Thursday, June 17, 2010
Driving home this evening after spending some hours reading Michael Veal's Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae.
I turned on the radio and went immediately to WCBN, Ann Arbor's fabulous radio station. I heard some lovely something and kept it. A few moments later, I exclaimed, aloud, hands in the air, with my windows open, driving through Ypsilanti, "IT'S CARLOS!!" Aloud. Loudly.
I had forgotten that it was Thursday, the night of Carlos Souffront's weekly radio show, Crush Collision, on WCBN from 10PM-1AM. You can listen to it streaming on the WCBN website. Needless to say, I ran straight in and slipped into my headphones to listen some more. Carlos has unannounced guests nearly every week including Todd Osborn. The show was begun in 1987 by Tom Simoyen as a primarily acid jazz program, but also included house 12 inches and remixes of pop bands. Footnote this to Brendan M. Gillen. Then, in the early 1990s, Brendan Gillen of Ectomorph took over the show and transformed it into more of a techno show, but also included lots of types of electronic music. Carlos Souffront began participating in the show in 1995. He has been doing it for a great number of years now. It's fucking great.
Other folks, indirectly involved with the show, but directly involved with WCBN include Erika Sherman, also of Ectomorph, and ethnomusicologist Ben Tausig, possibly known as Data General. You can check him here: Weird Vibrations. Erika started working at the station in 1993. The day after she arrived in Ann Arbor for college, she went over to the radio station and began working there immediately. She worked as the general manager of the radio station, program director, and gave disc jockey training classes. Erika, can you do that again? I'll be in your class. She also hosted her own free form weekly radio shows, taking on 3 hour time slots at first, and then began to take other time slots so that she began playing 6 to 9 hour sets on the radio. Her time ended at WCBN around 2000, and she devoted all her shining musical brilliance to production, touring, the Interdimensional Transmissions record label, and super party planning.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The following is taken from their website:
Our next event is our yearly gala which we have bestowed the honor of hosting upon the City of Detroit. Details of the event:
P.L.U.T.O. Solidarity Rally: 9:00pm Friday, June 18th (tentative time) which is to be held in Campus Martius Park.
Location: Detroit, America
Details: At the rally we will be providing complimentary refreshments, attendees are encouraged to bring signs proclaiming their committment to the Planet Pluto.
Immediately following the rally we will join together and march approximately 1/4 of a mile through downtown on Woodward Avenue to Vain (1500 Woodward Ave) where we will begin our fundraiser event reception hosted by Gary Springs Hunting Club. Attendees of the rally will receive $5 off at the door by being present the rally beforehand. You need not head directly to the event, we just ask that you march with us and you're free to depart and return as you please
Details of the Fundraising Reception
Location: Vain, 1500 Woodward Avenue, Detroit America
Performances by: Junior Boys (Get Physical, Universal, Domino-Canada), Secrets (GSHC, Secrets Mixes-Fixes-Detroit America)And here is the Facebook event page in which they promise meatballs.
And this Secrets dude got his set rained out at the Movement Festival, so rally for Secrets love too!
Saturday, June 5, 2010
We left to get lunch at Slows Bar-B-Q on Michigan. First time eating there, it was fantastic. One more notch on the happiness scale for the weekend. I had never had North Carolina style sauce before, so that's what I fell in love with at Slows. And the beer, oh my god, it was a good weekend for beer. Rochester Mills IPA. So good, I had it twice.
We then headed down to Hart Plaza for the Electrobounce crew/Starski & Clutch/Godfather. They were pretty fun as always. By that point, we needed another break and some sleep. I missed some excellent music that afternoon and evening, but getting up for an early party will do that. We got back down to the fest at about 9pm and I got to enjoy Rob Hood's set. By that point, I was crowded out, so we just stood up on a bench and listened from up top. I enjoyed it. What he played was some fun and interesting techno. There were some moving beats. I am so spoiled by being in Detroit year round and have the pleasure of small crowds and small venues. I can easily see what is going on all the time. I love to be able to see what a musician is doing while playing a live set - the equipment and how they manipulate it all. I would have loved to be able to do that for Rob Hood's set.
After that, we very slowly made our way to milkshakes and then to No Way Back. This party is what I should be planning my weekend around. But instead, I exhaust myself to the extent that I am unable to handle any more beats, even beats that I am loving. It's been at the Bohemian National Home for the past two years (not sure about years before that). All the DJs are bound to be fantastic - it's Brendan M. Gillen and Erika Sherman choosing them, so come on, you know it! They decorate the space in such a lovely way to create a great, dark, actually peaceful atmosphere for listening and partying. They had Motor City Brewing Lager - more good beer! I came for Mike Servito, Derek Plaslaiko, BMG, and Carlos Souffront and did not stick around long enough to hear any of them. Saw photos of Carlos playing with morning light coming in softly. He was scheduled to play at 7:30am. I'm serious, next year, I'm leaving the festival early and sleeping until maybe 4am or something so that I can enjoy the whole party, to the end. And I must add, ladies, you will be treated well here. And not in the wink wink we treat the ladies right way. It is a safe partying environment created on purpose. It's actually an important part of Interdimensional Transmissions - Erika and Brendan's record label - to produce parties that are safe and genuinely fun for women and men. They actually accomplish this really well too! Chicks dig IT.
The next day we slept in until I just couldn't sleep anymore, which turned out to be about 10am. Crazy, I know, but I had been away from my kids all weekend and sleeping away from them was actually difficult for this Ma. Rain ended up closing much of the stages down for big chunks of the day. Missed Shigeto and Secrets. Hung out at Forans for a while for more good beer. Then back for the Moritz von Oswald Trio. Now this was another true highlight of the weekend. I had been looking forward to hearing them for a long time. Before they started, we caught some of Francesco Tristano live. He played Strings of Life on his piano without any electronically produced sounds . That was pretty fun. MOV3 got set up a bit late and welcomed Carl Craig on modular synthesizer as a guest.
Now this is not my photo, it's by Greg Cristman of a show by MOV3 + Carl Craig + Francois K at the Unsound Festival this past February. But just look at this. He's producing tones by patching cords.
I mean I can hardly stand it. Check out the rest of the photos of this show here.
The music was interesting, slow to build (in a good way), intellectually moving. It was a weird beauty. There were some nice percussive moments. They played great together. It was a joy to just sit in the alternating sun and clouds and listen. How I wished to be standing with my face in all the gear watching every moment I was hearing.
So that's my weekend.
A few general comments ensue. Serious body jacking happening at specific moments over the weekend. I'm a serious mover so that's important to me. The stages were surprisingly clear of media folks this year as compared to last year. I learned after the festival that Paxahau designed a two tier system for media credentials - media and stage media. So there were some with credentials who could go "back stage" but not on stage. This is excellent for the artists. But not so fun for folks who need/want to report and share images of the fest with their readers. I also learned after the fest that Paxahau did not allow promos to enter Hart Plaza - no cds or vinyl. "To protect their investment." This is actually ridiculous. A lot of small labels benefit from networking inside the festival. This seems particularly damaging to local artists who could easily transport their releases down to the festival and distribute their music on their own terms in a very immediate way.
Once again, I really enjoyed meeting new people and seeing old faces that I hadn't seen since last year. Met Rob Theakston of EMA and Moodmat. Met Jacob Arnold of Gridface. Glad to finally meet both of them! Got a few chances to chat with Frank Glazer of Infinite State Machine. That Frank, he's a good man. Also Tom Cox of ISM.
I didn't get down to YaDigg Records, Whodat's new record store. But I helped her fold shirts and sort records the week before, so that's okay. I'm glad so many people made it over there! Better plan to fit another visit in next year all you fest goers!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The sound was actually disappointing in general for the festival. Things were uneven and inconsistent, volume and levels turned down often. There were other glitches as well over the weekend. The only time the sound quality was truly beautiful was during Plastikman's set at the main stage Saturday night. Now no judgment to Ritchie Hawtin or his fans, really no judgment, but I was just passing through from Theo Parrish to the NDATL party. I knew it must be crowded in that bowl, but I had no idea. I had no desire to hang out in that. But the sound was pristine, just delicious. Each tone was so precisely sounded, I just felt like I had been let down. Knowing that that was available, but not in use during the day, and not possible at the underground stage, let down. The underground stage sound was better than last year, but not good still. They certainly put a lot of work into the acoustics down there with all kinds of panels and backdrops and acoustic structures. It was still disappointing.
Went to check out Niko Marks, Kyle Hall, Martyn and Scion over the next few hours. Scion was just eh because of the turned down sound. They were much better at the Blank Artists party here in Detroit last November. And it was just exciting to see Kyle play the festival. His father was there to see him! The bit I heard from Martyn was actually disappointing. I was excited to hear him because I like his productions, but I just wasn't grabbed by his sounds.
After a bit of a break from the festival, we got back for the end of Rick Wilhite's set and then Theo Parrish. I had a lot of fun during Theo's set, but I think he lost a lot of people. They just weren't into his Brazillian/jazz tunes. Plus, Plastikman was scheduled to play soon, so that really emptied out the underground quick. But I like to stay where I like to dance, and I always like to dance when Theo is playing. So that's where I stayed.
I'd like to conclude this festival segment with the following statement: just because you're playing DEMF doesn't mean you have to play big room techno (thank you Kent Williams for that one). It is especially disappointing when you produce really interesting, even weird shit all year round. Please don't have an instantaneous identity crisis and think that you have to play to a certain crowd that you see before you. You are on that stage because of who you are, not because of who the crowd is. Thank you.
Larry Heard, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James M. Rotz
Like I said in the previous post, I enjoy my time outside of Hart Plaza way more than my time in it. The NDATL party at 1515 Broadway, the second location for the famed Music Institute, was incredible. Definitely my favorite thing all weekend.
Kai Alce, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James M. Rotz
And I have to say, after we left, I did say that was the best party of my life. My whole life. Maybe my memory has faded and I'm missing something, but it really was excellent. We arrived around midnight and got to hear much of Larry Heard's set. I had never heard him play before, he was just great. Plenty of old disco and garage, Adonis, some r&b. It was excellent. The club filled up quick. It really felt like it came near what the Music Institute must have felt like. I know, total speculation. But it was packed, no alcohol (officially), excellent music, and not all the same bpm/beat/tones/etc, and a generally dance happy and knowledgeable crowd. It was a sweaty sweatbox and I was at home. Kai Alce's set was just great as well. We stuck around for the first while of Theo's set, but by 4am, we needed to close our eyes.
Theo Parrish, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James Rotz
Theo played some lovely tracks, including some lengthy James Brown edits through which he had a great time EQing in his special percussive way. Picked up a couple copies of the special NDATL 45 as well. It's very special.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I'll start you with this message from Peaches. Not the pink electro fuck Peaches.
I have loved this album since high school and this intro expresses how I feel about Detroit and this whole May weekend. You know what I'm talking about, I know you do.
So, for starters, Friday night. We began our weekend with 2010: A Detroit Odyssey hosted by Carl Craig, Planet E, and the Detroit Techno Foundation.
The films were excellent. The event was free. It was such a creative, educational, inspiring, and exciting event. I hope these kinds of events happen every year! Cycles of the Mental Machine was an interesting film. I'll definitely use that when I teach in the future! Mike Banks was interviewed for the film with his back to the camera in front of a photograph of Jeff Mills' hands. It was lovely. I had seen Metropolis before, but never with Jeff Mills' score. Well, I partially slept through Metropolis before. I was very pregnant and it was a quiet, dark theater! This time around, there was no sleeping, I was enthralled. Suite for Ma Dukes was inspiring - particularly the visual aspects. Nice to see lots of Detroit faces in the film performing. And The Drive Home was a film documenting the first year of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Definitely fun and interesting to watch. Particularly paired with RA's oral history of the festival. Carl Craig introduced each film. And the filmmakers of both Suite for Ma Dukes and The Drive Home were present to speak before their films. Derrick May rose to conclude the film portion of the night and prepared the audience for Timeline. Finally, Timeline played featuring Mike Banks, DJ Sicari, Jon Dixon, and De'Sean Jones. It was really exciting to see Mike Banks playing in Detroit! They were all having a great time, and everything sounded great.
It was really moving to be at this event. The crowd grew slowly, but by the time Suite for Ma Dukes began, the Detroit Music Hall was pretty full. The week prior to the Movement Festival, Carl Craig held music workshops for high school students at Detroit School for the Arts, from which Kyle Hall graduated just last year. One of these workshops was hosted by Jason Huvaere, president of Paxahau, on event planning. I was so impressed to learn about these workshops. I truly hope that these kinds of events happen every year during the festival. Free events that have the potential to reach Detroit residents, but also to educate visitors from out of town. Kenny Dixon Jr.'s Soulskate definitely accomplishes this. Maybe next year, there could be a block party outside of Submerge, or somewhere around Techno Boulevard - 1486-1492 Gratiot. Theses addresses housed the studios of Juan Atkins' Metroplex Records, Derrick May's Transmat Records, and Kevin Saunderson's KMS Studios. The party could be off Gratiot somewhere around there. The Heidelberg Project is a few steps from there too.
Or a picnic on Belle Isle, on Sunday, with a serious sound system blaring old Mojo radio shows.
There's much more that I have to tell you about, but my boys, they run me ragged...because they're so damn awesome. You'll have to wait until tomorrow...