Breaking the Silence

It’s been a while since anything has happened here at FrozenSnares. I could think of about a million excuses to account for the prolonged absence – ranging from classics like ‘the dog ate my homework’ to the reasonable ‘I’m too busy with my offline life’ or the plain ludicrous ‘I was abducted to a utopian techno planet by extraterrestrials’ – but those excuses simply won’t do.

Sure, there’s a bit of truth in all of them: my boss’ dog is constantly chewing underneath my office desk, I have been increasingly busy with more haptic things, and that techno utopia might as well be Berghain. The harsh truth is, however, that I haven’t really felt like writing. Not for lack of ideas, or music and parties, but because of lacking motivation. I’m lazy.

Skimming over the last couple of posts – one from September, the other November… OUCH! – I feel like I let my very modest readership and, more importantly, myself down by making grant promises of future material. A little older and hardly any wiser, I am reluctant to make those same statements, bound to subsequent disappointments, again. What I am going to propose is this, however: I’m going to try to make more effort and do hope that something worth publishing on here will come of it.

So… you may or may not hear from me soon. Very vague, I know.

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Read: Stefan Goldmann ‘Quality is Overrated’

DJ, producer, label owner and academic Stefan Goldmann just published the essay ‘Quality is Overrated: The Mechanics of Excellence in Music’ via Little White Earbuds and I thoroughly recommend checking it out. Drawing on a variety of source materials, Goldmann examines how trends work in (popular) music, and as to how far they can be attributed to talent, chance and method. Rather than primarily focusing on marketing strategies et al., the essay proposes that the artist can assume a top position in his or her genre by branching out horizontally rather than vertically as fashions become crystallized. Excellence is however, not the key here, because it is often enough to lead through novelty – the so-called best gains that position by claiming and inhabiting a (sub-)genre early on, creating a platform for himself. Thus, scenes and movements in music seemingly stagnate, while their contributers assume fixed positions. Moreover, Goldmann ponders on the audience’s listening habits and perception of taste. Fascinating stuff!

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Chart: August / September

Although I mentioned that there hasn’t been that much music exciting me personally in my previous post, August and September did see some fantastic releases by old favourites and newly discovered talent. Stylistically, charted material ranges techno to house, disco to dubstep and everything in between. So, without further ado and in no particular order, my August / September Top 15:

Oni Ayhun / Shake – Meets Shangaan Electro and BBC / Honest Jons

Scuba – Adrenalin EP / Hotflush

Efdemin – Please EP / Curle

Basic Soul Unit – Soulspeak EP / Dolly

Marcel Dettmann – Translation EP / Ostgut Ton

Simoncino – Beat the Street EP / Mathematics

Matthew Styles – Sample & Hold EP / Running Back

Conforce – Dystopian Elements EP / Delsin

Axel Boman – Lucky Tiger EP / Glass Table

Omar S – It Can Be Done But Only I Can Do It / FXHE

Floorplan – Sanctified EP /M Plant

Pacific Blue – Industry Part 1 & 2 / Pacific Blue

F + S – Acid One / Bang Gang

Kassem Mosse  – Enoha EP / Nonplus

Greymatter / KRL / Chicago Damn – Wolf EP8 / Wolf Music

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First off, apologies to the ten people who have been reading this blog. After a month and a half of absence, which resulted because of both, me being busy with other stuff and a general lack of music exciting me, I am now planning to get things moving again whenever I find the time.

Apart from reviews, recommendations and shorter posts, I am planning to write a couple of longer pieces that are hopefully going to clarify and focus my ideas for a PhD proposal I will have to complete by January. I am also going to start compiling monthly charts, which might be particularly useful when I don’t have the time to review every single EP I like (or dislike), and I will start writing reviews for / report of the events I recommend here.

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Review: Levon Vincent – Man or Mistress EP

Good things come to those who wait – a statement that rings true with every Levon Vincent release on his own Novel Sound imprint. The New Yorker who had his breakthrough a couple of years ago has not only shown the scene a new kind of heaviness built around slow, forceful grooves, but more importantly, that patience will be rewarded. By refraining from throwing out release after release, Levon has maturely avoided the downfall many of his peers are prone to. Take Maya Jane Coles for example – the young Londoner might be a talented producer, but after stepping into the spotlight last year, she has been set on releasing as much original material as possible, thus making sure to milk the hype for what it’s worth, but also – tragically – that everyone will be sick of her come 2012. Vincent, on the other hand, timed every single of the five releases on his label just right, making an impact and creating hype in 2009, only to subsequently slow things down considerably in 2010.

Enter Man or Mistress in 2011. Although one could think that Levon’s decision might have been resultant of some form of writers block, the shy producer reassured fans and critics that he was sitting on a couple of bombs waiting to be unleashed on the international dance floors. During spring, some clips of Levon dropping an explosive tune surfaced on Youtube, which, as it was later confirmed, was to be the A-side of the new EP. Man or Mistress begins with a chugging groove that is quickly complimented by a wobbly bassline, which constantly fluctuates through semi-acid movements. We are so to be teased by a second of synths, until the main snyth melody comes roaring in in all its raving glory, driven forward by skeletal hi-hats. For the next 2 minutes we are treated to a build-up that eventually climaxes in the drop of a heavy kick. A true hands-in-the-air moment. The track’s arrangement is flawless as Vincent manages to build a tension between the weirdly subdued groove of the bassline and the outgoing, overpowering synth. Like with some many other great tracks, this tension verges on the nostalgic by creating an atmosphere equally exhilarating and melancholic.

The first B-side, Making Headway, can be considered Vincent’s heaviest tune yet. Violently sharp percussive sounds rub against an uncomfortably thick sub-bass, only to be lifted by a moody melody, luring the arrangement’s other components towards total disintegration. The final inclusion, No Regrets, is more straightforward, presenting the listener with an upbeat groove and dubby stabs. Levon’s own vocal is introduced quickly, stating, in true Vincent fashion, ‘I took my chances anyway’. Anyone familiar with the New Yorker’s story will know exactly what is being emphasised with those words. Again, the track transcends tired dub house territory by constantly moving forward, bringing in and taking out various sonic elements along the way. By being softer, more reflective than the rest of the EP, No Regrets rounds things off so nicely that you know you have reached the end of the 12″. Whether you can accept that and the long wait for NS06, is a totally different matter.

Man or Mistress is out now on Novel Sound.  

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Recommended: Kassem Mosse at Cookies

On a brief note, Leipzig wunderkind Kassem Mosse will be gracing the decks on Mitte’s Cookies club. With releases on labels such as Workshop, Doldrums and Delsin, Mosse has quickly gained prominence for doing things a little differently. Although house is the driving force in his productions influences of broken beat, techno and downtempo can be found lurking around each metaphorical corner.

I’m in no position to make a judgment of Cookies as I’ve never been before. Even though it might lack the rugged appeal of other Berlin venues in favour of a slightly shinier surface, the club impresses with its Tuesday line-ups time after time. Next to Mosse, John Osborn of Jackson fame is billed for tonight. Let’s see if the hype is justified.

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Recommended: Futura w/ Snuff Crew at About Blank

First off, apologies for the prolonged silence. I’ve just started a new job at a label and haven’t really had the time or energy to think, let alone write about music. Once your day job is music related, you’ll find you might want to focus on something else in your free time. Like going out, for example.

With the weather having been depressing at best and suicidal at worst recently, today might be the first day this week the sun really breaks through those rain clouds – just in time for a great party.

About Blank is once again lending its grounds to a Saturday/Sunday double-feature house extravaganza after the sterling De:bug party two weeks ago, which saw some lovely performances by the session victims of Session Victim and everybody’s darling Hunee. Tonight the tempo will be upped a notch by the mysterious jack-punks and Chicago-tributers Snuff Crew. Jacking grooves, 303 cowbells, pitched-down vocals are not only to be expected, but surely mandatory. Out of context but not out of place is also Panoramabar’s Prosumer this eve, ready to set the dancefloor on fire. I can’t think of many contemporary DJs that ooze as much joy while impeccably reading the floor. Head of Skylax Hardrock Striker shall be rounding the Chicago-triplet off in professional fashion with support by the Futura DJs.

For those still standing at 10am, the party will seamlessly continue and be taken outside in a back2back special with sets by Trickski, Carsten Jost, Walker Bernard and many more.

Huiuiui… Good times are coming your way.

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