Buy Music Club #2 | “Beam me back, Stevie!” A very subjective trip into Warp Records back catalogue.

As someone old enough to remember the days before the digital music democratization but just a tiny bit too young to have experienced the magic of the Berlin post-wall-techno-revolution, for quite some time there have only be two important music labels for electronics: Ninja Tune and Warp. As much as we might moan about drowning into a state of invisibility with our own music, simply from the pure amount of supply out there, it’s always helpful to take a step back and remember how different the musical landscape of experimental music was 25+ Years ago. It almost seemed as if the top distributors of “intelligent dance music” would have passed artists and releases to each other, depending on the bpm mood of their average listener.  Everything on the 90bpm landmark for the dope heads came from Ninja Tunes, at 120bpm Warp Records stepped in for the more conscious braindancer and when computer science was as far as making breakcore possible, the gap was open for Planet-µ. (This, of course is less science and more of a blurred polaroid of the 90’s.) Of course there where other labels, but our world was still so small and therefor these ones became the cornerstones that thrived the music of tomorrow.

So why care about this now, at this very moment? Well, there are two reasons: One, Warp Records finally warped their entire back catalogue onto Bandcamp, what gives me the possibility to make a BMC-List. And second, they just used some of their powers to drag you away from Bandcamp back to their very own platform veteran Bleep.com with a Boxing Day Sale. 50% of on their digital catalogue is just a great chance to fill some gaps in your Warp Collection. Which is exactly what I just did. (You might have maybe missed that deal when you read this, because this whole article took longer than I expected). I’m also guessing, I’m not the only one spending a lot of time in dim light behind concrete walls, right now. With not much else left than traveling in memories of brighter days.

And so, like many others before me, I grab the opportunity to share my perspective on this milestone of electronic music history. Deliberately not as some Top-10 kinda list, as I know there is an army of hardcore AFX/BOC/AE fans out there who wouldn’t share my views (…and shouldn’t have to). Instead I rather take on a totally subjective position and take a look back on some albums that actually had an profound impact on me at well remembered moments in time. And maybe one or two of them are part of a collective subconscious, who knows?!

Autechre - Amber

Back in my teenage years there still was a very strong urge going on to decide which sonic subculture you wanted to belong to. And while I was still soaking up all these diverse influences of a blues playing father, my punkrock brothers and my hip hop homies it took some persuasion to get me into this cold, technical stuff called IDM. Weed definitely helped.  And so I remember this moment like not many other stoned situations: Sitting on the backseat of a friends car late at night and perceiving Autechres Teartear for the very first time on full blast. This piece of music was the most terrifying blank peace of paper ever to encounter. Cold, mechanical, full of everything that stroke against my naive believe of “true music” but still a catalyst of strong emotions I had not experienced from music before.

This was not only my starting point into experimental electronic music, but also the moment I realized that there is a kind of music that isn’t more, but just very different from all that music that makes us feel understood, belonging or emotionally confirmed. A kind of music that pushes us into the unknown infinite spaces of our subconsciousness. Often visualized with images from space, but actually digging for unknown places right inside us. And that’s still – also in the process of making music myself – the decisive force in electronic music. It’s not purely a direct channel of emotional expression, which is enjoyed and shared with others. But more of an opened dialogue between you and the pure sonic possibilities of machines (good ol’ “men vs. machine” cliche).

Boards of Canada - Twoism

While I was still busy figuring out all of these Autechrian fractal sonic landscapes, Boards Of Canada where a little bit more kind. Instead of diving into sound in their most abstract shapes, BOC provided us with associations. Their music was quite literally boiling over from them. Experiencing their music was like finding an old box of Polaroids in the cellar. Warm and earthy, like walking over the dry gravel of a country road and smelling the musty pond nearby. But this approach alone wasn’t totally new. There was something else to it. I guess, besides the total mystery of how exactly they managed to uplift these sonic landscapes, there were always some kind of hidden messages. As there are in memories too. The things we banish from our past to make room for everything we joyfully look back to. Something I just recently understood in it’s full potential with the help of a wonderful little DIY BOC documentary by the name This Is Hexagon Sun. But while this one decodes a lot of the hidden messages in BOC’s music there’s also the purely emotional level. And this is where Twoism stands out from their other releases (at least from my very subjective perception). Twoism skillfully combines the naturalistic soundscapes that made them famous (Sixtyniner), with sadly optimistic elevator music for office buildings (Iced Cooly) into a frightening mechanic force of nature (Basefree). A force they later went back to on their last Album Tomorrow’s Harvest, which still scares me so much that I’m not able to make it past the first one or two tracks.

Plaid - Double Figure

When I had my first introduction into the world of Plaid with their Double Figure album I was totally puzzled. There were so many things going on I learned to despise in my naive belive in musical taste, and yet I’ve instantly became hooked by these playful melodies and glitchy sounds. It was a courage for melody that soon should spread all over the place with artist like Kettel, Proem or Ochre jump on the train. But Plaid pefected this sound with Double Figure very early on. They were telling stories instead of handing over big chunks of cotton candy and the complex sound design still had a tiny bit of a raw charm. Like a beautiful rainbow, this whole spectrum of sound was never ment to last. It was just there and you never knew how much of it would outlast the signs of time. But Double Figure certainly did.

I still remember that Plaid were performing live quite regulary in the early 2000’s. It was just on of these acts you would always stumble into and I also remember one of my early gigs on the second floor at Maria am Ufer (R.I.P.) where Plaid was playing the Main Floor. It was funny because they would always come with some big sound concepts, like playing Dolby Sourround sets, just to fail on the technical possibilities on site. At the end they were just playing their tunes, one after the other, in stereo. So for me, personally, their legacy still is the creation of the perfect electronic home listening music. Because the sad truth is, once you reach perfection in electronic music, everything to come is just sound design.

Aphex Twin - Drukqs

Whenever musical genres like Glam Rock, Big Beat or Minimal Techno vanished and got replaced by something new, in retrospect it always seems like there was one defined moment in time to declare the death of a genre. If we would have had this moment in Intelligent Dance Music it would have been Drukqs. It was the perfect IDM album even though at a first glance it was quite complicated to understand it as an album at all. The odd contrast of pseudo accoustic instrumentals and hyper complex breakcore masterpieces just didn’t seem to belong together at first. But in effect you would just listen to it again and again, because both sides where just too beautiful on their own to be put aside, and before you could figure it all out you inevitably felt in love with it and it became the one IDM album we could all agree on. In this sense it was also one of the last great albums of the CD era, I guess. The last time we performed the great braindance unitedly, everyone in his own brain but interconnected trough the shabby connections of a 56k Modem. The death of IDM, only that we just kept going afterwards, everyone in his own niche of breakcore, acid and whatnot.

Tentacle Loot #27 | Kapha Selections: Sun Castle / Ke’So [KS04]

At first glance, nothing seems to fit on this 2 track split-tape. A solo piano piece on the A-Side and a 15 minute lofi house jam on the B-Side. And yet it apparently reflects the experimental musical melting pot of this New York collective. I say “apparently” because I couldn’t really find out that much about Kapha Selections, except that they have been releasing split tapes for about a year, which largely reflect the underground culture of their hometown.

A little more obvious is the International Winners Collective, to which this tape is dedicated. They’ve been organizing events and parties in Brooklyn, New York and releasing stuff on Bandcamp for a number of years now. Constantly strolling between art gallery and club without seeming to give a damn about whether they should please one or the other target audience. With a cross-eyed look across the Atlantic, such a concept, of course, brings up prejudices about would-be high culture immediately, which are also shaped by experiences from my own hometown Berlin. However, these can be completely dispelled with the two tracks on this EP alone. Because two things come to the fore here: curiosity and honesty. As different as these two pieces may appear, they are both a sincere invitation to a physical, spiritual experience. Both pieces do not want to be viewed and evaluated from the outside, but rather be experienced. (Sorry that I’m doing exactly the opposite of that at this point 😉 )

For these reasons, however, I will simply save myself from describing or even explaining the two tracks in detail. Instead I close with the realization that this short tape is a wonderful reminder that music is a living part of our confused cities and communities and that we will not be able to transport these experiences into virtual spaces.
And that’s a good thing!

Hold on!

Octobird Traxxx on Major Streaming Platforms and Digital Stores

Well, I guess that’s called a sellout without income. In a better future, we would all be busy squandering our pocket money on Bandcamp and in record stores. But streaming platforms like Spotify have probably changed our listening habits permanently. And no matter how you understand the statements of a generation of poor bedroom producers, it may not be so much about paying for music, but rather about giving it a value.

No matter! Octobird is on Spotify and all these other Major Players now. Because, well … everyone else is there too … and admittedly I also use Spotify. So go along, click all these links, push all these subscription buttons and give your thumbs up at the checkout.

SPOTIFY | APPLE MUSIC | TIDAL | YOUTUBE | GOOGLE

I love you all!

Buy Music Club #1 | All my Friends are on Acid

Regardless of whether you are fully immersed in global insanity or just chilling out with a tequilla on your hermetically sealed veranda. It’s good to be on acid!

I could expand this cliffhanger now. With pupils dilated in surprise, ponder where the omnipotent influence of psychedelic sound roots comes from. But the real reason for this list is that I generally have a hard time writing extensive reviews for people who are close to me personally. It is obvious! You’re just too scared of hurting your dear friends feelings.

So let’s keep it short and sweet! Shall we?!

My dearest musical colleague and friend Vodor L. Zeck gets busy! In addition to countless releases on his own Zanderhythm, he pours out some funky quirky acid stoners on Acid Waxa and Sitdownanddance!

My new favorite Argentinean trip sitters Franco ‘D and Cruz Coronado have a brand new label! The first long player on Infinit Records features wonderfully trippy downtempo acid jams. Stoned to infinity!

I only met Briain recently when he sold me his Elektron Octatrack on Ebay. Damn nice chap, part of the Berlin Skizze Crew, who (kinda like my good old Various Veterans) do their part to keep the Berlin club culture diverse. And a pretty talented Amen Breaker too!

My best pal Vertical67 has already made way too much acid. Now he lies horizontally and creates a nice ambient. I like it very much! I guess I’ll leave him there for a moment.

Gajek – a companion from the early days of our acid diaries. And someone who had obviously already way too many Kraut! I guess it helps him not to be so cerebral. But it’s the mixture of both that makes his music so great. Cerebral Kraut!

And me … Octobird. Oh, I’d rather not say anything. I am afraid to hurt my feelings!

Octobird – AM Sessions

Hey there Earth Persons…I am very happy to announce that Octobird’s current release “AM Sessions” is available in the form of manifested electrical vibrations now. So go grab your (free) digital copy from Bandcamp.

Inspired by the recording workflow from the sessions with his like minded fella Vodor L. Zeck, Octobird got himself an 8-track digital recorder and startet jamming.

Similar to the recordings from the recent Tram Komputer Release, these jams reveal themselves more or less as a raw distillate from spontaneous sessions, driven by repetitive patterns, exuberant modulations and a midi clock. Recorded in a single run and shrunk down to a bearable size later on.

Like Dessert Sessions… but on Midi Clock.

Tentacle Loot #19 | Northern Ncounters – Steel City Records 1995​-​1997

When you experience this compilation, it quickly becomes clear that this is not a well-researched subcultural gem from the history of niche techno. These are contemporary witnesses, those who have been there and who look back on an imprinted fragment of their past with a well-deserved and balanced portion of nostalgia.

Over 12 tracks from the back catalog of the few main players from Steel City Records, we explore a pool of acid tracks that are as uncompromising as they are experimental, and to which the sweat of blurred Warehouse Club nights generated by them is still clearly attached.

Anyone who has ever stretched out their sensors between Detroit and Manchester cannot avoid recognizing musical parallels. However, these tracks are far too honest, truthful and stubbornly naive for a result of quotation and imitation. Rather, the same spirit speaks from them, which also drove the disoriented youngsters from Detroit and Manchester. For them (unlike 90s Techno  in Berlin, for example) the awakening of techno was not the soundtrack for (spiritual) liberation, but a tool of escapism from their bleak, industrially colored world. This can especially be recognized from the fact that these producers represented here were striving for a much more driving, minimalist and hypnotic sound. While there are excursions in typical Berlin high-speed techno from time to time (such as Opgang 2 “DeChirico”), the naive testing of musical limits infected by experienced freedom does not occur. These Tracks had a task, a clear function (and still do!)

The attached PDF Liner Notes are very much recommended and yet too quickly overlooked. In the brief history of Steel City Records and the associated techno enclave of Canada it becomes clear that Detroit and Manchester were indeed important cornerstones of the musical orientation. Pleasingly, the written transcript of the SCR history is not a hedonistic celebration of better days, but rather an honest review of missed opportunities, youthful egocentricity and loyalty to ideas. The explanations are also exciting as a contemporary document of the pre-Internet hypes, from a time when the social networking of different local subcultures was still so completely different from today. Especially since we are now at a point where the dream of the Internet as a tool for cultural independence has been swept away in many ways and we are once again asked to reinvent ourselves.

 Without a doubt, “Steel City Records 1995 – 1997” would be worth a vinyl release. But as usual you would probably have to seize the opportunity to create a musical hype. Maybe you should miss this chance a second time? I guess so!

Tentacle Loot #18 | The 36 Chambers of Danny Wolfers

 

Usually, if you are a musician with only half as many identities, you can be sure that you have lost any prospect of any kind of musical career. After all, the musical identity of one’s own alter ego is usually the creatorˋs greatest asset. And once a recipe has been found that will keep your place in the queue of abundance free, you have to stay tuned and repeat formula X-Y until you get bored and get back into freelance poverty.

So it seems that the only conceivable way to escape this creative one-way street is to have a musical output that a single imaginary identity simply cannot cope with on its own. Regardless of the question how a real person can handle this

… because Danny can.

Where (contrary to popular preferences) I enjoy to hear musicians like Kid606 or Mark Pritchard keep breaking their blueprints constantly and pushing me into completely new worlds of sound, the wondrous “Aha!” moment with Legowelt always arises when someone from my musical arena comes back to with something like: “Oh … yeah, that’s good shit, right ?! Thatˋs actually a Legowelt Track.”

All the more I blossomed through a random Bandcamp fanmail thing from Danny Wolfers, which (far too late) made me realize that another incredible treasure trove of musical parallel identities lives on his very personal Bandcamp site. And even more, mostly on a pay-as-you-please principle. While I recently bought one of the records listed there for a ridiculously low price on Discogs, I guess I will be busy looking at this level of musical effusion even approximately for quite a while now.

Overall, Danny Wolferˋs Legowelt Bandcamp site is a little bit of a personal cabinet of loving curiosities.

Among countless hand-painted, fluffy album covers that reflect a uniquely sympathetic, deliberately naive DIY ethos, circulating Tape Acid Jams and warm, analogue ambient treasures abound, which alternately plant stories of elephants in city parks, extraterrestrials in fast-food restaurants or retro-futuristic vampire societies in the listener’s imagination. And probably the greatest achievement of Danny Wolfers is that you can believe all of these stories. Because he believes in them himself. Because he chose to believe all of these stories. And so with each release you understand a little more that Danny is a great role model for the eternal child in us. Someone who takes well-groomed naivety and an exorbitant knowledge of kitschy micotrends of underground culture to create his dream worlds uninhibited. Someone who does not criticize or condemn exaggerated musical clichés like coolness, but simply soaks up everything and let his robots translate his own version of it.

Danny Wolfers, the man who makes music faster than others can hear it.

“Word.”

Octobird Salad #9 | Home is where your House is

Okay… easy, easy!

Let’s leave that headline in all its ambiguity regarding the state of the nation and devote ourselves to an extra large portion of escapism. It’s dream time, baby! Because dreaming is the only true alternative to Netflix these days. And Dream House was a genre long before Netflix was a clinically recognized addiction.

I’ve been a bit off lately from simmering velvety smooth track transitions. Instead, I was quite busy jacking up my own tracks to somehow work.

Without being among those who suddenly have a lot more time (but rather those who simply take their time) I was pretty intensely involved in expanding my own mixing and mastering skills. So why not just sprinkle one of my own compositions right at the beginning? Roughly mixed and not mastered at all, but laid back and totally unobtrusive.

With everything that follows, this seems to be more or less a Future Times Label Special. Which surprised me myself and was not on purpose at all. But I guess that’s exactly where the fine instinct of Future Times releases lies. A forward-looking sound aesthetic that uses sound colors that are already deeply rooted in our imagination. All covered with a fine digital pastel, to which we haven’t dedicated ourselves so meditatively to since New-Age Times. Rhythmically, on the other hand, these Tracks are always encouraged not to break the well-known patterns, but rather to prepare the listener patiently for some next-level experiences.

Our other companions also join this joy of playing. Among them Linkwood, who – in addition to his collaboration with Foat – recently rereleased his Disco-House masterpiece System. As well as His Master’s Voice, a fairly new pair of hands on the machines and, above all, someone who stands out in the continuing Electro trend with his excessive digressions. Not by reinventing the toolbox, but simply by completely doing his own thing. 1st class dreamer!

TRACKLIST

ARTIST
Neu Balance
Octobird
Garies
Outboxx
Linkwood & Foat
Dreems
Jeremy Hyman
Ov
His Master’s Voice
Diego
Bandhagens Musikförening

TRACK
Tread
Rubbing Fingers
Don Bongo
How You Know
Pressure
In The Jungle
Slide
Perc Song (Chords)
Taurus
Crack
Protokoll A

LABEL
1080p
unreleased
Future Times
Well Rounded Housing Project
Athens Of The North
Multi Culti
Future Times
Future Times
KCZMRK
Future Times
Northern Electronics

 

Octobird Salad #7 | Pacific Planets

I tend to go off topic. No 2020 dystopian megafuture, no winterly cold digital abysses. Instead: Which instrument would you bring on a desert island? … on a strange planet … to communicate with people there … or at least to just hang out and watch the two moons …

…fairly stoned.

In the variety of experimental house music, a handful of artists have emerged in recent years, who have given a very own coloring to the washed-out concept of world music. Far from squeezing cultural assets of non-Western cultures into banging club tracks, but also from subordinating themselfes musically to the researched cultural heritage in false humility by simply creating a prettied blueprint. Instead they trace back their own club culture as a contemporary kind of rite and ecstasy to the origins of this music, which functions far from egocentricity and self-expression. Be it as a musical concept or just as an ingredient in experimental club music.

Probably the most consistent in this ranks are Don’t DJ (which I unfortunately stupidly DJed twice in this set … sorry; /). With their percussive polyrhythms and impulsive monotonous structures, they build bridges between non-western tribal music and the raw idea of techno. The 12th Isle label preferably uses color palettes and publishes wonderfully quirky tracks, impregnated with pale pastel memories from a imaginary Caribbean vacation in 1974(ish). And then there are formations such as Groupshow (with Jan Jelinek), Tru West or even Transllusion that are deeply influenced solely by their clearly audible improvisational character.

TRACKLIST:

Pacific
Untitled (Blue)
Fly Timoun
Repercussion
Silent Elektro
Speedway
Chilazon 2
Syrian Rue
Pet Hair Magnet
Alternative Currents
Forget About It
Moment 4
Chasing The Loophole In A Relentless Spiral Of Self-indulgence

“Tram Komputer” out on Zanderhythm

Tram Komputer is the first compilation put together from a vast number of eight-track-sessions recorded at Vodor L. Zeck‘s Studio over the last five years. On a regulary basis Vodor L. Zeck, DBH and Octobird (and who ever else wanted to join in) came together, simply to create portions of energy made with electronic machines, press record and catch some magic.

The tracks captured on this tape were cut and edited as less as possible and then mastered by Octobird. While all these sessions over the years spit out a vast variety of sounds and styles ranging from Hi-Speed Acid to Trippy Downbeats to Speed-Ambient, this first release represents the more melodic Brain Raves.

A special note of thanks also goes out to Vertical67 for the Tape Cover Design visualizing the different Tram stations it took to get to the Zanderythm studio in Berlin Marzahn.

Inhalts-Ende

That's the bottom of the sky.

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