Friday, June 19, 2009

Concert Preview: Conspirator @ Highline Ballroom 6/19/09

In the summer of 2007, one of my favorite live bands, the New Deal, was on a break while their bassist pursued an alternative music project. During this time they put on a collaborative effort with a number of other known names throughout the jam music scene. This included members of Sound Tribe Sector 9, the Disco Biscuits, and Medeski, Martin & Wood to name a few. When I saw them with my brother at the Highline Ballroom they performed with Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner (the bassist and keyboard player from the Disco Biscuits) and it was a great time. The energy of Darren Shearer (Percussion) and Jamie Shields (Keyboard) melded seamlessly with the trance infused style of Marc and Aron.

While the New Deal is since reunited and currently touring Japan, the second half of this funky quartet performance is now touring the country under the name ‘Conspirator’, moving away from the sing-along style of their regular group, the Disco Biscuits, and more into the realm of what I enjoy, instrumentals. Joining them will be one of the best personalities in this genre of music today, David ‘Murph’ Murphy of Sound Tribe Sector 9, as well as the brilliant percussionist Lane Shaw of Pnuma Trio. I’m excited to see what having two bassists will do to this collaboration, though I imagine a lot of analog pads will be involved. Should be a great time, so if you’re in town, come check it out at the Highline Ballroom at 431 W. 16th Street between 9th and 10th Ave at 11:30PM.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New STS9 Remixes

An amazing remix of my favorite Soundtribe song from the most recent album, "Peaceblaster." Enjoy "Shock Doctrine (ESKMO Remix):

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Visual Guide to Electronic Music

Thanks to JH for this one: Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music is a great website explaining the evolution and origins of the many genres of dance music. It has some great visual diagrams mapping out the history of all kinds of dance music, with many audio samples for each.

I'm still not sure exactly who Ishkur is, but his intentions are pretty clear:

"To try and pinpoint the exact origins of electronic music, you first have to look at how it's made. Because as amazing as it sounds, electronic instruments did not always exist. The vast majority of them are barely more than 20 years old. And it's not like you can just pick up a sampler, synth and drum machine and jam away. Unlike conventional music, electronic music isn't played, per se. It is PROGRAMMED. So any study of the history of electronic music is really a study of its programmers--that is, the people who make the machines that make the sounds that make the music what it is. Without some guy tinkering with diodes and transistors, electronic music is just a fancy, lifeless hunk of junk. Just sitting there. Not doing anything."

Dance to Save the World

A couple of years ago I read about a sustainable dance club in the Netherlands that had installed pressure tiles on the dancefloor to generate electricity from the kinetic energy all the clubbers generated. This in turn greatly reduced the otherwise massive amount of electrical consumption that most dance clubs are notoriously known for. After some stumbling I found the website for the company that develops these dance floors (Sustainable Dance Club).

While dance clubs and their patrons will probably never escape the negative connotations of hedonism that they are unfortunately associated with, it is refreshing to see some thought and innovation go into something other than the art and music. Cities with lots of clubs would be wise to subsidize endeavours like this.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The French Are At It Again

What is it about French culture that inspires so many great dance music acts? Perhaps it was the revolutionary spirit of their forefathers that inspired Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter to break away from the French House-music scene and join forces and introduce the world to Daft Punk in 1995. Perhaps it is the smug contentment of the French with their own cultural achievements that has created so many who have followed in their footsteps (Justice, Busy P, Mr. Oizo, etc.). Whatever it is, with the recent release of his first full-length album "Away From The Sea", Pierre-Alexandre Busson (aka Yuksek) has perpetuated my belief that all of the best Electro music still comes from Europe.

Yuksek's musical journey began in his youth with daily piano lessons the eventually led him to become a music teacher. Though a self-proclaimed fan of pop for most of his life, Yuksek was inevitably exposed to electronic music. When asked about his initial impression, he remembered thinking that, “compared to pop, it had a freedom about it.” This freedom is apparent in "Away From The Sea" which is varied in its composition. The songs range from the pumping electro beat-riddled tracks like "Break Ya" and "I Like To Play," reminiscint of Boys Noize, to the more poppy "So Far Away," a collaboration with The Bewitched that hints of MGMT. Also notable is the synth-laden "I Could Never Be A Dancer," a powerful instrumental with it's 1980s synth riffs. Other collaborations include "Extraball" with Amanda Blank, "This Is Not Today" with Shit Disco, and my personal favorite, "So Down," featuring Chromeo.

The album is varied but consistent, tried but refreshing. And most importantly a lot of fun to dance to, and definitely worth a listen. Check it out.