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‘Blueprint’: the best of the pioneering 808 State
10.18.2011
06:42 am

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Dance
History
Music

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“Pacific State” by Dawn Gardner
 
From the beginning “rave” was supposed to be a faceless musical form rebelling against the cock-and-coke excesses of 80s hair metal, and the drab “woe is me” insularity of indie rock. The emphasis was to be taken off the performer, and turned back onto the all-important audience who, in this new era of dancing and drug taking, were the true stars. For the most part this anonymity was the norm, to the point where acts became almost interchangeable, and the distinct whiff of novelty began to creep in. The name of the act with the rave version of “Hong Kong Phooey” may be lost to history now, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Despite face masks and aversion to Smash Hits interviews, there were a few acts of the rave era who managed to become recognisable brands in their own right. 808 State were arguably the first and definitely one of the best, building up a devoted fan base through relentless touring and a series of great albums and singles released at the tail end of the 80s and throughout the Nineties. You might not recognise any of these guys if they passed you in the street, but their music has become iconic in its own right.

The band formed in mid-80s Manchester around a nucleus of Factory stalwart Graham Massey, Eastern Bloc-owner Martin Price and Gerald Simpson, who would later leave to peruse his own successful career under the name A Guy Called Gerald. 808 State were one of the first acts to take rave out of the clubs and fields and into the British charts, and by extension the nation’s living rooms, with influential hits like “Pacific State” (a chill out classic and the birth of ambient house) and “Cubik” (whose riff is to dance music what “Louie Louie” is to rock’n'roll). Back in school in the early Nineties, a few of us would pass round a cassette of the 808 State album ex:el, its rock hard beats and swooshing synths fuelling our imaginations to what raving might actually be like, long before we ever could. Twenty years later and I know that we weren’t the only kids listening.

Now the Manchester pioneers have released a sort of-best of compilation that pulls together some of their career’s highlights alongside a bunch of unreleased bit-and-pieces, remixes and previously unreleased out-takes. 808 State were a huge influence on the second wave of UK dance pioneers from the mid-Nineties, like Autechre, Orbital, Future Sound Of London and Aphex Twin and even a quick scan through their list of non-dance collaborators proves the kind of respect the band command. Blueprint kicks off with a remix of 1988 “Flow Coma” by Aphex Twin, it features liner notes by Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll and elsewhere on the album you’ll find spots from Brain Eno, Bjork, Trevor Horn, Ian McCulloch, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Manic Street Preacher’s James Dean Bradfield.

Blueprint is a good album, and one recommended for long term fans and newcomers alike, though I’m still waiting for a straight-up greatest hits comp with the original extended 12” mixes of these classic tracks. Alternatively, I might just go and pick up the remastered, double CD packages of four of their original albums (90, ex:el, Gorgeous and Don Solaris), which have all been re-issued with bonus material and are available from the official 808 State website. The band are also currently giving away a free “21st Anniversary” remix of “Cubik”, which you can get right here:

 

 
808 State’s music still sounds great after all these years, whether you simply want to travel back to a different, more innocent, era or even if you want pumping-up, ready for action in the right now. The intro to “In Yer Face” (an all-time, hands down dance classic) is still chillingly prescient to this very day, a reminder that maybe the past wasn’t so innocent after all, that we’re still facing some of the very same problems today:

There are new forces in the world
A conflict between the generations
A powerful feeling that the American system
is failing to deal with the real threats to life…

808 State “In Yer Face”
 

 
808 State Blueprint is available here. The remastered 808 State albums are available from the band’s website, click the album titles above for direct links.

After the jump, some more 808 State classics, including “Pacific State”, “Cubik”, “Olympic”, “Flow Coma” remixed by Aphex Twin and more…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Download Dam Funk’s new EP for free
09.21.2011
06:25 pm

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Dance
Hip-hop
Music

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Sweeeet - In preparation for his upcoming US tour, king of the boogie Dam Funk has made his forthcoming InnaFocusedDaze EP available as a free download. The 10” vinyl of InnaFocusedDaze will be released through Scion A/V in October, when Dam goes out on the road with his band Master Blazter - tour dates and more info on the EP can be found on the Stone’s Throw website. You can download the EP here, and just in case you need to be reminded of just how cool this cat is (he really IS king of the boogie) here’s a video for the EP’s lead track “Forever”:
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Limelight’ - a new documentary about the legendary New York nightclub
09.18.2011
02:58 pm

Topics:
Dance
Drugs
Hysteria
Movies

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I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with the Michael Alig/club kids story by now, but let’s face it, no matter how many times it is told it never fails to shock and entertain. Limelight is a new documentary which recounts the story yet again, but as opposed to Party Monster, Shockumentary or James St James’ excellent Disco Bloodbath book, the focus this time in on the Limelight club itself and its owner, the nightclub impresario Peter Gatien.

Gatien owned a string of venues in New York, Atlanta and London during the 80s and 90s, including the very successful Tunnel and Club USA in Times Square. The Limelight was perhaps the most notorious (due in no small part to the club kids’ involvement), and became the focus of Mayor Giuliani’s crackdown on the city’s night life and drug culture. Gatien made a fortune from his venues, but was found guilty of tax evasion in the late Nineties and deported to his native Canada. Gatien is interviewed in Limelight, along with a prison-bound Michael Alig and everyone’s favorite vegan porn-hound Moby (who describes the Limelight as being like “pagan Rome on acid”). The documentary is released on Friday, here’s the trailer: 
 

 
Previously on DM:
Larry Tee & the club kids: Come Fly With Me
Ghosts of New York: the Limelight disco is now a mall
Party Monster: new Michael Alig prison interview
Nelson Sullivan: pioneering chronicler of NYC nightlife in the 1980s (featuring an interview with the legendary queen Christina)

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
More pioneering synthpunk from Futurisk
09.03.2011
10:44 am

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Dance
History
Music
Punk

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More early 80s synthpunk madness, this time from South Florida’s Futurisk. These guys are pretty obscure and information on them is limited, but according to their website they formed in 1979 when teenager Jeremy Kolosine won some time in a recording studio, and their music was usually:

recorded by Richard Hess and the band in the rooms of Ron K’s house. The drum sound, gotten in a bathroom, rocks, even today. Reportedly, Futurisk may have been the 1st synth-punk band in the American South…or something, and 1981’s track ‘Push Me Pull You (pt. 2)’ was an early pre-‘Rockit’ excursion into electro-funk.

The revival of interest in the band was sparked when James Murphy included one of their tracks on a DFA mix for the French boutique Colette in 2003. Last year the Minimal Wave label released a retrospective of the band’s work called Player Piano, and earlier this year the band put out a remix 12” of the track “Lonely Streets”, one of whose remixes came from the mighty Chris Carter. Here’s a couple of videos of Futurisk in action:

Futurisk - “Meteoright”
 

 
After the jump the original video for the classic “Army Now”, and more Futurisk…
 
If you like what you hear, and you want to pick up Player Piano, you can get it here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Original synthpunk pioneers The Units present ‘Unit Training Films’
09.02.2011
12:41 pm

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Dance
Movies
Music
Punk

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The Units were one of the first “rock” bands in America to ditch guitars completely and focus their set-up on drums, vocals and synthesisers. Leaders of San Francisco’s post-punk synth-led music scene (a lot of which is now resurfacing with the current interest in “Minimal Wave”) the comparisons with Devo are clear, but still don’t detract from The Units’ cracking tunes and tangible influence on the new wave generation. Tracks like “High Pressure Days” and “I-Night” are still sought after by record collectors and forward thinking DJs alike, mainly because they still rock.

During live shows, The Units would perform to a video accompaniment of re-edited instructional shorts and found footage called the “Units Training Films”. Some of these films have been recreated and uploaded to Vimeo by founder member Scott Ryser. While still being very much of their time, they are excellent and definitely rank alongside similar efforts by the likes of Church of The Subgenius. Ryser has this to say about them:

The “Unit Training Film #1”, produced by Scott Ryser and Rachel Webber in 1980, was compiled from films that the band projected during their live performances. The films were satirical, instructional films critical of conformity and consumerism, compiled from found footage, home movies, and obsolete instructional shorts. In 1979 and 1980, Rick Prelinger was a frequent contributor and occasional projectionist at the bands live performances in San Francisco. The film was also shown sans band in movie theaters around the San Francisco Bay Area including the Roxie Cinema, Cinematheque, Intersection Theater and the Mill Valley Film Festival .

There was never a set length or definitive “finished version” of the original Unit Training Film. Just the current version. The film varied in length from about 10 to 45 minutes, depending on how long the Units set was on any particular night. Clips were constantly being added and others were deleted and discarded once their condition became too poor to project any longer. The film was constantly breaking, and the projectionists always kept a roll of Scotch Tape nearby for timely repairs.

This 5 minute version, compiled by Scott Ryser, includes some clips of the band playing along with a brief interview by a very young Fred Willard during the period 1980 - 1982.

Who’d have thought Fred Willard was a fan?!

Here is “Unit Training Film 1: Warm Moving Bodies”
 

 
After the jump, “Units Training FIlm 2: Cannibals” plus some more classics by The Units…
 
For a crash course in the awesome synth-punk sound of The Units, check out History Of The Units: The Early Years 1977 - 1983.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
3 Trailers for Irvine Welsh’s ‘Ecstasy’
08.29.2011
05:07 pm

Topics:
Books
Dance
Drugs
Movies

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image
 
Award-winning director, Rob Heydon’s film version of Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy opens this fall.

Starring Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk, Billy Boyd and Carlo Rota, it’s based on Welsh’s novella, “The Undefeated”, taken from his book Ecstasy - Three Tales of Chemical Romance.

It’s 15 years since the film version of Trainspotting kicked in the doors and launched the careers of a young and new generation of talent, and while negotiations continue for its follow-up Porno, it’s hoped Ecstasy will be as good, if not better. Here’s hoping.

Here’s the most recent teaser for the Ecstasy, plus 2 others. For more information check here.
 

 
Alternative trailers for Irvine Welsh’s ‘Ecstasy’, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Bizarre Top Of The Pops dance routine for ‘O Superman’
08.24.2011
06:34 am

Topics:
Amusing
Dance
Music
Television

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As if it wasn’t weird enough that Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” got to number 2 on the British charts in 1981, here’s a really strange dance routine by Zoo from Top Of The Pops to accompany the vocodered, beatless wonder. YouTube uploader Sambda says:

“A spectacularly bad dance routine. An extreme example of “Top Of The Pops” choreographer Flick Colby’s habit of taking all lyrics (including obvious allegories) at face value. So we have to have a judge, a mom-and-dad etc. I suspect the only reason Superman himself didn’t appear was down to a rights issue.”

I think he may be onto something. It’s also worth watching for Peter Powell’s bizarre chain-mail sweater at the start:
 
Laurie Anderson - “O Superman” Top Of The Pops 1981
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Niallist meets Age Of Consent (Uptown 83 Style)
08.22.2011
09:59 pm

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Dance
Music

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More synth-doom goodness. Age Of Consent are one half of the now defunct Glasgow-based dance-punk party starters Shitdisco. Ex-members Joe Reeves and Darren Cullen have thankfully put away the glowsticks have turned their hands to making electronic pop influenced by The Knife, Yeasayer, Japan and as the name would suggest, New Order.
 

 
“The Beach” is the band’s debut single, and is self-released on 7 inch on September 5th. You can pre-order the vinyl at their bandcamp site, or if you prefer you can buy the tracks digitally. And what would you know - on the digital release someone called The Niallist has turned in a remix that takes the English fops out on the dancefloor of an imaginary 1983 New York and spanks their asses ‘til the break of dawn:
 

  AGE OF CONSENT The Beach (Niallist BakerMixx) by theniallist 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Techno don Legowelt releases new album for free
08.22.2011
09:21 pm

Topics:
Dance
Music

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Fans of electronica might recognise the name Legowelt. Danny Wolfers has been releasing quality analog techno and electro since 1996 on respected labels like Ghostly International and Clone. His sound is heavily influenced by Detroit techno and Chicago house, as well as early 80s Italo disco and 70s electronic horror soundtracks, and his studio set-up puts live sequencing and classic synths above digital trickery. On the Legowelt Wikipedia page, he describes his sound as “a hybrid form of slam jack combined with deep Chicago house, romantic ghetto technofunk and EuroHorror Soundtrack.”

Now Wolfers has just released his new album, The Teac Life, for free through his own website. He has this to say about it, and the state of modern techno - it’s definitely Not Safe For Work:

Ok people here it is the new Legowelt album which is free to download for u all.
Its got a hella lot [of] deep tape saturated forest-techno tracks on it and when I say Techno i don’t mean that boooooooooooring contemporary shit they call techno nowadays with overrated talentless pretentious douchebag cunt DJs playing a few half-assed dumb mongo beats and being all arty fartsy about it.

F*ck that, I am talking about: Raw as fuck autistic Star Trek 1987 - Misty Forests- X-FILES - DETROIT unicorn futurism made on cheap-ass digital & analog crap synthesizers recorded in a ragtag bedroom studio on a TEAC VHX cassettedeck in DOLBY C with an unintelligible yet soulfull vivacity.

Electronic music fans and analog synth freaks, this is a must. Wolfers is the real deal. If you’re a fan of John Carpenter soundtracks and the pre-pop Human League, the early output of labels like Warp and Rephlex, or even just strange homemade lo-fi music, there is much to enjoy here. You can listen to The Teac Life exclusively on the Legowelt website, or you can download the album from this link. In the meantime, here’s a great fan video of Legowelt’s “Into The Storm” (not on the album) featuring footage from 1967 Soviet horror flick Viy:

Legowelt - “Into The Storm”
 

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A Piece of Paradise: Larry Levan mixing live at the Paradise Garage in 1979
08.19.2011
01:03 pm

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Dance
Heroes
History
Music

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This is some serious disco history right here! A recording has recently surfaced of DJ Larry Levan mixing live from the 1979 2nd birthday party of the legendary New York night spot the Paradise Garage. The 4 hour set was broadcast live on NY’s WBLS station (hence the occasional MC commentary from the recognisable voice of Frankie Crocker) and was taped off the radio by producer Lenny Fontana as a kid. He had the foresight to transfer the original tapes to DAT in 1990, and to put the mix away into storage.

Recently unearthed by the BBC’s Eddy Gordon, who has described the tapes as “broadcasting gold”, the set was broadcast on BBC Radio 6 as part of a “A Taste Of Paradise” season, which ran over a series of nights and featured interviews with some of the key players in the Garage’s history. Props to the folks at the Irish disco website isodisco.com, who have uploaded all the interviews to their site - these are worth checking out too as they are fun and informative, and have some cracking underground disco soundbeds.

But the main attraction is Levan’s dj set itself. For many people like me, whose number one time travel destination would be the Garage at its late 70s/early 80s peak, this is as close as we’re ever going to get. You can really feel the party atmosphere in the broadcast - which opens with live PAs from Loleatta Holloway, Dan Hartman AND Sylvester, reason enough to be excited - and Larry’s selection is damn near flawless. Sure, the mixing could be tighter, but this is 1979 fer Chrissakes - just check the massive booming bass on some of these tracks! Obviously dub was an influence, as was the Garage’s legendary PA. If you’re not dancing by the time Tribe’s “Koke” kicks in (arf) at 2:49:10 - straight after Candido’s club classic “Jingo” - then you’re most probably dead.

Here’s the set, as hosted on Underground NYC - skip straight to 01:11:00 for the the broadcast to begin, and 01:52:00 for Levan to take over:
 

     

 
Just to make clear, this is NOT the set released on CD by Strut in 2000. 

Previously on DM:
‘Maestro’: a film about the Paradise Garage and the birth of disco culture
The last ever set from the legendary NY nightclub The Saint

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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