the contextual life

thoughts without borders


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it’s been a while since ive picked up new music. ive bought new cds lately but they havent felt new. they’ve all been by artists i know i like. as the years stack on top of each other it’s getting harder to find new albums by the same, safe people. but with age has come caution. i used to be adventurous. i was constantly on the hunt for new, obscure bands. all genres were fair game. as long as it sounded like quality to me, i was psyched. then, something happened. i became a clichè: i no longer liked anything new.

when i was first getting into electronic music—intelligent dance music (idm), drum n bass, trip hop—Warp Records and Minus were my go-to labels. their artists were, and still are, some of the best. Aphex Twin, Plaid, and Squarepusher on the first and Plastikman, owner of and main artist, on the second. they were doing things with noise i never knew possible. like wine, much of it was an acquired taste but once you fell in love you felt like you “got it.” it was as if this foreign noise contained something deep inside that required a sophisticated ear to understand.

an unexpected urge to hunt for new tunes and knowing i’d run out of Thievery Corporation, µ-ziq, and Underworld albums to buy, i ventured outside my comfort zone. Other Music, a rather unassuming CD and record shop, is a fixture of the east village. situated on the north side of  the ever-quiet e. 4th street, between broadway and lafayette, under a faded and tattered baby blue flag, it can be missed easily. this small indie is known for having obscure stuff: indie rock, underground hip hop, experimental electronic. and it’s where many people go when their local brooklyn shop no longer does the trick. after sifting through, looking for familiar faces and logos, i glanced up at the girl alphabetizing the rock section and gave her  my best “help me, please” face.

luckily the resident electronic music expert was working that day and she went to grab him from behind the counter. he leaned thoughtfully against the wood shelving, arms folded, listening intently as i gave him some background information. with just a few names from me and a few follow up questions from him, his fingers began to dance through the dozens of albums that had, just a few moments ago, seemed a blur. Kompakt, the Cologne-based microhouse and minimalist techno record label, although founded in 1998, had escaped my radar all those years ago but these days they’re hard to ignore; all three CD suggestions were in some way associated with them.

this bliss

Pantha du Prince // This Bliss
although Pantha du Prince (Hendrik Weber) has a new album out this year, the guy at Other Music handed me This Bliss, a 2007 release. this album continues to blow me away. i love bleepy electronic music: lots of odd noises and syncopated rhythms but i also love warm, styled tech-house with a minimalist sensibility. Pantha blends the two into a smooth, solid partnership. the tasteful beats make your head bob while the experimentally-constructed harmonies tickle your ears. a Pitchfork review summed it up well when they said This Bliss, “filled with fragile melodic sequences, grim basslines, dolorous chimes, reticular house percussion, and unidentifiable found sounds[,] . . . seems to dwell at the precise point where nature and industry become indistinguishable.”


paranormal bar 01

Cassy // Paranormal Bar 01
Cassy happened to be playing that night in new york but it was sold out by the time i got to a computer; i’m sure it had been sold out for days. the guy at the store couldnt talk her up enough. although she produces her own music, i was handed a mix CD she’d done: Pananormal Bar [01]. Berghain/Paranormal Bar is a club in berlin known for its top techno djs–cassy’s a regular. in 2005 the owners started the record label Ostgut Ton, which falls under Kompakt, and this her is album with them. in [01] cassy “produced a hugely evocative document of just why so many of us want to go hear a DJ play one record after another for hours on end,” said a review on Resident Advisor and i’ll just have to agree.


Marcel Dettmann // Dettman
Marcel, east-german by birth, grew up influenced by electro pop. he began spinning records in 1994 and  then producing and remixing in 2006. Dettmann, like Cassy, is a regular at berlin’s Paranormal Bar; his first full-length album, simply entitled Dettmann, is also released by Ostgut Ton. in the club he’s known for his lengthy sets of minimal, yet strong, genre-spanning techno mixes and brings that same sensibility to this album. at times the tracks are downtempo, nearly-ambient, while at other times they’re dancey and as solid as a neighborhood bully but the one thing they all have in common is their strong, earthy tone—as if marcel had taken ‘underground’ literally. this self-titled album is perfect for listening to around the home when you have a ton of stuff to get done.

Other Music
Berghain/Paranormal / Ostgut ton
M-nus (opens with sound)

Written by Gabrielle

December 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Posted in music

Tagged with ,

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