Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Here Comes The Sun

The nearly never-got-there post...

And it's a short one - the lush house grooves attached are deep and long though.

Cape Town's Pierre-Estienne is not only one of the coolest people on the planet, but he's a damn fine DJ too and currently my favourite back-to-back collaborator - especially when we do 80's-heavy wedding sets!

We recently dropped two-hours of sun-kissed, mid-afternoon house bliss at the Awake Festival in Rustlers Valley, which is undoubtedly one of the best festival experiences around.

In this one-on-one, two-part showdown you'll hear the likes of FK, Still Going, Herbert, Hercules & Love Affair, Liquid People, Charles Webster, Daniel Wang, Black Cock and plenty more.

I hope you like it - and I hope it was worth the wait!

Pierre-Estienne & DJ Dexterity - At Awake, Rustlers 2008 (Pt. 1)
[MediaFire: 86Mb]

Pierre-Estienne & DJ Dexterity - At Awake, Rustlers 2008 (Pt. 2)
[MediaFire: 76Mb]

Monday, August 4, 2008

Angels Are Playing With My Heart

Something special for a blue-tiful Monday...

"And I wept both night and day,
And he wip'd my tears away,
And I wept both day and night,
And hid from him my heart's delight."
- William Blake, 'The Angel'

I've recently realised that a large percentage of the songs that turn me on are about angels... Kate Bush's The Red Shoes LP has a permanent place within arms-length of my turntable, and I often listen to "Lily" (really loud) before heading off to work. If this track - which stars angels Raphael, Uriel, Michael and more - doesn't get you through the day, nothing will...
"Gabriel before me,
Raphael behind me,
Michael to my right,
Uriel on my left side
In the circle of fire."
- Kate Bush, 'Lily'

Last week I compiled a playlist for the launch of the awesome new Love Jozi T-shirt range and in the process rediscovered Lamb's "Gabriel", which was a fittingly heavenly accompaniment to the fabulous Ts and fantastic wallpaper. Probably the zenith of Lamb's should-have-been-more-illustrious career, it has been on repeat ever since.

"I can fly
But I want his wings,
I can shine even in the darkness
But I crave the light that he brings,
Revel in the songs that he sings:
My angel Gabriel."
- Lamb - 'Gabriel'

"Gabriel" also got me thinking about angelic conversations and holy connections - and then searching for angel-related records. After ditching Abba's "Angel Eyes" and some dubious business from the likes of Wang Chung, I was left with a selection of ten more-than-decent ditties with celestial overtones. And because I wanna give you devotion, I thought I'd share them all with you...

The Angel-ise folder available for download below contains acts whose divine output might best be described as "art pop": the aforementioned Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, CocoRosie, Roxy Music, Massive Attack, St. Etienne...

It also features a pretty out-there collaboration between the late Jeff Buckley and Nymphs' vocalist Inger Lorre (from the Kicks Joy Darkness album, a tribute to Beat poet Jack Kerouac), and an easier-gliding collaboration between ace South African emcee Zubz and vocalist Ziza, who's the singer in Suplex (see the last post below).

DJ Dexterity - Angel-ise Playlist [61 Mbs]:

CocoRosie - Terrible Angels
Cocteau Twins - Oil Of Angels
Four Tet - My Angel Rocks Back and Forth
Inger Lorre & Jeff Buckley - Angel Mine
Kate Bush - Lily
Lamb - Gabriel
Massive Attack - Angel
Roxy Music - Angel Eyes
St. Etienne - Angel (Broadcast Remix)
Zubz ft. Ziza - Remember, Drunken Angels Don't Sing

*Tip: Use WinZip or WinRAR to unzip this little taste of heaven.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Super Perplex

Anyone in or near Jozi next weekend should check out the Social Security party at the awesome Alexander Theatre. Kid Fonque will be dropping two hours of dubstep downstairs while Offbeat and Dexterity (that's me) will pick up the slack and drop beats of various persuasions on the main floor upstairs.
A special addition to the line-up for the third in this super-cool series of parties is a performance from "tone contortionists" Suplex: prodigiously talented Ziza on vox with Offbeat and Dexterity dropping the beats.

Get a taste of what's to come by grabbing the recording of their last set, at Newtown's Fuel Cafe in June, below.

Suplex - Fuel Cafe: 21 June 2008 (Pt. 1)

Suplex - Fuel Cafe: 21 June 2008 (Pt. 2)

Check out more mix-action from Dexterity on SA DJ showcase 'site

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Because Three's A Crowd

Tshwane, aka Pretoria, is fast turning into the super-heated hub of local house music culture.

The nation's capital has always had a healthy club scene that's spread serious house fare in thick swathes, from hotbeds like Carnalita and Ellesse to modern dance dens like Musica Feliz, but now it seems to be spawning the spine-tingling music production talent too.

Per capita, this country has the biggest house music market on the planet – it's the kind of place (if any other exists) where you'll hear the likes of Larry Heard and Charles Webster on daytime radio: cuts like “The Sad Piano” are bona fide blockbuster attractions here.

But lately the local production fraternity are hijacking house floors back; bending some of kwaito's basic elements – low-tempo 4-square beats and township trim – into shapes that are not as specific as kwaito's vernac variations. They're Afro-flavoured but with with an ear-trained to international tastes. And they're hitting paydirt with house music lovers across the globe.

Recognition is in the rumour that consummate label for all things electronic (and not), Warp Records, have picked up the raw slice of twisted 'kasi' keys and tribal drums that is DJ Mujava's 'Township Funk' for release later this year.

DJ Mujava – Township Funk

In 2007, Blackwhole, ruled the airwaves - and lots of adventurous hips - with a tune that exemplifies the instrumental restraint that's dominated SA-sprung dance beats for a while, but that slowly lets loose: “1000 Seconds” unwinds with wide-screen keyboard reach and a nagging, relentless momentum that's hard to ignore – or not groove to.

Blackwhole – 1000 Seconds

Rhythmic Elements exemplify another aspect of Pretoria's impressively amassing pool of dance-inducing talent. Taking in more traditionally South African sounds, they've captured current imaginations and playlists with the infectious “2 By 2”.

Rhythmic Elements – 2 By 2

And while we're on the subject of excellent dance tunes with South African flavour, enjoy the sprawling meeting of Amampondo and Germany's coolest house cat, Henrik Schwarz...

Henrik Schwarz & Amampondo - Exist Because Of You (Henrik Schwarz Live Version)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Gettin' Chilly In Here

Two tasty trips tonight: something old and something new...

These two records book-ended my midnight DJ set at the rather rocking Social Security party in Braamfontein's Alexander Theatre on Friday night.

For the opening salvo I fired off the mega-dramatic, 15-year old (and nearly 15-minute long!) pinnacle of progressive house, "Sugar Daddy", by Secret Knowledge (aka music journalist and producer Kris Needs and vocalist Wonder Schneider).

Like the undulating Rufus Wainwright number below, it features a rainstorm (pure coincidence, I promise) and it's fully-loaded with searing special effects. The difference between the tracks: "Sugar Daddy" is all sweat-soaked, brothel-tainted lust, with Wonder's provocative vocals bridging some inner ear-bending ground-fire hi-hats and bulldozing kick drums.

This record first squinted its way into the light of day - mascara smudged and hair tousled - in 1992, the debut vinyl issue on Andrew Weatherall's Sabres Of Paradise label and one of the sharper offerings on the seminal 'Deep Cuts' collection, the long-lost label's debut CD emission.

Secret Knowledge - Sugar Daddy

For dessert, my parting shot was the tune of the year so far. "Chilly Willy" is almost as silly as its title suggests, but this wonky workout from Montreal's Guillaume Coutu Dumont, aka Guillame & The Coutu Dumonts, balances tomfoolery with an infectious groove, stuttered devotional voices and a battery of sparkling horns.

Trained in Latin and classical percussion, this strange Canadian spent some time playing with a jazz act in Senegal, and while there are traces of Afrobeat here, there are many more constituent elements too. The 'Trouser Jazz' of Mr. Scruff is probably this cool track's closest cousin, with multiple elements facing off over an easy-stepping skank.

Elsewhere, Guillame & The Coutu Dumonts' inviting techno experiments neatly parallel the queasy, greasy rhythms of fellow Canadian Akufen or Frankfurt's Isolee, and they are sublimely showcased on last year's 'Face À L’Est' album on Musique Risqueé. This label has also just blessed us with the 'Poco-A-Gogo' EP from Chic Miniature, Guillame's collaboration with Ernesto Ferreyra.

Guillame & The Coutu Dumonts - Chilly Willy

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Something Outta South Africa

The Real Estate Agents have ruled the South African electronic music scene from their Cape Town base for half-a-decade, and have made headway outside the borders, with various bytes and pieces appearing on international labels.

The duo – machinist Markus Wormstorm and turntablist Sibot – sizzle on stage and are brimming with bright ideas: so many ideas, in fact, that their last self-titled release spread their high-octane electronics over three CDs. Add to this that in the past couple of years they have busted out with various side and solo projects, including Markus's 'The Wormstorm EP' (on NY's avant-rap label Sound-Ink) and Sibot's excellent In With The Old long-player.

Two of these additional projects – both of which are in many ways more forward-thinking than the Prefuse vs Oizo template that the Real Estate Agents have down pat - happen in tandem with super talented emcee Spoek Mathambo. Alongside Markus it's Sweat.X, and the sound is a little like Jamie Lidell tweaked on “tik” (the South African name for crystal meth); their 2007 'Ebonyivorytron' EP on UK label Citinite is breathtakingly brilliant in places. Spoek + Sibot = Playdoe, and the latest project from a prolific and precocious crew has found a home on Lyon-based label, Jarring Effects.

“Hungry Waste Line” comes off their free label sampler JFX BITS 2, a 24-track trawl through jumped-up electronica, jungle dub and jagged breaks from a batch of producers you've probably never heard of, but who nevertheless impress in places. Playdoe's 7-track debut EP is available now through this French entity.

Also worth checking are Spoek's collabs with DJ Edjotronik (who I think is French – info is sketchy) available via The Fast Life, exclusive Sweat.X tune “Shut Up” on Discobelle, the loud and cool Sweat.X blog Throwing Shade, and The Fader's great article on X in their recent Africa issue.

Playdoe – Hungry Waste Line

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where The Wild Flowers Grow

Coming on like the lovechild of Jeff Buckley and Kate Bush, Rufus Wainwright is a maverick who operates at an event horizon where jazz, rock, folk, classical, gospel and even opera converge. He labels his richly-layered output "Baroque Pop".

Like Jeff Buckley, Wainwright is the progeny of rock royalty - his parents are Loudon Wainwright III and folk singer Kate McGarrigle - and the two met a couple of times before Buckley's untimely death. Wainwright's "Memphis Skyline" is a tribute to Buckley and references "Hallelujah", the sweeping Leonard Cohen-penned number that is the late singer's best known song and that Wainwright regularly plays live (and actually recorded for the 'Shrek' soundtrack).

Thankfully the connections between the two end there. Wainwright made it through the mythical late 20s that are so often the end days for musicians, overcoming a crystal meth habit, temporary blindness and a vicious sexual assault to emerge mostly intact – and on a career path that's still yielding seductive results.

Wainwright at his most baroque: performing "Agnus Dei" off the 'Want Two' album, live in Central Park

Wainwright excels at reaching left of field and positioning the oddities he finds out there in between cosy pop cushioning. It's an MO that climaxes in captivating songs, critical commendation and, for the most part, mainstream obscurity. His half-a-dozen albums have met with high praise and low sales, but that hasn't deterred him from pursuing a unique trajectory that's included collaborations with the Pet Shop Boys, Burt Bacharach and Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons.

Long before the latter made a surprise cameo on the microphone for sublime DFA-signed disco evangelists Hercules and Love Affair (their self-titled debut may just be the best album of '08), Wainwright enlisted the services of playful dance music duo Supermayer to tear apart and stitch back up "Tiergarten" (off his most recent long-player, 'Release The Stars'). The unlikely get-together resulted in one of the finest dancefloor highs of last year. In fact, it's one of the most memorable techno moments of the millennium, period.

Written for his German boyfriend, "Tiergarten" takes its title from the massive Berlin park that houses the Reichstag and the Brandeburg Gate, and fittingly it gets re-fitted by the Berlin-based dream team of Superpitcher and Michael Mayer. As Supermayer, this odd couple unleashed the extraordinarily diverse "Save The World" album (on quintessential techno label Kompakt) in 2007.

As impure as it is impressive, that record flirts with indie, lounge, jazz and an array of strange instrumentation, strapping the disparate strands onto streamlined digital arpeggios and pile-driving bass pulses. The outcome: thrillingly animated anthems like 'Two Of Us' and 'The Art Of Letting Go'.

Supermayer go even further out on their remix of "Tiergarten". It's what might have been born out of a meeting between Burt Bacharach and Giorgio Moroder - if it was scripted by Steven Spielberg. Techno with a human heart, digital abstraction with feet firmly on terra firma: super-heroic sonics in the midst of the collosal rainstorm that is the track's centre-piece. I suggest you get wet...

Rufus Wainwright - "Tiergarten"

Monday, June 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas

For the inaugural entry in what I hope will be a long-running and reliable endeavour, I've decided to share what's been my favourite song for the past two decades - a tune that's unlikely to be eclipsed in the near or far future.

A melancholy meeting of two musicians who've successfully managed to move deftly between - and reconcile - the radical and the accessible for thirty-something years, "Forbidden Colours" couples Ryuichi Sakamoto's gravity-defying synth and string signals with David Sylvian's otherworldly vocals.

Released in 1983, this elegiac and angelic piece is essentially Sakamoto's main theme from Nagisa Oshima's movie 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence', with Sylvian's desert-swept narrative hovering over its sublime surface.

Sakamoto, the former Yellow Magic Orchestra magician, also stars in 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence' along with David Bowie, and despite minor flaws it's worth watching for the sublime score alone; it also happens to be one of Bowie's more successful cinematic turns.

The film's script was based on work by South African author Laurens van der Post, specifically 'The Seed and The Sower', which diarised his real-life ordeals as a Japanese POW in World War II.

There are a few versions of "Forbidden Colours" and the Sylvian-less 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence' main theme floating around, all well worth seeking out, but this beauty is the best - and an all-time favourite.

Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Sylvian - Forbidden Colours