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Category Archives: Dreams


When injected with melancholy, deftly placed space and a smidgen of pathos, dance music (at the lack of a better term) describes places dripping with a syrupy sepia; like hazy memories, ancient summers shot through super8 with the comforting ambiguity only such textural, instrumental music can lend.

Most cite Burial as responsible for propagating such elements amongst the delicate skipping rhythms and inky black bass of 2-step/dubstep/whatever but for me it all slotted into place with Ramadanman‘s ‘Blimey’ – the faint swelling pad and distant chattering voices rising amongst the woodblocks, creating similar colours to golden(i.e. Pause)-era Fourtet.

Whilst Ramadanman has (for me) failed to follow it up with anything to match it in terms of scope, Pangaea has quietly risen to the fore with tracks such as this, on Scuba‘s Hotflush. Just listen to that sound that starts to blend in at 1:50 – as mournful as a sighing processor…

Fast-forward to now for the hyper limited ‘Memories’ which takes the idea behind Skream’s diva-step anthem remix aka The Biggest Tune In The World (You know which one I mean), completely ignores it, buries it under 3 feet of clay and crafts something infinitely more nuanced and ultimately satisfying. Grab it now, if there’s still time.

Finally, grab his March mix which features above track at the very end. There’s still enough dubs there for you ‘spotters and top marks for the SL2/Acen/2 Bad Mice inclusions. Old skool hardcore FTW.

DOWNLOAD: Pangaea – Reprise Agency Mix


01. SL2 – DJs take control (XL)
02. Martin Kemp – Bowser (unreleased)
03. 2 Bad Mice – Hold It Down (Moving Shadow)
04. Ramadanman – ??? (unreleased)
05. Micky Pearce – Innami (unreleased)
06. Luke Envoy – Uptown (unreleased)
07. Badawi – Lost Highway (unreleased)
08. Acen – Trip II The Moon (part II) (Production House)
09. Guido – Tango (unreleased)
10. Tempa t – Next Hype (Brackles remix) (unreleased)
11. Untold – Anaconda (forthcoming Hessle Audio)
12. Peverelist – The Blues (unreleased)
13. Joe – Rut (Hessle Audio)
14. Untold – I Can’t Stop This Feeling (Pangaea remix) (unreleased)
15. Pangaea – Memories (white)


Truly transcendental electronica (oh yes) from Zomby after a couple of disappointingly lacklustre remixes (Franz Ferdinand, Animal Collective) to remind us of the prickly, luminous, highlighter-marker, cut-and-print quality of his best work, neatly sidestepping the increasingly hoary approach to percussion in dubstep/wonky/whatever it’s called this week by telling it to fuck off completely. Don’t build a groove, just place it in front of you and let it gently gather inertia until it spins with it’s own infinite momentum, an almost imperceptible pitch and yaw bending the image over time into recognisable yet subtley altered variations. With synths. Y’know, like these ones:

The images are of course from 2001‘s climactic, abstract epiphany, capturing wonderfully that hypnotic and nebulous sense of wonder that such absorbing music illicits. Me, I can’t help thinking of the Spinemelter 2000 – ‘I’l ta-a-a-ake i-i-i-it’

Inspired by Serge’s top 20, thought I’d share with you all a handful of my personal favourite Italo-Disco cuts (erring toward the ones that are on Youtube), some of which he also mentions. I’m going to leave out Kano as their talent and importance warranted a post to themselves.

Dharma’s ‘Plastic Doll’ from ’82 first, produced by Luciano Ninzatti of the aforementioned Kano with a lot of their huge talent dripping from its tongue. Built around a gutsy synth riff with a punchy, high NRG rhythm this has less of the drifting, druggy pulse of the more cosmic end 0f Italo but bursts with sparkling, youthful exuberance. Playful and a little bit filthy.

Marco Galli and Maurizion Sanginetto aka M&G collaborated in ’86 for not just my favourite Italo track but one of my favourite records ever. It’s that combination of melancholy and fireworks that I don’t hear anywhere else, each melodic flourish and chord shift feels timeless and exquisite and combines into what sounds like an explosion in space.  It feels like it could go on forever, a cyclical throbbing heartbeat.

Dutch act Digital Emotion showing that Italo wasn’t just for Italy, although this is about as electro-pop as it got – some purists dismiss them as being cheesy or too commercial (rrrrr… show me some noncommercial Disco) as if writing the most unabashed fizzing synth lines is bad in some way. Punch the air to the chorus and tell me this doesn’t wipe the floor with electroclash, or most synth-pop for that matter. From ’83.

Glittering beauty from B.W.H. aka Carlo Favilli and Stefano Zito (1983 again), yet another case of a one-off collaboration birthing gold. A louche, pulsing track which melts into the most gently euphoric, mellifluous vocal line possible. Utterly charming and about as rare as anything.

‘Passion’ by the Flirts from ’82, my first flirtation (aha ha) with Italo and produced by Bobby O, one of the true Italo production stars along with Patrick Cowley and Giorgio Moroder. Brilliantly camp and the blueprint for the last two decades of dance-pop, illustrated perfectly when Felix Da Housecat lifted the synth line for his career highlight ‘Silver Screen Shower Scene’. P-A-S-S-I-O-N…

There’s always more…


People like italo-disco. It’s a genre that’s attracted a lot more interest of late, partly due to the critical success of US label Italians Do It Better (home to Chromatics, Farah and Glass Candy) although for me they took the visual aesthetic and left behind the élan and bare-faced extravagance, filling the resulting hole with a dour detachment. Not that they didn’t put out any good records, it’s just that for me, it didn’t really constitute what they appeared to be styling themselves as. Or I just wasn’t into it. Probably both.

In the late 70s/early-to-mid 80s, disco producers started to incorporate more synthesized, electronic elements to their music. This may have been due to the falling price of equipment, although the fetishising of such gear due to a certain ‘futuristic’ quality was a strong factor – one cannot ignore the power of new technology to inspire art and music. Due to this it tends to have a certain sci-fi, galactic feel which, when combined with an ebullient pop nous, dancefloor NRG and the warm fuzz of analogue recording equipment, can produce MAGIC. When it does it combines elation, melancholy, joy, nostalgia, goosebumps and butterflies. For me, anyway.

As with any genre so extensive and varied in quality (genius all the way to dross) it’s best to start with the peaks, one of them being italian supergroup Kano (no, not Kano. Or Kano for that matter). It was their melding of electro, funk and 70s disco that shaped their sound and made them one of the pioneers of the period. Their strong electro element especially led to influence in the b-boy/early hip-hop scene.

Essentially an instrumental act, the band themselves seem happy to take a visual back seat and let a rotating array of vocalists provide their face. They released three albums, Kano (1980), New York Cake (1981) and Another Life (1983). These are the best moments:

From Kano, sampled by Tag Team on ‘Whoomp (There it Is)’

Also from Kano, probably their most famous track with some magnificent Synthwork. I sure wish ‘Popcorn’ was still on TV:

From New York Cake, a personal favourite:

The title track from Another Life. One of their most successful tracks. What a video – like some crazy, sexy dream:

There’s a good little italo history here, read it.

More disco soon folks, trendy or not x

Further to my decision to reacquaint myself with the quality end of disco (mainly of the Italo variety, early to mid 80s), I gorged on blogs and rapidshare links in a frenzy. One of my most enduring discoveries has been French/Italian singer Valerie Dore, best known for two singles ‘The Night’ and ‘Get Closer’ – virtually identical in arrangement but with different vocal performances. Both tracks (actually sung by Italian singer Dora Carofiglio, Dore mimed as performance front woman) achieved European chart success, though notably not in the UK.

Although part of the Italo-disco scene, this is more dream-pop. The wistful, languid beauty that is missing in much of today’s electro-pop but finds parallels (aesthetically if not sonically) in shoegaze bands that followed such as Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine. Starry-eyed with a faint tang of melancholy, rich in a tone that washes through you and over you. Sumptuous, luxurious and a little sad.

Contemporary equivalents are hard to place. The brief shoegaze revival has brought Ulrich Schnauss and Maps to the fore but the former seems a little impersonal and the latter (for me) failed to transcend run-of-the-mill indie-pop.

For me, Fever Ray has been the one act of late to touch on the certain ethereal quality of dream-pop. Admittedly the timbres are a little more visceral but the spirit manages to transport the listener into that ‘other’ state reserved such music with a nebulous, wondrous magic. I covered her album recently, but now I have an excuse to post more of her music:


Expectation is something i’m still hoping to master. Expect too much and you’re destined for some form of disappointment, expect too little and you’re one step further down the path toward joyless cynicism. Neither I like.

Discovering the existence of a solo record from The Knife’s Karin Dreijer is exciting enough without working myself into an embarrassing impatient wreck. I knew it had the potential to blow me away but if you go into anything thinking like that you’re risking being monumentally let down. So I er… tried not to think about it.


Karin possesses my favourite voice in music and along with her brother Olof, The Knife manage to present love and emotion in a breathtakingly refreshing and visceral manner – far removed from the bland plateau of sensitive ditties making up much of the musical landscape. Their reinvention of the ‘Icy Scandinavian’ cliché brought them critical recognition (the infamous Pitchfork named 2006’s ‘Silent Shout’ album of the year) and a clutch of well chosen remixers edged them onto the more stylish of dancefloors.

The Knife was (and still is, I hope) however very much made up of two creative minds. Karin’s piercing and sometimes heavily-pitched, androgynous vocals were always matched by Olof’s similarly stark electro beats and synthesizers. Two voices singing each song, in unison but using different machinery.

On first inspection her solo effort – Fever Ray – is musically identical. Listen closer however and although the timbres are similar, creatively it is a much different affair. Christopher Berg (who mixed The Knife’s work) and Stockholm production duo Van Rivers and The Subliminal Kid helped Dreijer give form to her musical sketches, but they are merely conduits. This is very much her record.

Dreijer has thus far only worked as a collaborator, with her brother in The Knife or making appearances on other people’s music. Here she finally gets the stage to herself and control of the atmosphere, creating a world of dreamy lounge-noir that befits her ethereal songwriting. The drum machine beats and simple analogue synth-style melodies, though clear as a bell, sit comfortably in second place to her voice. Each individual story is as dark as a Scandinavian forest, always retaining a certain mystery and cold beauty.

Her single ‘If I had A Heart’ is available now. The video, directed by Andreas Nillsson captures the spirit of the song wonderfully.

If Twin Peaks (the series, not the film) were to ever be remade, Dreijer would make a perfect Julee Cruise. Temporary Roadhouse crooner Cruise performed in some of the series’ most pivotal moments with dreamy lounge gems written with director Lynch and composer Badalamenti. They are as much part of the programme as any of the characters or oft-quoted dialogue and when combined with the plot, highly emotional moments are created.

Exhibit A:

Crushingly beautiful. Especially if you’ve followed the story… which you all should do at some point.



Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker – ‘Fantasma Parastasie’ (Alien8)

As the nights draw in to a seemingly infinite extent and the frozen land brings all life to a stilted shuffle, hi-fi noise maestros Aidan Baker and Tim Hecker provide suitable respite. This current environment provokes the need to be swaddled by music, by a record you can hide and lose yourself in.

Tim Hecker’s 2006 pinnacle ‘Harmony In Ultraviolet’ (Kranky) was an absolute revelation – the most widescreen, structured and at times emotional approach to the ‘nu-ambient’ or ‘neo-classical’ movements of now. A ‘cathedral of sound’, as Oxford shoegazers Ride were once tagged. Primarily a guitarist, Aidan Baker has perfected his amp-worship, ambient doom-metal epics with the highly regarded duo Nadja (with Leah Buckareff). Tracing seams of melody through the deftly woven feedback has rarely been such a joy.

The prospect of Hecker’s stunning architecture meeting the Arctic expanse of Baker is an appealing one indeed. Presented in the vintage/occult style so favoured by metal concrète artists like Sunn O))) and Earth, one is primed for a drone noir experience – bleak, uncompromising and frequently abrasive.

Subtle emotive twists seep through the ink, reassuring the listener with a gentle hand on the arm. Elements such as the clock in ‘Dream Of The Nightmare’ and the fluttering guitars in ‘Auditory Spirits’ touch on the physical, welcome moorings to prevent travellers from drifting out into the ether. The entire recording is steeped in darkness, but it’s an unintimidating black.

Enveloping with a human touch. (for Tim Hecker)

Growing – All The Way (The Social Registry)

What do you want from sound? It is easy to vacillate wildly between air-punching light-headed triumph, gentle reassuring familiarity and exquisite sensory masochism. Most worldly offerings exist in the cradle of their peers and inhabit the regular vehicle, but sometimes the perpetual hum of background noise fades away – a gentle deceleration. Music with the soothing clarity of total silence.

Neither narrative tales nor atmospheric maps, this is direct from the amygdala – the brain’s ancient primal core. The soundtrack to a thought in it’s initial unrefined state, before it is lashed to language or moulded by conflicting emotions. Pure, raw and at times nebulous.

Ostensibly ‘drone’ music, the tag feels increasingly limited and irrelevant when applied to Growing. The hypnotic, layered arrangement may at first suggest the label but the dour, grandiose bluster many other such acts exhibit is absent. Here we have mellifluous euphoria, a celebratory dance performed by the handfuls of elements making up the cast of each track. At times more movement between the component parts, but with an overall feeling of central stillness.

An uncommon treat, cutting through the static and blooming gently.


Deerhunter – Microcastle (Kranky)

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia and dominated by the the towering, ethereal presence of frontman Bradford Cox, Deerhunter have already cemented their position as poster-boys for the ‘nu-gaze’ scene. Combining classic indie-rock sensibilities with sumptuous layers of harmonic sound has made them favourites with all the most discerning blogs and publications.

‘Microcastle’ is their third release on Kranky, the Chicago label which has long been a byword for forward-thinking post-rock and pastoral, starry-eyed electronic ambience. We find them here on the crest of a wave of creativity, deftly honing their self-styled brand of ‘ambient punk’ into a strikingly appealing weapon.

As ever, the band’s influences are clearly emblazoned on their swaying chests – Echo & The Bunnymen, My Bloody Valentine and Brian Eno have left their fingerprints everywhere. What separates Deerhunter and fuels their individual appeal however is a certain delectable aftertaste, a flavour which has seeped into all their music. Its sickly sweet fragrance can induce a wonderful narcotic torpor, wrapping you in warm washes of velvet sound and melody.

‘Microcastle’ is an uncommonly luxurious record, one to be savoured like a delicious meal and enjoyed in suitably comfortable surroundings.