Covering Tracks: Avalon Emerson

Covering Tracks is a regular series in which we ask our favorite producers and DJs to recommend ten new (and not so new) releases. We’re closing out this week with a set of tracks from Avalon Emerson, a Berlin-via-San Francisco transplant whose Let Me Love and Steal EP hit shelves this week via Spring Theory. Each tune she’s picked for us was plucked from a record that she discovered while crate digging in stores across the United States during a tour that she just completed. We’ll let Avalon take it from here.

I can’t say I’m too much of an advance-copy, demo-rinsing DJ. I firmly believe that a lot of the best stuff is tucked away in record stores with no listening stations, under the arm and recommendation of a record store employee, or under everyone’s noses in the dollar bin—far from hype, inflated Discogs prices, and disposable promo pools. Here are a few dope cuts I got from record stores while on tour.

Turntable Terror — “Scream (Bonestrack)” [Mid-Town]
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This sloppy ’91 rave stuff will always have a home in my heart. Plus, it features some of my favorite samples from that era.
Picked up at: K-Starke in Chicago, for free. Kevin told me I could grab two records from the dollar section on the way out.

The Friend — “Bleed” [Local Heat]

This whole 12″ is really unique and beautiful.
Picked up at: Gramaphone Records in Chicago, on a recommendation from Jacob.

Roland Clark — “Simple Things (Joaquin’s Drum Dub Version)” [Sacred Rhythm]
Simple Things by Roland Clark
A masterfully produced and arranged jazz and drum-driven record.
Picked up at: Gramaphone Records in Chicago, on a recommendation from Michael.

TP Traxx (aka Terrence Parker) – “Untitled” [Intangible Records & Soundworks]

FYI, this video is for the A side, and I play the B side, which is much better in my opinion.
Picked up at: Recordland in Calgary, Candada

Da Posse — “In The Heat of the Night (Jimpster’s Stretchedit)” [Freerange Records]

A great light-handed edit for a bit more room to work with in a DJ context.
Picked up at: Vinyl Dreams in San Francisco

Marquis Hawkes — “Peanut” [Clone Jack 4 Daze]

This might just be as good as it gets, as far as European white dudes making old school acid goes.
Picked up at: Vinyl Dreams in San Francisco

Aria Rostami — “Czarat” [Spring Theory]

I love how the bright yellow cardstock interior and embossed artwork complement Aria’s complex instrumentation and arrangement.
Picked up at: Spring Theory HQ in San Francisco

Click here to read more Covering Tracks from the likes of Locked Groove, Tommy Four Seven, and Airhead.

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EB Video Premiere: Safety Scissors – “Progress and Perseverance”

Guess, who’s back. After an epic silence of almost eight years Matthew Patterson Curry aka Safety Scissors has just unveiled his third full-length album through Berlin-based Bpitch Recordings. Having achieved fame through remixes for the likes of Matmos, Grizzly Bear and Architecture In Helsinki, Matthew Patterson’s musical output began in the perma-emerging electronic music scene in San Fracisco. After being re-located to New York City and with earlier releases on labels such as Plug Research Records or ~scape, now it’s time to unwrap Safety Scissors’s video premiere for his moody, post-house track “Progress and Perseverance” below. And on top of this, you can download Alland Byallo remix for free here.

Safety Scissors’ third album In A Manner Of Sleeping was released last Friday on BPitch Control. Order it here.

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How Holly Herndon spends $100

Holly Herndon grew up in the rural foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and claims to have been afraid of computers as a kid. Luckily for us, she shed that fear, and since 2011 has been releasing startling human-sounding fusions of avant-techno, noise, and compositional electronics. Last year’s Movement (Rvng Intl.) was one of the most ubiquitous titles on critics’ best-of-2012 lists. Justifiably so. We gave her $100 and this is what she bought. Main photo by Suzy Poling. This article is taken from the latest Spring issue of Electronic Beats Magazine.


DVD: Open Score by Robert Rauschenberg in E.A.T. – 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering


Back in the sixties a group called E.A.T., spearheaded by the artist Robert Rauschenberg and engineer Billy Clover, had this incredible idea to pair leading artists with leading engineers at Bell Labs and create new works with new technology. The performances were supposed to take place in New York and in Sweden as they were also supposed to be sponsored by the Swedish government. Well, for some reason it happened in New York but never in Sweden, so now the Swedes have decided to fund an updated version of the same thing, which I was invited to participate in. They also funded this DVD series and I’ve decided to purchase the episode featuring Rauschenberg. Now I just need to save up for the other eight episodes.

Purchased from Microcinema International for $25


Donation: $57.95 to Tor Project @

The Tor Foundation is a Bay Area-based organization that specializes in anonymizing the Internet so that political activists, organizers, international whistle blowers and regular consumers like you and me can engage in online activity without having to worry about constant surveillance. Important stuff.


Book: To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov


This book deals with something I feel constantly confronted by here in the Bay Area: Whenever there’s a larger social problem here, be it political, financial or ecological, people always seem to look towards technology to fix it. There’s a lot of idealism about how all of our problems can be solved, but it usually comes without really thinking about the effect technological solutions will have on other areas not immediately related to the problem. People tend not to think about the deep intricacies of issues. As Morozov calls it, it’s part of a surface level “solutionism”, which is an important thing to consider. The thing is, people here tend to be very intelligent, very well-educated, very confident and want to solve everything. But not doing your research first and having an opinion about something is, in my book, plain arrogance.

Purchased from Amazon for $17.05~


Holly Herndon performs live in Berlin with Laurel Halo, Gatekeeper, and NHK’Koyxen on Sunday, April 28th at Festsaal Kreuzberg.

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Steph Kretowicz recommends Lace Curtain’s <i> Lace Curtain</i> EP


Lace Curtain has a sonic effect as amorphous as its influences. Consisting of three members spliced from Australia’s hardcore and garage rock underground, the outfit—born of the touring circuit and executed across borders—is the inevitable punk mutation of EDM, perpetuated by the infinite coil of technological progress. Presenting a contextually ignorant exchange with its krautrock, heavy disco, and new wave muses, Lace Curtain produces a sound reminiscent of, but ultimately divorced from any conceivable dance music heritage.

Scattered across the northern suburbs of Melbourne and the Mission district of San Francisco in the US, James Vinciguerra, Mikey Young, and David West exhibit the peripatetic tendencies of people raised in an isolated culture—like Australia. That sense of alienation and fragmentation is one strongly felt, not only by the nomadic nature of their lifestyles (most notably as touring members of eminent synth-punk band Total Control) but also in the dispassionate lyrical themes and exquisitely lifeless tone of their sound.

Couched in DIY experimentalism, Lace Curtain inhabits a space with no past or present. It’s a statelessness that is perhaps best expressed in “Good Intentions”, where West’s monotone vocal bulldozes asynchronous rhythms with unsettling social observations as he coldly mutters, “There are people that cannot learn from the past, including me and you, and you, and you” before dropping into the monstrous distortion of a final, “and especially YOU.” This insistent nihilism holds true for most of the four-track EP, where words and sounds interact to induce a feeling of detached irony. The very title of “In This House” communicates the band’s unique interpretation of the 4/4 kicks and clap samples of a kind of house that is less uptempo music to dance to and more meditative instrumentals to ponder. EP closer “Gimme Space” not only references the kosmische muzik in its stylistic thrust but implicitly critiques the limitations of strictly adhering to any one musical form: “gimme space to move/give me time to reconsider.”

As a project whose roots you could trace back to an anomalous Italo-disco experiment in Total Control 7″ release “Paranoid Video”, there’s an element of discomfort to Lace Curtain. That’s not only a reflection of their ambivalent approach to electronic music production but also its members’ transitory ways of life, which in turn affects the collaborative process. Mostly constructed bottom-up from the rudimentary rhythms of Vinciguerra’s TR-707 and TR-727 drum machines, ideas are absorbed, filtered and distorted remotely through each individual’s unique palate. Thus Lace Curtain is placed in a culturally ambiguous context, founded on uncertainty, trading on unfamiliarity and creating something effortlessly fresh in the process.~


Lace Curtain’s self-titled EP is out now on DFA Records

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10 x 4 – Ghosts on Tape

Ghosts on Tape is the alias of San Francisco-based Ryan Merry. He first came to our attention back in 2009, when Mary Anne Hobbs got him to do a mix for her (now, much missed) late night BBC radio show around about the time the Glasgow’s Wireblock dropped his Predator Mode EP. What caught our ears was his lo-fi approach to production, using an Yamaha sampler bought new in the nineties when he was still a teen.
Since then he’s clocked up remixes on labels as diverse as Planet Mu, True Panther and Friends of Friends, but we’ve been waiting three years for another release proper. Thankfully, the wait is nearly over as Nature’s Law/Logo drops on his very own Icee Hot label next week. That just about gives you enough time refresh your memory and to help you, we asked the straight-talking acolyte of rave ten all-important questions. In the words of the man himself: “Fuck that shit, LET’S RAVE.

1. Is any aspect of fame important?

Maybe not fame, but recognition for your hard work is certainly very nice. I’m not making the music that I make to get famous, I’m simply doing what I love to do, and it is an awesome feeling if other people love it too. I was definitely influenced by the generation of artists before me, and if I can have any impact on the next generation coming up, then I will be happy in knowing that I’ve fulfilled a crucial part of my job. We are all laying bricks on the foundation, and if we continue on a true, honest path of creativity, then what we are all building just becomes that much stronger in the future.

2. What goes in your coffee?

Sugar, cream, and sometimes shots of espresso. I require large amounts of caffeine just to function. I know I have a problem (admitting that is the first step, right?).

3. What does underground and mainstream mean to you?

To me, these words just signify an intention. If you are making music that is real to you, like what you honestly feel, that’s underground. If you are watering down your music just to gain mass appeal or trying to strike a chord with the lowest common denominator just to get famous, that’s mainstream. Degrees of popularity don’t really matter very much anymore in this day and age.

4. Should music be free?

For the most part, no. I understand that that’s the way things are these days, and it’s kinda futile to try to change it, but as a producer and now as a label owner, I know the hard work, dedication, and money that goes into putting out a record. It’s not just an MP3 to be rapidly devoured and discarded, it’s an actual labor of love that should have some value for generations to come, hopefully. I still buy lots of music. I may swap tracks with my close homies, but I still buy music pretty much every week. I also get promos and tracks from friends, which is different. I believe that everyone has to pay for quality products sometimes. If no one wants to pay for quality, then everything’s gonna go to shit. It’s a business just like anything else, and people that think that they are just entitled to free music without giving something in return are fucking spoiled brats. It’s like people that sneak into my club night. Yes, I can kinda understand that you don’t wanna pay, but the DJs that we bring out are not free. If you are going to illegally download, then you should make up for it by buying something too. Like for every 5 tracks you steal, pay for one. It’s better than nothing. I would imagine that almost every respectable DJ out there still pays for music sometimes. I’m not planning on getting rich off running a label and throwing parties, but I’m certainly not trying to lose money either. So if you like what I do, then help me not lose money to do it. This shit is not a charity and grown-ups understand that.

5. What defines your music-making process?

I construct my tracks mostly on my hardware sampler and drum machines. All the beats and rhythms and melodies come from me physically banging on the buttons. I like to put in work, re-arrange tracks, and re-do parts until it sounds right to me. There’s also a fair amount of improvisation and happy accidents that make their way into my tracks. I’ve been making music more or less the same way for many years now, and it’s been a process of figuring out what I can get out of working within some of the limitations that my gear has. That’s what I like: physically working, involving organic spontaneity, and having to work within limitations. I envy people that can just do all their music within their laptop and come up with something unique and soulful. It’s not my style at all; I really don’t understand it, so I think it’s impressive. If you just put me in front of a screen with infinite options, I’ll be lost. I’m like a caveman.

6. Do you believe in the paranormal?

You would think since my name has the word “ghosts” in it, I would be more into this stuff. The truth is that I just don’t know. I really don’t believe ghosts like in movies and TV shows and shit like that. But there are probably some kind of spirits around us, I’m sure that we just can’t see or feel or even comprehend them. So maybe?

7. Are you interested in politics?

I used to be, but I’m not too interested anymore. I still try to stay up on what’s happening, but politics in America are such a sad fucking joke that it’s just a waste of time and energy. It’s all “he said this,” “she said that,” hot air, bullshit, smoke and mirrors, manufactured outrage, and media manipulation to keep us divided and distracted. I’ve found that if you tune a lot of it out, and focus on what’s important to your life, what’s relevant to your actual reality, you will be a much happier and more productive person. Not saying that ignorance is bliss, because ignorance is just ignorance, but you can only pay attention to so much. These dickhead politicians don’t give a shit about us and never will. None of them. If one ever did, then they either get bought out or discredited real quick. It’s all a big game, and the only ones that get to play are the ones with lots and lots of money. The rest of us are just pawns. So fuck that shit, LET’S RAVE.

8. Raging or chilling out?

Both! I would say I do more chilling than raging, because if I didn’t, I think I would be dead. I do enjoy my downtime, and having alone time is very important to me. Sometimes I like to go out and stay up until 10 the next morning, because we are only alive once, so why not have some sketchy fun?

9. One thing you can’t live without?

God, this is the most cheesy and generic answer, but it would have to be music. I really can’t imagine my life without it. I have no idea what I would be doing if I wasn’t doing this. It’s given my life a purpose and function and I would probably be miserable without it. So yeah, either that or Netflix.

10. Together, or alone?

You cannot go it alone. With the right group of people you can accomplish so much more than you would be able to by yourself. That being said, having alone time is critical to figuring out what you want, who you are, and what you believe. Alone time equals introspection, which equals new ideas. You have to filter out other people’s opinions sometimes and find out what’s important to you.

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