wall & poster, richmond, melbourne
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Samba Soul (mp3) by N.A.S.A. Featuring Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Qbert. From The Spirit of Apollo, 2008. The richest modern hiphop imaginable.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
DJ Koze has a real name and it is Stefan Kozalla. He's from Hamburg (here's his studio) which is a point of difference in itself within the context of German electroid music. That is: not Cologne or Frankfurt or Berlin. To me he's the Ricardo Villalobos of Germany in that mnml is merely the start point for startling explorations into house music. It's as if he's seized on the opportunity to use something bare and skeletal and keep it bare and skeletal but water-coloured with microscopic little flourishes and twirls and curtseys and tiny drills and silent bleeps, distant beeps.
I'd heard the odd tune of his on a few of the Kompakt Total kompiles and he has three albums now but the latest - Reincarnations - is remixes done between 2001 and now and I'm giving you six. Blissblog says he has "atomised" mnml into a "fragrant cloud of texture droplets" and I love that and the atomised thing is true because Koze seems to explode all notions of house music here, like Villalobos does, like Moodyman does, like Kenny Larkin did, not through abstractions and extremities but by actually sticking to the point of house music, sticking to its ideas and its rules, but microscopically attending to those rules and making every note accountable and deeply musical. Thus Koze stays close to the dancefloor, closer than Villalobos, and closer than Kompakt, yet in interviews talks in a humble, detached way of being bemused by the Villalobos idea of playing records at 4pm, 16 hours into a four-day party cycle. Koze says by then the "people are morphing into monsters" and he can't relate to that. He says the German techno tyranny is boring and depressing because it's always the same yet hip-hop, where he came from, DJing at DMC comps in the late 80's, is great because it never leaves him sad and lonely.
In his remixes he bursts other people's house and techno and mnml free from their structures in tiny ways: the Blagger track here is about Chicago with that jack-grunt but Koze's drums are soft-bombs around the jazz chords and the vocal, which is crying and desolate, '88-style: Adonis, Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles. Naked is more your Moodyman idea of layer upon layer upon layer of Prince and super-magnified sounds of a human breathing and, again, Chicago acidhouse right down beneath, submerged. T A P E decreed his incredible and witty, wise re-rub of Matias Aguayo's Minimal as one of the best remixes of 2008, amongst a whole bunch of dubstep. Dans Avec Moi has Dani Siciliano on it and that's crucial because she was Herbert's singer and again has her diamond-life voice recontextualised and re-jazzed and laid totally, beautifully bare like the oldest idea in the world by a master micro-house producer at the absolute top of his game.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I thought I'd add a new segment on vinyl records I've found round the traps for just a couple of dollars. I'm no crate-digger but I do have the odd crate and I have a really disproportionate, emotional relationship with my vinyl and I really enjoy finding funny old records in strange little shops and buying them for loose change.
The cover was ratty on this one but it looked to me when I found it last week that it hadn't been played. $2 for this. Shirley Bassey started making records in 1957. Her biggest hit, Goldfinger, for a Bond movie, was in '67. She was reprised thirty years later by The Propellerheads when Fatboy Slim proved big-beat would chart.
This record was more a humble big-band orchestra-soul thing from 1969, a retreat from Goldfinger even. It has the Broadway song I'll Never Fall In Love Again on it but I kind of like this poignant but strong rainy-day-woman epiphany at the tail of Side A.
This right here from the Observer (UK) is the definitive piece on Michael Jackson. It expands on the changeling nature of the man, which I had begun to think, since he died, would be what he was most remembered for. NOT the music. Although some of the music was great. And some -- Rock With You, Billie Jean, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - was better than great. But I started to think straight away as the pictures of him dead on the trolley near the ambulance filtered in and tmz.com started beaming a live stream of people doing and saying nothing outside the hospital that his real meaning was not these songs but his incredible physical transformations. His willingness to warp his own humanity in very physical ways to reconcile his own neuroses. Peter Conrad in The Observer explores all that and more and I think in the end all the rest except one silver glove lying below a sad and drawn velvet curtain is distraction.
Don't Stop Til' You Get Enough feat Jay Z (mp3): From the Cookin' Soul tribute mixtape, available here.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
In All The Pretty Horses, a 1992 novel by Cormac McCarthy, 16-year-old Texas boy John Grady and his cousin Rawlins ride away to Mexico alone and find themselves breaking wild horses on the 11,000 hectare Hacienda de Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion.
This is the bit where the boys first enter the pen where the wild horses are to handle them and wrestle them and come into that unique contact which inspires so much art...
"The horses were already moving. He took the first one that broke and rolled his loop and forefooted the colt and it hit the ground with a tremendous thump. The other horses flared and bunched and looked up wildly. Before the colt could struggle up John Grady had squatted on its neck and pulled its head up and to one side and was holding the horse by the muzzle with the long bony head pressed against his chest and the hot sweet breath of it flooding up from the dark wells of its nostrils over his face and neck like news from another world...."
"They did not smell like horses. They smelled like what they were, wild animals. He held the horse's face against his chest and he could feel along his inner thighs the blood pumping through the arteries and he could smell the fear and he cupped his hand over the horse's eyes and stroked them and he did not stop talking to the horse at all, speaking in a low steady voice and telling it all that he intended to do and cupping the animal's eyes and stroking the terror out..."
Horse (mp3) by Dirty Three. From the great Horse Stories album, 1996. Phenomenal Melbourne Australia band. Dirt and ecstasy and love masterpiece.
Bandit (mp3) by Neil Young & Crazy Horse. From Greendale. The way the strings rattle is cowboy and pure like Bob Dylan in Blood On The Tracks.
Horse With No Name (mp3) by America. 1972. The ultimate existential cowboy song in which the power and magnitude of the desert engulfs mere human flesh-and-blood so much that the desert becomes a sea. Human form reddens and cracks and dies. Horses are reduced to anonymous carriers; identity is stripped. Dali-esque.
Brokeback Mountain 1 (mp3) by Gustavo Santaolalla. From the soundtrack. Just like All The Pretty Horses, but gay.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Excellent funky, funny 47-minute mix of Beatles' soul covers right here, from DJ Double K's Parkdale Funk Show podcast straight outta Toronto. Normally I avoid things like this. Nothing worse than novelty in music and playing themed songs because of the theme not the song. But the tunes all stand alone here, the blend is wonderful, the humour is tight and just right and it sounds great. Listen especially for Hey Jude (by Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers) and Come Together (by Richard 'Groove' Holmes and Ernie Watts): righteous!
Monday, June 8, 2009
The thing about soul is it's the beginning as well as the end. To a beginner I say of the whole world of soul: start here. To those in trouble I say: use this. To those who have seen it all I say: take one of these.
It was named what it is named for a reason.
Same with jazz and rock and blues. Together they are the four cornerstones but soul is the boss and of course it was begat by other things: Aretha didn't say much truth be told (when she wasn't singing) but she did once say: ..."now there's a plain bare fact, soul came up from gospel and blues, that much you can write down..." yet when pushed she concluded it was music that somehow bought to the surface whatever was happening inside.
James Brown took it back further in time when he said he first danced in order to earn more coins from WW2 serviceman going past in rural south troop-trains: "...I probably had some years-old African beat in my brain.''
Nu-soul is just as good as old-soul. Some of the most soulful music I've heard was made by machines. Soul covers everything: a cook can be soulful, a sporting contest, a sentence, the slope of a particularly gorgeous roof. Rock can be soulful, jazz can and blues can. Everything can if it is done with spirit and truth and meaning.
These are old soul songs from off the track slightly.
Gloria Jones was the B-list soul babe on Motown who did Tainted Love, a massive northern soul hit, in 1964. It's been famously re-done a couple of times since. Then she went off and sung with Marc Bolan and became his girlfriend and then was the driver of the car in which he died. This song was between times, an album cut and vinyl rip from 1973's Share My Love.
Baby Dont'cha Know (I'm Bleeding For You ) (mp3) by Gloria Jones
Bonnie and Sheila I don't know much about but they were from New Orleans and this was originally released in '71 on a seven-inch on King, for whom James Brown recorded. It's a sister-piece to Mr Big Stuff by Jean Knight.
You Keep Me Hanging On (mp3) by Bonnie and Sheila
Finally, Ben E King, the 60's crooner in the way of Percy Sledge who reinvented himself after the heights of Stand By Me and Spanish Harlem with a 1975 comeback-special southern- soul album from which this is the opener. Vinyl rip.
Supernatural Thing Part One (mp3) by Ben E King