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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Music


Gallery: a new documentary digs into techno’s 80s Detroit roots

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 15 Nov 2018 7:17 pm

“God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines” is the story through the eyes of a documentary team that grew up in Detroit – and with time running out, they’re short of their funding goal. Happily, you have the power to change that.

God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: The Story of Detroit Techno

Behind all the history and legend, there’s always a human story of how things happen. What’s appealing about this film above others is, it’s not just one icon or one machine, but the relationships between the artists that takes the spotlight. And, it’s at last a film about Detroit’s influence from Detroit’s perspective – not just the European scene where the genre eventually turned into a runaway financial success.

The requisite originators all star – Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Eddie Fowlkes, Blake Baxter, and more – so this is definitely one I look forward to watching.

Of course, funding independent film is these days a major ordeal, particularly for American filmmakers. And so it’s disheartening to see that with days running out on crowd funding, the filmmakers haven’t made their very modest funding goals. There are some lovely benefits in there – just US$5 gets you an exclusive mixtape – so I hope you’ll get the chance to give this a nod.

Motor City natives Kristian Hill and Jennifer Washington are looking just for the finishing funds to put this out.

I asked Jennifer to walk us through some stills from the film, so here’s an exclusive gallery for CDM.

Young child at Movement Festival, Detroit.

Motor City, now.

Cover of Record Mirror, June 1988.

The Scene Dance Show, Detroit, circa 1983.

Cybotron’s vision of future cities, 1983.

Blake Baxter plays those drum machines.

Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Juan Atkins.

Juan Atkins, Eddie Fowlkes.

Classic Transmat label, illustrated by Alan Oldham.

Mike Huckaby.

Kevin Saunderson.

God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: The Story of Detroit Techno [Kickstarter]

Previously:

Detroit techno, the 90s comic book – and epic new DJ T-1000 techno

In a documentary film, a return to Detroit and speaker f***ing

The post Gallery: a new documentary digs into techno’s 80s Detroit roots appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

In gorgeous ETHER, a handmade micro lens brings cymatics closer

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 13 Nov 2018 9:49 pm

Sound is physical, but we don’t often get to see that physicality. In this gorgeous video for Thomas Vaquié, directed by Nico Neefs, those worlds of vibrations explode across your screen. It’s the latest release from ANTIVJ, and it’s spellbinding.

The sounds really do generate the visuals here, from generating terrain from an analysis from the waveform to revealing footage of metal powder animated by sonic vibrations. A self-made micro lens provides the optics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK0BXH7zu-M

Everything in this video was made using the sound waves of the track Ether.
Equipped with a home-made micro lens, a camera travels inside physical representations of the musical composition, from a concrete mountain built from the spectrogram of the music, to eruptions of metal powder caused by rhythmic impulsions.

(Impulsion is a word; look it up! I had to do so.)

Still from the video.

Nico Neefs is the director, working with images he created with Corentin Kopp. It’s set to music from Belgian producer Thomas Vaquié’s new album Ecume, on Antivj Recordings. That imprint has for over a decade been a label for audiovisual creations across media – release, installation, performance. Simon Geilfus developed the tool for visualization.

They’ve employed the same techniques to make a very attractive physical release. The image you see in the artwork is cast from a concrete mold. For a limited edition box set, they’re producing 33cm x 33cm plates cast from that mold in dark resin. And it’s ready to mount to a wall if you choose; hardware included. Or if you feel instead like you own enough things, there’s a digital edition.

Ultra-limited handmade physical release.

Concrete mold.

Concrete mold; detail.

The whole album is beautiful; I’m especially fond of the bell-like resonances in the opening piece. It’s a sumptuous, sonic environment, full of evocative sound designs that rustle and ring in easy, organic assemblies, part synthetic, part string. Those then break into broken, warped grooves that push forward. (Hey, more impulsion – like a horse.)

The music was repurposed from installations and art contexts:

These are all derivations of compositions for site-specific and installation projects, the original pieces having been created as a response to place and space, to light and architecture, to code and motion. Now separated and transformed from their original context, the music takes on an independent existence in these new realisations.

That does lend the whole release an environmental quality – spaces you can step in and out of – but is nonetheless present emotionally. There’s impact, listening top to bottom, enough so that you might not immediately assume the earlier context. And the release is fully consistent and coherent as a whole. (It is very possible you heard an installation here or there. Vaquié has produced compositions for Centre Pompidou Metz the Old Port of Montreal’s metallic conveyor tower, in Songdo South Korea, at Oaxaca’s ethnobotanical gardens, and at Hala Stulecia, Poland’s huge concrete dome.)

And there’s thoroughly fine string writing throughout – with a sense that strings and electronic media are always attuned to one another.

Cover artwork.

Thomas Vaquié.

Poetic explanation accompanies the album:

Ether embodies the world that exists above the skies.
It is the air that the gods breathe.
It is that feeling of dizziness,
that asphyxiation that we feel when faced with immensity.

Full video credits:

Music by Thomas Vaquié
Video directed by Nico Neefs
Images by Nico Neefs & Corentin Kopp
Edit & Post-production by Nico Neefs
Video produced by Charles Kinoo for Less Is More Studio and Thomas Vaquié
Filmed at BFC Studio, Brussels 2018.

More, including downloads / physical purchases:

https://thomasvaquie.bandcamp.com/

Plus:
www.thomasvaquie.com
www.antivj.com

The post In gorgeous ETHER, a handmade micro lens brings cymatics closer appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The month’s best mixes: Lil Mofo, Loka Salviatek and Kenya’s brilliant Slikback

Delivered... Tayyab Amin | Scene | Tue 13 Nov 2018 1:33 pm

A concert for fireworks from Vasco Alves and co, Mama Snake and Solid Blake live at the Dekmantel festival and the latest Errorsmith mix

High-octane junglist stress relievers, anti-colonial war drums and exhilarating new club sounds from central and east Africa all feature among November’s best mixes – plus curios including a composition written for a signal-flare performance.

Related: The month's best mixes: Sarah Davachi, Octo Octa and hippy workouts

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Conversations and an overflow of music, streaming from Ableton Loop

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Events,Scene | Fri 9 Nov 2018 10:43 pm

Don’t have a ticket to Ableton’s Loop “summit for music makers” in Los Angeles? There’s an overabundance of music and conversation from the gathered artists streaming, much of it live, available now.

For starters, your chance to get involved is the 90-second music challenge, on today:

https://loop.ableton.com/2018/start-here/

(90 whole seconds? Maybe it’s time to redo our 1-second “leap second” music challenge. Apologies for the broken link there – I know that file is in our archives; stay tuned.)

It’s easy to imagine Loop as turning into something really focused on the particular software and hardware products from Ableton, but the people programming the event have made it something very different. Loop’s programming itself extends through a range of artistic and technological frontiers, many of them only tangentially related to Live or Push – everything from AI to electronic instrument engineering to sonifying data from space. Most of that does require a ticket – which means you need to be in Los Angeles right now, and tickets were in short supply. (Even for ticket holders, capacities are constrained as workshops and seminars often take place in small quarters.)

What you can get access to is a couple of the mainstage talks, and a whole bunch of the music culture around Loop. That says a lot about the kind of artists Ableton has befriended, and the sort of hub Los Angeles can be for musicians. So Dublab Radio are broadcasting, for instance – and they’ve made Loop their home.

We’ll be talking to artists, too, in our own way – stay tuned for that. But meanwhile, part of what I get is that there’s a ton of music to experience. It’s not just one genre, and it’s also not just about the people Loop programmers thought were important. If music production tools are driven by an urge to create and share, then it’s little wonder that the participants here have self-organized their own collaborative playlist to share what they’re doing.

So let’s listen. Here’s your guide:

Loop has their live streaming schedule online, with events starting mainly 2PM (5PM NYC, 11PM Berlin) daily, earlier on Saturday:
https://loop.ableton.com/2018/streaming-schedule/

Timing on the West Coast of the USA tends to run a little late even in the Americas, and winds up at weird hours for Europe/Africa and the Eastern Hemisphere. But here you go — think afternoon – early evening LA time Friday and Saturday and afternoon Sunday. That means evening east coast USA, early morning Japan, and … Europe you might want to wait for the archive unless you’re a night owl.

Highlights for me include Sunday – Damien Licht has been doing some great productions and has a new album, and shesaid.so, Naomi Mitchell & Coco Solid should be terrific as they’re bringing in loads of new and diverse music interests and community activation. Plus Dennis DeSantis, Laura Escudé, Patrice Rushen, Photay talking Saturday about what happens when plans go awry – well, that’s relevant to all of us, and this is an utterly amazing selection of different life experiences professionally. We all talk about the Instagram-friendly perfect side of our creative lives, and very rarely about the failures – even if adjusting to failures is usually where the good stuff happens.

Plus there are live performances in the evening if you can catch them.

Music you can tune in any time, though, via Spotify.

What’s great is the chance for participants to share with one another:

And Dublab would love to welcome you to LA’s extraordinarily dynamic scene:

For more sounds – including the lineup at Loop and a guide to why the venue EastWest Studios has put out music you already know and love:

https://loop.ableton.com/2018/loop-spotify/

And if you are at Loop, see you here:

Touch, Code, Play: creating hybrid physical-digital music instruments

The post Conversations and an overflow of music, streaming from Ableton Loop appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Eerie, amazing sounds from tape loops, patches – like whales in space

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 8 Nov 2018 5:41 pm

Fahmi Mursyid from Indonesia has been creating oceans of wondrously sculpted sounds on netlabels for the past years. Be sure to watch these magical constructions on nothing but Walkman tape loops with effects pedals and VCV Rack patches – immense sonic drones from minimal materials.

Fahmi hails from Bandung, in West Java, Indonesia. While places like Yogyakarta have hogged the attention traditionally (back even to pre-colonial gamelan kingdom heydeys), it seems like Bandung has quietly become a haven for experimentalists.

He also makes gorgeous artworks and photography, which I’ve added here to visualize his work further. Via:

http://ideologikal.weebly.com/

This dude and his friends are absurdly prolific. But you can be ambitious and snap up the whole discography for about twelve bucks on Bandcamp. It’s all quality stuff, so you could load it up on a USB key and have music when you’re away from the Internet ranging from glitchy edges to gorgeous ambient chill.

Watching the YouTube videos gives you a feeling for the materiality of what you’re hearing – a kind of visual kinetic pcture to go with the sound sculpture. Here are some favorites of mine:

Via Bandcamp, he’s just shared this modded Walkman looping away. DSP, plug-in makers: here’s some serious nonlinearity to inspire you. Trippy, whalesong-in-wormhole stuff:

The quote added to YouTube from Steve Reich fits:

“the process of composition but rather pieces of music that are, literally, processes. The distinctive thing about musical processes is that they determine all the note-to-note (sound-to-sound) details and the overall form simultaneously. (Think of a round or infinite canon.)”

He’s been gradually building a technique around tapes.

But there’s an analog to this kind of process, working physically, and working virtually with unexpected, partially unstable modular creations. Working with the free and open source software modular platform VCV Rack, he’s created some wild ambient constructions:

Or the two together:

Eno and Reich pepper the cultural references, but there are aesthetic cues from Indonesia, too, I think (and no reason not to tear down those colonial divisions between the two spheres). Here’s a reinterpretation of Balinese culture of the 1940s, which gives you some texture of that background and also his own aesthetic slant on the music of his native country:

Check out the releases, too. These can get angular and percussive:

— or become expansive soundscapes, as here in collaboration with Sofia Gozali:

— or become deep, physical journeys, as with Jazlyn Melody (really love this one):

Here’s a wonderful live performance:

I got hooked on Fahmi’s music before, and … honestly, far from playing favorites, I find I keep accidentally running over it through aliases and different links and enjoying it over and over again. (While I was just in Indonesia for Nusasonic, it wasn’t the trip that made me discover the music – it was the work of musicians like Fahmi that were the reason we all found ourselves on the other side of the world in the first place, to be more accurate. They discovered new sounds, and us.) So previously:

The vaporwave Windows 98 startup sound remix no one asked for

http://ideologikal.weebly.com/

https://ideologikal.bandcamp.com/

The post Eerie, amazing sounds from tape loops, patches – like whales in space appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ecco the Dolphin playthrough with Drexciya music is today’s perfect trip

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Tue 6 Nov 2018 5:39 pm

I don’t know about you, but the next time I need to cool down, trip out, and feel good about the universe, I will turn to this epic playthrough of Ecco the Dolphin with soundtrack by Detroit’s Drexciya. Humans made this. We can follow those humans, or dolphins, or some combination to the future.

Ecco the Dolphin is the 90s Sega Genesis hit developed by Ed Annunziata and Novotrade International. Drexciya is the Detroit futuristic electro duo who imagined an underwater future. Together, they make more sense than peanut butter and jelly, or Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.

Though, to be fair, after I was tweeted at that I should really transcribe the interviews with James Stinson (I should), it is now dangerously possible that I wind up getting sucked into Ecco and some Drexciya records. Uh… whoops.

But let us heed these words, anyway:

I know a lot of people going through a rough time right now – personally, globally. Sing to the shelled ones and they will heal your wounds.

Thanks, David Abravanel, CDM at-large Nerd of All Things Good.

Previously:

Underwater electronic futurism, in the words of James Stinson (Drexciya)

The post Ecco the Dolphin playthrough with Drexciya music is today’s perfect trip appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Underwater electronic futurism, in the words of James Stinson (Drexciya)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 5 Nov 2018 8:28 pm

At the turn of the 21st century, one Detroit duo was way ahead. Almost two decades later, the world is revisiting Drexciya and their imagined underwater future – the time is right, and the deepest insights come from James Stinson speaking in his own words.

Drexciyan Cruise Control Bubble 1 to Lardossan Cruiser 8 dash 203 X!

Drexciya, the underground electro duo of the 90s, is enjoying a new resurgence … wait, make that the underwater electro duo enjoying a new submergence? Anyway, cue the Tresor Records re-release, the Resident Advisor spot, the works.

And if you’re not already immersed in this duo’s work, now is a great time to discover or rediscover them. The electro tracks are raw, powerful, grimy, totally Detroit, and in these deadly-serious techno times, unafraid of their own irreverence. “Aquabahn” is sexy and totally, wonderfully, ridiculous:

(They’re not totally kidding, though; everyone I’ve talked to from Underground Resistance has talked about being genuine Kraftwerk fans.)

“Afrofuturism” as a term got applied after the fact (to Drexciya as to the likes of Sun Ra and Juan Atkins). When Drexciya’s 1997 release “The Quest” came out, this was just plain futurism in the words of its creators. But in the liner notes, their journey to imagine an underwater utopia spells out the connection to African-American diasporas and discrimination in overt terms.

From The Quest liner notes – diasporas to global techno to underwater worlds and African return.Source.

The Quest, 1997.

Drexciya were not prone to doing interviews. But apart from being a great musical voice, the late James Stinson, revealed in phone interviews from around the end of the project, had a great voice and articulate vision. And while an under-the-sea world of dreams might seem a preconceived conceit, Stinson says it all came naturally out of the vibes of the music. “We flow with the current,” he told Andrew Duke in 2001. And then he expands on how the concept and life flow out of that, and how water figures into the music.

Listen to him about trying the impossible, ignoring what is supposed to be in music – a perspective that seems in perpetual need in creative life. The whole half hour with journalist Andrew Duke is worth hearing. That’s appropriate, too, as Stinson encourages people to get beyond needle drops and listen to whole tracks and the whole world of Drexciya:

The guy talks about the feeling of music being like the sensation of sitting in a liquid chair made of water. And equally great questions. (“What’s it like to ride a manta ray?”)

Spirit of the underground? James Stinson sums it up perfectly: “Anywhere. Sewer. Underwater. Swimming pool. In the middle of a swamp. In a back alley somewhere … we’ll appear anywhere.”

(This is doubly interesting to me, as a friend from Tehran has recently staged an underwater concert with hydrophones, singing underwater – partly as a way to get around prohibitions on female performance in the country. Stinson was onto something with the radical possibilities of underwater music.)

Punk Collective fan art. From Twitter, via Drexciya Research Lab.

For still more words from the source: in 2002, shortly before his death, James Stinson talked to Liz Copeland, with tracks driving away in the background:

“Just give me the music; forget all the other stuff,” he says. “People need to … dig more into themselves and pull it out, and be more of who they are, and believe in what they do. Don’t worry about what other people are doing.”

Resident Advisor recently summed up all of this in a ten minute video, drawing heavily from those two interviews:

Another navigational chart to the music came in 2012 from the ever-reflective Philip Sherburne, who reviewed an anthology that year and also sums up the music as more than just “electro”:

Adapting the lurching rhythmic template of 1980s electro-funk acts like Man Parrish, Cybotron, and Jonzun Crew, Drexciya emphasized the depth-charge qualities of a booming 808 kick, and the electric-eel jolt of a zapping filter sweep. But it went deeper than that. The music was punctuated by cryptic interludes and scraps of code … Drexciya weren’t just trafficking in metaphor and affect; they were telling a story.

Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller I

It’s also worth reading this interview from 1994 in UK zine The Techno Connection, by Dave Mothersole, republished by fan page Drexciya Research Lab. Yeah, it’s 1994, but it’s easily just as relevant in 2018, though it seems now with the Detroit originators hot as ever on the international scene, it may be time to go back to the surviving Underground Resistance members to hear their current take on the landscape and the word “techno.” As for learning to mix better, even when there’s no 4/4 kick, uh — yeah, we can all listen to that one; that can’t be wrong!

More listening – even Spotify are into this now:

From Función Binaria, a full mix (tracklisting on SC:

It’s also great that Tresor are re-releasing seminal works, including Drexciya – ‘Neptune’s Lair’ – (Tresor.129)
is out November 30th, 2018 on 2LP vinyl. (In time for Hanukkah, even.)

It’s a gift, really, to get to go buy that vinyl and set it on a record player. I do also come back to what Stinson says about originality, though. So maybe the best way to honor the Detroit – Berlin connection is, perversely, to listen, take this in, listen end to end (record players are nice for that), let your mind get altered, and then forget all that and take that energy and vibe and go make your own thing.

And certainly everything’s better down where it’s wetter and all that jazz.

Fan art, Jim McCormack. Also via Drexciya Research Lab. Go check that.

For more Drexciya obsessions, follow Drexciya Research Lab on Blogger(!) and Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/drexciyaresearchlab/

http://drexciyaresearchlab.blogspot.com/

The post Underwater electronic futurism, in the words of James Stinson (Drexciya) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

50 great tracks for November from Sheck Wes, Ider, Architects and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Mon 5 Nov 2018 1:19 pm

Deerhunter return, Bruce delivers the techno track of the year and Pistol Annies brilliantly sketch a loveless marriage – read about 10 of our favourite songs of the month, and subscribe to the 50-track playlist

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Molly Nilsson: the synthpop star embracing hope and loneliness

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Mon 5 Nov 2018 12:16 pm

With her utopian outlook and determination to find magic in the everyday, the fiercely independent Swede swims against the tide

When synthpop singer Molly Nilsson plays live, she takes a CD of her instrumentals, hits play, then sings along with them in a glorious kind of self-karaoke. There’s no band, no instruments, just a woman singing about love, ennui and Milton Friedman. “If people are provoked by seeing a person on stage singing, that’s good,” she audibly shrugs down the line from her home in Berlin. “I think it’s punk. It’s not about skill, it’s the fact that you are human, on a stage where everything is focused on you and your expression. And that has all the value in the world.”

Her stark, mesmerising stage show is a neat visual representation of Nilsson Industries: she is a completely one-woman outfit, producing and performing all her music solo, booking her own tours, and releasing her own albums (this last task admittedly in tandem with indie Glasgow label Night School Records). Her debut came in 2008, and a decade later – following her masterpiece Imaginations, one of the best records of last year – she’s just released her eighth, the similarly excellent Twenty Twenty. Is 10 years a long time to spend by oneself? “I know that a lot of people are afraid of loneliness, and I don’t understand, because it’s nothing,” she says. “When you genuinely feel lonely, you can look at the situation and say: What if I just turn this around, and this is nice? And what if I’m just there for myself instead?”

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20 best Australian tracks for November, featuring Middle Kids, Parcels, Hatchie and others

Delivered... by Nathan Jolly; playlist by Guardian Australia | Scene | Fri 2 Nov 2018 10:23 pm

In our new monthly spot, we feature 20 new and unmissable songs. Read about 10 of our favourites below – and subscribe to our Spotify playlists

Related: Cash Savage casts an all-man choir: ‘I hoped it would drive home the words’

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Glenn Copeland: the trans musical visionary finding an audience at 74

Delivered... Maya-Roisin Slater | Scene | Fri 2 Nov 2018 2:30 pm

He worked for years on kids’ TV shows like Sesame Street while making ambient masterpieces in obscurity. Now Copeland is finally getting his dues – and finding comfort in his identity

“I was told when I was young that I would not be successful until I was very old,” Glenn Copeland says over Skype from his home studio in New Brunswick, Canada. Now 74, he released seven albums over the course of his career, mostly unknown at the time of release. But as was apparently predicted by the seers and prophets Copeland sought out as a young man, the audience he was searching for has finally found him.

To work ceaselessly without seeing your creativity appreciated, is a feeling that has driven many artists to the brink of madness. Copeland sees his time out of the limelight differently. “I was busy creating, that was the fundamental thing for me. Now the universe is saying: ‘This music we’ve been sending you, now is the time for it to be heard.’” His speech is measured and perfectly enunciated, every sentence delivered with a beaming smile.

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The Prodigy: No Tourists review – music for the jaded generation

Delivered... Dave Simpson | Scene | Fri 2 Nov 2018 10:00 am

Take Me to the Hospital/BMG

Few bands captured the early-1990s zeitgeist as effectively as the Prodigy. Outdoor raves – notably the huge Castlemorton Common festival in 1992 – were seen as a such a threat to public order that John Major’s Conservative government brought in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in 1994, to outlaw gatherings of people dancing to “repetitive beats”. Although this could technically mean anything from Orbital to Morris dancers, Prodigy tracks such as Their Law soundtracked the music community’s fightback. As dance music shifted indoors and into the mainstream, 1994’s double platinum Music for the Jilted Generation defined an era.

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Techno: The Gathering, scene satire fantasy game, keeps getting better

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 1 Nov 2018 9:16 pm

Curse if you must the fact that modern DJing requires managing social media accounts, navigating scenes, understanding the dimensions of cool. But some DJs will mix all those things as adeptly as they do records – and hold up a mirror to the rest of us.

Well – or at least Leipzig’s Vincent Neumann has made a killer Magic: The Gathering parody with techno.

First things first: let’s here acknowledge that Vincent is a brilliant musical selector, as well as social media satirist. Closing sets at Berghain can turn into ponderous marathons of endurance, but whether there or in (briefer) outings mixing and DJing, Neumann is a deep digger, consummate nerd of eclectic selections. Listen to the mix at bottom. This is to say, while he can keep the fashionistas dancing, the guy is not simply a flavor of the month.

But hey, if you do need some Instagram fame, Maestro Neumann has found a clever and amusing way of doing so. Techno: The Gathering has become a bit of an ongoing commentary on the techno scene. As Europe’s industry of nightlife churns onward, here’s at least one person not taking things too seriously. The in-the-bubble in-joke here is at least, you know, a joke.

My favorites:

He’s nerd enough that you can see via Instagram stories how he has reflected on color choice and deeper meanings.

Let’s actually print the things out and start playing the game. (Has anyone started doing that, or is everyone too hungover from the weekend to bother?)

But seriously, go behold one of the best things on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/technothegathering/

And Vincent’s normal DJ account, which is, naturally, the best Instagram account name ever:

https://www.instagram.com/instagramsucks/

And yes, you can listen to his mixes and enjoy those, as well:

The post Techno: The Gathering, scene satire fantasy game, keeps getting better appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Remembering The Residents’ Hardy Fox, enigmatic vaudeville futurist

Delivered... David Abravanel | Artists,Scene | Wed 31 Oct 2018 4:24 am

Today saw the loss (for real this time) of Hardy Fox, the pioneering artist from The Residents. We look back on the irreverent, surrealist work the band produced and Fox as enigmatic anonymous multimedia ringleader, projecting mystery to the very end.

CDM music writer-at-large David Abravanel offers this obituary.

To borrow a phrase from Mark Twain, the rumors of Hardy Fox’s death have been greatly self-exaggerated. Early this year, Fox posted a “1945-2018” epitaph on his website when revealing the diagnosis of an undefined terminal illness. The epitaph was later taken down. Now, the band and loved ones confirmed Fox passed away earlier today.

“As a child I would always describe my nightmares to my mother by banging on the piano and talking in strange voices.”
Charles Bobuck (aka Hardy Fox), This is for Readers (2016)

For five decades, The Residents chose to remain anonymous. Sure, you could figure things out easily enough – there was The Cryptic Corporation, “representatives” who spoke for the group and whose main mouthpiece, Homer Flynn, sounded an awful lot like the singing/reciting voice on The Residents’ albums (late publicly named as “Randy” and still a recording and touring member). But from mid-1960s inception to the present day, the band officially remains The Residents.

There was freedom in that anonymity – free from the expectation that comes with celebrity and hero worship, The Residents followed their own path. 1979 saw the release of the darkly ambient and creeping Eskimo, while the following year’s Commercial Album consisted of 40 short and digestible songs. In 1976, Third Reich ‘N’ Roll presented an often atonal and satirically repellent take on rock n’ roll classics, while later-career masterpieces like Wormwood (1998) and Voice of Midnight (2007) found a renewed focus on theatrical storytelling.

Anonymity also granted freedom to explore technology. The Residents weren’t stars nor were meant to be – so who was going to stop them from making the next project a film (ill-fated 70s project Vileness Fats), or a point-and-click adventure game (Bad Day on the Midway with artist/designer Jim Ludtke, published in 1995 by Inscape), or, hell, a book based on that video game (2012’s Bad Day on the Midway Reconsidered).

Bad Day on the Midway.

Bad Day on the Midway.

While Randy might have spent the most time in the spotlight (and remains the sole original member in the current incarnation), until 2016 he was joined by co-founder Chuck aka Charles Bobuck aka Hardy Fox. Responsible for the majority of the compositions and musical direction of the Residents, Fox’s music was equal parts Vaudeville, nightmare, future and ancient past. Filled with uncomfortable dissonances and unsettling sounds, but almost always darkly humorous, it seems more than fitting to celebrate Fox (and the perpetually-masked Residents) on the eve of Halloween.

After retiring from The Residents in 2016, Fox published a book, This is for Readers, which details his life story. Certainly, it’s a creative interpretation of the truth, filled with legend but revealing some personal details from Fox’s life: his homosexuality, a strong link between orgasm and music composition, the cast of characters that entered his life as he and his husband settled on a rural chicken farm, stories of going on wild adventures with Randy. It’s ultimately a tender and very human read of an extremely avant garde life, complemented by an original soundtrack of solo material, and available for free on iBooks or via Fox’s website.

“My set-up was computer based. I had programmed what I imaginatively called my “space machine.” I had prerecorded hundreds of two-minute loops and had instantaneous access to them by punching buttons and twiddling knobs. I ran a local area network from an Apple Airport hidden under my table that gave me wireless access to a shitload of noise.”
(about the tour for the Talking Light album)

“The idea of working on music without being bothered by people was utopian. Even close friends and neighbors didn’t know what I did for a living. The brief explanation, that I scored gay porn films, usually kept people from wanting to know more.”

And this one is a good commentary on 21st century cities and the Bay Area in particular:

“I had decided some time ago that cities were no place to grow old and I could have orgasms anywhere. I did the civil thing. I bought a farm and became a chicken lord.
Beware of chickens.”


Fox’s 2016 release

There’s no easy way to wrap up an article about Hardy Fox. Between what is known about him (little), what can be inferred (a little more), and what may be creative stretching of the truth (likely lots), he wasn’t exactly transparent. But in the masks, and the animation, and the creative fictions, Fox probed some very unsettling, challenging, and ultimately very human aesthetic worlds.

The sheer overwhelming volume of Residents and Charles Bobuck releases makes it difficult to point to where to start in looking at Fox’s legacy, not to mention Fox’s work is far more often geared toward album rather than cherry-picked “best of” format. That said, I’ve taken a (duck) stab at compiling a friendly introduction to this mad, inspiring world:

http://www.hardyfox.com/home/

The post Remembering The Residents’ Hardy Fox, enigmatic vaudeville futurist appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Detroit techno, the 90s comic book – and epic new DJ T-1000 techno

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Mon 29 Oct 2018 10:05 pm

In 1992, Alan Oldham aka DJ T-1000 imagined the epic saga of techno and Detroit as a trippy futuristic comic – and it’s prescient today. Plus, Alan’s got a banging new EP that you shouldn’t miss.

I’ve been meaning to share this since I first spotted it in a German-language article, so there’s no time like the present.

Alan was “Minister of Information” for Underground Resistance, as well as making his name as one of the all-time album cover greats with sexy, futuristic work for the likes of legendary imprint Transmat, Derrick May’s imprint. Now, everything in Detroit is in vogue again, but this push and pull between Europe (aka, where the actual techno market is) and Detroit (where it started) is so clear in 1992 that this comic could almost have been posted now.

The setting was a release by pre-minimal Richie Hawtin as F.U.S.E., on Richie’s own Plus 8 Records. Bonus: that demo came with a FlexiDisc and a comic. The comic stands out either way, not least for the presence of a futuristic supercomputer sequencer, a bit of a cross between a mass step sequencer, Deep Thought, and the Borg. Plus it’s great fun imagining UR’s LFO, Daniel Bell (aka DBX of “I’m losing control” fame), and Jochem Paap (Speedy J) as comic superheroes. Yeah, I’d see that Marvel movie.

At the very least, someone needs to make this sequencer.

Nerdcore did the honors and scanned the whole thing, if you need some techno comic reading:

https://nerdcore.de/2017/01/10/f-u-s-e-overdrive-flexidisc-comic/

But Alan deserves credit for his music as well as his graphic art, running those careers as he does in parallel. And his latest, “Message Discipline” EP as DJ T-1000 is a welcome shot of adrenaline in the electronic releases of the fall. It’s clear, focused, aggressive but perpetually bouncy – a blast of fresh sound at a time when so many releases are overthought, over-effected, and muddled in an attempt to shroud the dancing in layers of gloom.

Direct and concise, this is the sound of someone with real confidence in the genre. It’s four perfect cuts.

That’s interesting to me in that we did get a chance to get some insight into Alan’s process, and it was very much about getting straight to that groove. So I’m not just here to shower words on this release, but partly because I imagine it might assist people trying to get to their own voice in dance music.

Grab it on Bandcamp:

https://djt1000.bandcamp.com/album/message-discipline-ep

Previously:

Cues: Detroit innovator Alan Oldham talks to us about techno, creation

More on his site:

http://www.alanoldham.com/

The post Detroit techno, the 90s comic book – and epic new DJ T-1000 techno appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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