Amen to Zombie: February 5th, 2010

In a world where experimental electronic music exponentially splinters into a multitude of rogue genres that slowly shuffle the globe from demilitarized dance floors to sleeper cell bedroom studios and back, a team of disparate scientists tracks this solanum-like pandemic while desperately trying to interpret cryptic field recordings of Samhain’s past, not one day at a time, but from Amen to Zombie
Bit of a hiatus, went to Miami for the weekend and did Miami things.  Let’s just leave it at that… Got a hot tip on Dirtybird Records.  Saw Justin Martin at the Electric Pickle in Mid-Town Miami and he tore the fucking roof off of the place.  Think House, but with a Miami bass/hip hop vibe to it.  If you are at all familiar with Hip House it’s a bit like that, but retro-updated.  Banging 808 bass and all updated production values with the kind of breakdowns that make you wave your hand in the air with a smug ’88 grin on you mug and go “Fuck yeah!”  Plus the place was all good vibes, had a bunch of friends in from out of state/country and was the perfect party music for an international reunion.  Plus, if you’ve never been, Miami is another country, hands down.  We are all very square here up in the north compared to any random person on the streets of Miami.  Also got to hear the new Four Tet, which is worth purchase, but moving on…
I noticed while in Miami that most boutique clubs are all CDJs.  Not a record player in sight, except me.  Not even a Serato set up.  Which got me thinking on the pull and push of technology and electronic music culture.  Which, if you haven’t picked up on, is one of my favorite topics to space out on.  But it really hit home that I might be becoming even more of a Luddite.  I DJ with records. I’ve been trying to learn Ableton Live, but I’ve yet to “find” a key gen so that I can save my work, so playing out live with it is close to impossible.  And it used to be that most clubs would have both, Techniques and those chunky Pioneer CDJs.  And it offered the best of both worlds, not only in a technology or fidelity respect, but you had the ability to play just about any piece of music that you could get your hands on.  Fresh dub plates or a CD-R that some bedroom producer passed you, all bases covered.  But it blew me away that Miami went all CDJ.  The hotel I was staying in even had a CDJ deck set up in the lobby.  The irony of that, they were playing DJ mixes and every once in a while the bartender or owner would walk over and use the jog wheel to “scratch” the record.
There’s a bunch of technology that I think is being neglected there.  I’ve seen people do some pretty cool stuff with setting creative cue points, phasing, and beat matching with CDJs.  I could go on and on about how I love records or how some DJs are being lazy, but in the end it was interesting to see that even in certain DJ communities, technology is still being used to simplify tasks, instead of dissecting the art of playing back music and re-imagining that.
It’s like Lego blocks.  DJs use records, CDs, etc. to build sound.  The smaller you can make your blocks, the more intricate you can make your set.  But you could also use it to easily paint every block red.  And really, how fun is it to play with Duplos anyway?
Notable Releases:
BrightlightLatex/Vain Dream
Nice vibes on this one.  New Russian vibes, but with a kooky cover.  Very rarely do you ever see a d&b cover that has an Olan Mills type vibe, that’s completely serious, and expect to find anything good on the inside.  But the fact that it’s on a Russian label, Headway Music, I guess you should be looking for that “glamor shots” vibe.  Brightlight has released some minimal stuff back in ’05 on a Dutch label, so not sure if he’s Russian or just releases on a Russian label.  I hope he is Russian though; his cover photo will read “Mad Russian” instead of “Techno douche-bag.” And yes, the music is there.
Brockie & Ed SoloMars / Echo Box
Huge 12″ this one.  From all the way back in ’02.  Mars was featured on DJ Zinc’s Fabric mix.  Man, what to say about this one?  It’s got a nice, rolling vibe to it.  Tough skanking ride cymbal work.  Just a big, big tune.  Meaning dramatic, funky, and well produced.  Echo Box is more on a Reggae trip.  But the tune is on True Playaz, so that’s to be expected.  B & E S use a lot of stock voice emulation programs also.  Which is fun and sort of futuristic at the same time.  It’s the sort of sound you might find on Tim & Eric or TGTTM, but everything is well balanced so their tunes come out sounding nice and heavy, not cheesy or pastiche.
BrooklynZissou / TC rmx
Another conundrum.  So with that title you’d expect a Steve Zissou quote or at least one by Bill Murray right?  Nope. Bob Marley.  Still nice jazzy Rhodes licks and some classic hip hop samples.  The flip is by Jump-Up hood rat TC.  Never one for TC, but even when you ruin ice cream by melting it and putting a dodgy base line on it, it’s still ice cream.  You can fuck it up completely. A solid release on Spearhead, a record company synonymous with boring Reggae flavored d&b.  Not the B team leader, but still worth a listen.  Mostly here because I’m a Wes Anderson fan, and yes, my record buying habits can be that vain.  Just so happens that the music is passable.
It’s been a while since I’ve combed Juno, so I’m going to take this chance to reboot my place in the catalog.  The original page I was looking at has now been split in two because everyone is getting ready for the WMC, so there’s a huge amount of new music out there.  So my apologies for only throwing up 3 good records this time around.  I can’t take all the blame though.  A large portion of the page was Brooks Brothers releases.
Here’s another cautionary tale: I had a conversation defending d&b to someone who was a big House fan.  As stupid as that sounds (House is like a buried spinning glow stick right now) all of the music that I’ve been listening to and been posting here I would classify as d&b.  I hope to share with you some of the more musical and interesting sounds out there as well as certain tracks that define the genres with loose borders, but all anyone can remember is how d&b turfed out in 2000.
Speaking of Fabric once again, Martyn and the Autonomic crew (dBridge & Instra:mental)  have put out the last two Fabric mixes and they’re amazing.  Here’s a quote from the press release for Fabric 50:

“Despite the genre’s future-forward and experimental beginnings in the early 90s, drum & bass’ rigid uniformity over the last decade has made it a stifling environment for many producers. For dBridge, with his background as a former member of the drum & bass heavyweight champions Bad Company, the pressure of dancefloor expectations and DJs’ desire for club smashers has been experienced and rejected once in his career already.”

And that brings us back the The Brooks Brothers.  The problem with The Brooks Brothers is that, yes, they have an incredible smooth style, but it’s fucking BOOORING!  It takes a specific talent to be just about spot-on with the melodies in a tune and be completely fucking dumb when it comes to the rhythm.  I’m dumbfounded.  It’s a genre that has it’s roots in interesting rhythmic patterns, and you manage to fuck it up by distilling the whole program into a fucking 8 count and then expect that we be satisfied by you changing up the sound of your snare drum?  FUCK YOU!  Ok, I’m better now.
So it goes.