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Picks – May 5th, 2013

May 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Bleh, another week. I have stacks and stacks of records I want to write about. I wonder how many I’ll actually get through. Next week we have TIME2MOVE at the Que Sera in Long Beach. Special guests FRANKI CHAN (iheartcomix) and the NATIVES (live). It’s my mans Valdez bday. Big up my bruh.

– Plucked from the nooks and crannies of Amoeba, Fingerprints and Resident Advisor.

Kenny Dope Unreleased Project – Pushin Dope (TNT, 1994)

The label reads: “Respect to A Tribe Called Quest and Wutang Clan.” Instantly I knew I had to buy this. Kenny Dope is well known for his role in Masters at Work and Nuyorican Soul, and he’s also had plenty of time of rack up his own solo credentials. Through some of his responses on the MAW RBMA interview I attributed the dancehall/hip hop influence of the MAW productions to him. Masters at Work are typically buy-on-sight records, so seeing Kenny shout out Wutang filled me with uneasy excitement all the way home.

As the needle drops, the record opens up with “That Gangsta Shit,” a dark, slamming hip hop track perfectly suited for the Wu. Centered around a Cypress Hill sample, and what I assume to be one of the earliest Mulatu samples on record, the track has a hook that is both aggressive and hypnotic. I really love the Mulatu lift, but the second half of the track seems to meander a bit, with that vocal sample incessantly repeating.

Dialing back the testosterone, “Get on Down” (above) is the prize of the bunch. Rather simple, it’s carried by a vocal refrain over lilting piano chords and an airy break, but the warmth of analog gear and a gentle swing yield a beautiful groove. It’s one of those tracks where everything has just lined up perfectly to create an ideal aesthetic and sound. “Inside” shares a similar aesthetic, but picks up the pace which gives the track a wonderfully druggy take on a skate jam. A track that I wish would last minutes longer.

At its best, the depth of human emotion drawn through dusty samples in combination with Kenny Dope’s excellent sense of groove bring to mind the work of DJ Premier or Andres. At its worst, these are good golden era hip hop beats. Big win.

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Urban Tribe – The Collapse of Modern Culture (Mo Wax, 1998)

Detroit’s Sherard Ingram has been making music for a long time, first receiving acclaim in the 90s as Urban Tribe, and nowadays as DJ Stingray. DJ Stingray records are usually too in-your-face for my taste, but I have a big soft spot for Urban Tribe. Although the brainchild and vision of Ingram, Urban Tribe was known as a collaborative effort that included Kenny Dixon Jr, Carl Craig and Shake Shakir. Looking at the record in the store, it was actually KDJ that caught my attention before anything, as my copy has a very faded almost illegible cover, and when I flipped it over to the back the word “moodymann” struck me in the face. Quickly realizing this was the first Urban Tribe LP I pulled out the vinyl to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Kinda dirty, but it’d have to do. Not everyday you come across a record this deep.

Although coming from some of the most important names of second wave Detroit Techno, this record is a sublime example of Mo Wax’s blend of experimental hip hop. That influence really comes into play sonically, as the “futuristic” sound palette of techno is the mainstay here, with blocky synths and pixelated drum breaks making up the overarching characteristic of the music. The drum sounds are most intriguing, as airy 909 kicks tend to center things, but the snares and hi-hats are all crunchy metallic objects, brittle yet funky. Album standout “Peacemakers,” (above) is an excellent example of this style, blending lush electronics, a funky electro keyboard motif and a sweet soulful vocal sample that gives the track a really calming, yet vibrant quality to it. By Speaking in the language of techno, taking a lower tempo and working with a hip-hop rhythmic structure, Ingram foreshadows the work of beat scene cats like Daedalus, Flying Lotus, or even someone like Dabrye. Such premonitions are also seen in a track like “Sophistry” with its heavy swagger and filtered atmospherics, still sounding fresh 15 years later.

The influence of dub/dancehall is heavily present as well, as deep subfrequencies form the base of almost every track. Basslines come through and wind, groove, and heave with a slow funk. On a track like “Low Berth,” a crackling halftime break anchors the groove, while a fat writhing bass line is taken right out of the Robbie Shakespeare playbook. Spacey electronics helmed by both Carl Craig and Ingram move through the track, effectively completing the futuristic dub vision of Scientist.  It’s a wonderful sounding record, a bit heady, but I think it’ll see a lot of play on those lazy summer afternoons.

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Dense & Pika – Resident Advisor Podcast: RA353 (Resident Advisor, 2013)

I’m not particularly a fan of techno, although I do dig on the Detroit stuff and other things here and there, but it’s not really on my radar. This mix is billed as a “warehouse techno mix” and although it’s not something I would have checked out on description alone, I wanted to look into it because I always dig the Dense & Pika tracks that end up on other DJs mixes. To preface, this mix has been out for exactly two months now and the only reason I’m writing about it is because I have listened to it almost every day of those two months.

On two turntables, a 909 and Ableton for samples, the duo craft a mix that evenly spreads out its loves and influences, mixing Detroit techno with ghetto house, jungle with techno, acid with electro. Running through about 60 tracks in just as much time, they keep the groove focused, but constantly moving and growing. Snippets of a phantom vocal will pop in for just a few seconds before its gone, percussion will dip in and out, songs come and go, but the rhythm stays steady and new exciting elements are always coming forward. An early banger is one of their own productions, the stomping “Move Your Body Back” and it hits really hard, but also helps set the dark, spacey tone for the whole project. My favorite part of the mix is about halfway through when they mix out of James Ruskin’s “Indirect World” and into Drexciya’s “Birth of New Life.” With Ruskin, they had taken a break from chugging drum machines and began to explore atmosphere, with Drexciya’s otherworldly melodies eventually flowering and coming to the forefront.

What I view to be the real success is ultimately the human quality to both the mixing and track selection. There are a lot of vocals to provide a human element, but more importantly, there are a load of tracks that are purely visceral, conjuring up the words slinky and sensual. Particularly excellent is this “Sweat on the Walls – Clone” thing into DJ Deeon’s “Fuck for Free,” as the energy moves from fairly sadistic into goofy and playful. The inclusion of Special Request’s Lana Del Rey remix is a great thing because I really love that track. This mix pushed me to go out and pick up the 12″. I love this mix; I dance to it, it gets me through long days at work, I’m listening to it right now at 10am smoking weed. Big ups.

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Wiley – Wot Do U Call It? (XL, 2004)

This is frankly one of the most important records to come out of the grime scene; a hugely influential beat by the master Wiley. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of the vocal version, but the instrumental is really incredible. That string sample, the bass rubs, the wacked out woodblock, the overall energy of the track. Pure bliss. Eski-beat has been making somewhat of a return during this grime resurgence, as heard on the recent all Wiley mix by Royal-T. The sound really is incredible, and so unique. Too bad a lot of the early Wiley 12″s are fairly expensive.

Categories: 2004, 2013, detroit, hip hop, LDN, mix, NY Tags: , ,

Picks 1/20/13

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Weird week. I like the weather though.

Pulled from the digi stacks of All Day Records, Chemical-Records and Soundcloud.

V/A – American Noise Vol. 1 (L.I.E.S., 2012)

Yes, I am firmly and fully on the LIES bandwagon. There’s a lot of hype around this label coming from all corners of the internet including Pitchfork, FACT, Spin and Resident Advisor. The label’s output is far-reaching and is often given the term “outsider” house/techno or low-fi, but these descriptors hardly allow any insight into the real magic contained on the limited slabs of vinyl. Styles range from new age ambient to crunchy techno, surfer house to burnout boogie, acid house to synth explorations – yet all the music can be characterized by a sense of warmth, an analog or tape feel. No huge names sit on the roster, and that’s precisely what has made the label so impressive, they continually turn out records that are surprising. Delroy Edwards and Xosar, two of my favorite producers in 2012, have had their debut release on LIES, so the label truly carries weight with me.

This is the first CD  I’ve bought in years, probably 5+years. A lot of this stuff on the compilation is new to me, as I only have a handful of LIES records, and most of those were left off this compilation. It’s a 2-CD set, and the first disc compiles some of the more rare/desirable releases. Bookworms’ “African Rhythms” (above) is the clear gem on here, the meditative percussion moving along at its gentle bounce, nestled in soft foggy synths. It has a really wonderful Theo Parrish vibe to it, very focused and spiritual. Terekke’s “Pf Pf Pass” was a wonderful surprise on this disc as he rides along in a blunted boogie groove, heavy in thick analog dust and sloppily cut samples. The groove is really immersive, drawing you into a sunny worn VHS dreamscpae where the kick drum crumbles and the hi-hats splinter. “Asidis” also finds Terekke in extremely strong form, keeping his sunny disposition, but picking up the tempo to proper pool party vibes. These two tracks remind me of what I loved so much about Nite Jewel’s early work – it was lowfi, fun and funky.

Moving on to my two favorite LIES alumni, Delroy Edwards’ remix of Xosar’s “Tropical Cruize” is truly a gift to me from the universe. The track beautifully melds Xosar’s tendencies toward exotic melodies and romantic melancholy, with Delroy’s fridgid focus on the dancefloor. Icy and infectuous, the “Don’t talk, just listen” loop is intoxicating. Xosar’s orignal track here, “Sansovtime” under her Bonquiqui alias takes a harder approach to the Trackman Lafonte and Bonquiqui project, coming much closer to the paranoid electro funk on “Nite Jam“. What I love most about Xosar is how fresh she makes everything sound – I mean, synth flutes? Yeah it’s so good.

The compilation really does cover a wide range of music, but it’s tracked very well and truly works front-to-back as a unified album. Placing the minimal techno groove of Marcos Cabral’s “24 Hour Flight” with the dreamy analog funk of Legowelt’s “Sark Island Acid” may not necessarily seem like a logical move, but it exemplifies the grander vision of dance music that ties together the LIES family. I’m really excited to see where this label is going to be going in 2013.

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Delroy Edwards –Heart and Soul  b/w Sprk Tha Dust (L.I.E.S., 2012)

This record snuck out right after Christmas as a limited black label release and without a second of hesitation I swooped it up. I’m a big fan of Delroy’s crunchy Detroit influenced house/techno as well as his propulsive ghetto house DJ sets. Fortunately for me, he displays both affections on this 12.

“Heart and Soul” (above) was the prize at the end of his recent Juno Plus Podcast, and was something that I was really hoping would see an official release. The track is reminiscent of his 4 Club Use Only debut, and specifically the cold, downcast techno of “Love Goes On and On” with the icy synth lines and ghetto rhythms. The track is further colored by his somber voice endlessly intoning the phrase, “I gave you my heart, I gave you my soul” – which happens to be a perfect refrain for a special Christmas release, right? It is this sense of melancholy that draws me to Delroy, no matter how hard or playful the rhythms are (and on this track the claps, kick and hats are primed for destruction), a haze of frustration and bitterness shroud his music. But don’t get me wrong, this is not “emo” music at all, this is propulsive dance music with an outright human quality to it. I may have to pick up another copy of this record because I intend to play this track out as often as possible.

I was pretty freaked when I first flipped the record and dropped the needle; I was beyond lit, chillin in the semi-dark of my studio about ready to go to bed, but wanted to give the new Delroy a quick spin – then BAM BAM BAM BAMBAMBAM. The track title doesn’t lie, “Sprk tha Dust” is the musical equivalent of hitting a sherm stick. Reworking one of 2012’s better moments in mainstream rap, Delroy flips “Bandz a Make Her Dance” by pitching down Weezy’s mumblings and dropping in a thundering overdriven kick. A horrifying haze and banshee synths are an appropriate nod to Three 6 Mafia tropes, but this track is far beyond the level of a demented remix as the laggy layered vocal samples and disorienting everything about the track make for a very heady experience. Listen to this one on headphones while walking somewhere at night, I dare you.

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Kingdom – Diplo & Friends BBC 1Xtra Mix 1/06/2013 (BBC Radio 1/1Xtra, 2013)

Kingdom is my current favorite DJ. His mixes are essential listening and his Fade to Mind parties are not to be missed. The owner of the company I work for is a jazz musician, so he has a basic understanding of the music world, but he caught me off guard the other day when he asked me why anyone would ever follow a DJ, as he was looking to ascertain the artistry of being a DJ. He’s from the oldschool and when he thinks of a DJ, he’s thinking a jock who announces each track in a Top 40 countdown. I explained to him the concept of edits, exclusives, dubplates, and the artistry behind the different approaches to a mix. I’m not sure he fully understood where I was coming from, and I suppose you do have to have a certain level of immersion in this world to truly understand the qualities that make a DJ a really great one. Listening to Kingdom mix records is like watching an athlete at the top of his game, or listening to a jazz band with real chops running through a set of standards – you may know what to expect, but every experience offers a fresh take, an improvisational quality that is singular to the artist.

For the most part, Kingdom’s mix for Diplo’s show on 1Xtra is full of exclusives from the Fade to Mind/Night Slugs family and this is a large part of the reason why I am so partial to the man’s work. Beyonce remixes, lifted Little Dragon acapellas, Missy Elliot features, and Girl Unit outtakes, all become tools that he uses to not only offer an incredibly unique sonic experience, but a floor focused one. Kingdom is consistent in his vibe, and I once described his sound as similar to what my dreams are like – equal parts sexual and paranoid. The tones are dark, heavy with brooding synths and pummeling drums, covered with a haze thick from smoke, but carried by precise doses of R&B divas. One of my favorite moments is Kingdom’s edit of a Kowton remix, where he deftly drops in a sample of Mariah hitting a high note, to both an ecstatic and haunting effect. The voice is so easily recognizable as Mariah, but so out of context that it truly creates a completely new experience of the material. Girl Unit’s “Double Take Pt 2” is an excellent inclusion and really lightens up the mood, but it is singularly impressive in how Kingdom uses it as a tool to move from a pitch-black jacking vogue workout into an edit of the dreamy Mike Will produced Future/Kelly Rowland jam “Neva End.” Coming to the end, Kingdom wraps things up in proper Fade to Mind form by laying out Fatima al Qadiri’s digi-industurial-horror “Oil Well” and dropping in a strong acapella (or is it a commissioned verse?) from my favorite Three 6 Mafia member, Gangsta Boo. This whole mix is absolutely brilliant and I liken it to eating a great meal or seeing great fashion, it just makes me want to step my own game up. Big ups to Kingdom and the Fade to Mind crew, 2013 is gonna be your year.

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Burial – Burial (Hyperdub, 2006)

I’ve been meaning to pick this one up for ages now, but I had a 20% off coupon for Chemical-Records recently and I decided to take the plunge. I had never really heard this album at all, so I have had a really great time getting acquainted with the early material of one of the most important artists of the 21st century. I have a lot of respect for this man, and I’ve come to build a deep relationship with his music. This music is just so powerful, so human. It’s music that soundtracks my everyday experience; whether it’s my commute to the industrial landscape of my workplace, or the dark, dirty streets and alleys of my neighborhood, or perhaps the cold, smokey nights in my studio apartment.

I had never really heard the Burial dubstep material, and I was immediately drawn to the opening track “Wounder” with that lonely siren-synth, the menacingly still atmosphere and hard drum programming assuring its status as a classic. The back cover says the material is drawn from 2001-2006, so it’s interesting to see how some of these tracks were crafted in the very early days of dubstep, still moving in that middle ground between garage and dub. “Gutted” (above) is the standout for on the halfstep tracks, as the tell-tale Burial emotive touches really get me everytime. He also begins to show some of true artistry and dexterity that he would later master, ss exemplified in the dubby cut “Broken Home.” I’m not sure where that original sample came from or what it is supposed to say, but the realignment of sound is really wonderful.

Stepping back and viewing the span of his career is also revealing in how a cut like “Pirates” foreshadows a lot of the same tones and themes he covered in his 2012 releases, Kindred and Truant. The track features the basic bass swell and gray tones, but it experiences a shuttering start-stop in the beginning, and as seen on his two latest eps, it is a nod to the days of dusty cassette tape recorded pirate radio. I love the idea that he has followed through on this vision, a meta-narrative involving the physical sustainability of his music, coupled with all the markers of a fabled and romanticized memory of music past.

Categories: 2012, 2013, House, LA, LDN, mix

1 year anniversary + New mix

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

This Thursday’s En La Noche @ MOLAA will mark my one-year anniversary as resident and I couldn’t be happier or more thankful to have become part of such a wonderful institution. This Thursday is going to be extra special as it marks the final ELN/KCRW event at which we will have the usual tequila samples and museum tour, as well as special guest DJ ANTHONY VALADEZ.

In celebration of everything I have put together a new mix for you all to enjoy on your last days of summer. Enjoy!

  1. Mono/Poly – Manifestations
  2. Teebs – Arthur’s Birds
  3. Alice Coltrane – Sivaya
  4. Jackson Conti – Sao Paulo Nights
  5. Exile One – Jumbolo
  6. Lucho Bermudez y su Orquesta – Tulu
  7. Quantic y su Cojunto Los Miticos Del Ritmo – Cuarta Con Cuarta
  8. Mo Kolours – Bakiraq
  9. Melvyn Price – Voodoo Love Dance
  10. Latin Jazz Quintet – Rip a Dip
  11. Hubert Laws – Bloodshot
  12. Vesa-Matti Loiri – Coming Home Baby
  13. Dave Pike – Devilette
Categories: mix

En Vivo Desde El Otro Lado

May 11, 2010 5 comments

Grooves Grooves No. 2: En Vivo Desde El Otro Lado

Latin America is united in its struggle against oppression, whether it is inflicted by foreign powers or from a minority military regime. In the US we are taught as school children that the slaves sang gospels and spirituals and that is where the Blues come from. For most of the Americas the musical influence brought over from Africa (another location of mass oppression) was more grounded in percussion, the cajón being a popular instrument in Cuba and Peru as when under suspicion the instrument returned to its original function as a crate. Hand claps, makeshift drums and group singing have led countless generations to stomp their feet and dance, for a brief moment forgetting the unmentionable daily struggle. Through the dialogue of music and dance, a deeply spiritual experience, groups unified and broke their chains, built their own schools, and taught their own history. Imagine the atmosphere in the back room of a Haitian slave house the night before the revolution, Toussaint L’Ouverture droppin knowledge, sharing strength and love.

This mix is a direct response to the current passing of Arizona Immigration Law SB1070. This is an issue that affects me personally for a multitude of reasons. Both of my parents immigrated here illegally when they were young. My father crossed back and forth a number of times, sometimes in the dashboard of a car, between two other people in a trunk, or on foot through the desert. My parents obtained their citizenship soon after I was born. My dad lost his factory job after 20+ years in 2007 and they moved out to Phoenix because real estate was affordable and he wanted to start his own business. My dad stocks vending machines in big, white-collar buildings and he drives a big white van filled with sodas and snacks to work every day. Three years ago, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio began arresting and detaining all illegal immigrants they came in counter with.

Now, my parents moved to Maricopa county three years ago. My dad drives a big white truck, and he’s a middle-aged man who looks more than his fair share of Mexican, throw in his imperfect English and we’re talking my dad getting pulled over for the most arbitrary reasons. Luckily he is a citizen, but there are about 500,000 illegal immigrants in the state of Arizona alone. Some of these people may have been here for thirty years and have kids. My grandma waited for five years before giving up on the endless bureaucratic red tape known as the naturalization process. Is it right for families to be broken up for the simple fact that a family member is here illegally? When there are mouths to feed, is it okay to send a father who was working as a landscaper to a prison with a number of MS13 and other gang networks?

Yes, there are illegal immigrants who do need to be arrested and those are with affiliations, with positions in the drug cartels of Latin America. The reason that Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of America is precisely due to the level of cartel influence in the state. These cartels are routinely killing people, cops, government officials in Mexico and their reign of terror is spreading into the US. However, SB1070 negatively affects the situation for two huge reasons:

1) It misappropriates manpower, facilities and resources to the menial task of busting non-threatening illegal immigrants. I heard Joe Arpaio speak on a San Diego conservative radio program recently where he bragged about picking up 30 illegals at McDonalds – wouldn’t the money it cost to transport, book, do paperwork, house and feed (not to mention the wages for the law enforcement used) these harmless illegals gone to better use trying to bust the US connections of drug cartels?

2) This law will necessitate the gun-toting cartel to act violently whenever encountering a situation where law enforcement are in the mix. Maybe in the past it would have been possible for cartel members to be pulled over while transporting guns, drugs or people and simply be excused by the police, but now in a situation where they risk everything they may react aggressively.

The biggest criticism of the law I have is the fact that it is inspiring prejudice, it is inspiring hate. The law itself is not racist, but it is making it acceptable to look at one person and accuse them of being a criminal. There are ad campaigns on Arizona TV that blame illegals for taking American jobs (I don’t see too many citizens working the jobs illegals have) and spreading the idea that an illegal immigrant is the same thing as a violent criminal. Those who claim that I’m paranoid and full of liberal propaganda need only acknowledge that states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Minnesota are attempting to enact laws inspired by SB1070. How much violent crime do illegals cause in those states? Are they getting a lot of angry Canadians?

To be serious, though, Arizona gun laws (signed into legislation by Governor Jan Brewer, who also signed SB1070) allow a person over 21 years old to carry a concealed firearm. Without a background check. Only two other states have that law and they are Alaska and Vermont, two states where if you’re wondering around outside you probably need a gun to protect your ass from a wolf or bear. Are Arizonians trying to protect themselves from illegals? This is a bomb just waiting to go off.

The mix is reflective of the situation, but reflective of the Latin American identity as a whole. Salsa, cumbia, son, samba and other styles are represented, but ultimately the focus is on the beautiful artistic expression as much as it is in the spiritual communion of dance. 

http://www.mediafire.com/?wi5lyinjnqg

Categories: mix

GroovesGrooves No. 1 – Live at the Velvet Lounge

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

My first mix. Live at the Velvet Lounge explores thick bass lines, smoke-filled horn sections, dripping piano and the hip hop that could never be played on the radio. Can’t give away anymore details, but a tracklist is included. This is the soundtrack to your night at the place where champagne dreams and smoke-filled fantasies come true. Cover design by Eydie McConnell.

http://www.mediafire.com/?ynygzgjld5m

Categories: fusion, hip hop, jazz, mix