Thursday, May 24, 2012

Preview | Movement Detroit 2012

Movement Detroit 2012

A Dialogue Inc guide to the annual techno fest

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Given all the coverage I do and the number of festivals that take place around Dialogue Inc. headquarters, I've attended no less than three each summer for the past few years. None has me running around with child-like glee the way Detroit's Movement festival does. Annually, I parcel out the schedule so that I can catch 45 minutes of a set here, only to make a mad dash across the grounds to catch 30 minutes of another there. It's my personal Disneyland and there are more wild rides across each Memorial Day weekend than I can cram into three days. But still I try, and try I will this coming Saturday through Monday, May 26–28. To help give you an idea of where you might want to head were you to also make your way to Motor City this weekend, I've hand picked three acts (or so) from each day that fall under the 'must see' category. Trust.

(The after-party scene is a whole other ball of wax. For a better idea, I suggest consulting Resident Advisor's DEMF After-Party Guide.)

Saturday 26

In many ways, day one is the most stacked of the three. What, between Todd Terje, Benoit and Sergio, Roni Size and Lil Louis, how is one ever to make up his or her mind? While it will include some of all these afore mentioned, for me it's going to go something like this: Greg Wilson, that legend, master of the edit, the reel-to-reel and all things electro-boogie is warming up the main stage just as the day is starting to cool down. I had a chance to interview him ahead of a Chicago date last year and we talked so long my tape recorder ran out. Then he had visa issues and couldn't make it. I won't be missing the Wilson two times in a row. Greg Wilson plays the main stage from 5-6:30pm.

Later in the evening comes a man I'm ashamed to say I've only recently come to be obsessed with. U.K. drum 'n' bass master Photek gets the Red Bull stage primed for the rest of the evening and if he's sounding anything like his recent contribution to DJ-KiCKS, he'll be cooking up a lot more than just atmospheric jungle. I expect healthy doses of stripped-down post-dubstep bass, touches of acid and even his own deep take on house and techno. Photek spins the Red Bull stage from 8:30-9:30pm.

Speaking of deep house and techno, I can't close out this first night any place other than the Beatport stage, where Visionquest's Seth Troxler goes at it back-to-back with Israeli rising star Guy Gerber (pictured). Troxler's Visionquest crew mixed a solid entry into the Fabric series late last year and just yesterday I got my hands on Gerber's upcoming contribution—16 tracks that represent his singular vision of deep dance music, not one that doesn't have his name attached to it. That's a bold move and I'm putting my hands together for it. Seth Troxler and Guy Gerber close out the Beatport stage from 10pm-midnight.

Sunday 27

Sunday kicks in early with Detroit legend Carl Craig broadcasting from the main stage. Seeing him perform as 69 last year was super cool and all, but I want to see the man, as the man, spinning records. No frills. Craig does so from 3-5pm on the main stage.

From there I'm back to the Beatport stage where two of my greatest discoveries of the past six months play one after the next. London's Maya Jane Coles has been on a tear recently, mixing a brilliant DJ-KiCKs and churning out a steady stream of punchy deep house nuggets. Her output cannot be relegated to a sushi restaurant soundtrack. But she's also not afraid to head out into the ether, as she showed us on her DJ-KiCKs, flirting with the bass music world and some of the material that you can find alongside hers, over at Hypercolour. Maya does her thing at the Beatport stage from 4:30-6pm.

Some might get a case of the nerves following up the hotly tipped Coles, but Crosstown Rebels' wunderkind Maceo Plex is one that can give her a run for her money in terms of buzzworthy notoriety. Crowds go bonkers for his runaway hit "Under the Sheets" on Art Department's No. 19 Music and, in my humble opinion, his latest for CR, "Frisky," is about to do the same. I've yet to see him live, but I'm making sure that changes. Maceo Plex follow Coles on the Beatport stage from 6–8:30pm.

Monday 28

Another early showing sure thing is that of Siberian beauty and massive talent Nina Kraviz. Her debut full length landed on Radio Slave's Rekids label early this year, after ratcheting up interest with her burning "Ghetto Kraviz" single, one sure to be heard more than once this weekend. Kraviz bumps it out from the Main stage from 3-4:30pm.

While it's also a must to take in at least some of Cassy's follow-up set, so is diverting your attention to the Red Bull stage for ex-Discotech man Danny Daze, who's brought his sound back to the underground with big releases for the likes of Hot Creations. "Your Everything" quickly became one of my favorites this year and I'm keen to hear what else he has in his box. Catch Daze at the Red Bull stage from 4-6pm.

If by this point in the weekend, your ears are ready to bleed from too much techno (it just might be possible) the Red Bull stage diverts from the formula for the remainder of Movement's final day, focusing on other burgeoning dance trends, including the MPC wizardry of Dipset producer araabMUZIK. His Electronic Dream LP from last year spent a decent amount of time stuck on repeat for me and I wanna see what this guy's made of when he sets his sights on pounding out those beats live. araabMUZIK and his MPC go live from the Red Bull stage from 8-9pm.

As all good things do, Movement 2012 must come to an end. Thankfully, it does so with the Wizard, a.k.a. the legendary Jeff Mills. There's not much that I can write that will do any more justice to this man's illustrious career. Having been in the game long, he's bound to have some new new business to enlighten us with, alongside the tried and true. Bottom line is, I'm game for it all. Jeff Mills closes out the fest and the Main stage from 10:30pm-midnight. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Album Review | Rusko | Songs + mp3

This album isn't exactly new anymore, we know. Writing for Time Out Chicago,  we sometimes give life to these pieces there. In this particular case, the review was held until Rusko came through to play Chicago. We gave it some time to breath on the TOC site before we migrated it over here. Anyway, there's our disclaimer. Here's the review:


Dub•step \ dub-step \ n + breaks \brãks \ v 

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 05.03.12

Brostep is slang used to mock the metallic low-end crunch and razor-sharp digi-bite of dubstep when taken to extremes—and the fact that it generally causes dudes, i.e. frat types, to fist-pump uncontrollably. It’s a musical movement derided by the EDM elite. 

In the most general terms, U.K. bass producer Rusko is usually lumped into the category. This has always seemed unfair to me, and even more so upon hearing Songs. Coming from London, and producing this music well before dubstep steamrolled into the rave mania that it currently is, Rusko’s full of versatility. 

You can hear it in the jazzy keys and RnB vocals of 2-step throwback “Pressure,” which shares nothing with dubstep’s typical aggressiveness. Songs also seems to favor the genre’s mellower namesake, dub, working it into the wobble of “Skanker” or letting it take over entirely with the tropical “Love No More.” 

This is not to say there aren’t moments that’ll tempt fans to thrust their hands skyward. Drumstep (that’s dubstep with drum ’n’ bass) crowd-pleaser “Somebody to Love” displays Rusko’s keen ability to combine the adrenaline shot of bass music with pop warmth, and do so successfully. Whereas “Dirty Sexy” smacks of pop-dance pandering, complete with a Rihanna impersonator. 

Rusko recovers from his appeal to the lowest common denominator, first with the U.K. garage-dancehall insta-party of “Whistle Crew” and then letting us down softly with the soothing Ibiza chill-out sunniness of “M357.” It’s an utter left turn and the album’s most beautiful moment. 

Moving to L.A. back in 2009 to bring dubstep to the U.S. masses, Rusko still seems unsure of the best way to do this. Or maybe his frenetic personality won’t let him settle for one particular sound. Either way, it means lows and highs, but the highs provide some potent dance-floor fodder—even if it might be at a keg party. 

—Joshua P. Ferguson

DOWNLOAD: Rusko "Somebody to Love" (Skream remix) | 320 mp3 (courtesy of

Monday, May 14, 2012

Live and Direct | XLR8R

Live and Direct | XLR8R

With the exception of a fleeting interest in electronica giants like Orbital and the Prodigy in high school, I didn't truly come to love the mechanized world of dance music until I reached college. There, in the rave-heavy town of Madison, Wisconsin, my interest in house, techno, drum 'n' bass and downtempo flourished. I had a newfound stream of cash from waiting tables in my pocket and thus, I became a fixture at the local record store. It was there that I discovered XLR8R. Sure, I flipped through my fair share of URBs and BPMs, but like their three-letter names, these did not have the substance or indepth coverage of the underground that I found myself gravitating toward. XLR8R did. It still does.

As readers of Dialogue Incorporated, I'm sure you know that while we do cover the big dogs—Steve Aoki, Pete Tong, 12th Planet—our passion truly lies in the movers and shakers just below the surface. In this regard, XLR8R remains our kindred spirit. It was also the place that gave me my start in dance music journalism. I wrote for the magazine between 2005 and 2007, covering deep house, broken beat and nujazz. You can peruse those archival nuggets here: XLR8R | Contributors. I also owe those pages a debt of gratitude for helping me get my current position with Time Out Chicago.

And now, in a grand coming of the full circle, I'm pleased to announce that I am once again contributing to those pages, now exclusively available in digital form. My first review showed up online on Friday (see below) and we've got many more wonderful features in the works. Stay tuned.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Article | Gemini Club | Three's Company + mp3

Three's Company

Gemini Club's promise extends beyond the stage.

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 04.19.12

Time Out Chicago once referred to us as the poor man’s Cut Copy,” Gemini Club frontman Tom Gavin tells me during a recent chat at the band’s practice space near the West Loop. As the magazine's chief nightlife writer, I’m quick to proclaim my innocence: It wasn’t me! They consider the description a compliment. Whew. 

The indie-electronic trio, which also includes sound manipulators Dan Brunelle and Gordon Bramli, does resemble the Aussie outfit to which it is often compared, but there’s also a lot that sets it apart. Both bands’ shows equal a dance party, but Gemini Club looks less like a traditional band onstage. Brunelle and Bramli both man what they call rigs, stands adorned with all manner of controls and computers that take the place of guitars or stacks of keyboards. 

I also don’t think Cut Copy is releasing a limited-edition mini sequencer and synth like the Gemini Capsule, which the band debuted in Chicago  for the release party of its latest EP, Here We Sit

Product development genuinely interests Gemini Club. So do a lot of other savvy marketing techniques. Earlier this year The New York Times did a think piece defining today’s twentysomethings as what it called Generation Sell. Gavin, 28, Bramli and Brunelle, both 25, fit the mold. 

“Everybody’s business-minded,” Gavin says. “We look at it that way. Let’s be smart. Let’s make good decisions. The way people find music today, why even have a record label?” Notably, the band doesn’t. Instead it works in tandem with a PR company and a strategic development firm. These three think of Gemini Club as a company (it actually is an LLC), and that sets the band apart. Well, that and the music.

DOWNLOAD: Gemini Club "By Surprise" | 320 mp3


Friday, May 4, 2012

Interview | Modeselektor + Live Set

Record Selektor

In honor of Record Store Day, Modeselektor reminisces about its vinyl-slinging days

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Modeselektor doesn’t spend much time deejaying, but that wasn’t always the case. Before forming the Berlin-based techno-and-bass-music act, both Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary were spinning and stocking vinyl bins, coming of age in the thriving German rave scene after the fall of the Berlin wall. With the Modeselektor tour bus rolling through Chicago to perform at Metro  on Record Store Day, we rang Bronsert in his studio to chat about the charm of vinyl shops, his early days working in one, why physical music is special and why he'll never forget his first time in the Windy City.

How much does physical music still play into your world personally? 
Szary and me are in our early 30s, so we grew up with vinyl of course. The kids these days, this is something they don’t know and there’s a big mystique around it. I think vinyl has become a luxury item. Back in the day it was the only way to get, for example, techno music. We had some DJs here in Berlin, two or three of these guys went to every record store—this was in the mid ‘90s—and bought all the copies so they were the only ones to have them and to play them. This is something that’s not possible anymore. So this is one good thing. 

But then there are a lot of bad things, of course with all the digital music and illegal downloads. A lot of kids grew up with this way of getting music, going on websites and downloading the tunes, but they don’t understand that there’s a huge amount of work behind it. I’m not a teacher who’s complaining and shouting to the people. We started the label just two years ago, so it already happened—the music industry was already dying. We decided to make two record labels and one of the labels is based on vinyl. We just wanted to make it because we love the item and the material and the idea behind it. We’re not really nerds who buy records and leave them sealed in storage. We use vinyl also. It’s more about the fix, the romantic side of the black discs. You need a mechanical turntable which has a wheel and a disc and you can put vinyl on it. Then you have this very tiny needle that brings the bass on to the dance floor. We are very fascinated by this. 

You know bass music producers who are still releasing things exclusively on vinyl. Do you think that’s to maintain this exclusivity since it’s so much harder for DJs to get their hands on a limited pressing? 
I think all the DJs that get the tunes aren’t playing vinyl anymore and they still play all the tunes. I wouldn’t do vinyl-only releases because these guys lose a lot of money when the tracks end up on the Internet anyway. There are a few young DJs from the U.K. who are very into vinyl and they prefer to spin vinyl because it’s something new for them. They go a step back because they didn’t grow up with it and just discovered the way to deejay with vinyl. 

You talked about growing up with vinyl in Berlin, I know you were around for those early rave days. Were you into this music before the fall of the wall? 
It was not possible to get records, but very quick after the wall, that became the soundtrack of our childhood. I grew up with techno. I used to work at a record store here in Berlin, it’s a pretty famous one called Hard Wax. I used to work there and that was just because I was one of the oldest customers there. 

I think I was 13 when I went there the first time, I remember exactly what record it was. I went there very early in ’92 or something. I saved a little money—I think I had 25 bucks or whatever—I went there and said, I want to buy a jungle record. I started very early discovering new styles of music. Techno was there or whatever, but there was this thing called jungle and I wanted to know what it was. I got my first record, which was not jungle. I asked for jungle and they gave me Aphex Twin. That was how the whole thing started, I thought this music was jungle and I really liked it. I think it was Selected Ambient Works

Do you still go to the record store to shop for vinyl? 
Of course. I just go to Hard Wax, or if we travel we have our stores where we go always. Any favorites? There’s a store in London I go to called Phonica, and in Glasgow there’s one called Rubadub. In the U.S., sometimes it’s difficult. We would always go to Amoeba in San Francisco. Since I used to work at Hard Wax, we still have our shelf there with our names on it and they put all the new stuff in it and we go there once a month to pick up the records and talk to the guys.

If you were given the chance to open a record store of your own, what would you do with it to make it special? 
I would never open a record store by myself because I wouldn’t be able to make it special. It would mean that I would need to change my whole life and live for it. If you want to make a record store which is good, you need to live in the record store actually. You need to be constantly on the ball and know nonstop what’s going on. Pretty much the perfect record store I know for electronic music is Hard Wax Berlin. I don’t want to make a commercial for them but I need to because this is something the kids should discover when they come to Berlin. 

Well, you’ve had a 20-year relationship with the place. It makes total sense. 
When you come there as a greenhorn and don’t really have a clue and don’t ask the right questions, you can get maybe rough feedback from the guys, but this is just protection from them. They are very nice and will help you out. If you go there and educate yourself a little bit and they see that you know what’s going on, they will help you and it’ll change your life. I think they influence us more than anyone else on this planet. Going to a DJ record store and shopping is a unique experience. You actually work with the salesman to find what you like. This is more like a sport. It’s not even just collecting, it’s more about the communication you have in the store. That’s a special thing which most of the young music lovers don’t know. They just go to their blogs or their download platforms or whatever and they buy the stuff and just read what’s going on the blogs. That’s very anonymous. When you have someone in the store that you’ve known for a long time and this someone knows a lot about music, I think it’s more the fact that you’re coming into the store and having communication. You talk to someone. This is actually the special thing. I really appreciate it when a record store has a personality and picky characters behind the counter. 

If money were not an issue for you or the customer what would the ideal deluxe edition of a Modeselektor release be? 
 I’ve always wanted to release a tape. But not a cassette, I’m talking about a reel-to-reel tape, like from the ‘70s. This is something I really want to do but it totally makes no sense. I just know one person with a reel-to-reel so I think we would just sell one. And then keep the rest for ourselves. 

Any future plans to do more work with Apparat? 
 Right now we are in the studio, Szary and me, and we started working on an EP, which I think we will release at the end of the year. In September we are going back into the studio with Apparat to work on the new Moderat record which is supposed to be released in 2013. It looks good, we already have a few sketches. 

We’re happy to have you coming back to Chicago. 
I actually have a funny story about Chicago. When we played there the first time I asked the promoter to bring me to a restaurant with the best chicken wings because I heard Chicago is famous for chicken wings. I don’t know, for some strange reason I heard that. And he brought me to this place, I asked the waiter for the specialty of the house. I didn’t have an idea. I took one of these chicken wings and I started eating. It was the most spiciest thing I’ve ever had in my mouth. I was about to call the ambulance. Then I saw all these pictures on the wall, they won a few prizes for the spiciest chicken wings on the planet and they brought me the spiciest shit. It was inedible. I wasn’t prepared. I had this pain in my mouth and then I touched my eyes. I was so fucked, you cannot imagine. This is actually the first memory that pops up when I talk about Chicago. 

We’ll have to get you out somewhere new while you’re here. We don’t want that to be your only Chicago memory. 
Chicago’s a great food city. I know. They’re famous for good food.

And sausages! 
Dude, I’m from Germany. I grew up with 200 million sausages, so I don’t know. 

As part of Abstract Science, a group of radio hosts and DJs who broadcast every thursday here in Chicago, I worked with the crew to chop up the live audio of this interview and couple that with a live set we had in the archives. Here are links to that as well as the rest of that particular show.

Stream and download after the jump.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

DJ Mix | Matt Roan | Bright Nites 4

DJ Mix | Matt Roan Bright Nites 4

Crossfader King's dapper dan drops his latest electro-disco workout.

by Joshua P. Ferguson 

If you call Chicago home, or happen to be in town tomorrow night, there's one destination that should be bumped to the top of your list of nightlife stops: Studio Paris. Yes, it's a sparkler-clad bottle-service-fueled ultra lounge. Yes, that also means deep pockets will enhance your experience. But! Tomorrow, being a Wednesday, and Matt Roan, being the DJ, will make the experience more inviting and manageable than, say, your typical Saturday night.

The occasion? A special edition of Studio Sessions featuring Roan on the decks to pump up the debut of the latest volume of his party-ready Bright Nites mix series. Along with fellow Crossfader King royalty Emilio Abadia, the stylish selector manages the lion's share of DJ bookings for Studio Paris and its sister restaurants, including Paris Club (downstairs), Hub 51, its subterranean club Sub 51 and RPM Italian. A visit to any of these spots has a bit of Roan, Abadia and company's stamp on it. 

Known as much for his extreme funkiness behind the turntables as his infectious personality—evidently, the dude's so hip, his ponytail even has its own Twitter feed which you can follow at @ROANytail—Matt Roan offers sets that are never shy on unbridled dance party magic. The Bright Nites series (and, naturally, its release party) sits somewhere between disco, indie dance, electro and clubby fist pumpers, which is not only what the A-list DJ does best, it's what Studio Paris excels at.

To get you in the mood, here is Bright Nites 4 in all its glory, for your listening and downloading pleasure: