Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Posted by Hello

If you're not going to the races (why not?) on Melbourne Cup Day but feel you'd be remiss in your duties if you didn't go out and drink, it could be worth considering the following; particularly if you're not averse to nodding your head, possibly even tapping your foot, while doing the above-mentioned.

Roger Yamaha from Turntablelab is being brought out for something insufferably dull like a Vice party (on the strength of his metal mixtape), but he's playing the next day with the Cut Copy DJs, Friends Electric, and me. Monk One says 'In a perfect world, we would all be able to hop a solar-powered interplanetary space-yacht to go skiing on Venus, sniffing microfiltered poppy resin and dancing with pneumatic holo-bot strippers as he plays', so probably he's pretty good.

APPLEJACK | St Jerome's | Cup Day 2nd November | 12pm - 12am
Bring the whole family, BBQ served all day. Entry is free.
Of all the new releases I've come across in the last couple of weeks by far and away the standout has to be Alex Attias' Mustang album on Compost. Peshay's LP Jammin, the excellent Unclassics compilation and Dimitri and Joey Negro's new set for BBE are all great and will hopefully be the subject of entries in the not too distant future, but I always had a soft spot for that lovable Venitian stoner. While I was in London his records on Visions, especially as Freedom Soundz, were right up my alley - usually because of the way he programmed his drums, admittedly; there being something in his snare patterns I really, really enjoyed mixing with - they were always the focus of a track no matter what else was going on or who was singing on it and I liked that. His Beatless albums on Ubiquity were also nice, so Attias's solo album was much anticipated by this scribe, and christ is it awful.

I will give him the first track.
Help Me is a killer. The production faultless, Colonel Red's vocal superlative. Proper, hugely funky future soul that really moves. The rest of the album, save one or two tracks with those nice drums of his; an appalling morass of overwrought, nigh hysterical bombast, heavily chopped orchestral samples flying everywhere and hideous operatic pretensions that bring to mind that big blue alien type Bruce Willis goes to hear sing in the Sixth Sense. It's a bad joke, but funnier still was chatting to a friend who works for their distro out here, describing how earnestly the folks at Compost are hyping this. Apparently this is where the label is going. Having had their distributor (another one!) close on them they're changing direction, and that direction is harder, darker and 'more cinematic'.

If people hear Going Home and assume it's what nu jazz is about (there's even a track called Future Jazz, like it's some sort of definitive stamp on the genre) then God spare all who fly its flag.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

For sure it's worth getting all het up about Talib and Mos' new solo records and their respective so-soness, but where's the blog love (or hate) for Ali Shaheed Muhammad's LP? Okay not every track is a killer, (why, when a producer not known for churning them out wants to make a club banger, do they have to announce the track is a Club Banger with the same tired shouty chorus on an otherwise fine song? Why not just do it with a really funky beat? And while I'm at it, those synthesised strings! Gaaaaaahh!!)
but I'm liking this a lot. From the opening chord of Lord Can I Have This' it had me. Lucy Pearl didn't shake by any stretch and I was not expecting this to be great - so nice to have the back of mind hope it could be proved right. Beats on tracks like Elevated Orange (chorus aside) and Family are so nice you can almost forget the album has Honey Child on it.

Thanks guy

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Posted by Hello

I pretty much dismissed Spacek outright based on desultory live performances they'd delivered in support of Mos Def and (I think it was) Rae and Christian, or Stereolab or someone, in cavernous London venues. I remember thinking while watching them there were probably some good songs buried beneath the muddy squelch of sub-bass and non-existant middle or top end sonics in their charmless big-venue live sound, but there seemed to be a lot of acts peddling dubby downtempo with a soulful crooner out front at the time, and they didn't seem overly good at it.
Having been knocked sideways by Steve Spacek's vocals on a couple of recent records, I may have to revisit this opinion - his track on Troubleman's Time Out Of Mind and an excellent SA RA remix just picked up on Sound in Colour.
His appearance on the Troubleman album is a no-brainer, a fabulous cut on an album that's very close to my favourite of the year (Jazzy Jeff's too, apparently), a wistful torch-song replete with swooning strings and shoop-sha-doops over a lurching, tripping-down-stairs on the third kick-snare-rim beat that sucker-punches me every time.
Then I heard the SA RA mix, wandering into Central Station on a lunchbreak to find J'nett unpacking the first boxes of a new shipment with the sort of timing that always seems to happen to everyone else.
It's quite similar to the Troubleman track; Steve's woozy, smoked-out vocal riding a bulbous, subterannian bassline clattering around and straining your subs while these ridiculously summery muted horns bring in the chorus. The beat is super-nice, but Steve's vocals, on both tracks, are awesome; so similar yet there's a detachment in his delivery on Without You and a contrasting closeness on Simply So that both devastate in such intriguingly subtle ways. Why has it taken so long to hear him working with producers like this?

And then there's this. Lazy folks and sales sheets have a point with the Outkast comparisons, there being more than an odd The Love Below moment. Unconditional love for this record right now, and for some reason released in Australia a month before the rest of the world too! If Plant Life don't blow up something's gone terribly awry; their album is a balm for trouble brows and no mistake.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

If you've come across any Australian blogs in the past week you'll be aware we had a federal election last Saturday, and the bad guys won. Again.
There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth on the left about how this cold-hearted, lying economic rationalist could have swept to power so convincingly one more time.
Though trying to hold onto some sembance of hope we all saw it coming, but a lot of folks, like my mate Hammy here, are taking it pretty hard.
The thing is though, even though there was a country-wide swing to the right, it's worth remembering that it wasn't that big of a swing. Not really. A look at how the votes were split indicates the number of people voting Liberal and Labor is actually a lot closer than we're led to believe, so I don't think there's a reason to pack your bags for New Zealand just yet.
Also, as Doug at Serepax pointed out, Family First - the Christian Right party that insists it's just a coincidence all their candidates are Christian and who look like holding the balance of power in the Senate - are certainly homophobic single-parent bashers, but might not be quite as rabid as feared. Still, the fact that, as Hammy notes, we're now paying for Labor's cowardly allocation of preferences to thwart the Greens, selling their faithful down the river in the process, doesn't change.
Interesting to see the pull-out posters in the paper earlier this week, showing maps of how each electroate voted in bright blue and red. The predictability was incredible - all the suburbs you think of as working class were won by Labor, all the upper-class suburbs won by the Libs.
I'll get back to posting about music soon. It's just that I don't know if what I've got to say about the new Talib Kweli is that interesting.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Going it alone this Saturday night with Mr Jigga at hot new city club VQ (disclosure - haven't actually been there yet, deemed hot by my editor). As well as the Jigga, Jase Knipe is also playing so come by and say hello if you're in town; should be a fun night.

In other news, just found out Stereolab have cancelled their national tour. Something to do with the festival in Brisbane that was bringing them out. A bummer.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Especially right now there are far more important things to worry about, but sometimes you do wonder. Was made aware of this through clippings we get at work from media monitors.

B-to-the-E, Budweiser's newest entry in a long line of innovative beers by
Anheuser-Busch, is a distinctive new product for contemporary adults who are looking for the latest beverage to keep up with their highly social and fast-paced lifestyles.
As the industry leader, Anheuser-Busch is the first major brewer to infuse beer with caffeine, guarana and ginseng. Well balanced with select hops and aromas of blackberry, raspberry and cherry, BE will offer a lightly sweet and tart taste - a great mixture of beer and new flavors for adults to enjoy when out with friends at a club or at a bar after work with colleagues.
Brewed at Anheuser-Busch's Houston brewery, BE will be packaged in a sleek, slim-line 10-ounce can with stylish graphics. Pending formal government approval, BE will be launched in multiple phases throughout the year in markets across the country.
"Contemporary adults thirst for variety and what's new, and our B-to-the-E delivers a beverage that is true to their lifestyles and range of drinking occasions," said Pat McGauley, senior director of New Products and High End Brands, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "Our new B-to-the-E provides caffeine, guarana, and ginseng in a great tasting beer."
BE will be priced slightly higher than Budweiser and marketed through local print
advertising, point-of-sale materials, bar and club promotions and online
programs. BE will contain 6.6 percent alcohol by volume.
"We created a great new drink that's outside the boundaries of the taste adults would expect from a traditional beer," said Nathaniel Davis, brewmaster, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "With B-to-the-E, we've come up with a beer that has a taste with a 'wow' factor at the finish."

B to the E. Contemporary adults. Wow factor.
A thought: Why not, if beer sales are on such a downward turn in the States, start selling drinks for people who don't drink beer? Or do they really think introducing a beer that will appeal to a total of nobody who drinks beer is a sure-fire winner?
These people should be too ashamed to draw their paycheck.

Through this article I also learned that not only are Anheuser-Busch the biggest brewers in the US, they're also one of the largest theme park operators. Their chain includes Seaworld, Sesame Place and Busch Gardens. And here was me to whom the thought that Duff Gardens was based on reality never occurred.
There are two Busch Gardens theme parks, but having looked at their site I'd have to recommend Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. The Howl-O-Scream ride looks hot.

There's a lot hot in Florida right now. Poor buggers living in that part of the world have had a pretty rough go of it due to the weather lately, which has has brought up some thoughts around global warming, and who's likeliest to actually initiate meaningful action.

In meaningful terms*, those with most to lose from the increasing effects of global warming are insurance companies. The storms in Florida made this clear and if you look into it you'll find most insurance companies have been making provisions for this for a long time. In fact if there were still any doubt global warming is a reality it can be found in the research done by insurers and underwriters. Global warming has these corporations as worried as youd hope and we're already seeing them hit with much higher premiums for natural disasters in areas their research shows will likely be most affected. But what's more worrying to these monolithic firms than large-scale natural disasters? The possibility we'll catch on, and just stop insuring. In all likelihood, people who live in areas likely to be badly affected by extreme weather will scale down. Like folks in countries such as the Philippines, they'll construct housing from cheaper materials and may choose to personally own less in the way of consumer goods. May. It's unlikely, but people may start to reassess what's valuable to them if their house has been swept away.

Anyway. Fantasizing about the collapse of the insurance industry through consumer disinterest and shared appliances is perhaps indicative of th fact I possibly don't spend enough time looking for the latest beverage to keep up with my highly social and fast-paced lifestyle.

* terms meaningful to those who make decisions for us and base those on fiscal concerns, as opposed, say, lives lost. They're not my terms, don't hate me.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Took the week's pile of dance singles for review to fill in for holidaying regular singles reviewer (one 'Forest Bump'), a marginally more interesting experience than you'd bargain.
Standing in elevator flicking through what it was I'd actually picked up, the first time I'd given thought to this cheaply packaged format in some time. Pouting young airbrushed RnB princess, flick, pouting young RnB airbrushed prince, flick, awful-looking trance from someone with a name like Darude, flick, Brio from Rio ..? flick, surly bloke holding a gun, flick, ooh, the new Pete Rock single, wonder if there are any decent remixeoh.

Posted by Hello not the beatnuts.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Having played basketball in decently competitive leagues in good teams for 15 years I'm aware it's not a sport I'm good at. Like with surfing, which I've been doing my whole life; I have my moments, but they're not exactly many and often. For some reason, especially given how rarely I do it, snowboarding has never given me cause to wonder why I bother. The way you're supposed to move on a snowboard makes inherent sense. Something of a pity, as despite friends and industry hookups who can sort cheap gear and lift passes, it's not by any means a cheap pursuit. Tho it's continued into Spring to be the best season since the last best season anyone can remember, I've been really slack at getting into the mountains this year, but the few days had have been really good, including last Monday's split late arvo decision to drive to Mansfield, crash in a cheap motel and be on the hill first thing for a cloudless, warm day on snow mushy enough to give you confidence to try anything.
First thing and halfway up the chairlift from the carpark, a text message appeared from a friend stuck in workaday Melbourne wondering if I'd noticed the apparent latest trend for using a major supermarket chain's green shopping bags as handbag substitutes. I had.
In an effort to promote their doing something for the environment, supermarkets now sell these sturdy green bags, presumably made from recycled plastic, and are encouraging customers to forgo plastic bags for them. For some reason, this initiative has been an astounding success. Retail chains have tried this thing before, but never has such an initiative been so popular. These bags are on the arms of everyone. Young and old and guys too, Coles' bright green shopping bags are suddenly the must-have accessory. Huh? For some reason I find this more baffling than other trends, as its germination has no logic. Why does everyone, and it really does seem to be everyone - was talking to a friend who runs a farm outside Ararat and apparently country folk are even hip to this - feel the need to show the world they're doing their bit for the environment by using a gigantic supermarket chain's plastic bag substitute to carry their stuff, even when not going to or from the supermarket? Or does it have nothing whatsoever to do with showing you care, being just a trend like any other? Any thoughts?
This is made more interesting due to the federal government rejecting a proposal which would have required supermarkets charge a nominal fee for plastic bags, despite polling showing the majority of us would accept the charge with no problem. It's amazing environmental issues have no mandate on either side of politics. Actually it's not amazing at all - while GDP continues to be the barometer of a country's wellbeing, conservation initiatives will never be seen to have anything other than a negative impact on our economy (and therefore on the country's general health).
So yeah, it was a good day, and driving back from the mountain in a friend's brand new second hand car (excuse to take the day off work being he needed to 'break it in') listening to DJ Rels Theme for a Broken Soul, towards the end of the album I couldn't help but feel the only reason we hadn't put something else on was duty to how we felt about Madlib. I should at least be enthusiastic about this record, but for some reason I'm not feeling it, and feeling guilty, in a silly way, for saying so. Are you allowed to not be that into something Madlib does? I haven't checked the rules lately, but I don't think you are.
Like most people who like music I'm fascinated by Madlib and was surprised and pleased and felt fuzzy and warm towards the first Rels 12", buying it off an equally excited Jean-Claude without really listening to it when he pressed it on me in If Music last year.
For fans of his who haven't been exposed to broken beat, his Rels tracks might be a bit of a puzzle, but for someone who DJs this music more than anything else at the moment there aren't many tracks I'd play to a dancefloor. Wait, there aren't any tracks I'd play to a dancefloor. Folks in London was stoked Madlib was doing broken beat when Brownswood dropped, the record even trading a nice line in jazz-beard myth due to the title, referring to Gilles Peterson's old house, allegedly now unlived in but used solely to house his collection. Stones Throw getting the record distributed by Goya - a brave and noble (but slightly silly, you'd think if you'd dealt with them) move - at least ensured it would be noticed by the right target audience, but if most folks who bought Brownswood were asked, they'd probly admit they too wouldn't have if it'd been just another Goya white label. Once the excitement wore off it dropped out of people's charts pretty quick - like me I don't think many other djs would've once put it in their record bag since the first week after buying it, and it's the standout track on the album.
Riding one groove is no bad thing, but to these ears it's not much of a groove.
I feel far too undergunned to get into a debate about whether Madlib's all that and don't even think it's worth starting, but suffice it to say this is not his most rewarding release.
Feel very similar thoughts towards Diplo's album Florida which I've only recently caught up with. He's another producer who seems to come at hip hop from a different sensibility to a lot of other producers, and he works hard to make things sound like it. The first track proper of the album is built around the same string sample as used by Jazzanova on Another New Day (anybody?) and that's nice, and Martina Topley Bird is on it too and that's nice also, but I just haven't found it engaging as a whole, and I can't help feel more than a little churlish for not finding more to like from these well-regarded undie heroes. I'm the first to admit I'm one of those people who follow trends, and if a reviewer or magazine I respect says someone is great then I want to believe they are, and with that in mind I really want to support these releases. It's just they're not much chop. Diplo especially (with the exception of the single, which is really hot, and the track with P.E.A.C.E on it,) coming off like Kieren Hebden or Manitoba on an uninspired day, especially odd/disappointing if you've heard one of his mixtapes, which don't give me pause to think anything negative, relievingly living up to all the hype (I reckon).
Am interviewing Diplo next week - wonder if I'll have the balls to get his opinion on any of this.


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