Author Archive

Ghostly International And Throne Of Blood Halloween Party, Studio B, Brooklyn, New York, 31/10/2008

David Abravanel on Nov 16th 2008 11:49 pm

In a way, Halloween and dark dance floors exist for the same reason: to encourage people to let go of inhibitions and look a little silly, if only for a moment.  Being on a dance floor during a good DJ set is analogous to attending a costume party, possessed by the temporary thrill of leaving one’s own mundane insecurities for the rush of an alternatively structured social situation.  Maybe New York’s infamous Club Kids were on to something, always flaunting such flamboyantly unusual fashions.

The night’s main event is a live set from Audion, Matthew Dear’s hard minimal house alias, the desirous Id to the Ego confessions from his given name or the detached mechanical Superego that is False. Continue Reading »

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ADVENTURE: Adventure (Carpark Records)

David Abravanel on Oct 12th 2008 10:42 pm

Adventure: Adventure

Carpark 2008
11 Tracks. 37mins19secs

Carpark Records artists are kind of like games for a Nintendo Wii.  There’s more than enough cuteness to go around, some hipsters stuck in kidulthood, and lots of far-out nonlethal weaponry (read: lo-fi and chip tune synths).  There’s even a Mario figure, in the form of mascot / oddity / unsettling manchild Dan Deacon.  If this metaphor is to be carried even further (and guess what – it is!) then someone needs to be Link, the little questing elfin hero from the Zelda series.  So, why the hell not, how about Benny Boeldt?

Right off the bat, Boeldt fits into the mode of the dungeon scourer – he’s chosen the moniker “Adventure” for his musical forays. Continue Reading »

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David Abravanel on Sep 11th 2008 09:30 pm

Alexandre Navarro: Arcane

SEM 2008
10 Tracks. 53mins31secs

Sometimes it’s almost like cheating, when an electric guitarist uses a decent delay line. From Windy & Carl’s sublime arctic drones to The Edge’s epic chord slaps, the right kind delay and reverb combination can transform even a scant few plucks of the instrument into divine swirls of ambient bliss. Then again, as with most easy techniques, true mastery of such washed-out guitar ambience is rare to come by; for every Flying Saucer Attack, there are ten staid sets of snoring aimless drones, counting on such engulfing effects to take over for compositional strategy.

Enter Alexandre Navarro, just so being one of those masters. Continue Reading »

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David Abravanel on Aug 20th 2008 12:05 am


PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

DD: You said you were going to get really geeky, but then you never did.

MS: Yeah, bring on the geek!  I see the word ‘IRCAM’ written in your notes.

Oh, we’ll get to that, but first, some other words.  You took this vow of synthesizer-chastity for Supreme Balloon – not even vocoders.  I came up with a bunch of cool ways to cheat – what about FFT? [FFT, a Fast Fourier Transform, is a synthesis which can deconstruct any sampled sound into a complex series of sine waves]

MS: Honestly, it wasn’t a synthesizer thing, really, the only rule was ‘no microphones’.  We were allowed to use any kind of signal generation, as long as it didn’t involve microphones.  Of course, the trick is the slip between what is a microphone, any kind of transducer?  Is a guitar pickup a microphone or not? Continue Reading »

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David Abravanel on Aug 20th 2008 12:04 am


PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

So, as a side note, you’re both on [a site where students can anonymously weigh in on their professors].  Have you checked your hotness ratings lately?

DD:  I haven’t.  Last time I looked, Martin was ‘hot’, but I don’t think I’ve been rated at Hopkins yet.

MS:  Do you remember what he’s [Drew’s] rated as?

I don’t remember, I just remember there was a really eerie post for you, Martin, which just said in all caps, ‘MARTIN WILL HELP.  MARTIN WILL HELP’.

MS:  [laughs] I always said to my students that it was a lifetime contract, and that they could call me any time and I would help them.  And sure enough, two weeks ago, the phone rang in Slovenia or some place, in the middle of the night.  It was a student of mine from five years ago asking, ‘I need to make a DVD, and I don’t have DVD Studio Pro.  What should I do?’  The answer was, sorry to her for saying so, but the answer was idiotically simple.  I asked, ‘are you using a Mac?  Use iDVD!’   She was like, ‘oh.  Thanks Martin!’  And I went back to sleep!

DD:  So she probably wrote that ‘MARTIN WILL HELP’ immediately. Continue Reading »

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David Abravanel on Aug 20th 2008 12:02 am


PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

Before meeting with Matmos, Martin Schmidt called me to dispense some words of warning: ‘just so you know, we tend to go on’.  This would certainly be the case, as Schmidt, along with Drew Daniel, kept me thinking on my toes for the better part of an hour, traversing such topics as aestheticism, synthesizers, and, well, Zac Efron.  Presently on tour supporting their latest release, Supreme Balloon, Schmidt and Daniel, joined intermittently by tour mate (and longtime friend and collaborator) Wobbly, gave themilkfactory an engrossing earful, which is shared with you now, with great pleasure.  Do read on… Continue Reading »

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THE BUG: London Zoo (Ninja Tune)

David Abravanel on Aug 7th 2008 10:52 pm

The Bug: London Zoo

London Zoo
Ninja Tune 2008
12 Tracks. 57mins54secs

Kevin Martin is quite the musical chameleon, having played parts in the jazz-minded project God, the industrial hip-hop of Ice, and guess which genre he was producing as a collaborator with Techno Animal.  The one common thread between all of Martin’s creative phases has been a kind of abrasive-yet-cerebral hardcore.  Everything is sharp and overdriven, but the edges have more of an aesthetically tricky purpose than simply to boom out speakers for the sake of it.  For the past decade, The Bug has been Martin’s outlet for his forays into Jamaican styles, primarily focused on bizarre nightmare dub visions and violently political dancehall chant assaults.  The former dominated on 1997’s Tapping The Conversation, in which Martin (along with collaborator DJ Vadim) conceived of a new soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola’s paranoid masterpiece of claustrophobic deception, The Conversation.  It was a fitting backdrop for an introduction to the dark, heavy, and distorted dub rhythms from The Bug.  It was also a fantastic dubstep release, appearing roughly a decade before the genre would officially get its recognition. Continue Reading »

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RATATAT: LP3 (XL Recordings)

David Abravanel on Jul 23rd 2008 11:58 pm


XL Recordings 2008
13 Tracks. 42mins24secs

It’s not easy to categorize Ratatat.  The Brooklyn-based duo of Evan Mast and Mike Stroud embrace a diverse smattering of styles, picking and choosing to create a kind of Frankenstein creation that is, damn the term, perhaps best referred to as simply “electronica”.  Like the big beat, maximal French house, and jungle recordings that fit the late-nineties press categorization of “electronica”, Ratatat are making electronic compositions from a song-based mind state.  Counter to the exhausting, minimal repetitions, which categorize much of techno, house, and other defiantly non-song-based electronic fields, Ratatat’s songs (not tracks) focus on melody and resolution.  Most songs on LP3, in fact, feature at least one instrument that sounds as though it’s trying to sing lyrics, and tell a story. Continue Reading »

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SPIRITUALIZED: Songs In A&E (Sanctuary Records)

David Abravanel on Jun 22nd 2008 11:38 pm

Spiritualized: Songs In A&E

Songs In A&E
Sanctuary Records 2008
18 Tracks. 51mins41secs

What happens when a young rocker who made a name chronicling a fast and dangerous lifestyle lives to face middle age? Consider this when looking at Jason Pierce, AKA J Spaceman, the creative center of Spiritualized. As part of Spacemen 3 in the late eighties, Pierce and fellow songwriter Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember wrote minimalist drone-rock chargers which chronicled drug use – heroin, most specifically – with a shocking openness and honesty. As Sonic and Spacemen reached irreconcilable disagreement, Pierce formed Spiritualized, a project which kept the minimalist, repetitive drive of Spacemen 3, while incorporating large, dizzy orchestrations. Continue Reading »

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David Abravanel on Jun 3rd 2008 11:44 pm

Interview: Jamie Lidell

Whether the focus is on his divine set of Motown-esque pipes, his instrumental arrangements evoking classic soul, or his thoroughly modern electronic production prowess, there’s no denying that Jamie Lidell is a man of many talents. Coming off the heels of his frenetic breakthrough Multiply, JIM, Lidell’s latest, is set to catapult him even further into the spotlight. Here, Lidell takes a break from touring to speak to David Abravanel about his new band, medical-utensil swag, how Rick Astley has influenced him, and why Cristian Vogel’s name should never be spelled with an “h”, all with his biting wit and charisma in tow. Continue Reading »

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THE PRESETS: Apocalypso (Modular)

David Abravanel on May 21st 2008 09:41 pm

The Presets: Apocalypso

Modular 2008
11 Tracks. 50mins53secs

The first track on Apocalypso, the latest release from electro-rockers The Presets, is called Kicking And Screaming. And, it’s excellent. It’s everything this electro-house-rock-whatever movement should be in its most pristine form: manic and panicked, just the right amount of New Order influence, with an arpeggiated synthesizer that Giorgio Moroder would gush over. It has a fantastic breakdown toward the end before climaxing in with smooth, processed vocal wails sitting on choppy acidic synth lines. Continue Reading »

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JAMIE LIDELL: Jim (Warp Records)

David Abravanel on Apr 29th 2008 11:12 pm

Jamie Lidell: Jim

WARP 160
Warp Records 2008
10 Tracks. 37mins52secs

The past few years have seen the summer blockbuster season start earlier and earlier. June is no longer the start of summer; as far as movie producers are concerned, mid-April isn’t too early to start rolling out the action-adventures and goofy comedies. If there’s a musical equivalent of this seasonal jumping the gun to be found in the music world, it’s Jamie Lidell’s latest offering, Jim, overflowing with ecstasy and optimism more befitting of a gorgeous summer day than rainy spring.

Jim is an album about rebirth, redefinition, and happier new dawns ahead. On Out Of My System, Lidell visits the doctor, only to be told that, “I am not a machine”. Might this be a sly dismissal of the glitchy processing to be found on his previous material, both as himself and as part of Super_Collider with Christian Vogel? Continue Reading »

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