“Maxinquaye” turns 25

The Tricky-hop’s voice

On February 20th, 1995, Tricky released “Maxinquaye,” through 4th & Broadway. The album was co-produced by Mark Sounders, having Martina Topley-Bird as main vocalist with the additional singers Alisson Goldfrapp, Ragga and Mark Stewart. His solo debut identifies trip-hop definitively by his voice and lyrics. The peculiar articulation and cadence of MC AdrianTricky Kid Thaws rhyming differs from most of the American rappers at the time, delighting for one’s fortune or other’s misfortune. He is uttering spliff as the only way to scape from crime, revealing abandonment.

Giving narrative to ‘Daydreaming,’ the second single released at the end of 1990 by Massive Attack, six months before its celebrated debut “Blue Lines,” help to define the Bristol Sound. He was a crucial part of the collective, then formed by Robert3DDel Naja, and the triplet of DJs GrantDaddy GMarshall, Nellee Hooper, and AndrewMushroom Vowles under the creative supervision of producer Jonny Dollar. He also contributed some rhymes to the ‘Five Men Army‘ and the title track, ‘Blue Lines.’ Before its release, he met 15 years old Martina Topley-Bird, who sang in a home recording of ‘Aftermath.’ Tricky offered the song for the album, but they were not interested, considering unsuitable.

Tricky. “Maxinquaye” (4th & Boradway)

He took some distance from Massive Attack‘s creative entourage for the matter of limiting. His first solo material was ‘Nothing Clear,’ a claustrophobic dub reggae included in “The Hard Shell,” a compilation of Bristol musical scene in aid of sickle-cell amnesia, released in 1991. With the encouragement of his flat-mate Mark Stewart, a founding member of The Pop Group, post-punk and industrial hip-hop pioneer for U-Sound Records, Tricky recorded a new version of ‘Aftermath‘ in 1992. Martina‘s baby doll blues was wrapped up in a guitar riff sampled from Marvin Gaye with flutes around in a psychotic atmosphere as Tricky rambling, “How can I be sure in a world that is constantly changing?” ‘Aftermath‘ remained unreleased two years until he delivered through his Naive label with strong critical reception. After Island Records re-released it, he recorded ‘Ponderosa‘ with producer Howie B. The set scene for the debut solo album, “Maxinquaye,” was in the works. Failing the commitment to deliver some lyrics to Massive Attack‘s sophomore album, “Protection,” Tricky gave them two written for “Maxinquaye.” So there are songs across the two albums sharing practically the same lines – the “Maxinquaye” tracks entitled ‘Overcome‘ and ‘Hell ‘Round The Corner,’ have textual matching similarities with ‘Karmacoma‘, and ‘Eurochild‘, on “Protection,” respectively.

Maxinquaye” is tributed to his mother, Maxine, also known with the surname ‘Quaye,’ who died when Tricky was four years old. She used to write poetry and he impersonates the voice of a demanding legacy. In painfully slow tempos, Tricky scans every corner of the absence, of his betrayal fate, the darker recesses of the mind where foggy atmospheres reign. The whispers of a generation in drug culture instead utopian something else, whatever, but brighter. It is not sweet-talking but perturbating in audacious sound, loaded in character and pain.

Grounded on the absence

Missing the Mediterranean

Pedro Vian announces his third studio album, “Ibillorca,” due to release on a limited vinyl edition of 500 copies on April 30th through Modern Obscure Music.

There’s a need for an introduction to getting in the mood of the album. In 2018, the Catalan DJ/Producer, renowned in the Barcelona scene, decided to move to Amsterdam. Now, based in Zaandam, a location thirty minutes away from the capital, he works on HetHEM studio. The new ubication is undoubtedly a step forward not only in the artistic matter but also in terms of connectivity with the increasing development of his label, Modern Obscure Music/MOM. The right decision by one side. The other is the fact that he is a son of the Mediterranean. He belongs to a culture. The mostly gray skies and rainy days of the place do affect as he recognized: “I come from there and I miss the light, the sun and the smell of the sea, so I dedicated this album to this feeling.”

Pedro Vian always has a personal implication in the music he creates. This positive affirmation means in his case that the fleeting thoughts and feelings are the priority, a peculiar state of mind, whole cohesive ideas that look for fitting patterns to express in musical research. He provides deeply narrative with music. Then he is eclectic, a matter of speech without words, interrupted by new incomes, revolted in energy, sedated in contemplation, a sincere explanation of what is him in time of description.

He is faithful to this way of working albums since his first self-released “Transitions (2014)”. The evolution with the evocative “Beautiful Things You Left Us For Memories (MOM, 2016),” a walk around the city at night. The eponymous “Pedro Vian (MOM, 2019)” tracked for the dance-floor, never artificially produced, not in a gesticulative way.

Pedro Vian: “Ibillorca” (Modern Obscure Music) Artwork by Blanca Miró, design by Marc Monguilod 

Now, “Ibillorca” grounds on the absence. It is not nostalgia but a need to revive the left. The title is compounding the toponomy of the mind related to the Balearic islands of Ibiza (Eivissa, in Catalan) and Mallorca. It is a recreational, idealized place to explain the miss. It is not the place of leisure, of those rutilant nights you figured out at once. But in they are, mostly as a counterpart, in thrilling beats. There are styles like drum’n’bass working as an isolated trend only received for few, and house working for connection. There is space music to the hippy origins of the islands’ appeal, and also Balearic hints of hedonism. Peaceful Eric Satie to smell the pines over abrupted cliffs. And the chant of cicadas searching for the couple in the mid of the heat. Discover the sound of a mind remembering; it is the gorgeous island of intimacy. The Mediterranean Sea is all around, a cadence pulling from memory.

Creating drum’n’bass from jungle

Fresh forever

W- 2020/02/17-23


Gerald Simpson, a Manchester Moss-side born who was working in MacDonald’s, created the defining vinyl for the UK Acid House in 1988: ‘Voodoo Ray.’ That piece of musical art made out of a simple sampler, a 303 bass synth, and a rudimentary drum machine gave him the status of technical genius. It also cursed his entire musical career.

Miscarried through the savage industry, he tried to replicate the success with “Hot Lemonade (1989),” but he suffered under-production. As a central figure of the Manchester dance scene, he worked for 808 State on ‘Pacific State‘ and remixed Stone Roses‘ ‘Fools Gold.’ Being signed by CBS, he released “Automannik” in 1990, a minimalistic work treated in the significant company standards which didn’t reach the appropriate audience, far from the taste of his developing futuristic dark sounds. Infructuous “High Life Low Profile” took Simpson back to the Hardcore, to the basics of drum programming, to create two landmarks for the irruption of drum’n’bass as a genre: “28 Gun Bad Boy” in 1992 and the definitive “Black Secret Technology.”

A Guy Called Gerald: “Black Secret Technology” (Juice Box, 1995)

Released in February 1995, this quarter of a century seems not affecting it at all, keeps it inalterable, as fresh as the primary proposal: To capture the time for the foundation of a new musical paradigm, ready to grow and evolve. Nothing to add to but his own words.

An exercise of style (A Vs. kind of)

“Versus”, a new way to recreate a record

Massive Attack let Mad Professor rework the Bristolians’ material on the consoles of Ariwa studio, the West Norwood (London) complex owned by the dub wizard’s alias of Neil Fraser. It was an extended agreement after being required to add additional production and mix to the ‘Sly‘ single, taken from album “Protection” (Virgin, 1994), concretely for the versions ‘Cosmic Dub‘ and ‘Eternal Feedback Dub.’ Mad Professor didn’t take the assignment regularly and created a new album. Released on February 17, 1995, “No Protection” is mostly a track by a track dub remix of the entire original master. The counterpart, the “versus” of Massive Attack‘s second album.

Massive Attack Vs. Mad Professor: “No protection” (Virgin, 1995)

Under the operating Mad Professor, Massive Attack‘s “Protection,” one of the Bristol Sound‘s defining album, becomes “No Protection.” From the ten original tracks, Guyana-born Fraser chooses eight, leaving ‘Eurochild‘ and the The Door‘s ‘Light My Fire‘ live cover version aside. The recording modifies the originals heavily in an expansive slow mode, where the bass and the beat are recreationally intensified. The whole ting is another album indeed. The hazardous exposure related to the title has no harm in the result.

Mad Professor created another format for the art of mixing beyond the old of the regular version. He installed “the artist vs. the artist” way to recreate a record. “No protection” gives a comparable unit to “Protection” that feedback each other in a separate enriching form. An art act that reflected and opened doors to the way music will evolve from then on, being receptive and reserving space for the influxes, no matter the genre belonging to the creator. Dub permeates the whole electronic music spectrum nowadays. And it was a moving force since the late eighties.

As the mid-’90s run to the end of the decade, entranced in the vibrant boiling rave scene, the British black communities help to establish new electronic genres like Drum’n’bass with its syncopation of fast breakbeats and heavy basslines. Its predecessor, the evolutive Jungle, emerged from the Sound-System culture of DJs and sound engineers working at once in a thrilling succession of samples, loops, synthesized effects under the trembling bass vibe. Trip-hop is a particular variant, the distinctive and British fusion of hip-hop and electronica that, by the time, already has recognition and commercial success. The common is that the influence of dub touches all of them.

Created in the ’60s by Jamaican pioneer producers like OsbourneKing Tubby” Ruddock and Lee ScratchPerry, at the time, the style of dub has a wave of revival due to the new emerging genres. Among others, Mad Professor is one of the producers that had been working on it since the early ’80s. Expansive creativeness is the key to dub. The working dub, using the studio tools and techniques, manipulates and reshapes the recordings to another dimension of time and space. Characterized by giving special treatment to the rhythm section, dub turns a song into an instrumental, removing vocals and adding echoes and reverb effects to an airy flotant expansion. It creates space to rewrite the original; its vocal snippets, as well as parts of other compositions, fuels the progression instead.

A.A.L. (Against All Logic): “Illusions of Shameless Abundance” E.P.

A creative disruption

Revisiting the moniker A.A.L. (Against All Logic), the New York-based electronic composer Nicolas Jaar dropped a new two-track featuring Lydia Lunch, F.K.A. twigs, and Estado Unido. The standalone E.P. comes as the announcement of the full-length album, “2017-2019,” for next week, on Friday, February 7th.

The American-Chilean producer takes two female voices to collaborate with in the advancement. Both are unique, artistically related to him from the past to the present. Appropriately, in the Lydia Lunch case, it would be better to say the relationship is an emotional link. As the founder and owner of imprint Other People, Jaar released “Teenage Jesus And The Jerks: Live 1977-1979” in November 2015. The album compiled a selection of live tracks recorded through the period by the seminal New York’s No Wave band Lunch formed at the age of 17. It is part of an artist’s commitment to the city, expressed on his critically acclaimed second album, “Sirens” (2016), an overlook to a personal Manhattan where historical resounds, renditions to musical influences, and home recordings come along in a sort of an electronic suite.

Against All Logic: “Illusions of Shameless Abundance” E.P. (Other People, 2020)

Illusions of Shameless Abundance” acts like the A-side of the release. It lives in the tension of repeated phrasing over a percussion sequence, disrupted, and returned continually by fluent producer’s technical skills, where Lydia Lunch‘s monotone voice is chanting and balanced to a spoken word statement.

The revers, B-side, as defined on Nicolas Jaar‘s Facebook, is blurring identities. Credited to F.K.A. twigs‘ contribution, it is supposed as a grateful counterpart to Nicolas Jaar‘s production of her second full-length album, “Magdalena.” It is also a statement, but in this case, based on distortion, a substantial vocal device treatment. Estado Unido -an unknown artist for me until now- opens the chanting of “Alucinao” with the typical syllables’ eating, proper for the idiomatic phonetics of South America, The Caribbean (Cuba), and Andalucía (Spain). It’s hard to get the lyrics at first listening, even for a native Spanish-speaking tongue. Better go to check them out on the correspondent Soundcloud page. The difficulty of understanding also happens with the following F.K.A. twigs‘ part, which is rather than incomprehensible, no easy exercise to attribute it to the vocal identity of the British artist, though recognizable under the layered, at least in a second approach.

The reason why all this misidentification comes from I would dare to say it belongs to how the track appears on the Other People RecordsSoundcloud page, tagged as “grimeton,” a stylish neologism; born as the melting form of “grime” and “reggaeton.” With the natural ability, A.A.L. (Against All Logic) goes imaginative in an impeccable production to an act of creative disruption, overturning the existing conventions. Sharply using the staccato rhythm of the grime pattern, fluently enriched with cowbells and elements of Latin percussion, the composition delivers enough melody to ensure the message is received. Because of “Alucinao” is a statement, an accusation with the shaking appeal of the art. A disrupted reflection to pause the deluge, the increasing flow of marketing that blurs the truth to an unrecognizable point. Nicolas Jaar, or disguised in A.A.L. (Against All Logic), always has the credit of being critically reflexive, and the talent to express his thoughts musically, with the elements of our nowadays’ truth (reality).

Illusions of Shameless Abundance” E.P. is an unbeatable advance to the expected album “2017-2019,” the second round for A.A.L. (Against All Logic) new material compilation after “2012 -2017,” released on February 2018. Last week of January 2020 had a surprising round-up with this news and with the uploading of Against All Logic Mix recorded for NTS.

Against All Logic : “2017-2019” L.P. (Other People, 2020)

When Disco embraced New Wave

A genuine New York City expression

W- 2020/02/01-02


As “American Gigolo” screened on Friday, February 1st, 1980, a phenomenal smash hit single was on the spread: ‘Call Me.’ The main theme song of Paul Schrader‘s movie soundtrack was a composition by Italian disco producer Giorgio Moroder with Deborah Harris (Blondie) on vocals, who also took the chance for writing the lyrics.
The song had a diversified release in three different record companies, attending length and language used for the singing. The original and most extended version came from the original soundtrack by Polydor. Chrysalis went for the 7″ and 12″ formats. Finally, the Disco label Salsoul Records offered a Spanish version of the song with lyrics written by Buddy and Maru McCluskey.
Blondie‘s front-woman claiming ‘Call Me‘ in Italian, French, and Spanish on the bridge of the original English-language version was an exultant exercise of multilingual sophistication. The song made its way up on the home lists and abroad very rapidly. It reached number one for six consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot Hundred chart until Lipps. Inc smash hit ‘Funkytown‘ knocked it off. It was time when Disco was rushing to the peak, tagged as commercial, and considered as “what people want to hear.”

Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ single 7″cover (Chrysalis, 1980)

After ‘Heart of Glass,’ track included in the 1978 album “Parallel Lines,” ‘Call Me,’ was the second # 1 hit single for Blondie on the domestic charts. Both runs were in disco flavor and had a growing time-line of controversy to the band. Aroused from the New York explosion of new wave, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were involved in the alternative move placed south of Washington Square as much as seduced for the funkier sound of the disco beat. Blondie revolted the CBGB‘s audience when decided to include a rendition to Donna Summer‘s ‘I Feel Love‘ at the Blitz Benefit Concert in May 1978. For the first time, the crowd split in two at the famous venue, with a majority wooing how a punk turned a new wave band dared to play a disco number. That was a daring crossing-over, but the spirit of the city had already step further in that direction, liquidizing barriers since 1976.
At the time, these were the main options for the night: Southbound, straight to whitey punk-rock Saturday-night-kicks at CBGB‘s, or Mudd Club. The other one was to turn right from Christopher St. down To Hudson Square. That implied other Lower Manhattan venues, specifically, for black music lovers, way apart from the Bowery: The Larry Levan‘s temple, The Paradise Garage, unfortunately, nicknamed as the “Gay-rage.” Of course, Palladium and the infamous Studio 54, but those were on restricted access. What Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager did with their club was to normalize a living trend for avoiding prejudice, taking all kinds of options from dark no-go places to the lights of Broadway. The proposal of Le Clique, the nightly extravaganza moving from place to place, full of clowns, burlesque artists, punks, strippers, and acrobats going wild, finally took a definitive location. It improved in a Downtown old theater, restyled as a selective venue for a free-minded glamorous jam. They were “la creme” of avant-everything followed by a multitude of wannabes standing at the door.
The song ‘Call Me‘ brought attention from the screen to the streets, wrapped up with images of a mistreated professional until then in movies (a male prostitute involved in a politic thriller). New wavers were to call for Disco’s demise. The music industry believed the phenomenon of Disco ought to turn into Dance, as one of revitalizing ingredients for rock, and tagged it as D.O.R. (Dance Oriented Rock). Ironically, on the same weekend ‘Call Me‘ took off for glory, Studio 54 closed down due to legal problems. In some way, ‘Call Me‘ aired what the rutilant club did for the city’s night-life, a ground-breaking for the indulgent Xing instead of parceling options over the square map. It is from where everything came. A synthetic path followed through the years by bands like Liquid Liquid, LCD Soundsystem Blondie kept it with ‘Rapture,’ adding rap on the bridge. Another genuine N.Y.C. expression.

LCD Soundsystem debut album turns 15

On January 24th, 2005, James Murphy‘s collective released the eponymous debut studio album through DFA. The record contained nine new compositions and regained the previous non-album singles, among those recorded between 2002 and 2004. The bonus-disc packed two reworks on ‘Yeah,’ giving a historical stand for ‘Losing My Edge/Beat Connection,’ the first that drew attention to the band.
If there are genuine NYC momentums in albums like “The Velvet Underground & Nico” in the ’60s, “Suicide” in the ’70s, “The Message,” “License to Ill, ” and “Pay In Full” in the ’80s, “All Eyez On Me” and “Illmatic” in the ’90s, “LCD Soundsystem” is for the millennial turn. Am I exaggerating? Maybe. But this one is the closest to a musical correlate for the most significant city’s transformation. A retro-call for vanishing realities asking for relocation. Cultural gentrification. A post-modern peak.
James Murphy grew up in New Jersey and crossed way to the city. A young musician involved in different bands from the ’80s through the ’90s, an engineer in charge of the sound setup of Sub Pop band Six Finger Satellite, and a record producer for David Holmes. With fellow Tim Goldsworthy (formerly UNKLE) began djing on the Lower East Side under the stage name Death From Above. Self-considered as “not even an outsider, just sort of a nobody, invisible, sad and kind of shy,” he became a cool DJ for his unexpected sessions, playing records nobody dared to play, picking up from Can, PIL, Mars to The Human League, The Normal, through Lou Reed, The Sonics, The Fall… and all those ready to pull the thread on memory lane. He was moving furtively in a particular direction, a “new way to realize old values.”
With the creation of a label and production house, DFA, LCD Soundsystem was an open collective with the core trio formed by Patrick Mahoney and Nancy Whang. Claiming “I Was There” is more than referential; it is a vivid private archive growing whether lived or not even presumed.
In a narrative style rather than singing, ironically moved, by all means, Murphy places venues disappeared in the map of inner-city chic related to groundbreaking artists as a consulting page on the internet for the new generations. In a sense, the album seems the voice of the absent structure of substitution. The punk no longer surrounds the dirty streets of the Bowery but is the random talk of any Brooklyn coffee shop. The early morning footsteps echoing through abandoned meat warehouses were Suicide in mind ignoring the danger. Now is the rattling keys for a luxury apartment in Tribeca.
With resounds of Brian Eno‘s “Another Green World” and Talking Head‘s “Fear Of Music,” “LCD Soundsystem” engages in the production, strategically flavored with cowbells and rims of the disco era, edging the rhythmic propelling force of walking in a mental talk. Yes, not cohesive, but thought on repeat: different places, the same conclusion. And NYC is repeating: “You’re history, and I’m tapped.”