Mar 262010

Med elektronisk dansmusik tillåts en befriande ansiktslöshet träda fram i populärkulturen. Förutom i dansgolvens jagupplösning manifesterar sig anspråkslösheten i låttitlar (varandes dess enda textuella innehål, också musikens viktigaste berättelse) som i Simon Harris Only A Demo.

Jag lyssnade på a-sidan, Here Comes That Sound, och tänkte på hur ännu 1988 den mesta populärmusiken var nertyngt av behovet av en berättelse, i det här fallet vokalsamplingsväggen som först fick vikarera för pop-musikens behov av mänsklig närvaro. Genom att döpa b-sidan till något så anspråklöst som Only A Demo kunde ett långt språng framåt mot minimal och repetativ dansmusik äga rum. Det var sällan man lyckades med sådana här nakna kompositioner på den tiden. Men de har åldrats med värdighet. Hashim – Al Naafiysh (The Soul), Man Parrish – Hip Hop Bebop, Mantronix – Bassline och Simon Harris Only A Demo.

Dec 292009

Expanding on the subject, I bring you some seasonal music.


Yagya – Rigning Tvo

A very beautiful and atmospheric dub-techno track coming from the ice-cold plains of Iceland. You can almost hear the springwater running from the melting ice.

Boo Williams – Summer Love

I’m really starting to get into this more traditional, straight (er, I mean gay) house music.

Anders Ilar – September Nights

A strong expressive quality is rare in electronic music. In a field full of scientists it’s difficult to come across a true poet, someone who really paints landscapes with effects and distorted percussion. September Nights by Sweden’s own Anders Ilar is an accurate portrait of the torn industrial beauty of the Swedish suburb Hisingen Island an autumn night (and Illusions of a Summer Breeze by the same artist qualifies as strongly expressive winter music).

DeepChord Presents Echospace – Winter In Siney

The Coldest Season (fitting name for an album of winter music) is brilliant and magnificent. Starting from the pioneering work of Basic Channel, we move towards colder territories.


Biz Markie – Spring Again

Great video by a great live performer. We need more artists like this, in these coldly segregated days of rap music. It’s difficult to believe he was in the same crew as Kool G Rap and Tragedy.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime

The anthem for the summer.

Trife Diesel – Stronger Man

Better Late Than Never was one of the stronger releases of 2009. In this beautifully produced track we find our protagonist when summer is over; it’s back to working and studying, trying to better our situation, to become a Stronger Man. It’s time to grow up.

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got The Jazz

My favorite ATCQ track, and one of the best videos ever. N.Y. winter has never looked as cool.

Dec 292009

“Science fiction doesn’t predict the future, it determines it, colonizes it, preprograms it in the image of the present.” – William Gibson

“Electric circuitry confers a mythic dimension on our ordinary individual and group actions. Our technology forces us to live mythically.” – Marshall McLuhan

More Brilliant Than The Sun: Adventures In Sonic Fiction is an interesting, even important book, but Kodwo Eshun either reads too much Deleuze & Guttuari, or smokes too much weed – none of it doing his writing much good. Clay-feet language machinery runs smoothly at times only, doing his nomadic thinking a great disservice. Too many neologisms will fuck up your digestive system.

I applaud Eshun’s attempt to bring new textual styles to the table, but try breaking through to new worlds too quickly, and contact with the Mothership will be lost. Expeditions will get stuck in orbit, in a postmodern loop, isolated from the everyday life of the planet. The text masturbates itself. Author hubris is evident. You need to keep contact with the oceans of ancient times and stay connected to the traditions of the older tribes. At times you get the impression that his cathedrals of poetical fragments, fractals and fractures have been raised only to cover up for lightweight ideas; jewels glimmering falsely, like tinfoil bling much less brilliant than the sun.

Typically, the pieces that works the best are those about music whose thinking and mythological structure is already quite developed: Underground Resistance, Drexciya, Parliament-Funkadelic, Lee Perry. Around them his writing works well, actually.

Music can not avoid telling stories and generating concepts. A seemingly empty genre like minimal techno is about nothingness; about meditation and architecture; like dub it’s about creating space. It is music full of ideas. This is one of the strongest points of Eshun’s book. The thinking is already in the music. It doesn’t need academics. George Clinton invented sampladelia, and he didn’t need Heidegger to do it. When Lee Perry talks about the death of the individual (although in different terms) he didn’t get that concept from reading Foucault. It’s right there in the music.

(p. 106) “The producer is now the modular input, willingly absorbed into McLuhan’s ‘medium which processes its users, who are its content. (…) Cyborging, to borrow the words of Norman Mailer, ‘takes the immediate experiences of any man, magnifyies the dynamic of his movements, not specifically but abstractly so that he is seen as a vector in a network of forces.’”

What is the essence of HipHop? Where did its birth take place? Generally one might say: it’s black music, that refers back to the history and culture of black people. Or perhaps: it’s opressed people’s music everywhere, that refers to their specific history in a similar way. That rings true. But Eshun adds a posthuman perspective that says that the human being isn’t the sole source of creativity. Musical equipment – two turntables, the cheap-ass mixer, the time-bending sampler, the drum machine, Roland Space Echo – also have a parental role in the birth of Hip-Hop. Techno music is, of course, even more radical in this sense (think about electro and the 808 or acid house and the 303). On page 102 Eshun writes:

“HipHop updates blaxplotation’s territories; it represents the street. By opting out of this logic of representation, Techno disappears itself from the street, the ghetto and the hood. Drexciya doesn’t represent Detroit the same way Mobb Deep insist they represent Staten Island (sic!).”

Eshun loses me a bit here. Bedroom producers might have made some innovative works in the world of techno music (Drexciya, AFX, etc.), but they would be nothing without the scene, the electro and acid clubs and parties, that is – the streets. That’s what’s given them energy. The streets are essential: it’s where people meet. And as long as we have community, we will have some sort of representation. We can never leave the streets. But we can leave the industry, the inner-city clubs, the traps of fame and professionalism.

(p. 103) “Cybotron’s Techno City, like all these possibility spaces, is Sonic Fiction: electronic fiction, with frequencies fictionalized, synthesized and organized into escape routes. (…) Which is why you should always laugh in the face of those producers , djs and journalists who sneer at escapism for its unreality, for its fakeness; all those who strain to keep it real. (…) Sonic Fiction strands you in the present with no way of getting back to the 70s. Sonic Fiction is the first stage of a reentry program which grasps this very clearly. Sonic Fictions are part of modern music’s MythSystems. Moving through living space, real-world environments that are already alien. Operating instructions for the escape route from yourself. Overthrow the Internal Empire of your head. Secede from the stupidity of intelligence, the inertia of good taste, the rigor mortis of cool. You’re born into a rigged prison which the jailors term Real Life. Sonic Fiction is the manual for your own offworld break-out, reentry program, for entering Earth’s orbit and touching down on the landing strips of your senses.”

(p. 85) “Electro is an E-Z learn induction into the militarization of pop life, the sensualizing of militarization, the enhanced sensorium of locking into the Futurhythmachine.”

(p. 119) “From arcadegames to the Net to simulation games, civil society is the low end research-and-development unit of the military. Techno has the nomad’s edge over HipHop’s hypervisible trooper forever crucified in the crosshair of the gunsight.”

The urban prairies of a downsized and crime-ridden Detroit gave musical scientists a perfect backdrop for experiments in cold, weightless futurism, in a way similar to how Kraftwerk had laid the foundation for a new consciousness among the generation growing up after the Second World War. A new powerful music was needed to fill the catastrophic vacuum. Detroit answered Kraftwerk’s coldly bitter and beautiful anthem We Are The Robots by saying: “We are the aliens” (work and alienation: two reoccuring themes in electronic music).

The visionary quality of Juan Atkins and UR would not come forth as naturally in New York or Los Angeles. Techno doesn’t abandon the streets, but its mode of representation is different. Instead of fighting over old turfs, techno creates new spaces. While HipHop constantly refers to and rewrites its history, electronic music aims for “an empty future waiting to be populated.”

“UR realised that their was little point in ‘exposing the reality’ of social deprivation and inequality – why bother, when that reality was already depressingly well known? Instead they used fictions to diagram the way in which social reality as it is experienced is a second-order effect of more abstract processes: a war between programmers and fugitives, between overground normality and underground gnosis, between a history given over to atrocity and exploitation and an empty future waiting to be populated.

UR started at the end of the 1980s, at the very moment when the End of History was being proclaimed. They immediately understood that, when the Cold War ended, political struggle would get even colder and cultivated an estranging, alienating distance.”

(from The Wire, number 285, nov, 2007)

HipHop being born in New York surely has something to do with its intense mix of cultures (and especially a Jamaican influence – that is after all where the battles, the DJ:s, the MC:s and the soundsystems were imported from). A comment on BLUNT RAPPS adds another important social aspect to our story of modern music (by way of a book by Tricia Rose):

“kids of that period and location were geared towards a manufacturing based economy, whereas they found themselves in what is called post industrialized society. So you get Herc being trained as an auto mechanic in vocational school messing around with his father’s system, Flash similarly schooled making his own cross fader, stuff like that. It’s easy to see that hands-on interest in fucking around with (often obsolete) technology linking to futurism and space rap and electro, currents which have apparently stayed in the ether ’til today. Also tempting to link it to PE’s soundscapes as a representation of a political landscape, or NWA’s as a geographical/political one, as in the same refusal to be left for dead in the ass-end of the system”.

This social angle is needed to balance Eshun’s powerful hybrid of musical myths and conceptual hubris. It’s up to us to expand upon these perspectives, and especially in praxis.

Dec 212009

It’s snowing like it’ll never stop here in Sweden. Eternal winter is coming. The mental ice-age is upon us.

I’ll make my escape in a month, though, so I’m good. But until then, we have to adapt our listening to the seasonal changes. Here’s some music that fits better with the snow falling.

Aril Brikha – Departure In Time, Ex Machina

You want some lush synthesizers to watch the snow falling by with your sweetheart, but not feeling quite ready for Wham? Then you need to go see Aril Brikha, maker of romantic, Detroit-influenced, immaculately arranged techno tracks… soft like freshly fallen snow, visionary like the North Star.

Claro Intelecto – Warehouse Sessions

The coldness of electro and the openness of minimal techno that goes into this album makes it perfect for frozen landscape with clear skies.

Pole – Steingarten

Music to plow snow to. They’ve thrown some grooves into this, and the sounds are clean, like a public washing machine. Experimental electronic music taken a bit beyond the glitches Pole started their career with.

Dopplereffekt – Calabi Yau Manifold

The perfect soundtrack for your polar expeditions, both for when pouring over complex scientific data and for boldly going where no man has gone before.


Freddie Gibbs – From Tha G (youtube)

They ride lowriders in Gary, Indiana, too – it just looks really cold with the top down. Freddie keeping it gully all seasons, literally speaking. Snow won’t stop him from stunting. (I’m guessing the obligatory party people hanging in the background are at home sipping on hot cocoa.)

Nov 292009

Kom techno strax efter? Eller var det mycket senare än när den första musiken gjordes?

Nä, det var samma som med punken. Det fanns en klick som var väldigt uppdaterad. När punken kom så var jag alldeles för ung. Jag var säkert helt efter. Men när techno började dyka upp märkte jag tydligt att folk hade koll. Det var helt samtida. Folk åkte till London för att köpa musik, och senare Berlin. Jag fick sparken från mitt lager i Jordbro våren 87 och hade ingen aning om vad jag skulle göra. Jag och en kompis luffade runt i Spanien. Han åkte hem efter två veckor men jag träffade några göteborgare och vi åkte upp och ner för solkusten och luffade runt. Så åkte vi över till Ibiza nån gång 87 och råkade av en slump hamna på ett strandparty med nåt embryo till den sortens musik och hörde talas om ett piller som hette “ecstasy” för första gången.

Då spelade dom house där?

Chicago-house och tidig acid och det där belgiska New Beat som var stort då, blandat med The Cure och New Model Army och postpunk och depprockgrejer. Det var en skön blandning. Nuförtiden görs det så mycket elektionisk musik att du kan köra en hel helg med en genre inom techno och aldrig höra samma låt två gånger. För att få ihop tre timmar var man tvungen att spela allt som påminde om det. Det var allt möjligt. Jag blev helt såld. Första gången när jag åkte hem fattade jag inte vad det var förrän långt efteråt. “Vi var på en jävligt konstig fest och hängde med några konstiga typer där som lyssnade på jättemärklig musik”. Jag tänkte inte så mycket mer på det. Sen skrevs det om det i tidningarna och dom hade försök att ha en liknande klubbverksamhet i Stockholm. Det var folk som hade stött på det när de var ute i världen. I London. Många hade varit på en klassisk språkresa i Brighton och kommit hem. Sen började jag åka till Ibiza på somrarna och hängde där. Happy Mondays och Stone Roses spelade live på klubbarna. Det var 88, 89, 90, 91.

Kom inget sånt här till Sverige?

Jo, det började dyka upp både svartklubbar i Stockholm och ett ställe som kallades Batclub. Det började bli mer genrer. Jag började hänga med göteborgarna jag hade träffat och flyttade ner dit och bodde där nästan hela 90-talet. Sen dess har jag varit intresserad av elektronisk musik. Jag började åka ner till Berlin i början av 90-talet också, när scenen började växa sig stor. Och blev helt såld på Berlin och den specifikt tyska musiken. Som ex. Basic Channel. Sen första gången jag hörde det.

Du spelar inte själv?

Jag har spelat ända sen dess och gör det fortfarande ibland. Det har alltid varit mindre tillställningar. Jag har haft några klubbar i Göteborg och Stockholm och spelat i en bar i Berlin t o m, men aldrig haft nån DJ-karriär att tala om. Jag har aldrig varit tillräckligt intresserad. Det har varit några få tillfällen i mitt liv där jag har köpt så pass mycket skivor som man måste köpa för att kunna spela med hedern i behåll.

Men du mixar lite nu. Är det bara på datorn?

Delvis. Jag har tolvhundror uppställda hemma med mixer. Ibland är det bara digitalt och ibland bara vinyl. Jag brukar ha terapisessions där jag mixar vinylfavoriter och spelar in avsnitt och klipper ut de delar jag gillar bäst på datorn.

Så du fuskar?

Det är klart. Ibland är det bara vinyl. Det brukar höras då det inte är lika tajt.

(Diskussionen glider in på ny musik och techno-festivaler och klubbar i Tyskland)

Nu har dom vakter i dörren på dom största ställena i Berlin, men när jag började åka dit var det bara två personer i entrén som tog betalt. Alla som ville fick komma in, det var inga VIP-köer; det var inga köer överhuvudtaget. Dom ville bara ha in folk så fort som möjligt: ett helt annat tänkande när det gäller såna saker.

När muren rasade så stack väldigt många människor från öst till väst. Friedrichhain och Mitte och Prenzlauer Berg blev helt plötsligt hyfsat tomma. Det var centrum innan de byggde muren kring Alexanderplatz. Där fanns hur mycket tomma lokaler som helst. Folk åkte dit och hyrde nåt gammalt elverk för tusen mark om året och startade klubb där. Många gjorde sig också ganska stora pengar eftersom tyska staten var glad att nån tog hand om husen för dom hade förfallit annars. Det var, och är fortfarande, en fantastiskt dynamisk plats. Det har gått tjugo år och det finns fortfarande gamla klubbar i gamla östtyska industriområden.

Och det finns fortfarande utrymmen.

Ja. Redan de första gångerna jag var där snackade de att, nästa år ska det vara som Frankfurt, svindyrt och bara massa banker. Så har det varit varje år jag varit där och det har fortfarande inte hänt. Några områden i Mitte kanske. Men det är fortfarande den bohemiska alternativstaden.

Varför var det så mycket om nån kravall på nåt Stockholmstorg i tidningen ATLAS? Jag fattade inte vad det handlade om riktigt.

Det var en mytomspunnen händelse i Stockholm. Det var inte som EU-toppmötet i Göteborg. Det var mindre stök än ett genomsnittligt Reclaim The Street. På den tiden var det ganska mycket skriverier om det. Anton som skrev artikeln hade varit med om det. Det var en mytomspunnen händelse som ingen hade skrivit om på det sättet. Många som var unga på den tiden tyckte det var kul att läsa om det. Med dagens mått mätt var det inget att snacka om. Det var ett krossat skyltfönster och en kundvagn som slängdes på en polisbil.

En annan fråga om ATLAS. Var Freddy Taikon bara påhittad?

Det fanns en förlaga vill jag minnas. Men det är påhittat. Det är antagligen jag eller Tarik som har varit Freddy. Vi gjorde massa telefonsamtal som inte kom med. Vi använde honom mycket för att bråka med journalister. Vi ringde till alla möjliga nyhetsredaktioner och sa, “Hej det är Freddy Taikon”, att vi ville jobba där eller att vi hade ett scoop. Jag hade för mig att det fanns en förlaga men sen tog vi över det själva. Till numret som inte kom ut så hade jag ett längre reportage om Statistiska Zigenarbyrån som Freddy hade startat, som använde statistik som alla andra; för att få fram sina åsikter och ståndpunkter. Han ljög med statistik så som ingen annan hade gjort förut.

Vad sa han?

Jag minns inte allt. Bl a att brott var lönsamt för samhället, att det var bra. Han hade många avancerade uträkningar om hur mycket säkerhetsbranschen omsatte, osv. Det var lite som den klassiska Marx-texten Brottets produktivitet i Freddy Taikon-tappning. Vi kände inte till den texten då.

Vi hade flera praktikanter. Det kan vara en av dom som skrev några av dom breven. Vi började göra TV-program med Big Fred som Freddy Taikon. Bl a var han på Jesús Alcalás rättegång och stod utanför och berättade att Jesus var hans pappa. Jag vet inte vart den filmsnutten har tagit vägen. Jag vet inte om det var Big Fred eller en kille som heter Goran som har varit med i Luka Moodyssons filmer. Nån av dom gick runt i en Högdalen Business School-t-shirt. Och när Jesus får sin dom så står han och hävdar att Jesus är hans pappa. “Va? Va? Har ni hört?! Den här killen…” Alla journalister flockades som gamar runt honom. Fantastiskt roligt.

Nov 052009

They say dub is about making space.

That is why it is music for the city, where space has always been missing.

It’s getting more difficult to find somewhere to live. Rents are going up. New spaces are needed.

Dub music, in one form or other, is necessary. This was the conclusion that came to me some years ago, riding the train through the center of Amsterdam with Lee Perry in the headphones. With time it has become clearer and clearer. The effects, echoes and repetitions fit this landscape perfectly. Here is also the need to meditate on the emptiness and the nothingness, which connects to our strong feelings for open spaces; rooftops, parking places, abandoned lots and closed down industrial areas.

Dub music is tradition. The visionary tradition. The tradition of community making, of a social movement. But a tradition needs growth to stay strong. It needs innovators.

Dub Music as expressed by artists such as Maurizio, Safety Scissors, Luke Hess, Christian Bloch, Vladislav Delay and Markus Fürstenberg seems to be designed specifically for the present urban situation to a high degree. Unlike the melancholic expressiveness of alternative rock, rap music’s dreams of private profits, and reggae music’s longing for a rural situation, it can bring a whole new light to a day of grey asphalt and grey buildings.

This music shows the world beyond the despair and dread of our times. It opens up space. For escape and resistance. For possiblities of community. For a coming generation. For the birth of new life.


Aug 112009


Minimal techno, click house, IDM – pretty much absent this year. The much anticipated skweee battle sort of ran out in the sand, with the majority of the audience leaving before their set was done. An anti-climax if anything. I guess they are better not live. Teatermaskinen represented quite nicely though with cheap food and drinks, tall tales of their new bauhaus, Johan Jönson reading from his latest book, and some industrial acts that I missed. I also missed Danish favorites Rumpistol and Kid Kishore / DJ Hvad, a damn shame. But what was really 2009?

8-bit beats. Role Model and especially Goto80, backed up by the intriguing VJ-wizardry of Raquel Meyers, knocked down all doors and the competition flat to the ground. They’re just getting better, and better. And more than a few happy amateurs could be seen on the camping area performing rituals of black magic with their gameboys.

Breakcore. Broken Note have learned his lessons from Kid Spatula’s epic track Hard Love, stretching them out and employing them for a set of maximum dancefloor action. The Teknoist was a nice surprise, too, and even had the good taste of dropping Bjork’s Joga over some modern electronic brutalism. DJ Producer convinced us that hardcore will never die, dropping riot techno beats while doing old school scratch routines on CD-players. Three pretty great shows. And around the camping area you could hear people blasting new strange hybrids of speedcore and jungle from their soundsystems. The hard music is back.


Acid. B12 won new fans (me included) with a traditionalist, transcendental, 303-based show. Another victory for knob-twiddling shamanism. And with Camp 303 organizing an official stage, there were no shortage of enthusiasts squeezing out the last drop of acid out of their beautiful analog equipment. The best music of the festival could often be found at that stage. But even with that crew becoming an official part of the festival, some of the most innovative and exciting performances could still be found on the camping area.


Jul 032009


Passed by at the FUSION FESTIVAL last week. You know, generally it takes some days to gather your thoughts after an exhausting experience such as this… many new impressions, new musical and personal acquaintances… let me start by saying, that this was probably the best festival I have ever been to.

Germans know how to organize. Excellent, cheap, all vegetarian food. Logistics that makes sure you can walk anywhere on the festival area in a few minutes – and art exhbitions, food stands, bars and light shows between the stages and DJ floors that make sure you are never bored when moving around. Free toilets everywhere. (If you wanna flush down your shit and wash your hands with soap, you can do that for half a Euro… which felt like a sweet deal in the dirt and sweat of the festival.) Free showers (OK, in the morning and around noon, the line was almost an hour long… but times flies when you are waiting in the sun with the grass and the trees around you… and you are talking to nice people who also enjoy the Basic Channel-techno heard from the nearby dancefloor).

The whole thing was like clockwork. But the thing I found most enjoyable about the whole deal was that the crass commercial spirit, haunting festivals all over the world, had been successfully supressed here. You can take your own drinks when you see the music. No company logos. You can take all the drugs you want to, as long you’re not an asshole about it. No fights. Very few hipsters with too much attitude. In general a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. And the whole four day festival costs only 55 euros, which, as an example, is about a fourth of the Roskilde festival.

Before going I was familiar with less than a handful of the names in the program. That did not matter, though. Walking around I could hear electronic music all around me at all hours of the day, most of it quality stuff. It is the place for you to discover new names.

The Argentinian Hijo de La Cumbia was very nice, taking a hardcore, junglist approach to Cumbia (a genre that is, as I understand it, to Peru, Bolivia and Northern Argentina what reggae is to Jamaica).

Extrawelt gave us some tight, analog techno that sounded very different (much better, fatter) than what I found with them on youtube. One of the highlights of the festival.


Marc Houle showed class, masterfully serving us hard after banging hard techno track in the very early morning.

Best of all, as well as an old favorite of us here at Brytburken, was the German dub techno wizard Marko Fürstenberg. He showed the way to a minimal future with a set finely balanced between rich dub bunker pads and sharp, edgy, digital techno rhytmhs. It was well worth to ascend to consciousness at 11 AM to see that. That he played on the outdoor floor pictured below did not make things worse.


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