“The Ship” and Brian Eno’s 45-year Career

Brian Eno’s music is intuitive and bears all the blue-eyed intellect of its creator. It’s meant for reflection, sometimes wearing a beret, or sometimes strutting, donning blue eyeshadow and feathers, much as Eno’s stage alter ego did in 1972. The music can rock, dissect, and sometimes ascribe to the concept album art-rock paradigm while mostly managing to circumvent the usual attending grandiosity or pomposity. But the music is always beautiful, or thought-provoking, and often both.

Eno’s new album, The Ship, was inspired by the dual disasters of World War I and the Titanic. Thematically, he links together these dual sinking ships — whether plights of principle or luxury vessels — as examples of hubris.

He recently told Uncut that he’d noticed “a pattern that keeps repeating the connection between power and vulnerability — or power and paranoia, shall we say. The Titanic and the First World War both represent a point at which empires had reached a level of hubris and arrogance and confidence that made them think that they could do anything and they would succeed at it…. They all thought they were unsinkable, and they sank.”

The album is organized as a meandering ambient lullaby ending with an anachronistic nod to The Velvet Underground that was recorded over a decade ago. Its first eponymous track is over 21 minutes long, while the next, “Fickle Sun (i)” clocks in around 18 minutes, followed by “Fickle Sun (ii) The Hour is Thin,” a comparably meager two-something minutes long. Finally, “Fickle Sun (iii) I’m Set Free” is a nod to VU’s original “I’m Set Free” Eno originally recorded more than 12 years ago.

The first installment of the “Fickle Sun” triad is a kind of transcendental emergence into ambience that culminates with a curious assortment of snatches of images manufactured by a sort of free-association ghost in the machine poet, as the verses were computer-generated by text fed to Markov Chain Generator software. These text selections, variously, include accounts of Titanic sinking by survivors in lifeboats, pornographic WWI soldier songs, anti-hacking warnings, and other music by Eno.

Read more at Rhapsody.

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Life Lessons from Professor Prince

Prince

Music instigates social, political and cultural change. It is the one true universal language with a sonic boom that resounds across the space and time barriers separating race, place and class. It’s rare an artist can cross boundaries in a similar manner, but Prince was one of the best at single-handedly inciting social change while celebrating sexuality, promoting women in a male-dominated music industry, defying convention, decimating cultural norms and championing controversy.

He shocked and captivated when he sang about female masturbation and puzzled us when he pivoted, intoned like a preacher and talked about God. He strutted around as a cocksure misogynist in Purple Rain before embracing a sort of vulnerability to love through the transcendent heroic journey of his character “The Kid.” And through all his posturing, preaching and preening, Prince taught us valuable life lessons.

Lesson 1: Defy Gender Roles (“If I Was Your Girlfriend”)

Prince was staunchly masculine despite his diminutive frame. He boldly defied gender roles and embraced feminine displays, perhaps a nod to the glam rockers that preceded him, rimming his eyes in coal-black eyeliner, wearing neon green ass-baring pants and fringed tees, draping his torso in layered necklaces, brazenly posing naked against floral backdrops, coyly peeking out from purple feather-tipped fedoras, parading about in the clothing of a Victorian dandy while pursing his lusciously full lips. It was full-throttle gender-bending sex married with sound. Prince’s masculine-meets-feminine look was shocking and inspiring. And damn if you didn’t want to be his girlfriend — or boyfriend.

Read more on Rhapsody.

The Swashbuckling Pirate’s Guide to Record Plunder in LA

I’m a swashbuckling vinyl pirate. I’ve spent years pillaging and plundering record crates in hot pursuit of record booty: ransacking thrift store bins, scouring dusty attics and moldy basements at estate sales, seeking out record shops near and far, hunting swap meets and garage sales. The stranger the location, the better records I’d find. I scored Chipmunk Punk, the new wave offering of Chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore while thrifting my way through obscure Northern California locales: Willits, anyone? I plucked the Richard Simmons’ Reach  from the 25-cent sale bin at Salvation Army in Seattle. Imagine Richard Simmons’ shrill voice imploring you to “Lift it UP” over cheesy ’80s pop. Amazing.

Album © Universal Records

Frolicking through the autumn mist of thrift store dust bunnies, I uncovered Puff the Magic Dragon somewhere on Halsted Street in Chicago. I prized an ASWAD picture disc from the very eclectic selections of a porkpie-hat-wearing dealer at Spitalfields Market in London (I know nothing about the group, but couldn’t resist the purple picture disc prominently featuring ASWAD for the obvious reasons). The first pressing of Dick Dale’s Surfer’s Choice from Long Beach Antiques & Collectibles Market, the red vinyl Japanese pressing of Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets from that legendary San Francisco trip—each record bears a story beyond the narrative or memorabilia of a music album.

Album © Deltone
Album © Deltone

After all these globe trotting record hunts, I’ve settled in Los Angeles, where vinyl is no longer the commodity it once was. Thanks in part to the digital music backlash, record sales have reached their highest point since 1997. I don’t have to jet to Gramaphone in Chicago, Atom Heart in Montréal or Seattle’s Bop Street Records to shop vinyl—countless new retailers are popping up all over Southern California. Here’s my guide to the best new (and old) record shops of LA.

Amoeba Records – Hollywood – 6400 W Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

The original, stalwart behemoth of record retailers, Amoeba is the largest independent music store in the world. The shop originally put several smaller mom-and-pop record stores out of business when it opened in 1990. I like to shop Amoeba if I have a long list of records to buy, but it’s not a place to go hunting for the unknown, as customers aren’t allowed to open plastic wrap or listen to albums before buying.

As the Record Turns – Hollywood – 6727 3/8 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028

Great selection of the classics and the relics: visit As the Record Turns for Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Getz & Gilberto and the like.

Avalon Records. Image © Sara Jayne Crow
Avalon Records. Image © Sara Jayne Crow
Avalon Records. Image © Sara Jayne Crow
Avalon Records. Image © Sara Jayne Crow

Avalon – Highland Park – 106 N Avenue 56, Los Angeles, CA 90042

Avalon opened within the last few months and features a well-curated selection of punk, new wave and eclectic vinyl (first pressings of several hard to find, rare punk records), along with vintage clothing, 45 cases and all sorts of ephemera.

Avalon Records. Image © Sara Jayne Crow
Avalon Records. Image © Sara Jayne Crow

Gimme Gimme – Highland Park – 4628 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90041

Featuring “rock, folk, soul, hip-hop, punk, psych, country, jazz, blues, disco, latin and more,” Gimme Gimme has a broad selection of eclectic finds. Owner Daniel Cook originally opened up shop in New York in 1994 before relocating to Highland Park 2 1/2 years ago.

Gimme Gimme. Image © Sara Jayne Crow

Mono Records – Echo Park – 1805 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026

“Specializing in used and unique vinyl,” Mono Records offers a small but well-curated selection of rare gems.

Mount Analog. Image © Sara Jayne Crow
Mount Analog. Image © Sara Jayne Crow

Mount Analog – Highland Park – 5906 1/2 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042

WOW. Mount Analog has it all: imports, first pressings, new, used, 45s, LPs, collectible box sets, vintage posters, books, postcards, box sets, strange ephemera… this is, quite simply, a music and media mecca. Mount Analog’s leftfield, IDM and techno offerings are especially stellar. After the Sisyphean ascent and descent of your usual record store selection, climbing Mount Analog is about attaining the sonic zenith. Ascension. Nirvana.

Mount Analog. Image © Sara Jayne Crow
Mount Analog. Image © Sara Jayne Crow
Mount Analog. Image © Sara Jayne Crow
Mount Analog. Image © Sara Jayne Crow

Ooga Booga – Downtown – 942 N Broadway #203, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Small downtown boutique featuring rare books, art and vinyl.

Origami – Echo Park – 1816 W Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Shop and record label Origami has an especially organized and choice selection of rare gems. Gems galore.

Permanent – Eagle Rock – 1583 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90041

Stocking both new and used vinyl in various genres, Permanent has locations in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Photo courtesy Permanent Records
Photo courtesy Permanent Records

Poo-Bah – Pasadena – 2636 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91107

Poo-Bah is a boutique shop located near Pasadena Community College with a tasteful and eclectic (but not necessarily extensive) collection of both new and used vinyl.

Rockaway Records – Silverlake – 2395 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Though Rockaway has a great vinyl selection, especially of first pressing, clean psychedelic rock, I usually visit for the collectibles: Family Dog original screenprint posters advertising ’60s and ’70s concerts, autographed Beach Boys memorabilia, even David Bowie “Just a Gigolo” film contact sheets. Rockaway is something of a music museum.

Mount Analog. Image © Sara Jayne Crow.
Mount Analog. Image © Sara Jayne Crow.

Touch Vinyl – West LA – 1646 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Touch Vinyl seems like a good spot for new vinyl in several genres, but hip-hop and electronic music are especially well represented.

Vacation Vinyl – Silverlake – 3815 W Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Hipster Silverlake destination Vacation Vinyl has a good selection of used, fairly priced vinyl, along with a selection of new releases.

Image courtesy Vacation Vinyl
Image courtesy Vacation Vinyl

Wombleton – Highland Park – 5123 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90042

Wombleton trudges far off of the status quo beaten path: you won’t find Britney Spears here, glory be. Featuring original pressings, imports, standard LPs and 45s.

This list is by no means exhaustive. I compiled these selections from personal favorites and those of musician and DJ friends who specialize in crate-digging record hunts. Thanks to Travis Kirschbaum, Emily Griffin, Ian RaikowAndrea LaBarge Mills and Nichole Girard for their help.

See the original post on Collective 310.

Exclusive: Producer Dave Pezzner Talks Mixtapes and Mics Inside of Monkeys

Dave Pezzner

There’s a jovial bent to Dave Pezzner’s demeanor. The Seattle producer possesses a rare brand of affability: the ability to translate a light, slap-happy approach into driving tech-house. Pezzner rocketed to underground popularity as one half of Jacob London (along with Bob Hansen), releasing on squid:recordings, Viva Recordings, and a Hydrogenated Funk EP on Carlos DaSilva’s eatHouse label. T-Mobile commissioned them to create music for a commercial following the release of 2003’s Casual Bingo on record label giant Classic, and they have since released a bevy of soulful sonic gems. Dave currently tours the world on his own, and at times, with the aid of Bob and a talking sock monkey.

In anticipation of a recent set at Montréal’s Mutek Festival, Sara Jayne Crow talked to Dave about Thingamagoops, mixtapes, the Taco Time Fanclub, and, of course, the doctored sock monkey.

Flavorwire: So. Let’s start with the sock monkey.

Dave Pezzner: (Laughs)

FW: You have a sock monkey with a microphone in its butt and red eyes that light up when you talk through it. It’s phenomenal. How was it that the sock monkey came to be part of your performances with Bob Hansen as Jacon London?

DP: Well the sock monkey is strictly for the Jacob London shows. The Pezzner show is not quite as elaborate. When Bob and I decided to perform live for the first time at the Decibel Festival [in Seattle] four years ago, we had about eight months to plan for the performance. We started with brainstorming and coming up with ideas as to how we were going to attack this show, and we started looking online at toys and different things we could bring into the performance that weren’t your typical laptop and MIDI controller live setup.

EP: Something to kinda lighten the mood?

DP: Yeah, yeah… yeah. And so we looked at Thingamagoops. We also looked at voice-changing bullhorns that have a trigger you can pull with different settings that make you sound like a robot when you talk through it.

EP: Kind of like a vocoder?

DP: Yeah. So we found one for like fifteen bucks. One day, [music producer] Matt Corwine came over, and we were talking about our live show and using this bullhorn thing, and Matt said, “I can put audio outputs into this if you want.” And we were like, “Yeah, give it to him!” A couple months later, Matt’s like, “Okay! I’m done! Here it is!” He kept the mic intact and wired it into the anus of the sock monkey! And the bullhorn lit up when you talked into it, so Matt wired the monkey so the eyes light up red when you talk into its butt.

EP: That’s quite a gift (laughing). So you used this contraption for your first live performance at Seattle’s Decibel Fest in 2005? And you had your first solo live performance at Decibel last year, as well, right?

DP: Yeah. I didn’t really do anything different for my solo show. I took the Jacob London template and used it… so I owe a lot of what I do to Bob, as well.

EP: What’s the template?

DP: The framework that’s in Ableton Live. We have it set up in eight tracks that are routed to an array of effects via MIDI controllers. It’s a system Bob and I both worked together to come up with for the last three years. For our first Decibel performance, we hadn’t yet perfected our system… it took a lot of live shows to get it to where the template stays the same, and we can just pull music out and put new music in, and it always works. We take eight tracks and insert them into this shell.

EP: What’s your full setup when you play, aside from the software?

DP: Tonight, it’s really stripped down. There is no sock monkey, and no MPC. I’ve got all my songs broken up into eight tracks, two Beringer BCF 2000 MIDI controllers…

EP: Why those?

DP: The faders are the main attraction. There are eight faders, and there’s eight knobs and 16 buttons. They’re all set up in rows like channel strips, like you’d find on a mixer, and those can be set up to work exactly like a mixer. During live shows, I can trigger a kick drum on one channel, or send the kick drum to an array of different effects, or filter it down.

EP: So you’ve been performing with Bob as Jacob London for a long time. And there was a prior incarnation of Jacob London… is that right?

DP: Vitus Dance!

EP: Yeah! Where did the name come from?

DP: The name St. Vitus Dance is a disease that attacks the nervous system and makes people twitch out. I think we actually looked pretty long and hard to come up with that name. Bob and I met each other in junior high. We’ve been friends since we were 12. In high school, we wanted to start a band. I used to go to his house after school, and we’d mess around with music… We were getting really into this rave sound that was starting to come up: Eon and Church of Ecstasy and all that shit. We’d try to mimic that using his gear… So we’d get the demo done, and I would bring it to my friends over at Taco Time, where I was working, and ask them what they thought. They were like, “It sounds so good!” and I was like, “This is my band!”

EP: How did you go from the Taco Time Fanclub to releasing records?

DP: Well, after high school, we upgraded our equipment a bit. In 1998, Carlos da Silva, who had a record store in Seattle and a label called Eat House, wanted to release a track. The label funding his label gave us a contract which basically said that they were going to own our name, likeness, and everything related to Vitus Dance. We didn’t want them to own our name… it was our first record! We decided that just for that record, we’d change our name, and see how it went. We brainstormed for awhile, and settled on the name Jacob London, who is a music attorney in Seattle. We figured that was a name that was untouchable. We figured, “It’s a music attorney’s name! You can’t own that!”

EP: Did you ever meet the attorney Jacob London?

DP: He’s my lawyer! He is! He helped me negotiate my deal with Freerange (laughing).

EP: What did he say the first time he heard of the name?

DP: He said, “How can Jacob London turn down Jacob London?” (Laughing)

EP: Awesome! So what year did you meet up with Jon Lemmon and release the albums on Viva Recordings?

DP: We started working with Viva in 2000. Jon brought us on to A & R a sister label which we called squid:records that had a bit more of a left field direction from what Viva was doing. The idea was that we would make Jacob London tracks, and then bring on other artists for mixes. Our first album was called Jacob London vs. Jacob London. They were tracks I created by myself, and Bob created by himself, and then we remixed one another. We also had great remixers like Tony Senghore and Random Factor. After Viva stopped releasing music we found a new home with Classic, which is Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon’s label.

EP: How did you come to collaborate with Classic?

DP: Just like anybody else. I sent them a demo via mail with a very heartfelt, handwritten letter telling them how much I loved their label. It was very humble. They sat on them for a few months. I figured, “Just another unanswered demo.” And then out of the blue, I get an email from Luke Solomon. At that time, I didn’t even know who Luke Solomon was. The email said, “Tracks rock. Waiting to hear from DC.” And that’s all it said! I was like, “Who are you?” (Laughing)

EP: What are you working on now?

DP: I quit my day job as a receptionist a year and a half ago with the intention of moving on to the music business, doing whatever I could to earn a living in music. My first efforts were through composing music for ads and games. But the work was pretty hard to come by so I started making house tracks, and began sending my demos to Jamie “Jimpster” [at Freerange], and he signed those tracks pretty much immediately. After my wedding last summer I was pretty hard up for cash and decided to reach out to Om Records and Freerange for remix work. I picked up a few spec projects, delivered them as fast as I could, and they’ve bought every one of them. It pulled me right up out of this little debt situation that I had. Ever since then, I just haven’t stopped. Music is my career now.

EP: What else?

DP: In early June, Om is releasing an EP called The Pezzner Mixes, which is a release of other people’s tracks that I remixed. I have an EP coming out on a London label called Urbantorque called Logan that has a little bit of a synth-y, progressive vibe to it. It’s a little different from what people are used to hearing from me but still deep and hypnotic. I’ve been doing a lot of remix work, and I’ll also be working on my full-length this summer.

See the original post on Flavorwire.

Mutek 2009

Image Matthew Cheetham

Image Matthew Cheetham

Mutek 2009 marked the electronic-orientated new media and music festival’s tenth consecutive year with too many multi-sensory delights for brain synapses to process in quick succession. Highlights included performances by Nortec Collective’s Bostitch and Fussible, GAS (Wolfgang Voigt, founder of Kompakt), Moderat (a collaboration between Modeselektor and Apparat, founder of Shitkatapult), The Orb’s Thomas Fehlmann, and a host of others.

While it can all be a bit overwhelming, turning even the most hardcore clubber into an over-stimulated and joyful zombie, Flavorpill’s Sara Jayne Crow was there in force, cataloging every blip, break, and minimal backbeat. After the jump, her observations and a series of PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS from the festival.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE MUTEK 2009 PHOTOSET ON FLAVORWIRE>>

Robert Henke (Monolake) and Christopher Bauder
The illustrious Robert Henke (Monolake) joined Christopher Bauder for “ATOM,” an installation of “compositions played on a matrix of 64 illuminated helium balloons.” Although conceptually divine, the performance was a bit underwhelming for those who had seen Henke’s Mutek performances in past years — especially 2003’s unreal Narod Niki nine-man clusterfunk with Ricardo Villalobos, Ritchie Hawtin, Dimbiman, Akufen, Dandy Jack, Daniel Bell, Cabanne and Luciano. In 2005’s “Studies for Thunder,” Henke replicated thunder through digitalia sequenced in a realtime, multi-channel framework, creating a cyclone of sound so storm-ish that the aural sensation sprung a nearly tactile phantom plop of raindrops.

Thomas Fehlmann
The Orb’s Thomas Fehlmann is still doing it after four decades of twiddling knobs and arranging chords. He sauntered onstage at Piknic èlectronik — an epic event situated on the Île Notre Dame with Montreal’s skyline as backdrop — wearing, appropriately, a blue gingham baseball cap that created the jolly appearance of a picnic on his head. Fehlmann electrified, mastering his characteristic slow, rollicking builds, voluminous arrangements, Orblivion-esque capers and space-age potluck shenanigans while doing the occasional hula dance.

Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai
As Cyclo, for the Mutek A\VISIONS audio/visual series, Raster-Noton luminaries Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai delivered with their usual attention to detail. The duo sampled and interwove strains of feedback together as found sound with corresponding sonic waves morphing on the screen behind them in stark black and white contrast. The performance began with controlled frenetecism and found resolution in gradual percolation of basslines anchoring the mire.

dOP
French “Cabaret house” trio dOP slid into a prime (if a wee bit early) time slot at the gorgeous Métropolis venue. The staging-staggered white placards foregrounding LED lights cascading from the ceiling and rising from the floor set an appropos surrounding for the glitzy trinity of Jonathan Illel, Clement Zemtsov and Damien Vandesande. In appearance, they’re kind of like ’80s technicolor meets the “scene” bars of The Bastille. Sunglasses as accessories (we’re talking form over function, as the club was dark) were plentiful. One of the fellows had a scarf wrapped around his forehead and knotted off to the side into a dramatic sash which yo-yo’d, nearly falling into his laptop keys and getting tossed over his shoulder as he swigged Absolut vodka out of the bottle. The singer wore a T-Shirt in this grass green color proclaiming in big white block letters, “WAIT IT GETS BIGGER,” which he eventually stripped off before inviting girls onstage. The two fellows navigating the laptops sort of sashayed the crowd into a frenzy, building their set with layered arrangements, staggered percussion, and off-kilter measures.

Ricardo Villalobos and Zip (Thomas ‘Dimbiman’ Franzmann)
Ricardo Villalobos and Zip (aka Thomas Franzmann, alter-ego Dimbiman) paired off at Piknic èlectronik for a slick seven-hour set. I arrived during the final hour of their outdoor performance as the sun set on a blustery, rainy day. Seagulls wheeled around in the wind, their bellies underlit by stadium lights below glowing clouds no longer pregnant with rain. The wind velocity matched the visceral measures of the spacious, synth-laden tracks Villalobos dropped. It had been a long, cold day, and only those built for endurance in Gore-Tex and weatherproof garb remained in the park. All present were dancing. I ignored the wind on my bare hands as Villalobos sashayed into an epic finale with a spare pendulum swinging Metronome type track. In a 2009 interview on Mutek’s site, Villalobos says he wants to make a perfect club track, but that’s doing a disservice to his music. His music is all tension, torsion and release; it’s about a spareness of sound, about what his tracks don’t say. It’s about how music unifies, once again.