Eduardo De La Calle – “The Intellinet Prophecy” (2015)

I try to make a point of never walking out of an indie music store without buying something. Partially that’s because I want to support the “little guy” and keep indie stores alive, but there’s also that never ending search to discover something new, something unexpected. Now, there are exceptions. If the prices are just outrageous, or it’s a place that specializes in something that truly doesn’t interest me, or the people who are working there are dicks, I have no problem just strolling out the door and saving my money.

So when we found ourselves in Paris’ Techno Imports, I was a bit out of my musical element, but I made point of picking out a few records. I didn’t even have my trusty iPhone to help me this time, and je ne parle pas francais, so it really was shooting in the dark. One of the handful of records I picked up was this June 2015 double album by Spanish DJ Eduardo De La Calle. The fact that there was so much music on it was a consideration, and I have to admit I kind of dug the description on the jacket reverse which refers to aspects of hindu philosophy and karma, so I figured it would be a bit trippy.

De La Calle has been putting out music for over a decade and has over 50 12″ records to his credit, but The Intellinet Prophecy is his first true full length album. I’ve seen his style described as both tech house and deep house, and I think the truth lies somewhere in between. It’s house, but much of The Intelligent Prophecy doesn’t have the weighty depth of deep house; and De La Calle’s use of sampling certainly introduces elements of tech to his music. So in many ways he makes those styles merge into something that, if not entirely new, is very pleasing. He incorporates elements of jazz (David Strike’s trumpet on “The Intellinet Prophecy”) and jungle (“SPKBM”) and dub (“Jazz Japanese Masterclass”) while still keeping to the overall house style. Thumbs up.

Dungeon Acid – “The Wait” (2015)

This little gem caught my eye while I was flipping through the electronic section at Amoeba Music down in Los Angeles. The simple white, numbered cover stuck out, and while I didn’t have a lot to go on, something told me to buy it (that reckless part of my brain that wants wants wants more records).

Dungeon Acid is Jean-Louis Huhta and a whole bunch of electronic equipment, fusing together to make acid tracks. The Wait would seem to be an EP on the surface, with only four tracks, but with a run time of 29 minutes it’s more of a tweener. Supposedly it’s limited to 326 individually numbered copies (um. OK…), so it might be a bit hard to track down (though there are a number of copies for sale on Discogs right now).

The beats are bumpin’ and the BPMs are brisk but so fast that you feel like they’re trying to give you a heart attack. “Physical” makes it especially easy to get into a trance-like groove, and it’s kind of making me wish it was nighttime right now so I could get some spinning lights or glow sticks going. No vocals or vocal sampling here, just straight electronics making music to dance to.

Sly & Robbie – “King Tubby’s Dance Hall Dub – Middle East Dub” (1998)

It’s been a long week or so. Holly and I spent the weekend in San Diego, and then I came home while she stayed in California on business for the rest of this week. So tonight (I’m writing this on Friday evening) was about having dinner together, drinking some wine, and chilling out. Well, and going to Dairy Queen for a sundae and a Peanut Buster Parfait. And then chilling out. And what better to chill to while eating DQ than some dub.

We stopped by Port of Sound Record Shoppe in Costa Mesa on Monday, and I was really impressed with the store – broad selection, well organized, and well stocked in a wide range of genres. This is where I picked up the previously reviewed Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and a handful of other records, including Sly & Robbie’s King Tubby’s Dance Hall Dub – Middle East Dub. This was a shot in the dark for me, but generally speaking I’ve enjoyed the dub I heard, and as it turns out this was a good pickup. When you want to hang out on a sunny almost summer evening with some cocktails, ice cream, or whatever strikes your fancy, dub is a great accompaniment and helps set the mood. The mood of relaxation as you let the work week wash away. And enjoy your parfait.

I can’t give you much of a description of King Tubby’s Dance Hall Dub – Middle East Dub other than to say it’s reggae-ish, all instrumental, and reminds me a bit of some of my buddy DJ Lucky’s funk sets. The pacing is smooth, and it’s hard to tell where one track leaves off and another starts. Just a nice smooth groove. Perfect for a summer night.

Ghostigital – “Division of Culture & Tourism” and “Don’t Push Me” EP (2012)


Ghostigital only played a handful of live shows between 2009 and 2011…. and I was lucky enough to see two of them. At Airwaves in 2009 they were in the middle of a bizarre lineup that found them wedged in between the very 70s ABBAesque pop stylings of BB & Blake, and the Icelandic hip hop band XXX Rottweiler. I was woefully unprepared for the Ghostigital experience that time, but I was more than ready when they took the stage at Faktory in 2011. At least as ready as you can ever be to see Einar Orn and the Ghostigital experience. And trust me brothers and sisters, it is an experience. I think the best word to describe my state of mind after seeing their 2009 show is “stunned”.

It took about a year following my first Ghostigital experience before I could screw up the courage to actually listen to their current album at the time, In Cod We Trust. I didn’t take to it immediately, but I’m glad I gave it a chance and stuck it out – there is some brilliant music on there. It’s not feel-good, and it’s not safe pop background music. I mean, not everyone can write a song about the Cod Wars fought on the high seas between Iceland and England, and actually make it good. The music intense, in-your-face, disjointed, and jarring. But it will get you moving, as we saw at Faktory in 2011 when the packed crowd looked like a small sea of bobbing heads.

2012 saw two new (though related) releases from Ghostigital – their third LP, Division of Culture & Tourism, along with a Record Store Day Europe 12″ called Don’t Push Me. One of the great benefits of our modern age is the accessibility of music (and just stuff in general), and I was able to track down a copy of the 12″ on eBay, which held me over until the full album was released (even though I have Division of Culture & Tourism on mp3, I strongly suspect I’ll be picking up a copy on vinyl as well when we’re in Reykjavik in a few weeks – vinyl is better!). And I know we’re going to see them again live, hopefully catching both of their scheduled shows. If you’re interested in the Ghostigital live experience, check out the KEXP radio website (www.kexp.org) – they’re broadcasting some live sets from Airwaves this year, including one of the Ghositigal shows.

Einar Orn is one of those names in Icelandic music that seems to keep showing up no matter where I look. He was part of one of the earliest important punk bands in the country, Purrkur Pillnikk, and later a member of both KUKL and The Sugarcubes alongside Bjork. Today he works for the city of Reykjavik making sure your busses run on time. And continues to make challenging music,

Division of Culture & Tourism is a kick-ass album, and one featuring collaborations with a number of other great musicians. Rapper Sensational is back, reprising his intermittent appearances on the first two Ghostigital albums – it would be amazing if he could join them live, as his lyrical style is perfect for the band’s sound. David Byrne of Talking Heads fame contributes on a track, as does Suicide’s Alan Vega. When it comes to collaboration, Einar Orn’s usual approach is to send a track to his collaborator and basically allow them to do whatever they want with it. Based on the results, it seems like a good plan – my favorite two songs on the album are “Don’t Push Me,” featuring Sensational, and “Dreamland,” featuring David Byrne. Byrne does most of the vocals on “Dreamland” with Einar coming in for the chorus parts (if you can really call it a chorus), and he delivers the best line on the album with “I was born in the Devil’s toolbox / I went to school where the wind don’t blow.” An honorable mention goes out for “Hovering Hoover Skates”, which has a solid beat and some pretty funny lyrics, including references to mustaches.

What makes me so spectacular?
Is it my fabulous hat?
No, no, no,
It’s my mooo-stache,
It’s so great!

The Don’t Push Me EP consists of four tracks – the album versions of “Don’t Push Me” and “Scary Scary”, along with a song not found on the LP, “Elastic Tongue”, and a remix of “Don’t Push Me” by the Icelandic duo Gluteus Maximus. The remix is the highlight, as Gluteus Maximus completely stripped out the music from the original track and replaced it with a heavy, quick bass-beat. It’s a more stripped down, minimalist approach than the original, and very cool.

It’s not dance music, but I have to admit I always find my feet or my head moving, or fingers tapping, when Ghostigital is playing.

Gusgus – “Arabian Horse” (2011)

 

I experienced Gusgus for the very first time in mid-October, 2009, when they closed the final night of Iceland Airwaves at one of the coolest venues in the world (and sadly not part of Airwaves ’12….), NASA. See above for a photo I somehow miraculously captured with my point-and-shoot camera from the back of the venue. I’d never heard of Gusgus before that night, and I’d certainly never heard their music. But I was stunned by the on-stage presence and performance of Daniel August, and the great music put together by President Bongo and Biggi Veira. I was all in, and 24/7 was a regular on my iPod and something I tried to share with all my friends who were into checking out new music.

When I heard Gusgus had a new album coming out in 2011, I was cautiously excited. Holly and I had quickly picked up the past Gusgus catalog, and I was certainly looking forward to some new music by this great band. But I was nervous. Nervous because there is a tendency to not like the newest album by your favorite bands, especially bands as creative as Gusgus. What would they have in store for us? A huge departure from their earlier works? A country album? Who could be sure, but I’d been down this road enough times before to be worried. But it turns out I was worried for nothing.

Arabian Horse is the best album I’ve ever heard. Ever.

I think Daniel’s voice is amazing. Let’s get that out in the open first. But when you take a fantastic vocalist like this, and then add the immensely talented and uncannily complimentary sounds of Urdur Harkonardottir and Hogni Egilsson, you become convinced that Daniel is not a frontman who needs all the attention, but one who wants to surround himself with other amazing talents, and create music that showcases their skills as much if not more than his own.

Don’t believe me? Listen to “Deep Inside”, “Over”, “Within You”, and “Arabian Horse”. Ideally live, but if you can’t swing that, with some good headphones on. Simply put, that’s the best string of four songs on any album you’ll ever listen to. If you need convincing, watch this video of “Over” recorded live at Airwaves ’11, the very first show we caught during the festival:

Gusgus “Over”, Iceland Airwaves 2011

As we wonder why,
Why we didn’t try,
We didn’t try this time,
Over.
We didn’t even try,
Try to make things right,
This time,
Over.

Despite the jet lag and the enormous beer I got from the bar at the KEX Hostel, or maybe because of it, Gusgus’ 25 minute set completely owned me. And Egilsson wasn’t even there for this performance, not joining them until their big show at the art museum a few nights later. We were walking by the museum the day of that performance and could hear their rehearsal outside from the sidewalk, and it was good enough to make us stop for a couple of minutes and just listen.

I’m not sure what kind of music you listen to. But if you go into Arabian Horse with an open mind, you’ll be completely sucked in by the clarity and precision of the music and the absolute perfect blending of the vocals. I can’t even decide if Daniel is at his best as the lead, or when he performs as a backing vocalist.

The Allmusic review uses a great word to describe this album – “lush”. That’s exactly what it is. It’s also a double album that doesn’t get tired and worn out by the second record.

Check it out. You won’t regret it. I promise (but no money back guarantee…).