Monday, January 30, 2012

Article | Push Beats

Beat Down

Push Beats makes sense of its elusive leftfield grooves

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 12.07.11

What kind of music do you make? For the six guys behind Push Beats, it’s a hard question to answer. “Aw, fuck that question,” says Zain Khan, 24, the experimental beat crew’s youngest member. “Beats,” he continues, engaging himself in a hypothetical conversation. “‘What kind of beats?’ I don’t know dude. Let’s not have this conversation.” Khan, who records as “Zainghis,” is seated alongside producers-in-arms Adam “Abyss” Bowsman (the Push Beats founder), Jack “Doc Ill” Hill, Raj “Raj Mahal” Malosh, Brandon “Illiac” Murphy and Marcos “Cos” Rivera during a recent installment of their weekly Tuesday party at LOKaL Lounge in Chicago's Wicker Park to help dissect the music they make and the scene they navigate. Here’s what they had to say. 

Sound Off 

“All of us have come from an appreciation of hip-hop and how the producer has moved into the forefront, even more than the MC,” says Malosh, 35, the group’s senior producer. “The experimental element that’s woven into the beats is what we all gel on.” 

Starting in the ’90s, hip-hop producers like Madlib and labels like Ninja Tune started removing rappers from the equation to let the music do the talking and this so called experimental hip-hop scene has been snowballing ever since. Currently the movement is strongest on the West Coast, where young producers flock to Flying Lotus and his Brainfeeder label. The Push guys also single out strong Midwest talents like Michigan sound tinkerers Samiyam and Shigeto. 

The music incorporates hip-hop’s boom bap, but it quickly branches out from there with 8-bit video game melodies, dusty soul loops, the clatter of experimental glitch music and the fat low end wobble of drum ’n’ bass and dubstep. “Any genre you can think of has had an impact on it,” Malosh continues. “That comes from sample culture. It just kinda grew and the producers took it a lot further.” 

Come Together 

Each member points to music-hosting site Soundcloud as an essential tool in propelling the movement. Whether separate or in tandem, the guys are constantly uploading the fruits of late-night recording sessions to their individual pages. The portal is also how they discover most new artists. 

“You find stuff you probably otherwise wouldn’t ever find—people from Budapest or Russia,” says Bowsman. “Most of them are bedroom producers just like us.” On the local level, Push prides itself on finding these talents. “The whole focus on the night initially is A) being more experimental, B) live performance and C) really bringing the people out in the city who already do this shit in their bedrooms whose names we don’t know and we want to know because they’re making incredible shit,” says Murphy.

Continue Reading 

Catch the Push Beats crew weekly on Tuesdays at LOKaL Lounge in Chicago.

And here's a sampling of each member's sound—with download where available.




Doc Ill:


Raj Mahal:

Zainghis Khan:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

DJ Mix | Efdemin

DJ Mix | Efdemin for Fabric London

To be honest, the night this mix was promoting has come and gone. So much for the timeliness of the internet. Human error has succeeded yet again. big whoop. One thing that is not time sensitive is German tech-house producer Efdemin's music, or in this case, his record collection. It's been almost a year since we reviewed his last output for the Dial label, Chicago, so it's always nice to get a refresher on this sonic architect's modernist sound.

Plus, t's gray outside, and the bumps, clicks, moody melodies and minimal grooves on display here are treating us just right. We thought you might think the same. Enjoy. Sorry there's no tracklisting.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shuffle | Florence + Matthew + Mayer + More

Shuffle | New Sounds from Our Inbox

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Florence + the Machine "No Light, No Light" (Spector Ryan Gosling remix)
In the rush leading up to 2012, what with all the different year-end lists we attempted to tackle, the rock side of things somehow got lost. One such artist from that realm that we'd hoped to spend some blog time praising was U.K. siren Florence Welch, who, along with her Machine, released a proper gothic pop stunner in Ceremonials. Here, one of the stand outs from that record received the remix treatment from fellow countrymen Spector, who twist it ever so slightly into a booming, mildly glitchy musical storm fit for the remix's namesake, Ryan Gosling, but specifically his turn as the nameless stuntman hero in Drive.

Download: Florence + the Machine "No Light, No Light" (Spector Ryan Gosling remix) | 160 mp3


Matthew Dear "In the Middle (I Met You There)"
Looking ahead, pop-technoist Matthew Dear's impending LP is one of our most anticipated this year.  Dropping his Headcage EP last week, Dear gave us a taste of what to expect—further adventures in his patented, avant-garde, roiling electronic pop. This cut, the highlight of the EP is the first to feature a voice other than Dear's and we're obsessed with results. Slinking along with a beat made partially from sampled vocals, the Drums' Jonny Pierce makes a perfect stand-in with his nasally drawl. Dear's productions are no longer ideally suited for the dance floor, but we guarantee you'll bump this on your headphones for days to come.

Download: Matthew Dear "In the Middle (I Met You There)" | 320 mp3


Mayer Hawthorne "You Got the Makings of a Lover" (PillowTalk edit)
Our favorite modern-day, retro-cool crooner Mayer Hawthorne gets an extended edit from rising Gotham City boogie revivalists PillowTalk and the results are simply stunning. A two-minute slow build to the honey-ooze of the original's horns and strings is just the kind of musical foreplay we like. And the subtle house thump underpinning gives Hawthorne just the bump needed to be a perfect fit for sexier dance floors. 

Download: Mayer Hawthorne "You Got the Makings of a Lover" (PillowTalk edit) | AIFF


The Weeknd "Same Old Song" Paper Diamond remix
Injecting this update with a little bass, Colorado highlight of the Pretty Lights label stable, Paper Diamond tweeks out the lo-fi soul of the Weeknd's "Same Old Song." We've really tried to get on the Weeknd bandwagon and until this remix, we just kept falling off. The guy can sing, there's no doubt, but where his voice wins and his productions do too, there's something about his songwriting that we find no better than your average throw-away radio single. We want to like it, but then the smoke clears and we don't like what we see in mirror, or something. Thankfully, that's not the case on this exceptional turn.

Download: The Weeknd "Same Old Song" Paper Diamond remix | 256 mp3

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interview | Pearson Sound

Interview | Pearson Sound

U.K. bass music upsetter talks passé dubstep, raving in America and the dizzying London music scene.

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published on the Time Out Chicago blog 

Signal, a new night dedicated to emerging trends in the world of bass music at acclaimed Chicago club Smart Bar, is laying down its second installment this Thursday (tonight) with a set from U.K. bass-music maverick Pearson Sound, whom you might know from his more dubstep-centric days as Ramadanman. Somewhat famously quoted for saying there's only so much you can at 140bpm, the producer and DJ has pulled away from the tempo—and the prevailing sound that goes with it—to carve new paths in U.K. bass music. 

We chatted with Pearson Sound, a.k.a. David Kennedy, at length via Skype about his thoughts on these new trends bubbling in his home and the meteoric rise in the dubstep sound across the pond, here in America. 

For the last few years, Thursday nights at Smart Bar have been dedicated to dubstep, but 2012 is seeing a move to the more progressive side of bass music. So you make a perfect fit for the night. It seems that “dubstep” as a catchall phrase doesn’t really sum up what you do anymore. 
 Yeah, that hasn’t really been the case for about three years. I still play some, but it's just what the word represents is quite different now. Inevitably what I’ve been playing has changed and my tastes have changed and what I make has changed. So those are all reasons why, if people see me this week, it’ll be very different to what I was playing six years ago. 

Is that part of what brought about the name change from Ramadanman to Pearson Sound? 
Yeah, that’s part of it. The way the music has changed has also changed the way its perceived, and also maybe partly it’s a more serious name. I always felt that my older name was a bit more gimmicky. 

You also play around with some old-school, Chicago house sounds as Maurice Donovan. Based on what you’re doing with that music, are you keen on coming here? 
It’s funny. From what I understand, a lot of the music made in Detroit and Chicago often isn’t appreciated as much in the cities themselves as it is in, well, especially Europe I guess. I don’t know if that’s the case in Chicago, but it seems in Detroit that the actual Detroit legends don’t seem to be quite as loved as if they were to come play in London or Berlin or whatever. I don’t really know the musical history of Chicago that much, but part of the reason that I’m excited to come is that I’ve always had quite a lot of messages over the last few years from people in Chicago who have wanted me to come, and I just haven’t been able to sort the date on previous occasions. 

Most overseas DJs and producers do still hold those two cities to this reverence and are very excited to come because of the musical history, but your point is one that most of them don’t realize. The hometown love can be a little lacking. 
I guess it’s like if you came to London and went to Croydon and expected to look around and see record shops everywhere and bump into Skream. It’s not really going to happen. People get a slightly idealized image or a city. I guess Chicago and Detroit are very mythologized in Europe, and it’s important not to be sucked in by that. 

Speaking about the music you’ve been making lately, has there been anything that’s spurred on a move to more garage influences or the use of 4/4 rhythms and sounds? 
I’ve actually been making house and techno stuff for a lot longer than any dubstep kind of music, so it’s not really a new experimentation. It’s more just over the past three or four years, the way the music has shifted and the emergence of things like U.K. funky mean that the tempos have changed, and especially U.K. funky, it opened up a lot of possibilities for people and slowed down the music a lot. Not for myself, but for quite a few people, they didn’t really know about house music, and it’s maybe a dirty word and they didn’t really explore it. Since U.K. funky came along, it made people realize that it’s not all Head Kandy commercial, that there’s some good stuff as well. 

Obviously over here, we’re not completely up to speed with what’s going on in the U.K. 
I think there’s always going to be a time lag, but it seems to be a lot shorter in America than in other places. There seems to be a good dialogue between the U.S. and the U.K. 

What has the audience response been deejaying in the States over the past year or so? 
 It’s been really good, actually. The way I’m presented and the kind of nights I play, I don’t really get into situations where people turn up and expect me to be playing new Skrillex tunes. That doesn’t really happen in America, which is a good thing obviously. The way the music’s changed and the kinds of parties that I’ve been playing, I can get booked by, like, I did a party in San Francisco recently with some of the Dirty Bird guys and I played Deep Space with François K the other week, but then I can go play a really dubsteppy party in somewhere like Denver or whatever and still have it go well. That’s something that I’m thankful for. I don’t get dubstep kids coming and being disappointed at what I’m playing.

Continue reading

Pearson Sound joins Chicago DJs Sparkletone, Whoa-B, Bizzies and Jake Guidry for Signal at Smart Bar tonight. 10pm.>

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dancing on Film | LCD Soundsystem + The Chemical Brothers

Dancing on Film

LCD Soundsystem and the Chemical Brothers 
release movies of live shows

by Joshua P. Ferguson

By now, news of LCD Soundsystem's Shut Up and Play the Hits documentary and its imminent release isn't a groundbreaking story for most of you. That's the type of news bit that sends every music blogger on the interweb into a frenzy to beat competitors at the twitter race. At the same time, the film is something worth getting excited about, and besides, I have LCD Soundsystem lyrics tattooed on my arm, no joke. Therefore I couldn't not get in on the conversation.

The film mixes footage of poetic frontman James Murphy in the day leading up to the band's farewell show, the show itself, and, in a stroke of Sophia Coppola-esque style, the come down on the day after. As Murphy so eloquently put it, "look around you, you're surrounded, it won't get any better." I see the words on my forearm daily, but they could also be the tagline for the band, it's final show and, assuming it's any good, the film.

See the preview—with narration from Chuck Klosterman—for yourself, so that you too can 1) Be envious of the fact that you weren't there in person and 2) Get amped at the opportunity to live out the experience in glorious hyper-reality.

It certainly hasn't gotten the press that LCD has in the social media flutter of the last 24 hours, but it's also worth noting that prolific U.K. dance act The Chemical Brothers are also releasing a film that documents its mind-numbing live show. 

Entitled Don't Think,  the film captures the big beat duo's performance at Japan's Fujirock festival in front of 50,000 ecstatic fans. Directed by the Chem's longtime visual collaborator and brother-from-another-mother Adam Smith, it's a 20-camera-heavy full-on view into an electronic live show to beat all live shows. I witnessed it first hand two summers ago here in Chicago and can honestly say I've never seen anything as visually impressive since.

The movie is being treated as a concert event, airing one night only in select theaters around the U.S. on Wednesday February 1 at 7:30pm local time. Check Fathom Events for info.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Year in Review | Top Singles 5 – 1

Year in Review | Top Singles of 2011
5 to 1

by Joshua P. Ferguson

We did it! Hope that it made for unexpected and enjoyable listening.

5) Modeselektor "Green Light Go" – Monkeytown
You've got to give it to Modeselektor, it's one of the only acts around that's unafraid to freely cross from hip-hop to techno to dubstep and back, and do it successfully (for the most part). We didn't love every track from the Berlin duo's 2011 LP, but this off-kilter urgent and delicate indie-bass album cut makes us swoon.

Modeselektor - Green light go (with PVT)

4) Jamie Woon "Night Air" – Polydor
Even though this track technically surfaced as a single in 2010, Woon's 2011 album release let's us feel comfortable with it's inclusion here. That, and this whispy midtempo ballad from U.K. post-dubstep crooner Woon is so moving it cracked our top five for the year.

Night Air by woon

3) The Rapture "How Deep is Your Love" – DFA
The flagship LCD Soundsystem may have set sail for the last time, but the revival of this indie-dance progenitors more than filled the void this year. The band may have undergone some line-up changes and made good on their spiritually-oriented name this time around, but if that's what it took to put them at the top their game, then so be it. While "Sail Away" is our personal fave, it was this track that had the most impact this year. With it's hallelujah piano and hands in the air chorus, it's easy to hear why.

2) Todd Terje "Ragysh" – Running Back
Hearing this marathon un-categorizable anthem under the May sun courtesy of Sven Vath at this Year's Detroit Movement Festival was a musical highlight for us. Thousands of people went nuts to it and I guarantee more than one was thinking, 'what the hells is this bad ass madness?' We want to call it acid, but it's not really. It's housey techno sure, but that low-end synth melody and those bouncey drums don't fit neatly into any mold either. Simply put, this leftfield stomper was unlike anything released in 2011 and proves why Todd Terje is one of the most exciting figures in dance music today.

Todd Terje - Ragysh

1) Benoit and Sergio "Principles" – DFA 
This D.C. duo ruled our digi-crates this year. From "Walk and Talk" which we charted lower on the list to their winding, techy turn "Let Me Count the Ways" for Ghostly's Spectral imprint, this sugary stunner, Benoit and Sergio's output—which seemingly sprung from nowhere—fueled our rekindled love of all things deep house. It's not possible to drop this cut for a dance floor and not have someone come up imploring you for its name. If "Walk and Talk" was Benoit and Sergio's equivalent of waifish model hot, then "Principles" is the Kim Kardashian of their ouvre, and we like it curvy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Year in Review | Top Singles 10 – 6

Year in Review | Top Singles of 2011
10 to 6

by Joshua P. Ferguson

The show must go on. We fully intend to be done with this before the concept of 'the new year' gets too stale...

10) Mark E "Call Me" (Dixon edit) – Merck
Deep house has always been central to Dialogue Inc's love of dance music, and no one does deep better than Innervisions frontman Dixon. Not to discount Mark E's role in this monster from the depths, but this edit from Dixon and its inclusion on his Robert Johnson mix makes it part of his DNA in our minds. Regardless, it's a beauty.


9) Art Department "Vampire Nightclub" – Crosstown Rebels
If you tried to explain why this song rules so hard, people will laugh at you. Vampire Nightclub? First thing that comes to mind is that ridiculous scene from Blade with a dance floor being bathed in blood sprayed from the sprinkler system. But this here meditative track truly does deserve the ketamine house descriptor—burning long and deep with Seth Troxler's throaty whispers. "I like to watch your body get down," indeed.


8) Rusko "Every Day" – Mad Decent
It's that time of year again, when we praise dubstep titan Rusko's annual unstoppable anthem. 2011's entry is "Every Day," the baddest true school bass monster to come growling out of festival speakers this summer. With just enough pop appeal to get the girls giddy, it was a highlight of his set at North Coast Music Festival in Chicago over Labor Day weekend and so many months later, that shit still bangs hard.

7) Chris Brown + Twista + Busta Rhymes + Lil Wayne "Look At Me Now" – Jive
Speaking of Mad Decent, who knew Diplo teaming up with Dutch house star Afrojack would result in a heater of this magnitude? No one likes Chris Brown—except maybe girls under the age of 16—but goddamn this song is absurdly good, undeniably our hip-hop song of 2011. Busta? Leggo. This guy hasn't sounded this good since "Scenario." Nuff said.


6) James Blake "The Wilhelm Scream" – Columbia
Honestly, we don't know that we can say any more about James Blake. Between our work at Time Out Chicago and here at Dialogue Inc we've praised this post-dubstep wonder enough. He deserved it all, but people are beginning to think we have a man crush. That said, this song still makes our heart beat faster.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Year in Review | Top Singles 15 – 11

Year in Review | Top Singles of 2011
15 to 11

by Joshua P. Ferguson 

We know what you're thinking. Here we are, officially into 2012 and Dialogue Incorporated is still over there doing top lists for 2011. Well, the short answer is we're just not done summing up our last 12 months. The long answer was very eloquently outlined in yesterday's New York Times magazine. Basically, this is a cultural conversation that we look forward to having every year and, conversation being so important to us, we're going to keep it going till we're done.

So, with that, our singles picks No.'s 15 through 11.

15) SBTRKT "Something Goes Right" – Young Turks
We've already written a lot about SBTRKT this year, from our interview with him to the inclusion of his self-titled debut in our Top Albums list. So, it should go without saying that we couldn't get by without picking a top track as well. While we loved the tribal-masked hotsteppers big hit "Wildfire," it was this album cut that truly won us over.

SBTRKT - Something Goes Right (feat. Sampha)

14) Cut Copy "Sun God" – Modular
It's been an undeniably praise-worthy year for these Aussie disco rockers. Between Zonoscope and four Chicago appearances in 2011, they were a clear town favorite. And while they had numerous singles to pick from, it was this unexpected 15-minute long, slow-burning acid monster that stood out from the pack.


13) Benoit + Sergio "Walk and Talk" – Visionquest
Releasing records for DFA, Ghostly International and Visionquest this year, the D.C. duo known as Benoit and Sergio enthralled the dance scene with anthem after anthem. This ode to a girl stuck in a k hole, was one of its best.


12) Adele "Rolling in the Deep" (Jamie xx shuffle) – XL Recordings
In the New York Times rationale, this song (well, the original) would be a shoo-in for the No. 9 or No. 2 slot, depending on how much this gut-wrenching torch song captured your heart this year. We too fretted over where to place it. Here it is, nuff said. Jamie xx had his biggest year yet and this was the remix that put him squarely in the greater public's consciousness. It's easy to hear why. 


11) Jamie xx + Gil Scott-Heron "I'll Take Care of You" – XL Recordings
       Drake "Take Care" – Cash Money
Did we mention that 2011 was a big year for Jamie xx? Not only did this wunderkind oversee the final recording session from American singer-songwriter legend Gil Scott-Heron, but progressive rap crooner Drake (who also took a liking to SBTRKT this year) sampled the crap out of this, the pinnacle moment from the Gil/Jamie collabo. In the end, both have their moments and we couldn't stop listening to either.

Jamie xx + GIl Scott-Heron "I'll Take Care of You"
Drake "Take Care"