Posted: February 11th, 2009 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: Interview, Playing Favourites, Resident Advisor, Till von Sein | No Comments »
> Backroom Productions – Definition Of A Track ( New York Underground Records) 1988
A rare tune from 1987. Indeed nothing but a track.
I knew this from the vinyl edition of the DJ-Kicks by Terranova. At that time it fit right in with what they were trying to represent with that compilation. I used to play this track regularly back then, it was very good for warming up.
So you actually know this for quite some time then.
Yeah, of course! I was not into Terranova that much, but the compilation had some brilliant tracks on it. East Flatbush Project and such.
This has some kind of Hip Hop vibe to it, too. But it does not exactly sound like 1988.
No, and I didn’t know that (laughs).
Would you still play it?
Definitely. I don’t know when and for what occasion but it is a class track.
It somehow reminds me of the bonus beats they used to have on the flipside of old House records.
Yeah, but bonus beats have gone out of fashion a bit, apart from Hip Hop. Argy had some for that Sydenham track “Ebian” on Ibadan last year. But I think it is not really relevant anymore for the current generation of House producers.
The percussive elements really distinguish the sound of that era from today’s productions. Lots of handclaps, or here it’s rimshots.
My problem is that I don’t really like all these percussion sounds from drum machines. I prefer sampled real instruments. This is probably some classic Roland drum machine, like a 606. I would take the bassdrum and hi-hats from somewhere else. The toms of these old machines are always cool, but the bongo sounds for example are not for me. I wouldn’t use that for my productions. I couldn’t do these 100 % authentic references. I think it’s supercool to listen to in a Prosumer record for example, but I couldn’t do that.
You got qualms about doing something like that?
No (laughs)! I’m just working on a new track for which I sampled an old Amen-break. I don’t care, if I like it I use it. This kind of break is in 90 % of all Drum and Bass tracks and nobody cares, so I don’t care either.
> Phortune – Unity (Jack Trax) 1988
This is an old track by DJ Pierre, from his Acid House days. But it is different to most tracks he produced back then. It is pretty deep.
It’s great. Awesome vibe for 1988, I could listen to this all day. It doesn’t tranquilize my feet, it’s not boring, it’s perfectly right. And I would grin from ear to ear if I would hear this in a club.
Some of its sounds have aged really well.
I really like this. I think it’s a pity that there are not so many tracks with great basslines at the moment. There are a lot of simple, functional basslines without much of a melody. Of course it’s effective and some current tracks need some of these dominating, functional elements, but a track like this for example needs a bit more, and I miss that. It’s also simple, but it has more and different harmonies. I like that, it gets me hooked. I would love to buy this on Beatport (laughs)!
Yes, that could be difficult. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 21st, 2009 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: Interview, Playing Favourites, Quarion, Resident Advisor | No Comments »
> Sound Dimension – Granny Scratch Scratch (Soul Jazz)
This is a 70′s reggae track by Jackie Mittoo. It’s almost Minimal, very basic.
True. It’s got some Techno appeal, it’s just rhythm. That’s what I like about this Dub stuff, there are so many things you can recognize that were used later on in electronic music like House and Techno. Dub was so important for that.
So these ancient production techniques are still valid? There seems to be a direct line from Jamaica to today’s productions.
Yeah, I listen to Dub. I don’t listen to a lot, but I like some of it. But I like to use the state of mind of Dub in my music. It’s more a musician thing. I like to use the techniques of it. I’m getting more into the music, too. It’s amazing, the way they were mixing the bass and the drums in the 70′s. Really crazy.
They also put some emphasis on just doing tracks, not songs.
It really is the basis of what came afterwards, from Hip Hop to House to Techno. Drum and Bass also, of course. They all took elements from Dub, that’s really interesting.
> Yukihiro Takahashi – Walking To The Beat (Pick Up Records)
The next one is by Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Yukihiro Takahashi. A Synthpop track.
It is interesting. It has this kind of proto-House feeling. What I really liked was this crazy soprano sax solo at the end. It is almost like Free Jazz, for 30 or 40 seconds, and then it stops. That was quite bold.
I think he actually wanted to do some kind of pop hit though. The singer on this record is the one from the 80′s pop group Icehouse for example. But for a pop hit it is probably too weird.
I think the harmonies are built up quite traditionally, but this solo part really surprised me. It is almost like New York ‘s Post Punk era. Trying some new crazy stuff.
Maybe you should use some sax solo in a House track.
Well, I used to play sax in the past.
Yeah, for a long time. But I kind of really got tired of the sound and I don’t think I’m going to use it. But you never know. I started playing Alto Saxophone when I was 13 years old. I had tried piano a few years ago, but I wasn’t so much into it. I don’t remember why I chose saxophone, but I remember I wanted to do a wind instrument. With the saxophone, I learned to play jazz and I absolutely loved it! I began rehearsing with a few bands, mostly Jazz or Funk groups. When I discovered DJing, I was instantly hooked and I started playing less and less saxophone, until I quit around 2001. DJing, collecting and discovering music became more important for me. I dabbled into production around 1996, but got a home studio setup two years later. I remember that my main reason for producing was that I found that certain records were lacking something or were arranged in a way that I thought was not so effective. I was thinking “Hmm, the producer should have put this part first” or “the chord there doesn’t sound nice although the beat is dope”. After a while I just thought I should make my own tracks.
I remember that a lot of the early Deep House tracks used the same sax sound. Really flat and synthetic. They seldom used a real saxophone, always this cheap sound effect.
Yeah, terrible. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 12th, 2008 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: Interview, Playing Favourites, Resident Advisor, Shed | No Comments »
White Noise – Black Mass: Electric Storm In Hell
This is very early electronic music, from White Noise’s first album from 1969. They were among the first to use synthesizers in a rock context and their music became very influential later on. This particular track seems indeed way ahead of its contemporaries, and it is pretty wild.
I didn’t know that at all. I had problems listening through it, it is almost disturbing. From today’s point of view it maybe is not that overtly experimental anymore, but setting it into the time of its production, it is very cool.
There certainly was not much comparable music back then.
The sound is very good. They already had synthesizers? There is a lot of space in the production. If you would not have told me, I would never have guessed that it is so old. The arrangement and the noisy parts reminded me of destructed Amen breaks, totally distorted. Very interesting.
Quartz – Chaos
The next one is by Quartz from France . Also early synthesizer music, but within a disco context.
I was not into that at all. My calendar does not really start before 1990 or so. Even stuff like early Model 500, Cybotron, it is ok, but it’s not mine. I also can’t get into Kraftwerk. What has been called techno from 1990 on was what got me to listen to music consciously for the first time. I was never the one to check the influences on music that I like. I know Disco only from TV, Saturday Night Fever and such. I was never really interested in it.
Is that based on a basic antipathy towards the sounds of disco music?
There was a short period I found it exciting, around the time the filter and cut-up disco house arrived with DJ Sneak, all the sample stuff. But that was over pretty soon when all the records started to sound the same. So yes, it is based on principle that I don’t like the sounds too much.
So you were more interested in how a track was built on samples than where they came from?
Exactly. It was fascinating to me how all could be said in a loop that went for three minutes, if it was a cool one. Longer than that it could get boring. Of course you can’t compare that to what happens in the original disco track, there was more happening there than in house tracks, which only used bits. It was interesting that many people used the same samples and you became aware that there must some source for it. But sample based productions are not my philosophy. I never wanted to just use bits of other people’s music.
Those disco house records also did not always pay tribute to disco, they deconstructed it, and often in a not very respectful manner.
Not at all. It’s strange how American producers often deal with each other, all that stealing amongst themselves. But in the end we all benefited from that (laughs). Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 29th, 2008 | Author: Finn | Filed under: Features | Tags: Daniel Wang, Interview, Playing Favourites, Resident Advisor | No Comments »
> Ennio Morricone – Rodeo
This is from an old French movie soundtrack, „Le Casse“. I picked this for the string arrangement, because it puts a lot of emphasis on build-up, thus linking to the way Disco producers arranged strings for climactic dancefloor moments.
To be honest, I muss confess I don’t know Morricone’s works so well. I don’t think I have been a really big fan, partially because I don’t know it so well. My first impression of this track, which I didn’t know, was that it’s a formal composition. In my head I make a distinction between pop music, which has almost very definite rules, and people following it like Abba. It’s not formulaic, but there are very basic chord progressions that are based on Blues and Jazz that you can do in pop music and that have their own logic and their own progression. Many pop songs are actually the same song. “Good Times” by Chic is one kind of groove and twenty other songs sound exactly like it. It could be “Rapture” by Blondie or something. That’s pop music writing. And then you have soundtrack music writing and it has a different logic. It doesn’t have to follow a certain progression like in pop music, which has a reason and an impulse that keeps on pushing the song forward. When I heard this I thought it is a very good example of soundtrack music writing where you don’t really have to explain the logic of the chord progression, it just sets a mood. It makes an ambience. I think this is probably from 1967 to 71.
Good guess, it’s from 1971.
Because from 1972 on you start getting the big multi-track stuff, like Philly Disco and the more sophisticated pop, and this still sounds relatively simple. My first impression was it’s like a slightly cheaper copy of Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”, but with more drama. It has some very formal devices, like it’s basically a minor key. But at some points he plays the same theme but he opens it up with a major key.
Lately all this beautifully orchestrated obscure library music back is popping up again and people scan back catalogues for songs groovy enough to suit a Disco context.
Yeah, that’s interesting, and I think there is a good reason for that. There is such a thing as real music, in the sense that there were people who did music for films, like Ennio Morricone, or Giorgio Moroder, with a more naïve use of the rules, or the very sophisticated Henry Mancini, or Alec Constandinos, or Vangelis, or Jean-Michel Jarre. All these people were obviously classically trained and they followed the rules. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a Bossa Nova, 60′s GoGo or a Disco beat, the rules of the music don’t change. I think that is why everybody is going back now to find real music. When people like Masters At Work appeared in the 90′s, people who didn’t know anything about the basic rules of music started making music. That’s why it sounds so awful, haha. A lot of the DJ produced music doesn’t have its own intrinsic logic and sense. And chords, progression and melodies have that intrinsic logic. That’s what’s been missing. So everyone of this generation who wants to find out what is really musical has to go back to the 60′s and 70′s, and there you find it everywhere actually.
> Carter Burwell – Blood Simple
This is from the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers debut film “Blood Simple”.
It’s from the 80′s I suppose.
Yes, it’s from 1987. It’s a mood piece with a synthetic feel to it.
I found the orchestration is simpler, but it’s similar to the previous song. Again, it’s not a pop song with intrinsic deep logic. Like Bach’s “Air On The G-String”, that is also some kind of pop music because it has a very definite logic. This one has a formal piano theme that sounds a bit like Erik Satie. Simple chord, simple melody, a little bit like Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”. It is not original, it is a formal piece, it follows a form that other people have created.
You could maybe alter its logic by just putting a beat under it, and by not adding much you would have a really moody dance track.
Yeah, actually this is the thing. To be honest, and many people are going to hate me for saying this, I’m not a big fan of Portishead. It’s very easy to make a mood piece. Anybody can do it. All you have to do is take a minor key and play some stuff over it, doesn’t really matter what. I think Portishead never even use a major key (laughs).
They don’t have to, really.
Yes. I think anybody writing good music should move between major and minor keys, that’s part of the magic. Since we now accept that some people make mood music, you can have a whole album of just melancholy. Personally, that doesn’t move me at all and I don’t find it very interesting. I think a lot of people in this generation think that this is a valid way to do music, for me it’s not enough. Salsoul records only have two or three keys but they do it so well, there are so many nuances.
I think the problem is that many people think they can only sound deep by using minor keys.
Yes, you’re right. That’s very true. If it’s not melancholy and it’s not moody then it’s not deep. Which is not true. That’s very profound what you just said. Read the rest of this entry »