Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Allure | Mad Men Season 6

The Allure | Mad Men

In what has become an annual tradition within the Dialogue Inc offices, the yearly premier of Mad Men is akin to Thanksgiving, albeit with less football and more fondue. Ties are also skinnier. And the drinks stiffer, too. Anyway. We  know we're not alone in this festive non-holiday that sees socialites, fashion lovers and TV junkies alike dress in their best '60s period gear and slave away shaking dirty martinis and whipping up deviled eggs so they can impress all of their guests who have gathered to share in the show's premier—which, for those of you who haven't heard is Sunday April 7.

For the season 5 premiere last year, AMC shared a series of cast photos in advance, and our post sharing them with Dialogue Inc readers was one of our most viewed of the year, so we thought you all might appreciate this yet again—as much as we appreciate the traffic! So behold, the cast of Mad Men Season 6, including a wiser Peggy, a thinner-but-no-less-crazy Betty, the always-dapper Roger, and of course Don.

And apropos Dialogue Inc's core philosophies about cultural communication and enlightening conversation, we leave you with this quote (below), words of wisdom from an Ad guru really. 

— Joshua P. Ferguson

"If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation." — Don Draper

Monday, January 21, 2013

Article | Squarepusher | Pusher Man

Pusher Man

Squarepusher dispels any Misconceptions about him or his latest album, Ufabulum.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 11.01.12

Tom Jenkinson is troubled. The experimental electronic producer and self-described “hard-baked, self-taught” musician Squarepusher, he’s bothered by the dominant opinion that his latest record, last May’s Ufabulum, is a return to form. Not only does Jenkinson not hear it that way, he feels that perception points to larger problems with music criticism in the Internet age.

“Doing interviews when the record first came out, the interpretations were much more varied,” the 37-year-old Essex native says on the phone from his London home. “Now everyone’s saying the same thing to me. I’m not sure if that’s an Internet-based phenomenon where these interpretations coalesce very strongly…and everyone follows suit and starts obeying what they read.” 

Whatever the cause, respected music outlets like Drowned in Sound, Pitchfork and XLR8R have described the album in similar terms: if not a return to form, then a return to an earlier—and seemingly preferred—chapter in his 18-year career. “In a very superficial way, it has some of the same tempos, and the drum rhythms are to some extent similar, but to me it doesn’t sound anything like an old record of mine,” Jenkinson concludes. 

Each side has a point. Jenkinson is a bit of a bass-guitar obsessive. As a result, a slap-bass jazz fusion has dominated his more recent material. Ufabulum, which contains no live instrumentation, will remind fans of earlier records like 2001’s Go Plastic. At the same time, Squarepusher’s passion for manic mechanized breaks has remained largely uninterrupted since ’96’s “Squarepusher Theme.” 

Ufabulum maintains Jenkinson’s jazz spirit while showcasing his electronic experimentalism, and it does both with great bombast. Songs like “4001” and “Dark Steering” are stadium-size in their twisted drumming and big-beat-era grandiosity, while “Energy Wizard” and “Stadium Ice” are as 8-bit as they are electro-jazz-funk. For critics, there’s a refreshing familiarity; for the artist, there’s distinct growth sonically. For both, there’s also significant growth visually. 

Except for a short stint on the West Coast this summer, Squarepusher has not been to the U.S. since 2004. His tour resumed this winter with a number of U.S. stops that boasted a stunning new live show—one that resolves a long-standing issue of Jenkinson’s: being a performer. “I’ve never been particularly comfortable with being the center of attention on the stage,” the nonconformist says. “I don’t really like the cult of personality that springs up around performers and the kind of weird alienation between you and the audience.”

Friday, January 18, 2013

DJ Mix | Abstract Science Best of 2012

DJ Mix | Abstract Science Best of 2012

Year-End selections from hosts Chris Widman, Luke Stokes, Henry Self and Dialogue Inc's Mister Joshua

While we quietly toil behind the scenes, attempting to get our Year in Review | 2012 podcast up and available to you all sometime before March—ugh...—we wanted to tide you over with this marathon four-hour radio feature from our very own Mister Joshua and his cohorts at Abstract Science, which broadcasts on WLUW 88.7 FM here in Chicago.

Spanning house, techno, bass, ambient and everything in between, it's an impressive cross section of a lot of great music from the past 12 months, and a marathon listen that will yield a musical discovery for anyone brave enough to press play. We're involved in the show and even we made discoveries.

Stream or download below. Keep scrolling for track listing.

— Joshua P. Ferguson

DOWNLOAD: Abstract Science | Best of 2012 | 320 mp3 (large file — ~ 530MB)

(Stream directly from Abstract Science's site: www.abstractscience.net


Hour One | Mister Joshua  
John Talabot — So Will Be Now — fin — Permanent Vacation 
Maxxi Soundsystem — Regrets We Have No Use For (Herbert remix) — Hypercolour 
Hot Chip — Flutes — In Our Heads — Domino 
Orbital — Stringy Acid — Wonky — ACP 
Disclosure — Latch — PMR 
Eveson — Bluebirds and Powder — The Last Summer of Love — V Recordings 
Lockah — Sour Drink from the Ocean — Jeffrees 
Monokle — Swan — Saints — Ki 
Grizzly Bear — Gun-Shy — Shields — Warp 
The Dead Rose Music Company — Your Kisses — Let's Play House 
Simian Mobile Disco — Seraphim — Unpatterns — Wichita 
Scuba — July — Personality — Hot Flush 
Guy Gerber — Mirror Game — Visionquest 
Ry + Frank Weidemann — Howling (Ame remix) — Innervisions 
Burial — Loner — Hyperdub 

Hour Two | Chris Widman 
Phono.o — Die Maschinistin — Black Boulder — 50 weapons 
Deadbeat — Alamut — Eight — Blkrtz 
Shackleton — Katyusha — Music for the Quiet Hour / The Drawbar  Organ — Woe to the Skeptic Heart 
Mala — Cuba Electronica — Mala in Cuba — Brownswood 
Girl Unit — Rez Day — Club Rez EP — Nightslugs 
Kanding Ray — Thar — Monad XI — Stroboscopic Artefacts 
Thavius Beck — Labward Bound — The Most Beautiful Ugly — Plug Research 
The Flashbulb — Back of the Yards — Hardscrabble — Alphabasic Dream 
Continuum — Set It — Reworkz EP — Planet Mu 
Addison Groove — I Go Boom (DJ Rashad remix) — 50 Weapons 
Traxman — 1988  — Da Mind of Traxman — Planet Mu 
DJ Fresh — Gatekeeper (cL edit) — Psuedogeddon 
Fracture — The Limit VIP  — Astrophonica 
Kromestar — Don't Make Sense VIP — Cosmic Bridge 
Shigeto — Ann Arbor — Lineage — Ghostly International 

Hour Three | Luke Stokes 
Olafur Arnalds and Nihl Frahm — A2 — Stare — Erased Tapes 
Saltillo — The Locust Priory — Monocyte — Artofact 
Robert Rich — Memories of Wandering, Part 1 — Nest — Soundscape Productions 
Mark Harris — An Idea of North — An Idea of North / Learning to Walk — n5md 
Ex Confusion — Grass Harp — Embrace — n5md 
Shrubbn — Echoes 4_3 — Echoes — Shitkatapult 
The Orb feat Lee Scratch Perry — CongoThe Observer in the Star House — The End Records 
Basti Grub — Me Sabila — Primavera — Hoehenregular Records 
Woolfy vs Projections -— Set Me Loose — The Return of Love — Permanent Vacation 
Matthew Dear — Temptations — Beams — Ghostly International
Silver Swans — Secrets — Forever — 23 Records 
Jin Choi — Godspeed Soul — A Thousand Whales of Love — Private Gold 

Hour Four | Henry Self 
Burial + Four Tet — Nova — Text 
Purity Ring — Fineshrine — Shrines — Last Gang/4AD 
Plezier — Plezier Anthem (Club Mix) — Moda 
Jessie Ware — Running (Disclosure Remix) — PMR 
Julio Bashmore — Au Seve — Broadwalk 
Todd Terje — Inspector Norse — It's the Arps — Olsen 
Hot Natured and Ali Love — Benediction — Hot Creations 
Chromatics — Kill for Love — Kill for Love — Italians Do It Better 
Beach House — Myth — Bloom — Sub Pop 
Flying Lotus — Until the Quiet Comes — Until the Quiet Comes — Warp 
Jai Paul — Jasmine — XL 
Major Lazer feat. Amber Coffman — Get Free — Major Lazer Frees the Universe — Downtown 
The xx — Angels — Coexist — Young Turks 
How To Dress Well — Ocean Floor for Everything — Total Loss — Weird World 
Grimes — Genesis — Visions — Arbutus/4AD

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Year in Review | Top Songs of 2012

Year in review | Top Songs of 2012

The new year is well under way, so it's about time for us to get down to business and chart our top tracks of 2012. It may not have been the most prolific year ever in music—especially not when you throw Psy, commercialized dubstep and "EDM" into the mix—but that doesn't mean it was without highlights; quite the contrary actually. To our ears, it was an especially good year for the leftfield side of house and techno, with a few sweet indie and bass treats thrown in for good measure. Here's our full rundown.

20) Maya Jane Coles "Gettin Freaky" — Heidi's Jackathon Jams
"[Maya Jane] Coles has again shown why she's cornered the market on a tasteful and potent new strain of house music... One really gets a sense of the new-school star's postmodern interpretation of the jacking style Heidi is so focused on recreating. Vintage Chicago signifiers abound, but Coles makes them all her own." — From Joshua P. Ferguson's XLR8R review

19) Rhauder "Sidechain" — Ornaments 
German producer Rhauder sadly flew under our radar until the middle of 2012, when this gurgling dubwise house burner featuring the legendary Paul St. Hilaire miraculously appeared in our inbox.

18) Eveson "Bluebirds and Powder" — V Recordings
We would never have expected the legendary d'n'b label to drop a soothing Bonobo-esque, oriental shuffler reminiscent of broken beat's hey day, and yet here it is. Londoner Eveson knows his roots well.

17) Disclosure "Latch" — PMR
This youthful London duo was the talk of the year thanks to its throwback blend of '90s house, 2step and soul. Disclosure's remix of fellow Brit Jessie Ware was the winner for 2012 popular poll, but we couldn't resist the swung groove on display here. "Latch" wasn't for everyone, but for us it spelled out the brighter possibilities of bass music's pop side.

16) The-Drum "/BZE" — Mishka
This doesn't cover what ended up being our favorite track from Chicago psych R'n'B producers The-Drum's 2012 EP, but it does speak well of the duo's sound: "Sharing a similar headspace to Bladerunner soundtrack composer Vangelis, songs like "/BLD" recontextualize brooding dystopian atmospherics and cosmic Italo rhythms into syrupy crunk beats that ooze with reverb. Then there's "/SYS," which goes further into R'n'B territory with chipmunked vocal snippets echoing in and out of jittery double-time drums and waves of static warmth." — From Joshua P. Ferguson's XLR8R interview

15) Daphni "Yes I Know" — Jailong
Dan Snaith is a musical juggernaut regardless of his pen name, and his dance-floor-oriented Daphni side project is a case in point. It may not be as consistent as Caribou, but the soul-drenched "Yes I Know" more than smoothed out any ups and downs from his 2012 full length, Jailong.

14) Lockah "The Sour Drink from the Ocean" — Jeffree's
The time frame that took us from our excitement about trap rave's potential to our exasperation over its overhyped status was virtually nil. #themostoverhypedgenresincemoombahton. Anyway. Lockah managed to shine through the gross over saturation—likely in part because he hails from Scotland's vibrant bass scene—with this nuanced low-slung gem.

13) Only Children "Down Fever" — Nuclear Family
A heavy disco sample has been an integral part of dance music since, well, since it ceased to be called disco. That lineage has been maintained for more than 30 years now, especially here in Chicago where Nuclear Family patriarchs Bald E. and Dino Soccio, a.k.a. Only Children, burned holes on dance floors with the looping "Down Fever." 

12) Maxxi Soundsystem "Regrets We Have No Use For" (Herbert remix) — Hypercolour
"Though a 4/4 beat pulses through each of its releases, to try and tidily sum up London's Hypercolour as merely a family of house and techno imprints is to neglect everything that has made it such a joy to follow these past 12 months. Whether it's... the guttural growl that pervades Tom Demac's "Critical Distance Pt. 2" or the slinky bounce Herbert wove into Maxxi Soundystem's "Regrets We Have No Use For," the A&R braintrust of Alex Jones, Jamie Russell, and Ste Roberts has consistently proven that normal for Hypercolour is an absence of exactly that." 
From Joshua P. Ferguson's contribution to XLR8R's Best of 2012: Labels

11) Guy Gerber "The Mirror Game" — Visionquest
We know we just derided trap music a few entries ago, but in the grand scheme of things, we're not above trend surfing ourselves. And while we've jumped on our fair share of band wagons, one thing has remained consistent through it all: our love of swimming—dancing, really—in the deep. No label or artist better personified that this year, than this combo right here.

10) Yeasayer "Henrietta" — Secretly Canadian
Full of funk, lightly skanking and tie dyed with Yeasayer's wonderfully druggy undertones, "Henrietta" is a shoo-in for our indie ballad of the year, one we love to sing along to as much as we love to play out—you'll blow minds mixing into a d'n'b cut in the song's final moments.

9) The Globe "Adventure Party" — International Feel
"The Globe's "Adventure Party," practically makes up for the purchase price on its own with its riotous combination of twisted 303, gospel piano, and disco swank; it's no wonder that the song has made its way into the peak of Horse Meat Disco's sets." 
From Joshua P. Ferguson's XLR8R review

8) Hot Chip "Flutes" — Domino
Though this U.K. troupe's In Our Heads was a slight let down as a follow up to One Life Stand, Hot Chip did not leave us empty handed. A pair of brilliant remixes from Major Lazer and Todd Terje were strong contenders for this slot, but we had to give it up to an original—a stunning display of the true potential of these indie dance masterminds.

7) Simian Mobile Disco "Seraphim" — Wichita
The acid line was seemingly inescapable in 2012 (see Photek, Innerspace Halflife and even Poolside for diverse evidence of this) but few spin it better than these technoid masters, Simian Mobile Disco.

6) Chromatics "These Streets Will Never Look the Same" — Italians Do It Better
My girlfriend describes Chromatics to me as '70s porn music. While the aesthetic is surely near to the band's collective heart, its much more: a mix of crush velvet, leather jackets, feathered hair, stripper poles, polyester, Italo disco and despair, all of which can be found here.

5) Danny Daze "Your Everything" — Hot Creations
Our first big dance track of 2012, we've featured Danny Daze's "Your Everything" in so many sets the past 12 months—including our highlight of the year, opening for James Murphy—we're almost sick of it. As if, this oozing electro funk workout from the former Discotech man is impossible to grow tired of.

4) Ry + Frank Weidemann "Howling" (Âme remix) — Innervisions
Having already confessed our love of all things deep, we can tell you with absolute certainty that no label does this better for us than Dixon's Innervsions, and this year that came in the form of "Howling" an understated number from Âme's Frank Weidemann and silky crooner Ry. Between the prolific output of labels like Visionquest and Crosstown Rebels there was a lot of competition on the market these past 12 months, but when the dust settled, this diamond in the rough best retained its luster.

3) Burial "Ashtray Wasp" — Hyperdub
In a year where even Burial's existence as an singular individual was called into question—is he really just a figment of Four Tet's imagination come to life?—the London-producer-shrouded-in-mystery did not let the quality of his work come into question. His Kindred EP is such a stunner, picking a stand out was the only hard part. Ye, with the sprawling twists, turns, static and soul, "Ashtray Wasp" rose as the ghost of 2step past, and one of the best moments of 2012.

2) The Dead Rose Music Company "Faith" — Let's Play House
The anonymity of this Mancunian producer wore off as his popularity grew throughout 2012, but this should be considered a good thing. A crafter of finely sliced disco cut ups and feel good deep house excursions, TDRMC has climbed the ranks to join a coveted spot within the scene shared by names like Mark E, the Revenge and 6th Borough Project. And like his brethren from England and further north, he's singling himself out as one of an elite few who can simultaneously take us back to disco's hey day and still give us something completely fresh. 

1) John Talabot "So Will Be Now" — Permanent Vacation
Prior to Permanent Vacation's debut label mix, we had no concept of Balearic music was. We knew Ibiza, but for foam parties and Carl Cox, not for this larger mentality of laidback island dance grooves. Well, that and disco grooves stretched like taffy have come to form the foundation of the Dialogue Inc sound. As much as a hypnotic '70s groove can keep us occupied on a dance floor all night long, it takes another level of writing to elevate a song beyond club functionality to a status where it sounds amazing regardless of setting. This is what the prolific Spaniard John Talabot has done here, and what makes "So Will Be Now" our top song of 2012—although we will admit, hearing this on one of the Balearic Isles probably takes this song to another level still.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Year in Review | Top Five Albums of 2012

Year in Review | Top Five Albums of 2012

Of course we like to pride ourselves in diversity, but faithful followers already know, electronic music is the heartbeat that gives life to Dialogue Incorporated. We have our indie faves, but for every one release on that side of the spectrum there are five things we're choosing from when it comes to house, techno, chill out and bass music. So, that obviously made narrowing down this list incredibly difficult. Before we get into our top picks for 2012, the honorable mentions: Flying Lotus, who we had the great pleasure of interviewing this year, and his record, Until the Quiet Comes, and Four Tet, who released his most dance-floor-oriented LP to date, the stunning Pink. As strong as these releases both were, the final call had to come down to heavy rotation, and in that category, these five LPs won out:

5) Orbital Wonky — ACP Recordings
It's almost as if this record caught us by surprise. Orbital can officially be credited as our entry point into electronic music, way back in 1995, but did we really think that this many years later—and with the album title Wonky no less—that brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll still had it in them? Our Magic 8Ball came up with doubtful at best. And yet, here it is, a fresh update to the Orbital sound, reminiscent of classic cuts like "Halcyon + On + On" and "The Box" with all the lush electronic textures, delightfully slow-building bleeps and blips, breakbeat dance rhythms and acid basslines, and yet updated (slightly) to show they can still hang on the contemporary scene. And they did it all without really having to go all that "wonky."

4) Monokle Saints Ki Records
"If flashes of light were audible and harnessed as an instrument, Monokle would be an absolute virtuoso, as these bright pings of sound pervade the meditative "Homesick" and frantic disorder of "Arrows." Amid the album's chaotic footwork and leftfield house beats, there's an abundance of clean tones that impart a distinctly science-fiction sort of glow, as though Kudryavtsev is capturing both the noisy, overpopulated bustle and the utopian possibilities of some future metropolis and communicating that in musical form. In the context of that world, Monokle's artistic spirit might be best described as that of a robot dreaming." — From Joshua P. Ferguson's XLR8R review

3) Mala Mala in Cuba Brownswood
As dubstep came into its own curious, perplexing and overblown own this year, bass music scattered in every direction possible, away from the cookie cutter sounds dominating summer festivals. But no one artist traveled as far as Digital Mystikz originator Mala, who traveled to Cuba at the behest of famed London tastemaker Gilles Peterson to integrate his potent and sparse low-end sound with the indigenous rhythms he found there. This was an LP that turned world music on its head.

2) Scuba Personality Hotflush
"Right now, the bass music scene is in such a state of flux that no one is sure where to file artists, like Scuba, who may have gotten their start dabbling with the sound but have since moved on. Preferring to mine Detroit and Chicago’s roots, the better aspects of chill-out’s musicality and even straight-ahead drum ‘n’ bass to set his productions apart, Rose has certainly moved on... With his latest, Scuba may be looking back, but he’s also moving his sound forward, and the result is as welcomingly familiar as it is unlike anything else out there." — From Joshua P. Ferguson's review

1) John Talabot ƒIN Permanent Vacation
Even a genre like Balearic, which should be defined more by a place and feeling than any actual sound, has grown to be depressingly "samey" these days. Not in the hands of low-key Spaniard John Talabot, who managed to distill a sentiment as balmy as an ocean breeze into his debut full length, ƒIN,  without sticking to any one formula. Rather, he spanned tempos and moods, crafting a record as much for a night on the dance floor as for a leisurely day. This made it one of this year's most listenable, and bestowed upon the world "So Will Be Now," a song that proved very early on during our first listen to be one which we could not live without.