Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cristian Vogel interview

"There've been a whole lot of seismic changes... I caught the tail-end of a functioning music industry; perhaps dance music was the last real indie bloom. From 1996 onwards, it seems to have been a slow-motion implosion for the music business. I would never encourage anyone these days to get involved in it."

So warned Chilean-born British producer Cristian Vogel in an interview we did yesterday - you can check out more at Fun in the Murky, one of the other (far cooler) blogs I scrawl stuff for.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Little Bergen, Shimokitazawa

We spent the afternoon today at Shimokitazawa, in Setagaya - one stop by express from Shibuya. I actually hadn't been for about 5 years, and little did I know the terror awaiting us.

Anyone who might actually bother to read this inane, rambling beastie of a blog might recall the discovery of my namesake beer, Bergen Brau, in a Kamakura cemetery. I'm not counting on any recollection since I doubt even one person deigns to waste time here, except by accident.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the terror. Actually, it was more suprise. This time we found a bar in Shimokitazawa, and its name?

Little Bergen.

Ye gods.

Other than that, the area is as bustling as ever and it's down the smaller alleyways that you find the real cool stuff like hidden Inari shrines and old wooden dwellings that haven't yet been demolished. I forgot how much I dig the place.

Oh yeah, and address for Little Bergen is: 東京都世田谷区北沢2-9-17 「Little Bergen」 070-5581-7581

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kawasaki tyre monster playground

If anybody actually bothers to read this crap blog, or at least browse through the headers and flick through the pictures - or if you happen to be "lucky" enough to know me personally - you'd be fully aware that I'm right into the old Toho and Daiei Gamera and Godzilla flicks, along with Mothra, King Ghidorah, and their massive kaiju playmates.

When I was a wee tacker, too, living in Gardiner in Melbourne, my dad made tyre swings for us that were as fun as they were death-defying.

So, this playground always was going to be my cup of tea.

We first stumbled across it about 5 years ago, on our way home (to Kamata) from a fireworks festival (hanabi) on the Tamagawa, and having enjoyed a few Asahis, so the monsters in the dark looked somewhat more impressive.

I hadn't been back since, and took my daughter Cocoa along today in 36 degree heat that threatened to melt the rubber, and I think we both suffered serious dehydration out there. We loved it, of course.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dead Channel: new free muzak, 6 LPs' worth

I think I've already raved on about how much I love the Dead Channel crew over in Leeds in the UK.

Not only do they deign to find my own hack muzak worthy enough to release, but my label-mates are fantastic musos like Chris Kubex, Ant Orange, Noisepsalm, Micoland, Naffdogg and Dave Blakemore.

And they release all our stuff for FREE. Yep, no charge. Chargeless. Complimentary. Gratis. For nothing. Tada.

However you wanna say it, no $$ changes hands.

And they have 6 brand new LPs online, free to download, as of today.

Go north, young man (or girl), by hitting HERE.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Funk Gadget - Patrick Pulsinger remix

This one's out today - with big thanks to Patrick Pulsinger and the people at Sydney's Hypnotic Room Special Edition imprint.

Patrick harks from Austria, and being Australian myself, I always had a special affinity for the breed since we're continually mistaken for one another when we travel overseas, despite the variant native language and wildly different lengths of history. Besides, one of my favorite films is The Third Man, shot in late '40s Vienna.

My own interest in Patrick Pulsinger, however, has different origins.

From 1994 I had a radio show on community station 3PBS FM in Melbourne. It was called 'Cyberdada', and it was my other baby aside from my record label IF?, and in 1995 the most-played record on the show - amidst awesome 12-inches and tapes of stuff from Relief, Axis, Tresor, Trope, Sativae, Mosquito, Ninja Tune, Force Inc. (and IF?) - was actually a double-CD from Austrian label, Cheap Records.

The title? 90 Minutes in the Eyes of iO. It was produced by label bosses Patrick Pulsinger and Erdem Tunakan, with mates.

The release quite literally decked me, and Pulsinger has continued on as a mainstay influence in my own musical reference palette ever since, via the Austrian producer's own output (on labels like Disko B, Compost, Studio !K7, R&S, and International DJ Gigolo), as well as some of his brilliant remixes of people like DJ Hell, Chicks On Speed, Tosca, Tanzmusik and Ken Ishii. He certainly seems to have an eerie knack for a shnazzy remix.

Which brings us up-to-scratch - and my own somewhat cantankerous Funk Gadget project persona.

There's a Funk Gadget track I recently did called 'Blah Blah', which owes a great deal to the inimitable Paul Birken, and when it came to choosing a remixer for the track, Pulsinger's name was at the very top of the list.

Why? Because the man continues to do my head in, in completely cool Pulsingerian ways, a decade and a half after I first heard his mischief.

"I had a good feeling about the track and an instant idea for a remix," he says now, after having finished off the grand master challenge (it was released yesterday through Hypnotic Room Special Edition on July 10).

"Since the original has a good, funky rhythm track, I tried to keep that and give it a more four-to-the-floor approach. The klonky stuff is all cut-up from the original; I just added a Juno and a Moog Bass, and here you are. I was aiming at people who go out to clubs, listen, dance, enjoy a big bass, a drink, a smoke, nice company, are nice to animals, love peace - that sort of thing!"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Si BEGG gives muzak away (fer free)

Why are you giving away your tracks for free?

"Seemed like a good idea at the time..."

Is that it?

"If you really want to know I don't actually sell that many records anymore... but look, don’t tell anyone..."


"Well I guess at best I shift around 700 vinyl and a few hundred downloads. Which is all good of course. But it's a big old effort to get a release out... you have to be really quite organised and together."

Doesn't the record company deal with all that boring stuff?

"It would do.... if I had a record deal."


"Anyways my point is, I thought why not bypass all the traditional record company crap and just make the tracks available for free .. bang... done. To me that's exciting. Whereas spending loads of time and effort persuading the world to buy my stuff when they can probably get it for free or are not sure if they actually like it that much... isn't."


Thus points out a remarkably frank hero of mine, Mr. Simon Begg, in a Q+A I'm pretty certain he dreamed up himself, and I loved the flip nature of it (and pinpoint accuracy), so decided to plagiarize it and add it into this farcical blog (above). Oh, but I asked him first, and he said OK, which I guess renders it authorized plagiarism. If that exists. You can read more of the Q+A here.

Why exactly am I reprinting this, however? Well, as of September 1st 2009, Si Begg is giving away his new 4 Track EP, '24-Bit Error Collection'.

"Yes, that's right, free," he says on his new download site right HERE.

"All tracks are yours to download and distribute as you see fit. You can copy them, burn them on a CD, blog them, host them yourself, give them to your mum, whatever you want. Music in the public domain. Or put another way: Make. Upload. Share. Inspire. Crisps."

There's more I love to read here; the guy just gets better with age, like a fine wine that's been cellared at the right temperature - without ever being a bland drop.

"Major labels and the bodies that represent them, such as the BPI in the UK and the RIAA in the USA would have us believe that sharing music is destroying music and the musicians that create it. We contend that the truth is, this cartel of major record companies, distributors and publishers have been systematically fucking musicians and the people that love and buy music for about 50 years. Creating, amongst other things, huge profits for shareholders, a rigorous, brutally industrialised method of music production, Hannah Montana and an inherently average, uninspiring, mainstream music scene. This traditional industry model is so close to death that we dare not entertain it here. Instead we leave it up to you to help determine how far this E.P. travels."

Amen, Si. You rock. September 1st, people. Download and enjoy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Luke Vibert 2003

OK, so here's another one from the back of the fridge, in the days before I lost my Mac hard-drive, with about 100 unfinished tracks and dozens of interviews, in 2004.

Luckily backed-up (very much unlike me!), this interview was done in October 2003, on the eve of Luke Vibert's tour of Japan and Australia - via a dodgy phone connection from a telephone box next to rowdy Shin-Koiwa station in Tokyo, through to his possibly more comfy abode in London.

At the time I had no groundline in my apartment, so all my interviews here in Tokyo were done from ratty phone boxes.

Let it be said, here and now, that I am a huge fan of Vibert's, ever since Throbbing Pouch in 1994 on Rising High, and the Redone EP the following year.

And in truth he has a hell of a lot more to answer for. It was under the alias of Wagon Christ (along with other equally vital monikers like Plug, Vibert & Simmons, and later his own name) that Vibert helped to redefine the rules of electronic music in the UK in the early to mid '90s - alongside a bunch of mates that included Richard D. James (a.k.a. Aphex Twin), Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher), Mike Paradinas (µ-Ziq), Chris Jeffs (Cylob), and the label Rephlex.

Together they assimilated such diverse elements as hip hop beats and drum & bass into the more eccentric take on electronica they produced, and kick-started a virtual insurrection in sound around the world.