Thursday, October 27, 2011

DJ Mix | Mister Joshua Live at Crimson Lounge

I love deejaying. It's partially how I make a living. Unfortunately, given the nature of my residencies, it's rare that I get to play exactly the style of music that I'd like. Often I come close, but this set is the first time in a while where I've captured my love of deep, indie, disco dance music and presented it just how I like it. Ok, so I'm a little rusty at it. Not all my transitions are pitch perfect, but the music is there in all it's glory. It's a great snapshot of where my dance music tastes lie currently and I want to share it will y'all.

This was recorded last Wednesday at Commonwealth, a weekly party organized by Chicago DJ Sadie Woods that goes down in the lovely Victorian-esque confines of the Crimson Lounge in the Hotel SAX. Happy listening.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review | Modeselektor | Monkeytown + mp3




tech•no \tek-nõ\ n + Dubstep \ dub-step \ n + in•die \in-dê\adj

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 09.21.11

It’s not stated explicitly, but the monkey is Modeselektor’s spirit animal. Its mischievousness pervades just about everything the duo does. Self-described maximalists, Berliners Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary are keen to play around with sound. Monkeytown, their third LP, switches gears like a high-performance racer blazing down the Autobahn.
This is nothing new. Modeselektor’s appetite for music since the fall of the Wall has been both feverish and free-wheeling, absorbing as much rock and hip-hop as electronic. The group is much applauded for upending the conventions of the German techno scene, working endless variety into its albums instead stripping it away.
Monkeytown sees galloping IDM beats accompanied by Thom Yorke’s stuttering falsetto on “Shipwreck,” gnarly techno on “Evil Twin” and even electro-infused hip-hop on the hilarious “Pretentious Friends,” which features Busdriver rapping about Saudi skirmishes and Sideshow Bob. “German Clap” treads closest to straight-ahead tech, the name suggesting it’s on purpose. This range offers diverse listening and definite high points, but it also makes me long for the organized moodiness of Modeselektor’s Moderat project with Apparat.
Even though Apparat only guests on the meditative set closer “War Cry,” the influence can be heard on the lush post-dubstep of “Green Light Go” and vaguely drum ’n’ bass vibe of “This.” While all the monkeying around is inventive and entertaining, this pair of pranksters is best when showing off its serious side.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Interview | Amon Tobin + mp3

We Have Liftoff

Amon Tobin explores outer space with stunning live show

Interview by Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 08.31.11

Amon Tobin is a surprisingly Zen dude. When I reach the 39-year-old Brazilian producer on the phone from Northern Cali, he’s so chill it’s disarming. This is especially true when you consider that his new record, ISAM, and accompanying tour are anything but. In his soft-spoken monotone, he contemplates the new LP and stunning stage show. I attempt to translate. 

The music: “I got very interested in synthesizing field recordings, trying to take [ISAM] more into a hybrid between synthesized music and recorded sound. That was the whole impetus behind this record, was to see if I could marry the two with the idea of sound design as not just an effect or something that was just on the peripheral of a piece of music but something that was very much part of it. As an artist, you don’t take credit for the raw materials, it’s just the way you build it and reposition it and form it into something that’s of your own mind. I’m just trying to make a synthetic version of the world that I can manipulate more freely.” 
Translation: Tobin took found-sound field recordings of nature and turned them into playable instruments through studio trickery. The result is a barrage of sonic distortion, sci-fi outbursts and space-age breaks. 

The show: “[ISAM] can’t be played by real instruments, that’s sort of the point, so to go into a band situation would be a real step backwards for this record. This was a way to try and make a show that was still engaging and interesting but also be true to the music and be unapologetic about electronic music, for what it is. Fundamentally it was about trying to make a compelling performance for electronic music, which is a real challenge. We go to great lengths as electronic musicians to be able to control many, many aspects of a sound through a very small movement. That’s great for the studio, but rubbish on stage. So coming at this from accepting that, I was integrated into something much larger than myself.” 
Translation: Since ISAM is so studio-heavy, Tobin commissioned a Tetris-like asymmetrical structure built of white screens centered around a cockpit (he'll perform inside). A visual storyline is projected onto it, immersing in a full 3D experience. 

The visuals: “One thing I always see in these visual shows is that, as spectacular as these visuals might be, it’s like, here’s another song and here’s a pretty image, here’s another song and here’s another image and they’re kind of related but not really. I had this mad idea one night that I wanted it to be a kind of story, like a narrative. This thing would be a spaceship basically and I would be piloting it. The beginning of the show reveals the ship and reveals me inside it over some time. Then the ship takes off and it goes into space and gets hit by a meteorite. Even though it’s not a great story or anything, but it gave us a linear feel to it.” 
Translation: Chicago-based design studio Leviathan helped Tobin realize his vision for projected video onto the screens, creating an elaborate world of intergalactic landscapes and mechanical ships straight from Robotech blasting through the cosmos. 

The cockpit: “The music is all stripped out into layers and each layer is controlling a different element of the visual. As I affect the music in various instances, each layer comes into its own visually as well. There are other little tricks that we’re doing inside the cockpit as well.I don’t want to give away everything...” 
Translation: Set in time to the beat, Tobin’s visual onslaught unfolds on the screens with each new element of song. As part of his larger-than-life goal, Tobin even appears as a digitized version of himself like a 21st century version of the Wizard of Oz. 

Amon Tobin: ISAM live is at Chicago's Congress Theater, 2135 N Milwaukee Ave Friday 10.21—Tomorrow!

Download: Amon Tobin "Surge" (Two Fingers remix) |  320 mp3

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shuffle | Trentemøller

Trentemøller "Neverglade" (Trentemøller remix) 
"Maybe it’s because of the shitty weather we have in Scandinavia and it’s raining all the time. I don’t know. But there’s a certain kind of Scandinavian blues sound that is a bit darker. It always goes in minor keys and has this kind of, not sad, but melancholic, beautiful thing to it. I think it is something that lies in our blood in a way." 

Speaking with Anders Trentemøller prior to this year's summer tour, that was what he had to say of his music (and his musical heritage). I couldn't have summed up the man's brooding techno rock better, so why try. You can read my full story here: Dialogue Inc | Trentemøller

If you're a Chicagoan and didn't get to see him perform with his live band the last time he was through town, you can catch him tomorrow night at Metro, alongside Xylo and Afrobeta. I highly suggest it.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

If you need a taster, download him remixing his track "Neverglade" below:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Album Review | Apparat | The Devil's Walk + mp3

Dubstep \ dub-step \ n + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n + chillout \ chil-aût \ vb

With Apparat, labeling proves difficult. If I can’t make a tidy reference to house, say, how do I describe the music? This is, of course, the key to the German producer’s charm. His output is like some hyperevolutionary organism that transforms before we musical taxonomists can classify it.
It used to be easier. Since he began releasing music for his Shitkatapult label a decade ago, Sascha Ring has existed at a crossroads of pop, techno, IDM and glitch. His early work clicked, rattled and hissed a lot. Over the years, and especially here, he’s filed down glitch’s harsher edges, softening things with guitars, strings, marimbas and thoughtful lyrics. The common thread is Apparat’s ability to combine lush textures and complex melodies to produce richly emotional music that transcends any genre tag.
With help from Chicago’s Josh Eustis (of Telefon Tel Aviv), the electronic alchemist has put the finishing touches on his brand of sweeping electronic pop in The Devil’s Walk, a task that’s taken three albums and stints with Ellen Allien and Modeselektor—the latter as Moderat. On “Song of Los,” he conjures soaring celestial soul with skittish beats, gurgling bass and guitars locked in an echo chamber.
He’s always lent his voice to his productions. Here, it’s a centerpiece. Amid the churning of synths and the dubstep gallop of “Candil De La Calle,” his pipes gleam with a hint of Thom Yorke. Later, as the tremolo of strings and the pitter-patter of drums crescendo into “Ash/Black Veil,” Ring repeats, “the walls are melting.” Lyrically, he sings of a lot of doom and gloom. Yet even as he breathes, “let me out, wave good-bye,” during the lilting swing of album-closer “Your House Is My World,” things aren’t as bleak as he makes them seem. This LP ensures Apparat a bright future.
Joshua P. Ferguson

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shuffle | Clubfeet

Shuffle | New Music from our Inbox

Clubfeet "Last Words" RAC + The C90s remixes 
What is it about Australia? Isolated at is, the continent down under is by no means behind the ball when it comes to dance music relevance. Clubfeet is a perfect case in point. The Melbourne quintet is of the Cut Copy mold: A band fueled by shimmering synths, dance drums, pitch-perfect harmonies and enough indie sensibility to make them wonderfully dynamic. Its label, Plant Music has been hammering away raising the band's profile. It's working. Earlier this summer, Clubfeet dropped a sexy-as-hell video for its single, "Broken Hearted," (see below) and now they've commissioned a string of stand-out remixes for the single "Last Words." The sexed up disco mix from Dimitri from Paris you'll have to pay for, but the indie dance retread from remixer-to-watch RAC and the nudisco bounce of the C90s rework are both worth having, and available for download below. Happy listening!

Download: Clubfeet "Last Words" (RAC remix) | 320 mp3

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dialogue Inc | Radio Show #23 | The Return

Dialogue Incorporated | The Return

Dialogue Incorporated Radio #23

compiled and mixed by Mister Joshua

Letter from the Editor

It feels a little ridiculous to lead in with another apology—my second apologetic intro in the only two newsletters I've managed to send out this year. But sometimes the winds of life get a bit blustery and command your attention. This year has been one of those. Writing has taken on a much greater role and unfortunately most of my words are going elsewhere—at least initially. Over the course of the last six months I've conducted interviews with the trendy: deadmau5 and Girl Talk; the legendary: Portishead and DJ Harvey; and, of course, those rising out of the underground: James Blake and Visionquest. I'm pretty proud of all this. Many of these chats will be included here. There's a new mix too, one that I actually completed months ago—so pardon the few, obviously dated inclusions. Some technical shifts sent us researching new servers, how to transfer our podcast along with it and alternative ways of hosting our sets. All that's completed now... Six months later. Whatevs, we're back, we're improved and we hope you still like us.

Where we're slacking in letting time pass, we're also remaining timely—with our ideas and our coverage anyway. This month, Spin magazine dedicated its entire issue to the surging electronic music scene. I'm happy to report that, in some sort of DJ-Music-Collective-Consciousness type of thing, I wrote a similar think piece about a month back. In it, I discussed how dance music in the '90s was an overpriced import and now its a freshly-packaged domestic—big, brash and full of bass. (Spin took a very similar angle—In another odd parallel, we both even cracked jokes about the VP and his R.A.V.E. act.) For someone that's worshipped dance beats for more than a decade, now truly feels like our time. And that's what I'd like to leave you with.

Let the Conversation begin.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

The Beat Goes On

Dance music in the U.S. is bigger than ever. Will it last?

by Joshua P. Ferguson

originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 09.07.11

During a recent visit with the fam, my 18-year-old brother wasted no time in firing up iTunes and sharing his newfound love of electronic-music club-fillers Pretty Lights, Skrillex and Rusko. I’ve been living and breathing this music for more than a decade now, but at his age, the closest I came to the rave world was DJ Shadow and the Prodigy’s “Firestarter” on CD single—remember those? 

Does this mean my brother is cooler than me? Eh, probably. But it is also a testament to how much house music’s thump, electro’s growl and dubstep’s bass whomp have pervaded popular culture. My brother’s taste actually puts him on the fringe of this dance-music surge when you consider that French superstar David Guetta is conjuring anthems for the Black Eyed Peas and his protégé Afrojack is doing the same for Chris Brown and Pitbull. 

This barrage of beats coming over the airwaves is matched by the rhythms frolicking forth from this summer’s festival speakers. Ultra and Electric Daisy Carnival are more successful than ever; the latter has expanded to dates in five cities. Here, Lollapalooza more than doubled the size of its DJ stage—all the better for dancing in the mud—and put the scene’s world-famous rodent on the main stage. Last weekend, Labor Day’s North Coast Festival all but gave over its entire lineup to rave-worthy acts including both Rusko and Guetta, a game plan it’s sure to maintain. 

Speaking of rave, we’ve seen this beat-driven hype before. In the ’90s, we got our first taste of electronic dance culture courtesy of big beat. The Chemical Brothers, Orbital and the pyromaniacs of my youth were supposedly destined to change the face of popular music forever. And while those acts and the candy-colored mega parties they headlined did make a permanent impact on the underground dance community, the biggest lasting impression was an Ecstasy backlash and a hangover. 

Dance music didn’t stick around last time for two reasons. First, as progressive as American ears can be, we weren’t ready for it. Record labels saw electronic music’s popularity in the U.K. and Europe, wanted to cash in on it here and imported sleek foreign acts to sell to us like Mini Coopers. When radio didn’t bite and sales didn’t spike, they abandoned it to warehouses and Midwestern cornfields. Second, with the exception of a few, most kids were in it for the drugs and not the music. The year 2003 saw the RAVE act, or Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy, and not just the corporate world but the government sent us to those cornfields. 

So what’s different this time? Not the drugs—sorry, Vice President Biden. The change here is that the music is being embraced wholesale, with fist-pumping arms. Homebred hit makers like Diplo are showing up in BlackBerry commercials, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy is a disco-loving demigod, the summer festival season is one big corporate-sponsored rave, and overseas stars like the Swedish House Mafia and Tiësto are getting upwards of six figures to turn our shores into a second home. Like my brother, the U.S.A. may be the younger sibling that’s late to the party, but we’re here now and we mean business. Which, of course, also means big business, and that’s a language all Americans understand.


MUSIC | Dialogue Incorporated #23 – The Return


Telefon Tel Aviv “The Sky is Black” – BPitch Control 
Myrkur “Why” – F4TMusic 
Koreless “4D” – Pictures Music 
Brackles + Shortstuff “Broken Harp” – Pollen 
Kito + Reija Lee “This City” (Asa and KOAN Sound remix) – Mad Decent 
Jamie Woon “Night Air” (Deadboy remix) – Numb3rs 
Zomby “Things Fall Apart” – 4AD 
Rusko “Everyday” – Mad Decent 
SBTRKT “Wildfire” – Young Turks 
Ellie Goulding “Your Song” (Blackmill remix) – CD-R 
Chrissy Murderbot “The Vibe is So Right” (Quadratic remix) – CD-R 
The Hundred in the Hands “Dressed in Dresden” – Warp 
Cults “Go Outside” – Columbia 
DJ Shadow “I’ve Been Trying” – Verve 
James Blake “The Wilhelm Scream” – Columbia 
Marina and the Diamonds “Obsessions” (oOoOO remix) – CD-R 
Nicolas Jaar “Keep Me There” – Circus Company 
Undisputed Truth “Big John is My Name” (From Nicky Siano’s the Gallery) – Soul Jazz 
The Naked and Famous “Young Blood” – Universal 
Cut Copy “Sun God” – Modular 
Art Department “Vampire Nightclub” – Crosstown Rebels 
Adele “Rolling in the Deep” (Cousin Cole remix) – CD-R 
Friendly Fires “Running Away” – XL 
Everything Everything “Photoshop Handsome” (Sunday Girl remix) – Geffen 
M.A.N.D.E.A.R. “Buddies” – Get Physical 
Creep “Days” – Young Turk 
Kate Simko “Flight into BA” – Hello? Repeat 
Robag Wruhme “Pnom Gobal” – Pampa 
Burial and Four Tet + Thom Yorke “Mirror” – Text 
Midland “Bring Joy” – Aus 
Kode9 “Love is the Drug” – Hyperdub 
Benoit and Sergio “Walk and Talk” – Visionquest 
Todd Terje “Ragysh” – Running Back 
Yelle “Safari Disco Club” – V2 
The Raveonettes “Forget That You’re Young” – Vice 
Darkness Falls “Hey!” – HFN :


WORDS | Dialogue Incorporated #23 – The Return

By the time the dense electronica of “The Sky Is Black” by Chicago’s own Telefon Tel Aviv closes things out I am more inclined to translate 'werkschau'—which means showcase—as labor of love, which is clearly what the BPitch Control family is all about.—Joshua P. Ferguson on BPitch Control's Werkschau compilation

To call this platinum blonde duo the Australia's answer to Katy B doesn't quite do it. They don't have half of the urban oomph that England's latest Diva does. But, when Keito and Reija Lee's label—Diplo's Mad Decent—say that this pair is injecting a much needed dose of pop into an aggro—and overly male dominated—dubstep scene, they're right.—Joshua P. Ferguson on Kito and Reija Lee

With soaring rave arpeggios, machine gun synths, video-game lasers blasts and booming breaks, “Everyday” boasts “the sun is shining everyday,” and it’s poised to be this summer’s anthem.—Joshua P. Ferguson on "Everyday" by Rusko 

If you tie yourself to just one genre, even if you’re amazing at it, there is going to come a time when people’s tastes change. It’s going to make it harder for you to make a living. I’ve really made an effort to make people associate my name with being able to expect any kind of music.—Chrissy Murderbot

for the first time since The Private Press I allowed myself the immersive work environment that my music needs. Having recently gone through six months of that, I realize that it’s essential that I find that.DJ Shadow 

All of the idiosyncrasy of black music, in the stuff that echoes it nowadays, has been warped into something that is quite homogenized and not interesting. To be grouped along with that is what I’m scared of the most.James Blake

I think of what I do now as more of what a visual collage artist does. It’s a different energy. This is definitely more suited to the way I process things.oOoOO

It’s not house, it’s not techno, it’s unlike any kind of downtempo we’ve heard recently, and the gusto it displays is only part of what makes it compelling. On this stream-of-consciousness recording, songs flow one into the next like one beautiful sonic tapestry of samples, drips, echoed guitars, minimal beats and cosmic wailing.—Joshua P. Ferguson on Jaar's  Space Is Only Noise

Disco and hip-hop and techno and house, all these things were really created by DJs. DJs have this incredible power because they can play anything from any era and from any place, to mix things up. That puts the history of musical evolution in their hands.DJ History author Frank Broughton

[Art Department's] best songs only flirt with the dark side. Set closer “I C U,” which is Art Department’s true shining moment, shows us the light at the end of the K hole. Its synth warmth and tribal drumming brighten the mood as Glasgow lets us know, “I see you wanting me now.—Joshua P. Ferguson on The Drawing Board by Art Department

These boys have cornered the market on Balearic indie dance, and with Pala they’ve confirmed that summer’s here in the best possible way.—Joshua P. Ferguson on Friendly Fires' Pala

It’s natural to put people into a box. If people want to call it minimal, okay. It’s not, but whatever.Kate Simko

The music on Thora Vukk was born in that same dark cyber world, but when Wruhme came along he brought the sun with him. It’s this beauty-and-the-beast quality that propels this release past his 2004 effort and puts it in the running for one of the stand-out minimalist albums of the year.—Joshua P. Ferguson on Robag Wruhme's Thora Vukk

We love slowing it down. It’s sexy. When we slow it down people start making out. Now we’re getting people coming up to us being like, I met my girlfriend or I met my boyfriend at a Wolf + Lamb or a Soul Clap show and now we’re in love. We’re like the Dr. Ruth of dance music.Soul Clap's Charlie Levine

Being onstage every night, it’s like a drug. When you’re back at home, you are happy because you can see your family and your friends, but it’s hard because you don’t feel the energy you had on tour.Yelle's Julie Budet

If you listen to Sigur Rós or Fever Ray, they have this melancholic sound. Maybe it’s because of the shitty weather here. I don’t know, but there’s a certain kind of Scandinavian blues sound that is a bit darker.—Darkness Falls producer Trentemoller


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