Friday, April 18, 2008

Better late than never.

Let's just forget for a moment that I forgot that this blog was three years old last Saturday (12th April), even though it falls the day after my own birthday and let's celebrate it today, with this little mix I threw together for y'all. It's not perfect, there are a few pops, clicks and sloppy mixes to contend with, but it's something and, hey, it's the thought that counts, right?

6th Burrough Project - Just A Memory (Five20East)
Maurice Fulton - My Gigolo (Transfusion)
Low Motion Disco - Love Love Love (Soft Rocks Mix feat. Kathy Diamond) (Eskimo)
Al Usher - Lullaby For Robert (Out Of The Loop)
Windsurf - Pocket Check (Internasjonal)
Maps - To The Sky (The Loving Hand Remix) (Mute)
Mocky - Catch A Moment In Time (Ewan Pearson's Memory Blissed Remix) (Fine.)
James Pants - We're Through (Stones Throw)
Junior Byron - Dance To The Music (Vanguard)
Chaz Jankel feat. Brenda Jones - You're My Occupation (A&M)
Fred Cherry - Busride To The Zoo (Hole In The Sky)
Hercules & Love Affair - Athene (DFA/EMI)
The Shortwave Set - No Social (Optimo Espacio Mix) (Wall Of Sound)
Baby Oliver - Shot Caller (Environ)
Hercules & Love Affair - You Belong (DFA/EMI)

Download Yer Mam!'s Birthday Mix

Back soon with something a little more substantial.


Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Bunch Of 12s

The year in music so far hasn't been characterised by great albums - not for me at least - so much as great singles, mainly in the dance music sphere. Sure, there's been some cracking full-lengths from debutants (Hercules & Love Affair, Quiet Village, Vampire Weekend) and reliable old hands (Bad Seeds, Supergrass, The Dirtbombs) alike, but aside from a small few, nothing has had the replay value of some of the year's 12"s.

Perhaps the single - which some commentors will try to inform you is dying out, misguidedly - is the perfect format for our times? You get two, maybe three tracks - four or five if you're lucky - and out, with no time allowed to test the patience. The single therefore lends itself to addiction more than an album does. The more commercial artists out there - they who populate the top 40 - have indeed lost sight of what makes a good single. If you stick the song on iTunes with maybe one bonus track, then that'll do just fine. The consumers like it this way because it's less unwieldy than a big, black plastic disc, or even a small, shiny plastic disc. It's iPod-ready and doesn't take up any space.

But what of those who like something a little more tactile? Something they can hold in their hands or place on a shelf. Are these people being short-changed? Not if you like your modern disco and house music it seems. By the way, I know that the mp3s I'm about to post make what I've just said seem a little hypocritical but indulge me, okay.

London's shadowy Dissident imprint is still chalking up the releases like Chris Partlow and Snoop rack up the bodies. They're also still limited, pricey and, in the main, one-sided. Now £8 for one track might seem a little too much for some (it is for me, with my paltry income), but that hasn't really stopped them becoming gradually more revered with each 12". The frequency of Dissident's releases might well decrease their collectibility in the long run, but the minimalist chic of their labels (all variations on the same theme, only the font for the artist and title change) has marked out a style at least.

Also, you can't really argue with their output so far. Mainly dealing in twilit Italo and pastoral Balearica, with the occasional tech-y diversion, they're developing a distinct in-house sound. Their 2008 releases so far have been pretty uniformly brilliant too, with particular plaudits going to Ali Renault's slo-mo, drugged-out electro-disco, 'Our World Is...' and the long-form lushness of Gatto Fritto's 'Hungry Ghosts'.

My personal favourite has come from Truffle Club though. If we're to believe the rumour (and why not? He's used the moniker more than once in the past), Truffle Club is the work of Optimo main-man, JD Twitch. The neon-flecked, Blade Runner grooves of 'Gone Blue' marks Twitch out as a producer to keep an eye on. 'Gone Blue' pulses and shimmers with bleary-eyed wonder and is a perfect end-of-nighter for those with a passion for old sounds given a modern twist.

Truffle Club - Gone Blue (mp3)

Mock & Toof have been laying the releases on a little thickly as of late too, with two 12"s on different labels. The self-released 'Big Hands For A Lady' is a doozy, but it's their recent three-tracker for Tiny Sticks that has me reaching for the stylus over and over again. A double-A with an extra remix thrown in for good measure is mighty good value, especially seeing as the two lead tracks are the best things Mock & Toof have put out so far.

'Beat Up' does the jazzy-disco thing, with sneaky Afro elements incorporated that they do so well, but there's just something about that maddening, corroded Rhodes line that screams addictive. 'Lucky' on the other hand is a gentrified little slice of moody electro-pop that still retains their ear for the unusual. Darshan Jesrani of Metro Area then sets about giving the raucous kitchen-sink disco of 'Black Jub' something of a classy makeover, turning it into an altogether spacier, more cosmopolitan affair. I await the forthcoming album with bated breath.

Mock & Toof - Black Jub (Darshan Jesrani Hot Seat Mix) (mp3)

It wouldn't be a post about 12"s without me looking in on what DFA have offered forth lately. After a veritable flurry - for them anyway - of releases in the first couple of months of 2008, they've gone a little quiet now. But while everyone was busy trumpeting Hercules & Love Affair's stellar debut album, they flung out a couple of singles from some master producers of quality dirty disco that you may well have missed.

First up, there was Syclops' 'Where's Jason's K?'. Now, whether you believe that Syclops are a band from Finland who, conveniently, "don't tour or do interviews", according to their MySpace, or whether it is just another in a long line of aliases from Maurice Fulton is by-the-by. This is his/their fourth 12" now, following one on Fulton's own Bubbletease label and a couple on Tirk and it is most definitely a Fulton joint, all wobbly, agitated synths, echoey percussion and pervasive sense of menace. Fulton's askew-view of disco, funk, soul and electro is a perfect fit for DFA and the album, I've Got My Eye On You follows pretty damn soon. Here's a taste of what's to come with the b-side from 'Where's Jason's K?'.

Syclops - Monkeypuss (mp3)

Then came 'Happy House'. Premiered halfway through 2007 on Beats In Space, The Juan Maclean's massive comeback single was an instant hit. It's not hard to see why as this is an instantly likeable piece of uptempo disco-house with an infectious vocal from in-house diva, Nancy Whang that just goes on and on and on and on, in a good way, as if powered by a pilled-up Duracell bunny. I've wrote about it before, I'm sure and I'll most definitely talk about it again before the year's out, but for now this is one of the best primers for a forthcoming album I've ever heard. Here's hoping it doesn't disappoint.

The Juan Maclean - Happy House (Lee Douglas Remix) (mp3)

Lastly, but by no means leastly, here's a tribute in mp3s to the greatest punk drummer of all-time, Krautrock pioneer, Klaus Dinger who died on March 21st of heart failure. As a member of Neu!, Kraftwerk (in the early days) and La Dusseldorf, his influence is still felt hugely in modern music. R.I.P.

Kraftwerk - Ruckzuck (mp3)

Neu! - Hallogallo (mp3)

Neu! - Hero (mp3)

La Dusseldorf - La Dusseldorf (mp3)

Kraftwerk playing 'Ruckzuck' with Dinger on drums on WDR in 1970.

I'll be back with more guff about singles and that later this week.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

He's Not Such A Bad Guy After All

The resurrected Strut label are on something of a winning streak since their return. Following on from the rather good Disco Not Disco: Post Punk, Electro & Leftfield Disco Classics 1974-1986 and the excellent Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story 1980-1986 comes Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1974-1983. Strut like their left-of-centre disco almost as much as they like torturous titles with timeframes at the end, so you can understand why I love them so much.

August Darnell is known to most as Kid Creole, but he's often seen outside of those in the know as a bit of a novelty (sartorial choices and his willingness to appear onstage opposite Will Mellor in recent years probably did for that). This misconception is one of my own personal bugbears as he was the catalyst for some of the best disco music to come out of New York in the late-70s/early-80s. Arthur Russell gets the critical plaudits - and rightly so, most of the time - but Darnell is arguably more influential and, oftentimes, his music was just as artful as Russell's, albeit in a different way.

Anyway, Going Places goes a long way to rectify this misrepresentation as it pulls together some of his lesser known work (no place for 'Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy' or 'Stool Pigeon'), sidestepping the whole 'Tropical Gangster' schtick he became known for and highlights his nous as a producer. The collection kicks off with Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band - Darnell's first band with his brother, Stoney Browder Jr. and Coati Mundi, aka Andy Hernandez - and the pop-soul of 'Sunshower' (sampled by M.I.A. on her song of the same name), before taking in the kitsch delights of Cristina's take on 'Is That All There Is?', Machine's absolutely massive underground disco anthem, 'There But For The Grace Of God Go I', Don Armando's' classic disco cover of 'I'm An Indian, Too', alongside early tracks from The Coconuts and Darnell's other band, Aural Exciters.

For Ze Records scholars, Going Places probably won't hold that many surprises - some of the tracks here have seen the light of day on their Mutant Disco compilations - but as a balance-redressing collection of some of the funkiest, most flamboyant, showtune-inspired, decadent, yet lowdown and dirty disco to ever come from the Big Apple, Going Places is absolutely essential. I, for one, eagerly anticipate Strut's next move.

Kid Creole & The Coconuts - He's Not Such A Bad Guy After All (12" Version) (mp3)

Machine - There But For The Grace Of God Go I (12" Version) (mp3)

Still bored? 24:Hours have an excellent Rune Lindbaek mix up for download at the moment. Hasn't left my stereo for the last two weeks.

Also, if you're not all disco'd out by now, let me rep once more for the excellent Million Dollar Disco site, especially the mixes section. The Love On The Run mix is superb, but they're all worth checking out if you have the time/inclination/disco pants.


Labels: , , , ,