Music Top 10s for 2009

2009 music picks

I don’t usually do this kind of thing because it’s largely meaningless but a friend asked me to round up some favourites for the year so here they are. I have to say I’ve been very uninspired by a lot of new music in general this year hence the fact that a lot of this is retro sounding or backward looking and this list is by no means definitive, I’ll probably think of a load more tomorrow.

10 favourite new records for the year 2009 (in no particular order)
Oasis – Falling Down (Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind Remix) 12″ (Big Brother)
The Slew – 100% LP (Ninja Tune)
Mr Chop – Lightworlds EP (Now Again)
The Simonsound – Reversed Engineering LP (CDR)
Antipop Consortium – Flourescent Black LP (Big Dada)
2econd Class Citizen – A World Without LP (Equinox)
Proof of Concept – X As In Box (reprise)
King Cannibal – Let The Night Roar LP (Ninja Tune)
Juice Aleem – Jerusalaam Come LP (Big Dada)

6 reissues / compilations of the year 2009:
Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind Vol.2 CD (Platipus)
The Beastie Boys – Audio commentaries for Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty mp3 (Grand Royal)
Studio G – G Spots LP (Trunk)
John Hill – 6 Moons of Jupiter LP (Finders Keepers)
Foetus – Limb CD/DVD (Ectopic Ent.)

10 favourite DJ Mixes for the year 2009:
DJ Moneyshot – Beastie beats – Check Your Head sources
DJ Moneyshot – Rotten to the Core ’77 – John Lydon’s Capital Radio show recreated
DJ Cheeba – Solid Steel radio part 3
The Simonsound – Have You Heard?
Skywave Systems – A Boards of Canada mix
Grohs – Plundering Zizek
Lazy – Mind The Gap (KLF soundscape)
Zoon van Snook – Solid Steel mix April 09
The Broken Keys – Engine Oil & Elbow Grease mix
Passing Time with Lazy Pt.2 (Orb megamix)

Posted in Music, Radio, Records. | 1 Comment |

‘Brother’ John Rydgren

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On my new EP, The Shape Of Things That Hum, there’s a track called ‘Brother John’, a tribute of sorts to a remarkable man with a remarkable voice. He appears in the form of samples taken from records, air check recordings and station idents for his LOVE radio show. Most will never have heard of him but I’ve been collecting his recordings for many years now and thought this would be the ideal time to write up a proper introduction for those wanting to know about the man behind the voice.

I’m not sure how I first found the work of John Rydgren, it may have been via Otis Fodder and his 365 days project or maybe the single vinyl bootleg of his ‘Silhouette Segments’ album that began circulating around 2003. I can’t remember what drew me to it, it may have been the psychedelic cover (I’m a big advocate of judging a record by it’s cover).

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Anyway, as soon as I heard that baritone voice, the hip but sometimes dark delivery and the selection of music he chose to recite over, I was hooked. Many compare Rydgren to Ken Nordine and they certainly do have a lot in common. The crucial difference is that Rydgren was a man with a message and that message was spreading the word of the Lord. “Oh, he was a preacher”, I hear you cry, well yes – he was a Pastor and the American Lutheran Church‘s Director of Radio/TV and Film – but not in the clichéd fire and brimstone sense that we picture when one thinks of such things.

Rydgren – who also went by the moniker Brother John – was much subtler than that and chose to integrate God’s word into his radio shows, intertwined with subjects that the youth of the day could relate to. Sex, drugs, rock music, fashion, cars, it all went in with a Lord’s eye view on each and every one. The creation of the world was turned into a psychedelic trip with allusions to heavy rock and growing weed, a girl with thigh length boots he was checking out suddenly gets him thinking about who had made the girl – “quite a design”.

As well as weekly radio shows Rydgren was broadcast to Vietnam for the troops, intermingling his playlists of rock and pop of the day (Stones, Beatles, Byrds) with short segments he’d written and narrated. Over easy listening backing tracks he planted seeds for the listener to think about the relevance of god within their everyday lives. It was never heavy-handed or overblown and certainly never preachy. His messages were usually slipped in after setting a scene a teenager could relate to, bringing the church into the present day as opposed to the stuffy idea of it being something your parents foisted upon you. One of his often used motifs was, ‘they say…” before going off to quote an example of a commonly held belief before turning it on it’s head.

He was always playful but deadly serious, especially when talking about the Lord, almost to the point of morbidity on occasion as his voice dropped lower and lower in register. He was also very anti-drugs, regularly interviewing musicians of the day and quizzing them on the need for weed or LSD to gain enlightenment. As a Pastor for the Lutheran church he tirelessly spread the word in the form of spoken word radio plays and stories ranging from Moses to Elijah to Xmas tales of Theodore and the Angel, most of which he wrote and co-narrated.

All of his records are promo only radio station issues or were sold at church meetings and, as a result, are incredibly hard to come by. Originals, if you can find them, fetch a high price. Ridiculously rare interview 7″s for radio shows occasionally turn up, flexi discs, religious tales, Xmas stories and sampler records of radio inserts are among the unknown quantity of recordings he made over the years. The best of these is the double album ‘Silhouette Segments’ – literally segments from his radio show ‘Silhouette’. This includes the ‘Dark Side of the Flower – a meditation on the decline of the hippy movement over what sounds like a lost David Axelrod track.

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‘Worlds of Youth’ and ‘Contata Of New Life’ are two similar releases and it’s this last one that Rydgren is ironically best known for, although it’s by default and not actually for any of his vocal work. An internet debate has raged for years over where DJ Premier sampled the main hook from for Nas‘Nas Is Like’ and it appears that crate diggers have honed in on the backing track to one of Brother John’s pieces on the aforementioned album. The track is question, ‘What Child Is This?’, has John reciting over a version of ‘Greensleeves’ and Premier himself has said that the label of the record he sampled was pink with a fish on it, the same as the Lutheran church record label. (side note: my copy of Contata has plain black labels with silver lettering and is 12″ sized, i’ve never seen a Lutheran 10″ record but I’m sure they exist). Where John took this version of Greensleeves from is still open to debate but it’s a shame that most internet searches of his name will bring this up rather than any detailed information of his life and work.

Sadly John suffered a stroke whilst on air in 1982. Over time, with therapy, he was able to recover somewhat but had to relearn to read and speak from third grade level. He returned to work in the 80’s for a few years but died in 1988 aged 56. I was lucky enough to track down John’s son, Shane, and obtain his permission to use the voice of his father and am very excited to be able to release such a song knowing it has the blessing of a family member.

You can hear the track Brother John, as well as the rest of the EP, here:

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The Shape Of Things That Hum EP out today

Shape logo & stickerWell, it’s part 2 of the trilogy that hits the web today – not the streets as projected because of a manufacturing cock up that saw the 12″ run pressed on lightweight vinyl. The physical format will now be available in shops from Jan 11th 2010. But, for those that can’t wait there is a place to order it and it should arrive before Xmas if you hurry – the Ninja shop has copies and will be open until Friday the 19th.

For a fiver you get a 5 track 12″ housed in a full colour inner sleeve, wrapped in an A2 double-sided poster cover, all held together by a snugly fitting plastic sleeve. Not only that, you get a code that lets you download all 5 tracks PLUS 3 remixes by Mr P (aka ex-Fooder PC) of ‘All Covered In Darkness’ – not a bad deal by any means. Alternatively, if you only do the digital thing then the 8 track package is available from all good download stores from today.

Lots going on this week; as well as the 12″, last week’s ‘Now, Look & Listen’ AV mix with DK there’s the first part of my Warp mix – Blech 20.1 dropping on Tuesday, a mixed guide to the new EP’s contents and a second Warp mix that are both nearly finished. I also have a very special post scheduled about one of the artists I sampled on the new record. You wait for ages and then 6 come along at once…

Shape 12" + inners

DJ Food & DK – Now, Look & Listen 78 minute AV set

It is with great pleasure that DK and I finally bring you months of hard work with a mix comprising parts of our Video Turntablism sets from the last 12 months. Massive thanks to DK for really pulling out all the stops to get this thing realised from all the material we have, it couldn’t have happened without him.

[vimeo width=”635″ height=”480″]http://www.vimeo.com/8073574[/vimeo]

Capsule 01

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Capsule is a new venture from Rob Lynam – the man who bought you online design magazine Multilink. It comes in the form of a slim A5 perfect bound volume packed with some of the finest illustrators around. Artists like France’s Duster, the UK’s Doug Bowden (aka Pandayoghurt) and my good self all have space to showcase designs past and present in full colour.

Rob plans to do prints of some of the selections at some point and if you want to sample the kind of exquisite taste he has then take a look through the free online magazines on his Multilink site.

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Posted in Art, Books, Openmind designs. | 1 Comment |

Warp 20 (London)

Warp 20

Had great fun last night at the Coronet for Warp’s 20th birthday bash. Nice to see lots of old faces (and T shirts) and be part of the label’s celebrations considering I’m not actually signed to them. The Blech 20 set seemed to go down well even though I’d had little time to prepare anything but I’ll be doing a proper recording this week which will pop up somewhere in time for Xmas.

Posted in Event, Gigs. | No Comments |

The Tapeworm

TapewormThe Tapeworm is a new micro cottage industry-styled record label with a difference. It shouldn’t really be called a record label at all because the only format they release music on is cassette. Run by an anonymous group of ‘worms’, they make limited editions runs between 250 and 350 copies of each release featuring the likes of Philip Jeck, Derek Jarman, Simon Fisher Turner, Geir Jenssen and more.

The music ranges from ambient to installation pieces, live sets, interviews, noise or solo piano improv. I have a copy of the Van Patterson Quartet release – reportedly a lost live psyche rock jam – and let me tell you, it’s the real deal. As tiny examples of how music used to be formatted they are building into a lovely little set of black and white wonders, some also featuring the music and artwork of Savage Pencil.

More info here

Posted in Music, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

The Tapeworm

TapewormThe Tapeworm is a new micro cottage industry-styled record label with a difference. It shouldn’t really be called a record label at all because the only format they release music on is cassette. Run by an anonymous group of ‘worms’, they make limited editions runs between 250 and 350 copies of each release featuring the likes of Philip Jeck, Derek Jarman, Simon Fisher Turner, Geir Jenssen and more.

The music ranges from ambient to installation pieces, live sets, interviews, noise or solo piano improv. I have a copy of the Van Patterson Quartet release – reportedly a lost live psyche rock jam – and let me tell you, it’s the real deal. As tiny examples of how music used to be formatted they are building into a lovely little set of black and white wonders, some also featuring the music and artwork of Savage Pencil.

More info here

Posted in Music, Oddities. | No Comments |

Strictly in Kiev and the DJ’s dilemma

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Sorry for the atrocious pun in the title but if I didn’t do it then someone else would have. I was in Kiev over the weekend and was overwhelmed by the sheer enthusiasm of the crowd there. As soon as I walked into the club I was asked for my signature including someone who had printed out the cover of the last EP on a sheet of paper for me to sign. The Ukrainians aren’t backwards in coming forward and I was passed many notes during my set as well as being asked to play tracks so I thought I’d show a few of them here.

I’ve been collecting these notes for years and plan to show more of them on here at some stage, they deserve their own little section really as some of them are brilliant. These show the different expectations of the crowd and also what they expect of ‘DJ Food’ – something I’m mindful of but which can change depending on territory and my mood. For instance, I don’t play much DJ Food material in my DJ sets, something I’ve been aware of for years and that will be rectified in 2010. But first on to the messages, the first one I got was:

IDM

Interesting take on what DJ Food is, I have nothing against IDM but I don’t play much of the genre unless the author is literally referring to it as Intelligent Dance Music – which could mean a number of things to many people. I started my set with some no-brainer breaks and beats to get things going without being too clever before I settled into a groove so I can take that one on the chin.

Next I got this from a girl who looked very exasperated when I told her ‘no’:

Kal

As much as I love the record (and I know others do) most of it just isn’t dancefloor material and the couple of tracks that are don’t have the sort of production that can compete with current music. I’m going to remix a couple of bits and beef up the production for my sets at some point though but I’ve played stuff before and it’s home listening headphone music for the most part. Tricky 3/4, 6/8 and 7/8 time signatures, spoken word and 80 bpm or lower tempos aren’t the kind of thing to set clubs on fire. I’ve always been a DJ before I’ve been a producer, subscribing to the Bambaataa, Flash, Double Dee & Steinski and Coldcut schools of DJing. This means mixing musical styles as well as beats, tempos and trying to add a twist of humour occasionally into the proceedings.

The more I play east of Europe I find that part of the audience is still expecting the DJ Food and Ninja sound of old in my sets -ie Trip Hop, breaks, Hip Hop and jazz-based sampled music. This forms a very small part of my sets at the moment as little of anything that falls into this category excites me and the bits that do are not always dancefloor friendly. I played very little electronic stuff in this set but maybe I should have tested the waters a bit more. Shortly after that I got this:

Hip hop

I really appreciate that people add please on the end, it really makes a world of difference. I got this just as I’d gone into drum and bass so I wasn’t about to about-face and revert to something else as jumping all over the place stylistically ruins the groove and pace of the night. So, the drum and bass went down pretty well with a portion of the crowd, especially with the obvious classics. Shortly after I finished with the d n b and the same guy pleaded with me again for Hip Hop, I got this note from him:

DnB

Well, he went home happy in the end but I suppose it looks like I’m not really playing what people expect! I chatted to several people after the set, who were all very complimentary, before heading off to the hotel for the night. The next day I had the opportunity to look around the city a little with my host Bogdan before heading off to Budapest. The bridge railings with all the padlocks and messages is a place lovers go to ‘secure’ their love for one another although apparently there have been several people jumping to their deaths as well! The house with the strange sculptures on the roof is the Secretary to the President’s house, originally built by an architect years before the revolution on land it was thought was un-buildable on.

Posted in DJ Food, Film, Gigs, Music. | 7 Comments |

TC • ‘Where’s My Money?’ Caspa / DJ Moneyshot re-edit

If you look to the sidebar on the right of the site you’ll see a tab called Out Box. If you click on it, the default gig listings will be replaced by tunes I’m playing out at the moment. New entry at the top of the list is a re-edit by Solid Steel affiliate, Cardiff mixtape king and probably my favourite DJ at the moment – Moneyshot. He’s put together an absolutely floor-smashing 110 bpm re-edit of Caspa’s remix of TC’s ‘Where’s My Money?’ – a re-edit of a remix, where will it all end?

Get it here

Posted in Music, Solid Steel. | No Comments |

Kraftwerk on Stylophone & Bee Gees Rhythm Machine

Absolutely my last Kraftwerk post for a while (I promise). Because ‘The Catalogue’ is released today, here’s a couple of YouTubers attempting to play one of my favorite tracks – Pocket Calculator – on the original instruments used. Mattel Bee Gees Rhythm Machine? I want one!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwIOsrVXy8s[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07vtwBMZf-w[/youtube]

Posted in Kraftwerk, Music, Oddities, Toys. | 4 Comments | Tags:

Kraftwerk Kover Kollection vol.6

KKK6 cover

Another Kraftwerk post (I’ll have to give them their own category) and time for the sixth installment of my Kraftwerk Kover Kollection to coincide with the final release of the remastered Catalogue boxset on Monday.
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It’s up for a week, streaming via the Solid Steel site and I’ll be making it available via Soundcloud when the next show replaces it.

For those unfamiliar, I do these hour long mixes every year or so featuring cover versions, sample-heavy tracks or songs that obviously owe a debt to the Dusseldorf quartet. I had the idea to string these sources together several years ago and the more I dug, the more I found, the amount of material out there is mind boggling. Not so strange for such an influential band who rarely release new material, I suppose fans have to fill the gap somehow. For anyone wanting to play catch-up, the first 4 are available here with full artwork and tracklistings and I’ll be putting 5 up with 6 next week too.

At a festival in Warsaw the other week, DK and I had the pleasure of seeing ex-Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos play. I was surprised at how much of the set was old material mixed with his solo stuff. His stage show pales compared to his former bands’ but he had full visuals and 5.1 sound all mixed live and hearing a new take on classic tracks was well worth the time we took to check him out.