Posted: February 1st, 2016 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: Electronic Beats, Omar-S, Rewind, Shanti Celeste | No Comments »
In discussion with Shanti Celeste about “Set It Out” by Omar-S (2003).
So what was the first time you heard this track?
I wish I could say it was in a club where I had a life changing experience bla bla bla, but it was actually a much more ordinary scenario. I was buying some birthday records on Juno just after it was repressed in 2009. I didn’t know much about Omar-S at that point, had heard the name once or twice, but that was about it. So the answer to that question is – the first time I heard this song was on the mighty Juno player.
What drew you to it? The simplicity of the groove? The addictive synth line? How it erupts into a heartfelt song? Or something else? Or all of it?
All of it! The vocal and the beautiful rolling pad in particular though, then the nice toms and the clap, too! I just think it’s a beautiful track, it can make you feel so happy and grateful. I love singing so I just start belting out along with it as soon as I hear it or even when I play it in a club. It is just so simple but so powerful.
For me this is foremost a prime example of a very fine Vocal House record. Lyrics, singing and sound work perfectly with each other. It seems nothing is missing, and there is nothing to improve. But is it really as simple as it sounds?
Yes and no, there isn’t that many elements which I guess is what makes it simple, but it is cleverly constructed. I always think that spreading a synth line across four bars creates more interest because it gives room for all the other elements to play without sounding too loopy and repetitive, even if it is that way. Also let’s not forget what a great vocal can do to a track, in some cases it can completely transform it.
I think his track „Who Wrote The Rules of Love“ with Colonel Abrams also comes close to what Omar-S achieved with „Set It Out“. Are you a fan of his in general? Are there other tracks you like nearly as much?
I agree, that’s also really good and again a perfect example of a good Vocal House track, if I’m putting it down to just a feeling though, I prefer „Set It Out“ but they are so close! These are probably my two favourites. I do like a lot of his others as well, he has done soooo much! One of my other favourites is him and Kai Alcé’s „Not Phazed“.
I like that Omar-S is absolutely not very fussy about either producing or marketing what he produces. He is not very concerned about other opinions on what he does either. Is this the way out of modern PR obligations, just delivering the tunes?
I think part of it is a way of delivering tunes! Imagine if he did the whole PR thing every time he released a record, especially at the start when he was releasing lots, it would be a PR overload! And now people trust him and will probably buy his records anyway.
There is whole lot of discourse about Detroit in club culture. But does the origin of Omar-S really matter with „Set It Out“?
To be honest, I’m not sure. To me it just sounds like Omar-S!
UK also has a healthy tradition with Garage House, even if it evolved into something different. But to my ears the production of this track is not too dissimilar to UK club styles, or am I wrong?
I actually think there are other more garage-y tracks from Omar-S that sound more similar to UK styles. „Set It Out“ is quite straight and I always think of UK Garage House as a lot more swong. But I guess that“s the beauty of music, eh? Everyone hears it in they’re own way.
What is important if you infuse a dance track with vocals?
Tricky, I will always notice a good vocal track if I like the vocal and the way that it’s been placed on the track. It’s very important that it’s effortless and soulful but not trying to be too gimmicky and „classic house vocal’. Also sometimes it helps if they use the whole accapella, like in „Set It Out“, or if it’s a vocalist that they arrange with more of a song structure. I like the way it sounds when it’s chopped as well but it has to be done right. Basically, it has to to work great and not just for the sake of it.
I must admit that I much prefer this kind of vocals in a dance track to the majority of tracks of recent years that include a singing style usually more associated with indie records. But I would not go as far as to maintain you cannot create a good club song without a Soul aspect. But what does a good club song actually require?
For me it requires a physical and an emotional aspect. So a really good groove that you just can’t help but dance to and a melodic aspect of some kind. I’m not saying it has to be super melodic with noodly bits everywhere, although that’s the route I tend to take because I just can’t help myself. But something to go along with the groove that’s making you dance your ass off.
Is there a way that „Set It Out“ is reflected in your own productions?
Maybe yes, it’s probably influenced me in more ways than I know considering that I have listened to it so many times over the years!
The defunct Face magazine used to have these little messages at the bottom of their last page. I always have this one particular issue in the back of my mind where it read „Vocals matter“. But do they still?
They do to me!
Posted: January 25th, 2016 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Gigs | Tags: Genf, Motel Campo, Oram Modular, PLO Man | No Comments »
Posted: January 19th, 2016 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: David Bowie, Electronic Beats | No Comments »
I loved a lot of David Bowie songs throughout my life. His landmark albums from the early 70s were still a staple of the radio shows I recorded to cassettes from the mid 70s on. Glam anthems, way ahead to my ears then what became of it in the charts around that time. Glam outfits that were equally way ahead. David Bowie was already somewhere else, of course, anticipating the Disco phenomenon I would soon so love, with Philly’s finest. Then following that up with the Berlin trilogy that would inspire legions to create something great, and look great while doing it, too. Then, when I ran around in 60s clothes in my early 80s coastal smalltown youth, I discovered that he already had been there in the best way imaginable, and his early Pye singles were exactly the attitude and sound I was looking for. He was the definite face. He made no mistakes. He even descended to the kids he created with „Ashes To Ashes“, and he blessed them, as they worshipped him. He was a terrific actor on screen as well, making good use of his ever magnetic charisma and sexually confusing identities there, too. Whatever he did, you watched him very closely, else you could have missed out on crucial developments.
When „Let’s Dance“ was announced as being produced by Nile Rodgers, another inerrable hero of mine, I had the highest expectations, but then could not help feeling let down. There were moments, but not enough of them. And in the period of the mid 80s shortly after, pop’s most successful stars could earn a fortune without even the slightest vision (let alone sound), and David Bowie simply became one of them. As soon as he was dancing in the street with Mick I was just embarrassed. Even his outfits were embarrassing. I was really surprised that this could happen. Enter the years of hit and miss. For every glimpse of his former cool self resurfacing, „Absolute Beginners“ or „Hallo Spaceboy“ for example, he took decisions that were unforgiveably below his par, think Tin Machine, among others. Given, you cannot be visionary forever, however visionary you once were. And David Bowie was more constantly visionary than anybody else, for a long time. But the visions at one point were had by others. Not surprisingly he displayed a clever instinct for picking the right ones to utilize for his purposes, but still they were attached. I did not mind, he was performing the elder statesmanship with grace, and as so many artists were still working ideas he already had before, there was nothing left to prove, only if he wanted to. So screw the stock bonds. I sincerely felt happy for him and his family. He deserved it. Then he kind of disappeared.
When he reappeared in 2013, it felt like out of the blue. „Where Are We Now?“ was the first song of his in years I listened to repeatedly. It was beautiful and it felt good to have him back. I was slightly surprised by its sadness, but I thought it was quite a statement to base its sentiment about the most lauded creative period of your career. It challenges comparisons, and I was sure he was still creatively ambitious enough to try and deal with them, no matter what he achieved before. „The Next Day“ was a good album, too. He did not try to reinvent himself, he looked back on what he invented. I visited the Bowie exhibition that was doing the same in Berlin, just in time before it closed, and I enjoyed it very much. It all came back, rather predictably. His stage outfits on display proved he was a small man, but he surely did not have a small mind.
I did not expect that he would follow that retrospective phase so soon, if at all. And I absolutely did not expect that he would follow it up with an album like „Blackstar“. As before, David Bowie chose to remain silent, relying on producer Tony Visconti to reveal the news of its release. I read his trusted cohort doing that in an interview while travelling. He spoke of references like Kendrick Lamar, Death Grips and Boards Of Canada, and that rock and roll was to be avoided. David Bowie recruited a potent jazz quartet from a New York bar for the recordings. It was all rather promising. When I got asked to write these lines I initially wished I could have listened to the entire album when he was still alive, as I was already overwhelmed to the point of numbness by the reactions to his sudden demise. But when I then listened to it, it became obvious very quickly that he was fully aware that he would have passed away once the public would be fully exposed to it. And that it is pivotal to picture the dying artist for the whole experience. The songs are brilliant. Complex and dense, or just stunning, indeed avoiding rock and roll stereotypes, even if the jazz only adds to the picture instead of dominating it. The mood is intense, but it is not entirely dark. Thinking of the motivation behind this album, David Bowie sounds astonishingly swinging, his beloved voice delivering clever lyrics ranging between the horror of his own decay and the feeling of arriving there content, at ease with himself, with truths simultaneously personal and universal. The video to „Lazarus“ is frightening to watch, but comically absurd as well. The last photographs of him taken show him in a sharp suit, lauging. The way he orchestrated his own requiem is incredible, exactly as he wanted to, and as only he could. Being David Bowie, setting lasting examples yet again. Superior, even in death.
Electronic Beats 01/16
Posted: January 6th, 2016 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: Electronic Beats, Rewind, The Blue Nile, Truly-Madly | No Comments »
In discussion with truly-madly on “Hats” by The Blue Nile (1989).
How did you come across this album for the first time?
In my early teens I was quite nerdily into hi-fi – it didn’t stop there to be honest – so there would always be a copy of „What Hi-Fi“ knocking about, covered in drooled saliva at the valve amp page. The magazine had a small music review section – I don’t recall usually paying much attention to this but for some reason I read the entry for „Hats“. I don’t remember what it said but something in it must have appealed to my inner angst – nor did that stop there either – at that time. Surely the word ‘melancholy’ was used. So I bought it blindly (the cassette). At that time I was listening to bits of everything, early House, Synth Pop, Indie, and I was buying vinyl but had this odd mental divide that meant I would buy albums on cassette and singles on 12”. And actually I only finally bought „Hats“ on vinyl fairly recently – random find at Rough Trade Portobello in London.
Why did you choose „Hats“ for this interview? What are its special credentials for you?
It would probably be too difficult to choose a House or Techno album, which might be the natural thing to do, and this was the first that came to mind otherwise. I still think it’s quite obscure in a way, despite being part of the mainstream, and seemingly more popular than I realised.
My first encounter with The Blue Nile was probably hearing „Tinseltown In The Rain“ on the radio, from their first album „A Walk Across The Rooftops“, released in 1983. Do you like that as well?
I like all their stuff but don’t remember anything pre-“Hats“. I now know Tinseltown was some kind of hit but don’t directly recall it from the radio, etc. But occasionally I’ll hear it, in a cab or something, and think there is more to it than simply having listened to it from the album, that maybe I did hear it around the time it came out. That first album, and „Hats“, they are the best ones for me.
For me it is a topic worthy of thorough academic research how the electronic music of the Synthpop era and beyond is so often pared with very charismatic lead voices. Is this only for contrast, or is there more to it?
Erm, is it too late to change my album? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 23rd, 2015 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Gigs | Tags: Berlin, D*ruffalo Hit Squad, Palomabar | No Comments »
Posted: December 7th, 2015 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: Chez Damier, Rewind, rRoxymore | No Comments »
In discussion with rRoxymore on “KMS 049 B1” by Chez Damier (1993).
What was the first time you heard this track?
I think I heard that track on a recorded DJ mix that was often played in a local radio where I grew up. It was a mix by Darren Emerson, if I remember correctly, recorded during one of these epic raves at that time. Eventually I had that mix recorded on a tape myself, and I was playing it from time to time in my teenage bedroom after school or on weekends. This was in the mid 90’s I think. I never knew who was the producer of the track at that time, I discovered it years after.
Why does it stand out for you? What makes it so special?
It brings me right back to my raving teenage years, just listening to that tape in my bedroom. I think what has always caught me in that track is that gimmick, the weeping sound of the chords, it sounds almost like breathing, and also it is difficult to identify how that sound has been made. Is it the sound of a keyboard chords, or strings, or voices mixed with strings and something else? It has always been a mystery for me and and it still is. That sound, which is obviously the signature of the track, has an unusual character. It is almost some sound design. Even though I guess it is a just preset on a synth, haha. It has always stood out from the dance music production of that time and still is. Maybe because it makes it more difficult to categorize it. Just compare it to the A side which is obviously a House music track. The B side is much more ambiguous stylistically in terms of aesthetics. Is it House music or is it Techno music? That is why I like it so much.
The A-side of this record is probably as legendary. Do you like it as well?
Yes I like it too, but for me it sounds definitely more like a classic House track. Even though, as you said, it became legendary. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 7th, 2015 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Gigs | Tags: Berlin, Ohm, Philip Marshall, Sleeparchive | No Comments »
You were thrown out of that posh private party in the suburbs earlier on. The beer was gone, so you nicked some fine spirits from the cabinet of the hostess’s parents and shared, generously. You insulted most of the male guests and flirted with most of the female guests (or was it the other way round?). They discovered the messages you left on the bathroom mirror and disapproved, even though it was the best poetry you had ever written. At least they could not rub it off so easily… But now the girls (or was it the boys?) no longer flirted back. You couldn’t afford them anyway. The music there was terrible, but you could do nothing about it as you dropped your tape at the petrol station where you’d bought your booze on the way to the party. You had walked there, activating every motion sensor in every villa along the street with your silly dance moves, and deactivating every second lamp post with a kung fu kick. For contrast. Before walking there, you took the bus.
Now you ride the bus again, into the city. You glance cautiously at the mulletted proles, all with similar intentions to yours. They are as drunk as you are. They stare right back. They hate your hair, your jacket, your badges, your shoes. They hate the rest of you too. There’s always more than one of them. They are never on their own. You hate buses. One day you will be able to afford a cab. Actually you could already afford one, but you prefer to spend your money on getting drunk and that outfit they hate. But until that night you can afford it all, around now is when you begin to think of what will happen should you meet the same bunch tomorrow morning, waiting for the first bus. You will have to run again. Weekends mean running. Maybe you can run faster. You’d better try. But you won’t be in time and anyway there will be further trouble once you have arrived, either torn and beaten up, or not – but wasted either way…
You arrive. There’s been a fight already. You see the blood and broken glass. You see the blood on the broken glass. You see a badge on the ground. Tonight you are wearing an identical one. You encounter witnesses. You laugh them off for exaggerating, even though you know they do not. You walk down the stairs to the club. It was never a club with a view – you always descend. You pass the soccer table (those pros with their gloves on again, waiting for victims) and head for the bar. You don’t know as many people as you had expected. You wonder if this is a good or bad thing.
The DJ starts his dark set. THE BLACK BOX. The black light. You think it a bit much that not only the stains on your clothes glow in the dark but your drink does, too. It tastes like cheap liquorice. THE COUNT. You think it would be funny if The Count would really be here, targeting future playmates among the Blixas and Siouxsies. You think it would also be funny if the dancers would have to throw their agony-shapes accompanied by the meagre disco lights, while the imminent disco set would be cloaked in heavy fog. But the punk set always come first. DOCTOR ANNABEL LIES. DOCTOR ANNABEL LIES. DOCTOR ANNABEL LIES. It’s either Buzzcocks next, or something for the scooter boys. But they are not so present tonight; a shortcut to synths and the floor split between the Heavy Fog and the Meagre Disco Lights factions. IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE. In bars. In bars. Ha! You compare your own unimpressed look to that of the others…
You realise the button on your jacket’s pocket has fallen off again and your cigarettes are gone. Your keys as well. You decide to postpone the consequences as long as possible. For the keys at least. You will have to wait until the lights come back up to fish around for some cigarette money – but for now you will blag one off the soccer table pros. You wonder if they have a theme song. HAND IN GLOVE. Oh, the irony. THE SUN SHINES OUT OF OUR BEHINDS. Sun. Ha! You are determined your next drink will be something fruity that does not glow in the dark, and you wonder if that is even possible. You get a warm beer instead. And some mean shot. You want results. You take a leak. You hear someone snorting bad speed. As if anything happening here really requires chemical pace. You read the same tired jokes on the wall. You check your hair in the broken mirror, even though it doesn’t need checking. You read the same tired jokes written on there, too. Back in, another round. A lighter one. Quiffs and Marc O’Polo sweaters, predictably. You recognise that girl from the party hours before (or was it a boy?) FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOPS DOWN TO THE SUNNY STREET. Ha! A DIFFERENT DRUM IS PLAYING A DIFFERENT KIND OF BEAT. Ha ha!! You think the DJ could be smarter than anybody else in here. Except you, of course…
Later you wake up next to a girl (or was it a boy?) on that dirty sofa. You are not sure if anything happened. It does look a bit as if something happened. No, actually, you just do not know… Not so many people left now. Slow songs already. TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF ME. You watch the very recent couples, who ignore the instructions. You are too wasted to join in, with whomever, anyway. WELL IT JUST WASN’T ME. Maybe half an hour left before your exit into daylight — and then you will have to run. Oh well.
This is not a true story.
Everything will be different.
We invite you to hear the BEST FUCKING MUSIC EVER.
NO TRUMPETS (maybe).
Do swing by and bring some love. And other people.
We love you (YOU PAY OUR RENT).
Finn, Roger unt Wyrm.
(The Tapeworm dedicates this evening to the memory of Massimo Pavarini, who bloody well should’ve been dancing with us tonight…)
Posted: December 3rd, 2015 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: Daft Punk, DJ Fett Burger, Rewind | 1 Comment »
In discussion with DJ Fett Burger on “Homework” by Daft Punk (1996).
How did „”Homework”“ found its way to your years? Was it by coincidence, or did you seek it out on some recommendation?
It was totally by a coincidence. I think it was back in the fall or winter of 1996 or something, I can’t really remember. My brother and me were listening to the radio one evening in the kitchen. Back then, we always listened to the radio when we were eating or hanging out, usually making drawings. In Norway around the time it was a channel called NRK P3. It’s still around, and it was one of the main National broadcasting channels. There were three of them. NRK P1 the original, NRK P2 mostly for culture, and NRK P3 for the younger generation. This station was aiming for a younger audience – but in a very different way than today. They used to have a broad selection of different programs. My favorite was the programs in the morning and afternoon because they had a lot of intelligent humor and also sometimes pushed things a bit further in terms of what was socially acceptable, at least back then. In the evenings, six days a week, they had different shows dedicated to music belonging to a certain scene or niche. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday it was Roxrevyen, which later became Karlsens Kabin, and Hal 9000. Karlsens Kabin mainly covered indie music, but also electronic music. Hal 9000 with Harald Are Lund was a broad selection of rock, electronic and experimental music with a very open minded approach. A lot of older things got played as well. Friday, it was National Rap Show with Tommy Tee, Hip Hop concentration mostly on early nineties East Coast Hip Hop. And then, Saturday, it was DJ Dust with Funk and Disco, DJ Strangefruit with his eclectic selections, and later in the evening DJ Abstract with mostly House and Techno. On Sunday it was Chill Out with DJ Friendly in the morning and Ambolt on Sunday evening, which was dedicated to Metal and harder Rock. Overall, NPK P3 had a pretty broad selection of music from different scenes. It provided a great musical education for when you are young and from a small Norwegian town. These programs were so dedicated to their scene, they always played a lot of demos or unreleased music. Karlsens Kabin and Hal 9000 played some of our oldest music, even things only made on CD-R, so it was a very supportive scene on the radio back then. You can just imagine how crazy it was for us back then being played on national radio!
OK, now back to the question. First time I heard something from Daft Punk was through Karlsens Kabin or Roxrevyen as it was called then. It was a mid-week evening, and suddenly “Around The World” was on the radio. This was before it was a big hit, and before people knew what Daft Punk was. It was probably a radio promo that was played or something like that.
It just blew my mind at the time. Back then it was so cool, different, even strange. Right after they played the song, they said the name and title of the song. And one second later I forgot it all, except the song. But a few months later, Daft Punk was everywhere with “Da Funk” and “Around The World” on MTV all day long.
Do you like the album as a whole, or are there personal highlights, or even tracks you do not like as much?
I like the album as a whole. Before when it was new, you could hear the hits everywhere, so I was pretty familiar with them. I remember when my brother and I got the album. It was an interesting listening experience, since most of the tracks were actually not hits or mainstream material. For instance, “Rollin’ & Scratchin’, “High Fidelity”, “Rock’n Roll”, “Indo Silver Club”, “Alive” or the intro “Wdpk837 Fm.” But, since everything was on the album, it just became associated with something mainstream.
Now it’s a classic of course, but back then, it was the combination of making something catchy, a bit more demanding, and for a scene. In this case, obviously House and Techno. You can hardly say that something is demanding or edgy on the album anymore, because of its place in music history. I think there still are some tracks that are edgy. Back then, for a 15-year-old kid without any experience, this was a big and new thing. Just imagine what influence this had. I remember even in the beginning, I didn’t like “Rollin’ & Scratchin.’ However, it changed after I gained more of an understanding for where the song and its influences came from.
For me, the whole album is a personal highlight. There are different vibes to the tracks and your mood shifts. Some songs are more uplifting, some more mellow, and some noisy or slow. But everything is a favorite of mine in different ways. They all have different elements of influences for me in terms of musical education. The whole album is a favorite of mine. Everything, from how the sound is mixed, the way Daft Punk samples, the artwork aesthetic, the music videos and Daft Punk’s anonymity at the time. It’s a whole package, and I embraced it all. I loved it all and still do! Read the rest of this entry »