Sunday, January 29, 2006

Listening To The Game

I saw an ad in today's Chronicle for a live orchestral performance of video game music. Here's the info from their site:

Video Games Live will feature the best music and video clips from the most popular games from the beginning of video gaming to the present. Games include:

Mario™, Zelda®, Halo®, Metal Gear Solid®, Warcraft®, Myst®, Final Fantasy®, God of War™, Kingdom Hearts, Castlevania®, Medal of Honor™, Sonic™, Tron, Tomb Raider®, Advent Rising, Headhunter, Beyond Good & Evil™, Splinter Cell®, Ghost Recon™, Rainbow Six®, EverQuest® II and a special retro Classic Arcade Medley featuring over 20+ games from Pong® to Donkey Kong® including such classics as Dragon's Lair, Tetris, Frogger, Gauntlet, Space Invaders & Outrun!

It will be a stellar event, which includes performances of the music, video and specially designed laser and light sequences showcasing over 50 different games in a wide variety of styles. Also included of course, is a special segment focusing on retro arcade classics!

This touring event will include a retrospective segment from the beginning of the video game era up to the present, several segments with game footage on three giant video screens, handheld cameras showing orchestra, and character close-ups. There will also be an interactive segment where selected audience members will actually play a game live onstage while the orchestra plays the music.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Peter Hook on New Order's first Grammy nomination:

``As Bernard says, I'd go to the opening of an envelope,'' Hook joked. ``So, if the record company pays for me (to attend), the answer is yes. That'd be pretty weird. I always love these ceremonies. They're so overblown. They really go to town on the bloody production and everything. That's always quite entertaining.

``Steve Morris has an interesting look on it, though. He says it's like a prize that you get because of the fact you've been through hell and you're still alive. He says they just wheel out all these old musicians and give them prizes. I think that because New Order and Joy Division did something different, people maybe took a while to understand the sort of impact we made, because we didn't do it normally.''

: Did I mention this for a track that Hooky cited as his least favorite on "Waiting For The Siren's Call"?

Friday, January 20, 2006


Ben Rubenstein's most recent column at PopMatters explores the recontextualization of music in everything from hip hop to car commercials:

Our initial reaction to a certain song is the one to stick the most; many critics will tell you that some of the greatest albums take a few listens to really take in, but it's that first involuntary response that is likely to keep you coming back. We all hold onto our favorite songs as though they were our own, and want to believe they hold the same importance for everyone. The likelihood of this is compromised when the songs we love exist in other forms — it is possible for others to view them in very different ways...Maybe this is the beauty of music: it can be experienced and loved in multiple formats; it can be recycled to inspire new generations and demographics.

: I tend to view sampling as a postmodern referencing point that points to an artist's influence. However, I’m occasionally reminded that not everyone is looking in that same context. A younger guy I work with is a huge Tupac fan and had “Changes” playing one day when I complained that I could never actually listen to the song, which expresses “the social stresses of the black race in America” because of all I ever hear is the cheese of Bruce Hornsby’s soft rock staple “The Way It Is “. This has never been a problem for my coworker, who first heard of Hornsby's version when he thought he heard Tupac playing at the dentist office.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Vote Or Die

You can vote for your favorite tracks, djs, producers and more in the first round of the International Dance Music Awards. The winners will be announced at the Winter Music Conference in Miami later this year.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

In The Pink

This week's Pink Section in the SF Chronicle was a mirror to my recent blogging interests. They noted Channel 1049's demise about 3/4 of the way through Ben Fong-Torres Radio Waves column, gave Party Ben's "American Edit" mash-up album a rave review and had a puff piece on Live 105 music director and former Subsonic host Aaron Axelsen. The interview played up the importance of Axelson's club Popscene, which is a Bay Area institution, and the importance of Live 105's Sunday night new music show which he hosts. Axelsen has been around the station for years and is the glue that has kept the station somewhat consistent with it's heritage of playing interesting new music that doesn't always jive with the mainstream. As you might expect from a music director who has lasted over a decade in the position he is pragmatic and the station doesn't always reflect his own taste:

...he dismisses rumors to the contrary as the groundless charges of message-board-frequenting music snobs who complain that the Bay Area's oldest alternative station has become anything but alternative.

"For every person that accuses the station of being too mainstream, there's someone else who wants to know why we aren't playing more Linkin Park," he jokes. "My job isn't to cater to this group or that group. My job is to understand our listeners' taste and to give them what they want."

: I think it's telling that on Live 105's pre-Soundcheck Sunday night new music show he played Creed before anyone had heard of them, took some on air calls bashing the band that he agreed with saying that they were a warmed over Pearl Jam lite that weren't a "good fit" for the station's sophisticated audience before adding them to the station's playlist the next week. I realize he's fighting for good music within the system, and I respect that he does can which is one of the reasons I've stuck by the station for so many years. It's Axelsen's okay-to-loose-some-battles-to-win-over-the-long-term attitude is why I think he has been quiet over Subsonic's recent cancellation.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Drum 'n' bass might have joined the ranks of dead genres, but I just discovered an interview done earlier this week with Goldie who is in the UK promoting a film he wrote and directed. Here's a bit of The Independent's article:

"I got told a great quote which I wish I heard ten years ago: 'If you walk with a half glass of water nobody can knock anything out of it'. Well, I filled that glass to the brim and tried to walk through a very busy place with it."

David Bowie, a long-time friend, helped Goldie emerge from creative exile. " Bowie said, 'If you make a pile of crap tomorrow, the one thing you have to understand is that you've made Timeless and nobody can take that away from you. So do what you do, carry on and reinvent yourself.'

: That last bit of advice sounds just like Bowie. Maybe this film career might work out for Goldie, while he starred with Bowie in B.U.S.T.E.D. one of the worst crime movies I've ever had the pleasure of turning off, I think he has a great screen presence. It's a shame he was completely under used as a Bond villain a few years ago. This film that he is promoting also signals his return to music. Apparently Goldie wrote a song for each character and is shopping the disc around to different labels.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Stella's Cry

Sad news about one of the first stars of trance. Details from Trust The DJ:
Marc Spoon died suddenly in his Berlin apartment this week, after reportedly suffering a heart attack. MTV Germany said police broke into his flat after friends tried and failed to contact him. He was 39 years old.

The legendary German DJ, whose real name was Markus Loeffel, achieved massive commercial and critical success in the early 90s, remixing acts including Quincy Jones, the Pet Shop Boys and Dr Alban before producing the definitive remix of Age Of Love that became one of the first trance superhits of the era. He also became a bona fide pop star in 1993 when he teamed up with classical musician Jam el Mar to form Jam & Spoon, scoring massive worldwide hits with Stella and Find Me, featuring the vocals of former Shamen singer Plavka.

: It would take the rest of the decade for trance to break in the US, but Jam & Spoon's "Stella" is a timeless track that helped define the genre in the early 90s. I played that track as a college radio dj some five years after it was released and still got a couple of calls asking about the track with one caller going on and on about how he really liked this "new" sound that was so much deeper and soulful than other trance out at the time. That caller was on to something.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More Subsonic Fallout

Even more bad news on the Subsonic front. Before finding the item I post previously I sent out an email to the show's host Disco Shawn asking about the show. He responded that the show was cancelled over the holiday hiatus (sneaky move) and that the station had fired him for talking to the press about the cancellation. Considering all the noise Live 105 has been making about wanting "activist" listeners it is interesting that they don't want people to know about what the station is canceling and is then willing to fire people over it. Perhaps this is what led to the station's new totalitarian slogan "The Only Alternative".

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Subsonic Ends!?!

I turned on the radio tonight and something is missing! Apparently the long running Subsonic is cancelled. Not that you can find that out easily given that no one is picking up the phones at the station and the only official indication that it happened is that there is no longer a "Subsonic" link on live 105's website. Here's an explanation from The SJ Merc's radio writer Brad Kava:

Another change: LIVE 105, KITS-FM, this week killed off its Saturday night Subsonic show, the electronic showcase that has been on for 10 years.

"The same reason that the electronica section of Virgin Records has shrunk since 2000," said Sean Demery, Live 105 program director. "I thought this would be the new direction for alternative, but it's not happening."

"Our goal for 2006 is to present a more unified station."

Demery added that he's sad about the death of Channel 104.9, because it means less alternative music out there.

"No one is dancing a jig here. It's a big loss to the community," he said of his competitor.

"They weren't the big competitor. It's a competition for mindshare. We are competing with the internet, cell phones, TV. It's all a battle for mindshare."

: I now take back all those nice things I said about Sean Demery. If his defense for cutting a late night specialty show is that they "are competing with the internet, cell phones, TV" one would think that you might emulate the specific focus that those mediums (well if you count digital cable and on-demand tv) bring. Maybe with a long running specialty show.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

That Much Is True

The Human League are apparently touring the UK at the moment, and while I missed their relatively recent US visit a few years ago I heard great things from those who made it out. I thought it might have been overexcited hardcore fans, but Fake DIY seem to agree with them:

The Human League's Synth City Tour could be perceived as a cynical cash in with nostalgic fans, but gratefully there is no such worry here. From the band's sudden arrival, to the close of splendid opener 'Tell Me When', it's clear that not only do the band look and sound great, they're working hard for all the applause...

Pioneering synth survivors, they produce a stirring and fun filled gig in which they show that they are as relevant and enticing today as they were in the past. Crowd favourites and sing a long classics like 'Love Action' and 'Together In Electric Dreams' thrill, and it feels like almost an event in itself to be present when perennial disco favourite 'Don’t You Want Me' is played live.

Friday, January 06, 2006

So Sorry, I Said


We can confirm that Pet Shop Boys have remixed Madonna's next single, "Sorry", which will be released in February. At the moment we do not know whether "Sorry (PSB Maxi-Mix)" will be commercially released or only made available on promo copies to club DJs.

Chris and Neil remixed the track in December and Neil added some vocals to it.

: You would think that Madonna's "Jump" with it's quoting elements of "West End Girls" would be a more obvious choice for a PSB remix.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Down To The Underground

The long anticipated second album that Massive Attack was supposed to release in 2003 has a release date- February 2007. Details from

Massive Attack's fifth album will be called 'Weather Underground'.

The Bristol band have completed 7 tracks for the album with long term collaborator Neil Davidge producing.

The band have been splitting their time between Bristol and New York where they have been collaborating with TV On The Radio. A release date is set for February 2007.

: At least they know how to plan in advance. Maybe if Portishead put this kind of pressure on themselves they would be more productive. Of course it's not that MA don't have other things on the way...:

Preceding this, the band are set to release 'Collected', a double CD best of on March 27.

The double CD will be preceded by a single 'Live With Me' featuring Terry Callier, set to be released on March 13.

The first CD will feature songs chosen by the band including singles 'Unfinished Sympathy' and 'Protection' while the second CD will feature rare and reworked tracks as well as a DVD of all their promo videos.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Channel 1049 Closes Down

Clear Channel's local alternative station just flipped formats to a Spanish language station at the start of the New Year. Originally started in the late 90's playing 80's Alternative, the station evolved over the years into a station in direct competition with the Bay Area's longstanding Modern Rocker Live 105. On the whole the station lacked the personality of Live 105, particularly since Sean Demery took over from the hack PD who attempted to ruin Live 105 a few years back, but had some nice features like the daily "What The Hell Was That?" and their Saturday night line-up. Oddly enough I just ran into a year old article on the day I discovered the format change that seems oddly prophetic:

Aaron Axelsen, the music director for Live 105, 105.3 FM, doesn't believe that battle is over, though the week I spoke to him, a major alternative station in Washington, D.C., switched its format to ranchero. "It's an interesting crossroads for radio – more competition with satellite radio and iPods and MP3s and 21st-century mediums that have empowered people to create their own musical
mix – but radio listenership has maintained even though we've been hit by all
these new-school mediums, so we have to work extra hard to come up with creative

: It's also worth noting that the 104.9 frequency hosted a Spanish language station as far back as I can remember before the late 90's flip, and if I remember correctly it went by the name Radio Romantica and ended up just moving down the dial a bit. The new station's name: La Romantica.