The CONDUIT returns - Download CONDUIT 01 Podcast

CONDUIT 01 Mix - The Captain and Me
by Sean-Michael Yoder
It's been awhile since I last released a DJ mix to the public. It's not that I haven't been making mixes over the past three years since my wife's health fell apart due to Lyme Disease. Life has been such a roller coaster ride since then that I had to put the public aspect of my life in music on serious hold. But I've continued to foster relationships behind the scenes and my passion for music has continued unabated in the interim. Playing records has been a big part of my life for over 25 years and it's been a great way to escape the madness, even if only for a moment or two, so it was highly unlikely I would give it up for good even though I am rapidly approaching the age of too-damn-old. I didn't want to share the mixes I've made during the hiatus with the public because they are highly personal, most made specifically to lift her mood during the not good days or the theme to one of the few road trips we've been able to take in that same time period. It's only been these past few months where my wife's health has improved enough that it's reached an up & down stage rather than just being a continuous downward spiral.  And in proportion, I've begun to feel the weight of responsibility to everyone sending me promos. I really need take the time to highlight the good tracks people send me for free. I am ALWAYS grateful for that and never take it for granted. My earlier goal was to blog weekly about my favorite album of the week but between my daily commute, my wife's ongoing health issues, and taking up selling rare records on Discogs things ground to a halt around mid February, the graveyard of all New Year's resolutions. I hope to return to it shortly because I've picked up about 10 amazing albums in the last month that all deserve a little spotlight. But looking at the stats, no one really seems to care about enthusiasm for the British Invasion, my deep appreciation for Laurel Canyon country rock, and I'm pretty sure they don't care about my concurrent loves of punk, hip-hop, or jazz. What people expect from me when reading my blog is thoughts and ideas about electronic dance music so future ALBUM OF THE WEEK installments to be a little more techno focused with an occasional foray into deep catalog albums. In the meantime, I have resurrected the CONDUIT podcast with a different look and seriously pared down to give me a little time to get back in the game after sitting on the sidelines for so long. The idea of bundling it with my blog was a no-brainer in terms of generating content for it and getting the word out on all the amazing tracks I pick up every month. The podcast will, for now, just be focused on my own monthly new music show but hopefully expand in the coming months to include guest mixes as well. I'll be curious to see how things progress over the year.

DOWNLOAD CONDUIT 01 Mix - The Captain and Me:

RA DJ Charts - April 2014:http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/theabstract_terrorist/top10?chart=173773
unknown - Drone Connection

Savas Pascalidis - Mastermind (Non Series)
Monika Kruse meets Pig & Dan - Colours (Terminal M) 
Hibernate - Getting There (DMP Remix) (Alpha Milk Recordings)
False Image - Second Horizon (Get Physical Music)
False Image - Second Horizon (Dub) (Get Physical Music)
Walker Barnard - The Wake Up (Alexi Delano Remix) (Serialism)
Harry Axt - Altes Eisen (Arms & Legs)
Sirius Brown - Abyssal (Original Mix) (Different Is Different)
S-Man - Time 2 Stop (Steve Mac & Mat Playford Remix) (Hard Times)
4BeatClub - Soul Food (Original Mix) (Freche Fruchte)
NIBC - Love Lesson (Ian Pooley Remix) (Trunkfunk)
Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts - Doughnut Jam (Who Took It Out?) (Freerange Music)
Christian Arno - South Central (Original Mix) (All Blak)
Dole & Kom - Fly Bar (ft. Seth Schwarz) (Original Mix) (3000Grad)
Talal - Manama (Original Mix) (Boulevard)
Walker Barnard - Trollops & Cherubim (Serialism)
Ricardo Baez - Butoh (David Jach Remix) (Exotic Refreshment)
Lando & Xavier - My Pet Human (Face To Face Recordings)
NIBC - Love Lesson (Tuff City Kids Remix) (Trunkfunk)
Christian Zanni - Merckle (Original Mix) (Aerotek)
Daniel Steinberg - Lonely (Arms & Legs)
P41 - Lalguer (Get Physical Music)
Monika Kruse meets Pig & Dan - Soulstice (Alberto Ruiz 80Monster Remix) (Terminal M)
Miyagi feat Ronald Christoph - This Must Be Love (Douglas Greed Rmx) (Turnbeutel)
Marco P - Rumpelstilz (Tech Factory)
Sirius Brown - Advanced (Original Mix) (Different Is Different)
Savas Pascalidis - Nightshades (Non Series)
Codeless - Regen (Original Mix) (Coincidence)
Super Flu - Volkwein (Kollektiv Turmstrasse Remix) (Monaberry)
Frederick Alonso & Pat Lezizmo - Tablao (Original Mix) (Muzik & Friendz)
Cio D'or - Off (Telrae)


ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of February 16th, 2015

ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of February 16th, 2015 - DILLARD & CLARK - The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark

Back again after taking some time off last week to enjoy the balmy temperatures that have been a staple of yet another winter. After looking at some of the best electronic music albums of 2014 in the past two installments of ALBUM OF THE WEEK I am doing a little focus on the birth of the country rock genre with the 1968 A&M release of The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark. This release features Doug Dillard of the famous bluegrass family the Dillards and Gene Clark formerly of the Byrds. In retrospect, you can see that both Dillard and Clark were already working in groups that came from a folk background, were well-versed in country music, and most certainly would have stumbled across the whole country rock thing as the Dillards or the Byrds. The Dillards were an Elektra act and everything from 1968's Wheatstraw Grass onward has a slight tinge of the radical rock & roll vision of Jac Holtzman's mighty label. The Byrds teamed up with Gram Parsons the same year and released their finest record - the country tinged Sweetheart of the Rodeo. In fact, a good case could be made that Parsons beat them all to the country rock promised land with the International Submarine Band the previous year, but like most of Parsons' work it went virtually unnoticed in every sector except serious musicians paying attention. Other groups like the Youngbloods, Buffalo Springfield, and the Grateful Dead were definitely looking in that direction as well, but no one really packaged it in such a complete way as to codify the nascent genre as Dillard & Clark did.

I recently picked up the 2008 reissue of the album with three bonus tracks, including a ragged cover of the Elvis hit "Don't Be Cruel" that is to die for and nearly pays for the price of admission here. Many of the usual players are here including Byrds rhythm section Chris Hillman (mandolin) and Michael Clarke (drums) with Bernie Leadon on banjo, who brings the future Eagles' tune "Train Leaves Here This Morning" with him, although this version will quickly make you forget the mellowed out strains of the Don Henley No-Soul Revue. It's obvious when listening to this album, especially "The Radio Song", that this whole country rock thing is going to end up at the Hotel California by the late Seventies. But Andy Belling's harpsichord playing gives this album that classic, roughed-up Sixties psych feel that ties it together with the baroque Arthur Lee stylings of Clark's first post-Byrds attempt - Echoes with the Godsin Brothers. The Fantastic Expedition... represents some of Clark's best work in what turned out to be a very troubled career, dodgy recording output, and a premature exit. Dillard passed in 2012 and turned out to be the banjo playing ambassador for the bluegrass nation, based on the reputation of this album and his subsequent solo work. The music is a beautiful mix of country, rock, folk, and gospel. It's hard to pick a favorite because nearly every tune is a classic but the most recognizable track from the album is "The Radio Song", which features the diverse mix of styles that came to define the genre as played by the Flying Burrito Brothers, Neil Young, and Waylon Jennings just a few years down the road - the whole blueprint for country rock is laid out right here.

Get The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark here: http://www.discogs.com/Dillard-Clark-The-Fantastic-Expedition-Of-Dillard-Clark/release/1330863

The Radio Song


ALBUM OF THE WEEK - My Picks for 2014 Pt. 2

ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of February 2nd, 2015 - My Picks for 2014 Pt. 2

My hope was to get this feature finished last week, before the end of January so my 2014 picks wouldn't be quite so dated. What are you gonna do? I missed a week of blogging, which would have made this second list a little more relevant. But because I have an extremely sick wife at home who needs a lot of looking after and more professional challenges than any one dude should be privileged enough to have, hence my free time to recreate like this is rare. The good news is that readership numbers are rising, not as high as they were a few years ago when I was blogging 1-3 times per week, but bouncing back surprisingly fast. The writing is still pretty bad, I've been out of practice and it shows. I appreciate everyone hanging in there with me as I work out all of the kinks. I actually took some time before writing this post to update the blog layout and got rid of all the dated widgets cluttering things up. Baby steps. But enough about me, let's talk music. 

It may seem like a big letdown taking two weeks to follow-up with a post about the second tier of 2014 winners, akin to being an NIT team rather than an NCAA one, but there were so many good albums to come out last year and I'm still digging out new ones as I type this so I felt that a top ten list just wasn't enough. My ideal here would be a top 50 list, but by the time I finished it we'd be talking about the top albums of 2015. Rather than bitch about this bounty of my musical riches, I'll do my best to shine the light on some of the elpees of 2014 that didn't make my arbitrary top 20 list in future installments. Stay tuned and thanks for the support, it sure feels nice to be back.


ALBUM OF THE WEEK - My Picks for 2014 Pt. 1

ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of January 19th, 2015 - My Picks for 2014 Pt. 1

Honestly, these kinds of lists are mostly arbitrary and boring. I hardly ever read them. There are several reasons for my list ambivalence: These lists are usually composed months before the end of the year thus eliminating any surprise late arrivals and also preventing most critics from listening to their selections with anything more than a half-an-ear. Of course, if you wait until the new year to capture everything and give it all a proper listen you run the risk of having irrelevant selections - too late to the ball, so to speak. So why, after all of these years of not doing 'em, am I suddenly composing a 2014 best of list...in mid-January?!

This post is primarily a response to a holiday challenge/encouragement from my homie Symbio of 530Techno, who wanted to know what my favorite new albums of 2014 were and thought I should blog about it. The reason it has taken until mid-January to compile this list is that it took me this long to just listen to 20 albums from last year that I thought were worth the time to write about. This after an entire year of listening to promo albums like a madman, the sheer volume music flowing my direction is daunting at times and probably an underlying motivation behind my not ever doing a best of list. So this list comes with the preface that I finally surrendered to one of my above-mentioned best of list pet peeves - I didn't listen to all of the promos sent my way in 2014, the late arrivals got left hanging. It was either that or once again abandon the concept of completing this project at all. In keeping with my New Year's resolution of being a more disciplined writer, I chose to finish the task instead. But in the process, another arbitrary line was drawn and it's irritating but not so much so that I can't live with an imaginary bi-sector dividing my choices between those promo albums included and those left behind. Part of my hope as a more disciplined writer is to cover some of the unselected albums I missed in 2014 and return to them in future ALBUM OF THE WEEK features. That's the hope any way. The final reason was that I missed writing and I get all of these wonderful promos from a variety of artists, labels, PR agencies, and record pools and thought it would be a great way to reconnect and let 'em all know I was back in biz.

What were the criteria that made up my 20 selections? Mostly that they were neither trend-humping or derivative. I was looking for things that specifically caught my era that were both energetic and creative. Simple enough but it turned out to be a huge ordeal. Leading me to believe that dance music artists need to try a little harder, although I know they won't. That's the problem with party music, there is just way too much partying to be done that the music is always of secondary consideration. I am ok with that but it does make finding inspired albums kind of a big pain in the ass. Rather than review each selection individually, I gave you a chance to listen to some music from each selection so you can make up your own mind about whether it is a valid choice or not. If you discern any common themes between my choices please send me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Here is the top 10:




ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of January 12th, 2015

ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of January 12th, 2015 - KINKS - Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)

Back for round two, although after looking at my stats no one was reading the first attempt. So I am back whether the world wants me or not. Honestly, this is more an exercise in discipline and an opportunity to get my writing chops up to par again so this is mostly for me. It's also a way to sharpen my vision for this series and that vision isn't necessarily to review seminal British rock music from the Sixties, although these first two installments might have you (me?) convinced otherwise. I find myself caught between two powerful forces currently: articulating my complicated feelings for music while toiling away on a Gun Club piece I promised to deliver six months ago and the awe-inspiring beat jive of Richard Meltzer's record reviews. Under these writing influences, I've come to conclusion that I don't really care about track by track record reviews, large arc narratives (usually loaded with a silly leftist, college boy bent), or the history behind the music - other than the basic rundown of who did what on it. What I do care about is something more expressionistic and primal - what a record feels like rather the sounds coming off of it. And to write about the music in such a manner you have to bury yourself in it first. From that perspective, these first two selections are like training wheels, music I have been fully immersed in since childhood. I know what the Small Faces and Kinks feel like because I've listened to all their records so many times that it's like I practically know them.

From a sound perspective the Small Faces and Kinks are practically polar opposites. The only real similarity is that they are both British Invasion bands with a heavy interest in the R&B music of that era. The Kinks started out loud and crazed just like all of the other UK beat bands of the early-to-mid Sixties but quickly became the vehicle for Ray Davies' incredible storytelling. The Small Faces took much longer to develop because they were connected to the same scene as the Stones and Pretty Things, which was unilaterally based in juicing up blues and R&B cuts with a good dose of rock & roll. It took awhile for those bands to move beyond the live crowd energy driving those early belters and discover the SF Sorrows and Ogdens Nut Gone Flakes lurking within them. The Kinks, on the other hand, were from the same musical leanings as the Beatles and Dave Clark Five - high energy and totally English. Had the band not been banned from touring the States during the peak years of Sixties' high musical mass the story of that era might have played out differently for the Kinks. But the reality is that some of the best pop records ever made were made these guys and not a jive muthafucka at the time bought 'em. Arthur is definitely one of those albums and it was made after the horrendous failure of Village Green Preservation Society when founding member Pete Quaife left the band, Dave Davies began work on a solo album, and poor Ray had moved back to the family home in Muswell Hill. That feeling of defeat permeates the Arthur album, with slyly venomous lyrics wrapped around a lot of moody, minor keyed music. These guys are feeling bested by life and wrote a proper rock musical about it in that grand and corny but quintessentially British music hall style. It sold only moderately better than Village Green but really set the stage for the next album, Lola, and the return to superstardom. The album is all about the opening track, "Victoria", one the best songs in the band's entire canon. But there are so many amazing tracks of decline and loss on this album - "Shangri-La", "Arthur", "Yes Sir, No Sir", "Australia" - most bands would kill to have one track as good as any of the aforementioned and here's a whole album full of them. I lucked out and scored a Japanese promo of the 2004 reissue and it's got the entire album in mono, which is a huge bonus. A rocker like "Brainwashed" sounds like the Sex Pistols in mono when Dave gets his guitar revved up. It also includes the mono versions of the singles from the album including "This Man Who Weeps Tonight" from Dave's aborted solo album and "Mindless Child of Motherhood", another Dave tune, which Lance Davis of the Adios Lounge astutely pointed out are really just the same song. Davis was also kind enough to send me the stereo version of those songs for ever more complete Arthur package! In addition, there are BBC Session versions of "Victoria", "Mr. Churchill Says", and "Arthur" tacked on for good measure. It's like I've died and gone to Kinks heaven!

Get Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the Britsh Empire) here: http://www.discogs.com/Kinks-Arthur-Or-The-Decline-And-Fall-Of-The-British-Empire/release/5468106

Victoria (BBC Mono Version)


ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of January 5th, 2015

ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of January 5th, 2015 - SMALL FACES - BBC Sessions

FINALLY! The first posting in my new series, ALBUM OF THE WEEK. It's been awhile since I've blogged, four year actually. I've been thinking about this idea of a weekly random record review for quite some time - at least two years - but it's taken quite awhile to slip out of the perpetual inertia that has gripped me for way too long and get moving on it. I listen to about 20 albums or so per week, sometimes more and sometimes less. I have opinions about all of them and I really need to get them down on paper but that takes work and discipline. So, for better or worse, this here weekly installment is my New Year's resolution to be more disciplined as a writer, and we all know how lame those kinda promises are, abject failure awaits I am sure. Until that inglorious, near term flame out what better place to get things rolling than with the Small Faces, perhaps my favorite of the British Invasion combos with all of the playing ability of a master band like the Beatles or Kinks and all of the reckless bravado of the Who or Led Zeppelin. These guys had it all and churned out quite a few masterpieces along the way like Itchycoo Park, All Or Nothing, and that genius Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake album. The band never really had much impact here in America but when founders Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane split to form Humble Pie and the Faces respectively, that American mainstream success was finally achieved and the two bands also served to launch the careers of Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, and Peter Frampton (God help us all). I've listened to every Small Faces song to the nth degree and can wring out nearly every note and chord progression from the band's amazing catalog from my head. What had been missing for me all these years was the purely physical aspect of the band's music and while we still can't travel back in time (yet) and see these cats in their prime we can at least hear what they sounded like when they let their "balls drag on the concrete" (Ted Nugent's quote, not mine) on a convenient media type disk. And that's what the BBC Sessions is - a nice collection of great tunes played really, really loud and live. You can say all you want about Black Sabbath being the godfathers of metal but you'll really need to clean the crack cocaine out of your ears and re-listen to those crucial Small Faces singles being played live here and tell me again who invented what. There are a lot of these BBC Sessions albums out there - Beatles, Yardbirds, Who, Led Zeppelin, Pretty Things, etc. and the one thing that hasn't translated a half century later are those goofy interviews, how far we've come since Richard Meltzer decided to get as serious as the musical acts he was writing about and it's kinda hard to look back to the days before that without it feeling a bit savage. That is definitely the case here, as with others in the series, but the tunes are belters and come hard and fast. It's hard to keep up with blistering energy at times but the big payoff is Marriott killing it on the Tim Hardin tune If I Were A Carpenter. It seems appropriate that it took a house fire to tame this guy's restless soul, he was like a raging Otis Redding-esque inferno on the microphone. He, Ronnie Lane, and now Ian McLagan are all sorely missed but this album goes a long way in bringing them all back from the dead, if only for a moment as ghosts from an era when bands could actually be this gutsy and still maintain popular appeal for the most crucial years of the Sixties aka the High Mass.

If I Were A Carpenter


First new post in six months

I wish I had more time to blog about the music I really cared about and create something more expansive, but for the moment that thought is just fantasy. In the meantime, I continue listening to full length albums, all kinds but mostly electronic. One of the things that struck me over the past 6 mos. is how many albums come out and why isn't there more focus put on these long playing platters? Sure there are plenty of shit albums made up only of tech-house, dubstep, trance, etc. and mixes that were better off as freebie podcasts, but so much time is spent on these album releases by artists creating for the sheer joy of expression. There may be more music out there in a digital landscape but it seems like there is less upward mobility for the top underground artists making it harder to distinguish the good stuff from the countless amateurs. In that spirit I took some time to look back on 25 albums from the past six months that really caught my attention.

Robag Wruhme - Thora Vukk (Pampa)

Various - Fania Records 1964 - 1980 - The Original Sound of Latin New York 2xCD (Strut)

Aril Brikha - Deeparture In Time Revisited 2xCD (Art of Vengeance)

Various - Crosstown Rebels pres Rebel Rave 3xCD (Crosstown Rebels)

DJ T. - The Pleasure Principle (Get Physical)

Catz N Dogz - Escape From Zoo (Mothership)

Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Noise (Circus Company)

Jay Haze - Love = Evolution (Tuning Spork/Contexterroir)

Various - Dekalog 1 DVD (de'fchild Productions)

Pere Ubu - The Annotated Modern Dance (Hearpen)

Arthur's Landing - Self-titled (Strut)

Discodeine - Self-Titled (Pschent)

Various - Galaktika 5 Years Compilation 2xCD (Galaktika)

Martin Dawson - Sunday Smoking (Moodmusic)

Marcin Czubala - Back To Back Vol. 5 2xCD (Mobilee)

Julien Parise - Dirty Symphony (Missive)

Arthur Oskan - A Little More Than Everything (Thoughtless Music)

Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap - DJ-KiCKS (!K7)

The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter (Domino)

Barem - After The Storm (M_nus)

The Florian Muller Project - As A Dream (Logos Recordings)

Tony Rohr - Oddlantik Avenue (H-Productions)

Mark Farina - Mushroom Jazz 7 (Mushroom Jazz)

Tangongo - Mate y Cigarrillos (Take 5 Music)
Dr Lopez - Tangongo by overdub_argentina

International Peoples Gang - Up (Hi-Phi Music)
International Peoples Gang - Second (Coyote Remix) by International Feel


An unrepentant look back at the year that was - 2010

What a year 2010 turned out to be, filled with both adventure and peril, there was so much great music to be gained and lost this year. On the reissue front, I filled my head with glam rock and proto-punk - from Roxy Music and T. Rex to the Runaways and the Ramones - before stopping for a long gaze at the legendary Everly Brothers near the end of the year with a wonderful compilation covering their seminal years at Cadence (1957-1960).

I devoured books about music, blogs about music, and magazines about music - rooting myself in the timeless aesthetics, the same way that the earliest incarnation of the New York Dolls gathered themselves at local NYC dives, devoting themselves and their pocket change to rough and tumble jukebox singles artists such as Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, and the Shirelles. I said goodbye to very important influences - Don Van Vliedt and Alex Chilton, while mourning the loss of John Lennon more than ever this year. 2010 was also the year the greatest of the Stooges' albums - Kill City - was cleaned up and reissued with the original cover art forever cementing the greatest of all American bands reputation as the hands-down best of all time, pissing gleefully on that old farty windbag named Springsteen. The Stones in all their glory just couldn't replicate the same thrills with the reissue of their masterpiece - Exile On Main Street - why, because the band has past its prime and any steps forward for them can only include reaching way back to apply the same faux-bling gleam to their back catalogue as the world of pop music those old bag of bones operate in now. It's because pop music completely divorced itself from reality this year, giving me ample time to focus on the music of my trade - electronic music - but still found time to dabble in dub, psychedelia, and kraut(ish)rock along the way. Hell, even John Frusciante and the Black Keys found time to tickle my fancy - pop stars in most people's opinion I suppose.

In 2010 there was the swingin Sixties music of Persia, African disco, a new Fall album, and even a little dubstep - although I wasn't easily swayed by what I see as just another manufactured flavor of the month ala drum & bass circa Timeless. Few dubstep artists are rooted in any solid aesthetic and with no foundation comes no future - just empty promises and weak excuses for the impending disaster that lay in the days ahead.

I became close to the Mexican music community, made friends in New York, Ibiza, and Berlin along the way, hearing great tracks played in the dark alleyways and corridors of Chico, San Francisco, and Seattle. There was simply too much to be thankful for so I thought it was time to look back on the year and found myself oddly nostalgic, a mood that rarely strikes me. So sparing you any further blah-blah-blah I present you the year that was. If one word could describe 2010 it would be unrepentant, because at my age and with the gazillions of records I have amassed in this lifetime, I finally had the notion to say "meh" to just about all of them and felt quite alright with that as I sank firmly into the Shaggs' masterpiece Philosophy Of The World. Let's hope 2011 offers more of the same...

Top 25 albums/compilations
1. Pulshar - Inside (Desolat)
2. Hatikvah - Synchronicity (Soma)
3. Agoria-Balance 016 2xCD (EQ)
4. Damian Lazarus - Fabric54 (Fabric)
5. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker (Modular)
6. Bjoern Torske - Kokning (Smalltown Supersound)
7. Black Keys - Brothers (Nonesuch)
8. Pezzner-The Tracks Are Alive (Freerange)
9. Sascha Dive - Restless Nights (Deep Vibes)
10. Crosstown Rebels pres Rebel Rave (Crosstown Rebels)
11. James Teej-Evening Harvest (Rekids)
12. Juan Maclean-DJ-Kicks (K7)
13. Ripperton-Niwa (Green)
14. Spirit Catcher - Partners In Crime (Systematic)
15. Kenneth James Gibson - Delusion Tales & Non Silence (Culprit)
16. Sebastian Mullaert -Wa Wu We 2x CD (Mule Electronic)
17. Lima├žon-Tarry Not (Thoughtless Music)
18. Leo Zero - Disconnect (Strut)
19. Paul Schulleri - Strich & Faden (Subtrak)
20. Martyn-Fabric 50 (Fabric)
21. Guajira - Aguardiente (Ombligo)
22. Apparat - DJ-KiCKS (K7)
23. Various - Audiomatique History Part 1 (Audiomatique)
24. K-X-P - S/T (Smalltown Supersound)
25. Various - Finders Keepers Presents Pomegranates (B-Music)

Top 20 tracks
1. Brien Scott - Ickenham Station (Symbio Remix)(white)
2. Giovanni Verga - Afternight (Danilo Schneider Rmx) (Blaq)
3. Lula Circus - Morning Love (Broquade)
4. Audioelectronic - Two Trains Running (Nude Photo Music)
5. Morgans - Your Sweet Dream (Dialtone)
6. Robert Babicz - Pink Trees (Bedrock)
7. Yungchen Lhamo & Hamza - Wind Horse Rising (Windhorse)
8. Dolly La Parton - Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens (Be My Sheep)
9. Deepak Sharma + Dieter Krause - Wolkenreise (DJ Qu Remix)(Hidden Recordings)
10. Android Cartel - One For Santiago (Sketchbook)
11. Sishi Roesch - Back To 92 (Diego Moreno Warehouse Mix)(Digital Delight)
12. Israel Vich - The Musicians (Pantamuzik)
13. Bloody Mary - Arabesque (Dame-Music)
14. Rodux - Iron Fan (Thoughtless Music)
15. Stefan Tretau - Dzongkha (Night Drive Music)
16. Chris Fortier - Despegue (Symbio's Deep Space Mix)(Fade)
17. Isaac - Pickles (We Are Here)
18. Riff Raff - Psycho Cycles (Riff Raff)
19. Derek Marin - Rakimuse (Thoughtless Music)
20. Slam - Hot Knives (Gary Beck Remix)(Paragraph)


The Conduit podcast series, now on iTunes

My friend Symbio over at 530Techno.org and I started a new podcast series to focus on some international dj/artists that we dig called the The CONDUIT. Our first episode featured an exclusive mix by Android Cartel. Number two is courtesy of Washington DC powerhouse Jubilee and is out now.

The CONDUIT // podcast

Check it out.

We've gone and changed the name

"No one is united, all things are untied..." X (the band)

Life gets complicated and untidy sometimes even the best laid plans run askew of their original intentions. Eastern philosophies ensure us that the only calming influence in our otherwise meaningless lives is change. This universe, apparently just one of endless variations, seems only to favor the newest and latest - everything else, as P.K. Dick points out so eloquently time and again, is in various stages of decay and entropy. Kinda glum but the only response as a mortal being passing through the invisible clutches of time is reinvention. A fancy way of saying, that as my business ventures continue to grow, I have to segment and contain every last drop of content that spills from my fingers - my words having a genuine value assigned to them, the more I capture, the more I earn. On a larger scale, it's the transformation from individual to corporation, something I think all small business owners struggle with; even more so for me because I've grown up in the music business and my single greatest hero was Johnny Thunders, a walking tornado if there was ever one. By the time he was my age he was dead, murdered by banditos in the night. His born-to-lose approach is a romantic notion that many kids who grew up the Seventies and Eighties fully bought in to and the pile of bodies is, sadly, stacked like cord wood.

But here I am, alive, and running a successful independent music operation - a stranger in a strange land - so the idea was to remove my old blog site from the day to day world of underground dance music and make it more like a confessional, like the recent pieces I've been writing, and decided it was time for a rebranding and name change and set off in new directions. Hope you enjoy.


Seattle, family reunions, and rain all set against the backdrop of Decibel Fest 2010 Pt. 2

Part II - The Departure

The weariness that greets my head after all to brief a rest is epic on Saturday, but the damp and humid gray skies have given way to a rare late September day of warm sun in Seattle on Saturday. Day three is a travel day for me, down the road about 45 minutes to my sister's house in the suburbs. I pack up, say my good byes to my bro and leave downtown Seattle. The trip to Auburn is sublime - little traffic, warm temps, and an epic view of Mt. Rainier the whole way. Sure we have big volcanoes back home in Cali, but even Shasta has lost all of her glacial snow at this late a date in the season, and there is Rainier grinning at my like a giant white fang. Today is going to be a good day, I can feel it.

Shifting gears between the go-go-go mentality of a music conference to the suburban tranquility of my sister's house was even easier than expected. There I caught up with her and my brother-in-law with those kinds of moments that only come when being around family. My adorable nieces, seven and three respectively, are a bittersweet reminder of the parallel life I live at this point in my life, our dreams for a family deferred so many times in pursuit of other gains (and losses) that it's now a not-so-unreal reminder that this may be a dream died for us. This hot tub and home cooked meal time is the calm before the storm, and although it passes in a heartbeat it is still a resetting of priorities and a time to reflect on where I am at in my life, a moment of clarity. As if to extend that moment as long at it can possibly exist I reconnected with an old friend before a night of celebration that will not soon be forgotten. After fifteen years, time both stands still and has advanced so far forward the narrative begins reading like a strange and foreign text. The encounter is extremely brief but a reminder of the great chasms in time one must cross in order to exist, often I wonder if these become bundles of great burden the longer we live and pass near each other in time? Regardless of my own philosophical musings, and I have them frequently, I wish my friend well in her own quest to find happiness in this life, it is elusive.

My actual night begins at the D25 Showcase, not unusual that you'd find me at the gig with Kevin Saunderson and Carl Craig. I get there earlier enough to see Monty Luke playing a great opening set, a real treat. But it is Saunderson who owns the crowd, putting on a clinic with real vinyl. He played many great tracks - both old and new - but "Good Life" is the one everyone came for and he did not disappoint. At this point I am missing my wife as well as my friend Stephen, the two people in Chico I share the clubbing experience with on a semi-regular basis, wishing they were there. I text them to let them know the DJ is on fire, I get an envious text in return as they are stuck back at home getting assaulted by the usual onslaught of 8 bit noises and farting bass primitive-ism that leaves so much to be desired. "Thank God I am at Decibel Fest", I think to myself. I bail on Craig, whom I've seen many times, and walk across the street to catch the end of Tim Green's set at Fwd Thinking Organisms. The deep funky bass he was selecting kept his tech leanings at bay and gave his rather standard electro house tastes some real flare, it something worth taking note of but just I was starting to feel his steez it was time to give way to Tanner Ross - one half of Mothership's Voodeux - his tastes much more archival and zany than Green's. Mainly, Ross looks like he's having a great time behind the decks putting on a show for the intimate crowd. It's a nice moment, but that's about all these festivals are worth, there is never enough time to feel anything too deeply before it's time to rush off or risk missing something important. It is at this point - (after 1AM) a time I call the "witching hour" as it is a time when strange and unusual things can happen and definitely the time to be alert - that I begin to make my way over to the Hotflush Label Showcase, unfortunately I made a mistake as to the location and then spent my time wading through drunken pedestrian and auto traffic courtesy of the nearby University of Washington, talk about a big, ugly reminder of home. It was quite annoying and prevented me from catching any of Scuba or Sepulcure's sets, a huge disappointment considering the UK imprint's showcase was one of the reasons for making the trip - but these are the breaks when attending a conference of this scale.

I cut my losses and make way back to Motor for Late Night Soul Kitchen. If last night's gathering was low-key and mellow, tonight is an opportunity for every semi-young person in Seattle off their face to see and be seen - the place is packed. Couple that with a long wait outside waiting for the venue to get it's act together and it's the perfect length of time to allow the rain to start falling, one of the only constants year-round in Seattle. This, plus ample second-hand cigarette smoke to the face, sets the stage for me to get a bug that's proven hard to shake even a week after the festival. Luckily, the waiting turns out to be a minor setback for a great night of music from Seattle's Pezzner, playing most of his set to an audience still out on the street waiting to get in. His entire set is comprised of tracks from his recent album on Freerange, an excellent album but one so popular here in the office this Spring that I can't bear to listen to much more of it. Not really Pezzner's fault just a case of a guy doing his job too well, note to Pezzner, make less catchy tracks - j/k - don't ever stop doing what you're doing. Bostonians turned Berliners, Soul Clap take mid-tempo late night house to a new level, if you liked what Garth, Jeno, and the Wicked Crew were doing in SF in the early to mid Nineties these guys are your heroes. Since I was a devoted Wicked follower, I could instantly connect the duo's DJ set of trippy, late night mushroom house. As the crowd begins to thin out and the real exhaustion of my years starts to set in, the vibe feels just right, I wanted to leave but was transfixed by Theo Parrish's old school Detroit set. It's a crate diggers' classic filled with funk, soul, house, and techno that is instantly uplifting and memorable. The old dog steals the show from the new dogs and tricks, it's quite a moment, one of many passing in time.

Thus ends the festival portion, as I get on the I-5 South heading from my sister's home, my thoughts shift to the return home. I don't think my sister and brother-in-law were necessarily prepared for my returning home at 5AM, even after adequate warning, a reminder of the interesting career path I've chosen. A quick, but restful sleep and a hearty breakfast and good company prepares me for a travel day. Next year I plan to attend the Sunday portion of the conference and grab the late flight but to placate my wife, already miffed about the driving to and fro Sacramento and Cohasset, I chose the mid-afternoon flight home. The stress of returning rental cars, baggage checks, security checkpoints, and making the gate on time always weigh heavily on me. The quick and uneventful flight home gave me time to reflect on the trip, my career, and my life that made me feel rested despite the extreme fatigue. Flying over Mt. Lassen, Mill and Deer Creek canyons, and eventually even my own house made me feel satisfied about the trip with just a twinge of longing as it is rare for me to see this much live music and family on the regular, but as the plane touched down on the tarmac in Sacramento and I left behind wet lawns and alders for yellow fields of grass and 100 degree temperatures I felt as I never left my home. Can't wait for next year!


Talking with Mick Chillage of the Chillage Idiots Pt. 2

In the second (and final) part of our interview, Mick and I talk about music and influences. There is a ton of information being conveyed so I'll skip the formal intro and just let Mick start talking....

Mick's a collector, so I wanted to know what his five essential chill out records were:

1. Brian Eno "Apollo/Atmospheres and Soundtracks"
[Editions EG] 1983

I was introduced to Eno's work a little late in 1992 to be precise, I investigated Eno after seeing his name being mentioned on various albums like Warp's Artificial Intelligence. What struck me about the album was its lack of bubbling synth sequences, trickling water samples and other sound bites which was quite the norm for chill out ambient music at this time, instead Eno used a mixture of eerie drones and other rather alien and unidentified sounds mixed with deep basses in a lot of the pieces and a rather emotionally devastating use of angelic choirs on tracks like "An ending" to the strangely effective use of steel slide guitar on many other tracks, it pretty much changed my perception of electronic ambient music and is a great introduction to the man's incredible work..

2. Chapterhouse "Blood Music" Re translated by Global Communication,[Dedicated] 1993

Although some people may argue that Global Communications 76:14 is a better album, I guess it all depends on what you heard first and I heard this reworking of the indie shoe gazer's album in early 1994, what makes this album so special is that while most ambient records create a great atmosphere to lose yourself in for an hour so this record is a real emotional roller coaster full of beautiful and haunting soundscapes, dreamy guitars, and distantly echoed vocals, organic and cinematic sound bites, and sometimes full on industrial techno beats but with some of the most heartfelt melodies and arrangements ever to grace an electronic recording.

3. Pete Namlook "Air" [fax] 1992

Its pretty impossible for me to pick an essential from Namlook or his Fax label but this rather early recording is a stunning collection of ambient which again shows that the ambient genre can adapt to almost any style of music. Air tells the story of two souls searching for one another set against a rather dark and haunting symphony of analogue synthesis that effortlessly blends classical guitar and solo soprano to elements of jazz, world music, pounding tribal techno, and beyond.

4. Biosphere "Substrata" [Origio sound] 1997

Norway based ambient composer Geir Jensen's third album under the Biosphere moniker sees him leaving the atmospheric techno/breakbeat strains of his earlier albums behind into a more environmental yet deeply emotional ambient album. No other ambient release gives you a greater sense of place like Substrata does, from the view of looking over the snow filled valleys of the Swiss Alps on "Poa Alpina" to the vast frozen wilderness of Siberia and a great sense of loss on "Kobresia" this is an essential and perfect introduction to the works of Biosphere. Look out for Substrata 2 for a bonus disc of previously unavailable tracks.

5. Peter Benisch "Soundtrack Saga" [Turbo] 2001

Swedish electronica producer Peter Benisch's third album continues with his lush production techniques displayed on his earlier releases but this time he displays his incredible talent for epic compositional skills, which as the title suggest its like a score to the greatest movie ever made with techno and IDM style sensibilities. Think Vangelis meets Plaid and your halfway there.

Tell me a little about the art and craft of making ambient music and how it's similar to that of techno and how it differs.

I basically approach techno and ambient in the same way at the beginning as I never really conscientiously set out to create any particular type of music.. Most of my music happens by just messing around with my synths, I might hear a particular sound on a record or in my head a set out to edit the synths to see if I can create a similar sound, this experimentation may lead me to playing some chords or a melody etc and before I know it I have the basis for a new track.

Or sometimes I may start off with the opposite approach by programming some beats or experimenting with breakbeats or other percussive loops and playing some pads or bass over the grooves until something clicks into place I may end up creating a techno or electro track but I may realize that the track sounds better without the beats and then I set about on creating a beatless ambient track instead, so I guess its down to what ever inspires me at that moment.

The beauty of creating ambient music is that the arrangement and production process have no rules, as you don't have to consider the DJ or the dance floor or the chorus, verse structure's of pop songs.

So a droning intro of five minutes on a track which slowly evolves and mutates over thirty minutes is pretty much an acceptable norm for the average open minded ambient listener.

Also another factor is the choice of sound which can be used in ambient music which gives you great freedom, with techno and house music etc a kick drum and bassline are always an essential, plus keeping the track within a standard BPM range is also another restriction not associated with ambient..

So I feel ambient music can pretty much lend itself to almost any instrument or genre that you can think of, with acts like Sunn O etc experimenting with doom metal and low bass frequencies to the modern classical strains of Max Richter and beyond, so it can be a producers creative paradise which can convey a multitude of feelings and emotions which transcends time and cultural boundaries.

Link to a classic mix recently recreated to share with all of you:


Seattle, family reunions, and rain all set against the backdrop of Decibel Fest 2010 Pt. 1

PT. 1 - The Arrival

In my younger days I could handle multi-day music conferences such as Decibel Fest in Seattle no problem. I'd feel myself grow physically from these challenging endurance marathons of no sleep, food, or friends. But those days are long gone and usually what I end up with is a bug (check), exhaustion so severe that work becomes nearly impossible (check), and a lasting sense of dread spread over the entire event that some how I'm missing something (check). It's hard, I always end up some where in the world all by myself at a festival and the only companions I have are conscience and the demons in my head, of which I have plenty - gained over two decades of schlepping around the globe in the hopes of finding something original and good (hit & miss in that pursuit - BTW). What I've learned is that you have to pick your moments of significance and keep it tunnel vision the rest of the time or you will be overwhelmed by the sensory overload.

For me the moments came fast and furious this September 23rd-26th, not just because this was an opportunity to escape the deep forest hermit retreat that my wife and I call home and head off to the big city and all of the great music that comes with a trip like that, this was a given when I first made plans to cover the Decibel Fest for Ibiza Voice and Big Shot as a journalist. This was also an opportunity to reconnect with family, friends, and the city of Seattle - a place where I had spent a lot of my time in the mid Nineties talent scouting in a fertile rock city. I've shared a beer and smoke with some of the city's finest musicians in my day and it was great but that might as well be a million years in comparison to today's rock music scene. Fact of the matter is that I don't like rock music anymore, I've been suspicious of it ever since Johnny Thunders died. These days rhythmic techno music - the latest (and my opinion, best) evolution in the great Afro-American musical diaspora - is what I live for. I was very curious to see how an electronic music festival would fair in Sub Pop Rock City, and to be honest they didn't seem to be eager bedfellows with rock posters and graffiti lining every festival venue as if to let every clubber know that when they left for the night the place would be sanitized for the benefit of Chris Cornell and his big rock ego. But that seems to be the case all over the city, a moribund scene in need of some fresh blood and new venues. My brother, who I haven't seen in 25 yrs., has played music in Seattle most of his adult life and now manages the J&M Saloon in Pioneer Square, He put it best, everyone is a musician nowadays and as such venue owners treat them all like meat in search of whatever works. It's no different anywhere I've been in North America in search of music, really, a sad sign of the time.

That lacking is exactly what made the Decibel Fest so special, the festival offered more than one person could actually see (an existential conundrum, if there ever was one), a nice kind of glut. So even after enduring a relatively short flight and travel time on Thursday the 23rd, I could feel all of that stress weighting my old ass legs down. I made my choice, I was only seeing one showcase that night "Simply Shameless" and who can argue with a line up that includes Dan Bell and Deepchild? Unlike many of the the other journalists covering the festival, I didn't come to be challenged by the cutting edge (pretty much any genre with dub or glitch attached to it, IMHO), I wanted to see the state of dance music and clubbing on the West Coast. Seattle has a much smaller, more sedate scene than those of San Francisco or Los Angeles but that tight knit clique of faces kept popping up at every venue for the next few days giving the whole festival an air of community - whether real of imagined. That was fine for a guy hundreds of miles from home on his own. Berliner Deepchild put on an excellent live performance that suggested the former Aussie has some rock & roll in his blood, he's certainly old enough for me to make that statement with some surety. Like Dan Bell, his music was fun, energetic, and danceable. However, neither were evocative or pushing their boundaries any further than they already have in their careers. It was perfect music for a Thursday night but not for a Saturday night after party. Rumors of an after party featuring Dan Bell and Drumcell (a conference panelist earlier that day) circulated but having learned my lesson from ADE, I knew that a night of late night shenanigans negates an important day of networking at the business conference. Music was missed but knowledge was gained, thankfully.

Friday morning comes instantly as my brother and I traverse a long night and sunrise drinking wine and catching up on two and a half decades lost - sad and joyous at the same time. I spend the day in a semi-drunken haze, perfect for comprehension and networking skills, right? This is of course, the second day of a conference the time when I switch to back-up reserves fueled mostly by adrenaline. This makes me impervious to sleep, booze, substances, probably even death but I'm not going to test that theory any time soon. I am in tip-top shape for what turns out to be the best part of the Decibel Fest, the panels. The ideas and knowledge being given away for free from promotional and label help to production seminars, this is as good as it gets in the US. Sadly, it's still lacking in comparison to ADE with it's A&R and artist networking sessions. I would have loved to seen more panels, more attendees, and just more opportunities to connect people together, the potential is there and I hope that the festival will continue to grow into its conference. It is at this time, I find that I am having laptop and camera troubles - clients: the reason why I was MIA while at the conference and my camera was having issues. It is always something, but sadly no photos of any highlights, majestic Mt. Rainier, nor my adorable little nieces.

That night, I found the Planet Mu showcase to be irritating, as much as try to have an open mind. FaltyDL did little for me, plus (as is the case with the kiddie shows) there were sound problems, caused by a blown speaker - gee imagine that, I've never been to a dub/glitch show that hasn't had a blown speaker. The kids may love it but I'm still not seeing it in sound or professionalism. Local promoters TRUST's showcase at Sole Repair was pure handbag house, my assumptions about Trus'me proving to be correct after all. Sadly, Modeselektor across the street at Neumos was putting on the same kind of lackluster performance they did two years ago. The visuals were amazing but I am so over these guys it's not even funny. I'm bummed that I missed Headhunter, but that is the nature of these conferences - timing and logistics. With Friday's highlight at this point seeming like it would be my bro introducing me to the rhythm section of Bad Company down at the J&M, I headed for the after party at Motor. An interesting locale south of downtown that had elements of a SoCal after party - kids all spun monkey on pharmaceuticals, weirdos in search of an all-nighter (like the trolly Eastern Washington looking couple who had never heard house music and could only use AC/DC as a musical reference), and die hard clubbers. The severe alcohol restrictions for all involved (although I hear there were some booze problems) gave the "Mi Casa Es Su Casa" showcase a very sedate and safe-as-milk feel that I've never found at an SF, LA, or even Chico late night parties. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing??? At least I didn't feel like I could be stabbed at a moment's notice by some drunken lunatic. Lawnchair Generals opened things with a commanding set that made me want to reinvestigate their music after dismissing them as pennyweight house and Catz N Dogs did a fine job of injecting the basic template laid down by the Generals with bass. Nothing any better or worse than the Generals, just solid cuts played well. The real star of the night, and perhaps of the festival, was Chilean DJ Dinky. She played tracks the way only a woman can play house music - with grace, sophistication, and just a hint of romantic swagger. It was probably one of the most thoughtful set I've heard in years and despite running on no sleep it moved me both physically and mentally. I'd probably have even more fond memories of it if I had photos of it and my brother and I not stayed up again til the sunrise hours AGAIN discussing the legitimacy of aesthetics and the importance of Lester Bangs. It must be stressed that my brother is perhaps the only other person in the world who took the time to engage me in such a debate, and you can't say no to family. Things get a little loopy and foggy from here as I move out of downtown Seattle and off to the suburbs in Auburn to stay with my sister, who has masterminded most of this trip (gotta say I have an awesome family, who knew?). More to come in part two....


Talking with Mick Chillage of the Chillage Idiots Pt. 1

Irish artist Mick Chillage, one half of the Chillage Idiots, may not be a name rolling off of everyone's tongues but for me I find his music to be inspirational in terms of not only what I'm doing now but also in terms of the grand arc of aesthetics - the glue that keeps underground music together despite the dross, egos, and bad attitudes that plague all facets of it - from indie rock to gabber techno. His 2009 debut album, Tales From The Igloo, on Keith Downey's equally great PsychoNavigation imprint is the kind of album I've been searching for for some time now. It's chillout music without any of the Thievery Corp. pseudolounge trappings, no glitchiness or clickings, and most of all no shitty John Tesh influenced New Age music passing it self off as chill music ala the Ultra Lounge comps. What we have is a guy who's spent his life studying techno and other forms of electronic music and let's all of those influences spill out in a cohesive way that is neither chillout nor techno but an interesting melange of the two that makes the downtempo genre exciting again. The guy should get an honorary medal just for that, but he's also a chatty, supportive, and friendly dude so I've decided to let him do the talking over a series of posts and really introduce him to y'all, so without further ado - I give you Mick Chillage....

Tell me about the Chillage Idiots
During the 80's Myself and Paul (Chillage) both went to the same school and during these years we occasionally hung out together, eventually we left school and kinda lost communication, but it wasn't until a few years later in 1990 we met again in one of Dublin's first underground dance music clubs Called Sides D.C it was there that we discovered that we both had a passion for electronic music and liked acts such as 808 state, LFO, Orbital, Depeche Mode etc, and the friendship was reborn.

During this period we both started to work in the trendy DV8 shoe store in Dublin. The Management liked our music selections and let us control the music of both stores. around the same time I started to record ambient/electronica mix tapes using a cheap DJ mixer and two portable CD players, due to the diversity of some of the mixes I wrote "Mixed by the Chillage Idiot" on the tapes.

By 1995 Paul was in college studying media he produced an electronica radio program called "Future Music" I ended up giving Paul a hand on some studio duties and music selections during the programming, shortly after this we attempted to create some electronic music in a friends local recording studio, through these sessions we met a DJ called Hugh O'Brien who had a spot on Dublin's infamous indie/alternative pirate station XFM, he secured us a test slot in Jan 96, at the time the station manager was concerned that we were just regular dance music DJ's but they liked our selections and the Chillage idiots were born..

As far as we know it The Chillage Idiots are the longest running electronic music show on Irish radio, also making Irish broadcasting history by being the first radio show to broadcast live on the web in the late 90's. Initially our shows went out every Sunday night live on air, but with the onset of ever increasing raids, advances in technology and the way audiences listen to and consume music we decided to just do a regular monthly podcast.

We play a wide mix of genres under the electronic banner - techno, house, idm, electronica, ambient, braindance, electro or just weird shit - suffice to say; if we think it's good and it's electronic then we play it.

Over the years we have had quite a diverse range of guests, both live in the studio and by live phone interviews, Our past guests have included Jimi Tenor, Pete Namlook, Cim, Tim Koch, Clair Defocus, Miles Tillmann, Lackluster, Skkatter, Mad Vvm Dog, Front End Synthetics and Rod Morris.

How do you hook up with Keith Downey and PsychoNavigation?
From what I can remember Keith use to listen to the Chillage Idiots from time to time and occasionally rang into to chat with us about the music we played etc. In 2000, Keith had started the Psychonavigation label and also got a spot on one of the other radio stations here in Ireland and played my "Various Projects" CD-R which I released myself on his show, so I guess I was on his radar from that time onwards.

As Psychonavigation went from strength to strength Keith would sometimes send us promos which he felt suited our show. One night back in 2008, I attended a rather small gig in Dublin for Manchester acid techno and drum and bass legend A Guy Called Gerald, I bumped into Keith and he suggested that I send him some demos for a possible album, which I did and of course Keith's selections became my debut album Tales From The Igloo in 2009.

The Igloo is what I named my studio by the way.

Joey Ramone, marked for death

Prior to my immersion into the world of electronic dance music, I was a behind-the-scenes cat in the world of alternative rock. Now before you start thinking about the Nineties alternative scene, let me preface the words "alternative rock", as being truly that. If you think that tired retread bands-as-brands groups like Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bush, or Tool are alternative you may as well stop reading here.

The alternative musical universe I am talking about is comprised the bands that came busting out of the Seventies and carried well into the mid-Eighties carving out a true alternative to the corporate rock demigods who controlled radio, television, and just about every sports arena from here to Wembley. The fact that bands such as Pere Ubu, Television, and the Meat Puppets could not only form but successfully tour and build an entire, credible sub-culture around their tunes speaks volumes about the power of American ingenuity. Sure other countries were doing it to, most notably the UK, but not the the scale nor with the quality of the regional scenes forming around the US at the time. Every town or region had a band, a record shop, label, and zine while kids as young as 10 and 11 got pulled in to this broad cross-section, drawn together despite the diversity of age, musical tastes, skin color, and sexual orientation. This loosely-drawn movement was everything that America wasn't in the post-Vietnam and Reagan eras.

Many artists can arguably lay claim to the musical throne over which they surveyed the kingdom but few have more of a legitimate claim than the Forest Hill, Queens answer to the Beatles - the Ramones. Without the band's proto-fascist minimalism, there would be little defiance against the Yes, Styx, and Boston axis of rock created specifically to neuter the form forever. Had the Ramones known that they kicked the door in allowing garage, power pop, new wave, electro, hip-hop, punk, and techno to develop within that embryo I'm not sure they would have done it, they were not generous. Joey Ramone's real life brother, Mickey Leigh, does a fantastic job of capturing this slice of life rather than just penning another vacuum sealed portrait of a "special" rock band doing their jobs and ascending to the promised land after strife and adversity just like in any VH1 special. As a working band, from personal experience, the Ramones were poor human beings at best and would never be anyone's feel good story but as catalysts for an alternative youth culture that would span generations, there could have been no other but the Ramones because they weren't gonna be learned and they certainly would not be tamed - hell they even sang a song about it using those exact words. Leigh paints a sympathetic portrait in his biography of a basket case brother leading a hapless bus full of wounded individuals in the form of friends, lovers, bandmates, and fans into an uncertain future. That the Ramones never left their mark on pop culture until the creative engines (Dee Dee, Johnny, and Joey) all expired is more a telling look at America's continuing transformation into a mindless nation of consumer sheep unable to think clearly rather than just poor luck and timing on the band's part. They failed simply because they had to, if they had gotten to big they would have been corrupted and never would have stood the test of time.It's a sad, sad fact, especially if you were a Ramone.

Joey's death is covered in explicit detail as the final act of Leigh's book, paced so perfectly that the tears welled from eyes uncontrollably just as I read the last page. But spare the waterworks for a moment, because even though the band failed commercially they still presented this blueprint for an alternative vision of pop music that has now transformed them in to the single most influential musical artists of all time right behind the Beatles - their spectre felt in so many different genres nowadays with just one common thread - things have got to change. That rage became action in the Ramones blitzkreig of bop and so it became the nexus point for the great diaspora of music that defined the real Eighties - whether your bag was Cabaret Voltaire, New Order, Black Flag, the Melvins, or Public Enemy these four ugly kids from New York were paying your dues and dying for your sins even you were totally unaware and way before you could be or would want to be. Mostly because the Ramones changed the way pop music business was done and brought it back to the street level again like in the days of Muddy Waters and Son House and put that stomping power back in to the hands of the artists and their fans. It was never conscious, but often times trailblazing is a different animal entirely than cartography, and I could honestly sense in knowing them personally as well reading Mickey Leigh's telling portrait of them that they could not have done anything else. Above all, now that I am far removed from the insanity of being part of the Ramones universe for a brief time, I miss them as human beings, flawed as they were, and mostly their willingness to continue holding Lester Bangs' torch of aesthetic long after every one else had given up, for me it was my clarion call as a musical tastemaker that has carried me through a wicked industry for the past 22 yrs. Sadly, no one has stepped to the plate since their passing and you can almost see the decline of pop music's quality and saleability once the Ramones left the building, leaving with the sense that they would be the last time pop music would strive for something more than just an endless conveyor of product.