Thursday, April 19, 2007

Summer Holi-Holiday
For a while, my house-mates in London were thinking of forming a band named Master Musicians of Arnos Grove Innit (Mmagi), after the magnificently obscure suburb we lived in. I always thought they should also start a record label called Niiirg, in reference - Wiiija style - to our post code. Of, course, none of this ever came to anything.

Been meaning to mention that Kris and I will be holidaying in the UK again this year. Our trip will only involve a short stint in the Big Smoke (July 1st to 5th), so any Londoners who are interested in meeting up for a high-level, in-person music-blog summit should email me right away.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Electronica Obscurities: disko 2k by Ultra Milkmaids
My recent discovery of the Gallic wonder that is Ultra Milkmaids led to quite the vinyl search. Turns out the Milkmaids have put out a lot of a wax-as-I-call-it over the years but most of it is now out of print.

The only piece that still seemed to be available was a 10” on Ant Zen called disko 2k. I ordered it from Soleilmoon, despite some reservations about the asking price and the presence of a Scanner remix on side B.
Good thing I did too because disko 2k turned out to be a real corker.

The asking price was more than justified by the deluxe, calendar style packaging and the Scanner remix actually turned out to be pretty good, in a sub-Autechre kind of way.
The only disappointing thing about getting disko 2k was that it turned out to have nothing to do with the Pulp song (as far as one can hear, anyway).

If the title refers to any other record, it's probably Oval's 94 Diskont. Certainly, this wonderful little EP strongly recalls the dreamier moments of that towering glitch classic.
Endless Summer by Fennesz is another apt point of comparison but Ultra Milkmaids are no mere copyists. Disko 2k is individual, accomplished and downright beautiful enough to stand out in any company.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bass!
Great, if rather incomplete, news for music lovers in Vancouver, courtesy of the fine people at Soundsimple. Here it is straight from the horse's mouth...

"[dubforms3] saturday, may 26th KODE9 - DJ COLLAGE - DAEGA SOUND SYSTEM - CALAMALKA - ???? JACOB CINO - MAX ULIS - MICHAEL RED - TUSK - JULIE GENDRON

details to follow..

(and we have made some notes from last time. steady improving. proper
ventilation and fans next time. easing up on the volume a bit and more subs, more subs. heh. earplugs at the door. and a proper MC presence - DJ COLLAGE say yeh!)

KODE9 - > "the godfather of dubstep" as they say, not afraid to take
musical risks, turning out tunes that will stand the test of time, and setting the bar hiiiiiiiiiigh. last time kode9 played in vancouver (fwd-001) he had the place going bananas."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Album of the Year So Far
Accursed CDs! So many great albums that I forget to listen to because I always go for the vinyl first when I'm looking for something to play. This, friends, is my pathetic excuse for not having written about Solo, the latest album from Noriko Tujiko.

Solo is somewhat erroneously titled because it probably features more collaborators than any previous Noriko album. I'm in a good position to judge this because I have most of her (many) CDs (and one 12"). If I'm honest, a lot of Noriko's stuff sounds pretty similar - dreamy cooing over shifting, glitchy sound-scapes. But if I'm really honest, I have to say I wish she had more, more, more stuff because I really can't get enough.

I think it's truly fantastic that Juana Molina is getting so much love from the music bloggers I read on a day-to-day basis. Juana is a fantastic songwriter, an imaginative arranger and an extremely charismatic performer. And yet, whenever I hear her music, it mostly makes me wish I was listening to Noriko Tujiko. The comparison may seem trite - yes, yes they're both atmospheric female singer-songwriters with experimental electronic edge and non-English lyrics. What I'm getting at, though, is that the difference between Juana and Noriko is precisely the difference between great and really great music. While Juana's songs take one on a thoroughly pleasurable journey, Noriko's create a world of total bliss that inevitably self-immolates into a state of utter airless delirium.

Solo is full of such delirious sound-world explosions and features some of Noriko's very finest songs - especially "Ending Kiss", "Let Me See Your Face" and the absolutely titanic "Gift". It's also nice to see her recording for Peter "Pita" Rehberg's Editions Mego label again. "Nice" isn't the word - it's wonderful.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


More Reasons Not to Die
Well, first of all, there are some (potentially) really great records coming out: the Pita LP on Carlos Giffoni's No Fun label, an Oren Ambarchi album on swanky UK imprint Bo' Weavil and finally, finally a vinyl reissue of Starsailor by Tim Buckley.

And then there are the novels of Philip K Dick, which have been making my bus rides to work bearable of late. Of the PKD books I've read so far, I honestly think that A Scanner Darkly is both my favourite and objectively the best. Richard Linklater's movie of Scanner (another scene from which is reproduced above) is great too and quite astonishingly faithful to the original text.

What really moves me about Dick's work is the recurring theme of empathy. In Scanner, Bob Arctor differentiates the universally messed up characters who inhabit his world entirely on their ability to feel empathy - especially empathy for cats, dogs and even insects. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep empathy is used to differentiate humans from machines but the line is always blurry and Scanner takes things even further, with Arctor empathizing with the machines he uses to spy on his friends and himself.

PKD was a tough writer but an incredibly humane one too: a fact best summed up by the weapon used against invading alien hordes in The Zap Gun - a child's toy designed to teach... empathy. And I mean humane, by the way, not Humanist because I think Dick's point was that what makes life worth living is having the ability to love and feel a part of everything in the world around you: animal, vegetable, mineral or technological. The theme comes up again and again: in Flow My Tears the Policeman Said and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and goodness knows how many more of Dick's 40-or-so novels.

Read them all.