Breaking Up With Music [album stream]
Mashups. You guys like ‘em? I can’t decide. I thought I hated them, but I happen to really enjoy the work of Brooklyn’s Jon Shina, a guy who makes music “for the love of it, and not for anything else.” Admirable. He’s got a few releases on his Bandcamp (all of which are free for download, by the way), and for some reason I end up really grooving with them. Most of this has to do with the fact that it seems like we have similar tastes in music, or at least the tastes we had when we were both five or ten years younger. Maybe the title of the album, Breaking Up With Music, is interesting in this way: is this our last real hurrah with the music that appears in these mixes? Is it finally time to start moving on? Or have we already moved on? These are questions that Shina is proposing to me here by sending in this little record — heartbreakingly sad questions I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with. But here we are. And, of course, it’s probably not even as personal as I’m describing. I wonder if a lot of you might feel the same way after listening.
So these tracks combine music from the likes of Radiohead, The Books, The Microphones, The Rolling Stones, MF DOOM, Jaques Dutronc, Dr. Octagon, and others. Sometimes the samples are cut and warped just enough to be slightly out of neuron-recognition reach but still at the very least familiar. I know I’ve heard that piano refrain in “For Josh,” but from where? Of course, trying to figure things like this out is half the fun of making your way through Breaking Up With Music. I don’t really want to spend too much time defending why Breaking up with Music is great. It’s just great. Nostalgia and stuff. Whatever. This just feels good. It makes me miss the music that I already forgot that I missed.
• John Shina: http://jonshina.bandcamp.com
South South Million
Fearful symmetry. Eerie calm. In their video for “Blue Hoshanna,” Detroit ambient-electronica duo South South Million (which features two members of Zoos of Berlin) hover through a heavily fogged and coldly cluttered mise-en-scène — much of it shot in the repurposed auto-parts factory where they practice and record — drawn to an all-reflective monolith, locking in: half-face-to-half-face-to-half-face-to-half-face. Ghostly shadows feeling across frosted glass, Escher-ian hallucinations and an uneasy dawn’s gossamer glow upon curious crime scene investigations with Q-tips and elegant white gloves. Director John Anderson Beavers’ mirror theme fits the backstory for our two drifting crooners nicely; Trevor Naud and Daniel I. Clark have been collaborating musically for more than a dozen years, so it’s no surprise if their minds have melded irreversibly. (I’ve yet to encounter a singing pair whose voices fuse more audibly-indecipherable unto/into one another as these two).
South South Million’s Wind Hand Caught In The Door is out now on Triple Down.
“Alone Together #6” reads the sleeve of this, the final entry in the first series of 7-inch records put together by the intriguing and young L.A.-based label Emerald Cocoon. Each of these little slabs of wax comes packaged in some nice, consistently-themed artwork and features the words “Mastered by Pete Swanson” on them, attributes which make for an easy sell in their own right. But the music, of course, has been the real strength of these, so far including contributions from Christina Carter, Ashley Paul, Yek Koo, MHFS, and Pete Swanson. The latest entry comes via guitar/synth-swirler Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and was delayed a bit due to test pressing issues. But now that the discs have been received and are ready for shipment, there’s no better time than the present to visit the amazing video companion for “Faceless Kiss” right here on the Chocolate Grinder.
With psychedelic colors softly exploding from the serene scenery in Sabrina Ratté’s beautiful visuals, this is yet another nice example of the classic reach for that perfect synthesis of organic and electronic elements. If “Faceless Kiss” stands apart for a particular reason, it’s because of sheer volume. And I don’t even necessarily mean “loudness” here (although full-crankage seems to be the way to do this thing) as much as I do, you know, volume, as in the way JCL’s ocean of distorted bliss is such a fully immersive and all-enveloping experience. This is also the first “Alone Together” 7-inch I’ve heard in the series that has a really tangible pop connection, with its gliding melodies acting as the focal point while the ambient underbelly balloons the track out to sky-splitting potential, opening up to the heavens and beyond.
Guest Mix: Heatsick
How We Relate to the Body
Heatsick’s version of dance music may sound unrefined, but it’s actually intentional. Armed with just a Casio keyboard and an effect pedal, Berlin-based artist and musician Steven Warwick (Birds of Delay, Birds of Prey, Hungover Breakfast) purposefully foregrounds the sort of technically naive, charmingly rudimentary aspects of early electronic pop, proto-industrial, and Chicago deep house. By virtue of this raw, draft-like approach, Heatsick’s music evinces a narrative continuity to house and disco while also shifting laterally toward the dance scenes of the 100% silky under-underground.
It is in this sense that the music on Déviation enacts both its release’s title and the title of Heatsick’s debut album from last year, Intersex: his music occupies a liminal space in which the mind-numbing, linear qualities of dance music meet the perpetually in-flux characteristics of the so-called experimental communities. Listening to Deviation, then, assists not only in blurring reified categories — in the musical, social, and psychological senses — but also in creating movements both horizontal (via loops) and vertical (via layering) that pierce through the mind-body construction so often associated with dance music.
Heatsick generously created this mix for TMT, the first in a new series of guest mixes from artists we love. Check out a short interview with Heatsick, followed by his mix below. And be sure to pick up Déviation, out this week on the amazing PAN label.
Your early recordings were pretty noisy. What led you to the aesthetic shift in Dubbed Sunshine? What is it about beats and loops that attracts you to dance music?
I have always had liked dance music, and have listened to it when I was making my earlier recordings. I just made it more explicit on Dubbed Sunshine and thereon. I was thinking about how a record such as E2-E4 came out on an ambient/experimental background yet became one of the blueprints for Balearic, and how the music of, say, Richard Maxfield from the 50s could still sound so contemporary and have quite some similarities with electronic dance music. Also, since I moved to Berlin, I would go out to more club nights. The atmosphere was very nice; friends would be DJing, and I was interested in how people are willing to dance to ambient music very late in the night, and also the focus is away from watching someone perform. I liked how the music would change very slightly over a period of time, which you wouldn’t notice at first, a bit like like minimal classical music. Also, I really enjoy dancing to music and hearing it in a loud environment. I started to try and imitate musically the sound most DJ’s mix tracks.
I have drum pads on a keyboard and thought that I could loop them, as I liked the sound of them. They reminded me of some of the early house mixes that I would listen to. I would literally walk around the street thinking of dance tracks that I would make, and then one day I just decided to actually do it. I felt encouraged by the ramshackle nature of these early tracks, that I could also try that.
What are your thoughts on the general embrace of dance music in the so-called experimental communities?
I guess I have partly answered this in the previous question. For me, I don’t think it’s that radical a leap. Both musics are concerned with textures and repetition and can be both long form. I certainly know some dance people who listen to a lot of dance music, so I don’t see why that shouldn’t be the other way round. I have several influences in my music such as Latin and dancehall, as well as non-musical sources from what I am reading or watching also.
Fidelity seems to be a major component in these worlds. What is the role of fidelity in your music?
I record in a professional studio and like to sound as clear as I can with what I have. Obviously using a Casio has some semiotic, but it’s what I had and I think the drums sound really good. I have friends with 808s who were really impressed with how it sounds. I also use acoustic percussion, bass, guitar, horns, and recently a drum machine to get the sound a bit fuller. It is a project in flux, and it is getting slowly more expansive.
What’s the meaning behind the title Déviation?
It comes from when I was in Paris and in a van, just going round and around in a loop trying to find a parking space. I thought it was funny afterwards, as I make loop-based music and was looking at the relationship of circulation in the city. Paris is obviously also a city heavily redeveloped in the 19th century by Haussmann, and I was thinking about structured experience in the city, from its architecture when traveling through. With Hausmann, it was to show off the glory of the Empire and also to prevent something like the Paris Commune from happening again with the wide boulevards. I liked also the similarity to the English word “deviation,” making it playful, a temporary detour.
Does “C’était Un Rendez-vous” have anything to do with Claude Lelouch?
Yes, it is a direct reference. I love that film. I wanted to make it sound like I was driving around the city commenting on what I saw, projecting onto a cityscape, via a film.
How important is it to you for the audience to understand the concepts behind your music?
It’s nice when people pick up on them, but it’s also fine if they also like it on a musical level or something to have on in their spare time. I was dancing to “Dance Dance Dance” by Chic for a long time before thinking about what they were singing about. It functions fine without having to “get” something.
Can you tell us about your mix?
It’s a mix of music that I am currently listening to. The kind of mix that I would DJ out and also some stuff that I would listen to at home. Guess the end is quite self-explanatory.
[00:00] Iueke - “Tape 1” (Antinote)
[01:44] Jam City - “How We Relate to the Body” (Nightslugs)
[05:44] Simoncino - “Dreams” (L.I.E.S)
[13:00] Heatsick - “Convergence” (Rush Hour)
[16:45] Jah Shaka Bongo Dub (Jah Shaka Music)
[19:35] D.I.E - “R U Married” (M.A.P)
[22:36] The Other People Place - “Let Me Be” (Warp)
[26:37] Sensate Focus - “X1” (Sensate Focus)
[29:47] Yello - “Of Course I’m Lying” (Mercury)
[32:30] Malcolm Mclaren - “Madame Butterfly” (Virgin)
[38:34] Projekt:PM - “When the Voices Come” (Guidance)
[41:58] Willie Burns - “Key Horizon” (L.I.E.S)
[46:03] Heatsick - “No Fixed Address” (PAN)
[49:06] Walter Wanderley - “Capoeira” (A&M)
[52:08] Julius Eastman - “Gay Guerilla” (New World)
[52:52] Bill Kouligas - “Alternate Change 1” (EN/OF)
[54:08] David Behrman - “Leapday Night- Scene 2” (Lovely Music)
[55:44] Ben Vida - “zizzlerz” (PAN)
[57:42] Amyl Nitrate - “Rule Britannia” (Jubilee)
Sam Prekop of The Sea and Cake has written several songs for a film titled PAVILION, the debut feature by director Tim Sutton (who had previously worked with Prekop on the video for The Sea and Cake’s “Weekend”). We shared a couple songs, “The Eve” and “Arizona,” back in March for the film’s SXSW premiere, but now PAVILION is having its New York premiere this Thursday at BAM, and we have been graciously asked to premiere the film’s title theme. It’s certainly short, but it’s wavering keyboard, sighing vocals, and stretched-out harmonies would seem to perfectly complement the film’s “mesmerizing imagery of hot summer bike rides and cool lakebound dives.” Check out the track here:
Like the SXSW premiere, the screening this Thursday will be followed by a performance from Sam Prekop and Archer Preweitt, who will be playing tracks from the soundtrack and select Sea and Cake songs. There will also be a Q&A with Tim Sutton. It all starts at 7 PM, as part of the BAMcinemaFest. Plan your life accordingly. Purchase tickets here, and check out the film’s trailer here:
Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland
“Stalker 5, NJ, 2012”
The last two (1, 2) blurbs we posted about Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland were of (I think) fantastic tracks that I can now barely (half-)remember (hypnagogically, etc.), since the duo almost immediately took them down after posting. In fact, it happened earlier this year too with a track posted on SoundCloud.
But as much as we seem to be stalking Blunt and Copeland, perhaps they have been watching us all along. Yesterday, the duo posted the fifth installment in their “Stalker” series, and it’s the longest of the bunch. While the first several videos — each of which feature the same song — seemed to set the scene with static shots (the first of Copeland, the second of Blunt, the third of Blunt and a gun, and the fourth of an unknown cityscape), the latest stalker video reveals not only the time (2012) and place (New Jersey) of the story, but also the stalkee, who is apparently chilling on the rooftop above a convenience store next to a fair ride.
But what I wonder is: Does Blunt still have that gun?