Tagged: techno

BT & Sonifi At Stream 09

I’ve just got back from 3 days at an event called Stream 09. It was organised by WPP, Mindshare’s parent company and was, quite simply, brilliant. Billed as an unconference it’s essentially a group of about 200 people who are invited to spend a few days discussing interesting things at a venue on the coast of Greece, just outside Athens. The attendees ranged from scientists to technicians to engineers to venture capitalists to journalists to magicians, and it really was a fascinating few days, as well as a lot of fun.

On the first night they held what was dubbed as The Gadgethon: essentially this was a Dragon’s Den scenario where people had to showcase the latest gadgets they had come across. There was also a section where people presented ideas for gadgets that haven’t actually been invented yet – I won that section with a device called Walk & Talk; I’m not going to try to explain it here, but ping me if you want the details. I have a feeling it’s unlikely to be going into production any time soon.

Anyway, the first section was won by a guy called Miles, who presented a really bloody cool iPhone app called Sonifi. It basically allows people to remix, mash-up & generally muck around with tracks just by doing things like tapping the screen & shaking the phone. Nice.

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The tune that you can hear in that demo of Sonifi is Rose Of Jericho by BT which is, quite simply, what I believe is known in the trade as an absolute f*cking tune. It starts off with some vaguely alien sounding bleeps & blips, with a rather ominous drum ticking away in the back. After not too long it all builds up before rocketing in with an absolutely storming bass. I would imagine it would sound rather fabulous in a club – it sounded pretty damn good in a meeting room in a Club Med.

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The photo at the top is of the wall of Polaroid photos taken by the guys at Stream. Can you spot me? If you were there, can you spot yourself? It was taken by Guido Van Nispen who took a load of amazing photos there. Thanks to him, thanks to Yossi Vardi & everyone at WPP for organising such a great event and thanks to everyone who attended for making it so interesting. Here’s hoping I’m invited back next year.

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Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Stronger

So yesterday, as I continue to try to nail down the songs of the decade, I carried out a poll at work to try to find just that. You can see the resulting list* here (if you’re on Spotify) which includes two songs by Daft Punk, including Harder Better Faster Stronger. Ignoring the fact that personally I think Daft Punk say a lot more about the 90s than the past 10 years, whilst we were doing this one of the guys at work showed me the video below. I’m probably about the last person in the connected world to see it, what with the 33 million odd views it’s racked up on YouTube.

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In case you’re one of the four people left who hasn’t seen it or can’t be bothered to watch the video, it’s basically someone ‘dancing’ with their hands, on which they have written about 10 or so words which they then use to ‘sing along’ to the song with, by opening and closing their hands. Sounds ridiculous, in fact is ridiculous, but it’s also very charming. Hence the 33 million views.

I was going to compare the 33 million views for Daft Hands (I know, clever eh?) to the views for the official video for Harder Better Faster Stronger by Daft Punk and then make some oh so clever comment about how this shows how consumers are taking over the world, blah, blah cluetrain, blah. But, as the picture at the top of the post shows, I can’t. Because I’m not allowed to watch the original version of the song.

And people wonder why these guys can’t make any money? Jesus wept.

Here, instead, is the excellent Stronger by Kanye West which, of course, samples the Daft Punk track and which I can watch on YouTube and which, in my opinion, says a lot more about the noughties than Daft Punk themselves.

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*The Spotify list is in reverse order, so Beyonce & Daft Punk’s One More Time were join winners. I know!

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What’s The Best Song Of The Decade?

It’s almost as if everyone is determined to make me feel old.

As if to highlight the fact that in less than 4 months time it will be 10 years since I saw in the year 2000 dancing on Bondi Beach, Absolute Radio are asking their listeners to help choose the Song of the Decade. What scares me almost as much as the fact that it’s now pretty much a decade since the Millennium Bug failed to bite (due to the hard work of a lot of people according to my old colleague Richard) is that I’m really struggling to think of any truly great tunes that will come to sum up the noughties as other songs have for decades past.

The Arctics’ ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’? Good, but I’m not sure it’s really great. ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow? I actually think this might win, but again don’t think it should. To paraphrase John Lennon, it’s not even the best song on that album. Maybe Eamon’s ‘Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back)’ or Frankee’s equally charming ‘Fuck You Right Back’. No, maybe not.

It’s strange, and slightly damning, as for the last 4 decades I can easily name the best song. Sometimes I struggle to name just one. So whilst I list off the defining tracks of the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s (and for me a Song of the Decade has to really define that moment in time, as well as just being the best song released during that period), why don’t you use the comments to suggest what the best song since 2000 might be.

60s:

Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone: This is, for me, the finest song of a very strong decade by a country mile. It seems to encapsulate all the different cultural strands that converged between the deaths of JFK and his brother Bobby, which are probably the ‘true 60s’: the optimism, cynicism, hope & despair that all came together in a psychedelic sexual explosion. And the infamous ‘Judas’ version from the Manchester Free Trade Hall is probably the greatest live track ever recorded.

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The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows: With the release of a new video game and some remastered albums, it really seems pointless to try and write anything new about The Beatles at the moment. But what I will say is listen to this track that they made after abandoning touring for the studio, then listen to ‘Setting Sun’ by The Chemical Brothers and try to tell me that The Beatles didn’t create techno in 1966 at the same time as writing a soundtrack for the original Summer of Love.

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70s

The Clash – London Calling: Though released in 1980 in the US, a year after its British release, this was very much a product of the 70s. From its denunciation of the sacred cow that was The Beatles (phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust) to its searing social conscience, this was the last gasp of punk before it was swallowed up by Thatcher & spat out as a tourist attraction to rank alongside the Pearly Kings & Queens.

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Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Whilst never a hit on the scale of the disco records that bestrode the 70s like glitter-laden giants, Scott-Heron’s slice of political beat-poetry would prove to be a defining influence on hip-hop, and as such should have its lyrics carved into Mount Rushmore, right alongside Lincoln’s head.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xpqut

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (1999 Digital Remaster): When he created Ziggy Bowie created the first imaginary global rock-star: The Beatles might have dressed up as Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but that’s all they did – dress up. Bowie became Stardust, and in the process dived into a narcotic nightmare. And in creating this persona he also created a template that rappers & rockers would follow for the next 3 decades. The fact that he also became the biggest British act after The Beatles, managed to invent glam-rock & inspired the New Romantics is all grist for the mill.

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80s

Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection: Like ‘London Calling’, ‘I Am The Resurrection’ was released as a decade gasped its dying breath, was very much of its time, yet inspired a generation of bands that came after it. With the blend of Squire’s Hendrix-esque guitar, the hip-hop influenced groove of the rhythm section and Ian’s Mancunian drawl, dripping with arrogance, this track is surely the purest example of a band at their peak, blissfully unaware that they’re about to blow it all.

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Grandmaster Flash – The Message: ‘The Message’, strongly influenced by Scott-Heron, was one of the first great hip-hop tracks and would prove to be one that was hard to top: whilst it wasn’t till the 90s that hip-hop truly ruled the world, this record showed how it might change it. Though the band look like failed auditionees for the Village People, the track, with its minimal, electro-influenced tune, shone a torch on life in America’s ghettoes at the start of the Regan years. And what it showed wasn’t pretty. A million miles from P Diddy & Kanye, but something they should probably listen to a little more often.

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Inner City – Big Fun: Reach for the lasers, I said reach for the ****ing lasers! Somehow, music made by weirdoes in Germany influenced rappers in New York before inspiring producers making music for gay clubs in Chicago from where it touched a generation of young Brits discovering ecstasy in Ibiza. House music was born. And before it spawned bastards like handbag, it was amazing. Probably one of the most influential records of the 20th Century, ‘Big Fun’ is also one of the most, well, fun.

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90s:

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy: Like so many great records, ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ spawned a genre that wasn’t worthy of its name – in this case trip hop. But whilst trip hop was all plodding beats and vague noodlings, Massive Attack created a true soul record: soaring, inspired, epic – ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ still raises the hairs on the back of the neck today, whilst its video is a classic of the genre, shamelessly ripped off by The Verve at the same time as they were ripping off the song.

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Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit: Whilst I’ve come to think that Nirvana are one of the most over-rated bands of the 90s, at the time this sounded like the freshest slice of rock since the Sex Pistols (another over-rated band, more worth talking about than listening to, who have been granted immortality by their singer’s untimely death). By forcing MTV to play indie, or alternative rock as our American cousins would describe it, Nirvana opened the flood-gates for everyone from Green Day to Foo Fighters (yeah, I know) but also, unwittingly, set the scene for Limp Bizkit and a million shite emo bands.

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Dr. Dre – Nothing But A G Thang: Wu Tang Clan’s ’36 Chambers’ may have received more plaudits, whilst Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ may be most commonly suggested as the greatest rap album of the decade, but there’s no doubt that few had as much of an impact as Dre’s ‘Chronic’. Whilst artists & acts from Ice T to Dre’s own NWA could claim to have invented gangsta rap, ‘The Chronic’ was probably the finest example of the genre that has, arguably, shaped hip-hop, and therefore popular music, more than any other over the last 20 years. And in ‘G Thang’ Dre produced probably the best example of the genre; all smooth samples, shocking lyrics and, in Snoop Doggy Dogg (before he ditched the Doggy) the first true rap superstar of the 90s.

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So, the greatest songs of the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s, or at least the ones that, right now, strike me as being the most influential. Let me know yours, as well as your vote for song of the noughties.

2010 by doug88888 on flickr

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MSTRKRFT – Heartbreaker feat. John Legend

Logging into Gmail I discover a short but very welcome message from my good friend Chris:

My favourite electro dj’s MSTRKRFT have done a tune with your man John Legend

http://nashvillenights.blogspot.com/2009/03/mstrkrft-fist-of-god-out-today.html

I like it

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Heartbreaker by MSTRKRFT featuring John Legend reminds me a bit of the recent collaborations that Jazzanova have done, but with an extra splash of techno loveliness. The pitiless piano loop in Heartbreaker reminds me of the majestic All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem whilst John Legend proves, once again, that when he can free himself of his tendency towards slightly MOR soul, he’s one of the finest vocalists that we have. It doesn’t seem to be available to download in the UK though Amazon do have a, rather expensive, copy of the album it’s from, Fist of God.

Chris like MRSTRKRFT’s Heartbreaker & so do I.

Heartbreak Hotel sign by Paul Stuart Iddon on flickr

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Dizzee Rascal – Bonkers (feat. Armand Van Helden)

After years of being critically acclaimed but ignored by the mainstream (a situation similar to that described by The Roots in Act Too with the line “when we perform it’s just coffee shop chicks & white dudes”) Dizzee rascal has obviously decided that he likes the kind of success and attention that came with his cross-over smash Dance Wiv Me. Because his new singleis another stomping slice of techno & house, this time provided by dance God Armand Van Helden, with the grime element stripped down to Dizzee’s rhymes.

If the YouTube Cannes Lion competition made me want to be 27, this track makes me wish I was 19 again: able to go out all night without worrying about a hangover and with no thought of going home early so that I can get up early the next day to mow the lawn. With its screaming acid squelch, military drumming on the build-up, wicked scratching and viscious break-down Dizzee’s new track is absolutely storming.

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Which is why it’s so annoying that the name is so shit. Bonkers? Really? Is the next single going to be called Plonker, or Wally? Oh well, nevermind.

And, as it’s Armand Van Helden that Dizzee’s chosen to collaborate with, and because Dizzee’s early sound can be traced directly from the speed garage scene of the 90s, let me leave you with Van Helden’s amazing Tori Amos remix that defined that scene for millions of people. It’s gotta be big!

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Rave lights by Delfi’s World [In Focus] on flickr

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Wiley – Wearing My Rolex/The Rolex Sweep feat. Skepta

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OK, so I know that Wearing My Rolex by Wiley has been out for ages and is decidedly old news, but I just kept forgetting to blog it. And it was only when I was searching for the video for Ty’s Closer for the last post that I suddenly remembered it.

Anyway, for any of you who haven’t heard this yet, here is UK Garage/grime star Wiley absolutely killing it with a piece of dirty dancehall techno. And if you’re wondering what on earth the lyrics are about, it’s rhyming slang, innit?!

Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble

translates as:

Usually drink, usually dance, usually laugh (bubble bath)

Anyway, Wearing My Rolex by Wiley absolutely rocks. And whilst the video above appears to be the official one, the err, homage below has the much better 5.30 version of the song.

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UPDATE: Whilst browsing around a bit more after posting this, I came across this video for the follow-up to Wearing My Rolex, The Rolex Sweep which features Skepta. It’s essentially an ‘instructional video’ which sees a couple of likely lads playing a version of Mallett’s Mallet, except they have to come up with celebrities that ‘can’t dance like me’ (the refrain of The Rolex Sweep ). All well and good, if slightly weird. But where it gets seriously weird is when Timmy Mallet actually turns up & starts playing the game with them. Seriously surreal, even if it does go on for a bit too long. By the time Skepta actually gets round to explaining the dance moves for The Rolex Sweep, you’ll be wanting a glass of champagne to take your mind off it.

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And of course, this being 2008, there are loads of videos on YouTube of people doing The Rolex Sweep in their bedrooms, lounges, wherever. Some of them are terrible, some of them are rather sweet, some of them are by international rap stars (skip forward to about 1 minute), but they’re all another reason to love Wearing My Rolex, The Rolex Sweep, and the internet in general (it’s why Tim Berners Lee invented it you know).

UPDATE: There’s a great bit of footage over on the iPlayer at the moment of Wiley performing Wearing My Rolex with Hot Chip, who have also covered the track.

UPDATE: I’ve noticed that a lot of people are people finding this post because they’re searching for the lyrics to Wearing My Rolex & The Rolex Sweep so, as I’m a helpful kind of guy, I’ve decided to add them:

Wearing My Rolex – lyrics by Wylie

What would we do?
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
All I want to do is tell you I love you
That’s when I start promising the world to
A brand new girl I don’t even know yet
Next thing she’s wearing my Rolex!

What would we do?
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
What would we do?
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
All I want to do is tell you I love you

All I want to do is tell you I love you
That’s when I start promising the world to
A brand new girl I don’t even know yet
Next thing she’s wearing my Rolex!
Too much champs, don’t know where my phone is
Here’s my number, she already knows it
This chapter’s a lot, better close it
Just a look in her eye was so evil
Wiley’s a party guy and she knows it

What would we do?
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
All I want to do is tell you I love you
That’s when I start promising the world to
A brand new girl I don’t even know yet
Next thing she’s wearing my Rolex!

What would we do?
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
All I want to do is tell you I love you
That’s when I start promising the world to
A brand new girl I don’t even know yet
Next thing she’s wearing my Rolex!

What would we do?
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
What would we do?
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
All I want to do is tell you I love you

All I want to do is tell you I love you
That’s when I start promising the world to
A brand new girl I don’t even know yet
Too much champs, don’t know where my phone is
Here’s my number, she already knows it
This chapter’s a lot, better close it
Just a look in her eye was so evil
Wiley’s a party guy and she knows it

What would we do?
Usually drink, usually dance, usually bubble
All I want to do is tell you I love you
That’s when I start promising the world to
A brand new girl I don’t even know yet
Next thing she’s wearing my Rolex!

If anyone has any idea what the hell Wiley is talking about when he says “This chapter’s a lot, better close it” then I’d appreciate a tip.

The lyrics I can find for the Rolex Sweep don’t seem to match up with the version that’s been released, so if anyone knows where I can get the proper ones do let me know (why the hell bands don’t put lyrics on their MySpace pages/websites I have no idea – it would soon kill off those nasty lyrics sites)

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LCD Soundsystem – Get Innocuous (From GTA IV TV Ad)

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I can’t say that I’m a huge gaming fan, so the fuss about the release of GTA IV hasn’t really hit me that much. But if there’s 2 things I like it’s great ads and great tunes. GTA IV has both of these.

The clip above is the TV ad for GTA IV which is on heavy rotation here in the UK. Not only do I love the way it mirrors a movie trailer, following the main character around the city, I’ve also become rather obsessed with the backing track.

And now, thanks to the wonder of Google I’ve found out that it’s the track Get Innocuous by LCD Soundsystem. I really should have recognised it as Get Innocuous is the opening track on the album Sound of Silver which I’ve got. I guess it was probably due to the fact that I was so in love with the track All My Friends that I ended up listening to that on repeat, rather than any of the other tracks on the album. Well, I’ve heard it now and it rocks. Enjoy.

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10 Most Underrated Songs Of The 90s: Part 3

So I’ve been having a major nostalgia trip recently, & as it is shows no sign of abating, I figure you’re due the final instalment in my list of the 10 most underrated songs of the 1990s. I would hope that it will open up some debate and, more importantly, shine some light on some tracks that deserve more attention than they get at the moment…YouTube Preview Image

  1. Oasis – Talk Tonight: Many people have joked that Noel Gallagher wrote all his best material before he was famous, and that this was then released as the 1st albums and accompanying b-sides – i.e. the best work Oasis ever did. However Talk Tonight, written on the band’s first tour of the US (which wasn’t going well), goes to show that he still had something in him even after drugs & booze started to kill the talent. It’s the most beautiful love letter (to someone who wasn’t a lover) set to basic guitar, hand claps & organ & quite possibly the best thing they’ll ever do.
  2. Goldie – Timeless (Inner City Life): Drum & bass was barely the equivalent of a toddler in terms of it’s age as a musical genre, but already Goldie wasn’t just trying to run, but run a marathon. This 21 minute epic may be a stretch too far, but when you consider how excruciatingly un-inventive many guitar bands were at the time (not the good ones, but all the followers on – Ocean Colour Scene or Cast anyone?) the ambition here alone would be worthy of praise. The fact that Timeless is an absolutely stonking track, like something Pink Floyd would have recorded if they’d grown up in the 80s rather than the 60s, is almost by the by.
  3. Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness: Really? F**k yes! Josh Wink’s Higher State Of Consciousness was never likely to change the world, but in terms of absolutely mind blowing acid house techno or whatever, this is about as good as it ever got. And the fact that Gilles Peterson used to mix it in with jazz or something equally incongruous, only adds to the reasons why I love it. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to download it, but the video’s at the end of this post.
  4. Rae & Christian – The Hush (feat. Texas): How Northern Sulphuric Soul, the album this track comes from, hasn’t been officially recognised as a national treasure, I do not know. Continuing on where Blue Lines left off, Rae & Christian pulled together a truly British blend of soul & hip-hop. And in this beautifully laid-back track they got a much better performance out of Texas’ Sharleen Spiteri than the Wu Tang Clan ever managed.

OK, so that’s my top 10 most underrated songs of the 90s (you can find parts 1 & 2 here & here). It’s seriously open to debate – I’ve tried to keep it mostly British, so there’s lots of stuff from Europe & the US that could have been included. So why not use the comments to let me know what you would have included?YouTube Preview ImageGoldie picture by bloshakov on Flickr

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Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy, Hey Girl

The Chemical Brothers Hey Boy, Hey Girl is an absolute pounding dance-floor classic. What else is there to say

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The Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy, Hey Girl

I just stumbled across the video for Hey Boy, Hey Girl by The Chemical Brothers whilst browsing on YouTube. I’d forgotten what a great video it is & thought that I ought to share it with you. It also reminds me of New Year’s Eve 1999/2000 when Carl Cox played it at the Mobile Home gig on Bondi Beach and got a (deservedly) crazy reaction from the crowd. Despite the setting, it was actually miserable weather that night but as soon as the rerfain:

Hey boy, hey girl
Superstar DJs, here we go

kicked in, none of that mattered.

Not exactly the sort of song you’d have as the first dance at your wedding, but what the hell. Enjoy.

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