Category Archives: dance

“This groove is out of fashion, these beats are twenty years old”

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu9LhFXymxs]

Strange Overtones” is the first single by David Byrne and Brian Eno from their new album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

“This groove is out of fashion, these beats are twenty years old,” state the lyrics and yes indeed, it has been 20 years since the beat has been self-consciously celebrated during late 20th century electronic dance music revolution brought on by Japanese music machines such as the Roland 808.

But the beats (some of them by Robert Wyatt) in this track are actually very intricate and danceable too.

Most of the drumming and programming reminds me of “Riot in Lagos[1], from B2-Unit, Ryuichi Sakamoto second solo album.

Everything feels fucked up. The environment, the economy, war, terrorism, …

It is time for WMC #54

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDCm5A5FTe0]

You Can’t Always Get What You Want“by Soulwax

I may have dismissed Philip Sherburne‘s piece on the current state of beats too quickly in my recent comment.[1]

The piece came my way via Simon Reynolds[2] a couple of days back:

Philip Sherburne addresses the malaise in electronic dance culture (i didn’t know the economic side of it had gotten that parlous) and convenes a kind of brain trust to come up with remedies.” —Simon Reynolds

And thus starts Sherburne’s piece:

Everything feels fucked up. The environment, the economy, war, terrorism, …” Philip Sherburne [3]

Regarding the economic side Sherburne says:

“Still, dance music is suffering from some very real maladies, many of them economic. Record sales are declining– labels that once could confidently move 1,000 copies of a 12″ single now struggle to sell 250– and legal downloads, while presumably growing, aren’t taking up the slack.”

As I said in my comment I find it hard to imagine that beats are going out of fashion.

Witness these beats set to The Stones‘s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want[4] remix[5] by Belgian dance-punkers Soulwax. Listen for the choral arrangements by Jack Nitzsche.

Regarding beats going out of fashion from a theoretical point of view.

The beat is a celebration of dance, dance is a celebration of hedonism. Hedonism flourishes in economic booms. Today is an era of poverty. Beats do not fit in poverty. Perhaps. But. Counter example one: the beats of Lindy Hop during Depression America. So evidence inconclusive, but if I had to investigate I would follow the economic boom/malaise route.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in its original Stones version is WMC #54

Sonny Okosuns (1947 – 2008)

Sonny Okosuns (1947May 24 2008) was a Nigerian singer and musician.

He is known for his contributions to the Sun City album and for his African reggae

Okosuns first came to international attention with the 1977 composition “Fire in Soweto[1]“.

Please listen to “Tire Ni Oluwa”[2], which is a groovier track.

Speaking of African reggae, Nina Hagen released a single of that name in 1979, of which a twelve inch mix was also released. This is the seven inch or album version:

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM6QRjzE5gw]

African Reggae” (1979) Nina Hagen

From her album Unbehagen

“African Reggae” is WMC #50, this nobrow track appeals to both the punk and the black music crowd and would not be out of place in the German opera category, although probably only for its formal qualities, i.e. the voice of Hagen. The B-side to “African Reggae” was Lucky Number, originally recorded by Lene Lovich [3], Hagen covered the song the following year[4]. Hagen’s version was spunkier.

Barry Lederer (1944 – 2008)

I seem to have become somewhat of an obituarist.

The pantheon of disco DJs lost one of its demigods when Barry Lederer (September 9 1944May 31 2008) died earlier this week. Now you may ask, if Lederer was a demigod, who were the true gods in disco-DJ-mythology? Most commonly cited in this category are David Mancuso, François Kevorkian, Larry Levan, Walter Gibbons, Francis Grasso, Nicky Siano, Tom Moulton and Tee Scott.

In a 2000s interview[1] with disco-disco.com, Lederer noted that his favorite records included:

Click the footnotes to hear the music.

World music classic #43 and 44

Donna McGhee - Make It Last Forever

Donna McGhee – Make It Last Forever (YouTube)

Donna McGhee is an American singer who released one album on Red Greg Records, produced and arranged by Greg Carmichael and Patrick Adams. The track from that album, “Make It Last Forever,” was covered by Loleatta Holloway.

Greg Carmichael (“Barely Breaking Even”) and Patrick Adams (“In the Bush” and “Keep on Jumpin’) produced at least 50 tracks which transcend disco as genre. They are in many ways the auteurs of disco, more so than Larry Levan, Walter Gibbons or Tom Moulton, who were primarily involved in post-production. The only one to rival Adams and Carmichael was Arthur Russell, but his story is altogether different.

One more by Patrick Adams (notice the similarity of Patrick Adams’s trademark: the string arrangements and slow beats)

FOUR BELOW ZERO - my baby's got E.S.P.

FOUR BELOW ZERO – my baby’s got E.S.P.

Introducing August Darnell


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August Darnell aka Kid Creole (Montreal, Canada, 12 August, 1950) is a Canadian musician who has been involved in several dance-oriented projects in New York in the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s. Projects include Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band[0] (led by Darnell’s brother Stony), Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band[1], Gichy Dan’s Beechwood #9, the “mutant disco” of Aural Exciters and, of course, Kid Creole and the Coconuts[2], as well as “solo” projects involving Andy “Coati Mundi” Hernandez[2,5], Taana Gardner[3], Fonda Rae[4]. and Lizzy Mercier Descloux[5]. Some of the more (and less)obscure offerings of Darnell have been released on an music compilation in 2008 by Strut Records as Going Places: The August Darnell Years 1976-1983.

Click the number to listen to the tracks, not all tracks are Darnell projects, but also just of the artists mentioned.

Fonda Rae in Machine’s “There but for the Grace of God Go I”[4] is world music classic 38, and has an interesting bit of music censorship history behind it, perhaps more on that later.

Do you want to control me?

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixKSHqMFKj0&]

“Soul Control” by Theo Parrish

Along Moodymann and Terrence Parker, Theo Parrish (Washington, DC, 1972) represents the third wave of Detroit techno. Theo Parrish juxtaposes elements of soul, jazz, disco, funk and techno with simple but hypnotic funky 4/4 house rhythms.

It’s hard in the internet era to recreate that excitement of the unknown when you encounter a dusty, entirely mysterious artifact in a record shop. There’s no such thing as a rare record these days [cfr. Death of the underground], with the advent of eBay, and music available in digital forms is so extensively propagated around the internet that it’s rare to encounter something you don’t know at least something about … .

However, Detroit producer Theo Parrish (whose Sound Sculptures Volume 1 was reviewed recently in The Wire 291) makes a fair stab at preserving that sensation in a manner that’s neither drearily nostalgic nor hermetically self-referential. — Derek Walmsley (The Mire, The Wire’s blog) on Theo Parrish .

World music classics #29

Sleeve of the seven inch of Max Berlin’s “Elle et moi (1978)

Elle et moi” is a musical composition by Max Berlin, first published in 1978 on the Belgian recording label USA Import.

This is the type of track which has survived in popular consciousness through nightclub play rather than radio play. I can’t remember hearing “Elle et Moi” on any commercial radio station.

Skilled and knowledgeable DJs usually play “Elle et moi” after or before Gainsbourg’s 1968 Requiem pour un con (YouTube), from the soundtrack to the film Le Pacha.

Introducing Praxis

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It’s actually strange that I’ve never actively come across this band besides of having heard of them. I am a big fan of Bill Laswell and all P-Funkiana, both are canonical to my encyclopedic work. Praxis introduces a whole collective of adventurous culture, from cutting edge music to exciting graphics, rebellious texts and tetsuoesque performances (is the life-size doll by Rammellzee?).

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUL_gcHv0EA]

“Animal Behavior” (1992) from the Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) album.

Praxis is the name of an ever-changing Bill Laswell musical project. Praxis combines elements of different musical genres such as funk, jazz, hip-hop and heavy metal into highly improvised music. First appearing in 1992 with the critically acclaimed Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis), Buckethead, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell and Brain have defined the direction of the band over the last 15 years.

Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) is the first album by Bill Laswell‘s everchanging “supergroupPraxis. This first album features Buckethead on guitar, Bootsy Collins on bass and vocals, Brain on drums, Bernie Worrell on keyboards and DJ AF Next Man Flip on turntables and mixer.

Transmutation features a wide range of musical styles, all mixed together to make a very diverse and unique album. Styles such as heavy metal, funk, hip hop, ambient, jazz and blues are blended together to form a strange style of avant-garde, with extended guitar and keyboard solos, and highly improvised passages.

The artwork is by James Koehnline, photography by Thi-Linh Le and liner notes by Hakim Bey.