Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Look Who I Got to Talk To... [Revival]

In memory of DJ Mehdi, who sadly passed away today, aged 34.

Sheesh, some people are so hard to get a hold of. I mean, really, who does this guy think he is? Oh, he's DJ Mehdi? Acceptable. Wait...DJ FUCKING MEHDI?!

Yep. And here's a 4.7MB image which is totally going to raise my hosting prices and clog up my bandwidth, but I don't care. It's a new image of a music god.

Look at him. Just... just look at him. (Click for full size)

First, let me say it is an honor to even be speaking to you right now.
I've been a fan of yours for years and your music - along with other
tracks from Ed Banger Records - truly got me listening to dance music
(other than Daft Punk) and consequently led to the start of my blog. So
thank you.
Well, pleasure is mine, thank you too.

Cuteness aside, let's start with some background info. Tell us about
yourself, including the origin of that name.
My name is Mehdi Faveris-Essadi. I'm a DJ and producer from Paris,
France. I've been working on various Hip-Hop and Electronic Music
projects since 1995. A while ago, when I was a fresh and new
beat-maker for french Rap bands, friend of mine wrote 'Produced by DJ
Mehdi' in the credits of a song I did, and it just sticked. I am also
one of the original artists from the Ed Banger Records label for which
I released one LP (Lucky Boy 2006), three EP's (I am Somebody 06,
Lucky Girl/Signatune 07 and Pocket Piano 08), and a remix compilation
called 'Red Black and Blue' (2009). I love art, food and sex.

What got you involved in that electro/dance music scene? Who are your
Meeting people got me into this. Glib'R from Versatile was the first
DJ to play some Chicago and Detroit classic tunes for me, around
1993/1994. He was running programs at this radio station named NOVA
here in Paris, and they were playing Hip-Hop, Electro and World Music
all the time, all mixed, which was quite unusual at the time.
Pioneering. Then I met the guys from La Funk Mob and Motorbass in
1996, on the production of MC Solaar's third album. Those guys opened
a whole new world for me with their instrumental EP's. Later, they
became very popular as CASSIUS. Last but not least, I met Busy P and
the Daft Punk crew in 97, right after the release of 'Homework'. P and
I became good friends, and when he left Daft to set up his management
company called HEADBANGERS in 2001, I immediately jumped-in. All these
people were, and still are, my main inspirations when it comes to
evolving and growing in the music field without losing my
particularities and background culture.

What was your first track? And under what name did you create that track?
I can't remember the first thing I ever composed. I used to experiment
a lot with my parents stereo equipment as a kid and I 've been
composing or sampling music since 1990 (I was 13 years old). The first
thing I 'recorded' was a rap demo with my cousins. I used to rap, too.
In 1994, my band IDEAL J participated in the soundtrack music to a
french movie called "RAI". The movie was a flop, but they still
released a CD of the music. That was the first music I ever got

As a solo artist, I used to print instrumental EP's on my own label
called ESPIONNAGE, in 1998, under the names CAMBRIDGE CIRCUS, ESPION
or ESPIONNAGE SOUND SYSTEM. That was before Ed Banger, but Busy P and
Feadz were already in the team.

If you could sum up your music in 4 words or less, what would you say?
If Kraftwerk were African.

How is life working with the Ed Rec crew? Is this the life you expected as
a child?
Life is good, thanks. It's all about making music and having fun.
Exactly what I hoped it to be as a teenager.

What are some other talents you have? And when/how did you discover these?
I'm an amazing jamaican Dancehall dancer, along with Gaspard from
Justice. We practice all the time. We won contests and stuff. I also
cook. If I could open a place where you could eat a Mehdi dish, and
dagger to the latest dub-plate, now that would be my ultimate goal.

What equipment do you use?
Bongos, mainly. And a cowbell, sometimes.

What is your favorite aspect of being a musician?
I really like that Platinum frequent flyer miles card that I got from
Air France. It gives me that 'upper-class' feeling that I always
strived for. I still get the 'arab-looking-suspicious' search at
security though, but I also kinda like it. I keep it real, if you may.

What is your favorite song right now?
Right now, 'Man Of The Year' by DRAKE.

From the fans...
Hey guys, to quote Mariah Carey: "I love my fans".

What is your next big project with Ed Banger?
Working on a new haircut right now. Trust me, it ain't easy.

Where do you think electro is headed?
To the East brother, to the East.

Favorite VST Plugin?
Spankwire, hands down. Note: That's porn. lol. --Prez

Thanks so much DJ Mehdi, I look forward to hearing back from you soon,
Thank you Prez, my pleasure---

Rock your blogging DJ's

I've never laughed so hard. Touche Mehdi... touche. Well, we couldn't milk any secrets out of him, but hey, I made en effort! It was an honor, it really was, to just talk to him. Makes me feel so accomplished. *tear*

Alright, now some party favors. Here's DJ Mehdi's spin on Busy P's To Protect and Entertain. It's good, it's some of the best Hip Hop I've ever heard, actually. I frequently blast this stuff (along with the rest of Pedrophilia - EP when I'm driving.

Busy P ft Murs - To Protect and Entertain (DJ Mehdi 99Rap Mix) [iTunes]

And... a nice mp3 players chock full of Mehdi's new "Red Black & Blue," courtesy of his manager.

(Update: Player wasn't working anymore, so in it's place is the video for Signatune.)

Enjoy, I know I did.

PS - Can I let out a scream of excitement now? Yes? AAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

RIP DJ Mehdi

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A Very Warped History 9: 2001 (1 Of 2)

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2001. Aphex Twin releases the long awaited sequel to the cult classic Richard D. James Album. Press reaction was somewhat mixed upon release, something tells me they were expecting RDJ Album 2.0 (and rule #1 of Aphex Twin is never expect anything). So when it came to picking up this album about a year ago I had the press were telling me it was a letdown, and a friend of mine actually said not to bother with it. But my mind was saying "hey, it's Aphex it can't be THAT bad right? Besides, I've bought a few albums that the press didn't much care for that weren't all that bad". And with that, I dove straight in without even listening to any of the tracks.

Drukqs, while not his "best" album (certainly his longest, clocking in at 30 tracks) it does have it's moments and is also arguably his most personal album, with the skittering beats and everything that makes that sound so uniqley his turned up to 11 (His reasoning being that he wanted to push the new software of 2001 to it's limits.) and the track titles being in Cornish. However these tracks that we've come to know the Twin by are intersected with some lovely poignant piano pieces, (actually programmed to be played by sequencers rather than actually "played") These pieces contrast so much with the tracks proceeding them that it shouldn't flow well at all. But it does. In fact the album OPENS with one of them.

I quite liked the atmosphere the first track gave, this was my first time listening to the album so I had no idea what was coming next. And then it hit me. the first time I listened to the album I was on a very long road trip back from the middle of the English countryside and I had to actually stop myself from grinning like a madman. All the press complaints suddenly made no sense. The mangled and cut up beats, the soft melodic synths, this was still undoubtedly Aphex Twin.

This juxtaposition of sounds continues on later tracks, for example on this one the synths lines introduced at 1:08 just sound fantastic to my ears even more so when it joins the rest of the mix. This is followed by a change in styles around 2:44 where for once Aphex adopts an almost conventional drumbeat, interjected by a brilliantly executed sample after which Aphex resumes his regular beat carving techniques, all leading up to that crescendo of noise at 3:54. A favourite of mine for sure.

Probably the most known piano based track on here, odds are you've heard Avril 14th somewhere before. But that doesn't take away any of the beauty from it, to think that something like this could come from the same guy who made Ventolin is a real testament to his musical flexibility. Oh, and be sure to listen through headphones, for this one and a few others Aphex put microphones inside the piano, so if you listen carefully, you can hear the internal mechanisms working away.

This next one... This next one. I can't even begin to describe it, it's just an eight minute journey though the mindset of Drukqs and perhaps the best track here. filled with ups downs and twists and turns. Just immerse yourself in it.

Another piano piece and the most obviously Cornish titled song on the LP there's not a real lot to say about this one, it's like the others we've heard so far, though this one is a bit more dreamy compared to the sounds on Avril 14th and Jynweythek.

Aphex Twin - Hy A Scullyas Lyf A Dhagrow

QKThr (Or Penty Harmonium, as it's called on the vinyl) bucks the trend with the piano bits, as the vinyl title suggests it's played on a harmonium instead, leading to that rustic seaside shanty sound that plays into the album's "personal" feel

Afx237 v.7 is another tune you might recognise, Chris Cunningham used it in his now infamous short film Rubber Johnny. It also breaks the trend set by other Aphex style tracks so far on the album, moving away from the tried and tested light synths and beat barrages of Vordhosbn and the like, and instead bringing a much more experimental feel to the sounds.

And topping it all off is the final track and yet another piano solo, Nanou 2. the (presumably) sequel to Nannou from the Windowlicker EP ends the LP on the same not it began on, only this is a lot more melancholic, with some sparse keys punctuating the otherwise silent track. In my mind is a perfect closing track for Drukqs, especially since it's the last we've heard from AFX in ten years (Analords excluded).

You'll notice that as we progress through the years a lot less of these releases will be tarred with the "Classic" label. Perhaps they haven't been out long enough to be considered Classic, perhaps that label was thrown around too much in the early 90's, I don't know. The latest record I saw described as a classic from Warp was Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma and while it's a good album, I don't think it's worthy of that title; It just didn't have that same connection with me like the older stuff from Warp, I don't know what it was but it was lacking that something to make it extra special. And I leave you with that thought.

Sounds Of The Post-Millenium,
- Claude Van Foxbat

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A Very Warped History 4: 1995 (2 Of 2)

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This entry of Warped focuses on Aphex Twin's first conventional album on Warp, released just over a year after SAW V.II. 1995 would be the the year that AFX would release his last analouge material for a decade, switching to computer and software based production after this album. Recorded between 1990 and 1994 ...I Care Because You Do is unique as it doesn't have any of AFX's trademark schizophrenic beats, as they would be introduced in ...ICBYD's follow up the next year, Richard D. James Album.

Why yes, the cover art is a self portrait by Richard himself, trademark creepy smirk and all.

The album itself is a mash of everything from industrial, straight up acid and mere brain melting glimpses of Aphex's soon to be trademark style on RDJ Album. Oh, and don't forget the 6 track names which are anagrams of things like Aphex Twin and whatnot, a gimmick carried on some months later with the Hangable Auto Bulb EP, itself an anagram of Analogue Bubblebath, AFX's first EP.

It begins with the first of the anagram-ed tracks, Acrid Avid Jam Shred (Richard David James) which is not an ideal opener in my eyes; mainly due to the 3 minute intro where not much happens other than some random bleeps here and there. After that though it becomes a deceptivley light-hearted insight into what lies ahead.

A brief relapse into Acid here as strings are mixed with heavily filtered bass, the resulting mix is claustrophobic, macabre and downright strange. Another thing to note is that this track was later "remixed"on the Donkey Rhubarb EP. I say "remixed" because well... it was a fully orchestrated version done by Phillip Glass. Yeah.

Immediately afterward you are plunged into the depths of Aphex's twisted sense of humour. This right here folks, is something else, a track that simulates the Tinnitus heard by asthmatics when they OD on Salbutamol (hence the track title) the result is abrasive, distorted and borderline unlistenable. And this was the ONLY SINGLE from this album! You can't help but wonder if Rich is taking the piss, or if he's genuinley mental; because if you can listen past the ringing, it's actually quite a good tune.

Another Acid bath, this time a bit more conventional, instead of being an all out audio assault this ones a chopped up vision of things to come, nothing stays consistent for long in the mix. The beats and bass hop all over the place, background synths fade in and out, filters come and go, the works.

To finish off, my two favourite tracks from this album, the precursors to Richard D. James Album. Firstly, Mookid (Named because the synth Supposedly sounds like a calf mooing) is a very smooth piece where RDJ lets the synth carry the majority of the song, a stark contrast to the acidic tones of previous tracks.

Alberto Balsalm (Named after a brand of shampoo here in the UK) is where AFX's creativity with weird samples really shows, (it's shown up in previous parts of the record as well, with "Come On You Slags!" aptly sampling a porno flick.) Alberto Balsalm uses a sample of a chair sliding across a floor as a main element of the beat, it fits so well with the other sounds you'd never notice until someone points it out.

That wraps up the first entry of warped this year, There will be another "Warped Leftovers" for this entry if anyone's interested, the record in question is Boards Of Canada's Twoism released on their own label Music70 and later reissued in 2002 by Warp. It's a very important release because it was the record that got BoC signed to Warp in the first place (As the story goes, within half an hour of hearing it, Steve Beckett phoned them up and offered them a contract) it's got remnants of BoC's techno style on it, so I'll likley be saving it for after I deal with their other albums.

Advance Boat Flux,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 7 January 2011

A Very Warped History 4: 1995 (1 Of 2)

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Today we have one of the founding releases of the "chillout" movement in the late 90's, you know, Café Del Mar and all that. Anyway, as I mentioned in my first post of this series, Nightmares On Wax used to to Techno/Rave tunes and DJ under E.A.S.E (Experience A Sample Expert, which you will hear in his chillout work too) Until 1995 that is, with the release of the aptly named Smokers Delight. BUT I intentionally left some of the best tracks out of that short overview. did I have this series planned from only my first week of writing? maybe, or maybe I know what to keep to myself just in case the chance arises ;D

With a title and art like that, you can pretty much guess what it sounds like, that is reggae inspired dub fused with the vibes of a certain illegal substance. Not that you need any of them to enjoy this record, if you like chill tracks, you'll love this. Now let's see... picking from the tracks leftover from the first overview, we have some real gems and laidback ledgends. let's kick it all off shall we? N.O.W up to his usual tricks and getting flashy with the sample work, enjoy.

The first real gem IMO is Pipes Honour, I had this on loop for about 4 weeks after I bought the album and it never gets old, which for a NINE MINUTE track is quite a feat. Funky guitars, slow beats, good samples, this track has it all. Feel the vibes on this one, relax, kick back and start groovin' wherever you are.

The times when I didnt loop PH I was looping this one instead, which is on the other end of the spectrum at just shy of a minute long, it's amazingly well done for it's length and I wouldn't be surprised if you all have to play it through three or so times just to get enough of that excellent bassline and vocals.

I mentioned in my overview that Smokers goes down well as backing music for social gatherings, and this track is the moment in the album where everyone's stopped to listen after 9 tracks of similar stuff the music takes center stage. you can't not love this one, if only for the catchy melody.

Moving more into lounge territory with this next track Mission Venice (which BARELY lost it's place on my "Struttin' Songs" post) it has a different feel to the rest of the album, it starts with that catchy few note loop, then teases you with little snippets of it before coming back again for the last half of the song. A real classic.

If you asked me to sum up the feel and atmosphere of Smokers Delight, I would choose these two tracks and Pipes Honour they are the tracks that I never tire of. For example, the intro to Rise gets me every time, as soon as I hear it I know what is on the way and love every second of it.

And as for the reprise? well I may think N.O.W missed a good title by not calling RepRise, the track itself is what it says on the tin, if you loved Rise you will love this even more.

Crack a brew and take the load off, sit around with this one on and you wont be disappointed, I guarantee. Alight, I think that about wraps up this album for good, make sure you enjoy it as much as I did, and if you really like any of this stuff you should go buy it, Warp's online store have everything I have posted so far (and will post) so check them out!

Bless My Soul Indeed,
-Claude Van Foxbat