Navel Gazing and other Humid Pursuits

Self reference time! Post-Euroswing I’ve had to relearn the most basic human motor functions, including complex cognition and not expecting chilled bottles of champagne lurking at every turn and beaches packed with delirious hedonism. Unravelling? No, I’ve tied up several loose ends in recent weeks in several strange twists of fate.

The first came in Cannes, a few days after I left the techno madness of Barcelona behind. I was dining at a quaint Italian restaurant called Arcimboldo when I noticed a guy at the table next to me was wearing a M.A.N.D.Y. T-shirt. I had to mention something, and when I did he introduced himself as Peter Hayo, a founding member of Get Physical and producer of many fine dance records. He was in town as part of his other concern, Perky Park, a company that does music production for commercials and otherwise. His two co-conspirators, Walter Merziger, Arno Kammermeier are also known as Booka Shade. So, naturally, I asked him about a rumor I’d heard, that they produced Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” The rumor delighted me–that the popularity of a silly Danish pop song I’d found so much delight in could have been been responsible for the genesis of one of the biggest forces in contemporary dance music would have been an utterly fun piece of cosmic coincidence. Alas, not so, entirely. Hayo and chums just remixed the track for Universal Music, and, as you know, it spent a significant amount of time on the charts, and, subsequently, fattened the Perky Park synth fund.

The second weird, ‘What the?’ techno moment came after I returned, and got a tip from a diligent German about the closeness between the group awarded the Titanium Lion at Cannes and work done by pfadfinderei, Bpitch’s design gurus. Turns out, shaping barcodes to make them look cool while still functioning is a pretty routine concept in graphic design. So kids, don’t believe everything the awards shows tell you.

Also worth noting, on recommendation from this man I picked up some Hans Fallada, which, some months and many pleasurable pages later, turned out to be appropriate here:

Hans Fallada wrote The Drinker over two weeks in 1944, while residing in a a criminal asylum near AltStrelitz, Germany. He was confined there for the attempted murder of his wife. Given these inauspicious beginnings, the book has been especially troublesome for critics. It’s disingenous, however, to look at The Drinker as anything but the personal reflection of an author torn asunder by a turbulent society in collapse.The novel begins as narrator Erwin Sommer’s successful grocery concern teeters on the brink of collapse. With sparse language, the book composes an intimate psychological profile of an obsessive who would fling everything to the wind sooner than ask for assistance. He empties his savings and steals his wife’s silver — anything for another moment with his muse, Elinor, a village barmaid he fixates upon during his initial jag and who becomes his queen of schnapps, ruler of a woozy and throbbing world.

All his life, Fallada — a pseudonym chosen by Rudolf Ditzen — has inflicted tortures upon himself and others. During a melancholy childhood, he killed a chum when a suicide pact disguised as a duel went awry. Ditzen later grew into morphine addiction, alcoholism, and a carton-a-day smoking habit, with eventual trips in and out of institutions and prisons. Astonishingly, Ditzen found time to write nearly two dozen books during his dissolute life, very few of which are available in English. While Little Man, What Now? is justly famous for its excavation of pre-War German consciousness, The Drinker is an equally profound exploration of the author’s own demons of substance abuse.

While the book’s spare tone, lack of flashy language, and stark portrayal of German society are all signature marks of Ditzen, The Drinker more closely resembles Evelyn Waugh’s The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. The novel is clearly founded in life experience, yet its narrative flights of fancy cultivate readers who place confidence in the narrator’s inner turmoil, but remain wary of the details.
– Nick Parish

Vivan los chiringuitos

In Barcelona, the days begin and end as you will them. If you want to stay up for a few cycles of sun and moon, well, the city is with you. For the most part, it accommodates. Rather than test its patience in a string of consecutive time warps, Sunday I relaxed on the beach with a few hundred beautiful, friendly people and the gentlemen from Kompakt records. The event was in support of c/o pop, a yearly music festival in Cologne replacing Popcomm, held at a chiringuito one beach east of Friday’s scene. For a moment, let me reiterate my praises of these magical places. There are parties from 4-1 a.m., on the beach, with dozens of similar places on down the line. Next door yesterday was Get Physical’s bash. Next came Minus. Did I mention there are no cops, traces of bad attitude or norms of dress or consumption? To be honest, if the vibe was the same and Jimmy Buffet was on the stereo it would still have been fun–Kompakt’s touch made it magical.

I arrived as Michael Mayer as playing a light, sunny afternoon mix, nothing nutso or too pounding, beach music. He was waiting for DJ Koze, known to some as International Pony or Monaco Schranze, working now as Adolf Noise. Germany’s most popular DJ belted out a set that began hard and ended with what sounded like Glen Campbell, a cheeky choice but exactly what the crowd was looking for.

Next was Tobias Thomas, tidying things up a bit with humpbacked bangers. Some other day I would have watched Tobias Thomas jubilantly snapping photos of the crowd and pondered how these digital media have impacted the way we look at important events–are we any longer subject to only our own memory? No; by seeing Thomas with a radiant smile capturing what, for him, was a fantastic thing to remember, his became part of mine. But thatís neither here nor there, as it was time for Mayer’s finale.

Mayer back and forth, from the past to the present, pointing to roadside diners where the ghosts of house and electro and rave wait for the dusty traveler with sand in his rolled up jean cuffs. Wolfgang Voigt looked on in approval, and Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos sauntered in from their game of techno paddleball. Elephants trumpeted, monkeys chattered, ‘Safari’ played its course and the evening concluded.

Earlier, as Thomas played Ada’s cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Maps,’ I realized I was off to Cannes, where last year the YYYs picked up an award for their song in adidas’ “Hello Tomorrow,” inspiring another song, ‘Gold Lion.’ Funny, I’m zooming across the French countryside now, how’s that for a transition?
Continue readingVivan los chiringuitos

Rich y Ricardo

This time we can start with the easy part–the daytime. I slept through most of it, then sat on the beach and ate a huge plate of tiny broiled squids.

Nighttime gets a little bit more complicated. Here’s some background. Sonar By Night takes place about a 15 minute bus ride away from the center of town, around a mountain that has a cemetery built into the side. The venue resembles a large convention center in the middle of an industrial park. The venue itself is massive–about 10,000 squared meters, they say, and that means four giant hangar-type spaces to cram people. Two are essentially that; traditional hangars, while two are longer and thinner and have no roof. After steaming at Nitsa the breeze was a welcome ally.

So, you get bussed out to the spot and after that what you get up to is anyone’s guess. But it probably involves freaky music, dancing and intoxication. There’s plenty of open space, enough to play tag, do a conga line or just writhe around on the floor (yes, I saw all of those things happen.) The first folks I got a chance to see were the Pigna People, of the label with the same name. I was very impressed with one of their members, Raiders of the Lost Arp, several years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing what he sounded like with a few co-conspirators. They delivered the shimmering Italo-house I was missing. The MFA played live next in the Sonar Club. Some hits came out– “Disco 2 Break” to mention just one. I was a little surprised the Spaniards were getting into that atmospheric stuff, but Miss Kitten playing next may have helped. She’s huge here. Next came an unenthusiastic Matthew Dear as Audion. It may be me, but the last few times I’ve seen him he’s seemed pretty detached. The “Take Me Home, Country Roads” award goes to Diplo and A-Trak, who got into the usual mashiness and scribbling. Diplo dropped TI’s “What You Know,” and that was enough to inject a little bit of gangsta in my evening. Ryan Elliot dropped Aaron Carl’s “Down,” also covered by Aguayo the night before, making it the ersatz song of the festival. I’d figured on “Rej” by Ame (caned by Hawtin later on) or “Falling Up” (which I hear has been saturating Berlin).

Big stars of the night, though, were Hawtin and Villalobos. They went on at around 4:45 and played until 7:15. I’d seen Hawtin a few weeks before at DEMF and was nonplussed, but the Chilean injects a certain funkiness that seals the tasty package and wraps it in a bow of jamon Iberico. Towards the end Hawtin bounced around pleading for one more record, some nuts climbed a light tower and it got brighter and brighter as things wrapped up.

Getting back to Barcelona proper was a bit of an adventure. Imagine thousands of f-ed up kids trying to get onto five busses (only five because one cannot come until one is loaded and leaves). Things would have gone smoothly if the busses were free, but they weren’t. So you can imagine the nonsense. I wasn’t too concerned though, so I watched the human zoo.

Viene la locura!

It is with a heavy heart that I convey to you this terrible bit of news: Sonar has been cancelled and everyone has gone home.

Ah! Dear reader, I joke. Please be kind and let the clumsy japes of your humble narrator slide.

After lunch at a fantastic joint here called A Contraluz (On the suggestion of my companions I had a deluxe breakfast; potato, egg, cheese and Mallorcan sausage all layered and shaped into a patty. Very filling, very, as they’d say here, comida tipica.) I met with compatriots at Bpitch and Border Community’s beach party. Imagine a tiki bar with seating for about thirty with a DJ booth, two bars and, maximum, 40 feet by 40 feet of a footprint on the beach. Now imagine 150 or 200 people dancing in the sand (they point the speakers toward the sea.) Pristine like whoa. Did I mention there was music? James Holden and Petter tag-teamed, and Kiki and Ellen Allien played sets. Ellen as on as ever. She’s a remarkably consistent performer; I probably have seen her six times in the last year, and each time she’s been great or great plus.

When this wound down around midnight we headed for Nitsa, one of more established Barca venues, for a night billed as Kompakt vs. Freud am Tanzen. When we arrived Superpitcher was in the main room and, like a flash, the club filled up. I think the Spanish have a system whereupon all of them show up at exactly the same moment. Luckily everyone arrived to catch Matias Aguayo, who completely destroyed my preconceptions of what his music would sound like interpreted live. Aguayo used multiple percussion pieces, slide whistles cranked into bird chirps and purrs, all sorts of methods to highlight his slithering voice. For a few songs (including a cover of Aaron Carl’s “Down” (remember that one?) his voice was pitched down to a deep gulp. He sampled, looped and toyed with his vocals live, much like Jamie Lidell. Good stuff.

Nitsa was once a theater, so Kompakt was set up at the main stage and FAT played downstairs. One half of the wigged out Wighnomy Bros. appeared as if from thin air and proceeded to break up the party like a drunk uncle, toying with jagged R&B samples and scratchy interludes only to throw things back into groove mode at the slightest inclination. And he was pirouetting.

After Monkey Maffia some nutters from Leipzig called Krause Duo played. They began their set with heavy rave breaks and wound up settling into a nice groove. A German kid who throws parties in Leipzig said they regularly play 12-hour sets. Not sure if I could tolerate that, but they were refreshing.

By this time it was nearly five, and Michael Mayer took over upstairs. He only played for fifteen minutes before the house lights came up, but continued in encore after encore until half past five or so. The crowd was going absolutely bonkers, total pawns in the masterful game he seems to play, dialing up the intensity at will, like a yo yo master who rocks the cradle then spins the toy around in a violent arc. The club scene was a mess–people were climbing over everything, someone had pulled down a ‘salida de emergencia’ sign and was dancing with it, there was broken glass everywhere–but everyone was enormously friendly. Don’t worry, darlings–you all have European doppelgangers who are getting into the festivities.

Here are some lo-fi vids. Besos from Barca!

BarcaNova

The festival madness continues, dear reader, and courtesy of a fine WiFi connection at my Barceloneta lodgings, I’m going to try to give updates over the next few days. I’m here ostensibly for Sonar, a bit of relaxatation before the ad madness in Cannes, so might as well drop some insight in for y’all at home.

Sonar is in its thirteenth year, and by now it has become a city-wide occurrence. So much so, in fact, that the off-site offerings are tantamount to the booked artists, and as taste may have it, I’m looking much more forward to the offerings around town than at the actual festival itself.

The daytime component is held in the MACBA, a contemporary art museum near Barcelona’s center. Yearly it’s repurposed with several stages, multimedia art components and all the usual festival trappings. The evening component is a little further afield, but I haven’t had a chance to check that out yet.

The Knife were a late entry to the festival lineup, and the last-minute nature probably caused the grief surrounding their performance yesterday. They were in the Escenario Hall, an underground theater area at the main Sonar complex. They stood out as one of the stronger artists on the bill, and twice as many fans wanted to see them as could fit in the hall. The result? A courtyard full of folks following along on a video screen, reticent to clap at a performance taking place two stories below them. I too was trapped aboveground, trying to choose between paying attention to the set (mostly stuff from Silent Shout with a tweaked version of Heartbeats thrown in) and waiting in a mass of people hoping to be let down. Groups were allowed down every twenty or so minutes, so about 45 minutes into their performance (they were billed as 5-7 p.m.) I decided to wait. Well, as you’d imagine, when our group got through around 6, the performance was ending.

Later I made my way to the Mobilee records showcase, at Raum. They’ve been on my radar for a few months as one of the tribes making delightful techno out of Berlin, and last night was a confirmation etched in stone. First artist I caught in the Raum basement was Sebo K, who played a clean, divergent set of minimal techno, perfect primer for Excercise One on a live rig, blasting out deep bass and twerked, busy techno. Following the duo, Anja Schneider tore it up. Neu rave loudness, with patches of atmosphere and big, nasty basslines. I really dug her style, physical performance-wise–she’d throw records onto the decks with a sort of semi disgust, leaving them to wobble around off the stem for a minute while she jammed to what was coming out the other table. Travel caught up and I had to split before Patrick Chardronnet, playing live, got into it.

Today I’m off to venerable Barcelona institution S,C,P,F and then it looks like an afternoon at the beach, despite the show that just cleared the sand (yes, I’m looking at the beach between sentences…and it looks glorious.). BPitch Control is throwing a seaside do, and later on it’s Kompakt vs. Freude Am Tanzen in what looks to be an epic evening at Nitsa. I’m excited to see the Wighnomy Brothers for the first time. Check out the calendar here, dear friend, and send me a note about what you think’ll be good. Photos (and maybe a vid or two) tomorrow.

Biding my time…

Wednesday I embark on a trip destined to try my patience and rub the nerves raw. Four days in Barcelona for Sonar and six days in Cannes for the international advertising festival. I’m not sure where I’ll find the strength, considering the schedule at Sonar and the plans for Cannes (we’re doing a blog at AdCritic, which I’ll link up when it goes live). Expect plenty of commentary as well as photos and grainy videos, barring a stress-induced loss of memory. In the meantime, check out a review of DJ 3000’s first full-length here:

Album Review
DJ 3000
Migration
Submerge 

June 08, 2006

Surrounded by Detroit, the smaller city of Hamtramck is best known for the paczkiMotor, and Franki Juncaj, aka DJ 3000. On his debut studio album, Juncaj, who grew up in Hamtramck, celebrates his Albanian heritage by looping, sampling, and tweaking traditional instruments over a variety of backdrops. The strongest tracks stick to the meaty techno and house rhythms that earned him his Underground Resistance badge, but Juncaj also explores broken beats and slight, wispy moods. Along with Los Hermanos’ 2005 release On Another LevelMigration strengthens his crew’s growing reputation as a musical force with equal footing in the future and the past.

DEMFed, again.

Here’s, admittedly, a minimal effort by me, but that more or less characterizes the thrust of musical perfomers–lots of minimal techno. So much so that Richie Hawtin, usually refreshing in his difference from the rest of the artists involved, was almost anticlimactic in his festival-closing performance. Standouts (sadly I missed Saturday) included Carl Craig, Mike Huckaby, le petit Orb (who killed it with “Little Fluffy Clouds” and a strange, dubby remix of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” The original, I was informed last night, was produced by Booka Shade and proceeds helped bankroll Get Physical.) Sweeping around I also heard lots of Tortured Soul, Greenskeepers, Planet of the Drums, Deadbeat, Josh Wink, Mikkel Metal, Derrick May and Donnacha Costello. Whew. Nitzer Ebb pounded and growled through a hell of a perfomance, considering their ten-year layoff, but the crowd didn’t know quite what to make of them.

The near-90 degree heat during the day sapped a lot of afterparty drive, but I did manage to get out and check out Doc Martin on Saturday night and Souldega’s I Heart House on Sunday. Andy Caldwell, DJ Sneak, Fred Everything and the pros from Souldega put on a great show. Unfortunately the evening ended abruptly at around 3:45 when a pipe burst and the club began to flood. Hot, sweaty revelers didn’t realize it was from a broken toilet at first, so you can imagine the relief turned to panic, all observed with dark hilarity.

Check the slideshow after the jump. There are a few videos here and here.

Continue readingDEMFed, again.

SPF+BPM=MIA

This week luminaries from around the dance music world convene on Miami for a whirlwind week of showcases and social rubbing. Trust yours truly will be there, to search out the tastiest morsels and bring them back to you, the loyal reader. Lately two releases have been filling my sails, namely James Holden’s new mix and a full-length from Nathan Fake. Holden’ll be doing a showcase with young Border Community ensign Petter, which for now is up near the top of the must-see shortlist. I can’t promise even sporadic updates, but expect an eventual rundown.

If you’ll be there and want to meet up, get at me via the usual channels.

Sunday Money

Sports books generally aren’t very good. At least for the sort of people who prefer reading to sports. But Jeff MacGregor nailed the crossover in his most recent, Sunday Money. It was by far my favorite sports read last year, and if you’re looking for an introduction to NASCAR you’d be hard pressed to find a better primer.

For the uninitiated, NASCAR can seem a set of baffling unknowables — or just 300,000 rednecks in the grandstand, braying at death-frenzied hayseeds. Lacking the pastoral sophistication of baseball or the strategy of football, for as many adherents NASCAR claims (around 75 million) there are sports fans set against its inevitable rise.

Jeff MacGregor’s first book serves as a shot across the bow for those staunchly in the “stick-and-ball world;” Sunday Money is a primer on the history of stock car racing and a vivid portrait of the season MacGregor and the Beep (his “Beautiful, Brilliant Partner,” photographer Olya Evanitsky) spent crisscrossing America in a motorhome, clocking 47,649 miles on the Winston Cup tour.

But more than offering race descriptions, anecdotes, or driver hijinks, more than recounting life in the NASCAR tent cities or parking lots of Wal-Marts, MacGregor examines the sport’s commercial machine — the squadrons of flacks regulating image, the promotional juggernaut packing logos and endorsements into sports columns and TV highlights. Incorporating an analysis of consumerism into his book, MacGregor shows NASCAR as larger than the sport and its myth. It is the inexorable Tony Stewart, Orangeman of Home Depot; Mark Martin in the Viagra Ford; Jimmie Johnson in the Lowe’s Chevy. It is Will Ferrell as Official Spokesman of NASCAR Day. It is the scads of products bearing drivers and their cars, it is the cardboard cutout of Dale Jr. in the beer aisle with a pile of Bud. As MacGregor argues, in buying widgets, shopping at Home Depot, or seeing Will in his new movie (coming this fall with Sacha Baron Cohen), you’re anteing up, so you might as well learn how to enjoy it. To that end, short of attending a race, track down this primer. The depth of description and insight jacks it head and shoulders above the ordinary.
– Nick Parish

I rocked the Rocker

Please allow me to preface the following with an explanation of my baseball talent:

Previous to this “pseudo-professional” (Rocker’s words) at-bat, the most recently I’d picked up a bat was during a cameo appearance on “No Comment,” the Fordham student paper’s club softball team. I went 2-3 against the yearbook team in a pathetic effort by the Ram squad.

I played little league until I was twelve or so, mostly as catcher. I couldn’t engage the game long enough to play infield, as my coaches and parents learned one fateful day when I was stationed at third. I guess my attention wavered, and a liner that should have been an easy out hit me square in the forehead. Knocked out cold. The last thing I remember was hearing the bat and looking up at the ball flying toward my face. When I came to, with my dad and the coaches around, the first thing the coach said was “Well, that’s why they call it the hot corner.”

So my history makes this all the more improbable, exciting, and, well, awesome. I’d like to thank the inventors of Lasik, who allowed me to take the batter’s box without Rec Specs for the first time in my career, as well as Deadspin’s Will Leitch. Will took the photo, offered words of encouragement, and, well, a least common denominator. I mean, what would the world be coming to if print guys are outhit by bloggers?

Amare on the Rebound

 

 

Magnetic Resonance bounced around Amare Stoudamire‘s reconstructed left knee, tracing the results of last year’s microfracture surgery and showing things were on course in his recovery. If you cruise to the newsstand this month and want to hear the big man’s take on his recovery, pick up this month’s Slam, with Allen Iverson on the cover. In addition to the regular Bball goodness, I got Amare’s take on his injury and the patience required for recovery.
His return is still up in the air, and estimates vary wildly. One tidbit with little regard to dates or places relates to performance: due to increased resistance training during rehab, it’s rumored his vertical could increase by as many as four inches.
What does this mean for the Suns? Well, the timing of the announcement — Amare beginning light jogging in early February — suggests it’ll be at least March before he’s ready to suit up. Their schedule this month is light, with two homestands and the All-Star break. A series of winnable games to put distance between themselves and the Clippers. But faced with the option of easing Amare back into the lineup against mid-grade players in the conference or in March, when key matchups include two clashes with the Spurs and one with the Clips, I’m sure Mike D’Antoni would rather the former.

The D goes Digi

Last month I spoke with Cliff Thomas, head of operations at Detroit Digital Vinyl, for a piece in this week’s Earplug on the debut of Submerge‘s mp3 site. Here’s a longer excerpt from our conversation.

How has response been so far?

Response has been excellent. We haven’t put the word out full blast yet, either, which is really surprising, because we’re getting an awful lot of business already, so word of mouth is spreading really quick.

How long have you been with Submerge? How did this business model come together?

When I came into the picture, I signed with Submerge recordings with Ade Minor, Mr De’ from Electrofunk, just about a year and a half ago, and he said he needed some help with the site, to build it up, it was still really not even close to being done at that point, but we’ve been working on it pretty much nonstop ever since, so it’s been a long time in the making right here, everybody wanted to make sure we got it right.

Did you have a model for a pay download site while you were kind of conceptualizing this, was there anything you looked to as a really functional model?

Well, the main thing we based the site off of is the same kind of thing we have going at submerge.com. We’re using the same sort of setup. We didn’t look at other mp3 download sites. We want to make this one a little bit different.

Continue readingThe D goes Digi

Brokeback Mountain Picture Show

In what amounts to true insight in these days of false comprehension, the editors of Boldtype have deigned to include blurbage on Larry McMurtry (who could just grab an Oscar for his work on the “Brokeback Mountain” screenplay) by yours truly in their current issue, on Film.

If you’re not hip to what they’re doing, well, they’re preachin’ great books. And if you’re not like me and are less than a decade from clearing out your reading list, subscribe, take some recommendations, and count yourself all the wiser.

Damon Dashing

He’s a renaissance man, and, really it seemed like just a question of time before Damon Dash diversified again, following Jay’s lead and getting involved in professional sports. Over a year ago, Damon partnered with promoter Lou DiBella, branching out yet again in one of Dash’s more understated ventures. Frankly I’d love it if more rap cats got involved in athletics, and Lil Flip and Hump followed through and bought the Houston Rockets (or the Comets). But until then keep an eye on Dame’s efforts in boxing. DiBella Entertainment’s latest heavyweight, Fres Oquendo, is looking for a second chance in the sport after being rooked by a number of sources. He told me he came to DiBella because of their reputation for honesty, which, in boxing, is a rare commodity.

DD: Boxing is a work in progress, just like all business. A couple years ago the music business wasn’t fair, and just based on the people that are involved, and how they shed the light on the artists, people know how to get a fair deal and certain things don’t happen any more, and I think in this age of boxing, we’re going to smarten up the boxers, where they’re going to be able to benefit more than anyone else, they’re going to be able to reap the benefits of their efforts. So I like the fact that people recognize that we’re fair guys, and I like the fact that I know that in my heart I’m going to try to do best by the fighters, and if they’re surrounded by nothing but love it’s going to be a good experience for that boxer. So no boxer’s ever going to walk away from us saying that they were treated unfairly. I’m not going to say no boxer’s never going to walk away from us, but I bet when they do they’ll say they we should have stayed with those guys, because we have their best interests at heart.

What have you noticed so far? What has made your business Spidey sense perk up?

DD:
It’s a very patient business. There’s a lot of politics involved. But the bottom line is that when you’re winning, and you have a lot of people knowing that you’re winning, there’s not too much you can do to stop certain things. But it’s patient. A lot of boxers want to fight fight fight, they’re young and they want to get in there and test themselves, but you’ve got to pace them, you’ve got to let them learn, you’ve got to let them grow, and in the meanwhile you’ve got to make sure they have a future in boxing, so you look at that. So most of the seeds that we plant now will be in effect in five years, so it’s a patient thing, and that’s cool for me, because I enjoy the sport of boxing and I’m doing it for the love.

But I think it’s very interesting to see how we’re going to change things, and, you know, not to be cocky about it, but you know how we changed things in the business world of music, the music world, and how we changed things in fashion; we’re going to change things here as well, and it’s going to be positive for the sport. We’ve got to think of innovative ways, and creative ways to keep people interested, and having a vested interest in the boxers, especially within the African American community, get some support there, but honestly, with Curtis [Stevens], Showtime, Jaidon [Cordrington], Andre Berto and Gary Starks, what they’ve done in the last year, I don’t think any fighter has done in the world of boxing, as far as people having a vested interest in them. They’re in magazines, and they’re on the cusp of pop culture, meaning what’s going on in this current generation. Look at Curtis, you know, he’s a regular guy, he’s a cool dude. But he’s also a very disciplined individual. So it’s kind of showing, just like me, I’m a businessman, but I look at myself like a cool dude. It shows you can look like a regular guy, act regular, but have the discipline of a professional. It doesn’t make you a nerd or a square. I think there’s a lot of good, especially within him and Berto, there’s a lot of good energy, personality, as long as they keep knocking people out they’re going to reap all the benefits of that.

On yet another front, last year Dash made time in his busy schedule for BET’s Ultimate Hustler. Part Apprentice, part Making the Band, Dash auditioned a protege from a group of live-in, aspiring entrepreneurs, with — well, let’s be honest here — tepid results. There were moments, though. So is Damon going to re-up for a sequel?

DD: We’ll see. I’ve got a day job, I’ve got a couple of them, so if I have the time, I’ll do it. You know, I initially did it to teach the community how to get money and have fun while they do it, and be fair, and things like that. Let’s see. If BET acts straight, maybe I’ll be back.

Was that more of a trying thing than you thought it would be?

DD: Only because of the post of it, like the editing, I had to edit it a lot. I’m a perfectionist, on a lot of levels, and it was my likeness and my brand, so I had to sit in the editing room and make sure everything was there. Because I was there, and a lot gets lost in the editing room, and I wanted certain things to remain there, and also, the production value meant a lot to me, so if you noticed, that’s why it was very stylized. I wanted to keep people’s brains working, and also entertain them, keep them laughing, keep some suspense, and at the same time teach them.


Tennage

I don’t like making lists, mostly because I’m lazy. But I’m also accustomed to finding new artists and digging around in a way that doesn’t call it quits on a year and close the book once December rolls around. And I disagree with the peer review qualities that making year-end rankings puts on people’s opinions.

But I’ll always give in with a little arm twisting, so here are some of the things from 2005 I liked, in no particular order. Let me know what I missed out on and check out some of these if you can.

Albums

Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel The Illinoise!
Recloose – Hiatus On The Horizon
Matias Aguayo – Are You Really Lost?
Kraftwerk – Minimum-Maximum
Fantomas – Suspended Animation
Ellen Allien – Thrills
Bun B – Trill
The Black Dog – Silenced
Kelley Polar – Love Songs of the Hanging Gardens
Isolee – We Are Monster

Compilations

Clipse – We Got It 4 Cheap Vol. 1
VA – Minimize To Maximize
Oxford American Music Issue CD
UR Presents Galaxy 2 Galaxy A Hi-Tech Jazz Compilation
Can You Jack? Chicago Acid And Experimental House 1985-95
VA – Kompakt Total 6
VA – Spectral Sound Vol. 1
VA – Tsunami Relief
Big Boi Presents…Got That Purp Vol.1
VA – Choubi Coubi (Folk And Pop Songs From Iraq)

Singles

Ying Yang Twins – Wait (The Whisper Song)
Various Production – Foller / Home 7″
Pan Pot – Popy & Caste
Exercise One – Easy Things
Dandy Jack aka The Latin Elvis – Refried EP
Alex Smoke – Ok Remixed
Vivianne Projects – Strangers
Salif Keita – Yamore (Luciano Remix)
Repeat Repeat – Blippy
Nathan Fake – Dinamo / Coheed (Remixes)

Mixes / Live Sets

Richie Hawtin – DE9 Transitions
Ewan Pearson – Sci.fi.Hi.fi. _

Lexicon Devil: Swearengen

swearengen: v, tr.

1. To declare or affirm solemnly by invoking a deity or a sacred person or thing.
2. To utter or bind oneself to (an oath).
3. To say or affirm earnestly and with great conviction.

A friend left me with a heavy secret the other day and sealed the deal by looking me in the eye and saying “swearengen.”

In HBO’s Deadwood, The Old West pinkie swear is a spit shake. Mr. Wu and Dan, Al’s flunkie, seal deals with Swearengen slick-palmed, so we did too, with an oath of “swearengen” in Wu’s Chinese accent.

Well Well Wellington…

Cruising through James Agee’s greatest hits, I found an essay he wrote for Fortune‘s August 1935 issue, titled “Saratoga.”

Surprisingly, it concerns Wellington Mara’s father, who was then one of the major bookmakers, as well as the an owner of the New York Giants. This was before all betting was parimutuel and you could shop your horse picks to different bookies while at the Spa. Here’s what Agee has to say:

Tim Mara is a large, curly-headed, thick-fleshed Irishman with the wide, relaxed, dimpled, big-mouthed, and keen type of Irish face. Timothy James Mara’s life is too colorfully involved to bear writing on a thumbnail. He was born forty-eight years ago in Greenwich Village; sold papers, Madison Square programs, candy in a Third Avenue Theatre; was a Ziegfeld usher; sold lawbooks. Became a bookie in 1910. Of late years has been in and out of bookmaking. Some of his avocations: customers’ man in Wall Street for Al Smith’s pal Mike Meehan (1927-30); coal business (Mara Fuel Co., still listed); liquor business (Kenny-Mara Importers Co., 1933, still listed; a Scotch labeled Timara); owner of New York Giants (football, he has never played the game). He has been often in court, most spectacularly in a row over what Gene Tunney owned him for Build-ups, political lubrication. Has two sons: John, president of the Giants, and Wellington Timothy, who is at Fordham. He is a fight promoter (Schmeling-Baer, the second Ross-Canzoneri); plays golf; has never driven a car since, twenty years ago, he was in a bad accident; has a place at Lake Luzerne, near Saratoga. He is variously known about the tracks as (a) just a big good-natured guy and (b) the ultimate truculent mug. But everyone agrees that as a mental mathematician he’s second only to [Long Tom] Shaw and, as a bookie, among the most imminently successful.”

pp 103-104, James Agee: Selected Journalism

Selected Journalism and Agee on Film have been collected into a handsome Library of America edition, which will no doubt torpedo any remaining sales of the University of Tennessee edition. But shelling out thirty bucks isn’t such a bad idea, so long as some of the standout essays from Journalism, “Cockfighting,” “Roman Society,” “The American Roadside,” “The U.S. Commercial Orchid” and “Saratoga” remain.

From the Archives: Listener Defined Noise

Wighnomy Brothers
“3 Fashmich” (FAT 019)
Freude Am Tanzen (Germany)
March 2005

Someone’s had a baby! I’m not sure which Brother’s spawn is staring out from Fat 19, but he says hello on the first bit of the A side, and is the namesake of the main track, “pele bloss” (“pele only”?). It’s a fairly straightforward number with an acid thwomp in the mids and a nice flutter. I haven’t been playing that track as much, instead the B1, “freiekksemplar,” a bare chug-a-lug wrapped around the smiley critter above. The breakdown near the end, one of several, has a disembodied, random piece of sampling, “Alfred Lord Tennyson reads from his own poems, first the ‘Charge of the Light,'” just after which the spare beat comes back briefly. The B2, “caput 1” is described as “omar sharifs winterm‰rchengewand,” which Babel Fish calls “winter fairy tale garb,” and is a short vocal sample where someone, presumably Omar Sharif, talks about dancing. That’s about all I can get without much German.

Tomas Andersson
“Washing Up” (BPC 108)
BPitch Control (Germany)
May 2005

By some cosmic hilarity, both this record and the Saddam Hussein in his underpants on the front page of America’s favorite despot showed up on Friday morning. The record went on first, then my coffee nearly came out my nose when I saw the paper. Like the Hasselhoffian Recursion, I was shocked and hypnotized, paralyzed for a good six minutes while the two scoured my soul. I snapped back into consciousness when the needle hit the label, averted my eyes, and tried to get on with my life.

The Tiga remix, on the side pictured, strikes me as do papers who won’t print the actual pictures, rather pictures of citizens reading papers who do. The original is still visible, yet your criticisms or analyses over the legitimacy of the act of printing are thrown out because you printed it anyhow. Now the photo has no mystique, and is not suitable for home display. A shoddy effort, adding some congas, a vocal sample and calling it a day.

Thee Wilde Billy Childish Interview

This interview took place last year a few days before Billy Childish and the Buff Medways came to America to play two dates, one in Long Beach, California for the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, another opening for Modest Mouse at Radio City Music Hall.

Believe that at the height of Modest Mouse’s recent popularity, at a concert heavily promoted by K-Rock, the Medways put the zap on a lot of young minds.

NP: This is the Buffs’ second or third time here, right?

BC: I think it’s only the second, I’m not quite sure. We used to come quite often but then our bass player couldn’t do much, and we’ve got a new bass player who is a fireman who can’t do too much. You know, because we’re not a professional group, which is sort of like our saving grace but also causes a few problems, because we don’t do touring really, even in the Headcoats we didn’t used to really do touring, I don’t really sort of like see much sense in it. Its usually to make agents a load of money and sort of like promote yourself and seeing as we’ve never ever promoted ourselves, you know, we actually play to earn some money, and to enjoy it, but most groups just do things to become, to promote themselves, and we’ve never done that.

NP: It seems like these one offs that you do, to come over and do a couple of shows in a couple of weeks or a week are a lot more healthy than a regular touring schedule.

BC: Well yeah, really, for those reasons, people do it because they’re promoting themselves; we don’t do promotions because it’s boring. We’re not in music as a career. It’s something we do because we enjoy it. And when we don’t enjoy it we don’t do it.

Continue reading “Thee Wilde Billy Childish Interview”

Most Recently Added

Matias Aguayo: Are You Really Lost?

Aguayo is one half of Closer Musik, whose “One Two Three-No Gravity” has endured as a pivotal track played at moments at the club when you reenter reality and look around at what you left. Dan Bell put it on his 2003 The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back! album, but I remember it best from Michael Mayer’s Volume gig, where he and Superpitcher introduced the Kompakt sound to New York.

While “The Green & The Red” remind me more of something Perlon would release, Aguayo’s solo production brings to mind Kevin Saunderson in the Reese & Santonio period, organic, bodied basslines, full production, especially on the breath-boxed “Drums & Feathers” and “So In Love.” Other standouts on this record are “Radiotaxi” and “New Life,” which keeps reminding me of a “Kiko and the Lavendar Moon” sounding song I just can’t place.

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Digable Planets: Beyond The Spectrum: The Creamy Spy Chronicles 2005

Reissuing your 12″s as an album is a good way to remind people how you tweaked them a dozen years ago. Indeed, if you missed these guys the first time around, or never looked before Blowout Comb, this is an essential record. It’s hard to imagine they’ll reinvent themselves or even continue in such a strong fashion after a decade-long layoff (I saw them live in a “teaser set” this spring and it stunk) so maybe it’s better to live in the past.

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Various Artists: Famous When Dead IV

I can’t think of a label more consistently on top of dancefloor tastes than Playhouse. If we’re just talking albums, in the recent past they’ve put out Isolee’s We Are Monster, Captain Comatose’s Up In Flames and Melchoir Productions’ The Meaning — two and a half blockbusters (sorry Cap’n). “Scrapnell,” Isolee’s wet-with-reverb surf-techno joint makes it on here, as well as his mix of Recloose’s “Cardiology,” both examples of how dance music succeeds when it works outside of structural constraints. Tiefschwarz’s remix of Spektrum’s “Kinda New,” Fabrice Lig’s “Meet U in Brooklyn” and Max Mohr’s “Old Song” work in a traditional manner. This is essential listening if you don’t have it separately on vinyl. Plus a great nod to Jim Phillips’ Santa Cruz Speed Wheels hand.

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Supergrass: Road To Rouen

This band had me when they were In It For the Money, and there are a few songs on this record worth listening to for that sort of aggressive Britrock harmonizing (“Tales Of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6),” “Roxy”). They’ve diverged into two nasty camps, it sounds like, an Elliot Smithy bareness (“St. Petersburg,” “Sad Girl” and “Low C”) or a Led Zep-lite (“Road To Rouen,” “Coffee In The Pot” and “Fin”).

Nice work, but not as cohesive or engaging as previous projects. Great Kraftwerkian cover art, though.

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Dungen: Stadsvandringar

I was disappointed by this, because I expected a reissue from a younger band to be more aggressive than Ta Det Lungt, Dungen’s first record to gain appeal here in the US, which bored a hole in my head when I first heard it. I find myself loving the 30-second vocal jam “Stadsvandring Del 2” and bassline driven “Vem Vaktar lejonen” but skipping the Jethro Tullish flute numbers.

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James Zabiela: FOUR.2 mixes

So everything is topsy-turvy again. Minimal is maximal. Sasha’s acolyte plays the Wighnomys, Vector Lovers, Luciano, John Tejada, Ken Ishii, Egoexpress and more. At some point you just stop labeling and enjoy things as they come your way, and here they are, in five quality mixes.

Why We Do

There’s no need to over-analyze why people love sports, or what sports bring to their lives. Here’s what I hope will be a long series of everyday incidents; good, human examples.

It was early evening on Seventh Avenue, older man wearing a Chad Pennington jersey overtaking a mother and boy on the sidewalk. The boy is wearing a Ty Law jersey.

“Ty Law, good game today,” the dude said, addressing the kid the way a teammate would address another.

It’s tough to describe the look on the kid’s face. It was a mix of pride and surprise. He was just beaming. His mother leaned down and asked what the man had said, and as he explained in a small voice his smile passed to her and they walked on.