Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Feature: Dusty Grooves

Greetings and felicitations, children of technology. Welcome to the first installment of Dusty Grooves, a short-format column based around the contents of my actual (read, vinyl) record collection and the interesting bits within. Some of these releases will be current, many will not. However, to kick this off I present to you a current release, the latest installment in the Zero G Sounds catalog, Esquina's First Corner.

Released yesterday, June 23rd, the two sides of this tech-house record put forth an interesting story. The original track, on the A-side, is a nighttime walk through a deserted warehouse in which our bass-hearted protagonist is continuously startled by an array of tiny phantoms, from white noise bursts, acid squelches and the ever-present clicks and clacks. It is dark, imperative and cut with just enough of sexy vibe to keep you locked in. Atmosphere is key in this track and any club or DJ with a good enough sound system will relish the interplay Esquina creates between sound and space.

Handing things over to the remixers, the B-side serves up its own interpretation of events in a more musically verbose fashion. Both remixes fill in the spaces of the original track, which lends a more complete feel to the production but may limit mixing options. Ruoho Ruotsi creates a bubbling, shimmery dub that slowly builds to a delay-laden climax before dropping out into nothingness. Wisely choosing not to make things too dense, Ruotsi gives the bass a secondary role that kowtows to more active mids and highs. While this fosters an interesting sonic environment, it may detract from the success of this otherwise great remix in an actual club setting.

For those still unsatisfied by either the Esquina or Ruotsi tracks there is still hope; and oh what hope it is. Agnes' dub (track B1) sneaks in with a wispy intro and quickly comes out swinging. This remix is solid gold. It combines all the positive traits of the original with a more active bassline and fuller atmospheric elements. Sweeping pads fill out the upper ends nicely but don't detract from the drive and allure of the kick and bass. This is house music for a basement party in the International Space Station. It is deep, decidedly lush and modern. Don't be surprised if you start seeing this on the lists of many top DJs this year.

It is rare to find a single that serves up three diverse tracks that are all of such high quality. Even though the Ruotsi track may not be perfect, it definitely holds it's own against legions of similar tracks constantly being released. As such, this record is a must have for any tech-house aficionado. As a bonus to you non-vinyl folk this may soon be available on beatport along with the rest of the Zero G catalog.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Anthrax - Anthrology

Let's be honest for a minute. If the brainchild and lead singer of your band gets arrested for breaking into Yankee stadium, you must be a very talented band. That qualifier alone puts Anthrax in a league of their own - a thrash band that stoners love like older Queens of the Stone Age, and wankers love like Strativarius. A posthardcore band with lyrics like "I hear your momma calling you, you better stand and face the truth boy."


Then, they collaborated with Public Enemy on Bring the Noize. In 1991, preceding race riots in LA and the start of repeated suicide bombings in the middle east, Anthrax briefly toured with Public Enemy and played to polar opposite crowds with a bone-crushing joint-track at the end. The shows were some of the worst either band reported playing, though both were excited to have made the trip together.

Also featured on the Anthrology album is a cover of French metalheads Trust's song Antisocial. Originally recorded in 1989, there's a reason you've never heard of Trust. This is bad.

Do yourself a favor and start with Fistful of Metal and work your way up until John Bush leaves the band. Joey Belladonna is the man.

Also, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath has the sexiest outro of all songs, of all time. The influences do not end. Really, listen to it sometime. Tons of bands who got their start in the 90's stole one riff or another from this track. Be All End All is also flipping sweet - and on Belladonna's second to last album with Anthrax.

Lab, the retail store in Allston, MA is redoing their walls. Stop in for a look at how much more awesome it could possibly be. If you're looking for Jess Rozek's killer eggplant parmesan pasta, she's no longer in Allston. Who knows where she could be?

Next: Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spooky Love-In

While this may not be news to any NIN or Peter Murphy fan out there, I have been too intrigued by this video lately to stay silent about it. Apparently, back in 2006 when a reunited Bauhaus was touring with NIN there was a series of cooperative radio performances done as a creative exercise for the bands, as well as a bonus for uber-fans. Most of these songs have found their way onto YouTube, but one in particular sticks out for its bizarro appeal.

It is a reimagining of the NIN song "Reptile" from 1994's The Downward Spiral. Simply shifting this song into a stripped-down version without the drilling percussion and guitar tracks of the original would be unique enough for most. Adding the masterful, if not occasionally puzzling, vocal styling of Peter Murphy to the mix yields a very fresh take on one of the best songs in the NIN catalog. Some of the commentators decry Peter's theatrical vibrato and uber-spooky delivery. However, I admire his personal style, including his unusual choices in melodic progressions.

All in all, I think it's a great success as a reworking with the only weak point being the corny "haunted" outro. But enough yammering, check it out for yourself:

If you like Peter's voice you can catch up with him this June as he undertakes his first tour in a few years. I'll certainly be at the Boston date.
Should NIN tickle your fancy, I'll be at the Aug 8th show in Worcester, tickets are on sale, if not already sold out, right now.

Monday, April 28, 2008

K is for Kompressor

In honor of ROFLCon this past weekend I am posting a primer on the back catalog of a former internet superstar who is the alter ego of a current internet superstar. This is, of course, the mighty Kompressor.

At the start of the new millennium, a jackbooted, alien mask-wearing German, Kompressor (aka. Andreas K) came to show the world the true might of the synthesizer. Firing his propaganda over several types of media, Andreas would not rest until all knew the greatness of Kompressor and his comprehensive educational program covering hygeine, penmanship, lawn care, rabbits, fire, vitamins and more. Each new album showed more progress, but by 2004 it was obvious the message was getting played out and it was time for everyone to use what they have learned and get on with their lives.

Finally calling it quits in 2006, Kompressor left the world a sadder and ultimately uncrushed place. Swearing to return to a new project at some point, he revealed his true identity to Drew of Toothpaste for Dinner fame. While easily duped fans may have been sad to learn that Kompressor was not a true German industrial powerhouse, but rather a dude from Ohio, they at least held out hope that future projects could be as funny. As of yet, no further projects in the vein of Kompressor have surfaced. However, Drew has recently made all of the original Kompressor albums, plus an instrumental album, available on Amazon MP3 for darn fair prices. Seeing as the original CD's are quite rare now (even ebay rarely yields any copies) this could be your best chance to experience the somewhat perplexing glory that is Kompressor. Below is a quick album-by-album primer to get you started on your digital shopping spree.

Released in 2001 this is the first widely available Kompressor album. World Domination established who Kompressor is (German), what he is about (crushing, not dancing, etc) and any number of other informative messages. While not the strongest of the albums, it certainly has tracks that stand well on their own.

K is for Kompressor
. This lays down the basis for the Kompresor project and introduces the signature, faux German style you will grow to know and love.

Kompressor Does Not Dance. Another expository piece detailing one angry German's dislike of the (then) contemporary rave scene. This is one of the most often quoted Kompressor tracks and easily the first "hit" Kompressor enjoyed.

Destroy Mass Media. The only song I know of about fish gaining a financial windfall and rising up against the vapid entertainment found in some corners of the internet.

2002's Crush Television takes the best points of World Domination and stretches them out to an entire album's worth of songs. Nearly every track on this release is a musical and lyrical step up. This album contains some of the best typical Kompressor tracks as well as the most successful departure from his usual style.

Vitamins Are Good. Easily one of the most informative Kompressor tracks ever, this is an enlightening romp through the world of nutrition. Nutrition has rarely sounded this exciting.

Vogel und Reptilian.
A haunting dirge about taxonomy, this is a stylistic departure, albeit a brilliant one. This is unquestionably my favorite Kompressor track as it perfectly balances the dark ambiance with grin-inducing lyrics.

The Girl From Ipanema. Combining jazz and industrial is no easy task, but this may be the perfect union. It is now the only thing I can hear in my head when I am exposed to any other version of the original jazz standard. All covers should be this good.

Discipline, released in 2004, would mark the end of the run. Although not abandoning the project until 2006, it was obvious this would be the last full CD. This release contains the best production quality of all Kompressor material. It remains more accessible than the past albums, but retains the aggressive side that started it all. While it was dissapointing to see the project end, at least it finished strong rather than parody itself into oblivion as so many internet fads are wont to do.

Music Industry.
A track near and dear to me, this is as applicable today as it was four years ago. Lyrically, it's one of the best works of the project.

You Need Services. Nerdcore and landscaping are unlikely bedfellows, clearly Drew got them both staggeringly drunk and the resulting hook-up worked out splendidly.

Crushing in Progress. Music for future police on the beat. No doubt this playing constantly inside Robocop's helmet.

Well, there it is. Hopefully you've found something of interest. Thanks for reading all the way down there. As a reward, here's a link to the, um, interesting cover of Daler Mehdni's Tunak Tunak Tun.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Show Review: Grand Buffet, Indefinite Article and B. Dolan at Harper’s Ferry. 04/15/2008

Some shows are well promoted and evenly matched to the usual crowd the headling act draws. This was not one of those shows. A whopping 25 people, not including band members, crammed themselves into the 350 capacity Harper’s Ferry in Allston, MA and proceeded to reap the benefits of one of the most intimate encounters they will ever get with two alternative hip-hop luminaries (and one generic funk-hop act). I got there early, expecting a crowd and while those expectations were dashed upon the rocks, at least I got my pick of any barstool while I waited for the first act.

Simply jumping on stage, donning a disfiguring mask and pressing play, B Dolan leapt into action despite the paltry showing. The scarred and stretched visage belied the flawlessly polished rhyme delivered with unimpeachable flow. There has got to be something to be said for a performer who can deliver a rap about Joan of Arc getting off with a dildo carved from the one true cross and not come off as a total joke. Keeping the “crowd” going with a handy routine of filthy jokes , Dolan segued into his spoken word piece Still Electric and was instantly rooted in my mind as an artist of the highest caliber.

While B. Dolan could have performed for two hours and remained amazing, the fates conspired to give the Indefinite Article something like two weeks of stage time. At one point their keyboard player was riffing out using Dance of the Sugar plum fairies as a base. Musician’s Hell has found its new house band. Lucky for us, Grand Buffet was here to make it all better.

Grand Buffet are some of the biggest kids you will ever meet. Mind you, one of these kids will drink you under the table, but they have an air of childlike exuberance that is refreshingly genuine. Despite a turnout that would have had some performers trying to lynch the promoters, Jackson and Jarrod brought out their best. Opening with the classic “Start Smoking”, Grand Buffet reminded everyone why they’ve been successful enough to quit their day jobs, go on a full European tour and make music on their own time.

The set progressed with the usual Grand Buffet formula; play a few tracks, seemingly at random, and then get wildly tangential. This included, but was not limited to: barking like a dog, kicking at flying bits of lint, impersonations of various celebrities and/or Muppets, doing yoga and the ever-present freestyle diversions about whatever happened to occupy their minds at the time. Jackson took the bulk of the rapping, but Jarrod stepped in from time to time with his more street centered style that plays well off Jackson’s esoteric verses.

All too soon, Jarrod announced that this was the final track and the boys launched into Cream Cheese Money, one of the non-storyline tracks on their latest release, King Vision. Reminding everyone that the rest of the city now had a crippling disease along the lines of “shit-dick” as punishment for not attending the show, Jarrod bid goodnight and stepped off the stage. Jackson remained, sitting pensively and spouting the occasional one-liner until finally bowing to reality and announcing that he had CD’s for sale.

Useful links for further learning:

-Grand Buffet Myspace

-Grand Buffet Seek to Know (live)

-B. Dolan Myspace

-B. Dolan Skycircle Blues (live in Cambridge)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Don McLean - American Pie

Though primarily known for that absurdly annoying title track, Don McLean's album American Pie has quite a few gems. He is a great lyricist, and while some of his lyrics are cliche today, in the 70's they were just right.

"Moonlight used to bathe the contours of your face while chestnut hair fell all around the pillow case
And the fragrance of your flowers rests beneath my head
A sympathy bouquet left with the love that's dead"

The highlight however is the tongue-in-ear-via-cheek "Everybody Loves Me Baby" in which Don McLean laments his failed attempts to bed one of many women on his to-do list.

The only thing I like more than this song is an eggplant parm sub from Il Giardino. If you're ever near Fenway, holy shit that's some good eats. $5.50 for a huge, warm, gooey slice of vegetarian delight.

Next post: Anthrax: Anthrology