Saturday, March 27, 2010

Singles Review | More Spring Tuneage

A Wee Spring Music Round-up

New music from the Bottin & Rodion, the Juan MacLean and Scuba.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

We don’t normally get to do MP3 downloads on Dialogue Inc. Google’s recent and systematic shut down of thousands of Blogger accounts for hosting MP3 content has us fearing the man. This is interesting for two reasons:

1) Google upholds itself as being not “the man,” yet here we are… Afraid.

2) We’re typing this into a Blogger blog hosted by Google. If it doesn’t raise attention in some office in Silicon Valley, it’s surely raising an eyebrow over here at the office.

Regardless, we’re going to plow ahead with this post. Why? Because a few of our well-placed friends have given us permission to post a few of these links. The other links will direct you to a place where downloading is approved. Either way, take advantage and snatch these tunes up, as they’re each magnificent.


Not only is Bottin someone that Dialogue Inc has been watching closely over the past 15 months, but our good friends SR-71 and Scotty Brandon of the Chicago Workgroup have faithfully championed this Venice-based producer for a minute now. We were lucky enough to have forward thinking local promoter Scott Cramer bring him to Chicago for one of his Stardust nights last year and if we have anything to say about it (especially after hearing his latest 12”) we’ll get him back to the Windy City tout suite.

“Galli (Give It Up)” leads the charge on this collabo release from Bottin and fellow countryman Rodion for Belgium’s Eskimo Records. Bottin’s style culls influences ranging from Italian movie scores, disco, Italo and his own brand of “horror disco” as he calls it. While there is a touch of spookiness here, it really serves to create a little depth to the track, which is otherwise a bright slab of midtempo nudisco-Italo.

“Piazza Venezia” is an ode to Bottin’s hometown of Venice. A musical recreation of the scene he overlooks from his studio window, it bounces lightly, conveying the hustle and bustle of a crowded afternoon on the Piazza.

Download: “Galli (Give It Up)”


Only the Juan MacLean would use such words to describe the process of putting together the latest installment of !K7’s venerated DJ-Kicks series. But, the man’s not just working for the hell of it, so he puts serious thought into each of the endeavors he takes on.

So, while he explains in the liner notes for his DJ-Kicks mix that he spent the first six months of the project wondering why he’s even bothering to make a DJ mix, when anyone with Ableton and a few spare hours can do the same, he ultimately concluded that—since he was being paid to do so—he should just grin, bear it and pump out something that truly represents him.

We’re very glad this was the conclusion he came to. Spanning highlights from the DFA catalog (Shit Robot and Still Going), bits of Detroit goodness (Rick Wilhite), deep disco (6th Borough Project) and a hearty nod to Chicago house (Armando), he’s crafted yet another stellar addition to the long running mix-CD series.

To help promote the mix, !K7 has let go of this exclusive single from Juan, featuring Nancy Wang and the sorely missed drumming of Jerry Fuchs (R.I.P.). Another stunner that skirts the line between disco and house, click below to enjoy “Feel So Good.”

Download: “Feel So Good” (via !K7)


I don’t know about you guys over there in the U.K. and Europe, but talking dubstep amongst our peers here in the Midwest is always cause for friction. But if you follow all the dubstep chatter here on Dialogue Inc. then you already know that what dubstep is and can be is wholly separate from most people’s impression of it. So, rather than go on some lengthy diatribe, I’m going to let this single from Scuba’s new record Triangulation do the rest of the talking…

Download: “So You Think You’re Special” (via RCRD_LBL)

Article | Beauty Bar

photo: Andrew Nawrocki

Salon makeover

Beauty Bar gives Ukrainian Village a facelift.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago Magazine | 03.24.10

TOC | Beauty Bar

While walking through the former Sonotheque space for the first time since it closed last November, we get a distinct sense of déjà vu. Having spent many a night drinking and dancing here, we instantly recall the narrow room and long bar. Beyond these structural mainstays, though, the bar bears little resemblance to its former self.

Gone are the sleek, ultramodern couches, the foam soundproofing and the chrome that defined Sonotheque’s steely cool. Reopening as Beauty Bar (1444 W Chicago Ave, 312-226-8828) on Thursday 25, the space looks more like a ’50s salon—but one that Eero Saarinen might have designed, thanks to its flowing curves and open, yet compartmentalized, spaces.

The frosted-glass facade that once kept Sonotheque so mysterious is being taken out in favor of a sunken, open-air patio for summertime drinking. Inside, the much-maligned step that plagued Sonotheque’s dance floor has been removed (don’t worry, the sound system remains intact), and the battered gray flooring has been replaced with a sea of white tile with patches of black and green. When we reach the DJ booth—and a wall divider pockmarked with circular holes—we discover a cozy red-tiled dance floor hiding in the back of the room.

The Chicago opening—a partnership between the concept’s owner, Paul Devitt, and Peter Creig Toalson and Bruce Finkelman of the Empty Bottle—marks the ninth Beauty Bar. Others include New York, Austin, Vegas and a handful spanning the West Coast, from San Diego to Portland. While all maintain the retro hair-salon theme, each adapts to its own space and local scene.

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Singles Review | DFA for Spring

DFA's Spring Awakening

After a winter spent in the studio, a host of DFA artists knock out new 12"s.

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published on the Time Out Chicago blog | 03.20.10

(Be sure to head to the TOC site to give all the tracks reviewed an upfront listen!)

There was quite a buzz at the Dialogue Inc offices when five new promos from DFA Records landed in our mailboxes earlier this week. Ranging from label staples (Shit Robot) to debut releases from scene vets (Ray Man) to the completely brand new (Black Van, the new production project from heavyweight Kris Menace and KoweSix of Moonbootica) the label has big things in store for spring 2010.

Black Van “Yearning” + Emperor Machine remix

Menace and KoweSix are each known in their own right for pushing electro and house sounds that are suited to peaktime hours. But here they step away from that altogether, instead releasing “Yearning,” a track that shows off a mellower side (and an affinity for ’80s dance music). Emotive synths float delicately on top of padded drums and a sparse boogie bassline, making for a perfect start of the night stunner.

Emperor Machine’s remix offers more dance floor fodder for those who aren’t interested in headphones-only house. Gone are the tracks softer edges; instead we get extra punchy and seemingly live drumming, distorted bass and a menacing—no pun intended—string blast that gives way to sheer disco boogie. With Emperor Machine there’s no escaping the haunting Goblin-era Italo and Dario Argento-soundtrack style spookiness. It’s helped them carve a respectable niche on DC Recordings and is just as effective here.

The Crystal Ark “The City Never Sleeps” + Instrumental

A man of many hats, Gavin Russom has found a home for himself at DFA as an instrument repairman and inventor, fixing and freaking synths for the label’s studios for the better part of a decade. When not satiating his gear head tendencies, he’s recording left field dance rock under numerous guises, his most recent—besides the Crystal Ark—being Black Meteoric Star.

For this latest composition he drew influence from a recent trip to Brazil, taking in traditional Brazilian drumming and South America’s vibrant club scene and combining that with classic European rave sounds. The result is “The City Never Sleeps,” an epic piece of deepness that is guaranteed to put smiles on faces from Berlin to Detroit. The warm house, sexy Spanish vocals and dissonant synths may drift slightly from DFA’s core, but this potent dance floor bomb is so solid we’d be happy to if the label worked more of it into the catalog as Russom dedicates more time to the project.

Michoacan “In the Dark of the Night” + Clap Rules remix

Bay area producer Michoacan as always taken an outsiders approach to making disco dance tunes. A self professed lover of hip-hop—and, if we had to guess, ample doses of good ol’ Mary Jane—his tracks maintain potent dance worthiness without adhering to the usual conventions.

“In the Dark of the Night” is a pristine example of this. While we don’t anticipate that it’ll be blowing the roof of clubs anytime soon, this slo-mo basement disco is the type of cut that comes about after two too many joints and an all night basement studio session. Live drums plod along at only 97 bpm while cosmic keys and celestial bells swirl in and out. It sounds as if Flea joined Tinkerbell in the studio after a night out on MDMA. Then there’s those D.I.Y. punk vocals about a mysterious “they” that creeps about under darkness stealing “what’s yours and mine.” Yeah. We don’t know what to make of all that either. Guess you had to be there.

Italian upstarts Clap Rules handle the remix duties. Floating around the scene for the past couple years, the trio—headed by Fabrizio Mammarella, a well-known producer in his own right—is a perfect fit to tweak this tune for more dance floor appeal. With releases on Tiny Sticks and Bear Funk Records, these dudes are left field disco through and through.

Ray Mang “Bulletproof” + “Look Into My Eyes”

If you needed more proof that DFA’s stylistic eye is wandering on from ’70s disco and into more electronic ’80s boogie and proto house sounds, look no further than “Bulletproof,” which sees Mang enlisting Dee Lite’s Lady Miss Kier for a throbbing cosmic funk workout. In all honesty, as much as we love the progression and the diversity here, this song comes off more like a generic pastiche of styles than it does anything innovative.

On this 12 the real gold lies hidden on the b-side. The mellowness of “Look Into My Eyes” steals the show here. We love a dance party as much as the next club enthusiast, but with the spring sun just beginning to emerge, this spacey and subdued number is a type of laid-back that’s much more our speed.

Shit Robot “I Got a Feeling” + “Norfolk Nights”

As if these other four releases weren’t enough to show off DFA’s versatility, we end with Marcus Lambkin’s latest work as Shit Robot. The Berlin-based Dubliner continues to give the label the classic techno injection that it needs. Across both tracks the beats click, the bass warbles and the piano rolls on, especially on “I Got a Feeling.” It’s not a stretch to draw comparison to Carl Craig here. Building slowly over the first half of the track, elements are added piece by piece until the epic breakdown gives way to deeply soulful vocals from House of House’s Saheer Umar. If you freaked for HoH’s “Rushing to Paradise” the way we did, then this is the ideal slow burning follow up.

The flipside’s “Norfolk Nights” is blissful techno affair with warm synth progressions playing nice over steady 808 style drum programming. A tasteful close out to this round-up, all that’s left now is to wait in calm anticipation of the new LCD Soundsystem full length, due out sometime this summer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Article: The Glass | Dance Syndrome

New York’s finest

The Glass’s Dominique Keegan knows his Gotham City nightlife.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago Magazine | 03.18.10

TOC | The Glass

What did the Irish history major say to the Irish theology major while sitting at a bar in Manhattan’s Lower East Side? That may sound like the setup to a bad joke, but it also describes how Dominique Keegan and Glen Brady started working together as indie-leaning house duo the Glass. Friends since their college days in Dublin, the duo reunited one month before September 11, when Brady moved to New York City.

Keegan, 37, has been a staple of New York’s nightlife scene since he left the Emerald Isle in ’95. Along with fellow Dubliner Marcus Lambkin, who now records as Shit Robot for DFA, Keegan cofounded the Plant Music label and Plant Bar—the same bar that gave birth to the Glass, performing live at Berlin’s Stardust party Thursday 18.

“Marcus and I had been doing parties for a long time, and we’d walk out with decent money,” Keegan says, his Irish accent a mere hint after his years in the States. “But we still had to deal with bullshit from club owners.” His apartment building back in 1999 had a struggling bar on the first floor, so he got the okay from the landlord to add a sound system—designed by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy—and start throwing parties. “It was ridiculously big for the space. There were nurses from Eastern Europe who lived upstairs. Every time the bass punched, the glass in their kitchen would go ‘kshk, kshk,’?” Keegan says, mimicking clinking glassware.

Due to Rudy Giuliani’s reinforcement of the city’s cabaret laws, Plant Bar was shuttered for a dancing violation in 2004. “As New York got squeakier and cleaner, they would use it as a tool to shut down places that they didn’t like,” Keegan says. But the closing inspired Keegan to focus on the label and start the Glass.

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(Rest of article and a recent mix from the Glass's Dominique Keegan after the jump.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Article: RJD2 | Colossal

Rambling man

Even before RJD2 could walk he was marching to his own beat.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 03.04.10


“There’s a story that knocked around when I was younger that I had two birth certificates,” says R.J. Krohn, the left-field hip-hop producer known best by his Star Wars–channeling moniker, RJD2. As the story goes, it was the latter of the two that bestowed him with his permanent name. “My parents didn’t want to name me until they knew me better,” Krohn explains. “I learned to crawl at an early age and would wander off a lot. So the name came from that.” From his first infant-escape act on, Krohn was Ramble John.

The 33-year-old Philly resident has kept true to his name since he first turned heads with his single “Here’s What’s Left,” for little-known indie hip-hop label Battersea Park in 2001. Nine years later, he’s released four albums, collaborated with artists as varied as MF Doom and Fallout Boy, produced the theme song to Mad Men and launched his own label. The January release of his latest album, The Colossus, on RJ’s Electrical Connections imprint sees him on the road again, three turntables and a live band in tow. The tour brings him to the Metro Saturday 13.

The sample-heavy head-nodders of Krohn’s first album, Deadringer (2002), ingrained his name in the minds of backpack hip-hoppers and adventurous DJs the world over, garnering comparisons to instrumental hip-hop demigod DJ Shadow. But his next two albums—Since We Last Spoke (2004) and The Third Hand (2007), which veered into vaguely indie-rock territory and saw Krohn singing a lot—were not as well received by the devotees who had first championed him. Fans and critics alike preferred his tracks paired with rappers to his thin, often out-of-key vocals.

The restless sonic explorer was moving in new directions. “I hope I don’t ever make the same record twice,” he explains by phone. “What I’ve been doing with my records over the past ten years is not an attempt to find a style and live with it. It’s been more of an exploratory process, and I hope to keep following my music. Still, there are some people that are like, ‘Please shut the fuck up and stop singing,’ and that’s fine.”

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