans" and while establishing his label's sound with "Spiral" and the tropical boogie of "Strandbar" (also featured here), but the LP proves the true versatility of his 21st century exotica. 

"Preben Goes to Acapulco" is slow-mo synth odyssey that honors David Axelrod and Donald Byrd as much as it does Vangelis, while "Johnny and Mary," which enlists visionary Bryan Ferry, is a somber retelling of the Robert Palmer classic that fits in well alongside anything from the Italians Do It Better catalog. When he's feeling more playful, Terje further mixes up the dance floor pulse with the lounge oddity "Svensk Sas" and the bossa breakbeats of "Alfonso Muskedunder."

Still, across any of the space disco purveyor's finest moments—from "Eurodans" to "Ragysh" to "Inspector Norse"—it's his upbeat moments that show the most charm. Lead single "Delorean Dynamite" turns to a dominant Italo bassline that blasts a straight shot through the song's core while synths, boogie guitar, and electronic flute dance around it. And while late album cut "Oh Joy" bears the sound that most typifies the Nordic cosmic disco motif, "Swing Star (Part 2)" is the album's shining star, a mid tempo burner glazed with icy chimes, swirling digital coos, and a bossa house beat.

In contrast to Terje's masterfully bright, beachside beats, Prins Thomas' latest displays what he's recently described as having lots of space but not a lot of space disco. And even though telltale disco effects surface throughout, the mellow proceedings on III couldn't be summed up more succinctly.

"Arabisk Natt (dub)" recalls his chill-out work with Lindstrøm, mixing a haunting middle eastern melody with an off-kilter chug to establish an otherworldly vibe early on. Later, on "Hans Majestet" twinkling chimes and the taught plucking guitar strings texture stacks of melodic synth lines for a soothing and atmospheric turn.

That's pretty much the theme of III though. Tracks like "Kameleon" and the lovely "Trans" ease into themselves with extended ambient intros before evolving with feelings that are variously psychedelic and subdued even at their most energetic. The album's centerpiece , "Luftspeiling," is a 12-minute beatless lullaby that fits the bill for how Thomas and his cosmic compatriots would likely soundtrack drifting through space—and not in a harrowing Gravity sort of way, but rather as if Spike Jonze were the one steering the ship.

There's little question that the rise of Terje and Thomas over the course of the last decade has established a distinct map for the cosmic disco sound. But where others spend their studio time trying to travel within this universe, these two spend their time expanding it—and uncovering entirely new sonic territory along the way.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shuffle | Friendly Fires x The Asphodells

Shuffle | Friendly Fires x The Asphodells

Ok. Talk about a match tailor-made for Dialogue Incorporated. We've long been fans of freewheeling indie rockers Friendly Fires; even more so after we saw them live for the first time—complete with Carnaval dancers—on a sun-soaked field in the north of England during Big Chill 2009. Our fondness for the band was further reinforced with its expertly-curated contribution to the BuggedOUT! series, which threw together the Egyptian Lover, Ryan Crosson, George Kranz, and Boo Williams.

Knowing all this, it's not a stretch to hear that the outfit has recently teamed with British DJ heavyweight Andrew Weatherall and his studio partner in the Asphodells, Timothy J. Fairplay, for a few pints and then a trip to the studio to see what might happen. The output from these recent sessions has become the debut release for Friendly Fires' newly launched Telophase label. "Before Your Eyes" and "Velo" each flirt with the 10-minute mark, grooving with the easy-going hypnotism you'd expect from a Weatherall work, but with added guitar play, expert rhythms, and Ed Macfarlane's telltale harmonic croons. 

In short, it's pretty much exactly what you'd hope for from putting these two groups in a small room together. Both tracks are available for streaming below and are available now on 12" single and digital download.

Joshua P. Ferguson

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Allure | Remembering Frankie Knuckles

The Allure | Remembering Frankie Knuckles

It's not fair that it takes someone's passing to fully realize how much they meant or to realize just how many people they touched on such a palpable and personal level. Frankie Knuckles represents precisely this someone, a man who's life is synonymous with so many things my peers and I hold dear. He's the Warehouse, he's house music, he was and always will be the Godfather. He was also someone I had the esteemed honor of crossing paths with on a professional level more than once.

Scoring an interview opportunity with the man credited with being the genesis point for house music was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for me. Interviewing him ahead of the release of his Motivation Too mix for Nervous Records back in 2009, I will forever remember being so nervous on the call that he could sense it. I'm sure he got that a lot. The guy was a living legend in my world and the world of my fellow dance-music-obsessed comrades. But the nervousness quickly faded and so did his tentativeness. By the end of the call, we were laughing as he warmly recalled some of the finer points of his illustrious career and the impact he had on Chicago specifically. (Read excerpts from our chat here: Dialogue Inc | Frankie Knuckles)

I didn't know Frankie personally, so don't feel some grand remembrance is the best way for me to honor his life. Instead, I've spent the day scouring the web for sets of his—past and present—and have selected a few (below) that represent Frankie as I want to remember him, and for you to listen to and dance to his beat. From what I've experienced of him, I think he'd be cool with that.

You'll be missed Frankie, but all of us in this dimension can only imagine the eternal dance party you're a part of now.

Joshua P. Ferguson

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Allure | When You See The Seal You Know It's Real

The Allure | Daft Punk 
Random Access Memories Merchandise

Although it's come about completely by happenstance, our week of Robot-themed posts continues today and everyone at Dialogue Inc. is geeked about it—some of us quite literally. In anticipation of its Chicago live date tonight, Kraftwerk has been on perma-stream around the office, earlier this week we shed some light on Japanese robot band Z-Machines, and now France's cheekiest robots have taken twitter and tumblr streams by storm with '80s-inspired ads for new merchandise. 

Yes, Daft Punk is continuing the best album ad campaign in a decade with a series of faux print ads straight from the heyday of shopping malls and CDs trapped in oversize plastic security packaging. With headlines ranging from "Like the Legend of the Phoenix" to "She's Up All Night" to brilliant copy featuring lines like "You never cut corners and only like the best of everything—but don't think your last boyfriend really counts," the whole lot of ads is squarely in so-bad-its-good territory—but like really, really good.

Joshua P. Ferguson

Glimpse the whole collection below:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Allure | Music for Robots

The Allure | Z-Machines "Music for Robots"

by Joshua P. Ferguson

With a rare Chicago appearance from Kraftwerk quickly approaching, a robot-themed blog post seemed as good a way to set the mood as any. Enter Z-Machines, a merry band of robots including a guitarist with 78 fingers, a drummer with 22 arms, and a keyboardist that nails his cues thanks to the pinpoint accuracy of the green lasers it shoots out to hit the keys. 

The trio, which was created by a group of engineers at the University of Tokyo in Japan, has played a few inaugural gigs in its native land—complete with space-age hype girls—and is now poised to release a five-track EP for the groundbreaking Warp label as part of a collaboration with Squarepusher, the label's natural choice for a pairing such as this. Just as fittingly, the new EP explores the question, can robots play music that is emotionally engaging? 

"Using robots has this eerie narrative associated with it—the twilight area between human and machine," Squarepusher's Tom Jenkinson told CNN recently. "It's just a box of tricks, but it still haunts us because we see it as an impression of ourselves." 

He continues this thought on Warp's press page for the project: "For me there has always been something fascinating about the encounter of the unfamiliar with the familiar," Jenkinson says. "I have long been an advocate of taking fresh approaches to existing instrumentation as much as I am an advocate of trying to develop new instruments, and being able to rethink the way in which, for example, an electric guitar can be used is very exciting."

We're going to leave the final verdict on the results up to you. It's a timely piece of electronic jazz-funk fusion, inline with the Squarepusher aesthetic but carried out in a way we've never seen or heard before. Check out this video of the robotic trio in action to get a better sense of just what is being undertaken. It's pretty impressive no matter what your opinion of the music.

Squarepusher x Z-Machines "Sad Robot Goes Funny"

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Allure | Mad Men Season 7

The Allure | Mad Men

Season 7 Cast Photos

Tracking down the photos for this post, I had myself all prepared to get sentimental and talk about how this is Dialogue Inc's final Mad Men coverage. Turns out from reading a few interviews with show creator Matthew Weiner, including a great in-depth piece for Vulture, that AMC is pulling a Breaking Bad with the final season of Mad Men and splitting it up into two seven-episode sets. And it wouldn't be a show about advertising if the second season went without the obligatory send-up of cast photos and teaser videos that we've made it a habit to share.

That, after all, is why we're here now. This weekend, AMC released a series of jet-set cast photos to reacquaint us with the Mad Men world of the late '60s. Depending on the time jump since we left a spiraling Don put on a forced leave of absence from SC&P, and an agency about to open up shop in Sunny So Cal, it's either 1969 or 1970. Aside from a timeless Don, it shows. Fringe and facial hair are the name of the game for the gentlemen, while the women fair a touch more gracefully—if no less psychedelic. 

Part of Mad Men's charm has always been the style of the time period it takes place in. As that gives way to polyester and paisley, it's maybe the one thing about the show I won't be sad to say goodbye to. Weiner gives a few hints as to the story lines of the characters that we will see off into the final closing credits but at least now we have until 2015 to say our final goodbyes. We'll see you back here then with one last set of cast photos.

Mad Men Season 7 premieres on Sunday April 13 on AMC.