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October 25 - November 11

Earplug is a twice-monthly email magazine, delivering a handpicked selection of news, sounds, videos, and original features to the international electronic-music community.

Sometimes it pays to switch up the rules. Radiohead garnered untold column (and blog) inches for their decision to release In Rainbows on a pay-what-you-wish basis. Leading off our album reviews this issue, they turn out to have crafted a record that more than holds its own amid the hype. They're not the only ones trying out new tactics: we also check in with the Illegal Art label, which continues to illuminate the gray areas of copyright with four new releases in the coming months, including a Steinski retrospective and a heavily anticipated new album from hyperactive laptopper Girl Talk. Our feature subject, Norway's Bjørn Torske, plots an unorthodox course through space disco's dub-drenched outer orbits. Disavowing hard-and-fast categories, he claims it's just "a sound thing." Sound reasoning, in our minds.


 
 
 
   
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NEWS 
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Chopped and Sued?
Illegal Art showcases sampling with Girl Talk, Steinski

Illegal Art, the Illinois imprint dedicated to sample-based music, again wades into legal gray areas with its recently announced winter release schedule, which includes a full-length from mashup virtuoso Girl Talk, esoteric pop projects from Realistic and Oh Astro, and a retrospective that collects the work of sample wizard Steinski. According to label owner Philo Farnsworth (a pseudonymous homage to an oft-forgotten inventor), Illegal Art's quasi-legal catalog pushes artistic and legal boundaries in order to ensure that sampling gets proper respect. "When Weird Al does a parody of someone, it's considered an honor," said Farnsworth. "I hope people are starting to view sampling that way."

According to Farnsworth, the upcoming Girl Talk disc will contain material similar to the kaleidoscopic Night Ripper. Road-tested during recent shows, the highly anticipated new tracks just need to be fine-tuned by the meticulous artist before a final release date is set. On a more historical note, the two-CD Steinski retrospective will contain all three of his landmark Lessons hip-hop mixes with Double Dee in addition to lesser-known later work, including his Nothing to Fear mix, (a Desert Storm-era collage mocking the first President Bush), and a piece reinterpreting audio related to the Kennedy assassination. (PCS)





 
 
 
 
MORE HEADLINES

The Moby Quotient
The art of selling out, refined more »


The Mystery of the Spinning Chads
DJmag outs cheaters from top-jocks poll more »


False Tuned
Burial to unearth Untrue in November more »





 

REVIEWS 
BACK TO TOP 

  Artist: Radiohead  
Title: In Rainbows
Label: Self-released
Release: October 15

While the surge of headlines surrounding Radiohead's surprise decision to release their new record without a label on a pay-what-you-wish plan is certainly well-deserved (who's ready for a revolution?!), there's a lot more than innovative distribution happening here. With In Rainbows, the band harnesses the wanton weirdness of years past into a relatively grounded hodgepodge of nostalgia-inducing sleeper anthems. In some ways, the record plays like a cheat sheet for the band's post-The Bends career: "Bodysnatchers" recalls the skewed-rock vibe of OK Computer's "Electioneering" while falsetto-crooner "Reckoner" hits like a Hail to the Thief b-side. "15 Step" feels like a rhythmic reworking of Amnesiac's "Like Spinning Plates," while the warbling guitar melodies of "Nude" caress dull nerves with a de-conceptualized imagining of the band's subdued, late-'90s downers (it actually dates from that period). That's a lot of references, so suffice it to say that the record's sometimes-reserved, sometimes-glitched-out mess of guitar, keening vocals, and alternately warm and wild electronics is roundly invigorating — whether you recognize the allusions or not. (AP)



  Artist: Sunburned Hand of the Man  
Title: Fire Escape
Label: Smalltown Supersound
Release: October 1

Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) first shook the Sunburned Hand while they were on tour in '04, and for this collaboration he finally takes the lead. The sleeve credits announce that Fire Escape was "envisioned, produced, mixed, and edited" by Hebden. Sunburned Hand of the Man was formed in Charlestown, Massachusetts, back in 1996, and has always been a loose collective; nowadays, the cast revolves around drummer John Moloney. For Fire Escape, Hebden divided the eight-piece band into smaller combos which he packed off into separate booths and gave specific instructions for improvisation, shaping the final mishmash into a Four Tet-addled vision. Cyclical funk and disembodied tinkering are the album's two prime modes. Can is the immediate reference point, but the album's stunning title track takes on the mantle of Faust, working up an endlessly propulsive bass/drum loop clipped with spiraling guitar. Sometimes, as on "The Wind Has Ears," the piecemeal work suffers from too much abstraction, wandering at length with meandering piano, metallic percussion, and uncomfortable groans; the disc's highlights, however, turn obsessive repetition into a virtue. (ML)



  Artist: DJ Le Spam  
Title: Fania Live.02: Miami/DJ Le Spam
Label: Fania
Release: September 25

The Motown of modern Latin music, Fania Records extracted masterpieces from the fertile cultural climate that was Latino New York in the '60s and '70s. To promote its current reissue campaign, the resurrected label has allowed DJs to scour its back catalog and curate Fania Live mixes. Miami's DJ Le Spam assembled this second collection, and his picks juxtapose South Beach sway with more hard-boiled fare, interweaving horn bursts, impassioned vocals, and the solid, satisfying thwap of congas. The bright piano chords of "Mayeya" and airy flutes of "Cumbia Tipica" contrast well with the strident horns on both the slinky "Sandstorm" and Willie Colón's "MC2 (Theme Realidades)." "Oh Mi Shango" and Larry Harlow's badass "Latin Roots," an epic of wah-wah guitars and sinewy strings, could both score action sequences. Eschewing the standard introductory selections, this solid mix — rarely as generic as the source of Le Spam's ironic nickname suggests — showcases the eclecticism assembled under the Fania banner, with a contemporary club-culture twist. (PCS)



  Artist: TAKE  
Title: Earthtones & Concrete
Label: Inner Current
Release: October 15

With so much attention focused on post-hip-hop producers Flying Lotus and Madlib, another intriguing LA-based artist has gone largely unnoticed. TAKE's string of glitchy, collage-inspired EPs on labels Swedish Brandy, Buttermilk, and Rush Hour established his Prefuse-meets-Dilla beatwork as a major force. For his first full-length, Earthtones & Concrete, urban themes meet rural dreams as he daubs from a lush, lumpy sonic palette. Painterly meditations like "Black Space and Tangerines" and "Tuesday Never Comes" unite piano chords, warm synths, organic percussion, and crunchy drum fragments that bask in a spiritual-jazz halo. TAKE's rhythms often surge, brake hard, and sputter like cars in LA gridlock. Vocalist Gabby Hernandez (Build an Ark) and mellow rapper Dutchmassive are the album's only vocal contributors, which leaves plenty of space for free-form, beat-less interludes and wholly abstract head-nod constructions. With Earthtones, TAKE explores hip-hop's mental landscape but keeps it grounded in asphalt aesthetics. (TAP)


 
   



 

MULTIMEDIA: BOOK


   

Artist:

Kim Hiorthøy
Title: Tago Mago
Label: Bergen Kunsthall/Smalltown Superbooks
Release: October 15
 
 




It's pretty safe to assume that Kim Hiorthøy survives on very little sleep. The 34-year-old Norwegian electronic musician, illustrator, graphic designer, filmmaker, and writer manages a successful creative balance that few multidisciplinary artists can claim. During the past year alone, Hiorthøy released a well-received full-length album (My Last Day) and a superb 7-inch (I'm This, I'm That) both for Smalltown Supersound, managed the graphic design and art direction of the respected Rune Grammofon imprint, and put together his first comprehensive solo art show at Norway's Bergen Kunsthall gallery. Tago Mago is the beautifully printed archive of that show, and the third in a series of art books cataloging his illustrations, photographs, and collages. The title is derived from the Aleister Crowley-related Isla de Tagomago, a private island off the coast of Ibiza, which also lent its name to Can's 1971 masterpiece Tago Mago. In keeping with its title, the book documents the less jovial side of Hiorthøy's work: a mostly black-and-white landscape dotted with fragile emotions and awkward human instabilities, a stark contrast to the multicolored cover art he's designed for Smalltown Supersound, Rune Grammafon, and others. His sublime line drawings, while representative of familiar images, appear to slowly morph into eerie, almost nightmarish shapes. Interpreting them can feel like staring too long at something in the dark or trying to focus at the tail end of a marathon stretch of insomnia. Either way, it's clear that Kim Hiorthøy could use a good night's sleep. (SM)


 

 
 
 
EARPLUG FAVES

Paul Bley
Solo in Mondsee
ECM

Neil Landstrumm
Restaurant of Assassins
Planet Mu

Robosonic
Sturm und Drang
Diskomafia

Surgeon
This Is for You Shits
Warp

Someone Else
Pen Caps Remixed
Foundsound

Alland Byallo
Tried & True EP
Nightlight

Etienne Jaumet
"Repeat Again After Me"
Versatile

Radio Slave
"Bell Clap Dance"
Rekids

Quenum
"Agbaja"
Alphahouse


 

EVENTS 
BACK TO TOP 
 
PREVIEW: Club der Visionaere presents Jitterbug Ballroom
November 16
Berlin, Germany
www.admiralspalast.de

Berlin's Club der Visionaere is more like a riverside refuge than your typical nightspot: with a bar and DJ booth tucked inside a shed alongside the open-air deck/dance floor, the seasonal venue stays open from evening through morning and on until who-knows-when, making it a prime place for clubbers to both start their social hours and to finish (or continue, depending) a long night out. (Plus, where else can you see big-name touring DJs after-hours and for free?) Now, in an event to be held at Berlin's Admiralspalast — a theater incorporating a 19th-century public bathhouse — Club der Visionaere plays off the Admiralspalast's cabaret history with a one-night tribute to the '20s, complete with jitterbug dancers and era-appropriate visuals. As the evening's musical programming might seem a strange fit, a little backstory is in order. The genesis of Narod Niki — the "laptop supergroup" led by Ricardo Villalobos, which, in its handful of appearances, has featured collaborators such as Luciano, Zip, Thomas Melchior, Richie Hawtin, Carl Craig, and Monolake on the boards — dates back to Club der Visionaere's long-rumored collaborative jams, which featured Villalobos' crew tapping away alongside Berlin jazzbos plucking and blowing. As with all Narod Niki performances, the exact lineup remains a secret, but the program's mention of "Narod Niki and his orchestra" suggests that attendees may be in for a rare electro-acoustic fusion, filtering the spirit of cosmopolitan, '20s Berlin through the lens of its hedonistic, digital present. Sally Bowles, hang onto your hat. (PS)




PREVIEW: John Foxx
November 24
London, UK
www.theluminaire.co.uk

John Foxx, the former lead singer of electronic band Ultravox, performs solo in London for the third time this fall, marking a colossal comeback after spending many years away from the music industry. In 1980, working only with synthesizers and drum machines, Foxx recorded Metamatic, one of the pivotal albums of the era. Influenced by J.G. Ballard's dystopian science fiction and sung in an odd, metallic voice, Foxx's starkly minimalistic music sounds peculiar even among the new romantics, new wavers, and Kraftwerk acolytes of the time. Recent weeks have seen Foxx return to the stage twice to perform Metamatic in its entirety to sold-out crowds. This five o'clock performance is not only free for those wearing a From Trash t-shirt but also features an expanded repertoire, with a portion of the evening's set list chosen by online request. Tonight's late show is already sold out, so if you want a rare experience in '80s futurism, get yourself a shirt and be sure to show up early. (GP)







 
 
 
MORE EVENTS

Lee Burridge
September 7 - December 31
World Tour

Battles
October 27 - November 25
World Tour

Dublin Electronic Arts Festival
October 25-29
Dublin, Ireland

Buck 65
October 30 - November 30
US Tour

OFFF
November 2-4
New York, New York

Club to Club
November 8-10
Torino, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain

Spiritualized
November 11-16
US Tour

Avanto
November 16-18
Helsinki, Finland

Unsound
November 21-24
Krakow, Poland



 

LISTEN 
BACK TO TOP 
 

Ricardo Villalobos: Live at Fabric (stream)
Legitimate live sets from the Chilean Minister of Minimal are few and far between, so it's a treat to have this hour-long excerpt. Recorded straight off the board from one of his infamous sessions at Fabric this summer, the spring-loaded, loopy set shows Villalobos at the peak of his powers.

LISTEN



Chloé: RA.073 (MP3)
Recorded live at Madrid's Mundo club, this 83-minute mix of electro-infused minimal shows that the Parisian musician's DJ sets can be as spiky as her debut album, The Waiting Room, is woozy.

LISTEN



Rob Hall: Aesthetica Erratica October 2007 (MP3)
Only available till November 1, this is the latest installment in the ongoing mix series from Rob Hall, of Gescom and the Skam label: 78 mind-melting minutes of academic computer music, vintage techno, hardcore, electro, and, of course, plenty of IDM for good measure.

LISTEN



STL: Something Promo Mix 2007 (MP3)
Stephan Laubner is easily Perlon's most esoteric artist — and that's on a label already known for its eccentricity. On this three-and-a-quarter-hour-long session, he spins oblique, clicky selections from his ultra-indie label Something into a funky, lo-fi blur.

LISTEN



Superset: Stash Mix (MP3)
On this contribution to monthly DVD mag Stash, Atlanta, GA's Superset crams an incredible 77 tracks into a mere 43 minutes, blowing through styles like so much cotton candy in a wind tunnel — without ever sounding messy. Instead, with a hip-hop producer's ear for detail, he welds it into a seamless, monolithic mass.

LISTEN


Looking for more hot mix sets and fresh new tracks? Check out Blentwell for an ongoing document of the evolution of blended music online.



 
 
 
WATCH

Prefuse 73 w/ School of Seven Bells, "The Class of 73 Bells"
Scott Herren meets the Beach Boys aboard the Yellow Submarine watch »

Chloé, "Be Kind to Me"
Parisian musician goes film (and phono) noir watch »

Midnight Juggernauts, "Into the Galaxy"
Justice tourmates in search of Major Tom watch »

Tunng, "Bullets"
Satellites are sentimental watch »

Hali Halisi
Three-part web doc on Tanzanian hip-hop watch »

 

FEATURE 
BACK TO TOP 
 

  Rubber Soul
Bjørn Torske takes a flexible, worldly approach to dance music

While Norway's sub-Arctic climes have frequently proven fertile ground for cold, distant dance music, the Scandinavian sound currently flooding clubs is warmer, more spacious, and mystical, referencing the country's wide-open vistas and extended evening hours. Bjørn Torske is adept at conjuring up such a panoramic feel, folding elastic melodies and offbeat percussion into a bed of warm synthesizers. This year's Feil Knapp, a fusion of the organic and electronic, reconciles house's synthetic studio pulse with a carefree, almost primal, vibe. During a break at his studio in the university town of Bergen, Torske recently spoke by phone with Earplug's Patrick Sisson about his musical roots.

Earplug: How did growing up in northern Norway, with the long days and nights, affect your career?

Bjørn Torske: What drove my friends and I growing up in Tromsø to make music was the fact that there was no music scene. You had to mail-order records, and before you could order, you had to know what to order. It was a slow process with a lot of boredom inserted into it. We had to do something to amuse ourselves. In my case, it was music. A producer named Biosphere was a mentor who got me started. I think of his music as the soundtrack for the dark times in the winter.

EP: You also grew up with the guys from Röyksopp. How did you all meet?

BT: In 1987, I started hosting a show at Brygga, a local radio station. One of the guys, Torbjörn [Brundtland], had an older sister who worked at the station, who is now my wife. She introduced me. I remember meeting them in the basement of one of their parents' houses and seeing them play with this league of synthesizers. They didn't know anything about MIDI, so they were kind of rehearsing, properly playing all the instruments in time. When I showed them MIDI, they were like, "I can pretend to be the director of an orchestra and I don't need the musicians?"


keep reading »





 
 
 
 
MORE FEATURES

Scene Stealer
Steve Aoki courts Ibiza, hubris more »

Keeping It Unreal
Brian Eno on Roxy Music's artificial origins more »

Anticipating Meissner
Klimek on ego, politics, and a new album more »

Weird Pains and Filthy Sublets
Invisible Conga People have something to squawk about more »

Head Down and Underground
Burial returns "buzzing and glowing" more »

Right Time, Right Place
Weatherall reinvents himself with Wrong Meeting more »

The House that Stockhausen Built
Stefan Goldmann tugs at techno's foundations more »

Tossing Flowers
Flying Lotus hits Reset more »



 

CHARTS 
BACK TO TOP 
  Each issue, Earplug sneaks a peek inside the crates of our favorite DJs. We'll even help you beef up your own bag: click on selected titles to preview tracks, download MP3s, or purchase vinyl.

 
 
  Deadset
(Front Room)

London, UK
www.myspace.com/wearedeadset

 


The latest signing to Jesse Rose's Front Room Recordings label, Deadset are Tom Mangan and Cass — or Deadset 1 and Deadset 2, as they like to be called. Their debut album, Keys Open Doors, is a good-natured, deeply funky example of all that's right with UK house these days. It's as squelchy as you like it, and — as the extended mixes of "Buzzer Says Werner" and "Cardinal Rules" attest — right up there with Carl Craig and Radio Slave's most hypnotic productions.

  1. DadaBleep, "Tryout (Plasmik Remix)" (Fear of Flying)
  2. Ed Davenport, "Eyespeak" (Liebe Detail)
  3. Falko Brocksieper, "Autofahrmusik" (Cereal/Killers)
  4. Miguel Toro presents Oil of Mars, "Cure (Oil of Mars vs Samim)" (Moon Harbour)
  5. Tom Mangan, "Bit Lip"/"Good Words" (Lorna)
  6. Pheek, "The Other on the Bee" (Iturnem)
  7. Reggy van Oers, "Metza" (Trapez Ltd)
  8. Paul Ritch, "Shester" (Resopal Schallware)
  9. Deadset, "Tick Tock (Jesse Rose Dub)" (Front Room)
  10. Cass, "Dumb" (BluFin)

 




 
 
 
 

CREDITS 
BACK TO TOP 
  Managing Editor
Philip Sherburne

Contributing Editors
Anna Balkrishna
Melody Caraballo
Doug Levy
Steve Marchese
Andrew Phillips

Cover Art
Beautiful/Decay

Production
Anjuli Ayer
Morgan Croney
Teel Lassiter
Sarah Steele
Peter Stepek
Daphne Yang

Founder
David J. Prince

Contributors
Brian Blessinger
Todd L. Burns
Michael Byrne
Jimmy Carson
Joe P. Colly
David M. Cotner
Andy Cumming
Jonathon Dale
Rachel B. Doyle
Cameron Eeles
Manu Ekanayake
Ronan Fitzgerald
Marc Gilman
Maya Henderson
Jorge Hernandez
James Jung
Natalie Liechti
Dei Lewison
Martin Longley
Melissa Maouris
Michaelangelo Matos
Colin James Nagy
Tomas A. Palermo
Nick Parish
Jon Perlmutter
Lola Rephann
Dustin Ross
Joe Rudkin
Jesse Serwer
Patrick C. Sisson
Bruce Tantum
Neal Ungerleider
Toby Warner
Julie Yau

 
 
 

  About Us
  Earplug is an email magazine dedicated to electronic music and its many dynamic styles and influences. Published twice-monthly, it features a handpicked selection of music news, cultural spotlights, tip sheets, CD reviews, original reporting, and music festival previews and reviews. Earplug offers only pure editorial and unbiased news — no money is accepted from any artists, labels, promoters, or companies seeking mention.  
 
  Media Partnerships
  Every other week, Earplug presents one exclusive media partner. Click for more information about advertising opportunities on Earplug and across all Flavorpill publications.
 
 
  Cover Art
  We have an open call to create the covers that run at the top of each issue. If you would like to submit a design, please email us at design and we'll send you the necessary specs.  
 
  Submissions/Feedback
  Tell us what you think is exciting and worth including in Earplug by dropping us an email at tips. Writers interested in getting even more involved should reach us at contribute. To criticize, praise, or generally comment on this publication, please send an email to feedback.

In addition to this twice-monthly digest of new electronic music, Flavorpill also publishes ten other email magazines, covering ART, BOOKS, NEWS, FASHION, and cultural events in six cities — NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES, SAN FRANCISCO, CHICAGO, MIAMI, and LONDON.





 
 
 
 




 

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