It’s been about a year since I last published a new EP or track. For nearly half a decade I have internalized a growing love for the footwork scene, in awe of the unforgiving repetition and harshness that so many classic tracks have. They do not hesitate to delve into obsessions that I could only liken with a poetic madness. Phrases and words are transformed into bits and undecipherable arias. Snares are compressed and crushed into tight sizzles, syncopated in unpredictable ways. Footwork is truly a bridge between studio workmanship and improvisational performance, especially knowing that it’s typically produced on one beat maker and by one producer.

LOQUELA is lo-fi, but higher in production quality than my tablet-based music could ever be (with my workflows). The name is the theme, taken from a chapter in Roland Barthes’ “A Lover’s Discourse.” The beauty of a lover’s self-torment, poking at an oozing wound because of not only curiosity but because of the unspoken irrationality of reliving pain in the first place. Like a spin that could take the dancer to any of the extremes, dizzy and delirious.

You can listen to it here (or buy it!)

It’s also been about a year since I last actively used a tablet as the primary tool for making music. The switch back to a laptop with a full-featured DAW was challenging but gratifying — unlike the small apps of the tablet, the program I was using would provide me skills to use throughout other production suites. I am excited to see what will come next for my sound…

Future Plans

The only music I can play live is with a flute. Live performance hardware and software still feels like such an alien concept to me — I’ve been currently working on new footwork-influenced music with a great beat machine, but the beat making is throwing me. The ability to arrange songs in real-time is a goal that I’m aspiring to this year, and I will achieve it with enough practice.

Be sure to keep up with my uploads over at Soundcloud.

The EP cover.

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I re-subscribed to Spotify, which has a much more effective workflow for discovering great footwork / juke tracks from past and present. The key: Spotify notifies that you’re adding duplicates into a playlist, and will allow to you skip them. So I add any and all footwork-related tracks into one playlist, hit shuffle, add the tracks I like into a filtered playlist. Even better: on each track that I like, I go to “go to album” and add the whole album to the megaplaylist.

Lo and behold, I skip the duplicates again and continue shuffling. I’m approaching 600 tracks so far – I don’t want to just blindly add everything until I’m comfortable enough having discovered some good stuff from the start. By the time my filtered playlist hits 100-150, I’ll reshuffle that playlist and make an even more filtered one. Then maybe I can start cataloguing these sounds into more specific genres — most likely names proprietary to my tastes.

Anyway, what releases have come to Bandcamp and Soundcloud the past couple weeks that are either big names or great sounds? Let’s get into it:

DJ Manny – 8th In A Wood

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Released May 4th, 2018.

Manny released one of my top footwork albums last year, Greenlight. Where I first thought that its dance — a.k.a not footwork — orientation was cold but inspired, I may have just been taken aback by its self-sampling and un-jukey sound. It grew on me so much that it was a repeat listen — over and over and over and over — and became the centerpiece of my running playlist.

BackWood is most reminiscent to the previous album, with those ambling synth sounds that repeat with the vocals. But Manny does best when he mixes in the frenetic mid-bass beats of footwork with atmospheric synths — Maze Runner is the best example of this type of sound.

EQ Why & Traxman – WhyTrax

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Released April 10th, 2018.

EQ Why has only been on my radar the past few months, while Traxman has been on my mind since the beginning of discovering the genre. I’ve always associated Traxman on the “warm” side of footwork, with classic 70s funk sampling and that mid-bass lightness that may be opposed to something like DJ Tre. Last year, the producer released TEKVISION, which had a hugely diverse range of sounds but all with an energy that only Traxman can provide — listen to Drop It Down for what I think is a quintessential Traxman sound — a pattern I could think of is the juke-heavy clap and bass drum which has been hugely reduced in the past couple years since the new Teklife stars have grown.

EQ Why is not juke, but wholly within the footwork camp. Heavy on long pitched-sample patterns and analogy synth sounds, there are more atmospherics than dance on many tracks. Some comparisons could be made with DJ Nate sounds and the alienation inherent in those kinds of pitching dynamics.

Together, I hear mostly Why’s influences, with a few of Traxman signature sounds — especially some atonal sampling like in Jack Jack Jack, or incessant sample-mashing like in Pump Dat Jam — which leads to comparisons with Da Mind of Traxman.

LOS – Who Am I

Released May 18th, 2018.
Released May 18th, 2018.

I had been limited to Teklife characters for a couple years while being ignorantly unaware of just about everyone part of Juke Bounce Werk (JBW). LOS was the first of the collective for me to hear, and I was pretty impressed with his work, but I was more quickly enamored with the likes of Kush Jones or Swisha. But LOS has a solidity to his work that best seem suited for a larger album — an extended atmosphere rather than one enrapturing work. Who Am I adds to this oeuvre of album-enhancing theatrics, low-key and ready to pass the torch onto the next track (you can see that from the end, where it cuts off — most likely for something else).

I’ll limit it to three items so far – don’t want to create an extensive essay or anything. I’ll start more actively looking for stuff that I like so I can share even more!

One could incorrectly surmise that the audio medium has hit cultural lows as its monetary value spirals to zero. Instead music has profoundly grown in importance – as a marker for personal identity. No other art form could attain such a status: there are no more political movements (in its most unpolitical definition) in the name of paintings or statues; populist movies are reduced to products of entertainment, inciting nothing but inane discourse on fantasy. Music burns at the heart, riles people into moving in fantastic and cruel ways, attacking naysayers and reveling within their in-groups. It is not surprising that movie prices will rocket as music becomes more convenient to access, freer — it will always be the eternal, priceless, art, where visual mediums pass on as trite affairs, begging its audiences to delight in repetitive Image-Effects.

How could capitalism contain the music form? Its major advantage is light feet: a musician could meld three or more genres at once, play a single note, remix existing tracks – there is no end to music’s destruction and resulting construction; how could a monetary system that survives in the obfuscation of arbitrary value continue to surround a form that wholly deals in arbitrariness? Music at its most essential is madness incarnate, illogical, and wholly aesthetic. Music is immoral, relishing in beauties that may not be discovered in decades or centuries or millennia, only to be appreciated once another individual has “progressed” or even “regressed” enough — or “moved left”?

Capitalism was successful with music when it could in fact obscure its pricelessness: the days of consolidated production and dissemination, when there was even price to creating something that would be heard — yet this era of physically recorded music was simply a subsection of the entire experience, the consumer subsection. My readers should understand that by tackling the subject of music in the 20th century, where consumption was determined by several companies dedicated to recording, mastering, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of music, I am trapping within the high walls of capitalist/anti-capitalist discourse. Remember my friends: what is visible may not be what is true. Just as the myth of the “successful”, money-making musician pervaded the 20th and 21st centuries – so did the myth of un-success: the decrepit group with no single recorded song, traveling through the United States without one producer discovering them.

And lo and behold capitalist music, conveniently discovered and recorded and mastered and manufactured and marketed and sold to the consuming individual – but did you miss it? Unlike the Marxists and the anti-capitalists, I do not understand all modern music as a product of this mode of production, but I have relegated the phenomenon as just a small slice of the entire pie. The myth that both the capitalists and their “antis” maintained was that the music “industry” solely consisted of that which is “visible” to the public at large. How myopic, how shortsighted, how fearful it must be to think that music could be confined to an economic system — a system not apart of human nature, even when anti-capitalists say it is! For those that have taken the opposite of capitalism are merely working within its confines for negation – I have negated both and have found capitalist music to be such a small part of the whole experience!

How fearful it must be! And how frightful for anti-capitalists to discover that their efforts were so small, for their adversary determines so little of music and culture at large — that they have swum among shallow waters and ignored the darker depths of greater self-honesty. At times that which is discussed does not exist — but does it occur to these people that topics not discussed – may indeed exist? The “unknown unknown”, as Donald Rumsfeld said; that which is still “invisible”, murky, cold, and unfamiliar. May the anti-capitalist look away from the honesty of the world outside of Capitalism!

Then let us be honest: “visible” music resides in a digitized ocean froth carried around via fiber wire and radio waves and copper cables. And let us be honest that the “invisible” may choose to piggyback on the Information Age’s technological currents, but may also — more commonly, choose  — the air between musicians and their appreciators. Live, local shows, “invisible” openers for “visible” bands, attended by invisible friends, family, and supporters; invisible communications at parties and gatherings, discussing new ideas for music and rejection of the old; invisible house shows at which audiences can discover a new sound while supporting their own. The death in the public space may be attributed to Capitalism – but has it been attributed to the private passions of individuals for their arts?

Human nature may have been visibly drawn to the convenience of Capitalist products, with music included. Capitalist music is a drop in the bucket compared to an art tradition forged over tens of thousands of years. The vanity of economic skeptics! To think that they could own a part of human nature -—rhythm and melody — and to think that one would have to resist those that were supposedly in control!

micronotes: On In The Air Tonight and Experimentation

User josephprein posted “In The Air Tonight Drum Fill for 1 hour 10 minutes at 99.9%, 100%, and 100.1% speed” on SoundCloud.

Josh Millard has a great analysis of the effect on MetaFilter:

Polyrhythmics! So the structure of this fill: you can count it out as 16 beats long (sub-beats technically but let’s keep this simpler to write out), but there’s not a hit on every beat: Phil plays Duh-Duh (pause) Duh-Duh (pause) Duh-Duh (pause) Duh-Duh (pause) DUH (pause) DUH (pause).

We could rewrite that as a little string where X = hit, o = pause, like this: XXoXXoXXoXXoXoXo

At song start we get all the tones in unison, but every later juxtaposition of the XXo segments has some other set of tones mixed together. So they sound the same, but not! This is also where some of the more interesting effects in the muddier, less-coherent sections come in, as we get constantly-shifting miniature studies in melodic rhythm as those different tom tones crash against each other in little flams and arpeggios.

If you’re a drummer or just like wasting time reading about music technicalities, I highly recommend Millard’s explanation of juxtaposing the normal speed with modified speeds of this iconic drum fill.

micronotes: Arca – Manners (in album Stretch 2)

Arca - Stretch 2

  • So it was 2014 and Witch House was on the decline. Arca turns it into something that actually seems less emo-y and adds quite a bit more space/soundstage to the instruments.
  • Sounds nothing like modern, post-Mutant Arca. Of course some overamped synths (hence Witch House), but the artist hasn’t fully jumped into the abyss.

Released December 2nd, 2014

micronotes: Colin Stetson – Spindrift

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  • “Colin, what if you put a beat on your music?”
  • I think the beat is still derived from those unique microphones he places near the fingers, but unlike the earlier, more organic clacking sounds, it sounds just like some DJ found a Stetson track and was compelled to transform it into the most chill dance track ever.
  • The track seems more referential to Stetson’s qualities rather than invoking those qualities directly i.e. it’s unfortunately a hollow representation of his great skills.

Released on Spotify February 15, 2017