video drop

Today, a compendium of YouTube videos that I've been re-playing again and again, with little anecdotes.

First up, the ladies of Mai Tai, performing their 1985 hit, "History." Excellent old-school video!

My friend Nick from Teengirl Fantasy is pondering a rework of the track in a style similar to Quiet Village Project-- just imagine the extended version below slowed. It is a pure balearic treat, let me tell you, and one that I was treated to pretty constantly during my week in Ohio.

Next up, a 1986 live performance by Farley "Jackmaster" Funk and vocalist Darryl Pandy on 'Top of the Pops.' Would that music like this were still on Top 20 charts!

Man, can Pandy sing!

Now, a jump to a 2005 performance by Paul Randolph, wrongly labelled as a Moodymann performance by the poster. This track is called "Break By Stone," and really, who the hell can argue with a man who is playing bass behind his head, singing, and dancing all at the same time? This video makes you want to go out and do something amazing.

Finally, a jump back to a 1969 performance by Nina Simone, whom I've been really digging to no end in the past couple of months. A pretty famous performance, but worth posting nonetheless.

Tomorrow, some digitized deepness for you. Have a good Sunday!


enjoy it now

While in Oberlin, Ohio, last week, I made a venture to Cleveland with some great friends to see Tortured Soul, and it turned out to be one of the best live concerts I've ever seen. It wasn't just the fact that a live band was playing so perfectly a music that is traditionally made with synthesizers and drum machines, it was the sound itself-- a soulful, funky, jazzy and emotionally resonant house that forces asses to shake. I highly recommend seeing them play live. Just watch this and you'll understand:

And below, a track of theirs that just screams a perfectly deep mix of Morgan Geist, Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan-- truly uplifting, and a real floor-shaker to boot.

Tortured Soul- Enjoy It Now

More deep stuff tomorrow.

the way

Been gone awhile! A solid week of partying with some of my best friends in a beautiful town in Ohio set me back a bit, but now I am back in San Francisco and ready to keep giving the goods.

There's been a lot of debate going on recently about the current state of the genre known as dub-techno, a sound pioneered by Basic Channel and the artists of Chain Reaction, now being taken up by such followers as the boys over at Echocord and Modern Love. Many have grown to think of the genre as "samey," consisting mostly of atmospheric ambient hiss, booming-yet-buried kicks, synth swells here and there, and climaxes much too minute for any sort of dance floor. In other words, the genre's detractors have found that the powerful music of Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald has plateaued into a genre that is completely uninteresting and stuck in the musical signs of being dub-techno, rather than expanding the genre's sonic and dancefloor capabilities. While I agree with this negative assessment in some ways-- much too much same-old shit has come out in the past few years-- I still believe that there are some great artists doing things with the genre, and the best of them is undoubtedly Luke Hess.

Hess' new album Light in the Dark is exemplary of a dub-techno album that doesn't simply rely on formula. Rather, there is a great amount of variation, with tracks ranging from the dark, lush ambient of "Reflections" to the Omar-S-like techno syncopations of "The Way." While there is certainly a mood contained within the album, and is isn't necessarily a sunshiney one, the album as a whole is a breath of fresh air, with enough swelling, delayed synths to keep the dub-techno purists happy and enough pounding grooves to keep the Detroit tech-heads happy. Releasing one of the great albums of 2009, Hess is most definitely among the more interesting and precision-oriented producers out there. Check out his summer podcast from last year on MNML SSGS, too-- it is quite nice.

Luke Hess- The Way

More coming at you later tonight!


Marc Kinchen

Between 1992 and 1996, Marc Kinchen shit gold all over house music. He produced hundreds of remixes for freaking everybody, and they were all awesome. His trademark technique was to edit all meaning out of the vocal track and let the voice emote abstractly. I think that every house head probably has their own favorite MK dubs. Now, his famous sounds - the cut up vocals, the melodic basslines, and the synthesized brass stabs - are tied to that era, but they still sound good.

If, like me, you ever believed that Kinchen literally shit gold, a new interview at Soul Clap may bear you out. Here he speaks about the creation of "Push the Feeling On (The Dub of Doom)," his big hit for The Nightcrawlers:
My studio was a mess. I was kinda mad that they didn’t like it, so I did [a new] one real quick, in like 30 minutes. I didn’t like the vocals so I just cut it up. Everything I did was a first pass, from the horns to the keys to the sample. Plus, I was working out of only one speaker. I just did the mix sent it to my manager and I was out.
I try to take that approach when I do dance stuff. I don’t put alot of thought in to my dance stuff. It’s more just a feeling, so I just go for it and hopefully it ends up working for whatever reason.
He also says that he was making one remix each week for 15-20 thousand dollars each. Here's some of that gold.

His dub of Agolo by Angelique Kidjo:

This next one is less adventurous than normal for Kinchen, but I guess it's hard to figure out how to change something perfect. It's basically a house remix of Alicia Myers's great love song "I Want To Thank You." The vocals have been rerecorded by Latrece B. Kinchen, so I guess this is a family affair.

- Leo


Dr. Mbee & Dr. Duda

I first became aware of the new musical waves that are stirring in South Africa when my friend Dean invited me to participate in a Cool Places Radio episode focusing on Kwaito, house and dance music in South Africa, Zambia, and the surrounding area (see the playlist here). This is one mix that I didn't get around to playing on the show, but it has been continuously blowing my mind ever since. A combination of early 90s British house and African rhythms, with a huge buildup of phaser barreling its way through the middle, splooging its way into one ear and out the other...




homing in

So, after a couple of lovely days in New York City (including an ultimately disappointing Dopplereffekt performance), I am heading to my alma mater, Oberlin College, for a few days. Will definitely be updating the blog and cajoling others into doing some posts as well, so keep checking back...or put us on your feed, or your Google Reader.

Today, a piece from a release that made my best-of-year list from 2008: "The Road Home" from Bvdub's Return to Tonglu. A dreamy, elegiac ambient-dub piece that is perfect for planes, trains, and coming back to a place that feels very much like home. So dig, and tomorrow, an old techno bit that will sum up a week of drunken debauchery quite nicely...before the week is even out.

Bvdub- The Road Home



he is dancing

Chris Fortier's Fade Records imprint usually deals with a more noisy, glitchy, experimental side of techno and house, so it came as a surprise that his second official release for the man known as One of Them included some deep, rolling grooves. "He is Dancing in New York" is a mid-tempo house number with wet handclaps, deep kicks, and synth syncopations that are quite nice. The melancholy, minor-key piano work that rides over everything provides an airy feel to the track, bringing to mind the early summer evening in New York, when the weather becomes bearable after a long day of garbagey heat. With a bit of Ibadan flavor bubbling throughout, "He is Dancing in New York" is certainly my favorite piece thus far from One of Them, and among the best releases on Fortier's label thus far.

One of Them- He is Dancing in New York

Seeing where tomorrow leads me-- I'll be in New York until Sunday, May 17th. Will I see any of you at the Dopplereffekt show at Le Poisson Rouge on Saturday night?


the relaxing

Much talk has been made in recent months of the Meanderthals collaboration between the amazing Idjut Boys and disco stalwart Rune Lindbaek. The three have collaborated before on this awesome 12" among others, and the Meanderthals album, Desire Lines, does not fail to please.

"Collective Fetish" is among the more ponderous, balearic tunes on the album, but also the most groovy and atmospheric. The bass-line throbs, washed-out reverby slide guitars harmonize above lazy chord strums, and dubby moments of delay make for a hazy, warm feeling. Congas provide the percussion, and occasional growling synth murmurings make for some great summer listening. In some ways, "Collective Fetish" sounds a bit like if Talk Talk had made a lyric-less dub album in their later years, and I mean that in a most positive way. So, escape to the islands in your mind (or the real ones a short drive away, location depending) and dig some good vibes from three masters. On Smalltown Supersound, and most definitely worth your purchase.

Meanderthals- Collective Fetish

Tomorrow, a bit about New York.


with limitless vision

It is relatively easy to understand how Henrik Schwarz has become a favored producer over the past years-- his work is without genre, in some ways, spanning the limits of house, techno, minimal as well as world music. It is perhaps in this latter category that Schwarz has made much of his reputation, remixing and collaborating with artists and musics from such far-flung places as South Africa (Amampondo & Culoe de Song), the far north (Mari Boine), and finally his most recent remix of the Sheharzad collaboration between Jens Loden and Natik Awayez, a native of Pakistan. (The stunning remix of "Yalla Yalla" is most certainly worth your time and money).

It has only been recently, though, that I heard the second work in the above list, Schwarz's remix of Mari Boine's "Vuoi Vuoi Me." Boine is a member of the Saami race of people, native to such countries as Sweden, Norway and Finland, and is well-regarded for her mixing of native musics with contemporary jazz, rock and folk music. Her voice is the type of alto that sends shivers down the spine with her intonation and embellishment of the plaintive Saami vocalisations-- truly a golden tone. Hear for yourself in the video below.

Schwarz's remix utilizes Boine's unbelievable voice to its maximum, bringing in a hollow kick, tinkling percussive flourishes and lushly wintery synth melodies to back her up. Both these elements and the bass-line are Schwarzian takes on a very US-based deep house sound, more endemic to Chicago and New York than Germany or any countries of the Far North. Quite something, this track, a surefure late-night crowdpleaser as well as something to bliss out to on one's own. Possibly one of my favorites of Schwarz's remixes, which says quite a bit, as his remix-collab with Amampondo last year remains one of my favorite tracks of the past few seasons.

Mari Boine- Vuoi Vuoi Me (Henrik Schwarz Remix)

Tomorrow, something a bit spring and green.


say yes

Today, a 2002 white label remix from one of San Francisco's favorite soulful house DJs, David Harness. His weekly Sunday Soul Sessions at Temple are something of legend, and though the man's production work is not as large as one might like, his remix work is expansive and ranges all over the musical map. The track I'm sharing today is an unofficial remix of this piece by Floetry. Harness reworks "Say Yes" in a magical way, transforming a smooth-ass soul sex jam into a 121-bpm deep house joint that could get floors smoking. In other words, the track still oozes sex, but in a sweatier fashion: hi-hats and kicks are high in the mix, lush and non-cheesy symphonic synths provide some nice backing to the masterfully-placed vocal samples, and the bass just rides like Randolph. Probably one of my favorite tracks at the moment, "Say Yes" is an earworm that'll have you singing whenever you see a hot something on the street. Check out Harness' upcoming release, "The Rhythm," featuring some choice remixes, too.

Floetry- Say Yes (David Harness Vocal Mix)

Something more later tonight.


new horizon

WE'RE BACK! Hope you like the tweaked design and the upcoming inclusion of some new contributors. Yeah, that's right-- from now on, we'll be having posts ranging from obscure YouTube finds, dancehall madness, experimental electronic music, archival house and techno finds, and even some visual mixes, all courtesy of trusted heads (and myself, of course). So let's get down to it!

Today, I'm bringing it home with a bit from a March release that has garnished lots of praise and should be much more known: Black Jazz Consortium's "New Horizon," the second track from the Fred P. alias' new CD, Structure. The track's kicks are ungodly deep and high in the mix, the panning maracas are thick enough to feel, and the lush synth-piano harmonies bring to mind some UR-style deepness. With the addition of acidy lines here and there, it's no wonder that Fred P. is emerging as one of the best real house producers of our times. One of my favorite tracks of the year thus far from one of my favorite releases of the year thus far, "New Horizon" is a legit treat from Fred's own label, Soul People Music. You can also check out his fantastic radio show every Friday at 1 PM EST on House Motion FM online radio.

Black Jazz Consortium- New Horizon

Look forward to some older treats and newer beats coming soon, plus a look at Ashra and its cornerstone member, Manuel Göttsching!