Transmodern Festival 2009: Interview/Preview – Wobbly

Matmos Live at Echoplex

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MP3: Wobbly vs Matmos – Little Whip from KZSU’s 8th Day of Noise, improvised live

Speaking for myself, the highlight of last year’s Transmodern Festival was the reunion of Blectum from Blechdom. In a similar vein, this year I am eagerly anticipating the performance of Freddy McGuire, a duo comprised of San Fran residents Ann McGuire, and Jon Leidecker (aka Wobbly [wiki]). This takes place at the H&H building Saturday, April 4th.

The Dan Deacon Bromst release performance (which will also take place at Transmodern Festival that night) I can take or leave, but I suspect this performance will be more captivating, for the more discerning.

I caught Wobbly’s performance at the Red Room this past fall, and was immensely impressed. The first half of his set was performed solo, while the second half was a collaboration with the-now-Baltimore resident (formerly San Fran local) Martin Schmidt of Matmos. Together they made pure improvisational electronic music bliss.

I recently sent Wobbly some question via email (I try to conduct interviews in person, or on the phone when possible, but the time zone difference lent itself to email). Here are his enlightening responses: Read the rest…

Live Review: Derrick May @ Muse Lounge (2009.02.06)


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MP3: Rhythim is Rhythim – Strings of Life from Strings of Life (1987)

All photos: Sexy Fitsum/iLLIMETER

During the recent “25 Random Things About Me” Facebook fad, a friend overcame the trite, threadbare conventions of tell-all confessional writing. He didn’t write a word, but instead linked to 25 music videos on YouTube.  

Music speaks a great deal more to me than words (sometimes, and in the right circumstance). I suppose this approach was infinitely more intimate than the typical spilling of the (usually not) so deep, dark secrets. Instead of revealing secrets, this Facebook note called to mind the close bond my circle of friends has developed over the years, largely through music. It celebrated our shared, rather than sequestered experiences. And at number 3 on the list, there it was: Rhythim is Rhythim’s (Wiki) monumentally epic track “Strings of Life.”

Rhythim is Rhythim is the alias of Derrick May, who along with friends and fellow Belleville, Michigan natives Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson (collectively referred to as the “Belleville Three”) founded the futuristic variant of Chicago House music that would become know as TechnoRead the rest…

New Chavy Boys of London Mix; Aural States exclusive Unruly Records give-away

chavy_boys_main_0Having grown up in Baltimore City it never dawned on me that the late night dance tracks on the radio were exclusive to this city–that didn’t come about until high school. Now, the sound is showing up everywhere. And the publication XLR8R is no exception.

This month’s podcast features a mix by the Chavy Boys of London, an Unruly Records super-group of Scottie B, Shawn Caesar, and King Tutt (if you haven’t listened to any of their Money Lotion series, do so!) To describe the mix I’d have to fall into genre cliche catch-words like “Bangin,’” because, frankly, this mix is bangin’. The DJ Technics remix of Radiohead’s “Everything in it’s Right Place” is particularly memorable.  Also, don’t sleep on DJ Class’ “I’m the Ish” which may be Baltimore Club’s breakthrough into the top 40.  People Like Jermaine Dupri (click here for viddy of JD losing it in the studio to this track) and, apparently Puffy are getting interested in this sound now.

This mix could be an interesting nod to what to expect in the future from Unruly Records–the mix abandons the Lyn Collins break periodically for some four-on-the-floor action. One would assume that is the King Tutt influence at work, or perhaps Shawn’s roots in Deep House.

Link for the mix after the jump. Read the rest…

Live Review / Photos: Dance Music Reflections – Deep Sugar @ Paradox (2009.01.10); Martyn and Joe Nice @ Hour Haus (2009.01.09)

shivaAll Photos: Josh Sisk

Dance—some Western creation myths favor a divine utterance rendering the visual (the Logos; Let there be Light!) Other traditions have the world arising from sound. But in the context of this article, one might find it enlightening to consider Shiva Nataraja and his dance of the 108 poses that engendered mortal existence. This belief, popular in Southern India, combines both the visual (dance) and the aural (rhythm) in a powerful synergistic way. Paradoxically, Shiva Nataraja’s swaying cosmic body forms both the Lasya, and the Tandava–the creation of the world, and the destruction of the world. Dance is literally the beginning, and the end. According to this Tamil belief, dance is not just a thing of beauty, or entertainment, but also the primal force of existence.

Why then Puritan America’s generalized abhorrence of dance? Why does dance music, and what follows—dancing to that music—carry such a heavy stigma in this country?

Read the rest…

Buddha Machine 2.0 is Out Now!

buddhamachine2-2Given that I’ve been living under a rock for about four months now, I missed the grand US debut of the Buddha Machine 2. 0 in December. Of course, if I were really on the ball. I would have picked one up even earlier from Europe. Big-ups to Sasha Frere-Jones for alerting me to this one.

But let’s back up–the Buddha Machine, if you are totally unaware of this device, gets my vote for the best example of ID, aural innovation, marketing innovation, and the best executed guerilla attack by lo-fi sound on iPods of this century so far. Read the rest…

2008 Wrap-Up (Alex) – Live Performances

Luckily, my editor is on in-between semester break. Otherwise, I’m sure he would be in T.A. mode and grade my late post accordingly…

However, I dragged my feet somewhat deliberately. What’s the point of a 2008 summation if you don’t have at least a little critical distance between current time, and the past year? One doesn’t write a book report until the book is actually finished. A conclusion about a hypothesis can’t be reached until the experiment is actually completed. You don’t say, “Wow, baby…that was some good sex,” until the deal is sealed–unless you’re an ego-tripping moron with a teenager’s maturity level.

January 29, 2008 was my emergence from the world of sub-par print music journalism into the realm of much more serious online music writing. I don’t take credit for the upgrade; that goes solely to Greg Szeto, the music editor at my former publication, and the founder and managing editor of Aural States. I know good coat tails when I seem them, and I was really excited to jump into this venture with Greg. 

The results have been unthinkable, really. Much of the work I’ve felt the best about, and been the most proud of in the past several years has been for Aural States.
For me, 2008 has been a year of amazing music–recorded, live, and starting recently, making it again. To be accurate this journey’s proper beginnings are in the fall of 2007, but isn’t it weird how events usually arise from prior events in sequential order? Event chains, I think they are called.  I have been into music all my life, but 2008 is unique in the fact that I actually, in some small way, took a spot in a broader network of music, and culture-of-music people. I began blogging, and people were actually reading what I wrote.

This status of blogger doesn’t feel quite like it fits yet. Around Baltimore, indie/hipsters types (definitely loaded words, which are commonly mistaken for being synonymous with “music types”) don such close-fitting clothes. Perhaps, feeling as though this is a role I need to grow into is a healthier stance, than having skin-tight clothing restricting, and inhibiting movement (read: critical movement, and development).

Also, clothes being the signifiers that they are designate people into one group. I personally don’t fit into one single group musically, and probably not socially, either. From my understanding (and I think it’s an accurate understanding) the same goes for Aural States. To be clear, this does not mean AS has to be everything musically to fulfill our eclectic mission statement, but we simply need to be who we are, and only who we are.

And who are we? Music geeks: pure, unabashed, genuine music geeks.

My (Highly Subjective) Most Memorable Live Performances of 2008 (in no order, and it’s more than 10)
Read the rest…

Better Late Than Never Live Review: Michna at The Hexagon

I had no expectations of Michna going into this night, literally none. I had never heard a single track of his before, but he did come highly recommended from the More or Less crew, and others. Further more, Michna’s label, Ghostly International, is home to the crème de la crème of American electronic acts.

I read his press release, and knew he would be performing with a live backing band, that he had some connections to Diplo, worked with Bonde do Role, etc. But I knew nothing substantial. I was prepared for anything, and ready for nothing.

Quite simply, Michna’s set blew me away. Read the rest…

XLR8R Interview: The Bug and Warrior Queen

“It was all a dream. I used to read Word Up magazine.”

Well for the young Mudge it was actually URB, and XLR8R. So, I was pretty happy when XLR8R sat down with Kevin Martin, aka The Bug, and Annette Henry, aka Warrior Queen. This producer/MC dubstep duo were responsible for the hard-hitting single “Poison Dart” from The Bug’s London Zoo album. Read my review here.

This interview provides a valuable primer to an interesting scene emerging from that island across the Atlantic known for pushing electronic music forward , with a little help from another island nation in the Caribbean also know for musical innovation.  Cultural cross-pollination is cool!

Review: Moodgadget Synchronicity Tour vs. Girl Talk Tour-Taking notes on the underground, and the Pop.

All Girl Talk Photos: Josh Sisk

At 16 I hit a crisis—I walked away from the classical training I began 10 years earlier. I didn’t give it up entirely, but I decided I wasn’t going to pursue becoming a classical cellist as a career. Very quickly the musical void left by the absencesof practicing multiple hours a day was soon filled by electronic music. I was introduced to avant-garde electronic music at an early age; so making sounds on the computer didn’t seem odd while all my friends were out starting punk bands. I eventually fell into Electronic Dance Music, and I never looked back.

My take on popular music may be somewhat unique, given that I moved from the more esoteric to the more mainstream, not the other way around. To make a generalization the more vanguard electronic acts, though they may be pushing into new territory, are also the lesser-attended live acts. The more trite, derivative acts, though lacking in that exploratory nature, are the larger draws. I think it is safe to say that this generally holds true for any genre, and I’d get into the realm of speculation if I were to attribute reasons to why this happens. But here are some concrete examples from last week. Read the rest…

Interview: Drew Pompa (Blank Artists, Detroit)

I saw the Blank Artists tour back in August at the Hexagon. You can read about it here.

Blanks Artists is at the vanguard of Detroit’s underground electronic music scene. Forget the bloated Richie Hawtin Contakt parties, or the overpriced Underground Resistance nights, these guys take techno back to the way it was–raw, DIY, and uncompromising.

Drew Pompa’s set anchored that night back in August. He’s a fun DJ to watch–he gets lost in the groove just like the audience. Fortunately Baltimore feels like home for Drew (I guess all post-industrial, crime ridden cities are the same), and he’ll be making the rounds again this Friday, the 17th, for the October edition of Baltimore’s own More or Less party at the Hexagon.

Between spinning, and running a label, Drew is a busy man, so I shot him a couple question via email. Read the rest…

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