Monday, September 24, 2012

Singles Review | Tiga + Amir Alexander + Let's Play House


house \haus \ n + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n

"Adapting to the Lazarus camp's late-night formula, Sontag tapers his electro bombast to little more than a whisper of metallic cackles that adds a subtle texture to the track's soft-edged thump. Tiga has a reputation for exuding electro sleaze, so his adoption of lyrics from Prince's "When Doves Cry" makes for a natural fit, but even with the Purple One's lyrics in the mix, Sontag has chosen to tone down his sexed-up swagger as well."  

— Reviewed for XLR8R (continue reading)

Amir Alexander

house \haus \ n + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n

"Birds chirp in the distance and broad-stroke atmospherics lift the mood, as Alexander's own musings—"I feel so good right now," "I'm lost in the music"—put the track's sentiment into words. Ambient elements swirl around the rolling drum-machine rhythms with a cotton candy lightness, imparting a dream-like quality that drifts back in time to a different era of underground club sounds." 

Reviewed for XLR8R (continue reading)

Let's Play House•Records

house \haus \ n + tech•no \tek-nõ\ dis•co \dis-ko \ n

"Much like early Mark E or The Revenge, [The Dead Rose Music Compnay] displays an uncanny ability for splicing up dusty dancefloor gems from the '70s and reconstructing them into hypnotic, loopy groovers. He makes the sort of tracks that wrap listeners up in the fuzzy warmth of vintage R 'n' B and reverb, but still command attention at the discerning club nights that the Let's Play House collective is known for organizing." 

— Reviewed for XLR8R

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shuffle | Eskmo + AbdeCaf + Little People + Bi-Polar Bears


Shuffle | New Sounds from our Inbox

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Eskmo "I Just Want"
When you can boast releases on Ninja Tune, Warp and Planet Mu, as the moody Californian producer Eskmo does, you score a lot of points with a lot of people—in the discerning dance music community anyway—before even having to press play. But when that button is pushed, this man backs up the reputation that precedes him. Eskmo's latest, "I Just Want," a teaser for his forthcoming EP for his own Ancestor label, carries on the producer's nuanced production style, building slowly before breaking into fuzzy bass groove. His own distorted vocals provide extra warmth to the track. I often think of Eskmo as Amon Tobin light, and this track upholds that opinion.

DOWNLOAD: Eskmo "I Just Want" | 320 mp3

AbdeCaf "Never Know" (featuring Soft Lighting)
Given the bent of EDM world domination going on these past few months, it's ultra refreshing to find a 21-year-old producer who prefers to take up company—musically, at least—with acts like James Blake and Balam Acab, two acts with which Miami producer AbdeCaf is often compared. Listening to this freebie, "Never Know," he feels more indie than either of those two acts, mixing smooth synth lines with popping rock bass and minimal drum machine programming. After a few listens, I'm more likely to put him next to melancholy Italo rockers Chromatics.

Little People "Aldgate Patterns"
Again, I don't know if its the all this EDM hype, but lately I've been latching onto anything that doesn't lead with an over-the-top 4/4 thump. Cinematic in its scope and supremely chill, Little People's new single "Aldgate Patterns" definitely qualifies. The U.K. producer begins with what could be a finger piano and toy xylophone before growing his track to include the crunch of a Bonobo-esque beat, lush strings and an upgrade to a baby grand. This lovely track is the precursor to his sophomore LP, We Are But Hunks of Wood, due out any time on Youth and Progress Records.

DOWNLOAD: Little People "Aldgate Patterns" | 320 mp3

Bi-Polar Bear "Ledge"
Rounding out this mellower edition of Shuffle is Bi-Polar Bear, the breezy hip-hop duo from Arizona. Boasting just the right kind of downtempo beat production and indie-style rapping, "Ledge" could have come straight from the Atmosphere camp for its thoughtfulness and jazzy vibe. 

DOWNLOAD: Bi-Polar Bear "Ledge" | 192 mp3

Monday, September 17, 2012

Article | The Button-Pushing Debate

Push to Talk

DJs and producers are getting vocal about pushing buttons.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 08.09.12

You know what they say about DJs with opinions; sometimes they come off sounding like assholes. At least that’s how many working in the nightlife trade felt about loudmouthed club rat deadmau5 after reading the cover story on him in the July 5 issue of Rolling Stone. In it, mau5-man Joel Zimmerman rails on dance-music stars like David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia and Skrillex, calling out what he feels is a rudimentary performance technique that amounts to little more than pressing play on songs. 

“People are, thank God, smartening up to who does what—but there’s still button-pushers getting paid half a million,” Zimmerman states. “And not to say I’m not a button-pusher, I’m just pushing a lot more buttons.” Such high-profile shit talking was bound to set people off. If you happen to friend or follow even a couple of DJs or producers, you’ve likely been unable to avoid the torrent of responses from amateurs and professionals alike, both in favor of and against Zimmerman’s argument. 

Thankfully, amid all this rapid-fire commentary, a few cooler heads have spoken up to better frame the issue. In an August interview I conducted for Time Out Chicago—and which I hope to re-host here soon—Lollapalooza artists Bassnectar and Kaskade chimed in, pointing out that the larger the performance, the more the music, lights and visuals need to be in sync. In that situation, there’s little room for the spontaneity, improvisation or possible error usually afforded to a DJ in a typical club setting. Some artists, the guys point out, choose to pre-record and then mime performance. Others practice meticulously to assure that once onstage in front of thousands, they don’t miss their cues. Kaskade and Bassnectar, it’s worth pointing out, fall in with the latter half. 

So does A-Trak, the five-time world-champion DJ and party rocker who took to the Huffington Post on July 23 to speak at length about the debate. “As the lines blur between a DJ who mixes and a producer who presses play, questions of authenticity have been raised,” he explains. DJs, who have traditionally dominated the club market, are the guys and gals you see behind record or CD players, blending other people’s songs together and cringing at your requests for “Call Me Maybe.” 

Producers, like deadmau5, work in a studio. Unlike bands, these artists use computers and equipment to make their music. Not the coolest thing to watch live. It basically amounts to—and here’s the rub—pushing a lot of buttons.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Heavy Rotation | XLR8R + North Coast Music Festival

Heavy Rotation | XLR8R + North Coast Music Festival

Corralling our latest commentary from around the Web.

by Joshua P. Ferguson

It's been a ridiculous summer for festivals. With six total logged, attended and reviewed, North Coast Music Festival represents the grand finale. And in the midst of it all, we've been heavily invested in reviewing some great new records for XLR8R. In the latest installment of our newest regular feature, Heavy Rotation, we concentrate all of our recent scribblings from across the Internet in one easy, digestible package. Have it, friends.

Album + Single reviews | XLR8R

"These guys are the furthest thing from trend chasers—especially when the predominant style is one that peaked more than five years ago. If anything, it returns the listener to a place in time, an era when acid jazz ruled, Gilles Peterson was the epitome of cool, and electronic music was allowed to have a soft side." — Review of The Idjut Boys' Cellar Door for XLR8R 

"With the second volume of what seems set to become an ongoing series from the duo's flagship label, the Modeselektor boys have compiled 18 exclusive tracks that go from bass music to techno to glitch to juke to what are essentially experimental electronic works, and they've managed to do so without the typically schizo, jarring qualities that often plague label compilations." 
— Review of Monkeytown's Modeselektion Vol. 2 compilation for XLR8R 

"From Life and Death's conception, Manfredi Romani and his label partner Greg Oreck (of New York techno duo Thugfucker) have put forth that it was their intention to revive old sounds and give them new life. Fans of Romani's most recent sample choices will surely warm to the way they've been recontextualized. On "The Outcast," Cinematic Orchestra has been wrapped snugly in a warm psychedelic house fold with dapper trio PillowTalk channeling the musical heritage of its native San Francisco on the track's vocal refrains. " 
— Review of DJ Tennis's Kompakt single "The Outcast" for XLR8R

North Coast Music Festival | Time Out Chicago

"Bookended by banners of the group's signature smiley-faced triangles set atop pedestals, Evans was a sight with her bleach-blonde, close-cropped hair, white Doc Martens, white mic and spandex yin-yang-speckled shorts. Bouncing around the stage with bird-like gestures, she asked the crowd about its fondness for aliens before the band moved into "Beam Me Up." Steeped in the day glow of neon, the crowd was obviously into it." — Coverage of YACHT for Time Out Chicago 

"It was clear from chatting with the folks around me that many of those queued up were unsure of who, exactly, the Rapture is. Putting them into a musical context alongside LCD Soundsystem seemed to brighten their eyes, and once the foursome started playing, anyone on the fence planted their feet. Well, planted until songs like "Get Yourself Into It" got them doing just that. "
 Coverage of the Rapture for Time Out Chicago 

"Taking to the stage with his cityscape backdrop, Smith dropped the wobbly bass head nodder "Hot Like Sauce" and there was no turning back. Glow sticks began flying every which way, a dozen girls cropped up on top of shoulders and a laser and light show from the stage bathed the thousands of onlookers in every color of the rainbow. Seriously, there was not a single component on that stage that wasn't whirling, flashing or shining. " 
 Coverage of headliner Pretty Lights for Time Out Chicago

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shuffle | Flying Lotus | Until the Quiet Comes Short Film

Shuffle | Flying Lotus

by Joshua P. Ferguson

There's been some furious writing going on at the Dialogue Inc HQ and our intention was to share as much of that as possible today, then we were subsequently mesmerized by this little gem, a short film for Flying Lotus's impending LP, Until the Quiet Comes. Envisioned by rising music-video director Kahlil Joseph, who's also brought the music of Shabazz Palaces, Lee Fields and Seu Jorge to visual life, the film is a redemptive story of sorts, of how music can offer second chances. 

The not-so-sly nod to J.Dilla traces an important connection between the prolific hip-hop producer and the increasingly prolific FlyLo. Erykah Badu knows this, featuring heavily on the LPs teaser single "See Thru to U," which is also featured in the short. Filmed on 35mm, it captures a gritty L.A. with its inner city lives and all its dangers. Frightening and beautiful at the same time, it makes you give pause—and then get a little antsy in anticipation of the full record which is out Oct 1 and 2 on Warp Records.

Tracks featured:

—  "See Thru to U" featuring Erykah Badu
—  "Hunger" featuring Niki Randa
—  "Getting There" featuring Niki Randa