Sound
Paradise Regained

Paradise Regained

Hospital waiting rooms are a horrid place. You’re either about to be diagnosed with something awful, or in love with someone who is. My San Francisco hospital, in its boundless touchy-feeliness, commissioned a harp player to set up next to us and play harp arrangements of Debussy and other typically floral-sounding songs. More»

Process, Not Synthesis

Process, Not Synthesis

As I mingle with the audience after playing a concert, or chat online about my music,  I often find myself explaining the technical ways in which my work is created. I’m not sure if this is due to the fact that I’ve found my vocation as a media technician, or if I am simply less comfortable talking about the philosophy behind my music.
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Out of Joint

Out of Joint

Although studded with moments of hectic musical convergence, Kutmah’s The New Error is bookended by passages in which propulsion takes a back seat. On the opening track, a string motif of Middle Eastern provenance twines amid meandering piano chords as Doom articulates a dream of irony-free positivity. Yet the hiss and crackle that suffuse the proceedings keep them at a distance. More»

Remixing Kenya

Remixing Kenya

When a German producer receives support from the Goethe Institute to collect field recordings in Africa and forcefully rework them into cutting-edge electronica, difficult questions are bound to come up. Are the musicians he documented being exploited, whether financially or culturally? More»

Don't Call It Canadub

Don’t Call It Canadub

Some might call it ‘post-dubstep’. Others might call it ‘8-bit IDM’, ‘post-dub minimalism’ or some other invented subgenre of dub-inspired electronica. Whatever genre one dreams up, I’ve been making it since I first began playing music in the mid-1980s. 
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Black Metal for Leftists

Black Metal for Leftists

For the left-wing black metal lover, no act causes greater discomfort than Burzum. The influence of Varg Vikernes’ one-man band is profound. Burzum’s 1990s albums, particularly 1994’s Filosofem, demonstrated just what was possible in the Norwegian black metal scene. More»

This is Voltage Music

This is Voltage Music

The Voltage Music label was started in 2000. I approached my boss at the time, XLR8R Magazine publisher Andrew Smith, about collaborating on a label. He and I had been producing music together at the time as Live & Direkt. We released a track on a Ubiquity Records comp called No Categories Volume 1 and did a few remixes for other labels. Separately, I had started recording my own broken beat and dub tracks using a first generation black PowerBook G3.
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Aim Low, Score High

Aim Low, Score High

“In My Time”, one of the sunnier numbers on Kurt Vile’s new album Smoke Ring For My Halo, begins with a curious couplet: “In my day I was young and crazy/Sure I didn’t know shit, but now I’m lazy.” While such introspection made sense for musicians who had been through the madness of the late 1960s and were keen to follow Voltaire’s advice and tend their own garden to recuperate, it sounds strange coming from someone like Vile. More»
Haunted by the Present

Haunted by the Present

While it’s possible to listen to Violet Cries without thinking about history, the forcefulness with which Esben and the Witch invoke musical forebears makes the exercise a little perverse. Not to mention that, unlike many artists who are assigned to the mental bin labeled “Goth,” the band doesn’t shy away from the burden of association. Asked in an interview to discuss the term’s abuse, they declared “that Gothic should be revered in its greatest forms” suggesting that, while this sensibility “lends itself to a sense of the dramatic and the ostentatious,” it need not be an object of derision. More»