September 30, 2007

The Remix

Much discussion has been made of “the remix.” Commonplace as it is, the remix by some is not considered to be an art form, seemingly just an easy rehash of an original. Remixes can be, in their own right, sometimes better than original, or at the bear minimum accentuate those parts of the song that really get you. While some have certainly bastardized the remix (putting a cheesy euro-dance beat to a top 40 song is NOT a remix), others have done what they should do: make the song better.

Which brings me to the most influential and original remixer: Tom Moulton. Though not a DJ, Tom Moulton created the remix during the height of the 1970s disco scene, accentuating disco singles’ greatest aspects in order to keep the party going and groove locked. Before Moulton, disco music was relegated to songs that followed the standard pop formula, being short and punchy and ending in around 3 minutes. Tom Moulton changed this, remixing songs to a structure that laid the groundwork for dance music today. Moulton’s mixes saw songs as taffy, stretching and elongating them so that their crescendos built and built and climaxed just at the right moment, much like dance music functions today.

“A Tom Moulton Mix” is a compilation of Moulton’s greatest remixes. Packed with soulful disco and funk, the compilation illustrates the importance of Moulton’s mixes, containing remixed cuts from disco/funk stalwarts such as Isaac Hayes and Grace Jones. Rather than being 3 minutes in length, the cuts on “A Tom Moulton Mix” are on average 6 minutes, much like electronic music is today. Tom Moulton’s mixes don’t explode but burn slowly, with the musical components stretched and stretched until the groove is completely locked. One of the compilation’s cuts, Orlando Riva Sound's “Moonboots,” is a perfect example, a reverb-heavy track with an infectious wah-wah guitar loop and steady drumbeat, punctuated by sparse vocals.

Ultimately, what Moulton proved more than anything was that the remix does in fact have artistic and often very influential merit, recreating a song and often making it more palpable for a wider audience. The remix has come a long way today, meaning something different for everyone that does one. For certain dance music producers, a remix can sometimes just mean a simple addition or subtraction of a musical component. For others, such as Aphex Twin, the remix is a complete recreation, often lacking any trace to the original thereby becoming a brand new creation. Yet the ultimate goal of the remix is to make a piece of music public, allowing the music community to share and rethink it with their unique and individual visions in mind. This increases the exchange of ideas and thought between musicians, allowing greater creativity among the music community.

Moonboots - Orlando Riva Sound

More, More, More - Andrea True Connection

September 28, 2007


If I can be a good blogger I think I'll post some hip-hop tracks that I've got kicking around every Friday. I'm not going to try to give too much context about the artists themselves (I'll leave that to the "hip-hop academics"), but here's the story around the origin of the files I'll be posting... Junior year of high school I would listen to the consistently great hip-hop shows on KZSU. I got to hear MF DOOM in the year 2001! This was at the same time that mp3 was blowing up, so I'd scribble down the name of whatever tracks I liked and look for them on Napster. The great thing about Napster was that you'd search for someone and end up with all sorts of random tracks that they were on. So now I've got a small library of hip-hop tracks, which I'll start sharing here.

Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles - Part of My Life: This track is hard... I wouldn't mess with Freddie, on the mic or otherwise.

Jigmastas ft. Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, Mr Complex & Shabaam Sahdeeq - Lyrical Fluctuation: Time to shed a tear for Rawkus. The fact that this sort of thing could be kicked out pretty casually says a lot.

September 27, 2007

LIVE REVIEW: Giant Skyflower Band, Hemlock Tavern, 9/20/07

Today we depart from Teutonic masters of techno and return to our other darlings here at Hey! Student -- California hippies! No, I kid actually, these guys aren't hippies, although you might think otherwise given that the band in question is called Giant Skyflower Band, and the title of one of the tracks I'm posting is "Rainbows and Dreams (With Worms Singing)." Even though for the most part I have nothing against real hippies, I'm happy to report that Giant Skyflower Band are beer-swilling folk just like you and I. ("But Dan, couldn't hippies drink beer too?" Quiet, you!)

Giant Skyflower Band are led by Skygreen Leopards impresario Glenn Donaldson, who plays guitar and sings. One other guitarist, a bassist and a drum machine fill out the lineup. This live setup was really effective, and I'll explain why. Like almost all new rock music that I enjoy, they drench their songs in waves of distortion. Playing along to a drum machine was a good choice, because it allowed enough space for the guitars and bass to play off of each other. The drum machine was never that prominent, so I'm glad they didn't have to coerce some dude into playing the drums with a sad face.

The tracks that I've posted from their album are quiet, but in concert the two guitars easily filled the room. GSB (as I shall call them) draw on the same sound that inspires the Black Lips and Sic Alps, slowed down to a pace that provokes head-nodding rather than pogoing. Here's an excellent video of the band that was shot at Hemlock Tavern a couple of months ago.

Giant Skyflower Band - Rainbows and Dreams (With Worms Singing) [Blood of the Sunworm LP, 2007]

Giant Skyflower Band - The Archangel (Hurray for the Beast) [Blood of the Sunworm LP, 2007]

September 26, 2007

More Kompakt (Supermayer)

I can't help myself. Supermayer is Michael Mayer and Superpitcher, two of the bigger acts on Kompakt. (Mayer did found the label...) I'm a huge fan of "Please Sunrise," which features some hypnotic keys/horn interplay, along with synths, duh. The remix of "Two of Us," which is actually taken from Kompakt Total 8, is the most danceable track on that album. Still, can anyone explain the cover art for the Supermayer album, pictured above? Lord knows I'm all for positive images of German culture, but it looks like MM is bugging out on roids, while Superpitcher just seems confused. Halp?

Supermayer - Please Sunrise [Save The World, 2007]

Supermayer - Saturndays [Save The World, 2007]

Supermayer - Two Of Us (Geiger Remix) [Kompakt Total 8, 2007]

September 25, 2007

Kompakt Total 8

Another fall, another Kompakt Total compilation for the masses. Although is it possible that Köln's finest have fallen out of favor with "the masses"? Indeed, according to this Dusted review of Total 8, a Phork-led "Kompakt backlash" is underway, although the meager 3 hits on evidence there suggest otherwise. Like the Dusted guy, I'm still way down.

There are less dancefloor-ready tracks this time around, but that's not to say the compilation isn't strong. The sound is a little slower to develop and a little darker. Here, Superpitcher = slow, Nightcats = dark. (Shouldn't that be Nachtkatzen?) These two songs come together with precision like a proper Kompakt jam should.

Superpitcher - Rainy Nights in Georgia [Kompakt Total 8, 2007]

Nightcats - Inside [Kompakt Total 8, 2007]

September 19, 2007

Before there was Gun Club, there was Gun Club (Gun Club, duh)

the gun club

Gun Club is the name of San Francisco's best club night, objectively speaking. But it's also the name of a great band from L.A. led by the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce. The tracks I'm sharing here are from a 1987 album, and for me the sound gets everything right about the 80's: focus on the singer, reverb all over the place, crazy guitar solos. I guess this is kind of like Echo and the Bunnymen if they played at a more frenetic pace. This is Gun Club's third album, so they'd mellowed out a bit from their earlier recordings. (Fire of Love, their first album, is worth checking out.)

The Gun Club - Bill Bailey [Mother Juno LP, 1987]

The Gun Club - Lupita Screams [Mother Juno LP, 1987]

September 17, 2007

I'm not gonna stop it (Planningtorock)

XLR8R magazine is useful for their capsule reviews, extraordinarily pretty ads and a mix CD that comes with every issue. It's a good value for $20 a year, and you can keep up with the latest hipster trends as reported to you direct from Haight Street Ess Eff. At any rate, the mix CDs are sometimes full of mediocre beats, but as I was snoozing through one of them when I heard some violins that reminded me of Aphex Twin, followed by an incantation: "Changes... all the pain in me... but I don't mind it... I need it." I was jolted awake, listened to the song over and it didn't lose anything. So Planningtorock is a keeper, despite the cringeworthy name. It makes me happy that someone wrote a song called "Think That Thought." If Brecht did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him?

Planningtorock - Changes [Planningtorock LP]

Planningtorock - Think That Thought [Planningtorock LP]

September 11, 2007

Why the Tussle show wasn't a waste (T.I.T.S.)

T.I.T.S. are a band from San Francisco that's never going to get played on the radio. I guess that's more rock for the rest of us, because they played one of the most epic sets I've seen in a long time, one of those shows where as soon as the band starts playing the sound just hits you. Elbo Room sounded great that night, until that clown from Tussle started mucking about I guess. T.I.T.S. take the best elements of the two "post-" movements (that would be "-rock" and "-punk"), keeping the one stylistic choice that unifies the two--PLAYING SUPER LOUD. Mogwai and Ikara Colt are two quick reference points, but at times it sounded like they'd picked up where Liars left off with They Were Wrong So We Drowned. I've only seen Liars in concert once, and it was on that tour. I was literally scared at that show, and T.I.T.S. have that same kind of wild energy going for them. (Unlike Liars, though, every member of the band is technically proficient at their instrument, especially the drummer.) Anyway their recorded stuff doesn't capture the sound of their live show, so check them out if you get a chance!

T.I.T.S. - Mystery