VIVA RADIO—SYNTHETIC EMOTIONS AND SOMETHING FRESH TO SWING TO

All Posts,Old Music,Radio — Dan on April 2, 2008 at 1:19 am

Just thought I’d post the tracklists of my two most recent Viva Radio shows, both available in the archives of my show Pyjamarama. I’m gonna try to chill on the extended essays regarding each track, there’s gotta be some mystery in life, right? Actually I’m just too lazy.

The first show focused on the prettier side of early Detroit Techno and some likeminded sounds coming out of Chicago in the mid/late 80s/early 90s and some of the early UK IDM that drew so heavily from Detroit. This may not be “pretty” to some people, I guess one person’s ecstatic vision of a slightly-melancholic utopian future is another person’s mind-numbing repetition of bleeps and bloops.

I first got into techno via the likes of 808 State, the Orb, Moby and acts better left unmentioned, but the discovery in the summer before my first year of college of the just released Warp Artificial Intelligence CD, with massive US distribution thanks to Wax Trax/TVT, really blew me away. The concept of electronic music not made for dancing really jibed with my interest in the likes of Wendy Carlos and Vangelis, but the dance music influence was unmistakable. Within a few years, IDM as it would be titled, went further and further from it’s roots in more experimental, and to me less appealing, directions. No matter as my arrival to college lead me to the roots of this music…all the artists listed as influences in the very educational liner notes of the Artificial Intelligence CD. I knew the experimental/industrial/new wave side of things, but who was Rhythm is Rhythm? I soon found out and spent the next several years with a tape of Detroit Techno permanently in my car’s tape deck, driving back and forth between New York and Cleveland, Pennsylvania country-side flying by to the tune of what was surely the music of the future. Alternately, in my friends car with Black Dog’s Bytes and B.12’s Electro-Soma…he had a CD player. Not all of this is “dance music” but it’s all Techno one way or another and it all still sounds like the future to me.


SYNTHETIC EMOTIONS

1. Long Ago – A Relic
Derrick May and/or Carl Craig from the Transmat Relics comp

2. Model 500 – Infoworld
Juan Atkins techno perfection, also on Relics, from the Ocean to Ocean 12″.

3. Stasis – vcf
Early IDM, 1993 UK techno track from Steve Pickton, on the Redcell/Stasis compilation. Redcell was B.12.

4. Mr. Fingers – Stars
Chicago House god Larry Heard in 1987, I think it’s only available on bootlegs now. Stuff like this made me confused about what the difference was between House and Techno back then. Shockingly beautiful, surprisingly remiscent of Severed Head’s Dead Eyes Open.

5. Ron Trent – Altered States (Terrace Light City Mix)
Not sure when this came out, it’s been remixed and re-released about a thousand times. I think from 1990. The original version is pure minimal Chicago Techno House, this remix is from Terrace/Stefan Robbers from the Netherlands.

6. Reel By Real – Aftermath
Martin Bonds with Juan Atkins. This was on the Techno Two compilation, and thus made it onto my detroit techno tape, and along with Infoworld and many other classics, supplied the soundtrack to many 8 hour car trips along route 80.

7. B.12 – Telefone 529
B.12 were the purists of the IDM/Artificial Intelligence set, their CD Electro-Soma is about as perfect as Detroit Techno gets, no matter where it’s made. This track, released as Musicology, is on the Artificial Intelligence comp.

8. Fuse – Dimension Intrusion
Another classic from the early days of AI. Fuse was yet another project from Richie Hawtin of +8 records, at that point probably best known for Cybersonik. Most of Fuse’s tracks were minimal/banging techno cuts, this was like his ambient track or something. Has he done anything this good since? Has anybody?

9. Drexciya – Aqua Worm Hole
Even in the weirdest most experimental corners of the neo-electro revival of the mid 90s a group like Drexciya could still show that shimmering celestial quality of these heartfelt synthetic emotions.

10. Underground Resistance – Quadrasonic
Another group known best for noisier and more banging stuff, this is a relatively early UR track that creates and trippy, spacey atmosphere with a bubbly and yes, pretty, acid line.

11. The Black Dog – Techno Playtime
Another of the Artificial Intelligence/early IDM groups, the mysterious Black Dog were like the opposite of B.12. They mined the entire history of late 20th century dance music and threw it in a blender. Echoes of Detroit, Chicago, New York, breakbeats, disco, whatever, all thrown together with odd time-signatures and abrupt changes, defying you to actually dance to it, while still sounding like dance music. This is an early track. The CD Bytes is super essential, you can probably get rid of every other “IDM” CD ever if you have that.

12. 0733 – Synthetic Emotions
Far as I know there’s only two 0733 releases, both credited to one Casey Tucker. The first one, with production by Richie Hawtin and on Hawtin’s other label, Probe, features the songs Loner, which ended up on the ubiquitous Probe Mission USA CD which you’d find in the techno compilation section of every Sam Goody in America somewhere between Zoo Rave and Rave Til’ Dawn. It’s a pretty perfect song. The second release, without a Hawtin credit but again on Probe is the Intelligensia EP from 1992, which features this song, which gave this show it’s name, for obvious reasons. SO BEAUTIFUL!

The next show probably came from the urge to continue down an electronic dance path as I was feeling like I made too many rock playlists. I started with an old electro-funk playlist, got rid of some of the more obvious choices and made it more eclectic, grabbing some not quite electro hip-hop, some breakdance type stuff, even some techno and freestyle. Lots of vocoders of course. Some influence from a few classic compilations. Streetsounds Electro comps, the Beat Classic comp, etc.

SOMETHING FRESH TO SWING TO
1. Newtrament – London Bridge is Falling Down
UK electro-funk from the early 80s.

2. The Russell Brothers – The Party Scene
I don’t know anything about this more then what I read on the StreetSounds comp and quickly forgot. Pretty dope and slept on track.

3. Fearless Four – F-4000
Mike Simonetti used to play this all the time. I think electro-funk DJs don’t know this because it’s from a “rap” group. Some of the dopest vocoder rapping ever.

4. Kraftwerk – Computer World
They had to be in here somewhere.

5. Model 500 – Night Drive (Time, Space, Transmat)
Juan Atkins once again. He started with Cybotron which was New Wave meets Prince meets electro-funk. Night Drive, along with No UFOs and Future represent the transition from electro-funk to techno.

6. Freestyle – Don’t Stop the Rock
Pretty Tony electro-funk freestyle party jam. If this doesn’t get them dancing, it’s time to go home.

7. Rocksteady Crew – Rocksteady Crew
First heard this on Night Flight’s take off on dancing on USA cable tv late saturday night sometime in the late 80s. Pretty goofy but insanely infectious. Should they have stuck with their day jobs?

8. Fearless Four – Rockin’ It
Another from Fearless Four, rocking it to Kraftwerk’s Man Machine. They had another jam called Just Rock which is them rapping over an insanse version of Gary Numan’s Cars. This is one overlooked old-school rap crew due for serious hipster reappraisal.

9. Faze One – Get Buzy
I know nothing about this other then it’s from England and was on StreetSounds Electro 20, and is exactly the kind of weird shit that would never fly in America but ends up sounding like hip-hop from mars, and thus, pretty wonderful.

10. B+ – B-Beat Classic
1983 West End classic, Spyder-D re-arranging the Sessomatto break. This appreaed on the 1997 Beat Classic compilation, an awesome collection of hip-hop stuff that sorta fell through the cracks in the mid 80s.

11. Levi 167 – Something Fresh to Swing To
Getting further away from electro, more of a boom-bap hip-hop kind of thing but it seemed to fit fine. Levi 167 was a grafitti artist, this came out on B-Boy Records in 1987. The instrumental version appears on the aforementioned Beat Classic comp, but as usual, I like the rap.

12. Man Parrish – Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop)
I don’t think I need to say anything about this. How about another personal anecdote? First year of college, Sarge’s Records in Oberlin, Ohio was going out of business selling off all their vinyl for a buck or two a piece. Todd Hutlock, the same fellow who was hooking me up with Detroit Techno CDs said “go check out the sale, there’s some classic electro stuff there”, and I bought this 12″. Now I know it’s pretty ubiquitious, but I’d never heard anything like that before in my life. For what it’s worth, I like the flipside, Heatstroke, even better, it’s more electro-disco than electro-funk, but both sides are totally awesome.

2 Comments »

  1. (yaaay dan!)

    thanks for including 0733. i’m glad to see there’s still some people loving Probe nearly 15 years on…

    Comment by rob — April 4, 2008 @ 1:52 pm
  2. “Probe Mission USA CD” – so overground. The real underground kids just had “Probe” – the import comp!

    Who was your friend with the car/CD player? Sounds like he had a huge dong.

    Comment by baby o — April 8, 2008 @ 2:06 am

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