Wednesday, November 24, 2004

On CNN, a young girl, 9 or 10, interviewed about being at the big basketball game with the big fight, described her friends’ reaction to her tale as “shock and awe”--a moment I hope caused anyone who saw it to look in the mirror a little longer than usual after brushing.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

After the train from below made it to Germany, after two days in Munich during which I drank beer (those who know me will know this is no small feat), we went to Berlin. In short, Berlin was even more of a dreamland than I'd imagined it would be. Many of the buildings are spacey, not least among them the solar-powered Reichstag...

...and the Chancellory building (step off, White House) and the TV Tower, shown here in the distance behind an East German monument screen-printed with images of toiling workers and, of course, the first Soviet astronaut.

More buildings:

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Berlin has nature, too...

But back to buildings, in particular Palast Der Republik. Former home to the East German parliament, the Palast is a modern structure gutted and gone to waste. Hulking and rectilinear, its copper skin has grown corroded in the spots not covered by water-damaged plywood. By day, it looks like this...

At night, on occasion, Berliners throw parties inside. (They've also recently built an indoor frisbee-golf course and a water installation for a fleet of rowboats, according to a bike-tour guide who I'm almost entirely sure wasn't kidding.) When I was there, a venue called WMF took up weekend residence, turning it into a dance club.

Upon entering, the DJ was playing Luciano's "Mr. Chancleta," about as good an entrance track as I could hope for. (That, of course, is one of the things about Berlin: You go out, you hear good music. It's kind of surreal to be hanging out in a neighborhood bar and hear Kompakt, Perlon, Playhouse as almost foregone conclusions.) The main entrance of the Palast was outfitted with a makeshift circular bar, situated below a few stray chandeliers and between banks of decommissioned escalators heading nowhere no longer.

Around a corner from there was the dance-floor area, a big open space in which people had already been freaking before the headliner:

That is Luomo. He played the best set I've seen of his by far: typically fractured and sensual, but banging in a way that brought him closer to Chicago than I would've expected he'd go. At one point, he started toying with Green Velvet's "La La Land," priming the jack beats while dicing up the vocals: "Something about those little pills, unreal, the thrills they yield, until they kill, a million brain cells." He flash-froze that last part, locking it in a manic loop that repeated until the sibilance of "cells" itself sounded cellular. Here's what the scene, a thousand or so people all losing it between walls covered with video projections, looked like:

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Just a night out in Berlin.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Here's my Washington Post piece on Lil Jon's new album Crunk Juice.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Superpitcher was monstrously awesome in New York last Thursday. I’d not figured him for such a DJ after seeing one good but not especially distinctive set and hearing little of his deck rep prior, but wooeee! Last time here he was pretty tracky and minimal, but this time he hit it hard, getting that hair down in his eyes and making people dance. After an hour or so of syncopated techno, there was a long stretch of stomping schaffel stuff, really noisy and hard and immersive—what Geeta nailed as "Transylvanian disco." I wish I knew/remembered more of what he was playing at that point—Blackstrobe’s “The Abwehr Disco” was one he got especially crazy with—but toward the end he mailed out a hot Kompakt love letter by way of a few biggies: Michael Mayer’s lick of “Happiness” into the DJ Koze remix of Reinhard Voigt (my favorite track on Komapkt 100, as it were) into a weird remix of his own “Baby’s On Fire” Eno cover…this one was reduced to nothing but the bassline, Superpitcher’s sexy vocals, and a few distant handclaps…which locked into the tick-tock tack of “Timecode” to great effect. All of this sounded grand played loud at Ikon, a good space I hope plays home to more stuff of the like.

And, you know, as an aside to those out there who claim that New York sucks…you’re wrong. After getting back from Berlin (pics of which soon when I figure out how) I decided to pretend, as a thought experiment if nothing else, that NYC shouldn’t be embarrassed in comparison. It’s worked. Last week alone saw Derek Plaslaiko, Mike Servito, James T. Cotton, and Matthew Dear; Superpitcher and Ada; and a small but on-it crew at a fun We Are Robots party at Café Deville. The crowds aren’t huge and the venues aren’t ideal, but this music is alive and happening here. Quit bitching and listen!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

And so Maggie went screaming into a field of hi-hats, gravity transposed, heels written out of the equation. Her eye couldn’t help but twitch. Below her a bassline responded in a different slice of time. “You get what you get.” Outside the bridge she’d crossed wiggled, its suspension twisting free. Sensation fanned all around. She knew it wasn’t hers to have; the contract she’d signed was binding but not to a name. “You are who you are, whenever.” The idea of minutes struck her as slapstick. Foibles held close their charms. The idea of ideas… She checked in on her fellow patients, saw their gowns lift above their knees. The light was phosphorescent, glorious, embarrassing. Surely there was a word to express embarrassment as a sort of proud unworthiness, an acknowledgment of smallness itself as high as aspirations could ever hope to scale. Tsk-tsk-tsk-tsk. She shook off aural dust. “Wipe that dirt off your shoulder,” was how they’d said it in a different time. Maggie and her hand reacquainted. The steel around her shone. It was time for another breeze. She sipped at liquid, one vessel to another—Plato’s playthings trading duties. She’d underappreciated times like these in that different time, not appreciated them at all. It was a new moment for memes to stand up and be counted. “None of this is unreal!” The DJ floated between records, weaving at a loom. From the corner of her eye he spun a thread. It circled, surrounded, cinched…

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Here is a picture of techno I took on a train from Switzerland to Germany.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

If you happen upon this from another country, I'm really sorry. A lot of us are. Not enough, but a lot.

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