Recommended: Summer of De:bug at About Blank

Just a brief heads-up for what is set to be another great party at About Blank. Tonight and tomorrow the club by Ostkreuz is teaming up with Germany’s best electronic music magazine, De:bug, for a night and day of house debauchery throughout the whole venue and its adjacent garden, which is especially charming during the summer months.

While Quarion and Iron Curtis will provide a lot of depth in their sets, Session Victim and Hunee are known for spicing things up with their disco-heavy sound. God knows what oddball Shed is going to play with influences spanning from techno over house to dubstep and beyond, but his place on the lineup certainly makes my feet tingle in anticipation.

There are plenty of other great DJs billed to keep everyone entertained for the duration of the 24 hour marathon, and since About Blank don’t announce set times – do feel free to ask the friendly door staff though – it’s impossible to tell who will play when. But that’s besides the point anyway, ‘cos it’s all About the Party at one of the city’s best underground clubs.

You can find some extra info here or at http://aboutparty.net/. Enjoy.

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Read: Reissuing the Past Follow-up

This article  by Paul Purgas of Off Modern is a great follow-up read on the back of my little essay on the significance of reissuing house music in 2011. Purgas argument stretches beyond a discussion on rereleasing lost classics and thus, focuses on the role of remastering said tunes. Should a 20 year-old record be remastered to fit the contemporary club sound-system and mightn’t it loose it’s authentic quality in the process? As to how far does a record’s socio-historical meaning become altered when it is re-imagined for the bass-wanting modern audience? Fascinating stuff on which I am planning to write a longer response. In the meantime, have a think about it.

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Listen: The Chain – Maje

Wow. R&S have just released the Lostwithiel EP by UK outfit The Chain. While the title track is nothing but a brilliant excerise in bitter-sweet, melody-tinged dubstep, it is B-side Maje’s rave nostalgia that really elevates this 12″. Sounding like CJ Bolland’s Camargue forced through the 21st Century mincer, Maje hits the right mark by simultaneously evoking intense feelings of euphoria and melancholia. Hardcore in all the right places. Did I say ‘Wow’!?

The Lostwithiel EP is out now on R&S Records. 

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Upcoming: Grounded Theory at Arena / Diynamic Showcase at Watergate

This Friday Berlin is being treated to two parties that are set to be excellent. Depending on your inclination, both quality house and techno shall be served at two of the city’s most famous venues. While Grounded Theory is hosting their monthly/bi-monthly techno-soiree at Arena club, Hamburg’s Diynamic label has been granted an all-nighter at Watergate.

After a slight let-down by Dettmann at Grounded Theory 9 (I think I was the only disappointed one, to be honest), number 10 is set to be one of the highlights in anyone’s calendar due to heavy-weights Redshape, Marcel Fengler and Tommy Four Seven billed to set the room on fire. While Dutch-turned-Detroit Redshape is going to play live (hopefully drums and all included), anyone who has been following CLR will know of Tommy Four Seven’s merits. Raw, industrial beats par excellence. A DJ-set by Berghain’s Marcel Fengler is going to round off the night in true style. A master of building up tension around a coherent narrative frame, Fengler has the honor of headlining the evening. Rightly so, I think.

Over at Watergate, things are sure to be a little bit softer. Besides label boss Solomun, whose blend of deep groovers and disco funkers blew me away shortly before New Year’s Eve last december, newcomer David August is hopefully going to provide some thick bass-lines to draw you in. Downstairs Burnski is going to be playing amongst others. The Leeds-based house producer is not only the youngest ever DJ to be awarded a residency at the institutional Back2Basics, but also a genuinely nice guy, which I found out when I had the pleasure of closing a night for him during my Newcastle days.

As you can see, both line-ups feature something for everyone. If techno and intimacy is your thing, head to Grounded Theory. If you like your multi-facetted house and aren’t afraid of the odd tourist, make sure you witness Diynamic’s showcase. Oh, and you better save some energy for DJ Harvey’s set in Panorama Bar on Sunday.

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Think: Reissuing the Past

After reading a Guardian article  by Michaelangelo Matos on the current trend of reissuing lost dance classics and obscurities for a contemporary, often historically unaware audience, I started thinking a little more about the subject, as it had been at the back of my mind for quite some time.

Of course, the reissue business is largely positive for the dance music consumer. Who hasn’t looked for classics like Ron Hardy’s Unreleased Mix of Sensation or Reese’s Just Want Another Chance in vain, frustrated by stupendous prices on Discogs that render collecting rare cuts an elitist sport reserved for those with a very flexible disposable income? Thanks to Rush Hour, they can now be purchased on vinyl, or even digitally. Tyree Cooper’s Nuthin Wrong is another example of a classic track that’s just been repressed for the Mojuba Underground Series. As to how far it was really underground after being featured on Ben Klock’s high-profile Berghain 03 mix is debatable, especially as it’s since been charted as number 11 of RA’s top tracks of May. On the one hand then, it is very favorable that some tracks finally become available after years of slumbering in an inaccessible castle, waiting to be freed. On the other hand though, one wonders whether they mightn’t loose some of their magic when you’re average Traktor bedroom DJ can pull them out of the digital top hat. I am not trying to suggest that these tracks don’t deserve a wide audience or that they should remain exclusive to a handful of DJs, but I do get the feeling that they might loose some of their magic once fully exposed. One might begin to ask the question whether these tracks are ‘gems’ precisely because they are hard to find. Does their exclusivity add to their greatness? Moreover, won’t someone always be left out — producer and consumer alike?

However one’s opinion on the subject, it can lead to a much wider discussion on the state of EDM today. Although slightly dramatising the subject, I think there’s a direct correspondence between the recent reissue waves and the strong revival obsession currently felt in the scene. As Matos rightly picks up in his article, the classic, rough house/ deep house/ disco revival is informed by these classics, which, until recently, served as points of reference only to those who are aware of the original. Things are changing though, thanks to said reissues that make these original templates available to a younger generation. Suddenly, things become more transparent as we begin to Know. I personally like the classic sounds, even in new music, but it has become worrying how many producers justify mediocre releases by the use of raw kicks, echoing claps and a diva vocal. It’s brilliant when Braille references the past to push it into new territory, but more often than not, we are dealing with pastiche rather than reference (Edit: do you hear me, Oliver $!?).

The threat here lies in the fact that a younger audience takes the ‘fake’ to be more ‘real’ than the original. Something along the lines of ‘hey, that Chip E record is nice, but have you heard the new Snuff Crew release.. much meatier’. In a Baudrillardian sense, the copy, or simulacrum, becomes more real than the original, to the point where it’s not simply a copy but threatens to eradicate the validity of an original ever having existed. Inspiration is obviously a strange beast, but to make use of a fairly mainstream example, it is worrying when UK teens love Tensnake’s überhit Coma Cat, but never heard Anthony and The Camp’s What I Like. The fault here obviously doesn’t lie with Tensanke, as sampling is as much ingrained in electronic music as double-bass drumming in death metal. This is a matter of education and credit where credit’s due.

So where does this leave us in a discussion of reissues? Well, the trend towards reissues can be viewed as having two effects because it on the one hand helps to educate the younger audience, while it on the other also possibly feeds the revival even more. It is important that people are educated in a historical sense, since this guarantees that the original doesn’t become completely lost in the whirlpool of pastiche and simulacra. Kids need to know that MCDE didn’t invent deep house in 2008 as he himself has a musical education strongly rooted in a love for the old. You see, when XYZ is inspired by MCDE’s Raw Cuts which were inspired by/ sampled from old funk records, things start getting a little out of hand. Music is of course, prone to a constant recycling of the past — Bob Dylan anyone? — but this needs to be somewhat informed. That’s why it’s essential that the old stuff is heard by a wider audience then inspired in return. The cycle closes and is somewhat justified, as long as it’s being updated.

This doesn’t of course, solve the problem that we are nonetheless stuck in this revival cycle that seemingly negates a progressive forward motion into new territories, which is precisely what dance music should be about with its futurist aesthetic. After all, if Atkins and co. had wanted to make music sounding like old records, there would be no techno. It is most interesting that Rush Hour, a label with the widest spanning range of reissues, is also one of the few in house music at the moment willing to really push things forward through its contemporary signings. Very revealing is that this progression happens in the shape of bass-house hybrids that acknowledge a debt to classic Chicago sounds while presenting entirely new angles on what can be done. Thus, artists like Cosmin TRG, Braille, Falty DL break away from mere pastiche and manage to create something exhilarating. The same goes for R&S really, who are concerned with new styles more than ever, although they would have a massive catalogue to fall back on. Or Ramadanman’s Hessle Audio, whose output seems informed by the past, the present but especially the future. These labels singlehandedly driving a whole scene forward, whether by decoding house music in a dubstep/ bass context, or vice versa, so that they manage to educate us while exploring thus uninhibited paths.  With audiences becoming ever younger, that’s exactly what we need, rather than simply pushing new age fun with a vintage feel.

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Read: Surgeon – Breaking the Frame

Here’s the link to an excellent review of Surgeon’s new Breaking the Frame LP courtesy of FACT’s Ruaridh Law. I haven’t had the chance to give it a full listen yet myself, but if Mr. Law’s words are anything to go by, you should expect brilliant things.

It’s great that Surgeon, needless to say one of the most prolific producers around and interesting DJs I’ve seen, has worked on updating his sound further and shows real willingness to experiment, even after such a long-lasting career. While his back-catalogue fully justifies the title of UK legend alongside the likes of James Ruskin and partner in crime Karl O’Connor, I feel that his DJ-sets have continuously pushed the envelope, both, in terms of technological advancement and the incorporation of dubstep into a techno framework. In case you aren’t familiar with Surgeon’s DJ style, I can wholeheartedly recommend checking out his recent Fabric 53, as well as the seminal This Is For You Shits mix.

Breaking the Frame is out now on Dynamic Tension. 

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Listen: Swallowed Whole Mix by myself

Ususally I’m not a massive fan of self-promotion, especially since I’m not planning on becoming the next big thing or have an urge to be heard. I just like to weave together some quality music I’m digging and share it among friends.

Same goes for this house mix I recorded yesterday: partly inspired by a very nice Berghain Garten session on Thursday, partly by some tunes I stumbled across on Juno, I wanted to create a mix that is lighthearted enough to match the current Berlin weather and all the joys it encapsulates. Open-airs, sweat, fancy dress and smiles on people’s faces. After a long winter and a run of slightly more experimental and downbeat mixes, I just felt a little bit of fun was in order. Hopefully you’ll agree.

1 space rangers – herbal rubdown (the revenge remix) / lovemonk
2 tiger & woods – gin nation / editainment
3 todd terje – eurodans / full pupp
4 tom trago feat san proper – corrupt / rush hour
5 rio padice – voyager / morris audio
6 miamik (llorca) – insatiable (art of tones sweet mix) / ssho
7 azari & iii – hungry for the power (art department remix) / turbo rec
8 storm queen – look right through (vocal mix) / environ
9 hunee – leaf for hand in hand / ostgut ton
10 tortured souls – you found a way (art of tones beats) / lazy days music
11 black science orchestra – where were you / junior boy’s own
12 shit robot – simple things (work it out) (todd terje version) / dfa
13 david august – rebound bro / diynamic
14 blawan – getting me down / white label
15 efdemin – le ratafia / dial
16 todd terje – snooze 4 love / running back
17 rainbow arabia – without you (version) / kompakt

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