Rather than operate as a music news source, Electronic Beats operates as a music information source. We want to share with you; we want you to know what we’re hearing, what’s reverberating our cochleas and sending broader vibrations throughout our bodies, and by extension our audio-addled souls. Down with that? Welcome to Editors’ Choice.
Louise Brailey (Deputy Online Editor)
Evian Christ – “Salt Carousel”
With the Kanye stamp of approval not yet dry upon his head, Evian Christ gears up to release his EP Waterfall in early 2014. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this first taste is a hi-def corker. The brittle frostbitten atmospheres that once characterized his releases have largely been jettisoned for a much more aggro, maximalist sound, all squealing tire synths and busy tones buried deep in the mix. Still, the real magic is reserved for the moment the drums, the scree, the cumbersome, chrome-plated swagger recedes to reveal planes of arctic pads. A big’un, then.
Moritz Gayard (Online Duty Editor)
Kommune1 – Kronos EP
UK Techno young gunner Kommune1 delivers some magic techno house with his Kronos EP, which will be out on Leisure System in December.
Daniel Jones (Contributing Editor)
Lauren Bousfield – Avalon Vales
Oh hey, remember when I wrote a review of this album last year? Well, it’s finally been released, so now you can hear what I was talking about. Bousfield has made a few changes in the textures and layers, but the overall sound remains the same—and just as weirdly, deliciously beautiful. I didn’t name it one of my albums of the year for nothing, after all… now I just wonder if I can do it two years running…
A.J. Samuels (Senior Print Editor)
Roky Erickson – “I Think of Demons”
Light in the Attic’s September rerelease of Roky Erickson’s 1981 Evil One (Plus One) is a best-of-2013 no brainer. A brilliant and utterly disturbing record that’s been blowing my mind for years now, I still occasionally feel strange for getting so much pleasure out of songs born of profound madness and suffering.
Read previous editions of Editors’ Choice here.
Dimensions, the sister festival to Outlook taking place at Fort Punta Christo in Pula, Croatia, just finished its second edition. Lisa Blanning reports. All photos by Marc Sethi. Above: between stages on the festival site.
After less than two decades of stability in Croatia, the world at large is finally discovering its charms. The country consists of so much striking coastline on the Adriatic Sea—where it sits across from Italy—that it seems almost unfair to its neighbor to the East, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pula is an ancient town which boasts origins that go back to Jason & the Argonauts (according to the tourist guides) and an incredibly well-preserved first century AD Roman ampitheater—the site of Dimensions’ opening concert. Not having attended, I’m kicking myself for missing the venue alone.
Not that Fort Punta Christo, a mere 150 years or so old and the main festival site, isn’t impressive enough on its own. And there’s definitely a lot of pleasure in raving (respectfully) in a top tourist attraction. Combined with the gloriously warm weather and its location by azure waters, there is so much magic built right into Dimensions. You feel it as you wander the decorated festival site for the first time, finding each of its eight stages. (Actually, I never made it into “Noah’s Ballroom”, an enclosed space that allowed only 75 people in it; it always had a queue.) At least four of these have specialty PAs, with distinctive speakers, and good sound is the norm—more magic.
With eight stages for four nights, plus two beach parties and something like six boat parties for each of four days (another eight stages, then) that’s a lot of music going on. It’s staggering to think of the production behind all of this. Which is probably why about 80% of it is ‘curated’ by different organizations: media, local parties, other festivals, labels, etc. And on paper, it appears that the sheer number of DJs and artists performing offers revelers a plethora of choices.
The Moat stage
On site, however, it mostly boils down to a choice between house and techno. As such, anything slightly outside of this stands out, whether it’s the irresistible drum & bass DBridge offers at Mungo’s Arena—with its beautiful, custom sound-system transported all the way from the Mungo’s HiFi base of Glasgow—or the Leisure System stage, which becomes a bit of a homebase for the Friday night. Hype Williams turns out to be Dean Blunt primarily singing over playback of songs from his odd, old-fashioned ‘pop’ album The Redeemer; Dopplereffekt are completely back on form with skeletal electro and some of the most weirdly funky moments of the weekend; Jimmy Edgar surprises with a varied set whose highlight is an edit, surely his own, stretching Aphex Twin‘s “Windowlicker” like taffy for maximum pleasure; Machinedrum’s mix of footwork and rap is welcome relief. Elsewhere, Mala in Cuba‘s sampled horn and flute riffs with live percussion and keys—provided by Swindle— make a jazz excursion, but when he drops a classic-era track opening the gateway to deep space, it’s a bitter reminder of the true power of DMZ; Surgeon‘s DJ set rams The Moat stage, but perched at the back, above the crowd offers a great view and perfect sound for his uncompromising, banging techno.
Sunday’s residency of 3 Chairs—it’s collectively named, but essentially consists of rotating DJ sets from Theo Parrish, Moodymann, Rick Wilhite and Marcellus Pittman—at the Outside the Fort stage anchors the night. Every time you drop in on the stage, it’s guaranteed to be good, and it’s sometimes difficult to tear yourself away from the deep soul and funk cuts provided by Theo, or the disco grooves of Moodymann in order to see some other music. As much as I’m tempted to stay there all night, back at Mungo’s Peverelist’s set—the first time I’ve seen him in at least five years—comes up as a festival highlight: lots of swing but with tactical, super heavy 4/4 bass with the lightest, skippiest riddims riding above. Kowton, Pev’s friend and collaborator in Livity Sound, follows it up with bassy UK funky that is pretty fun, especially when it’s mixed with jungle or tough garage and grime. At the Fort Arena stage, Roman Flügel‘s set never quite lifts off the way his previous day’s boat party set did, but its base of house music layered in the Frankfurt school of pleasingly weird sounds makes me wonder if his scene’s promixity to the avant-garde music schools of Darmstadt—where the likes of Stockhausen, Messiaen, Ligeti, Boulez and many more taught or attended—affected their work?
Outside the Fort stage
And this is only a fraction of the music that occurred over the weekend. Thanks to its relatively small capacity (limited to 5000), perfect setting, great sound and attention to organizational detail, Dimensions has a shot at being one of the most anticipated festivals on the annual calendar. However, perhaps in part due to its many stages, the music itself is the single greatest failing. Far too much time was spent wandering around, especially on the Saturday night, vainly looking for something you hadn’t already seen many times, or that broke out of the merely functional dance soundtrack. For a festival with so many small stages, it should have taken a lot more risks. It ignored an entire section of dance music underground—Fade To Mind, Night Slugs, UNO NYC, etc—even as it overcompensated on house and techno. Sure, there were names—like Steffi, Ben Klock, Omar S, Blawan, Ben UFO, Kode9, Ron Morelli— but approximately only one that felt really ‘now’, Evian Christ, and he didn’t even play (at least not at the appointed time, and there was no signage offering any explanation or rescheduling). It felt like the organizers relied too much on their friends’ taste, concentrating instead on making everything special except the music. That’s fine if their aim is merely to provide a place to party—especially for people who haven’t experienced a lot of festivals or don’t live in places where these DJs play regularly. But if they want to become a destination known for creating outstanding musical experiences, their line-up is going to need serious reconsidering.~
Not long ago, dubstep generally consisted of dignified, subbed-out productions that would nebulously emerge from UK producers, pop up on Mary Anne Hobbs‘ radio show, and then be subsequently ignored by the general populace.
Then, suddenly, it was everywhere. Blasting across subway aisles as tinny ringtones. Lurking in the productions of pop beasts like Britney. Filling massive arenas with people who want nothing more than to sweat and maybe see a dot onstage move his hands every four minutes. ‘Fuuuuuck youuuu, Skrillex!’ became the battle cry of those who remember a world without wobble.
There’s usually a very clear line drawn between fans of US dubstep and the UK version, the general consensus being that US dubstep=dorks too chubby for emo and too nerdy even for the metal scene, so they use this as an outlet for their post-teen aggression/Transformers fetish. Meanwhile, they argue that UK dubstep is made by and for aging reggae fans who pee themselves in rage whenever something steps outside their comfort zone. In some regards there’s truth in both, but in the end it’s the typical New vs Old argument, one that’s almost always generated in insular scenes that have unexpectedly exploded into the mainstream: ‘Eww, why do THEY get to be a part of MY social group?’ To arbitrarily declaim a new movement (and, by association, an entire genre of music) as being somehow ‘lesser’ is not only ignorant, it’s the worst sort of I-like-all-music-except-rap-and-country teenage cheesiness.
Some opinions are more moderate. “I can understand why people can’t get into first/second-wave dubstep stuff now, because having witnessed the progression of the different sounds and the initial changes it brought to club culture was the most exciting part about it,“ says Michail Stangl, member of the Berlin-based Leisure System partysquad. Understandable from that perspective, perhaps. But I don’t come from club culture. I was raised on a diet of punk, post-punk, experimental music and a heaping helping of Aaliyah and Biggie. My roots are in weirdness, brashness; I like change, and I treat musical genres as loosely as possible. So when I listen to Kode9 or Digital Mystikz, what I hear is not club music, but a pulsing bliss that shakes my body and makes my head swim. It’s clinical and methodical, but also feral—a dark jungle beast stalking down my spine. But when I want to slamdance myself bruised and bloody, nothing satisfies like the filth of Deathface, Bratkilla and Mantis. This is lurching bloodrave music, a parade of dumpsters being cut in half with chainsaws and then dropped off cliffs. It’s an entirely different world, closer to the harsh throb of industrial or the brutal thrash of hardcore than anything connected to introspection or club culture.
BlackBlackGold – The Red Crown (Mixtape for the Apocalypse)
As exploration into new sounds continues, the term ‘electronic music’ means both more and less than it ever has. The same holds true for dubstep (and at such a young age too! So precocious.) Purist attitudes kill music, but because of how easy it has become to pull in musical influences from around the world, its also second nature for a rising crop of young producers, artists, and freaks. As a genre, dubstep will mutate and evolve, as all things should. Maybe what it births will please your ears, and maybe not. But that doesn’t make any mutation of it less valid, nor should it stop you from exploring for yourself the different aspects buried within.
That said, there is still no excuse for a dubstep Korn album.
Daniel Jones is a music promoter and creator of the subculture reconceptualization & aesthetics tumblr Gucci Goth.
Last week we told you about the upcoming new Berlin party PURGE, which debuts this Thursday with HTRK and Bruises. If you just can’t get enough evil in your nightlife, we recommend taking some heavy aspirin the morning after, sleeping the day away and then waking up for ? (not equal). The party, created in collaboration with Leisure System‘s Michail Stangl and the famous Berghain club, will feature live performances by some truly singular artists, including EB faves Demdike Stare and Tropic of Cancer. Watch the beautiful trailer for the party below, rsvp to the event here and get ready for a binge of blackness. It takes the night to believe.
Leisure System, the Berlin based party series & label who just celebrated their third Birthday with an epic party at Berghain, are preparhttp://www.leisuresystem.net/ls-ldn-02-corsica-studios/ing the second Leisure System Records release.
Welcoming Eprom into the fold with two dank, metalic cuts perfect for a label which aims to reflect the diverse and often challenging nature of the music at their parties. ‘Feldspar’ and ‘Psycho’ are two unique tracks that have their roots in electronic hip-hop, but are stretched apart and tormented with an inverted wobble and a demented techno attitude. No doubt they will sound terrifying yet amazing on the Berghain soundystem.
If you want to catch a bit of the Leisure System you can do so at Londons Corsica Studio’s next weekend with Machinedrum, Jaques Greene, Lazersword and Nguzunguzu. Details here.
LSR002 Will be released on Monday 17th October on Vinyl and November 7th digitally.