All Posts,Old Music,Radio — Dan on September 21, 2007 at 5:22 pm

I mentioned in an early post that I’d be using this blog to talk about my Viva Radio shows and I figured it was about time I did just that. Viva Radio is a great online radio station that does things a bit differently from most. First of all, it uses a pretty slick flash interface and streams the music directly and at a much higher quality than you’re used to hearing from online stations. It also does all the proper publishing licensing, which it something I definitely support. And because of the way it’s set up, instead of recording a complete live “mix”, contributors can upload playlists, and I find it fun to put things together like I’m back in high school making a mix-tape to impress a girl instead of doing a live mix with voice-overs and all that. The technology is there to do that, but for now, I’ve been enjoying just doing the mixes.

I’ve done close to 20 shows so far and at any given time 4 of those shows are archived on the page for my show, Pyjamarama. Sometimes I’ve focused on specific genres, other times there’s a sort of weird narrative that makes sense in my head, while still other times it’s pretty much your standard freeform college radio station fare. From now on, when a new show gets posted, I’ll write something here, and if I’m bored enough, I’ll write about some of the old shows, because you know what? Some of them are GREAT! There is also a semi-regular schedule with new shows going up all the time, but since I’ve been a bit lax about updating, my shows get stuck in here and there.

And did I mention the other contributors? Record nerd hipster paradise. I’m not even going to mention any because seriously, they all range from pretty cool to totally and completely awesome. And Viva itself is getting into some seriously ambitious programming and associations, including parties in LA and NY and an involvement with and coverage of the already legendary 77 Boadrum event. There will be more productions like that coming up, interviews, archives, live recordings, all sorts of fun. Anyway, onto my most recent show…

This show is one of the more eclectic playlists I’ve done. It’s not all over the map, just kinda goes back and forth between a few moods, mostly focusing on a bit of electric music with female vocals and a certain kind of punk rock. I think I liked the contrast between beautiful arpeggiating synths and aggressive angst-ridden punk with a bit of buzzy ambiance. Or something.

1. Leda – Welcome to Joyland
A recent discovery care of my often DJ partner Tropical Jeremy. Jeremy played it at the last Dazzle Ships party and everybody in the bar had to stop what they were doing and come up and trainspot it. The work of Peter Bauman from Tangerine Dream in 1978, the record is filled with weird and wonderful electronic pop music, with the kind of euro vibe that often gets lumped in with Italo-Disco. Like Cluster’s Zuckerziet and Kraftwerk, this type of pop music is probably as much proto-New Wave as euro-disco-pop. Whatever hyphenated terms you use, it’s pretty awesome stuff.

2. Stereolab – Super-Electric
I always name my Viva shows after one of the songs, usually whichever title I think best invokes the sound. Super-Electric is perfect. The song itself sums up the show I think, with it’s pretty female vocals, motorik rhythms and fuzzy guitar and organ riffs. This song really brings me back and I’ve always been a big sucker for Stereolab. Maybe I love the retro-futurism, but years before they fell in with Mouse on Mars or whomever, their use of bubbling old moogs and overdriven Farfisas is somehow more “futuristic” than 1,000 glitching laptops. I love their music from various years especially the much glossier/produced Mars Audiac Quintent/Emperor Tomato Ketchup period but there’s an energy to the noisier early stuff that is hard to beat. This song opens their first singles comp, Switched on Stereolab.

3. Howard Werth – Obsolete
This comes from my recent obsession/schooling in LA punk, though it doesn’t quite sound it. Obsolete was a single that appeared on Dangerhouse, the quintessential LA punk label, so I only heard it after getting one of the Dangerhouse comps. It immediately stood out as sounding more like an arty/punky glam and/or power-pop song than what you’d expect. Apparently he had been in a british band called Audience that wasn’t (isn’t) well known in America and somehow came across the LA punk scene. You can read more about it on the essential Dangerhouse pages on This song is a great addition to a list I was looking for when I started an I Love Music Thread called Smart art-glam suggestions?

4. Chrisma – Gott Gott Elektron
I’m not looking anything up because coincidently the 20 Jazz Funk Greats blog just did the research and wrote them up in a post, though I’m inclined to give them a bit more credit. Basically, Italian genre-hoppers who spent some time in the late 70s/early 80s mining a pretty groovy krautrock groove in a new wavey synth punk setting with the help of Vangelis’s little brother. I first stumbled upon them on myspace of all places, and was reminded of that by fellow Viva DJ Mae who used “Black Silk Stockings” on her myspace page to great affect.

5. Faust – Baby

Can’t say much that hasn’t already been said. Just a killer song.

6. Rhino 39 – Prolixin Stomp
More from Dangerhouse and the LA scene. I need to do my LA post soon.
myspace page

7. The Flesh Eaters – Dominoes
More from LA. Writer Chris D. backed by various LA players included folks from X.

8. Pino Donaggio – Body Double
Yes, that Body Double, the Brian DePalma movie, perhaps the quintessential 80s movie. What other film has a scene that takes place on the set of a porn film that then becomes a Frankie Goes to Hollywood video? And while watching the DVD for the 10th time I was finally like “whoah, that’s italo disco!” Well ever since Moroder and with Morricone’s influence, italo has always been great soundtrack music, and this drum-less bit of sequenced synths, gorgeous pads, sexy vocals and that one bit of latin percussion…what’s it called, you know the one, is about as perfect as it gets. Now if we can get Lindstrom to add some drums I think I’d be in heaven.

9. Big Black – Passing Complexion
Here’s a bit of contrast. See it’s not always all about the smooth transition! This was one of the two Big Black songs my friend Liz put on a tape for me in 10th grade. It probably took me a few years to get it. This song is up there with some early Cabaret Voltaire for the absolutely best guitar tone you’ll ever hear. Just totally shimmering, metallic, piercing and brutal, there’s nothing quite like it. Sounds like bad 80s digitech delay pedals or something. Whatever, with the drum machine, a perfect combination.

10. Western Eyes – All Too Real
Just one stop of Robert Poss’s guitar rollercoaster. Coming after his punk band Tot Rocket and the Twins and before the classic Band of Susans and later solo material, Western Eyes sort of fell through the cracks. I got this record from John Allen then found the myspace page for both Tot Rocket and Western Eyes. The record’s a bit inconsistent but there isn’t a track without killer guitar playing, and this track, with the drum machine, well you should know how I feel about drum machines by now. The guitar and bass playing are ok as well! Update…actually it’s a gated drum, see Robert’s comment below…
Tot Rocket and Western Eyes myspace

11. Joy Division – No Love Lost
I like to remember Joy Division as a punk band. I mean, I like Atmosphere as much any anyone (probably MORE than anyone!) but those early recordings just totally rock. Sometimes when I’m watching a New Order video, say Perfect Kiss, I look at Barney and think, “that’s the guy who played guitar on ‘No Love Lost'”.

12. Really Red – Too Political?
Texas punk is a whole world onto itself and I’ve barely scraped the surface. Really Red strike me because they often have the kind of minimalism that’s due to more then not knowing how to play. Not that this song is minimalist, it just kicks ass.

13. 100 Flowers – I Don’t Own My Own Heart
This is what I’m talking about—minimalist punk rock. 100 Flowers was the continuation of the Urinals and in both projects you get some of the most concise and minimal punk/post-punk stuff you’ll find. They were hugely influenced by Wire, but had a uniquely American sound that situated them sonically squarely in the middle of California punk, hardcore and arty post-punk.

14. Roberto Cacciapaglia/Ann Steel – Sport et Divertissement
Roberto was an italian composer with a background in experimental and progressive electronic music. Ann Steel was a supermodel. Together they made a really weird pop album. Somewhat similar to Leda in a superficial way, the production here’s a bit more adventurous.

15. La Düsseldorf – Menschen1
La Düsseldorf may have buffed all the ragged corners off of Neu!, but they also perfected some of what made Neu! so great. This track is from their 3rd album Individuellos which, like Neu! 4 is often ignored for some reason. People were always like “oh, Neu! 4 sucks, it’s got pop, drum machines and you can dance to it!” and I went along with that conventional wisdom till one day I woke up and remembered I liked those things. La Düsseldorf is definitely one of the coolest bands ever and I’m excited to see them pop up on various Viva Radio sets from any number of contributors…that’s how I knew I was in good company. I used to think it wasn’t quite “punk” enough, so I’d run tracks like “Düsseldorf” from their first album through my Arp 2600 synthesizer’s pre-amps and distort and filter it a bit. It was almost as cool as it sounds.

16. Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire
Bruce’s mid 80s stuff is filled with some very dated 80s production, but the songs are so good that it just makes it even better. Sure, I bet this song sounds great with Bruce playing it slower on acoustic guitar, but the contrast of his Roy Orbison vocals with these synth-pads just evokes a totally alien experience. Like when he’d perform Born in the USA as a slow acoustic dirge, it’s like, we get it, it’s anti-america, but when the fists are pumping it’s just something more complex. Anyway, is there anybody who can get me some reasonable priced tickets, either to MSG, or preferably, the Brendan Byrne Arena in Jersey or whatever the hell they’re calling it now. Thanks!

17. Suicide – Cheree
Yes, it’s true, Bruce met Suicide and was inspired by them. You can hear it on Nebraska and you can see it when he performs “Dream Baby Dream” as a 9 minute song for solo voice and harmonium. You know, Bruce was a lot cooler then people think. I’m not saying “no really it’s good”, the guy has plenty of hipster cred, but I’m not talking about that kind of hipster cred, I’m talking about how he really was a hipster. Just check out Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle”. But Suicide, man this song is beautiful. They really had it down. You always hear about artists using crappy instruments because of their monetary limitations or whatever, but this was a whole aesthetic and they really pushed it to it’s limits. The reverb-drenched organ-sidekick drum machine is pretty much atmosphere defined.

Here’s Bruce doing Dream Baby Dream in 95…

And Suicide sometime in the late 70s/early 80s…

So that was Super-Electric, hopefully it’s still up and you can listen to it at the Pyjamarama page (just make sure you hit play, otherwise you’ll be hearing whatever show is live at the moment). Again, in the future I hope to not write so much about every song on one of these shows, or if I do, make sure it’s better written and/or researched because with this, like with the Beats in Space post, I’m just like hey, it’s 3 in the morning, I gotta say something about this song, oh man, not only does that not make much sense, I seem to have forgotten how to form a sentence. Well I assure you the next Viva show won’t get this kind of post because it’s going to be BIG! I’m revisiting my high school years with 2 2 hour shows dedicated to the golden years of 120 Minutes. If you’re between the ages of oh say, 26 and 36, and were just a bit weird, you should get a kick out of it. The rest of you can skip the Cult and MC 900 Foot Jesus videos and check out some more Pyjamarama archives.


  1. Western Eyes….

    The drum machine you hear on “All Too Real” is actually a real drummer, whose drums have been heavily gated by Nicolas Collins with a home-made cross-channel-gating/triggering scheme…. See the forthcoming issue of Tape Op magazine for my interview with Mr. Collins.

    and thanks.


    Comment by Robert Poss — September 27, 2007 @ 12:48 pm
  2. I wondered for a second if that might be the case but was convinced it was a drum machine. Amazing. Sounds great no matter, thanks for the clarification.

    Comment by Dan — September 27, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

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