Gucci Soundsystem

28 09 2007

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 Gucci Soundsytem might be known to a lot of you as the guys that brought you the awesome remix of Tiefschwarz’s “Wait and See”.  This joint, “Acarpenter”, is a bit different.  Let’s call it minimal disco.  This record sounds like Moroder teamed up with (insert something stupid here) and made a record in this modern day and age. 

“Acarpenter” came out on “Bugged Out” in 2006, but James Murphy, of DFA and LCD Soundsystem fame, loved it so much he picked it up.  As a bonus, the new Joakim remix is included.  If you thought the original was dated from the start (in a good way), then wait until you hear this one.

 MP3:”Acarpenter” – Gucci Soundsystem

MP3:”Acarpenter (Joakim Remix)” – Gucci Soundsystem

Buy the “Acarpenter” at Pure Groove.

Johnatron





Disco Sunday #6: Sparks’ Moroder Phase

29 08 2007

Sparks

My man Disaster from Missingtoof knows *everything* about our disco planet, so I was shocked, SHOCKED to learn that he hadn’t heard of Ron and Russel Mael, aka Sparks. So this post is for him!

The bros. Mael formed their first band, Halfnelson, in 1968, and were discovered by Todd Rundgren. Their first record, produced by Rundgren, did poorly, but after renaming themselves Sparks (as a nod to the Marx brothers), tweaking their sound and touring the UK they began to blow up in the burgeoning glam scene. After placing an ad in Melody Maker which read: “Wanted bass player for Sparks. Must be beard free and exciting”, the band released the album “Kimono My House.” The album spawned their first big UK single, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”, and has been covered by bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees as well as The Darkness. It’s not terribly disco but it’s definitely bizarro, and worth a listen to help get yer musical edumacation straight:

MP3: Sparks – “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”

America continued to ignore Sparks, while their popularity in the UK continued to grow. This was in no small part based on their appearance on shows like “Old Grey Whistle Test”, in which viewers learned that the band’s bizarro pop melodies were being made by this guy:

RonSparks

Ron plays it totally stone faced, cold and creepy, in sharp contrast to the bouncy hooks and Freddy-esque falsettos of vocalist Russell. And then there’s the Chaplin…ok, fine: Hitler mustache (I’m pretty sure they’re Jewish, so it’s, you know, OK). The overall effect is fantastically off-putting, in that “are they kidding? Of course they are! I think!” kinda way. And it makes for pretty compelling TV, as you can see in this clip from Top of The Pops for their song “The Number One Song in Heaven” from their 1979 album of that name produced by Giorgio Moroder:

MP3: Sparks – “The Number One Song in Heaven”

Here’s a second song from that same Moroder-produced album, which is my favorite and certainly the most relevant to Disco Sunday. The track is called “Beat the Clock”, and is probably their most enduring dancefloor track. I even saw it on a Sasha comp around ’99 (so sue me, I have a Sasha comp!)

MP3: Sparks – “Beat The Clock (Remix)”

Sparks

Sparks finally made a splash in the U.S. in 1983 with a new, uber-synthpoppy sound. Their album “Sparks in Outer Space” featured a hit single, “Cool Places”, that featuring the Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlin on vocals. The whole album is infectious, in a simplistic, minimal kinda way, with the as-always-characteristic sardonic lyrics. I love this track for many things, not the least of which is the line “Think of all the places/we’ve had our little fun/In the church at Christmas/Busted by that nun.”

MP3: Sparks – “All You Ever Think About is Sex”

xx,
Baron von Luxxury

MP3: Sparks – “The Number One Song in Heaven”
MP3: Sparks – “Beat The Clock (Remix)”
MP3: Sparks – “All You Ever Think About is Sex”
MP3: Sparks – “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”

Buy Sparks on Amazon
Sparks Webby Web
Sparks Fan Site

Sparks

P.S. Rumor has it that Disaster is taking his DJ gear outta the closet and back from R. Kelly for a big gig in SF on Friday…check Missingtoof dot commmm for deets!





Luxxury Remix Album Parties: Tonight and Tomorrow!

25 05 2007

So as not to sound overly self-hype-y, the following is lifted directly from (and with the kind permission of) the fantastic Disaster from Missing Toof:

“This weekend it’s going down! San Francisco based ‘lectro rockers Luxxury have finally unleashed their long awaited ‘Sweet and Vicious, The Remixes’ CD (cover art work by me!). There will be two back to back record release parties starting this Friday.

First up, Friday, Lights Down Low vs Luxxury. Featuring live performances by Baron Von Luxxury & Johnatron of The Workout joined by the likes of Canada’s ‘All Night Dance Party‘. Special guest DJ Devin Dirt all the way from Brooklyn & of course resident dancefloor destroyer Sleazemore on the ones and two’s.

Michaela your fave door girl taking your money & your hearts. Photos by Vaindeer.

Then this Saturday in the South Bay, record release party #2 presented by Missingtoof! This rowdy bunch invades San Jose’s Johnny V’s for another night of disco debauchery. Live performances by Luxxury (Disco Version), ANDP & Devin Dirt. This time DJ Barbeau of Dirty Sanchez and Missingtoof’s own DJ Basura are holding it down on the decks. Photos will be taken by Chromesick.

Luxxury’s new CD ‘Sweet & Vicious, The Remixes’ is out now on itunes. If you haven’t caught their song ‘Drunk’ in the Pontiac/Transformers commercial peep the beats below. These tracks are guaranteed to totally mess up your parents car stereo speakers.

MP3: Luxxury – Drunk (Toulouse Fight Club remix)

MP3: Luxxury – Sweet and Vicious (All Night Dance Party’s More Vicious Than Sweet remix)

MP3: Luxxury – Rock and Roll Is Evil (Devin Dirt’s Fat Elvis remix)





“No, I’m Not Nick Frickin’ Rhodes”: David Sylvian + Japan

2 04 2007


Image from the-raft.com

In their late teens, David Batt and his brother Steve stole some eyeliner from Bowie’s dressing room, some new last names from the New York Dolls, and sounds from both to create Japan. In a dyslexic homage to guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, Dave took up singing and became David Sylvian, while Steve dropped a few letters from “Johansen” to become Steve Jansen. Synthesizing the look and sound of glam rock with a touch of the emerging disco sound, Japan was soon signed to Hansa and released Adolescent Sex in 1978. While a minor hit in Japan, of all places, their look and sound were staggeringly out of touch with the post-punk times in the UK, where they were largely ignored. After an equally spotty 2nd album, in 1980 they hit upon the idea of incorporating elements of the emerging Moroder Euro disco sounds, all shimmering synths and backbeat, into pop songs performed in a rock band setting. This time their timing was perfect, and Quiet Life is one of the first classics of the post-Bowie New Romantic era.

MP3: “Quiet Life (Extended Version) – Japan
Buy it on Amazon


Japan, “Life In Tokyo” (Youtube clip)

Having jettisoned most of the sonic aspects of glam for this Japan 2.0, the band’s only real remaining debt to that movement was sartorial. But while continuing down the trail blazed by Eno and Bolan, Sylvian took androgyny to a new place by dialing it back and making it less cartoonlike, and thus more accessible. Ziggy was outrageous, alien and somewhat threatening to the masses. But Sylvian cloaked his gorgeous, pancaked visage with the suave, sophisticated suit – and vocal stylings – of the aggressively hetero Bryan Ferry. Amazingly, this “gay but straight” look became pretty mainstream, and indeed still encapsulates what it means to be “totally 80’s.”

Dave
(Left: David. Right: Nick. Or is it vice versa?)

Just as their sound was taking hold, Japan took an abrupt left turn and started to take more and more out of the music. By their last hit “Ghosts” all that was remained was a droning synth and a vocal. Abandoning Japan at the height of its glory, Sylvian left to pursue a solo career further in that minimalist direction. In the mean time, Nick Rhodes copped Japan’s 16th note sequencers and mascara brushes wholesale and brought the whole package to a level of unprecedented global domination.

MP3: “Girls on Film (Night Version) – Duran Duran
Buy it on Amazon

While Duran Duran’s debt to Japan is undeniable (and to a degree embarrassing: Nick, dude, don’t you even want to *try* and hide your influences?), somehow it seems like an appropriate passing of the baton, from one gazza ladra to another.

Nightporter – Japan fan site
Japan on Wikipedia
Watch more Japan videos





Random Fridays

2 03 2007

Some odds n’ ends.

1. Finally got a chance to upload some pix from last week’s debut of “The Workout” dance party! Stay tuned for info about our next event.

Hott Chixx.

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Pozi B in the Place 2 B.

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Cupcakes: not just a cheap marketing gimmick.

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Johnatron and Audrock. Note the cupcake tray.

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J-tron is in charge.

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Mo’ ladies. Aww yeah.

I don’t have any pictures of me (BvL) since I took the above, so here’s a few from last night’s “Wall Street” at at Arrow Bar:

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Master of the decks Sleazmore gives BvL some useful tips.

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Je DJ. Donc je suis.

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Audrock + Seraphim Delush + BvL = BFF!

Thanks again to Harlan and the Arrow crue, I had a blast!

2. Shoutouts

Chris Walker Versus is a great blog featuring an eclectic mix of interviews, mp3s and videos from great indie, electro, and indie-electro bands. Afraid to leave The Workout blog and go elsewhere? Fear not, I will help transition you by pointing you directly to an
interview with moi at Chris Walker Versus.

Furthermore, if you’re not checking out electro/indie genius blog Missing Toof daily, you’re probably some kind of jerk. Disaster spins up a note-perfect taste of the Zeitgeist, complete with fantastic design and commentary. Seriously, go read it, RSS-it, whatever it takes.

3. De La Muzique

Boston’s Freezepop are one of the most massive bands on the underground synthpop scene. Along with Ladytron and Miss Kittin and the Hacker they were one of the first groups to reach back to the forgotten sounds of the 80’s and added something (Ultra Fancy) fresh in the process. They were just signed (finally!) to Warner’s new Cordless label and you can see them live in SF at the Elbo Room on Wednesday March 7. I will also be DJing that night at the show. Here’s my favorite piece of electro candy from these sweet kids:

MP3: “Bike Thief (Kryptonite Remix)” – Freezepop
Buy it on Amazon.

4. Bonus: This is song that changed my musical life:

MP3: “The Chase” – Giorgio Moroder
Buy it on Amazon.

With all due respect to Kraftwerk, Moroder is my personal disco hero and Godfather. I’ve been trying to get an interview with him for my next contribution to The Believer, but man is he a hard dude to track down. He wouldn’t be the first of my idols to mysteriously disappear after making a huge cultural noise.

Anyway I think I heard this song on TV as a bumper for the 1980 Olympics. It stuck in my head for years and years before I discovered what it was (a song from Moroder’s soundtrack to the movie Midnight Express). All these years later that throbbing, sexy electronic pulse is still sonic itch that I need to scratch pretty often. Which is my rather hung over way of saying that I never grow tired of this song.

Trendy production comes and goes but classic songs are classic for a reason.