Movement 2017 Recap

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Josh Wink on the Movement Main Stage

Photo credit: Peter Liu

Movement Electronic Music Festival’s 11th year kicked off to a start on a beautifully sunny day this past Memorial Day Weekend.

Ahead of the festival, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggen had officially declared the week of May 22nd-29th as ‘Detroit Techno Week’. This is the one exciting time of the year that people from all around the world come to celebrate and take part in Detroit’s culture as the birthplace of techno music. 

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Concert Review: Disclosure at Union Transfer (6/6/2014)

When A Fire Starts To Burn — Disclosure
When A Fire Starts To Burn — Disclosure

By Jonathan Plotkin

Wow okay so this is mad late but whatever. I saw Disclosure like a month ago and due to a combination of being super busy at work and super lazy when I’m not at work, it’s taken me this long to get this review out. I know you’ve been on the edge of your seats wondering how I enjoyed the Disclosure show at the Union Transfer last month and now you’re finally going to find out.

Full disclosure (pun fully intended because punz rool): I’m not “the biggest fan” of Disclosure. I’ve heard their album Settle, thought it was really cool, and then kind of forgot about it. I haven’t heard their early stuff, but I thought that album was dope and figured their show would be pretty fun. I honestly didn’t even plan on see them- I was supposed to see Kishi Bashi but then a fellow DJ at the station handed me a pair of free tickets to the thrice sold out show, so I couldn’t really say no. Not knowing what to expect, I finally rolled up some time after 9 PM, just in time for that awkward transition after the opener to the main act. I met up with my friend Chris (@CrispyChrisX) who proceeded to tell me all about house music until Disclosure got on. A good primer for the coming act, considering I missed Broadzilla since I got there late.

When Disclosure finally got to the stage, I didn’t really know what they had so many instruments set up. They had a drum kit, keyboards, bass guitar… I thought these guys were just DJs? Turns out one of the reasons their work sounds so rich and full is because they play real instruments! Of course, everyone reading this probably thinks I’m a total noob but WHATEVER man I think learning new things is great and I just wanted to share that excitement with you guys.

Anyway.

The crowd was super pumped, and since the show was super sold out, the Union Transfer was more packed than I’d ever seen it. Disclosure used that to their advantage though and got the jams pumping right away, forcing the close-packed crowd to dance with “F For You”, leading into “When A Fire Starts To Burn.” After that, they played some stuff that I didn’t recognize, but Chris told me was some of their old stuff updated with new twists (I later looked it up- I remember at least one of their old songs they played was “Flow” which sounds good on YouTube, but was incredible live). This whole time, the brothers are singing, playing live drums, and doodling around on the bass. If there’s anything I love in house music, it’s a good bassline and watching it being pulled live from an instrument is just too cool.

The duo moved back to more famous stuff from their album, which due to their excessive touring schedule was incredibly tight and well rehearsed. They kept it fresh though, adding all sorts of new elements to songs that undoubtedly were getting a little old for them. At one point, Chris turned to me and complained that he didn’t think they sounded “big enough” and that one of the drops should have gotten more of a reaction. Luckily, their next song was crowd favorite (or at least MY favorite) “Grab Her” and they had it turned up to 11 the whole time.

I especially liked how professional their light set up was. For two brothers who are barely old enough to drink at some of the shows that play in the USA, they had laser effects and projections rivaling well established bands like Chromeo and and Emancipator. The Disclosure mask made quite a few appearances, floating around the brothers’ heads and (somewhat creepily) singing along the last few tracks. From a projection display that reminded me of the video for Simian Mobile Disco song “Cerulean” to lighting the whole stage red during “When A Fire Starts To Burn”, the show was just as visually stimulating as could be (speaking of which, when they played “Stimulation” the crowd went wild with how pumped up the sound was).

Finishing the track “Help Me Lose My Mind” with plenty of audience help on the vocals, the brothers walked off stage. The crowd started chanting “Latch! Latch” and when Disclosure finally walked back on stage I thought the roof was going to fly off. Closing with a soul splitting rendition of “Latch” in which everyone sang (even me, despite only learning the lyrics after the first verse). It was a beautiful show and the vibes during it the whole time were just fantastic. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend taking the time to see Disclosure live if you get the chance. No matter if you’re feeling happy or sad, tryna dance or tryna chill, Disclosure put on one hell of a show.

Concert Review: Tycho @ Union Transfer (April 19, 2014)

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A good majority of the WKDU staff could be found at the Union Transfer last Saturday. The much anticipated return of Tycho, both in Philadelphia and in recording, led to a sold out show. Their latest album, Awake, has been a station favorite here, and for good reason. Mainman Scott Hansen’s project has evolved from solo to trio, whose recent live performances include a backing band. Beyond that, the synth-heavy music of Tycho is both tranquil and engaging. Each song will take you on a ride, changing vibes at every turn.

If we weren’t already excited for Tycho, a few weeks before the show it was announced that California natives Gardens and Villa would be the opener. I’ve been told by many that their live show is incredible, and after avidly listening to their two albums (Dunes, was most recently released in February) I was already interested in seeing them live.

We were able to get right to the front with no problem during Gardens and Villa’s set which was awesome because we were right in the midst of the band’s high energy set. The lead singer Chris Lynch’s numerous flute solos combined the poppy sounds of the synths with tribal influences.

            Black Hills and Orange Blossom form their first release were personal favorites of mine. They also played a lot of songs from their latest, Dunes. The moody purple lighting on the stage was an excellent touch as well. They ended their set with lots of applause, and they expressed their gratitude to the crowd.

            Tycho came on soon after, in which time the audience was chanting in excitement. Hansen got on the mic to explain that they were fixing some technical difficulties on stage. After fixing the problems, the show started with a bang. If you are not familiar, Scott Hansen is also a very well known graphic artist and it would be no surprise if he had something to do with the projected visuals. Serene settings of beaches and minimalist designs coincided with each song. The title track from Awake kicked things off. They also played a lot of songs from 2011’s Dive release as well. What I found most appealing was the live drums, which gave each song a different feel, something not heard in their recorded works. The entire set was mesmerizing and I don’t think anyone wanted it to end. Being right there by the band was also an amazing experience.

            For the encore, they played the two songs everyone was waiting to hear: A Walk and Montana before giving a hearty thanks to Philadelphia for being such a great audience.

Be sure to check out Gardens and Villa’s Dunes as well as Tycho’s Awake, both out now!

http://www.gardensandvilla.com/

http://tychomusic.com/awake/

Back to the Retro-Future: How the Sounds of Last Century Are Making the Music of a New Millennium

By: Jonathan Plotkin

You slowly drive your Pontiac Grand Am along the darkened alleys of the underbelly of a diseased city, where neon signs shine permanently half lit through the neverending rain. Or maybe you’re cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway in your Ferrari Testarossa Spider, roof down, wind in your hair, shades on even though it’s midnight. Or perhaps you just broke into the mainframe of MegaCORP’s servers and now are currently whizzing your way down the electronic super highway with their top secret files in your grasp. Whatever you find yourself doing right now, the soundtrack to your various exploits all sounds surprisingly familiar and yet new at the same time.

Retro-futuristic music, as I like to call it, is music that sounds like it was written in the 80s but somehow reaches into the future with its sound. It conjures a similar aesthetic to cyperpunk fiction, envisioning a neon-soaked synthesizer-addled future that in some alternate timeline is occurring at this very moment. My first experience with the sound was probably the movie Tron: Legacy, but it wasn’t until a few years later when I saw Drive did I really understand there was more than one artist making music like this. Who would have thought that there was a whole subgenre of people making purely electronic music that emphasized synthesizers as their main body of work, instead of using them just for effects?

What makes retro-future music so unique in my mind is how well it inspires various emotions without any lyrics or even standard song structure. While of course those are never required to make a great track, I find it rather impressive how tracks like “Retrogenesis” by Perturbator or “Hydrogen” by M|O|O|N never fail to make me think I’ve been transported to a decaying city to perform horribly violent crime of some form or another. The pulsing basslines and dark, moody synths conjure up entire cityscapes in my mind that could easily have acted as backgrounds for Blade Runner. Conversely, artists like Kavinsky and Starcadian have a lighter mood in their work. The former’s “Nightcall” (i.e. that song from Drive) and the latter’s album Sunset Blood have a slower beat and generally feel less claustrophobic. They make me want to slow down and take in the sights around me, instead of speeding through the grime to get out of town. Meanwhile, other artists strive for expansive sound. Vangelis’ score for Blade Runner could be argued to have kick-started this entire genre, while Pilotpriest’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack instantly transports the listener to a world light years away from ours, with wide open galaxies where starships zip across the skies and attacks ship burn off the shoulder of Orion.

Of course you can’t classify a huge genre of music like this into 3 groups, despite the vast amount of evidence that supports the validity of the rule of three in writing. Artists like Com Truise make music that sounds more like it belongs in a late 80s or early 90s film about computer hackers where no one really understood how computers worked (like the original Tron or Hackers if the latter didn’t have so much drum and’ bass). Then there’s bands like Kraftwerk, where you wonder if they count as retro-future since it wasn’t retro when they wrote their stuff but they sure sounded like the future. And of course there are composers for indie video game soundtracks, who more and more frequently will post the entire soundtrack on the internet for at home listening. These artists sometimes combine a multitude of genres, from downtempo, to synth, to chiptune to create tracks that in one way, each tell a small part of a larger story.

But now we’re splitting hairs, so who cares? The important thing is that even in this age of easy technology, where everyone who has an internet connection can become a musician, there is still really unique and intriguing stuff out there. Why not pursue sounds of the past to create the music of the future? Retro-futuristic music might inspire you to write the next great cyberpunk novel or just put on a pair of headphones and enjoy the ride. Either way, the sounds are out there, for you to do with them what you will.

Looking to start listening to this genre but are struggling for a good jumping off point? The soundtrack to Drive, though largely an original work composed by Cliff Martinez, has some wonderful tracks by Kavinsky, Chromatics, and more. The Hotline Miami soundtrack is over 90 minutes of pulsing songs by Sun Araw, Jasper Byrne, and many other equally talented artists. Additionally, be sure to tune into Midnight Drive, Tuesdays from midnight to 1 AM with Peter Liu on WKDU 91.7 FM for the best 80s inspired synths, the perfect way to enhance your late-night driving experience.

For a wider range of electronic music, check out Jonathan’s personal show, Dr. Plotkin’s Majikal Love X-Perience, Wednesday nights from 10 PM to midnight on WKDU and be sure to follow him on Twitter @doctorplotkin for more musings about music.

Crispy Chris’s Top 10 Electronic Chart

By Chris Burrell

Guys, I’ve never done a chart before, so consider this my chart cherry! These are 10 tracks that have frequently found their way into my recent mixes and general listening. Some of these tracks are built squarely for the club, some are more for headphones, some are new, and some have been out there a while, but all are good. No particular order.

Canblaster – I Think About U (Marble)

A flat out just good song – I wish it were longer! Brodinski said it was his favorite song of 2013. The song opens up with a looping, “I don’t know what I was thinking about most of the time…” while a heavenly beat builds. Can you guess what they were thinking about?

Jamie Lidell – You Naked (Crackboy Remix) (Warp)

I picked up this track from a pink 12” of remixes at Princeton Record Exchange and was hype to see that the seldom releasing Crackboy was one of the remixers on it. The elusive French producer tweaks Lidell’s amazing voice around one hook, and builds a monstrous swinging beat for a slamming good time. What’s even cooler is that I can’t find this track anywhere digitally (this video has like 500 views) – viva vinyl.

Moderat – Bad Kingdom (Head High Remix) (50Weapons)

I had no clue who Head High is (later figured out that it’s one of the many aliases of German producer Shed), but I trust Modeselektor & their 50Weapons imprint, so no surprise that this is a damn good remix. The vocals haunt throughout the chugging drum-heavy track: “This is not what you wanted, nor what you had in mind…”

Four Tet – Buchla (Text)

I love the new Four Tet album, and this is definitely a standout track from it for me. The beat is super raw and bumps, but then it gets all soft and melodic before going back in. Four Tet’s always been the king of samples and interesting music; this one makes me dance more than chin scratch.

Paul Johnson – Let Me See You Butterfly (DJ Deeon Remix) (Mr Kim’s Records)

I’ve definitely fallen victim to the recent resurgence in legendary Chicago house label Dance Mania (a retrospective compilation on the label just came out), and that victimization led me to this amazing track. Take everything that’s great about ghetto house: fast paced beating drums and bass, dirty vocals, raw energy, and then add in a super melodic beat flip, and BOOM – you have this track. DJ Deeon definitely shows his depth as a producer on this remix, I play it both faster and slower in mixes – really whenever I can.

Duck Sauce – Party In Me (Fool’s Gold)

Duck Sauce’s funky, fresh, and simple songs tend to come out as the weather gets warm, and give me all kinds of reasons to smile. This track was released for free as part of the duo’s “Duck Droppings” EP, preceding their first album “Quack”, out on April 15th. All of the tracks are great, and lean wonderfully on samples (look them up), but this track is so damn catchy, and I find myself playing it on loop all the time.

Sammy Bananas – Flexin (Fool’s Gold)

Once you listen to this track, the cover for this very solid EP (Mr. Flex: a banana with a mustache, sunglasses, and biceps) makes total sense. Long time label affiliate Sammy Bananas melds dance-y futuristic and vintage sounds for a party starting results. This track hits with just the right amount of horns, blips, and sleaze.

Jessie Rose – Love the Feeling High (feat. Ed Weathers) (Play It Down)

A great recent example of using speeches/dialogue/spoken word over a house beat. The beat is funky and simple, and then a male storyteller is added over top, hilariously recounting a crazy trip at a warehouse party with “kids that are way more turnt up than me.” Play It Down, the label Jessie Rose runs, has had a string of great releases, and his new album “The Whole Twelve Inches” (which this track is a part of) and all of its remixes, definitely should continue the label’s strong momentum well into 2014.

Aden – Whip (Jimmy Edgar Remix) (Ultramajic)

I was in a hotel room in India listening to Claude VonStroke’s Essential Mix, and he started his mix off with this track. I had only heard the original up until that point (which is a bomb), and I could have picked almost any of the tracks from the young Ultramajic label for this list, but this remix from label boss Jimmy Edgar is particularly doing it for me and has a poignant memory attached to it. Edgar has been on fire lately, turning everything he touches into drummed out techno bliss; I definitely look forward to more from him and his label this year.

Jeremih – F U All The Time (Akito’s Clap Trap Ice Rink Bootleg) (Bootleg)

I love the original of this song, but was looking for just the right remix of it to use in mixes. A little SoundCloud digging later, I came across this free download, whose genre is listed as “Porn Groove”. The original of this is super hypnotic and weird, and this bootleg cleverly blends the instrumental of UK Grime artist Wiley’s “Ice Rink”, making it more of a DJ tool, and still keeping the weird of the original.

 

Peep some of these tracks on the Halfway House, Thursdays 10pm-12, and tweet @ me, bro @CrispyChrisX