Sunday, November 30, 2014

Guest Post: The Stones at Mt Smart ...

And so it was that the rock n roll juggernaut known as the Rolling Stones hit these shores last week. For the final stop on the relatively expansive eight-leg Australia/NZ ‘On Fire’ tour. Friend of everythingsgonegreen, Tony ‘Soul Man’ Murdoch, was at the gig at Auckland’s Mt Smart stadium, along with nearly 40,000 others, and what a vivid picture his words paint for us (tail feathers and all) …

Yeah, it was a wicked nite ... rain kinda threatened but never really entrenched itself. Three towering video screens covering the back of the stage captured every pulse of the bands collective heartbeat ...
Started Up
Jagger the focal point really, flicking his hips 'n pouting his lips to every funky snare drum shimmer from that metronomic master of rhythm Mr Watts, 'n Charlie's partner in crime on thumping/pumping bass guitar, Darryl Jones. Oh yeah … Ronnie 'Faces' Wood resplendent in body hugging red leather jacket, just keeping it all so tight and funky for his mate Keef to take centre stage and carve it all up.

Lisa Fischer on backing vocals was a real highlight ... Soul Sista #1 in the house all nite long, just adding that groove to every song ... a cameo appearance from Mick Taylor on 'Midnight Rambler', an extended blues workout that incorporated part of their famous cover of Muddy Waters 'I'm A Man'.

The NZ National Youth Choir on 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' was another highlight, which I thought was a nice touch from the band, then 'Miss You' turned into an extended disco/funk workout … man, I was in 7th heaven when that happened.

Way too much fun for one night really and yep, I'd do it all again at the shake of a phunky tail feather ...!!!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Festive Dozen 2014: Noah Pred - Devil's Quadrant (Tomas Jirku Remix)

Canadian producer Noah Pred has tended to fly under the mainstream radar, but over the past couple of years he’s steadily started to forge a solid reputation within techno circles, not only as a profilic ‘working’ DJ, but also as the main man behind the Thoughtless Music imprint.

Noah Pred’s 2013 album, Third Culture, gained some wider traction as a nominee for best electronic album at the annual Juno awards, but it was a track from a remixed version of that album (available on Beatport here) that made me sit up and take notice this year, a mid tempo Tomas Jirku-mixed gem called ‘Devil’s Quadrant’ … (best appreciated via headphones):

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Festive Dozen 2014: Joris Voorn - Ringo

I’m not sure exactly how a dance music purist would categorise Joris Voorn’s ‘Ringo’ … what genre it fits into – is it minimal techno, or melodic techno, or some other form of up-tempo electronica?

It probably doesn’t really matter, whatever else it is, the track became a firm pod favourite for me throughout the early part of 2014, after being released as a single late in 2013. I just couldn’t get enough of its warm textures and subtle trippy vibe.
‘Ringo’ prods and teases but never really quite takes off into full-on euphoric banger mode, and that’s what makes it special: it’s a club at 5am, a morning-after groove, something to smooth the rough edges from the sharp peaks of the night before.

The Amsterdam-based Voorn had a busy 2014, with a couple of North American tours, club and festival gigs right across Europe – from the UK to Ibiza and beyond – yet he still found time (on November 17) to release album number three, Nobody Knows, his first full-length effort for seven years … and yes, it includes ‘Ringo’.

Joris Voorn is on Facebook (here) and Nobody Knows is on iTunes (here)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Prophet Motive ... and other stuff

The Prophet Motive - photo: Storm Ryan
Here’s my most recent piece published in NZ Musician (see link below). Due to space constraints the magazine edited it quite heavily from the original version I submitted, but that’s the way it goes, and it’s one of the reasons I like blogging here – there’s nobody to rein me in, which may or may not be a good thing!

In terms of writing magazine features – or at least sitting down to chat with artists and musicians – I’m a genuine novice and have no formal training, just a passion for music and words. I’m learning all the time, and one of the things I learned from chatting with the guys from The Prophet Motive is that sometimes it’s best just to shut up and let the artist(s)/subject speak. I recorded our conversation on my iPhone and when I played it back I was quite surprised with how much I rambled on myself, when actually, I needed to try and shape a feature from their words, not mine. I also needed to consider that some of it would be edited out, so ultimately I was a little disappointed with this particular piece. Although I didn’t let the guys down with what was eventually published, I felt it could have been so much better if only I’d let them do more of the talking. Because I know they had much more to say …

More recently I interviewed local blues and soul legend Darren Watson for the next issue of the magazine, and it was like chalk and cheese. Watson is so experienced in all matters media, he just took control, even in a crowded café environment where a lot of other peripheral distractions could quite easily have side-tracked us from the task at hand – right down to sorting out my coffee order for me! It probably helped that our paths had crossed a few times before, and that we had mutual friends from way back, but the key thing was I wound up with a lot more quotes than I needed. The end result was an article that was much easier to write, presumably easier to read, and the majority of words in the piece came directly from him. Which is how it should be.

Anyway, that’s for another post sometime in the future … in the meantime click below to learn a little bit about The Prophet Motive, a couple of very cool cats from Rotorua ...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Festive Dozen 2014: Hercules & Love Affair - Blind (Frankie Knuckles Remix 2008)

As is so often the way when a legend passes, the weeks and months following the death of house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles back at the end of March saw fresh life return to a lot of the man’s music. With three decades worth of original and remix work out there to be mined and celebrated for years to come, Knuckles’ legacy as the “godfather of house” is well and truly secure.

Of the multitude of remixes to resurface, one of my own favourites, and a track on high rotation during the mid-2014 period was the sublime Knuckles remix of Hercules and Love Affair’s ‘Blind’, which originally surfaced as far back as 2008, but it’s a tune that remains as irresistible today as it was back then …
R.I.P Frankie Knuckles

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Album Review: Various - Hyperdub 10.3 (2014)

Hyperdub 10.3 is the third chapter in the series of 2014 compilation albums released to celebrate the Hyperdub label's tenth birthday in 2014. I looked at the previous couple here and here.

Again the tracklisting reads like a virtual who's who of the label's roster, with all of the main players being present and accounted for - see Burial, Kode9, Ikonika, and Darkstar to name only the most obvious. This time though, the focus is placed firmly on music residing at the more ambient end of the label's output.

A generous 23 tracks are showcased, and the most striking thing - aside from the ethereal and atmospheric nature of the music - is the almost complete absence of orthodox vocals. For example, we wait until track 12 - Cooly G's 'Mind' - before there's anything resembling a fully decipherable non-chopped up or sampled vocal.
Which is all well and good, but the effect can be a little disorientating, and there's perhaps a tendency for a lot of the tracks to blend together, forming an almost borderless sonic mash. Which means that although it remains an enjoyable enough listen - mostly mellow and downbeat, but not always - it's difficult not to get a little lost in it.

The two Burial tracks, the eerie 'In McDonald's', and the slightly spookier 'Night Bus', are welcome additions, but each one feels like a snapshot of what might be, and there's disappointment that neither track really goes anywhere. Having said that, I do appreciate that sometimes less is more, and even half-formed Burial ideas can take innovation to a level more conventional artists can only ever dream about.

Overall 10.3 offers yet more impressive evidence that music released by Hyperdub is practically impossible to categorise (as much as I’ve repeatedly tried to do exactly that over the course of three reviews!). If the '10' series is proving anything at all, it's that the label actually transcends orthodox genre descriptions, and surely that’s got to be a good thing.

I've just listened to a copy of the very expansive 2-disc series finale, Hyperdub 10.4 … so watch this space for a final review to complete the full set.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Festive Dozen 2014: Sunjaman - Heavyweight Sound

Sunjaman is a bass music/dub producer from Athens, Greece, and in March of 2014 he released an EP called Outta Here, a red-eyed concoction of spiritual roots in a contemporary dub/steppa-style. As much as I was taken by the title track and the different versions of ‘Witness The Day’ on the seven-track EP, I’ve chosen the melodica-drenched opener ‘Heavyweight Sound’ to represent Sunjaman as one of my surprise pod-favourites during the year.

‘Heavyweight Sound’ features vocals from fellow Greek dub identity Northical, and it offers firm evidence – if any was needed – that you don’t need to live in deepest Trenchtown to vibe out on Jamaican roots. Outta Here, and a whole lot of other wicked dub and dub-related goodness is available (for free) on the Dub-O-Phonic Netlabel blog (here).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The No Problemos

Some local product. And when I say some “local” product I do mean very local. Actually neighbours … like practically next door. Young Kapiti Coasters making their way in the world. I’m not saying this is a world-beater, and anyone who knows me will appreciate that I’m not really hip hop’s biggest fan, but I think The No Problemos have made a bloody good album, rapping in a straight-up nu zild accent, against a backdrop of cool vibes and funky beats, occasionally even getting a little existential on my good neighbourly arse. This is from earlier in 2014, the collective’s third album since the start of 2013 … name-your-price, take a listen, and if you dig, work backwards … Somethin’ Real to keep it real.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Festive Dozen 2014: James Blake - Limit To Your Love (Kygo Remix)

With just six weeks until the end of the year, it’s time to start thinking about those essential end-of-year lists … I always do some sort of album wrap for everythingsgonegreen so I’ll get to that at some stage.

I’ve actually got a number of half completed album reviews for “new release” 2014 albums, so I should probably get on with completing one or two of those as well. So many albums, so little time. I may end up lumping quite a few short reviews together in one or two posts just to get them up while they still have some semblance of relevance.
Last year I looked at what had been hot on my pod through the year by listing a ‘Random 30’ (tracks) and posting related youtube links for my most-listened-to “tunes of the year”. But that was way too hard and this year I’ll cut that back to a nice even dozen. Let’s call it a Festive Dozen. An everythingsgonegreen equivalent of the 12 days of Christmas … or something.

Let’s start with one of my absolute favourite remixes of the year. James Blake’s ‘Limit To Your Love’ has been around a lot longer and has been subjected to many different reconfigurations over the course of its hipster life, but none captured my attention quite like this version.
This was hot pod fodder for me during some bleak winter months; so warm and lush, if this doesn’t get your hips swaying, even just a teeny bit, I humbly suggest you might need to check for a pulse …

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Super Narco Man

Following on from a similar theme where I posted about Tauranga’s Here Comes Alice (here), and where I reviewed the Rotorua-based Prophet Motive’s album Manifest Density for NZ Musician (here), there’s some ridiculously good independent music coming out of the Bay of Plenty region at present.

Good, as in straightforward no-holds-barred punk, and/or noise pop with a political bent.

In a week or two I will upload a feature I wrote on The Prophet Motive for NZ Musician (I’d like the magazine to have some sort of exclusivity for now, for whatever that’s worth) but in the meantime I want to draw your attention to a self-titled debut album for Super Narco Man, another Tauranga-based band, and another name-your-price Bandcamp release.
But where regular (and current) tour-mates The Prophet Motive make music that sits firmly in the folk-punk category, with an obvious left-leaning political allegiance in plain view for all, the music of Super Narco Man is a little more ambiguous – both stylistically and politically.

Sure, they’re angry as hell about something, and they take great delight in letting us know that, it’s just that these riffs chug and churn, and Super Narco Man’s big three-piece sound ticks far more formula-bound boxes. If this is a form of punk rock, and I think it is, then it’s a version which remains resolutely indebted to classic rock’s trademark touchstones. Not an altogether bad thing.

Super Narco Man won’t appeal to all, and it’s certainly very different to the sort of stuff usually covered on everythingsgonegreen. I’m more than a couple of listens into it now, and I’m still digesting how ferocious and raw it can be in parts. But I want to stop short of tagging it with the dreaded “acquired taste” label, because it’s far more deserving than that.

The key thing here is attitude, the keen sense of unrepentant DIY at play; this is hard-edged rock n roll from provincial New Zealand’s heartland, and the album has a certain rough-round-the-edges appeal that in many respects harks back to a bygone era long since lost. Grab a copy, take a listen, and decide for yourself …

Super Narco Man on Facebook

The Prophet Motive on Facebook