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Giving Life Back To Music: Obligatory review of Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’
05.20.2013
01:50 pm

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Dance
Music

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I can still remember where I was the first time I heard Daft Punk’s “Da Funk.” It was the summer of 1996 and my brother had taped a 1995-end-of-the-year-round-up show by Annie Nightingale off BBC Radio 1. Well, I say “first” but actually it was the second, as I had previously heard it in a dj mix, but at that point I had no way of knowing what it was. Thankfully Ms Nightingale was forthcoming with information, meaning I could track the tune down myself (in a shop and by word of mouth, remember the days?)

To say that “Da Funk” blew my mind is a bit of an under-statement. As a piece of music it referenced both the genres I was loving the most at the time, house music and hip-hop, but far from being some tawdry “hip-house” jam, “Da Funk” was the perfect summation of the best elements of both genres without compromising either. Everything about the record was perfect, including the feeling of “what the fuck was THAT?!” I got after hearing it. A year later Daft Punk released Homework, and it became the record that, more than any other, defined the late 90s for a whole generation of kids who were sick to death of grunge and Britpop and looking for something new and exciting that wasn’t about the past.

So there you have it. My Daft Punk background. I was there the first time round, and young enough for it to be absolutely MY thing. Does that make me an old fart now? Does that make my opinion on Random Access Memories, Daft Punk’s new album and the most hyped music product ever since the last most hyped music product ever, irrelevant?

Answer in the comments if you like, but to be honest, I don’t really care. Having grown up with Daft Punk, and had them make an immense influence on my own music production and song writing, I feel a personal connection to what they do that makes a review of their new album more than just another Internet commentariat bleating along with the herd (though I can’t stop anyone from shooting it down by calling it that).

So in as brief a nutshell as I can possibly put together, here is my review of Random Access Memories: potentially amazing production let down by really lacklustre songs. Now you know what I think. Feel free to ignore the rest of this piece if you want. For the rest of you, here are my gripes…

Daft Punk “Random Access Memories” full album stream:
 

 
Read the full review after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
The incredible power of concentration and… balance
05.14.2013
04:16 pm

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Art
Dance

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Simply sublime. If you haven’t seen Japanese dance artist Miyoko Shida’s hypnotic performance on the Spanish TV program Tú Sí Que Vales—it’s been making the rounds for a while now—it’s well-worth the seven minutes you’ll spend on it.

You’ll feel like you took a Xanax afterwards, trust me…

As someone points out in the YouTube comments, “I would not like to play this woman in Jenga.”

Probably not.

You can subscribe to Shinda’s Facebook profile here.

 
With thanks to Red Cell!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Boosh on the loose! Noel Fielding does his best Kate Bush impression
05.03.2013
12:47 pm

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Amusing
Dance
Music

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Although I’ve always been a big Kate Bush fan, I can’t lie to you and tell you that I find her music videos and TV appearances (for the most part) anything other than totally laughable, at least the performances from the earlier part of her career. I mean, come on! Even her staunchest fans would have difficulty defending goofy clips like this one.

Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh obviously feels this way, too. Witness his spot-on “interpretive” parody of Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” on the BBC’s 2011 Let’s Dance for Comic Relief and compare it to the original.

One YouTube commenter wrote “I would go lesbian for Noel Fielding.” Another quipped “It really looks like this is something he does every Saturday regardless of comic relief.”

Well, practice makes perfect…
 

 
Update: Below, a comparison video. Thanks to Ana Phylaxis for the heads-up!

 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Kate Bush: ‘Wuthering Heights’ slowed down to a gorgeous 36-minute symphony

Kate Bush: Probably her first ever TV interview from 1978

Kate Bush: Splendid concert documentary from 1980

The Dreaming: Some seldom-seen Kate Bush videos, TV interviews & B-sides, 1982

Endearing photos of Kate Bush as a child

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘This Is Belgium’: the Radio Soulwax guide to late 80s Belgian New Beat
05.02.2013
07:27 am

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Dance
History
Music

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The perfect follow-up to The Beat Club’s “Acid Train” video I posted a few days ago, “This Is Belgium” sees that country’s top dance music export, Radio Soulwax, compiling an audio/visual history of its New Beat scene from the late 80s.

Not only are these videos great to listen to, they’re also very informative, charting the cultural and social history of a localized scene whose influence has since spread far and wide (and which is not to be confused with the original American use of the phrase “New Beat”, which meant an off-shoot of New Wave, it seems).

A regional dance music curio similar in a way to Italy’s Cosmic disco scene, New Beat djs took popular tracks of the time and slowed them down, usually playing 45rpm records at 33rpm, pitched up to +8 on the turntable. Like Cosmic, the wrong speed aspect gave New Beat an otherworldly edge: something is up with these records but it can be difficult to pinpoint what that is, if you don’t know they’re actually being played wrong.

Kicks become thuds, claps become clanks, and every vocal seems wretched from the bowels of hell. Visually New Beat may be plastered in smiley faces, but musically it’s threatening, it’s a lil’ bit scary. Slowing down acid and techno records made the sounds heavier and the atmosphere darker, and it also chimed with the emerging industrial/EBM scene of the time. This dark, powerful aesthetic would be seminal in defining the techno that came from Northern Europe in the 1990s.

From Wikipedia:

The New Beat sound originated in Belgium in the late 1980s, especially in 1987 and 1988.

The Belgian New Beat was an underground danceable music style, well known at clubs and discos in Europe. It is a local crossover of EBM, Acid and mid 80s underground House music. The 80s Dark Wave also became an aesthetic influence (especially Depeche Mode’s videos from 1985–1989). At the time, EBM was popular in German speaking countries and The Netherlands, Acid / Acid Trance was popular in the UK, and House Music (in a 80s Eurodisco French twist) was popular in France. Belgium created this unique music sound, with huge underground success all over Europe.

Legend has it that the Belgian New Beat genre was invented in the nightclub Boccaccio in Destelbergen near Ghent when DJ Marc Grouls played a 45rpm EBM record at 33rpm, with the pitch control set to +8. The track in question was Flesh by A Split-Second.

In addition to A Split-Second, the genre was also heavily influenced by other Industrial and EBM acts such as Front 242 and The Neon Judgement, as well as New Wave, and Dark Wave acts such as the likes of Fad Gadget, Gary Numan and Anne Clark.

Part one of this two hour Soulwax trip comes complete with commentary/text that tells the story of this short lived but influential dance fad (very informative and worthy of your eyes) while part two features what is presumably some Belgians reliving the New Beat dance crazes of their youth (which involve a lot of hoping around from foot to foot) while rocking some awesome retro shell suits. Enjoy: 

Radio Soulwax ‘This Is Belgium Pt 1’
 

 
Radio Soulwax ‘This Is Belgium Pt 2’
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
The ‘Acid Train’ will blow your brain!
04.30.2013
12:26 pm

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Amusing
Dance
Music

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Today’s dose of dance music silliness comes via Belgium, and New Beat act The Beat Club, with the video for their 1989 track “Acid Train”. It’s catchy, it’s fun and the video looks like it was made on a hijacked porno set. Come to think of it, the lingerie models were probably thrown in as part of the deal.

The tinny lead synth riff isn’t even the real ear worm here, that award goes to the uptight train conductor shouting before his head dissolves into a 3D smiley face button.

“CAN I SEE YOUR TICKETS PLEEZ?!” 

I’m sure it seemed like a great idea at the time.

The Beat Club “Acid Train”
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘The Hitmaker’: excellent doc on the legendary Nile Rodgers
04.23.2013
08:02 am

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Dance
Heroes
Music

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Nile during his Soul Glo phase
 
This 2013 BBC documentary about living legend Nile Rodgers could not be more appropriately named, seeing as he has just given Daft Punk the biggest hit of their careers. Thankfully, this program includes none of the recent “Get Lucky” hyperbole (I mean, I like that song and all, but enough is enough already!) Judging by the concert footage it was filmed last summer.

You may know most of Rodger’s incredible story already (and if you haven’t read his autobiography Le Freak, you are really missing out on one of the best music biogrpahies of recent years) but there’s enough anecdata to make it a very worthwhile watch.

My own personal fave story is the one concerning Rodgers’ initial work on “Let’s Dance” with David Bowie. Worried that he may have been taking Bowie in too much of a “dance” direction, Nile asks him if perhaps the track is too funky, to which Bowie responds: “Is there such a thing, Nile?”

Try getting that quote, in Bowie-voice, out of your head the next time you see either of these two legends.
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Ballerina skate decks
04.15.2013
02:56 pm

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Art
Dance

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Ballet skate decks by Manhattan-based photographer Henry Leutwyler.

In ballet and skateboarding, fearlessness rules. No half-measures or marking the trick. Just passion, grit and blood.

And if you’re wondering as to whether or not ballerinas’ feet and toes are all gnarled-up like that in real life… they are. A simple Google image search shows you what years of dancing can do.

Via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
RIP disco legend Vincent Montana Jr, King of Vibes
04.15.2013
08:33 am

Topics:
Dance
Heroes
Music
R.I.P.

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We lost one of THE heavy hitters of the disco/soul era on Saturday, a man who helped birth some of the greatest anthems of the 70s and 80s, but whose name will mean very little to the average Joe on the street.

Vincent Montana Jr was vibraphone player and band leader for both Philadelphia International’s MFSB and New York’s Salsoul Orchestra, outfits that, just between them, could rack up a near-definitive “Hits Of Disco” compilation. But that’s not even taking into account the hits he played on or produced for others…

“La La Means I Love You”, “TSOP (aka Theme from Soul Train)”, “Love Train”, “Me & Mrs Jones”, “Disco Inferno”, “Runaway”, “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got”, “Love Is The Message”, “Armed and Extremely Dangerous”, “Backstabbers”, “People Make The World Go Round”, “I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” (with Nuyorican Soul), the list goes on and on.

He also had some success with his own acts Montana Sextet and the Goody Goody Orchestra, including “It Looks Like Love”, which remains one of the keystone records in the vast cannon of disco. Like Loose Joints “Is It All Over My Face” or “For The Love Of Money” by the Disco Dub Band, “It Looks Like Love” has been responsible for turning subsequent generations onto the underground/dancefloor disco sound, and rehabilitating the genre from the sea of plastic crap that almost engulfed it.

In fact, it could be argued that “It Looks Like Love” is THE definitive “disco” record, as its stylish, graceful, sexy vibe is everything disco patrons aspired to be, and the perfect soundtrack to the time machine ride back to those clubs of the late 70s and early 80s. Others may disagree, but this is the track that does it for me. I can close my eyes and I am THERE.

For that, if nothing else (though there was of course LOTS more) we salute you Vincent Montana Jr! Play those vibes, once more time…

Goody Goody “It Looks Like Love”
 

 
For more info on Vince Montana, check out this great article by the British DJ Greg Wilson.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
The Catherine Wheel: David Byrne’s criminally underrated funk opera masterpiece
04.01.2013
01:46 pm

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Dance
Music

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Hidden in plain sight in the midst of his prodigious creative output, there is an unfairly overlooked gem in David Byrne’s discography that I feel is an absolutely monumental masterpiece of late 20th century music, one right up there with Talking Heads’ Remain in Light and his seminal collaboration with Brian Eno, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. I refer to the seamless funk opera score Byrne created for choreographer, Twyla Tharp in 1981, The Catherine Wheel. Unless you were a big Talking Heads or are David Byrne completest, chances are this one might have passed you by.

The Catherine Wheel is, to my mind, the third spoke (see what I did there) of a deeply psychedelic African-influenced polyrhythmic trilogy along with the above-mentioned Remain in Light and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts—all three were easily in my top ten “tripping soundtracks” as an acid-gobbling teenager and all three would still be on my Desert Island Discs list as a middle-aged rock snob. If you’re a fan of the two better-known albums, but have not heard The Catherine Wheel, well, you’ll be in for a profound treat, but especially if you drop some acid beforehand (I’d encourage it, no really!).

Musicians heard on the album include Jerry Harrison, the powerful drummer Yogi Horton, percussionist John Chernoff, Adrian Belew, P-Funk’s resident Minimoog genius Bernie Worrell and Brian Eno. It’s mind-blowing to me that there’s not a deluxe 2-CD set of the album that would include the 12” mixes and live Talking Heads performances of songs from the score, but I feel like this incredible piece of music has always gotten short shrift from whatever major label currently owns it. (The Catherine Wheel is one of the greatest “fuck albums” of all time, too. That’s how they should market it, if you ask me. I toyed with the obnoxious linkbait title of “David Byrne, of all people, recorded the ultimate fuck album” but thought better of it).
 

 
Above, Talking Heads performing “Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open)” at Wembley Arena in 1982.
 
After the jump, much more including the full Twyla Tharp ballet as it aired on BBC and PBS in 1983…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Octavia St Laurent and the legends of voguing want you to ‘Be Somebody’
03.21.2013
11:49 am

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Dance
Music
Queer

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Here’s a wicked video from Sweden’s House Of Wallenberg for the track ‘Be Somebody” which features lead vocals from the late Octavia St Laurent (ballroom legend and star of both How Do I Look and Paris Is Burning, referenced in the song’s title) and voguing from legendary members of the Houses of Ninja, Milan and Evisu.

House Of Wallenberg writes:

Sadly, Octavia St Laurent passed away before the release of this single. To celebrate her memory, the famous vogue houses of New York, spearheaded by House of Ninja, House of Milan and House of Evisu [including Benny and Javier Ninja, Aviance Milan and Dashaun Wesley of Vogue Evolution], came together and gave an epic performance in the accompanying video directed by Petter Wallenberg himself.

During filming, a homeless man came up and held an improvised speech about the meaning of being somebody, which is featured in it’s entirity in the breakdown of the video.

Very nice indeed…

House Of Wallenberg “Be Somebody” ft Octavia St Laurent
 

 
“Be Somebody” is available to buy on iTunes. For more info visit the House of Wallenberg website.

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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