Friday, March 31, 2006

NB! top 10 - March

These are some sweets which were of my special attention during March. In no particular order, all are tasty.

> Elektrochemie - You're my kind [Get Physical]
The new song by Stephan Bodzin & Thomas Schumacher feat. Caitlin Devlin is a real smasher, and should become a dancefloor hit! There is again this nice balance between a pop hook and melody, and brilliant production, so characteristic for Booka Shade and other Get Physical artists.

> Crowdpleaser & Ly Sanders - Bad Monkey [Mental Groove]
Sort of a sadomaso (on your knees, the bad monkey!) electric acidhouse with tribal percussion from Switzerland. So damn playful and funky! Makes me think of Chromeo and the likes.

> Royksopp - Beautiful day without you (Rex the Dog rmx) [Wall of Sound?]
A dreamy, slightly acid song with the sweet Royksopp's voice and melody. It's not that banging as most of Rex's original trax, but anyway their special touch is obvious.

> The Knife - Like a pen [Brille]
The new Knife album, I must admit, gets better and better, and Like a pen is one of the highlights (and its danceable, hence it in this uptempo top). This song deserves to be released on a separate 12".

> Metope - Second skin (Tekel rmx) [Sender]
I don't like so much Tekel's last release on Initial Cuts, although he is one of my favourite artists in this genre. However, this rmx is great, offering deep and distorted sonic excursions.

> Ellen Allien & Apparat - Turbo Dreams (Marc Houle jackit mix) [Bpitch Control]
Both remixes are tasty (another one comes from Pier Bucci), but Canadian Marc Houle has done it in a groovier way. Jacking, but still minimal beat as Steve Bug used to produce.

> Fairmont - Gazebo (Sebastien Léger Remix) [Electro-Choc]
The original is great, too, but this rmx is tougher It's still dreamy and trancey, there is kept that Border Commmunity's style, just more accented beat and lurking killer bassline beneath. If you would ask me, I find the new remix of Nathan Fake by Apparat nice, but nothing so special, this is better, IMO.

> Diplo vs. Ray Charles - Gold digger/I've got a woman [Money Studies]
It's not very new, but for me it was quite special this month. Diplo nicely fucks up a classic blues song. Mississippi biz.

> Noze - Kitchen [Trapez]
If somebody thinks (just in case) that minimal is boring, because its all the same, Noze is a good example that minimal is actually just a form that can be filled by very different ingredients. This song is really funny, sounds a bit like Tiger Lillies and The Lovers. Actually these guys are from French Circus Company posse.

> Ricardo Villalobos - Que Belle Epoque 2006 [Frisbee Tracks]
This another fine example of a wierd minimalism. It starts as a quite typical, bubbling minimal techno track, and reaching nearly the mid it grows into beautiful french chanson. This one is quite different from Villalobos' recent things, but it's so good!

How to sing blues

Usually I'm sceptical about those prank e-mails, which travel around... However, this one is good and worth to republish.

1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning..."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, 'less you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes . . . sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch--ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft an' state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cause you skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues: a) Highway; b) Jailhouse; c) Empty bed; d) Bottom of a whiskey glass. Bad places for the Blues: a) Dillard's; b) Gallery openings; c) Ivy League institutions; d) Golf courses; e) Starbucks

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be a old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if a) You older than dirt; b) You blind; c) You shot a man in Memphis; d) You can't be satisfied. No, if a) You have all your teeth; b) You were once blind but now can see; c) The man in Memphis lived; d) You have a 401K or trust fund.

13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

14. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are a) Cheap wine; b) Whiskey or bourbon; c) Muddy water; d) Nasty black coffee. The following are NOT Blues beverages: a) Perrier; b) Chardonnay; c) Snapple; d) Slim Fast; e) Mocha Latte

15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or getting liposuction.

16. Some Blues names for women: a) Sadie; b) Big Mama; c) Bessie; d) Fat River Dumpling

17. Some Blues names for men a) Joe; b) Willie; c) Little Willie; d) Big Willie

18. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit: a) Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.); b) First name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi, etc.); c) Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.); d) For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

20. I don't care how tragic your life, if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues.

p.s. thanks to Kristi!

p.s.s. blues generally is about dogs, whiskey and

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Save or cancel

Here comes my another mush-up, I took Kango's Stein Massiv - Tobakk Org and added vocal from the old classic Indeep's song + tweaked some effects a bit. What you think?

Indeep vs. Kango's Stein - Tobakk saved my life (NB m-up)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

To DJ = To Communicate

Some time ago I had a chance to interview Tobias Thomas - one of the Kompakt guys -, and I can totally agree with him that djing basically is about communication. The same thing can be said about music in general. I think those DJs, who got the attitude 'I don't give a shit about crowd if they don't like my records', are sort of silly and childish (for instance, see this post on Tape).

See, technically machines/computer can substitute a DJ, especially in a bar. But still a DJ is needed for this communication factor. A preprogrammed machine cannot really communicate and react as a human.

Plus there is another, broader thing regarding communication and DJing. It's a name or image of a DJ. Even if at first it might sound wrong DJs are actually kind of brands. Some people go to a club to see their favourite DJ, some DJs are more popular, some less, they represent different labels, music, styles, tastes etc. That's why a club/bar owner is interested to have a DJ not a computer, although the latter is even cheaper.

Just last remark. Not only DJs, who lock themselves away from a crowd, suck, the same I can say about those people which goes to parties expecting that a DJ gonna play just the stuff he likes, I mean, those fuckers who are totally demanding without being open. Because it should be 2 ways communication. Peace y'all!

Monday, March 27, 2006

On the menu

Year 2006 has brought many great records so far, incl. albums. Here are some short reviews, which are more to remind not surprise - I bet you have already checked these things.

Ellen Alien & Apparat – Orchestra of Bubbles [Bpitch Control]

This is the case when collaboration of 2 artists results in a new, probably better musical quality. Each of them has skillfully contributed something of their own sound. In general there are Ellen's trancey epic melodies + Apparat's top notch production qualities making the record sound more intelligent, more 'crisp'. Clicky electro beats (Under, Do Not Break), magnificent orchestral strings (Metric, Retina), tracks are mostly instrumental, just with few vocals (Way out, and some chopped vocals – so typical for Ellen – on some other pieces), slightly acid, phat, bubbling basslines… Most of the tracks are pretty "danceable", although, I suppose, the album is rather a listening pleasure.

There's some IDM/micro on the album, but it's not minimal at all, which is nice if you feel sort of bored of the trendy minimalism all around. Basically the LP sounds a bit pop, but this kind of deep and intelligent electronic pop you likely won't hear on a standard commercial radio. High quality shit for those who like traveling without moving!

Ellen Allien and Apparat - Under

The Knife – Silent Shout [Brille]

My first impression about the new Swedish band's album was quite reserved, because it was just so different from their former trademark - cheerful, silly and freaky synth-pop, so unique on its own which was much celebrated couple of years ago. Heartbeats was a true hymn those days (and still is). Furthermore, why to fuck up such a beautiful and powerful voice as Karin Andersson's with pitch-shifting. It's good as it is. Well, production is fairly good, but sometimes it's better to keep that lo-fi attitude. I was wondering why so many critics (incl. Sherburne and Pearson) are raving about it. So, these were my first thoughts about Silent Shout.

However, as the time passed by, I found it better and better, and at the moment I must admit that it is great. Probably it just didn't match my expectations at first. As a child given an apple instead of a candy. The new Knife is sharp, dark and cold. It's spooky, but no doubt there is some frozen beauty in it, and the vocal is still outstanding. There are some amazing slow pieces (like From Off to On and Na Na Na, which resembles Niobe so much), a couple of DJ-friendly tracks (the much praised Silent Shout – check also remixes, they are OK –, and Like a Pen, which I actually prefer better, – it has nice micropong clicks and chicagoish groove). If listen carefully you'll find something from the former Knife as well – especially on tracks Neverland and tangoish Marble Room (feat. another swedish electropop hero - Jay Jay Johansson). In general, it's a well polished, balanced record, yet intriguing, eccentric and urges one to use his/her imagination. What else is there? I'd say that it has some Scandinavian coldness and pagan mysticism. Silent Shout is not a record for latino heads, ya know, this is a different affair. If there were any discos at those ice hotels, this music would definetely fit there.

The Knife - Like a pen

Alex Smoke – Paradolia [Soma]

Mr. Smoke is a genuine persona in the contemporary electronic music, he has actually reinvented the minimal techno, adding more melodies and even singing occasionally. Actually the label "minimal" can't be really applied to describe this kind of music any more, probably one can call it post-techno or simply electronica or whatever. After all, who cares about labels if music is great…

The new LP just reassures that Alex Smoke is one of the best producers around. He is elaborating the same path, but the deeper in a forest, the better it gets. Subtle and complex rhythmic structures wrapped in abstract melodies. Some elements remind me of another Alex – Spanish minimal techno wizard Alex Under -, there's a bit of Akufen and Villalobos, too, but, however, A.Smoke has his own distinctive expression. His bleeping sound is so funky, but at the same time it is not obtrusive and straight-kicking, his music shines in a distant beauty. Technically, Paradolia has dance-music characteristics, although the record is more for listening than for dancing (probably the most danceable tracks are Meany and Snider). Gem!

Alex Smoke - Persona

Jimmy Edgar – Color Strip [Warp]

When techno was invented in Detroit, quite simple drum machines and hardware synthesizers were in use. Nowadays, production of electronic music is far more sophisticated, and a lot of things are made just on a laptop screen. Nevertheless, the spirit is the same – this funky, soulful, but so electronic and futuristic Detroit stuff (who says that robots can't be funky?).

This Jimmy Edgar's debut LP is a nice example of stripped down electrojazz, clickhop, datapop. Some IDM electro cuts (which sound like DMX Crew), some r'n'b beats put in a totally new context, even a nice electropop tune (My Beats). Colorful, smooth and groovy musique electronique par excellence.

Jimmy Edgar - My Beats

Nathan Fake – Drowning in A Sea of Love [Border Community]

The minimal techno maestro goes ambient and IDM. Anyway, one can't fake a talent – no matter in what stylistic categories his music falls, it is just brilliant. So light, even a bit childish. Some of the tracks would easily fit on a Kompakt's PopAmbient compilation. Melodies on this record are so overwhelming, cheerful and even sentimental, but they avoid being banal. On the other hand, for the contrast, there are some noisy drones as well (Falmer is the most explicit example) and some live recorded sounds (Fell, Stops, plus drums on The Sky was Pink seem to come from 'live' drumming). In some pieces there is obvious homage to My Bloody Valentine and shoegaze stuff in general. Hence, some similarity to Boards of Canada, too (who are also big fans of MBV as far I know).

Nathan Fake - You are here

Coldcut – Sound Mirrors [Ninja Tune]

Coldcut, the true pioneers of abstract hiphop/lounge, deliver a remarkable brew of innovative pop music. Apart from their usual socially conscious sampling/spoken word stuff, this time many references to rock music are found on da record. For instance, Whistle and a Prayer + Colours the Soul + Man in a Garage are mild, guitar driven songs, whereas Everything is Under Control is more straight and banging (and more pop) U2-ish kind of thing, which may seem too catchy and cliché if not untraditional arrangement. Furthermore, True Skool with Roots Manuva on a mic sounds like Jungle Brothers meet Asian Dub Foundation meet MIA. On Walk a Mile and This Island Earth there are garage vocals, which is not really my cup of tea, but it is probably homage to UK club sound. Sound Mirrors is a typical Coldcut's ambient track with a piano playing in a minor key. However, the strongest kick (listening on headphones) I got from Aid Dealer and Boogieman, those panning echoes are amazing!

Despite the obvious flirting with pop and London club music it's an interesting record, which masterly mirrors different music styles. Outcome is a rather unique combination, and it is hard to find any comparison, the nearest ones I can think of are DJ Shadow and Prefuse 73.

Coldcut - Aid Dealer

2 b continued...


I've learned that the grandfather of soul/funk - James Brown - is coming to the town, this summer there will be a gig in Riga. That's grand! I must admit that I'm tired of his overplayed hits, but nevertheless I would like to pay due respect to him, - he has a talent which simply stands beyong any pop/non-pop distictions. In other words - this ecstatic muthafucka is a part of music history, no more, no less.

This one comes from that brilliant latino compilation by Mr. Coconut The Atom Heart. Obviously this song is about the Grandfather. Shake what your momma gave ya!

Voice altering

Mr. Sherburne in his column at pitchforkmedia mentions that:
According to a friend who recently interviewed one edge of their double blade, Olof Dreijer, dude actually does his press engagements speaking through a vocoder.
That should look funny how The Knife is giving interviews via some gear. But somehow I like this idea. There is something of the Residents' or FSOL approach in it. Actually when I started doing one radioshow (at RadioNaba), initially I also used a Pioneer DJM-600 pitch-shifter to alter my voice.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ninja girls

This one goes out to 2 lovely ninja girls.

Judith Juillerath - Vol au vent

Alco not welco

I was planning to write about some albums released in last months, sort of short reviews, but, fuck it, today I've got a terrible hangover, too much of wine consumed yesterday. My head is heavier than the Earth-globe. So, I'm afraid I am not able to write anything long and serious at the moment, hopefully reviews will come later. But for now some russian hiphop action!

Actually this one is made by Exile guys (see their kickin' zine), they are americans not russians.

Exile - Chechenz

However, Krovostok is a pure russian project, it's so hardcore, but still funny (the knowledge of russian would help appreciate this one). I wonder what these guys consume...

Krovostok 1
Krovostok 2

The last thing is not hiphop at all, I even dunno how to call it, and it's not Rusian. In fact this band has got a cult status in LV. I hope that some day they will win the European song contest - Eurovision - the guys deserve it, and Eurovision deserves meeting them as well. Cheers!

Svešie - Es negribu būt tava ēna

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Karaoke doggy stylee

Today I found out that our Lithuanian friends Boogaloo posse and RyRalio guys playing at the same party:

BooRalio 2006 03 25, sestadienis, 22:00 Boogaloo DJs: Tomas Boo & 2 Fresh RyRalio DJs: Lauris Lee & Karalius Gravity, Jasinskio g. 16, Vilnius, LT

I haven't seen them for ages, and I feel sort of nostalgia remembering those old good times when I used to dj there time after time - it was always fun...

The Gravity is a nice club, located at some kind of bomb-shelter. This is an excerpt from our freestyle live recording with MC Dust specially for this club. A bit of pop with a funky ragga flava. (I've never drunk so much sambuca as that night at the Gravity.)

JaffaDJs vs. MC Dust

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Kill a cobra

Last week-end I was lucky enough to see Cobra Killer performing in Luxembourg. Both girls were crazy on stage. Probably more show than music, although what I heard were quite interesting sound collages on top of the industrial/electro rhythms. They were provoking, kinky (black make-up, high heels and all that stuff) and so... berliner. Not so hardcore and noisy as they used to be (at least on records), but still nice.

I guess that the public appreciated the performance, although people were quite passive, more like observers not participants. But that's Luxembourg - one should work really hard to make people move. On the other hand, that was not really a dance music. However, I hope to see them in Riga one day.

Here is some oldie goodie: Cobra Killer - I hear voices

1,2 - cauri! is over!

The party "1,2 cauri!" (= 1,2 – over!) was promising enough, but actually it beat all my expectations – imo, Riga hadn't experienced such a good party for long time. Both main acts – Felix Kubin and Kevin Blechdom feat. Ad Hawk – were absolutely fucking brilliant.

The first one was Kubin - dressed in a beige suite, marching in the front of the crowd, staring straight forward and declaring/singing some wierd texts in German, English and even Polish, plus actively playing keyboards (one of them was a rather sweet oldschool Korg synth, resembling a mini-moog kind of thing). To be honest I was quite surprised to see him singing as almost all his records I have are instrumental. But it worked so well - catchy music + an entertainig show. I remember there were some songs about Kopernick and Donald Duck... All this accompanied by grotesque sci-fi videos. Nice, elegant and bizzare. Felix Kubin is a true prince of datatpop. Indeed, some call him a wizard, but I prefer 'prince'.

The next one was e-pop 'anti-diva' Kevin Blechdom, who sang on top of clicky laptop rhythms and melodies. Songs ranged from slow carol/country-type pieces to more contemporary TigerBeat6 aesthetics to parodies on pop songs, some of them accompanied by Ad Hawk. Regarding Kevin's look and image it was totally different as of Felix Kubin - she performed in a nightdress, a cowboy hat, cheeks coloured brown by chocolate (to look dirty, I suppose) and so on - sort of redneck stylee. As the final one she sang Whitney Houston's I will always love you, looping this phrase and repeating it till everybody got high. Oh, that was crazy and gorgeous! I had seen her twice before but this was the best, I think.

Due respect to the crowd, too. People reacted cheerfully to everything played by the artists. The same thing I can say about the rest of the event when I and Ernests tried out varios records from IDM to bastardpop to electrohop, and everything worked well. (In fact people didn't want to stop dancing, and a guard had to plug out a cord to stop the party.) Furthermore, the venue was a small place, and there was no real distance between artists and the audience, I mean, no real stage, thus making interaction direct and intimate. We need more parties in Riga like this one. Good job, "Skaņu Mežs" guys! Well, the unofficial 'afterparty' rocked, too, - as somebody called it 'a night to remember' :)

Some more pics by h.cha: party + afterparty

Felix Kubin - Hit me, provider

Ray Charles vs. Kanye West vs. Diplo

My favourite tune lately is (opening a sealed envelope...):

Diplo's reconstruction of Ray Charles' classic I've got a woman.

Obviously Diplo is the right guy who knows how to fuck up an old song. I've tested it a couple of times on a dancefloor – and it works despite being a bit wierd! The only bad thing about the track is its length or, to put it right, it's shortness. Can anyone do a proper extended mix? (Plus I have to credit Eve Massacre from whom I learned about this track!!)

However, there is some mystery involved... In some sources this song/rmx is called Gold digger. Actually that's Kanye West's song which also uses the sample from I've got a woman, so it's a bit confusing whether Diplo has remixed the original one or Kanye's version, but anyway - it's kicking!

Diplo vs. Ray Charles - I've got a woman/Gold digger

Back on track

Hi, folks! I'm back after some while being away, been to some nice gigs and had a good time in general. Reports are on their way, but now about few new things. First of all (as you can see) from this moment on this blog will be bilingual – not merely in Latvian any more. There are several reasons behind this, mainly because the blogosphere has no geographical boundaries, and English is, well, dominating language there. However, it's not about dominance or preferences, my friends, it's about ability to communicate, about sharing a message no matter written or purely musical one. So, that's why we partly switch to English. Here comes an excuse, too: please, don't be too critical about my English, which is not my mother tongue, so be tolerant regarding mistakes.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Tuvākajā laikā sanāk spēlēt divos visnotaļ interesantos pasākumos, turklāt abi vienā dienā – 11. martā. No vienas puses, žēl, ka vienā dienā, taču, no otras puses, lielākās pilsētās, piemēram, tai pašā Berlīnē, ievērības cienīgu pasākumu vienlaicīga norise ir bezmaz norma. Tādējādi „klubošanas” procesu var dažādot, gan vienā naktī apmeklējot vairākus klubus, gan paildzinot šo procesu. Piemēram, kā Philip Sherburne savā Pitchfork slejā norāda, Berlīnē ir normāla parādība tusēt pa klubiem un pārtijām padsmit līdz pat 24 stundas no vietas.

Nedaudz par pasākumiem. Viens no tiem ir Skaņu Meža vīru Viestarta un Ernesta bīdītais 1, 2 – cauri! Pulkvedī, kur uzstāsies Kevin Blechdom, Felix Kubin un Ad Hawk. Par Ad Hawk neko daudz nezinu, esmu dzirdējis viņa solo pienesumu The Mocky albumā, tas laikam arī viss, savukārt Kubina mūzika ir gana dzirdēta. Diezgan avangardiska, elektroniska popmūzika, kā viņš pats izsakās – fake pop. Jebkurā gadījumā viņš šķiet arī pats par sevi diezgan ekstravaganta personība, vismaz tā var spriest pēc intervijām (vienu var izlasīt šeit).

Savdabīgu versiju par to, kādai jāizskatās popmūzikai, piedāvā arī K. Blechdom. Ir gadījies divreiz redzēt viņas šovus – iespaidīgi un izklaidējoši. Viņas skatuves tēls ir visai komisks – redneck lauciskums, uzsvērti antiseksuāls, taču tajā pašā laikā viņa nekautrējas spēlēties ar popkultūras caurvīto „sex sells” pieeju, kaut vai sēžot jāteniski uz krēsla un dziedot „I’m your private dancer, dancer for money…” vai ekstātiski atkārtojot „And I will always love you…”. Nevar gan Blekdomei pārmest, ka viņu nodarbotos tikai ar popkultūras kariķēšanu – tā gluži nav, jo viņa ir tiešām talantīga, un viens no viņas spēcīgajiem ieročiem noteikti ir spēcīgā balss. Jādomā, ka pasākuma gaisotne salīdzinoši mazajās Pulkveža telpās būs patīkami neformāla un īpaši jautra. Kas attiecas uz mani, centīšos uzspēlēt ko tādu, kas, Ernesta vārdiem sakot, parasti paliek aiz borta – tātad nedaudz jokainākas plates (IDM, electrohop, leftfield pop u.c.).

Savukārt otrais pasākums ir rīkotās sērijas M1 otrais pasākums Depo, kur kā galvenais viesis piedalīsies vācu minimal dīdžejs Kungfoo. Ja godīgi, par šo vīru ar jancīgo nikneimu gandrīz neko nezinu, taču tas nevarētu kalpot par iemeslu pasākuma neapmeklēšanai, jo visdrīzāk, zinot rīkotājus un īpašo šo pasākumu gaisotni, nebūs jāviļas nevienam, kura sirdij kaut cik tuvs ir deep/minimal/tekhouse. Ceru arī drusku uzspēlēt tur, ne tik daudz gan īstu minimal, bet dziļu un reizē enerģisku elektrohouse.

Tiekamies tur!

Posted by: neon b.