quip of the week

Jeffrey St. Clair, Counterpunch:

Stephen King’s It was one of the five scariest books I’ve ever read, along with Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Clive Barker’s Damnation Game, Tom Holland’s Lord of the Dead (featuring Byron as a very temperamental vampire) and, of course, In My Time by Dick Cheney.

lazy YT-jaying: Swayzak

Swayzak notes from Discogs:

Tech house duo from the United Kingdom that consists of James S. Taylor and David Brown. They live and work in London.

The name Swayzak comes from "związek" which means "union" in Polish.

I seem to recall an interview from back in the day where they said they took the name from Patrick Swayze. Much better. (Naming one of their LPs "Dirty Dancing" favors the latter interpretation.)

Taylor and Brown started working together in 1993, under the name "Language Lab" though they first met in 1989, after working for four years of mainly studio evolvement, became Swayzak in 1997. Taylor left the group in 2012 and Brown continues alone.

Alone, alone, to soldier on into the existential fog that is the life of... the techno musician. But seriously, what I admire and envy about Swayzak is (a) the "deep" sound that is tinged with melancholy but also occasionally humor and (ii) the ability to do long songs with a few simple elements, which are made lush and mysterious through the use of reverb and impeccable production skills.

A short history of Swayzak:

Swayzak "Low-Rez Skyline" [YouTube] from 1998 -- CD version

Swayzak "Low-Res Skyline" [YouTube] from 1997. 12-inch. In addition to the change of spelling "low-res," the song is structured much differently. The electro "whonk/zap" sound comes in at the middle and is used to make tunes. The CD version is better overall but the comparison intrigues.

At the peak of the duo's popularity they began adding vocals, some by name musicians. This didn't work, owing to the incompatibility of grafting an overt "humanizing" element into a genre which charms through its essentially alienated, abstract, mental space. Swayzak had already successfully "humanized" techno with the touches mentioned above. You don't need Kirsty Hawkshaw singing on top of that.

One exception is:

Swayzak "Illegal (Bigga Bush Version)" [YouTube] Not because the rasta poetry is great but for the overall development of the song from slow, ambient stabs to full-on house, replete with a disco bassline.

In any case, happily, years later, now that Brown is... alone... Swayzak is back in form.

Swayzak "Shot by Both Sides" [YouTube] from 2016. 13 minutes!

i hear music in the air


Discogs is helping to make sense of some of the vinyl scarfed up during my days as a professional disc-spinner, mostly around the turn of the millennium. French and German house predominates in this cache. Dan Electro's "I Hear Music in the Air" always sounded good in a bar/restaurant environment -- the EP it came from was sold without the cover (above) so I had no clue what it was. The vocal sample, which I half-heartedly guessed might be Ella Fitzgerald, comes from gospel diva Vickie Winans, who is utterly transformed from a rafter-rattling sonic cannon into a mellow club groovemeister.
The real name of the somewhat ridiculous Dan Electro is Alain Gerber.

lazy YT-jaying

Am organizing my "record collection" (with many nerdy visits to Discogs to see which pricy versions I was fortunate to have picked up back in the day for $4.99). As I do this I find songs to "share" -- much as I hate contributing to the YT monoculture (yawn let's get on with it)

Tuxedomoon "Grand Hotel" [YouTube] Blaine is kind of sawing away here but I love the vocoderized Garbo loop and how it comes back in at the end

Tuxedomoon "Conquest" [YouTube] "What do I care for your orders? You can't frighten me." more vocoderized Garbo - nice

Tuxedomoon "Queen Christina" [YouTube] "...Oh, this great joy I feel now. This is how the Lord must have felt when he first beheld a finished world, with all his creatures breathing and living..." (Not vocoderized. Need to watch these Garbo films)

Tonto's Expanding Head Band "Jetsex" [YouTube] Just realized how much this anticipated the trippy "road" section of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" (long version)

Atomic Robo Kid "Googlex" [YouTube] Some crazy techno sh*t

David Van Tieghem "All Safe" [YouTube] Heavy on the Fairlight; this was right on the cusp, pre-808 State and "Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit," where '80s beats went from crunchy/static to fluid/sexy

Harley & Muscle "Friends and Enemies" [YouTube] Deep house, and the confusion between friends and enemies.