It’s a bold move to release an album that was self-described as “cold, bleak, glacial” just after the summer solstice, but it appears as though Anticon co-founder Alias has done just that. Three years post-Fever Dream has put Alias in an almost inescapably frigid place, sonically. His new album Pitch Black Prism is unrelentingly ominous, its barren urgency takes shape in sharp, crystalline form. Truly a metaphorically glacial album – iced, structured, oddly beautiful, and with much to be seen under the surface. If you’re a Boards of Canada / Aphex Twin fan… you’re probably gonna like this one.
A couple of weeks ago I met up with Grenier at one of my favorite local spots Forage for a little food and friendly discussion. What I think both of us anticipated was a brief discussion about his upcoming projects, but what ended up happening was a close to hour long conversation about creativity and the state of music. I left feeling the opposite of disappointed… sure I was like 30 minutes late to my next thing but the topics we discussed was something I felt needed to be expressed. So instead of a carefully edited, introspective piece from me that took days to organize and edit down, below you’ll find an honest conversation between myself and a musician who’s very clearly spent a lot of time not only working with others but also thinking about how to work in new ways.
This all came about by the premiere of his stunning music video for “Intentions,” which came out on Symbols last year. You can watch the video below but I highly suggest clicking after the jump to read about Grenier’s multitude of new projects, including ones with Archie Pelago, Eprom & Hejfund, and The Glitch Mob. I’d love to see others’ opinions on the rest of this, perhaps open some insightful discussions.
On Tuesday Los Angeles based creative genius Jerome LOL released his Deleted/Fool EP on home label Friends of Friends. Having previously released an album on FoF as the now defunct LOL Boys, Jerome’s new EP is his first official solo release. I could throw words around about Jerome being a sort of avant-garde musical and visual curator, or how his aesthetic bleeds originality in its cheeky complexities and colorful simplicities – but that would be selling him short, and missing the point. My lack of ability to really envelop Jerome LOL as an entity is precisely his appeal. The off-kilter balance of this ‘tumblr-era x internet 1.0 x 90′s branding’ visual mish-mash with the delicateness and deeper meaning of Jerome LOLs musical endeavors is in my humble opinion so cleverly curated that I am just consistently in awe. Jerome’s filtering and curating of a dizzying amount of visual and audio influences from everywhere across the spectrum into a concise and branded look and sound is something I’ve always respected. His DJ sets are interesting and fun, his label Body High is a wonderful homage to LA and dance music origins while keeping releases and artists fresh and cool, and his music videos are insanely unique and some of my favorites:
The four-track EP begins with “Deleted,” starts with Jerome’s signature swinging drums, in true-to-form fashion created by an antiquated and distorted piece, the DJX-2. The claps and swing fade as Sara Z’s cool and sensitive vocals come in, with clear cut changes in the cord progressions between each verse carrying the mood. It’s these subtleties in the undertones that reveal the emotional complexities of the track – doubling computer jargon with the destruction of a relationship (“we’re offline, no course of action” “control, escape, command, delete, it’s all in our hands”). The track evolves and grows in almost pop-song format with repeated choruses and verses, a bridge and an outro, which shuts off all the drums just before Sara utters her last line- printing the track in your head.
“Always” continues with the cymbal-heavy, swinging drum patterns, this time lighter in feeling given the faster pattern & more effervescent vocals. The keys in the chorus are touching and warm, and the various inflexions of Sara’s voice on the word “Always” is captivating and soulful. The heavy distortion on the bassline and clanging drums on “Fool” flip the EP from pop-leanings to a much more club/warehouse mindset, until Angelina Lucero’s melancholy and poignant vocals rip you off your shuffling feet and onto the floor. But as the heavy bassline fades, a glockenspiel-sounding bridge comes in before Angelina’s chorus comes in, aided by incredibly pitched-up echoes of her voice carrying each line. The clanging drums and garage moodiness are met by the pitch shifts and “this instrument can never sound sad” use of the glockenspiel – it’s this touch of color in an otherwise entirely depressing track that is a common theme in Jerome’s work. The EP closes with “True”, another considerably moody song from Angelina Lucero’s teethy and slow vocals and sort of rain-down-your-windowpane piano chords that rain so heavily on the track it nearly drowns out her vocals until the very end.
Like with all artists that have developed their own signature patterns and sounds, I see the argument from both sides on Jerome’s heavy use of jazzy/swing drums and pop-oriented progressions: on one side it doesn’t have an grand sense of variety, but on the other it’s clearly a sound and vibe that nobody else is really doing. You can identify a Jerome LOL track from just a few seconds of listening, but because of that the tracks can be considered to start sounding the same. I’m personally more drawn to the ‘Deleted’ half of the EP, which to me is an example of the vibe of work I enjoy most from Jerome; the ‘Fool’ half dives much deeper into a darker side of his music which I simply do not grasp as well – I think that’s a side he’s still sonically developing. But I do have to give props to Jerome for really nailing the structure of his tracks.
CONTROL Fridays @ The Avalon. Whether you like it or not, you’ve got a crazy story to tell from a night spent there. We think about what music we may be into right now or not anymore, but you better believe if you live in Los Angeles or have been here for a weekend, chances are you have had a wild one at one of the longest standing electronic music weekly events across the globe. After the “blog-house” scene spilled DJs into clubs and venues nationwide, Los Angeles was a beacon for this growing underground buzz. It wasn’t without difficulty for a young Ryan Jaso and Chris White to prove to the already storied venue, Avalon Hollywood, that their new weekly event CONTROL would gain any traction and or keep the crowds coming. “The red-headed step child” as the owners and managers of the club first called it, CONTROL had to live in the shadow of Avalon’s bigger nights showcasing heavyweights such as Paul Oakenfold, Tiesto, and a still thriving live music calendar. But none of that could stand in the way of what was going to happen with a growing music scene. For 5 years now, the “little weekly party that could” has turned into the taste-making, career-launching, riot-starting, life-changing movement that has kept LA one of the premiere places to discover new talent and see the best of the best at the same damn time. Continue Reading
Acres of lush green grass. Majestic palm trees highlighted by a purple mountain backdrop. Sunny Southern California skies. Desert nights in the Spring. Cutting edge art installations. The hottest artists/DJs in the world. And 75,000 of your closest friends. As far as music festivals go, The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is as good as it gets. What makes Coachella the premier festival in the country & one of the top festivals in the world? First and foremost, the music. Coachella first began in 1999, took a year off in 2000, and since then, I’ve attended the last 13 festivals. And if there’s one thing I can say unequivocally, it’s that the music lineup always delivers. Not only does Coachella consistently offer the hottest musicians of the moment, the festival has also played host to some of the greatest acts of all time: Paul McCartney, Prince, Madonna, Roger Waters, Radiohead, Daft Punk, Dre & Snoop & many others. Artists come out of retirement & bands reunite for Coachella. Musically speaking, it’s an A-list festival. But to achieve that A-list status, you have to deliver the goods from top to bottom. While keeping an eye on the mainstream, Coachella has always had its finger on the pulse of the underground. At the height of the Disco Punk revival in 2004, Coachella made sure to book acts like LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, !!! & Le Tigre. During those glorious Bloghaus years from 2007-2009, Coachella didn’t miss a beat with Bloghaus darlings MSTRKRFT, Klaxons, Justice, Sebastian, Kavinsky & Ghostland Observatory. And last year Coachella took a more underground approach by adding the Yuma Tent & keeping things deep & dark with acts like Seth Troxler, Maya Jane Coles, Julio Bashmore, Loco Dice & Richie Hawtin. For Coachella, it’s ALWAYS been about the music.
Ah, another year, another round of Gotta Dance Dirty’s roundup of the year’s ‘sexiest’ DJs from NYC’s very own Three Wise as well as yours truly. What started as a joke turned in to a mini internet frenzy and more importantly ignited a discussion of to what makes a DJ ‘sexy’. 2013 was a big leap for dance music, and aiding this leap was a fine selection of boys and girls who in different forms and ways got the world excited about music. It’s more than just looks, it’s more than how many groupies want to send you naked snapchats. So much more. To be a sexy DJ you have to ultimately hold your own, to be identifiable and recognizable amongst the masses as someone predominately good at their job, have their own sense of fashion, humor, and philosophies, someone who is confident in who they are and what they are capable of. In this sense, we’ve gathered our favorite ten DJs that have made an imprint on us this year, sparked a sense of excitement and wonder in our eyes, ears, and hearts.
So without further ado you can find our selection of the ten sexiest DJs of the year after the jump, my selections in BLUE and Three Wise’s in RED.
There’s been an odd occurrence within dance music media as of late, with once-reputable sources for electronic music exchanging positive reviews of artists and releases for TMZ-style publishing. Instead of reading headlines heralding promising new talent or insightful album reviews, I find more and more outlets harassing me about embarrassing Twitter rants, DJ beef, and what Paris Hilton had for breakfast in Ibiza. As a genuine fan of dance music and an editor of two dance music blogs, I’m wondering what the hell happened. Continue Reading
These days you find a lot of websites posting articles about how the electronic scene is dying, then weeks later about how the electronic scene is thriving, then artists step in and assert their opinions (bias much?), and it stirs up a lot of passion from the bro’s and broette’s who love to get down to some gnar EDM and get all wiggly worm at a festival and sweat on by strangers (now bff’s) to a crazy LED light show that should induce epileptic seizures as any chance of hearing by the age of 65 slowly fades away..and man was that fun for a little bit!! As technological innovations for DJ’s become stagnant, though, the limits for what a live show has to offer has ultimately reached its peak. The stages can get bigger and more money spent towards production, but as I stand 300,000 people deep staring at a stage three football fields wide as Hardwell and Avicii take shelter in a massive owl, I start to have a hard time…getting off. Continue Reading
As if Halloweekend couldn’t get any more action packed, Day of the Dead as presented by HARD is a mere day away. Returning this year in two day fashion with even more heavy hitters on the bill than years past, this years festival will be another ground breaking year for its patrons. With Day Two completely sold out, your opportunity to be apart of this years history is rapidly fading away! Saturday single day, as well as two day passes, are moving quick as the window of opportunity narrows. Check out our top 5 reasons for attending and join us as we burn Los Angeles to the ground at LA State Historic Park this weekend. Continue Reading
A couple months ago I happened to catch a ridiculous set by Felix Da Housecat at one of Bang On NYC‘s legendary parties. As a budding DJ and self proclaimed tech geek I wanted to know what he was using to mix with and was pleasantly surprised to find that Felix has taken up Traktor. So when Native Instruments reached out to offer me a chance to check out some of their gear, you bet I said yes!