Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Other People Place - Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe review

The Other People Place
Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe

The last time I had the vinyl version of this album in my hands was at the listening stand in Dublin's Big Brother Records, when it was first released in 2001. The fact that I can even remember this detail so long after says a lot about how I feel about this album. At the time I chose the CD as I knew it would be an album I would want to immerse myself in fully from beginning to end. I would never have thought at the time the vinyl would be worth so much money someday but I wouldn't have sold it anyway. This was still a time when word of mouth from friends and record shop staff was very important for discovering new music. In this case, I think that Alan O'Boyle from Decal had already tipped me off about the album and its connection to Drexciya but Big Brother's Killian also made sure I knew who I was listening to when I asked for it that day. Big Brother was a small basement electronic/dance music shop that unsurprisingly no longer exists 16 years later. Of course, much else has changed in how we consume and experienced music since then.

While there might still be a few purely Internet cafes around, the regular cafe has itself changed and become truly wireless since then and is now the most visible public space for people to access the virtual world with handheld devices. The paradox will always be that you have to disconnect from the real world to enter this wider but virtual one and I think the album is somewhat concerned with that. The albums cover could be interpreted to show the laptop as an interface between these two worlds, that of nature and the interior of a room on the screen of the laptop. Might this be 'The Other People Place', the corner of a room in virtual reality (a 2D image of reality)? The Designers Republic did an amazing job with this now iconic sleeve. When it arrived I imagined what a kick James Stinson must have gotten when he first saw the finished product as well. From the music and titles he'd sent to a label on the other side of the world, to see those things transformed and multiplied into this beautiful physical object must have been a very special experience.

In the same way that vinyl refuses to die (the vinyl revival was already well underway in 2001, trust me) this album has been steadily growing in stature by word of mouth in the real and virtual world ever since. It was inevitable that Warp would eventually feel the time was right for a re-press and I've no doubt that in another 10 years or less there will be sufficient demand from the next generation to press it again. It's an album that does not sound dated in any way. It certainly helps that its production is so seemingly minimal and that it comes packed with so much soul. Its themes are the eternal ones of love, life, meaning, nature, identity and technology. It's a wonderful soundtrack for life (styles), in that it's one of those albums you keep finding new sides to as you grow older.

I wouldn't have known this was a solo effort from Stinson at the time; no-one even knew his name widely then, sadly this would only happen on his death about a year and a half later. I don't think that anyone would have known either for a few more months at least that this was to be the first  album to be released from Drexciya's 7 album Storm Series. I know I treated it as another of their one-off projects at the time, like The Elecktroids, whose album had also been released by Warp six years earlier.

I loved the album right away but was initially surprised that it was so very different from Drexciya's music and signature sounds. I have previously reviewed the album in more detail here in the context of its place in the Storm Series. From looking at them all together back in 2005 I personally thought the album was number 3 in the series and that it was about finding your true self and developing/retaining your basic human emotions, especially love and not to become a victim of the coldness of technology/modern society but everyone will have their own opinions.

It's great to have the album back in physical form so that people can discover it in record stores and elsewhere, so it can go on sound-tracking lives and creating new memories all over again

You can still order it from Bleep here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bleep's Drexciya Guide, Drexciya Star chart, live shows and more

I was invited to write a Drexciya Guide for Bleep to coincide with Warp's much anticipated double vinyl reissue of The Other People Place album, Lifestyles of the Laptop Café (2001), which is available now from this link. I picked 10 of their albums that are currently available from Bleep to create a chronological guide and wrote a short piece about each; including releases by Elecktroids, Drexciya, Dopplereffekt, The Other People Place, Der Zyklus, Arpanet, Lab Rat XL, Transllusion and Zwischenwelt.

In the artwork for Drexciya's final album, Grava 4, you can see the location of the star, DREXCIYA. This was created by them on the 4th of February 2002 through an organisation called the International Star Registry. A long time ago I searched for a link to this online but never could find it. Thanks to one of my readers I was sent the link with all the details. This is great timing considering the upcoming reissue of Grava 4 on Clone Aqualung. Check out this link for details of the stars location, position on star chart etc.

Dopplereffekt will be playing live in London, England on 25th March. This will be part of a show to present Nina Kraviz's new label, Galaxiid. 808 Sate will also be playing live with Nina Kraviz, Luke Vibert and more on the bill. Perhaps this means we can expect Heinrich Mueller to release music on this new label in the future, which is said to focus on more experimental, ambient and psychedelic music. Back in 2010 there was even a very low key connection between Mueller and Kraviz, when she was listed as a member, under the name Curie, of the ever mysterious Noether Symmetry and also contributed a vocal to the NRSB-11 project. Her un-credited vocal is on the 12" EP and the CD version of the NRSB-11 album, Commodified, from 2013 on WeMe Records (play the track in question here).

Dopplereffekt have also been added to the Dimensions festival line-up, alongside Jeff Mills, Nina Kraviz, Theo Parrish, Grace Jones and many more. The event will happen in Croatia from 30th August to 3rd September. Finally, another new Dopplereffekt show has been announced for Berlin, Germany on 14th April 2017. The night is a 3 year celebration for the Libertine club.

There is an Arpanet show booked at an interesting looking festival in Italy that runs from 23rd - 25th June. Andrew Weatherall and ambient legend Laraaji are also on the bill, more details at this link.

There is a new Drexciya/Mueller themed vinyl mix up on Souncloud, worth a listen.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

1997 Drexciya interview from Muzik magazine

This is an interview with Drexciya from the September 1997 issue of Muzik by Tim Barr (download magazine's full PDF file here). It's a fascinating conversation at a crucial moment for them, when they were announcing their retirement with the release of The Quest compilation. While this is the first time I have seen how the original article looked, back in 2007 I was sent a transcription of it which you can read here. The last picture is a scan of a piece from the month before flagging the interview in the next issue. Click on each image to enlarge. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Drexciya Grava 4 reissue on Clone Aqualung

Clone's Aqualung label will be reissuing Drexciya's epic, Grava 4, album on double vinyl soon. This was their final album and was originally released on 2LP and CD in 2002 on Clone. It currently sells for at least €55 on Discogs and is another very welcome reissue for fans new and old. So far this video has been posted on Clone Facebook page. Here is a link to an extensive article I wrote about the album for DRL back in 2005. To order from Clone keep an eye on this link.

Dopplereffekt have just been confirmed to be in the line-up for this years Dekmantel festival in Amsterdam, Holland (2nd - 6th August 2017). They have played at this much loved event previously in 2015 and maybe even before.

Two Arpanet shows have been announced! They will be part of Clone's very special, 'Return to the Future', show in Amsterdam, Holland on 31st March (see promo text below). They will also be playing live in Paris, France on 3rd February with DJ Stingray on the bill.

'Celebrating the 25th year of existence of a seminal house and techno imprint that helped shape the course of electronic music as we now know it. 25 Years on, Clone Records is still doing business its own way. With a heart for the classic and an ear for the new, the label is looking at the future again. Shelter and Clone Records invite everyone downstairs to the Return of The Future Tour.'

Mark Fisher, the music writer and political theorist has died. Here is a link to the full transcript of an interview he did with Mike Banks for a UR cover story in The Wire back in 2007 (see text below). More links about and connected to Mark in comments.

"I heard Drexciya, and I thought it was some of the weirdest space shit I ever heard. I was proud to be able to introduce the world to Drexciya." -Mike Banks

Lake Haze have a Drexciya tribute track, 'Drexciyan Aquarium', on their powerful new EP, Intergalactic Communicationz, on Creme Organization. Lake Haze (which itself is the name of a Drexciya track from Harnessed The Storm) is producer and DJ Gonçalo Salgado from Portugal. Listen and purchase at this link.

Another quality new Drexciya mix from the Mixcloud.

This is a full length video of Dopplereffekt playing live in Gothenburg, Sweden on November 5th 2011. Sadly the sound distorts a bit but otherwise it's a great document of their live show of the time and you can really see what Mueller is up to on the keyboard.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Other People Place's Lifestyles of the Laptop Café vinyl reissue

Get ready for the best news a Drexciya fan could have wished for! Finally, the vinyl reissue of The Other People Place album, Lifestyles of the Laptop Café, is upon us. It's available at this link on pre-order from Bleep right now, estimated to be shipped on the 9th of February 2017. Bleep have written some lovely words (some of which are below) about this now 15 year old classic album and Warp have even made a short trailer on their YouTube channel to promote it. 

It's fantastic that this album has built up such a passionate audience and has gained in demand over the years, with vinyl copies having sold for up to 220 euro according to Discogs. One fan even got over 1000 people to sign a petition to reissue the album on vinyl over a year ago and I'm sure all of these factors helped Warp make their very welcome decision. Back in 2005 I wrote an extended article about the album and its place in Drexciya's Storm Series. Hopefully Warp will reissue Elecktroid's Elektroworld album on vinyl next!

"Like all of the very best techno and electro, The Other People Place yields some of the most beautiful sounds to emerge from the D with a limited sound pallette, stripping everything back to the essentials to compose an incredibly important yet delicate album that still to this day continues to fascinate and seduce with its strikingly subtle flow and elegant mystery."

On YouTube at this link there is a beautiful unreleased Arpanet track which has been looped by the uploader to over 11 minutes. The track actually comes from Futurity's Soundcloud (one of Heinrich Mueller's booking agents) which has a 10 minute sample of 10 tracks from Arpanet's live set from 4 years ago.

The first high quality video of Dopplereffekt playing live in Montreal, Canada inside an Olympic sized swimming pool (23rd October 2016) has been uploaded.

"One of the most extraordinary and most influential instances of sonic fiction comes with the music of Detroit techno music pioneers Drexciya...they manage to express and communicate something unspeakable, delving into areas which have been forgotten and suppressed by the hegemonic discourse of White and Western Cultural Memory. The performance of purely instrumental techno music becomes an extremely effective political tool, even a weapon." - from an academic paper by Peter M Boenisch, “Make World”: Archaeology as Alienation in Contemporary Performance (2008), which includes Drexciya in the discussion. I shared this here back in 2008 but the original link does not work anymore.

As this will probably be the final post here of 2016 I'll leave you with a link to my first public DRL themed mix from a month or so ago (track list below). Here's to lots more Drexciya and Heinrich Mueller music and news to write about and share in 2017!

1. Arpanet - The Analyst (2002)
2. Dopplereffekt - Scientist (1995)
3. Arpanet - Infinite Density (2006)
4. Drexciya - Hydro Theory (1995)
5. Abstract Thought - Bermuda Triangle (2002)
6. Elecktroids - Silicon Valley (1995)
7. Lab Rat XL - Lab Rat 1 (2002)
8. Transllusion - Transmission of Life (2001)
9. Drexciya - Journey Home (1995)
10. Dopplereffekt - Infophysix (1995)
11. The Other People Place - Sunrays (2001)
12. NRSB 11 - Market Forces (2013)
13. Der Zyklus - Formenverwandler (2001)
14. Black Replica - Black Feathers (2006)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Black Replica videos, New Daughter Produkt and Heinrich Mueller's Conic Sections

The Black Replica revival starts here! Someone has shared the two original and still very mysterious and intriguing Black Replica (Heinrich Mueller and a still anonymous woman) videos from 2006 on YouTube. They were removed from the official Paradox Twin account in 2009 and have not been seen since. 'Mathematical Eyes' was actually newly uploaded about a year ago and 'Spider Theory' just 2 months ago. The video quality is lower than the original, which is kind of poetic after 10 years. Its been great to see some of the details of these videos again, as well as hearing the still timeless music. It reminds me so much of the spirit of 2006 when I was just beginning DRL and these MySpace projects came along not long after (incl Zwischenwelt, Zerkalo etc) and gave me so much to write about and share. About 2 years ago I revisited the story of Black Replica in this post.

Here's another blast from Gerald Donald's past, the very unexpected return of Daughter Produkt! A new track by them, 'Direction Asymmetry', is included on Dreamy Harbour, a new compilation of unreleased tracks due on Tresor soon on 3LP and CD. The press blurb says this about it, 'There's also room for a track from Daughter Produkt, a new project from Drexciya's Gerald Donald featuring two vocalists.' See more about Daughter Produkt from the DRL archives here. The project was originally launched in 2007 on MySpace in collaboration with Spanish producer Annie Hall. What next, the return of Noether Symmetry!

Heinrich Mueller was also recently commissioned to create music for an art exhibition, An Image, currently on show in Art Center South Florida, USA. The exhibition website appears to just play one of the sections of the piece, 'Conic Sections, but not all four. More details here, info about his contribution from their website below.

Heinrich Mueller-Dataphysix Renormalon
Conic Sections, 2016
TRT 30:30 minutes
This audio track, available on the wireless headphones inside
the gallery space and on the website, was produced by Heinrich
Mueller formerly of the Detroit techno group Drexciya. The
piece is divided into four 7 ½ minute movements (1: Plane-Cone
intersection; 2: Circle; 3: Ellipse; and 4: Parabola) that conjure
the image of a plane changing its angle while intersecting with
a cone, and thus generating various corresponding curves.

Arpanet will be playing live in Stockholm, Sweden on 3rd December and on 10th December in Brussels, Belgium.

There is an extremely good mix of only Heinrich Mueller remodels by kroniktronikboy and another great Drexciya themed mix from earlier this year which comes from Irish based producer and DJ Lerosa.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Heinrich Mueller remodels As One on Brainbox plus much more

There is a new Heinrich Mueller remodel of 'Where Did He Go... And Why', by As One upcoming soon. It can be found on a 6 LP boxset, Brainbox, a compilation due for release on the De:Tuned label on 18th November in an edition of 300. Great to see Mueller working on material by the great Kirk Degiorgio, As One is one of his many aliases. Here is a sample of his remodel of 'Where Did He Go... And Why'. Order record from Juno and other places online.

Just to give you a heads up so you can secure early bird tickets, Dopplereffekt are on the bill for Safe as Milk festival, in Wales, UK, which will run from 21st to 23rd April 2017. More details here.

It looks like there has either been a re-press or a box of them have shown up somewhere, but Drexciya's Hydro Doorways (2000) and Digital Tsunami (2001) EPs, both on Tresor, have shown up. At least two online retailers, Japhy and Juno (see comments for link) have got new copies at reasonable prices anyways.

This is a link to a newly published academic paper, 'DEEP SEA DWELLERS: Drexciya and the Sonic Third Space' by Nettrice R. Gaskins. Abstract below:

'This article addresses the complex conceptual framework of Drexciya, an electronic music duo from Detroit who established an origin myth based on the Middle Passage, the route for ships carrying enslaved African people from one geographical location to another across the Atlantic Ocean. Whereas the origin myth of Plato’s Atlantis ends in a permanent submersion into the sea, the world of Drexciya begins with the creation of an underwater country populated by the unborn children of pregnant African women thrown off of slave ships. Drexciya exists as a sonic third space characterised by embedded myths, the construction of culture and the invention of tradition. I will highlight the development of this sonic fiction that spans several decades, influencing many artists, musicians and scholars, by focusing on the Drexciyan concept of an intercultural, transnational network that shows the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from their homeland, and newly created spaces that transform identities and cultures. This article draws on obscure artist interviews and well-known sources about Drexciya, including essays by Kodwo Eshun and Ben Williams, while advancing the notion of non-physical, sonic islands that sit in spaces between the island and the ocean.'

I was invited by Turn It On to do a mix and decided to do (the first ever) Drexciya Research Lab mix. This was lots of fun, hope you enjoy it here.

This is a new show from France's 'The Beat Radio Show' "dedicated to Gerald Donald of the mythical group of Detroit, DREXCIYA". Some great tracks are selected, new and old.

There is a new 2 hour Gerald Donald special (broadcast live yesterday) made by VLR on their Soundcloud now, so many great tunes together in one amazing mix. 6 years ago VLR did their first 2 hour GD mix, still up on their Soundcloud.

A quality new vinyl only mix by German DJ Morri. "I mixed some of my personal favorite tracks by James Stinson and Gerald Donald aka DREXCIYA to create an underwater journey - dive in and enjoy the real vintage Detroit electro goodness."