Music

I hope you enjoy the mix I recorded for October 2014.

After speaking with a close friend and former colleague, with whom I used to edit a certain magazine’s music section, I came to the realization that I’m not as interested in DJing for gigs these days. Instead, I find myself increasingly drawn to towards DJing for kicks. We discussed some well-known outlets for such efforts, most notably the Back to Mine and DJ-Kicks compilations.

With all of that in mind, and with a healthy amount of new and exciting music at my fingertips, I embarked on a true “I-just-want-to-hear-how-these-tunes-sound-together-because-I-dig-them” sort of DJ mix. The result is “Fall Back,” a mix filled with all of the melancholy and angst inspired by autumn and Daylight Savings Time. We will all ‘fall back’ in a just a few weeks and I hope you’re listening along when that happens.

Listen to “Fall Back” on SoundCloud.

You can also find a few of my mixes on Mixcloud.

Bonobo has a creative, interactive website in place to drum up awareness for a new EP, which comes out in December 2014. It’s called Flashlight and the title single from the EP is quite good. You should listen to it.

I’ve been a fan of Bonobo’s music for over a decade and can still remember getting my copy of Animal Magic and playing it over and over again. Nearly every playlist I create includes a few Bonobo tunes. And I love witnessing a room’s reaction to those tunes. Green’s music has a sense of urgent melancholy that collides with layered instrumentation to gently push feet to the dancefloor, or at minimum to send heads bobbing and knowing glances around the room as if to confirm, ‘yeah, this is really good’.

Bonobo’s Simon Green has been touring for nearly two years in support of his previous album, The North Borders. To be sure, the live show has become a beast of its own, spawning a well-worth-the-money tour package. I was lucky enough to catch the tour in Chicago last year. Very impressive.

That said, this three-song EP is a brutal teaser. Considering the breadth of The North Borders, I imagine Bonobo’s next full-length project will shatter expectations. Nonetheless, it’s exciting to find Green back in the studio. True to form, he provides a subtle, yet brilliant push of the envelope, weaving synths and breakbeats into his seemingly effortless blend of house, funk, and bass-heavy jazz.

Waiting for that next full-length is the difficult part, but I’m pre-ordering the Flashlight EP to tide me over.

In the meantime, Simon Green is on a DJ tour in North America and will close the curtain on The North Borders show with a sold-out final stop at Alexandra Palace on 11/28 (with Gold Panda and DarkStar).

Oh jeez, the afterparty looks amazing, too. Tickets here.

Groundislava’s video for “Girl Behind the Glass” made the rounds to wide acclaim and I would be remiss if I didn’t guide you towards his appearance at Primary this evening.

His new concept album, Frozen Throne, (Friends of Friends) is about finding true love in a cyberspace-obsessed future (hence the game-themed music video that had everyone talking) and we’re all quite excited about it.

Groundislava, part of the LA-based Wedidit Collective, is appearing with Distal, one of my favorite, genre-bending producers, and the Them Flavors DJs.

Primary is located at 5 W Division St (between State St & Astor St) in Chicago, IL. Cover is $8.

One thing I can say about this Aphex Twin that I could not about previous efforts, and that few on the internet seem to have mentioned explicitly, is that Syro is, by far, his most accessible record to date. Warp didn’t have the Bleep superstore when his last album was released. The masses hadn’t yet been offered today’s cornucopia of streaming options, e.g., Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, iTunes). At least not in the ‘on-every-device-I own’ capacity that we currently enjoy.

Due to the explosion of all manner of internet content, it is difficult to speak about Syro, and Aphex Twin, in the ‘this guy is so underground’ and ‘I can’t believe you haven’t heard about Aphex Twin’ way that once prevailed. I mean, Resident Advisor has a great review, but you’d expect that, right?

What you wouldn’t expect is an NPR article about Syro. And Twittter and Facebook and all the other channels…so many likes, so many retweets.

Also, a Fader interview and a Rolling Stone interview.

It is with all of this in mind that I say “Congratulations!” to Mr. James and the Aphex Twin moniker, on the release of something special that nearly everybody on the planet can easily get. Any fear of stores and online repositories ‘running out’ of this album is ridiculous. The moment physical and digital copies were available, Syro was making the rounds on the multitude of streaming music services.

And that’s a true feat for someone that has been in the game for so long. Top outlets are giving it top ratings and everyone can join in on the fun that so many of us techno geezers were keen on 20 years ago.

I’m a longtime fan of John Tejada’s work. I visit his Bandcamp page and label’s website. And I continue to jam his remix of the Field’s “No. No…” (Kompakt) and his dublab live set from this summer.

All this to highlight the fact that news of his vinyl-only EP on Barbara Preisinger’s Slices of Life label was received with significant joy. A bit of applause even.

Times Like This EP - Record stickerSlices of Life logo

The 12″ EP, entitled Times Like This, contains three tracks. “Times Like This” contains a slightly-too-repetitive vocal sample and is perfect for a big-room techno set. This one recalled a few similar tunes, such as Green Velvet’s “La La Land” or the Dubfire remix of “Transit Time” by John Selway and Christian Smith, both of which mix quite well with it.

On “A Slice From The Past”, the title really says it all: Classic 90’s techno sounds of the Detroit/Germany variety (which seem to be all the rage these days, no?), stitched together with some steady, but not boring, deep house elements. This is a sublime tune perfect for a 5am loft party set.

“From A Slice To A Draw” is my favorite of the three. Tejada employs just the right amount of slick percussion and tech-house sensibility to beckon folks to the dancefloor. Again, easy to mix, steady without being boring, and straddling the big-room and loft environs.

You can listen to snippets of the EP via the Slices of Life SoundCloud page.

If you’re in Los Angeles for Halloween, check out John Tejada with Doc Martin, Daniel Bell, and Douglas J. McCarthy at Sublevel.

One last thing…keep your eyes and ears open for news about Tejada’s upcoming album, expected sometime in early 2015.

Say what you will about Black Lips, they are still a formidable live act and Chicago fans are lucky enough to see them in not one, but two venues across the city. The boys from Atlanta will be at the Logan Square Auditorium for a sold out show tonight with The King Khan & BBQ Show and Heavy Times. Tomorrow (Sat. Sep. 20), they will be at Thalia Hall with The King Khan & BBQ Show, NE-HI, and The Get Drunk DJs for an 8 PM show (Doors at 7 PM). Get tix for the Thalia Hall show.
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