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 #28 | ZeckDBH – Complete “Drift”

It’s a well-known mess. Hundreds of hours of session material from several years that want to be sift trough, cut, processed and packed in sensible packages to manifest a small chapter of infinity in the infinite expanse of the Internet. Vodor L Zeck and Die Blutige Hand completed at least one of these chapters now by completing their Drifts series with tape No. 18.

Drifts is braindance music for the subconscious, elevator music composed under the influence of acid. The widely distributed yet balanced ingredients of acid, braindance shuffle, leftfield techno and microtonal soundscapes never aim to offer hits and hooks in their seemingly endless jams. Rather, they are signposts for expanded states of consciousness. Perhaps similar to meditation records from the New Age era. Get them all, toss one into your tape deck at regular ritual intervals, roll up some good ingredients and just drift.

Octobird – Faeces | available on Bandcamp (and everywhere else)

There we have him, the newborn. That happy little companion who will cheer you up about the first hardships of the approaching winter. A handful of tracks that are rather creamy, soft and warm, but won’t refuse a little dance or two.

“Faeces” Release Site

The links to the streaming services could still take a few days before they actually lead to the release, but Bandcamp is up and running. Everything else is fake anyway! 😉

Austin Cassell is back on IFM feat. Acroplane Recordings!

Get closer to your radio, kids! Austin Cassell, a loyal supporter of the experimental electronic community, is back on IntergalacticFM after a seven month hiatus! This time with Special Guest Acroplane Recordings. A particularly happy coincidence, as I also had my very first releases at Acroplane in the glorious beginnings of netlabel culture.

Tune in at 21:00 GMT(22:00 CET) on The Dream Machine at www.intergalactic.fm
 
Acroplane links:
Bandcamp – http://acroplanerecordings.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/acroplane
Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/acroplanerecordings

Tentacle Loot #26 | JHM – Exhaustive Portal EP

Whenever peripheral areas in music are explored, whether in terms of speed, complexity or aggressiveness, there is always a critical point. Regardless of whether we are irradiated at a gabba party and crave for a climax that we have long since passed, or if we boastfully exchange our favorite breakcore tracks until the complex rhythm structures hit us as a wave of snare drums. At a certain point we cross the threshold from art to sport. And while some feel right at home in this spot, I personally often balance on that very partition, driven by a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. My own approach to music is just far too emotional and physical to be charmed only by my left brain hemisphere. And so, after this highly subjective process of elimination, in the end there aren’t that many who still manage to convey a physical or emotional message under the flag of hardcore-whatever.

JHM (aka Jens Masimov) is probably a little too smart for that.

In his self-description he describes himself as a multimedia artist working with ritualistic distortion, and his musical mainspring could hardly be better described. Located in a gloomy no-man’s-land somewhere between driving techno and gabba, he doesn’t seem to care too much about whether he could under-challenge some and overwhelm others. Instead, he fearlessly dives into the very core of the ecstatic ritual of contemporary club culture. With stoically hammering, distorted kick drums and tirelessly circulating sequences, he keeps us in a sustained state of physical exhaustion at just around 150bpm, which can ultimately only be maintained by fading out all conscious thought processes. Masimov’s talent finally reveals itself in his ability to maintain this state. And although you intuitively feel overwhelmed at first, he still allows room for improvement and allows the individual elements of his music air to breathe. And so ultimately he leaves us with the last remaining conscious decision, whether we want to swim or run.

Tentacle Loot #25 | Fuewa – Complete Earthworks

Fuewa‘s second-born Complete Earthworks already celebrated its fifth birthday recently. And, given today’s musical attention span, it should probably be in a sub-category of unheard classics. But as much as releases suffer from those brief attention peaks nowadays, I also have the feeling that the ephemeral trends of these days no longer really disappear from the scene, but rather retreat to niches where they are still celebrated and loved. And therefore are worth being mentioned even if they weren’t exactly fresh from the eaves.

In addition, Fuewa has put together a completely timeless album with his still most recent work, which despite all this has received far too little attention. At least if you believe the numbers on Bandcamp, Spotify and elsewhere. And that regardless of the fact, that Fuewa‘s label of choice, Sonic Router, did took the right turn at a time when the word Future Garage was already part of our collective memory and went on towards something … well … I guess more post-future. Once again they deconstructed the well-worn legacy of Dub- and 2-Step, Garage and IDM and explored alternative timelines with great tape releases by Broshuda and Fuewa. But while Broshuda dismantled his drum patterns until he produced more or less ambient from beats, Fuewa‘s strength lies in the discipline of not achieving musical renewal through limitless complexity. As much as his pieces are influenced by the pioneers of Dub, Jungle and IDM, he retains very driving and repetitive structures and thus leans on a sound that at the same time was mainly shaped and released on Livity Sound (above all Kowton‘s Utility), who married UK garage and driving techno in equal measure. And yet one can clearly hear that Fuewa doesn’t only have a club surrounding as the cathedral of its sound in the back of its head, but also us aging home listeners. Therefore he weaves timeless melodies into his earthy sound textures, lets ambient pieces flow in and takes us on a journey across a planet that seemed so familiar to us.

For me personally, Complete Earthworks – along with the already mentioned Utility by Kowton – is one of the most elaborate albums of this very special straightforward form of UK Garage and should therefore be brought to the mind especially of those who haven’t sorted it into their memories yet. Especially since we are slowly but surely facing a wildly gesticulating drum & bass revival.

Future Sounds of 1990’whatever | A retrofuturistic IDM.bient Playlist for the oldschool Dopeheads

With a new vinyl edition of Autechre‘s “Amber” LP and B12‘s “Time Tourist“, Warp Records already revived two unforgettable milestones of an alternative future last year. Now Global Communication‘s “76:14” is moving up and Future Sound of London are providing an update from archived data sets with “Cascade 2020“. 

Time to take a look back for a glance at the future of the day before yesterday. Always with a couple of long papers in your luggage, of course!

As someone who, in the heyday of Berlin’s techno culture, mostly acknowledged electronic music with a critical sideways glance, pepped up by psychedelic rock and MPC hip-hop, my IDM entry-level drugs came more from the direction of Boards Of Canada and the typical Ninja Tune gimmicks. In order to expand my sonic emotional spectrum, it took less of a warm hug than an ice-cold lesson. And so I still remember pretty well how I nearly pissed my bell bottoms when I first listened to Autechre‘s “Tear Tear“. Just to understand that music can be much more than a mere confirmation of my emotional longings. That it could be a challenge, a profound process and … one hell of a trip.

Read on...

Octobird Salad #11 | Muscle Memory

Even if the vinyl supplies in my apartment are slowly starting to displace me, I’ve always been a fan of digital DJing. At least when I’m standing behind the wheels myself. And in this playground I’m finally in the process of replacing my totally undersized MP3s with Flac files once and for all. And again in the same process I got infected with a serious case of audiophily and catch myself diggin for all these ultra polished electro tracks to convince myself that all the effort of re-encoding and re-recording is worth the effort. So Instead of the usual insider tips, this time I simply present a best of electro on steroids.

As an old friend of trashy sizzling acid music with a constant allergy to perfection, I am still quite reluctant when basses fly by slightly over-inflated. But there are a few who have mastered the double game of knocking out perfectly produced tracks that stand the ravages of time without getting tired.

Morphology have been part of this group since their very first releases on Zyntax Motorcity in the early 2010s. And my good friend Vertical67 with his label Vortex Traks was lucky enough to get some of their great pieces a few years ago.

Also part of the immediate vicinity are Mechatronica, who have set a well-guarded milestone in Electro when they released their “I Am Mensch” 12 “inch by Zeta Reticula and Helga Neuer.

Marco Bernardi is one of my absolute favorites next to D’Marc Cantu (who for once does not appear here). His efforts to produce club tracks in which he explores the rhythmic fringes, exposes us to dystopias and at the same time puts us into a deep trance, are unparalleled.

And from that point it gets dirty again with circulating, endless loops of drooling acid by Boris Divider, Isabella and Clatterbox. Including the title track of the Murder-Capital full length masterpiece by Gesloten Cirkel “Submit-X”.

TRACKLIST:

Tentacle Loot #24 | Titch Thomas

“[…] music for humans and others with formidable frontal cortexes.”

Noviellion (Discogs User)

The Titch Thomas Tape Trax had a constant spot on my hard drive for quite some time, a recurring companion for stimulating my frontal cortex, until the latter finally formulated a comparatively simple thought: Where that comes from, there must be more!

Lo and behold, at Titch’s Bandcamp a Pandorian can is just waiting to be opened with a handful of old IDM spells to be brought to life. If you look over the quickly put together album covers, you come across well-known ingredients from Acid, IDM and Braindance hold together by a very special cement called Talent. Unforgettable melodies twist out of the creaky goo. The rhythm section always acts on the verge of physical feasibility and these acid sequences work hard on prophecies of an approaching Apocalypse.

It’s been a bit quiet since his split EP on the beloved Mindcolormusic label, but his Facebook profile gives some hope for continuation. Until then, I would advise you to throw a few voluntary coins into his Bandcan: Perhaps just one or the other battered 303 has to be replaced to make him continue his journey 😉

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!

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