Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The name Gary Numan conjures up the hit "Cars," and perhaps the idea of "the 80s." Contrary to popular thought, "Cars" was released just before the beginning of that decade, in 1979. And although "Cars" is Numan's most successful and popular hit, it is by no means his best work, at least not according to the artist himself.

Prior to becoming solo artist "Gary Numan," Gary Webb formed a group in 1977 with friend Paul Gardiner and uncle Jess Lidyard, under the name "Tubeway Army." Not to call it legend, but story has it that someone left a Minimoog inside their recording studio, and it was programmed to a sound that caught Numan's attention. The subsequent release in 1979 was a number one album, "Replicas."

Speaking on theme, what is characteristic to Gary Numan's atmosphere in the album "Replicas" is, "[his] fascination with dystopian science fiction and, more importantly, synthesizers." Source. An almost identical infatuation is held by Australia's Midnight Juggernauts, whose seminal album took exactly that title, Dystopia. As well, Philip K Dick's science-fiction novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" which heavily inspired Numan, would later become the adopted screenplay for "Blade Runner," in which the few robots were labeled "Replicants."

At the time, the celebrity single that gathered all the attention was "Are Friends Electric." Whilst this single topped the UK charts, is credited as being the first successful synthesizer-based record after the punk era, and not typical because it lacked a conventional chorus, my interest lies in the first single that was a commercial failure during and prior to the release of the LP, "Down in the Park."

The opening line to this song is, "Down in the park . . ." Truthfully speaking, I have not and I do not want to inquire as to what "the park" truly is, or for that matter, what happens down there. From the looks of the cover (bizarre, yet fascinating), it appears that the park refers to an early form of an amusement park, or is it the sort of park particular to Europe, a garden? What happens in the Park? Who goes there? We are all familiar with the idea of a park by night, and we know well to avoid it. The park hides the homeless, couches the drunk, attracts those that are lost, and among the shadows and barely visible always sits mystery. Incertitude is infinitely more attractive than something familiar, and I choose to leave it that way, at least for myself.

As a song whose ambiance is predominantly dreadful, but promising during its peaks, a song that reconciles dark walls of synths, with climaxes of hope, "Down in the Park" is among the best songs I have come across in a long time, even for those of us who know Bowie, Moroder, Kraftwerk, or least to say, those who supposedly know the 80s. So personable, this song leaves room for only word to describe it: awesome.

Tubeway Army - Down in the Park (1979)

From the same album, Numan's first use of a drum machine:

Tubeway Army - I Nearly Married A Human (1979)

Coincidentally, at the original time of writing this, a new Replicas Redux album was being prepared for production, and was released in March. The album is available for purchase at Amazon.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Court Mais Calme

In high school, I didn't know much about contemporary music. I was into Paul Simon, the Beatles, Bowie, Steely Dan and I knew all about them, but I longed for a band that was still around. I wanted to go to their concerts, I wanted to lose sleep because of anticipation for a new album, I wanted to cry when they broke up. Of course, I always knew the bands were out there, but I just didn't know who they were or how to find them. So, one day I was scouring the FM band, turning the dial through static and incomplete radio stations and I found her--I found Goldfrapp. I was immediately enraptured by her voice. I wanted to know everything about her. Thus, I consider Goldfrapp my personal gateway to the world of electronic music. Through her, I learned about other bands, I discovered websites that reviewed her (the first article I ever read on Pitchfork was for Felt Mountain, starting off with still one of my favorite lines ever written by one of their writers, "If you'd told me a few weeks back that I'd be lusting after some chick named Goldfrapp, I'd have told you to pack your bags for an all-expenses-paid trip to my fist.")

That was years ago and since then I've found millions of other bands, and I've outgrown Felt Mountain, moved on to and outgrown Black Cherry, and then been rather indifferent about the majority of Supernatural. I even fell in love with a girl, initially because she reminded me a little of Goldfrapp, but that's a story for another day. Well, now Goldfrapp is back with Seventh Tree. The first single "A&E" has received a lot of attention, but I personally haven't been excited about it until I heard this Maps remix. Obviously I have a personal affinity for her, but nonetheless, I think the best thing about Goldfrapp these days are the remixes.

Goldfrapp - A&E (Maps Remix)

But oh yes, the Knife! The sweet, sweet Knife. No, maybe the Knife aren't as good looking (why else would they always be hiding behind carnavalesque-bird masks?), and maybe their voices aren't as soothing. They just have that something special. The bro and sis duo must be hard at work on something because we haven't heard from them in a while. Well, I found this track today, but I hope that it's just a teaser. It's short, but it's golden.

Knife - High School Poem - [1] [2]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oh, Before I Forget

A new Justice track? Well, not quite, but close. Xavier de Rosnay, half of ubiquitous duo Justice, is the brains behind Poney Poney's production on their next EP single "Cross the Fader." And to some of you, this may not be news; De Rosnay has already layed down his production skills with their seminal song, "Junior." Not too hyped about the track? Don't be, but here's some food for thought: don't burn your bridges. Poney Poney are long time friends of Xavier de Rosnay, and through this relationship, Poney Poney has received VIP treatment from a man with the midas touch. "Cross the Fader" will be released March 10th on Perspex Recordings.

Poney Poney - Cross the Fader

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Check Out My Report Card

Lately, there have been a lot of posts about older music, and it's time we posted some fresh tunes. Sometimes, there are so many new tunes floating around, it's easier to resort to an older, hard-to-find song, and feel secure about posting something worthwhile. Other times, we can seek help from Australia.

We can't get away from the consistent heat pumping out of Australia. Surprise, another Modular artist. If it's not broken, why fix it? "My People" came out in December of 2007, and yes, it's been slept on. Why do The Presets get so little coverage? While I wont post an mp3 here, I encourage you listeners, I mean, ahem, *wink wink* readers, to go check out "My People" at their Myspace. If that doesn't satiate anything, give a whirl to this super neu-ravey edit by Damage.

The Presets - My People - Damage Edit

Second, believe it or not, we have another Modular representative, Muscles. We can't help but feel the irony of this post: a few days ago, Modular had requested we please take down Cut Copy's "Lights and Music," and that's understandable. Hopefully our rebuttal will be well-received. It's unfortunate we haven't written a post about Muscles, as he has already made a big splash with "Ice-Cream," a song about fearing people on trains, and ice-cream saving the day. The song infinitely complementary to taking ecstasy can be heard on his Myspace, along with "Sweaty," a song about ecstasy and sex, probably. Or download this remix by 17-year-old wonder Shazam from, you guessed it, Australia. The vocal change is refreshing.

Muscles - Sweaty - Shazam Remix

Monday, February 18, 2008

Seven Swans

1. President's day is evidently synonymous with laundry. As I walked the streets I saw many people with their laundry bags or bins heading to the laundromats. Most people fold their clothes in the laundromat. I throw mine back into the bag and fold it at home. This gives me a distinct priviledge: I can fold my clothes while listening to music. Today I have the music at full volume. The woman who lives below me is the aged Mandarin-speaking landlord. She karaokes to Mandarin soft rock daily. Sometimes I can even hear her singing through the floorboards. So I think she--unlike most proprietors, you would think--might appreciate a bit of loud music on a Monday afternoon. Cheers!

2. I would like to say that I am very grateful for those experiences that seem to find me. The spontaneous, out-of-the-blue moments that are so beautiful that I feel, for once, optimistic about the future. Not the opposite, the meticulously planned out experiences, premeditated excursions, for those I have myself to thank. Instead, occasionally I am blessed with a beautiful bike ride atop the city lights and green space that I had set off thinking it would be a chore. Taking in the fresh night's air and hearing the silence and the quiet whistling of the wind in my hair, I thought, it seems like I wasn't supposed to enjoy this moment. It was only an event of practicality, but now I feel this rush that I did not expect, as though this experience found me.

3. I biked over to a friend's house and everyone there was already two movies deep into a night of "bad horror movie" watching. After a trip to the liquor store for a twelve-pack of Pabst, we put in Robot Holocaust. The title alone sounds so promising: it seems like it would be a action-packed sci-fi movie with an undertone of political criticism. Perhaps it was a mockumentary, reimagining history with robots. In fact, it was one of the worst, most amateurly made films I've ever seen. I think the idea of a Holocaust was lost somewhere in the production of the film. There was only, as far as I could tell, three robots in the entire movie. Of course, I suppose it was to be expected that the movie was bad, given the nature of "bad horror movie" night, but I don't think it was even bad enough to be good. Or, rather, maybe even the worst produced of films have something campy enough, or something like a decent plot, or at least acceptable acting, something to earn their place as popular bad movies. It made me appreciate good movies though. It is very possible that in some alternate world, human ability never progressed past this type of movie making skill. It is very possible that, in a parallel universe, Star Wars was never made. God save the people of that place!

4. I met Gilbert and George this past weekend. I think it might turn out to be one of the defining moments of my life. The best part was that I didn't expect to meet them, let alone chat with them, and yet it turned into a two-day activity. One thing that George said that I thought very inspirational, when asked whether or not art could change the world, was that a city that has no museums is a city where you would need a bodyguard to walk around. You would see dead people scattered about.

5. Gilbert said, "We got very drunk once and finally saw the bigger picture."

"Portrait of the Artists as Young Men"

6. Last week I was up very early, driving around the city. When I got to the Tenderloin I saw many people, normal looking people, walking around as though it were only 8 pm when in fact it was 5:30 in the morning. I was very confused by this. The radio was playing Ravi Shankar though, which was perfect. I never listen to Ravi Shankar, but I ever since that morning I have been listening to him nonstop. The best part about his music is that it is this always amazing and most of the songs are at least 12 minutes each, some as long as 24 minutes. It never ends and it never gets boring. Not many genres of music could ever live up to that kind of quality.

7. Last year, Amir told me about a compilation of French synth-wave called BIPPP. I was living in France at the time, so it was easy for me to go to FNAC and purchase a copy. Despite its popularity (at least on college radio) it wasn't released in the United States until last Tuesday. There are a lot of great songs on it that would have otherwise remained generally unknown. The classics include "Polaroid/Roman/Photo" by Ruth, "Game and Performance" by Deux and my favorite, "Partie 1" by TGV. The latter pays hommage to the technological marvel of the, then, still new TGV train system. According to album's booklet, SNCF used "Partie 1" as a promotional song to herald a series of new trains in October of '81. The TGV today remains the apple of the eye of the French, notably this past summer when it was announced that the new East line would allow a speed of 320 mph in normal operation. Had the line been operational when I was living in Nancy last year, the time it took to travel to Paris would have been cut in half. But in those days, I was TGV deprived (as I am now), so I listened to "Partie 1" a lot. You can stream a few tracks on the album's myspace site.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Valentine's Day Special

What Valentine's Day would be complete without a Valentine's Day mixtape? I've been focusing my efforts this past week in compiling 10 songs into a mix just for today. It is my ode to you, O faithful readers, that you might notice a change in the pace of your beating heart, a slipping of consciousness in the neon lights, a sharp moment of happines and joy in the overpowering contact with another person.

splatteredpaint_valomix '08

1. Goldfrapp - Fly Me Away (Ladytron remix):
In Ludovico Ariosto's classic Orlando Furioso Orlando falls in love and, rejected by his lover, loses his mind and travels to the moon to find it. Those who have ever experienced unrequited love would perhaps never wish such a fate to fall on his brother or sister, and yet looking back the feeling of insanity was somehow enjoyable. So yes, Goldfrapp, fly me away so that I might find my wits.

2. Alb - Sweet Sensation (Breakbot remix):
I can't hide it any longer, I am in love with Breakbot. Or maybe I love him, but I'm not in love with him. His remixes are so great and this one in particular I've been playing non stop whenever I drive my car. I play it with the windows down because lately it's been warm out and I hope that someone will hear it and share the same sweet sensation that I feel.

3. Brigitte Bardot - Contact (Booka Shade edit):
This edit from Booka Shade's most recent DJ Kicks contribution is stellar and apropos for this time of year. The lovely Bardot sings of some female alien, traveling space who has her heart pierced by a meteorite. While we on earth have doctors for such wounds, she says, she needs a mercurial transfusion. At all costs she must be healed so she can rejoin her love in the galaxy.

4. The Gossip - Yr Mangled Heart (Tiga remix):
Beth Ditto should be the championed as one of today's greatest lead vocalists. Among all the divas of today, no one comes close to the kind of wailing she produces. Yr Mangled Heart is a study on the irrationality of the heart: "I've been here before, I should be used to this" and yet every year the same holidays return to haunt us.

5. ZZT - Lower States of Consciousness (Delete remix):
If the heart was a computer and you saw a girl of your dreams for the first time while you were at a bar and you made eye contact with her only just as she was leaving the bar never to be seen again, I imagine the sounds such a machine would make in processing this encounter wouldn't sound unsimilar to this song.

6. Kylie Minogue - 2 Hearts (The Twelves remix):
The most recent single from Kylie's new album, X, is a letter to her lover. "I'm deep in the dark of you," she coos, "It feels like I never saw the sun."

7. Architecture in Helsinki - Debbie (U-Tern remix):
I love all songs that are tributes to a woman named Debbie (there's two). The Australian musical collective are anything but orthodox. This funky song may not be a love song, but, lyrics aside, it feels like one.

8. Róisín Murphy - Overpowered (Kris Menace remix):
Murphy's distinct voice got became recognizable as part of the electronic duo Moloko. Murphy and her counterpart Mark Brydon met at a party in 1994 using the line, "Do you like my tight sweater? See how it fits my body." The two fell in love and released the album as an ode to their relationship. In 2003 the two split up, apparently on good terms. Murphy's second solo-career album, Overpowered, features the single of the same name, one of the best songs of 2007. "When I think that I'm over you," she sings, "I'm overpowered." Perhaps she still misses that tight sweater.

9. Chromeo - Bonafide Lovin' (YUKSEK remix):
Chromeo apparently saw my boyfriend on the street the other day and he was a mess. Chromeo assures me that, contrary to my current boyfriend, Chromeo could give me some honest-to-god loving. Ok, Chromeo, I'd dump my boyfriend for you any day!

10. Talking Heads - Sugar On My Tongue:
See you on the moon!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Hit Wonder

"In 1970, Doc Ellis pitched a rare no-hitter, guaranteeing his place in baseball's hall of fame. But what the fans weren't aware of that day, was that Doc Ellis was using LSD when he pitched his perfect game." Source

"I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria.

I was zeroed in on the (catcher's) glove, but I didn't hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters and the bases were loaded two or three times.

The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn't hit hard and never reached me."

The Pirates won the game, 2-0, although Ellis walked eight batters. It was the highpoint in the baseball career of one of the finer pitchers of his time, and arguably, one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports." Source

M.I.A. - Paper Planes - DFA Remix

Hercules & Love Affair - Blind

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Pork, Peas & Cabbage

I don't pay much attention to the Chinese zodiac calender or astrology in general for that matter, but every now and then if I'll check what year it is. Most of the time I'll find out it's the Horse or Dragon and I'll continue about my life. For the first time in my life, about a week ago I accidentally discovered that this year is the Year of the Rat. I nearly fell out of my seat--that's my year. Immediately I questioned my position: what am I doing right at this moment, what will I do today that is productive, what will be important about today? Then the internal interrogation became more broad and intense: what are you doing with your life, have you already abandoned yours hopes and dreams that you had as a child, will you just wither away like this? It was as though, prompted by this acquired knowledge about the rat, that someone inside me was terribly skeptical of who I am and what I am doing. I nearly stopped everything I was doing and broke down. Then I realized it wasn't yet the Year of the Rat.

Sufjan Stevens - Year of the Rat

Well, the Chinese New Year has happened since then and it is the Year of the Rat; I have decided that this year will be my year of destiny. This will be my pivot. And it's no surprise that I already have a path forming ahead of me leading to what I think will be the later years of my life. I don't know much where it will lead, but finally the mist has cleared and I can at least see ahead and where it disappears. I try to be positive about these things. Though the rat represents death, war and pestilence, it also means wealth, charm and order. Let's all take that to heart.

So far this year there are a few names in the dance business that you just can't avoid. That must be good for someone at least. Hot Chip is one of those names. Since releasing their newest album, Made in the Dark, Hot Chip have been getting tons of love. Even the songs that aren't on the album, including their impressively extensive remix collection (40 plus!), are in constant rotation. I think the best thing about the group is how motley they are. Maybe they have remixed so much because there is so many of them. In an age of numerous dynamic duos, they definitely stand out. Maybe they should start a commune. I'd join.

Hot Chip - Bendable Posable

You might also like:
The Teenagers - Love No (Poney Poney Emotion Remix)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Is it real?

"You see them on the street. You watch them on Tv.
You might even vote for one this fall.
You think they're people just like you.
You're wrong. Dead wrong."

Blancmange - Game Above My Head 1983

Blancmange - Blind Vision 1982

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Confessions: Parts 1 and 11

Super Tuesday is over. And I have a Super Wednesday hang over. Yesterday I voted and I don't think I've ever felt so excited to do so. However, I can't deny that a part of me felt a little disappointed. I half-expected some fanfare and hurrah when I submitted my ballot to the giant ballot-eating machine. I half-expected, half-hoped that I would be interrogated as part of an exit poll. I wanted to be interviewed by NPR. I wanted them to ask me who I voted for and why. Even UPN or TF1 would have sufficed. And yet nothing. I made some marks on a paper and walked out of the place. A part of me is also suspicious that anything actually happens. Perhaps it is all faked? Maybe the Super Bowl too. It's just this grand theatrical performance and there's no way to know--but then I might as well question everything. So I'll go on telling myself that my vote did count.

Ever since Ratatat debuted onto the scene with their self-titled album, I was a lukewarm supporter. Reminiscent of the old Daft Punk age, not repetitive or funky, but freshly mechanic and aerodynamic. Often when a band's debut makes everyone go "It sounds exactly like [other band]!" by their sophomore album, said group will have developed their own distinct sound. Such is the case for Ratatat who has shifted ways since then. This time they've put out a hip-hop album and it can be downloaded for free on their site. The following song, probably untitled, isn't a departure from their early stuff by any means, but it doesn't strike me as Daft Punkish at all. Like their 2003 single, "Seventeen Years," it contains the precise synthetic-guitars and progresses like a kind of basketball court hip-hop song. But this "One," with its organs directing the score and the acute piano tapping, sounds more soulful compared to their previous stuff. Anyway, despite all the power chords, I tend to find their songs very calming.


The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health (Ratatat Remix)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Twelves

The Twelves -- what can I say? I can say this: female vocals make the world a happier place, and these two Brazilians take complete advantage of this. Every remix they are putting out at this moment is ballin and you can see the clear line of progression. From the time I originally started writing this post, they have added two remixes to their small roster, but don't let that mislead you! All the productions are solid. Their latest remix, among nine others, placed on top in the remix contest for French love Yelle. Check out the other winners on her myspace blog where you can download all ten finalists. I highly recommend going to The Twelve's myspace and checking out their other remixes, and drinking tea, and eating biscuits feuilletés.

Yelle - Ce Jeu - The Twelves Remix

Kylie Minogue - Two Hearts - The Twelves Remix