quarta-feira, maio 30, 2007

Gilles Peterson, Ben Westbeech and Koop

Last weeks have been pretty intense. Lots of concerts and clubdates but the sky is brightening up now. There aren’t that many interesting gigs in the pipeline so I can spend some time to keep you all informed about what’s been.
I’m planning to post a best of for Mouse on Mars. It was an interesting combination: first a cheerful Barbara Morgenstern, next some advanced beats and noise from Mouse on Mars and to finish things off, a theatrical aftershow with Planningtorock. I was keen to see her videoperformance and right so. It was also a pleasant reunion with the orangerie at Le Botanique. It’s a small concert hall but definitely on of the best in terms of sound. But more to come on that one.

There was also Gilles Peterson at the Depot. He came to DJ but he brought some presets with him for starters. Things got pretty hot and humid with a new UK Soul act called Ben Westbeech. He’s signed to Gilles Peterson’s new label Brownswood. I thought I’d never heard him before but as it turned out, I had already heard him on the radio and some compilation albums as a guest singer. His style of singing and music is pretty similar to that of Jamiroquia. Some people hate it but I like it. Let’s see how he evolves and what comes next.

Later that evening the Scandinavian band Koop did their workout. They just released a second album with an update of Big Band Swing and Jumpstyle Jazz from the 30’s and 40’s. I liked the first album but never bought it. It was a little bit to slick and mellow just as the Gotan Project. But the new stuff is pretty swell. Really top. They brought a small combo with them of really fine ace musicians and a female vocalist. She sang much in the same way as Billie Holliday. They’re booked for the Blue Note Festival later on this year. If I can, I will go back to catch them a second time.

The evening ended with a DJ set of Gilles Peterson. I’ve seen him spin several times. He’s a pro. Can’t miss. His little bit of smalltalk at the start of the show is always kind of funny. He looked like he just flew in and missed everything that’s been on before and asked what we’ve been up to – ‘O, you’ve been listening to Ben then and what else… Koop’ ‘Great, let’s see what we can do next for ya’.

80 Get Silly – Ben Westbeech
81 I See a Different You – Koop

quinta-feira, maio 17, 2007

West End Records - Larry Levan - The Paradise Garage

The Baldelli posts and the arrival of Gilles Peterson this evening bring me in a disco mood and what better place to turn to for disco than the NYC West End Records label.
West End Records is, along with Prelude and Salsoul, part of the holy trinity of disco labels. Although the label’s offices were upstairs from the legendary Studio 54, its output was aimed at an equally legendary nightspot farther downtown – the Paradise Garage. The West End owners had a very close and intense relationship with Paradise Garage’s DJ
Larry Levan which led both West End and the Garage to great heights.

The Garage attracted the best dancers in New York City and in order to keep them moving, Levan concocted a truly original mix of searing grooves and quirky, offbeat records that were somehow magic on the dance floor.
Levan's tastes were reflected in West End’s output: in particular
Arthur Russell’s avant-garde masterpieces of compressed dynamics but also many popular productions by Kenton Nix, most notably with Taana Gardner, that crossed over from hardcore dancers to all of New York. Ultimately, West End mainstream and underground sounds proved that disco was more then mere plastic crap.

Baldelli and Levan are both legendary DJ’s but they have a totally different style. Baldelli’s main concern was to keep a flawless groove going without missing a beat, while Levan as fearsome decksman, was less concerned with smooth segues than with capturing and pushing the fervency of the dancefloor moment he was creating. Levan's transitions often clashed, but that only added to the momentum. It’s only in the studio work that their styles come closer together.
Likely the canniest remixer ever, Levan turned normal-length funk tunes into epic dance workouts with startling regularity, patiently layering minimal tracks until they built into feverish crescendos.
Taana Gardner's classic track Heartbeat, from 1981 for instance, demonstrates this better than any other. For one thing, it's slow — 98 beats-per-minute as opposed to the traditional disco BPM, which ranges from 110 to 125. For another Levan slides into the hook slowly, opening with 20 seconds of a heartbeat and some handclaps, then brings in the drums and one of the most sampled basslines in history for another 20’’ before the rest of the instruments come in. (De La Soul used it on their Buddy remix, and Ini Kamoze turned it into a hit with Here Comes the Hotstepper). The first words (Heartbeat, it make me feel so weak) don't occur until exactly a minute into the track, and by then Levan has set you up for one of the great R&B vocal performances — sweet, fluttering, stinging, impossibly carnal. When it winds down at the six-minute mark, Levan brings the beat back for Gardner to talk over, and amps the groove back up again for four more glorious minutes. The ten-minute whole could go on for twice that length without complaints.’

All of this happened in the early 80’s when disco went back underground and became a site for experimentation again. Some of the disco tracks of those years like Ednah Holt's Serious Sirius Space Party and New York Citi Peech Boys’ (of which Levan was a member) Don't Make Me Wait, started flirting with electro and became digital-funk milestones alongside Afrika Bambaataa's contemporaneous Planet Rock. However the most of these track are mostly old skool. A mix of funk, soul and the occasional latin flavor.

61 Taana Gardner - Heartbeat (Club Mix)
62 Taana Gardner - Heartbeat (Larry Levan Mix)
63 D'bora - No Sense (1984)
64 Michele - Disco Dance
65 Colleen Heather - Magic
66 Loose Joints - Tell You (Today) (Original 12 inch Vocal)
67 Ednah Holt - Serious Sirius Space Party
68 Billy Nichols - Give Your Body Up To The Music
69 New York City Peech Boys - Don't Make Me Wait
70 Raw Silk – Do It To The Music
71 Mahogany - Ride on the Rhythm (1982)
72 Sesso Matto - Sessomatto (1976)
73 B+ - B-Beat Classic (1983)
74 Shirley Lites - Heat You Up (Melt You Down) (1983)

After a while all of this eventually evolved in something else all together. Let’s call it NY house music.

75 Frankie Knuckles - Your Love

As a side dish a band that tries to bring back those funky days. I’ve already written about Escort.

76 Escort - Starlight
Escort - All through the night

And some random stuff I’m currently listening to, but they fit in nicely.

Sounds of Blackness - Optimistic
Benny Sings - Little Donna

For those who like some visual footage to go along there are some video's on youtube about the era. First a short but comprehensive version on the birth of disco and clubculture in NYC with the main protagonists involved.

Next a short token of the atmosphere at the Paradise Garage.

Old skool Sue Mashing It Up

domingo, maio 13, 2007


As a kind of antidote to all the time passing by con Bolly some random novelties.

Strategy - Future Rock - Can't Rolll Back
A recent discovery is Strategy. A one person band apparently with a new album called Future Rock. Very sophisticated and groovy but not exactly the Future of Rock but rather the future of AfroBeat, Soul and Dub.

Riot in Belgium - La Musique (Adam Sky remix)
Riot in Belgium a sort of Belgian band (I’m not really sure) that’s been around for a while now. Great remix of a great tune.

Piano Club - Girl On TV (Philippe Zdar Mix)
Another Belgian band
Piano Club. They keep growin’ by the dozen and most of them are pretty decent too. I hope this evolution never stops.

Groove Armada - Get Down
The new Groove Armada single goes Dancehal.

Chromeo – Fancy Footwork
Finally a new Chromeo album. First single and just as good as before. Same old shit but I really like it.

Moments - James Brown
I finally found my all time favorite James Brown track. It wasn’t easy to find. A rather atypical track. No floorfiller but a theme for thought. Mr. Brown reminiscing in his own way about the state of affairs in the world. Same ol’ shit as up to date as ever. Things will never change if we don’t start to THINK!

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - Naturally - How Do I Let A Good Man Down
A recent discovery.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are state of the art genuine old skool Soul and R&B but not from the past but from the present. A band from Brooklyn with a great female vocalist and some ace musicians. This track from the album Naturally sound very in line with The Ethiopian Groove. Which in it’s turn is based on Soul, Funk and R&B. So full circle.
This reminds me that Paul Weller of The Jam and Style Council is comin’ to town on Wednesday to spin some turntables as a DJ. He’s presenting a fine selection of his private soul and funk record collection.

The White Stripes - Icky Thump
Wow, what a Progrock monstersound the new single from the White Stripes has. It’s seems that they’re on a mission to revamp all forgotten music styles.

To end, something that brings back memories. Some videos that I found on Youtube with Lady Miss Kier. The summers of 1990 and 1991 when House seemed brand new. I didn’t know anything about Detroit Techno or even House back in those days. The electronic music I heard was pretty white and European (Kraftwerk, Front 242, Cabaret Voltaire,...). I’m mainly into black music so it was a pleasant surprise to find out about black electronic dance music. All thanks to Bootsy and Worrel and Deee-Lite. If you want more of this nostalgic stuff, just go to MeckerMeckerMecker just over to the right in the column of links.

sexta-feira, maio 11, 2007


Pyar Zindagi Hai from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)… they don’t come much better than this one. For me this is classic Bollywood, Masala style. Masala means spicy or if you like, rather burned. I say classic, but in fact there isn’t much of the famous fancy dancing in the featuring disco scene but only a rather sticky slow.
Still the music compensates a lot. In the film Sikandar, or Alexander for that matter, has a troubled youth, makes fortune but can’t forget his childhood sweetheart who chooses another guy. He doesn’t know what to do with himself and starts drinking as is clearly shown in this key scene from the movie.
This song was revamped a couple of years ago on the Bollywood Breaks & Beats album as
Lover’s Paradise.

If you can’t get enough. You can watch a chunkload of this stuff over at
Bollywood4u.punt.nl. No subtitles though.


This film also features another famous more loungy song O Saa thi Re. The song has 2 versions. A male version song by Kishore Kumar and a female by Asha Bhosle.

In order to compensate the lack of fine dancing another great moment in the history of Indian movies. Hoton Me Aisi Baat from The Jewel Thief. I doubt it but from what I heard, all of this was done in just one shot.

To end this list, just for fun a favourite of mine O Mere Sona Re from Teesri Manzil (1966).

Myspace is Your Space

I have a Myspace account for quite a while now but I never really could figure out what to do with it so I didn’t use it, up until now. I decided to make a fansite out of it since so many bands and artist seem to have a Myspace. I’m adding artist pages on a weekly basis in order to generate a catalogue of all the artist, musicians, composers, performers, also those who are already deceased. Also clubs and concert halls, just anything I really like. It’s handy for me to check if anyone is playin’ anywhere near myplace.
So check
The Houston Helpdesk.
Keep it Real

Also tired of those 99% of music videos which are about …
a) rappers with gold, cars, the hood and ho's
b) blond chicks dancin' and shakin' it with the occasional licking sweat shot
c) overacting bands playing in a computer generated environment

That being said, it's nice to see something refreshing every once in a while.

Just check this video for Grizzly Bear’s song Knife and see... yes, an overacting bands playing in a computer generated environment!

Now that commercial Rap Music is officially declared death, underground Hip Hop is still flourishing. The Roots are one of those bands and they are already around for quit a while now. Back in 1996 – when DJ Shadow declared Hip Hop dead for the first time – they already made this self-ironic video which is the manual to how to make the perfect hip-hop video. It also sort of works as a PowerPoint presentation with moving images and sound because of the captions. The video wouldn't be as good without the those captions. They are essential and funny!

What they do by The Roots. Nice song by the way.

terça-feira, maio 08, 2007

Prairie Storm

I went to see a concert of Low a couple of weeks ago. It took me a while to collect and load this stuff, so that’s why I’m posting this only now.
It wasn’t my first Low concert. Their concerts are always nothing more than amazing. Up until now they always delivered. I’ve never been disappointed. Which is hard to do in their case because one wrong note or bad voice affects the quality of the entire performance. If it doesn’t sound right you’ll hear it. It’s the nature of their music. What they do looks simple but it’s not. It’s a sparse and wide open sound with long and ever winding melodies and an occasional explosion of feedback. It reminds me of those Great Plains in the Midwest (they live in Minnesota which technically speaking is not a part of the Plains). These endless fields and prairies which are usually peaceful and tranquil but which are also the homeland of storms and tornados. The eruption of guitar noise and feedback amidst songs of angelic beauty resembles a prairie storm passing by. A great overwhelming experience which has more impact and effect in this receiving environment.
For me their music (apart from the lyrics) deals with the countryside and the forces of nature. So it’s not urban music. The lyrics about human nature ad extra layers. A man lost in space and time? An inner turmoil in resonance with that of nature?
This imagery always brings me, through wild associations, to the Wizard of Oz. That prairie twister which blows the house of Judy Garland all the way to Oz.

Anyway, back on track… it seems that they also have a special bond or a relation of some sort with this country and it’s audience. Maybe it’s because we’re one of the first foreign countries where they had fans and got to perform. I don’t know? Is it because we’re called the Lowlands? Too obvious.

This is my selection of song from the Albums I have. I think they played almost all of these songs apart from Dinosaur Act, Laser Beam and When I go Deaf but I'm not sure anymore.

(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace
Dinosaur Act
Time Is The Diamond
Laser Beam
The Lamb
When I Go Deaf
Like A Forest
In Silence
Point Of Disgust
In Metal
Violent Past

Low was the main act in a small series of concerts, kind of festival, of like minded music on the same night. There was an up comin’ Belgian band called Krakow which was a bit of a disappointment. I only knew one song of them from the radio which was a really nice blend of alt.country and close harmony but they didn’t get around doing much harmony. They sang separately but none of them had a voice that was distinctive enough to carry any of the slow moving song (to say it mildly). More teamwork next time.
Next on the bill was another American act that didn’t ring a bell. I had never heard of
Death Vessel. On the basis of the name I was expecting a couple of headbangers that would emphasis on the hard-core side of slowcore - the label Low always gets identified with - but instead it was a very pleasant encounter with a singer-songwriter in the best folk and country tradition of The Anthology of American Folk Music.
Another great surprise and disbelief was my share when this tall guy with long black hair sang with a soaring, crystalline soprano. He sang in a high register with a clear tone that’s beautifully sustained. If you closed your eyes you could hear a wonderful female country singer.
Death Vessel played it pretty straight. Just a man with a odd but beautiful vulnerable voice and some acoustic picking and plucking at a safe but skilful pace. I hope that he doesn’t get boxed as some freak country act - come and see the cowboy who sings like a girly. It would be a damn shame.

Mean Streak
Blowing Cave
Break The Empress Crown
Mandan Dink
Deep In The Horchata

I PowerPoint

I like PowerPoint’s or keynotes for that matter (I still don’t know if they’re equally good programs. Brief, keynotes should be better, I’ve heard). Sure, I’ve seen some lousy ones in my live and even made some myself, but a good presentation in general is a wonderful experience. People often mistake PowerPoint as a method - or even worse a default autopilot where you simply have to put in stuff, fiddle with some knobs and the program does the rest - but it’s not. It’s a tool and you’re the presentation.

A good story, some truly awesome visuals (but keep it simple) and a gifted, if possible funny storyteller make a great combination. I see and perform a lot of presentation myself but there’s still a lot that I can learn. I sometimes deliver, but sometimes I don’t. I’ve noticed that it usually goes wrong when I didn’t or couldn’t spend much time on a good visual presentation or when I have to rely on the outline of the support to know what I'm telling. I really don’t like using one I didn’t make myself. When a slide is simply ugly, it hurts. I get sick. Call me a sissy but I’m very picky about it.

That’s why I sometimes search the internet for presentations of all sorts and read books on the topic. An interesting site is
Presentation Zen.
That’ how I learned that one can even commit Comedy with PowerPoint presentations.

Like in this one on economics. I don’t have a PhD in Economics so every once in a while I need a hand to fill in some papers. they usually contain a lot of fancy lookin’ mumbo jumbo but luckily there are people who can actually translate all of this in reasonably understandable language.
A nice story and while listening one also gets some brief outlines on a better use of yes… PowerPoint, especially the use of bullets. Unfortunately the slides look rather bland though.

Only a miner portion of the communication during presentations is verbal, as is proven in this one. Even though the person only uses one word an a deadpan standard outlook (which is probably a part of the case here, I guess) the message gets across.
Anyone who ever had to sit trough on a presentation about management and assorted stuff or technical information knows what this is about. Just watch it until the end. The clue at the end is really funny and so recognisable.

At last, in order to end, one of the best PowerPoint/keynote presentations I’ve recently found on the - as usual - great
TED site. Only just images and no text this time though. It takes a while to load. You can also see it right here Edward Burtynsky on Earth's manufactured landscapes.

Did you notice how technicaly advanced these plugins are? Chapter marks and exploding views, great!

domingo, maio 06, 2007

Recent Live Gigs

20 april / Daniele Baldelli / Make-Up Club Ghent
21 april / Digitalism / Dirty Dancing Mirano Brussels
Digitalism – Pogo
26 april / Leslie Feist / Le Grand Rex Paris
Feist – Mushaboom
Feist – One Evening
Feist – My Moon My Man
27 april / Justus Köhncke / Make-Up Club Ghent
Justus Köhncke – 2 after 909
Justus Köhncke – Elan (Prins Thomas version)
Justus Köhncke – Timecode
Whirlpool Productions – From Disco to Disco

sábado, maio 05, 2007

Baia Sound

Going trough my Baldelli tapes and other data carriers, I realized how great this stuff really is but also how utterly obscure most of it was. I already posted some tracks before that once were heard on the dancefloors, terrace and the swimming pool at Baia degli Angeli (recent rediscovery Timing, Forget the Timing by Black Devil and Magnifico Mambo by Five Letters). I ad some others now that I think are simply irresistible.

André Gagnon – Surprise 1976 mix version
James Mason – Sweet Power Your Embrace
Rhythm Makers – Zone (1976)
Bombers - Don't Stop The Music (1978)