Thursday, January 31, 2013

WHATEVEREST: The Real Inspector Norse

Easily my favourite tune of 2012, Todd Terje's masterful interpretation of the ARP 2600, Inspector Norse - was part of the outstanding It's the Arps EP on Smalltown Supersound. So what was the inspiration behind the title of track? WHATEVEREST is an award winning short documentary that shows us inside Todd Terje's studio - what a treat - and takes a look at the real Inspector Norse, the internet alias of Norwegian oddball Marius Solem Johanson.

WHATEVEREST from Kristoffer Borgli on Vimeo.

Director Kristoffer Borgli won the Special Jury Award at AFI Fest 2012, and it his treatment of the quirky subject matter that helps the film rise above simple comedic relief. Inspector Norse makes dance videos and homemade drug recipes which he uploads to You Tube, where Todd Terje first witnessed his magic. He is a deliberately strange character, taken to sequined jumpers, and massive amounts of his homebrewed product. The small town setting adds to the David Lynch-like strangeness of the whole thing, but at the end of the day, it's remarkably astute film about personal identity, inspiration, and expression.

You can still grab It's the Arps HERE

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pachanga Boys - We Are Really Sorry

Decidedly hard to pigeonhole and full of as many great riffs as any current rock record, Pachanga Boys debut album sounds like a cross between Hot Chip and Psychemagik, and in some places borders on pure experimentation. That said, it eventually functions as a rewarding listening experience, and veers a long way from the path of their previous disco-house orientated releases. We Are Really Sorry is an odd title. Exactly what are they sorry for? Maybe the fact they've attempted an album that is low on bangers, and demands an actual listen through, in itself a brave thing, given the instant and disposable nature of modern music consumption.

Standout cuts include Vampiros Hermanos, which begins with a laidback stoner rock groove before layers of quirky analog sounds push the track into psychedelic territory. Drunken Dancer is amazing as well, built upon looped voices yet punctuated by a sharp groove, and finally the sort of pads you'd find on a giallo horror soundtrack. It is a theme that is filtered through the entire album, and the manipulation of odd sounds into something that has experimental leanings, while retaining catchy harmonies throughout.

Consisting of Aksel Schauffer, who also produces as Superpitcher, and Mexican Mauricio Rebolledo, whose DJ sets of edgy, odd, rhythm based music initially inspired the duo to start producing. Released on their own imprint, Hippie Dance, which is a subsidiary of legendary German label Kompakt, We Are Really Sorry is an outstanding example of forward thinking electronic that is still fun to listen to, and showcases a duo that offer a huge amount of potential in the future.

Get the album here - We Are Really Sorry

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Derrick Carter at Sandwiches

Any time Derrick Carter is in your city, he is a must see. One of those legendary DJs that just does what he always has, avoiding trends, yet somehow through skill and sheer enthusiasm remaining as essential now as he has been for the last 20 years. Carter is known for marathon sets that take in various styles of house music, and occasionally veer off into obscure disco classics, or a 80s pop hit in epic 12-inch dub form, in essence he just plays what suits the vibe.

Schooled from a young age at the peak of the Chicago house scene, Carter's first recording came out in 1987, yet it's as a DJ that rose to near celebrity status in the late 90s. Basically Carter takes you on a journey that can be, jackin', jumpin', or deep, but is always of absolute quality.  

It's almost impossible not to get up and dance when Carter is on the decks, and thankfully those wise heads at Sandwiches have managed to secure his services on Friday, February 1. I'm sure this means a few Wellington peeps will be dusting off their dancing shoes for a good ol' house boogie, but Derrick Carter is DJ for anyone who loves music in general, and dancing, so make sure you leave this date free, it's not to be missed. Trust me.

Follow this link for online tickets: Dash Tickets

Find out more at the Facebook Event Page

Check out this recent mix for Boiler Room, it's downloadable as well.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sixth Avenue Express - Props

Coming to my attention last year via the House of Disco site, London's Sixth Avenue Express released one of the best freebies of 2012 in Upside Down, a rework of Diana Ross, as well as a slew of other edits and slinky deep house gems, including Chute on Gazeebo International, and Goodbye on Kolour Recordings.

Judging by this new cut, which showcases some of SAE's best production yet; blending the classic sounds of house with some subtle future garage leanings, updating the 90s sound for a more modern set of ears. Imagine Disclosure remixed by Ron Trent, and you're just about there.

One to watch over the next twelve months, Sixth Avenue Express also have an EP out on Pole Position early next month.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Master of Psychedelic Soul: Norman Whitfield

Born in Harlem, before rising to fame in Detroit while employed by Berry Gordy's Motown Records, Norman Whitfield did epic soul like nobody else. Infusing touches of the psychedelic and political, Whitfield and lyricist Barrett Strong helped move Motown away from sugary soul hits, towards a more topical point of view, and a musical blend suited to the social changes of the late sixties. Although Whitfield had been producing The Temptations since 1966, his big break came when the previous songwriting team at Motown, the Holland-Dozier-Holland trio, left the label over profit-sharing disputes. This gave the Whitfield-Strong partnership the break they were looking for, and a hit with references to the abundant drug culture of the times, Cloud Nine by The Temptations, began a series of standout songs for Marvin Gaye, Edwin Starr, and Gladys Knight & the Pips.

His most recognizable songs, Papa Was a Rolling Stone and Heard it Through the Grapevine remain potent to this day, and stand as near perfect examples of what Whitfield achieved at Motown. Flamboyant arrangements, social commentary, and extended track lengths were suddenly the norm at the label, and through his own personal enterprises, The Undisputed Truth and Rare Earth, Whitfield took soul to places never heard before. Originally influenced by Sly Stone's innovation, he cleverly married Stone's raw sound to the slick dynamics of Motown's vocalists, and changed the sound of soul in the mainstream forever.

Whitfield is described by Berry Gordy in his memoir To Be Loved as a tall, shy man who earned a living in his teens as a hotshot pool player. He did his time, like many others, as an junior assistant at the Hitsville studio, and even when established as a producer struggled to get many of his projects off the ground, due to Gordy's tight quality control and often cut throat business mind. Perhaps this rubbed off on Whitfield, and by the mid-seventies his ego had risen to the point where his own picture was bigger than that of the Temptations on his last production for the group, 1973's compelling Masterpiece.

The following year he set up his own label, Whitfield Records, leaving Motown, and found further success with Rose Royce, recording their infamous Car Wash soundtrack in 1977, before slowly falling into obscurity. He returned to work at Motown in the mid eighties, but the music and ideas were a pale comparison to his earlier work, and few notable songs came out of the period.

Notoriously shy and unwilling to be interviewed, much of the motivation behind Whitfield's music remains hard to identify clearly. Was Whitfield a politically minded activist using soul music as a conduit for change, or simply a business savvy producer who spotted a hole in a saturated marketplace? Whatever the reality, Whitfield opened up soul music to new horizons, and laid the path for Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On, The Ohio Players, and Isaac Hayes to push the boundaries even further out.

His often grandiose, orchestrated soul classics include War, Smiling Faces Sometimes, Ball of Confusion, Wishing on a Star, and Ain't Too Proud to Beg, a body of work that is as impressive as it is distinctive. Whitfield passed away in 2008, aged 69, after battling diabetes, and being convicted of tax evasion. He was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2004, alongside lyricist Strong, in respect to their work on Motown. NormanWhitfield remains a mysterious figure whose consistency and creativity make his music a pleasure worth indulging in.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ikonika: Live in Wellington

Ikonika returns to Wellington this Saturday at San Francisco Bath House. A collaboration between Girl Trouble and Ex.D, our second joint gig after bringing you oOoOO and Lapalux earlier this year. Last time Ikonika played here, she showcased her incredible skills as a DJ for over five hours, and even threw out tour T-shirts to those who had remained until the end of the set. In other words, she blew young Wellington minds, and looks set to do so once again. Her releases on Hyperdub including her debut album Contact, Love, Want, Have, and recent I Make Lists EP, showcase this talented artist perfectly, channeling the influence of Aphex Twin through the modernist leanings of the UK bass scene. If you're after something inspirational that goes above the bland normality of dance music, then you really can't afford to miss this gig.

Also on the bill are some of New Zealand's best acts, with ex-Trinity Roots member Riki Gooch, Electric Wire Hustle cohort Benny Tones, and sensational neo soul diva Estere all performing on Saturday night. DJ support comes from LRD JXN, who you've probably heard on Radio Active and at a variety of venues throughout Wellington. Ex.D's Gus, and yours truly, will keep things sorted either side of the acts.

Estere Live at VanguardRed from VanguardRed Magazine on Vimeo.

Tickets are available online HERE, and at Rough Peel Music on Vivian Street. There will also be door sales on the night.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

78 Edits mini-mix

The 78 Edits releases have been incredibly reliable as a source of quality disco and deep house. The Edinburgh based producer has been making edits that combine the original elements with a deep house thud and plenty of filters, with the results similar to what the likes of Eddie C and the Melbourne Deepcast have been producing lately. This mix for London based label Retrospective compiles tracks from an upcoming vinyl release, and while it may be only a short 30 minutes, it definitely crams in some quality, with stand out tracks by Rayko, Toomy Disco, and Mudegg.

Retrospective are giving this mini mix away on their Soundcloud. You can also pre-order the full release.