Friday, July 30, 2010

Video Games - Live!

The junction between music and videogames continues to evolve. Sync licensing is great for established bands, but how about turning the tide of interactivty from the gaming platform to a LIVE VENUE. New orchestra's such as the Gamer Symphony Orchestra (GSM), and established collectives such as National Symphony Orchestera (NSO) are doing just that. See below for a clip of "Play! A Video Game Symphony" performing a self-arranged version of our most cherished video game icon, Zelda!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DJ Shadow

genre: electronic
artist: DJ Shadow
album: The DJ Shadow Remix Project
featured tracks: Mongrel Meets His Maker (Sonotech Mix); Walkie Talkie (Irn Mnky "Beat Down" Mix)
street date: July 2010
label: self-released

This week's featured electronic artist is another one we (northern) Californian's can proudly lay bragging rights to.

What started as a simple remix contest morphed into a full-blown remix project that DJ Shadow loves "more than [he] ever dreamed [he] would." It's rare to find a fresh take on a classic that is well received by both the audience and the original artist, but whatever special sauce this collection of DJs is hiding up their sleeves has certainly wowed everyone.

Shadow says "new life has been breathed into songs I had long-since resigned to the past, and made them fresh WILL hear these mixes in future shows, and that's the strongest endorsement I can give as a DJ."

One random fun fact before we get into the actual remixes: this album alone demonstrates the brilliance and breadth of DJ Shadow's influence. Why, you ask? Each track represents an artist in another country who has been inspired by Shadow. In the first three tracks, we go to France, the US, and the UK. By the end, we've also been to Italy, Canada, Venezuela... and then some. So you basically get a CD of awesome remixes, as well as an around the world ticket. Sweet.

Mongrel Meets His Maker: the riff in the original version of this track has slight undertones of Tool and A Perfect Circle. Sonotech has kept that element of the song but added a world of complexity by layering additional treble and bass elements to create a deep, rich sound.

The original version of Walkie Talkie definitely straddles the line between hip hop, electronic, and alternative rock (okay, so I guess it's more of a circle than a straight line... or something). Irn Mnky's cut nudges the track more towards the hip-hop/electronic line, but still manages to maintain that gritty alternative rock vibe.

In summary: Fresh for '88, suckas? How about fresh for 2010.

Show some LOVE. stream now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do me right (don't worry, it's not that dirty)

genre: House
artist: Ed The Red
album: New York House Music, Vol 1
tracks: Do Me Right (ft. Secret Lovers), Move Yo Body (ft Hearsay)
label: Bottom Line Records

After 20 years on the house scene, the iconic master of House, colloquially referred to as Ed the Red, delivers another batch of instant classics.

Do Me Right blends Ed's jazz keyboardist background with his impeccable skills as a producer & DJ to produce the ultimate combination of classic house and retro-funk. It sounds like an odd combination (jazz and house? funk and classic?) but these elements fit together as well as salty and sweet.

Move Yo Body is more straightforwardly funky, with its slight hint of dub in the bassline. The fun, friendly lyrics in tandem with the mood-elevating beat instantly transports you to a beachside lounge on a tropical island. Enough said.

My new motto (borrowed from Hearsay): "see, ya gotta move. see, ya gotta groove. but if you can't do that, them mmm guess what? that's alright, kid."

beyond what you see lurks so much more

genre: indie, new wave, electronic
artist: <>
album: Grand Strategy I
street date: July 13th 2010
featured tracks: Love & War, Tame
label: Cozy Music

tfo is Timothy F O'Keefe (and sometimes some guest artists!) of Providence, Rhode Island.
According to the Providence Phoenix, Timothy is basically the godfather of Providence's electronic music scene. According to me, he's basically the godfather of winning at life. Seriously-- this guy has done everything from audio design for video games to journalism (oh, and lets not forget the part where he started his own label, teaches HS students and graduate students the tricks to successful music production, organizes IndieArts/ri, and is working on an MFA at RISD). Ummm... can I borrow some impressiveness for my resume?

Anyways, these tracks are awesome. Love & War sucks you in after the first half a second with a guitar riff that is reminiscent of John Petrucci's Glasgow Kiss. This riff fades in and out of focus throughout the track, allowing other melodic factors some time at center stage. My favorite part: circa 1:30, the vocals take a short break to allow for a brief jam sesh between the beat and a few of the featured guitar parts. SO good. (Sidenote: this happens a few times throughout the song, but the first one is still my favorite because it's both unexpected and fleeting, and leaves you wanting more.)

Tame is anything but. No joke--this song is nuts. The intro is ominously intriguing-- kind of like a mix between the music that plays right before something epic happens in a sci-fi movie, and what I imagine Dracula listens to at bedtime. During the proceeding 4 minutes and 30 seconds, Timothy builds a blissful concoction that I lack the words to describe. A chorus of "this is how I feel" is interspersed at the climax of each distinct chunk of song to cover a range of conflicting emotions. I know what I'm gonna be listening to next time I can't articulate how I feel. Thank you Timothy!!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

call on me, you got my number

genre: house/electronica/down-tempo
artist: Joshua Heath ft Colette
album: Call On Me
tracks: Call On Me (main mix); Call On Me (Giano Mix)
street date: June 29th 2010
label: Candy Talk Records

Colette and Joshua Heath combine their diverse range of talents to deliver a track that is sure to fill dance floors all summer long. Colette brings with her a long history of chart-topping experience and ten years of hard work that has finally brought her new label, Candy Talk Records, into existence. With Candy Talk, Colette promises to "dial up a dynamic sound that defies the conventionalities of of house music" and deliver tracks that "make [their] way everywhere from dark & dirty clubs, to big ol' shiny raves."

Well, she couldn't have picked a better track to act as the label's first big release.

The main mix of Call On Me starts with a sensual beat that gets subtly built upon throughout the length of the track. Colette's emotive voice anchors the song while funky layers are continually added and stripped away so artfully that you can't help but wonder, "what just changed here?"

Fast forward a few tracks to the Giano mix (but go back and listen to the ones in between later!!) for a more trancey, more sultry, more moody version of the song. The main beat serves as the consistency-factor in this mix, while Giano plays with Colette's gorgeous vocals like a kid plays with a new toy; he uses the full 7 minutes and 16 seconds of the song to experiment with all the fun vocal variations you can imagine.

in summary: the ADD kids don't need Adderall-- they just need some Colette, Joshua Heath, and Giano to grab and hold their attention. Hey, it worked for me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

SF Life: Pride Weekend

Coming from a small town, I (as in Miss Sunny Dee) never knew much outside the walls of spoon fed pop culture, including the generalizations and stereotypes personified by those on the golden screen. What I mean by this is since my town really only had one cultural arena of life (white, middle class, straight, etc.), we relied heavily on pop culture stereotypes to judge those who we had not come to know. I never really agreed with this cultural acclamation, but the only way I knew to go against it was to be "the punk," yet again relying on what pop culture had defined as alternative, such a tangled web.

Anyways, point of this story is when I moved to San Francisco, I was graciously in awe of what various ways people expressed themselves, and how comfortable each and every individual felt in such a welcoming community of people. There was no need to become part of a definition or a stereotype, nor did you have to follow the trends that media conglomerations spoon feed much of the rest of America. It was a melting pot of personae, and it taught me that I could be who I am, and wear the outfits that Chad so wonderfully explains on our podcast.

Me (right), and one of my most eccentrically beautiful friends, Brynna

San Francisco's openness, I often believe, is due to their continuing support of the LBGTQ community. With their acceptance of this vast culture, they are able to look beyond walls of stereotypes, and as one of my friends so graciously put it, make it a matter worthy of ignoring due to its normalcy. I take pride living in a city that allows adults to love and live, and never feel one doubt about their self esteem and safety.

So why do I bring all this up on our Electronic blog? Well friends, one of the very first places I realized how well the gay community was accepted within the larger San Franciscan community was at night clubs where I used to go dance. I remember sitting at the bar and watching how freely everyone looked, and how they dance with whomever they liked, co-mingling with others around them no matter what their sexual preference. I think that's when I realized what a strong power music has over how we control ourselves, and how we break molds of stereotype. Music is constantly taking strides to break the norm and be provocative, and with this movement, instigates others to be more open to things they may not have been open to before. And I think this is especially pronounced in electronic and dance music, where you are provoked by music to move.

As I walked through the Castro on pride night, the streets were alive with Electronic music, and it made me realize that exact power once more. People were all together in celebration of love and music, and it only made sense that the bass coming through that speakers was the driving heartbeat to this amazing spectacle.

Castro, Saturday Night Pride

In conclusion, I love what music (especially dance music) has done to inspire unity and creativity and instigate a flame of knowledge and acceptance, and I am so happy to live in a city that accepts those who are gay, straight, green, blue, or Sunny, and let those of us who may have felt lost elsewhere be proud of who we are.

Party on electro heads, and remember the love that is being spread through this genre of music that counters pop culture, yet still accepts everyone.

And Happy pride to EVERYONE, because being proud of who you are goes much further than sexuality.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

you love my shake

genre: electro-house
artist: Fukkk Offf
album(s): Remix Is King; In Da Club-- Fukkk Offf Remixes
featured tracks: Love My Shake (ft LaClopeAuBec); In Da Club (ft Hazel, Entyce)
label: Coco Machete
street date: February 25th, 2010; June 22nd, 2010

Fukkk Offf hails from Hamburg, Germany-- a hometown he shares with Boys Noize, D.I.M., and Digitalism. A few interesting tidbits, before we get to the tracks. I promise, they're good.
1) Fukkk Offf was still working his day job as recently as December of 2009. So... he works all day, spins all night, and sleeps...when, exactly? Solid work ethic.
2) LaClopeAuBec's remix of Love My Shake is featured on Remix is King because they won a remix contest with Fukkk Offf about a year ago. They've since exploded in popularity. That's about a billion times cooler than winning American Idol.
3) Fukkk Offf says he knows he's played a good set when the audience salutes him with a barrage of middle fingers after the encore. I like his style.
4) In an interview with Fairtilizer, Fukkk Offf stated that his music is "more than just a plingplong of sounds" and that he wanted to create a space in which he could "express feelings about love and hate in a more aggressive way, without any rules." I would say this approach is successfully reflected in his work.

Love My Shake is expertly remixed in a way that's had me dancing in my chair for the last four minutes and twelve seconds. The track starts with a simple splice of the lyrics, then adds some solid drum & bass layers with treble accents that suck you in. LaClopeAuBec masterfully strips away and rebuilds variations of these layers throughout the entirety of the song to yield a fluid transition through the prologue, conflict, climax, and resolution. Sweet.

In Da Club pairs Hazel's sassy rap skills with Entyce's sultry vocals and Fukkk Offf's addicting beats to ensure that YOUR body moves to the bass and the beat. If you listen to this track on repeat (as I have been...), you'll be rapping along with Hazel in no time. You might even get your own feisty attitude and accidentally sass your boss. Oops.

(and then dance, dance, dance)