5 moments when Eurovision was nearly cool

Originally published on doublej.net.au
Photo: Telex at Eurovision in 1980. Photo from Nationaal Archief


The annual Eurovision Song Contest has nearly always scored nil points when it comes to credible artists belting out top-notch songs. Yet, there have been a few moments across the decades where it seemed like cool might prevail against the onslaught of kitsch.

Here is a selection of well-known artists that put their career on the line in hope of a Eurovision win.


France Gall – ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’

Serge Gainsbourg; to some, he was the epitome of cool French pop, to others the master of double entendre and lowbrow sleaze.

Those worlds collided in his collaboration with France Gall, ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’ (trans: ‘Doll of wax, Doll of sawdust’) – a song which overtly implied that Gall was nothing more than Gainsbourg’s singing puppet.

This 1965 entry from Luxembourg caused a ruckus at the time, taking home the Eurovision crown and ending a long run of turgid ballads, essentially kick-starting modern Eurovision as we know it today.


Sandie Shaw – ‘Puppet On A String’

There’s more than a hint of Gainsbourg’s winning composition in Sandie Shaw’s ‘Puppet On A String’, which followed in 1967. Not least in the title.

Shaw already had a string of hits in the UK pre-Eurovision, including an excellent cover of Bacharach & David’s ‘(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me’. But it was her Eurovision victory that launched her as a British fashion icon, imbuing all that was chic about the ‘Swinging Sixties’.

In 1983, the then-unknown Morrissey invited her to sing on The Smiths’ debut single ‘Hand In Glove’, instantly delivering her a new generation of fans, who – much like the previous generation – fell deeply in love with her effortless cool.


Ofra Haza – ‘Hi’

Ofra Haza’s 1983 entry for Israel might not be much to get excited about, but her appearance preceded an unexpected trajectory that found her thrust into the midst of the nascent British hip hop community.

Her 1984 recording ‘Im Nin’alu’ was sampled by Coldcut in 1987 for their remix of Eric B & Rakim’s ‘Paid In Full’. The remix eclipsed the chart success of the original source track, and has since made its way to near-legendary status as of one of the greatest remixes of all time.

‘Im Nin’alu’ was subsequently re-released as a single, selling three million copies worldwide.


Telex – ‘Euro-Vision’

Founded in the late-’70s, Belgium’s Telex are a curio in the Eurovision catalogue. They’re a band who have carved a credible trajectory through the history of electronic music – collaborating with Depeche Mode, Sparks and Pet Shop Boys – but who nonetheless took a brief sidestep into Eurovision with their dry, nonchalant self-titled modular-synth driven ‘Euro-vision’.

They stepped onto the Eurovision stage, swathed in matching white scarves for a steely, DGAF performance. They were reportedly disappointed that they didn’t achieve their goal – to come last, with nil points.


Tatu – ‘Ne’ver, ne boisia’

Everyone’s favourite Russian lesbians represented Russia in 2003, 12 months after their global hit ‘All The Things She Said’ split audiences into lovers and haters.

They entered the Eurovision arena to rapturous applause, but sadly their schtick came unstuck as the audience was treated to off-key, shrill vocals, more high pitched than a dog whistle.

They nevertheless came in a respectable third, allowing their juggernaut to roll on a little further.

A journalist famously asked Morrissey what he thought of TaTu’s cover of The Smiths’ ‘How Soon Is Now’, helpfully explaining that TatTu were “those teenage Russian lesbians”.  To which Moz replied, “Well, aren’t we all?”


BONUS MOMENT: Hawkins & Brown – ‘They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To’

That moment when Justin Hawkins from The Darkness teamed up with soul singer Beverlei Brown to enter a BBC talent show, designed to choose the official UK entry for Eurovision in 2007.

They were pitched against (deep breath) a former member of Atomic Kitten, and one-time East 17 buffoon Brian Harvey. Yet they still lost out in the public vote, to the execrable Scooch with their hi-energy disco take on Pan Am’s comedy career.

Hawkins does look characteristically awesome and hams it up like Boss Hog, making for a bizarre ‘what if’ footnote in Eurovision history.

Fat Planet Returns – on Double J

Many moons ago, my radio program Fat Planet boomed out of the FBi Radio transmission tower, spreading a heady diet of brand new music from all around the world, and together we laughed and danced and cried and made merry for many years. Flash forward to 2017, and I’m super-stoked to tell you that Fat Planet is returning, with the same curatorial mission – to uncover vital sounds from music cultures around the globe. This time around, Fat Planet finds it home with the genius minds at Double J, and it all kicks off next Wednesday (18th January) 8pm. “Your ticket to a big world of music” – on mobile, online, digital radio & tv.

I wrote a recap about the original Fat Planet program back in 2008 – get familiar here.

Fat Planet – Rewind

Fat Planet is coming to the end of its journey (for now…). Here’s the story:

In August 2003, I started broadcasting the Fat Planet show on the (then) newly-birthed FBi Radio in Sydney.  FBi was set up to take a unique view of Australian music, to reposition both the city of Sydney and the country as a place for new, original and innovative sounds – and to tarmac over the notion that we were good for nothing more than Kylie Minogue, INXS and Men At Work.  When I was approached to do a ‘world music show’, I opted to toe the line on exactly the same philosophy – to reposition the notion of ‘world music’, and promote innovation and experimentation from unlikely locations.

Of course, the whole concept of ‘world music’ is in itself a paradox – it is a marketing and sales term, designed for ingestion by Western audiences.  ‘World music’ means nothing to consumers in South America or Africa.  Not only that, but it is quite insulting to apply such a broad and meaningless term to well-developed and flourishing local music industries.  The term also generally implies indigenous and traditional sounds, and as I was quick to discover, most countries falling in the ‘world music’ category consider indigenous music in much the same way that Westerners treat their folk heritage – as something to be acknowledged, but mostly unrepresentative of the current musical climate.

Back in 2003, music was only starting to be distributed online.  Most labels and artists had a general mistrust about duplication and piracy, and had yet to wake up to the web’s full potential. Luckily, there were a few vanguards around the globe taking advantage of the medium – often from the most unlikely of places.  Those vanguards naturally became staples on the Fat Planet radio show – music that was unreleased in Australia, often only released in its country of origin, but nonetheless music that was refreshing, challenging and utterly compelling.

As so much of the show’s pre-planning was spent trawling the web, I inevitably started to post a few links on my personal blog, zero-G.  The first tracks went online in January 2004 (Finland’s LacklustreWang Inc from Italy and South African Portable taking early honours) and, a couple of months later, the content shifted to its own URL at fatplanet.com.au. Although this was something of an organic and common sense process, it was also partly inspired by the early pioneers of the mp3 blog who had started shortly prior – FluxblogSaid The GramaphoneMusic For Robots and, primarily, Swen’s Weblog, a curation of mp3 links from artists that had appeared in The Wire magazine.

Over a five year period, the Fat Planet site went on to feature many hundreds of artists, exposing new sounds and styles often for the first time in an English-speaking environment.  Fat Planet was also one of the first to expose emerging genres and feature tracks from scenes such as baile funkkudurocongotronics, balkan hot step, baltimorecosmic disco and Boston bounce.  Artists who received some of their early blog-love on Fat Planet included M.I.A., Ghislian Poirier, Juana Molina, The Knife, Filastine, Konono No.1, Frikstailers, K’naan, Mutamassilk, Edu-K, Esau Mwamwaya, Para One, Villa Diamante, Jahcoozi, Cardopusher, Sibot, Stacs Of Stamina, Tetine, Bostich, DJ C, Ramallah Underground, Sweat X, Peter Bjorn & John, Mochipet, Datarock, Annie and many more.

In January 2008, the Fat Planet blog was featured in the UK’s ‘Guardian‘ newspaper in Chris Salmon’s column ‘Click To Download’.  In referencing a number of mp3 blogs from all over the world, Fat Planet was dubbed “Best Blog for world music“.  The Guardian called the blog: “a fantastic melting point of cutting-edge international sounds; be it Danish rap-techno, Argentinean cumbia, Israeli dub or Chinese hip-hop. The range and quality of the music Buchanan tracks down is astonishing”. (read the column here).  Time Out also reviewed Fat Planet earlier this year, calling it “a stunningly diverse range of music from all corners of the globe”.

Writing now in mid-2008, Fat Planet is drawing to a close (for now…) as it’s time to map some new terrain. Thanks to everyone who tuned in to the show or the blog, and I look forward to bringing you along on the next part of the ride.

Here’s some of the chunkier content from the radio show, all yours to digest in perpetuity:

INTERVIEW PODCAST ARCHIVE:

Lindstrom (July 2007)
Amon Tobin (February 2007)
Miho Hatori (January 2007)
El Perro Del Mar (January 2007)
Frederic Galliano, Kuduro Sound System (December 2006)
Annie (October 2006)
Filastine (October 2006)
Peter, Bjorn & John (September 2006)
OMFO (August 2006)
CSS / Cansei De Ser Sexy (July 2006)

PLUS:

Fat Planet Arabesque Mixtape (2006)
Fat Planet Year Two Mixtape (2005)
Fat Planet Year One Mixtape (2004)

FAT PLANET BLOG ARCHIVE (All 300 posts, give or take …)

Fat Planet – Arabesque Mix

‘Fat Planet Arabesque’ is inspired by artists such as Mutamassik, Filastine, 2/5 BZ and dj/Rupture who take a distinctly skewed and sonically distorted approach to working with sounds from the Middle East.  This mix was intended to, once again, prove the case that innovative, unique and challenging music can be found in all parts of the globe; and that attempts to blend territorial sensibilities and thus disable borders can be achieved without resorting – as is so often the case – to commercial lounge ‘remixes’ of indigenous work from Western DJs.

The mix was recorded in November 2006, was first broadcast on a ‘Fat Planet’ Special on the Australian Community Radio Network in June 2007, and re-broadcast on Dialectic, November 2007 (Edge Radio Hobart and nationwide on CRN).

Continue reading “Fat Planet – Arabesque Mix”

Interview: E-Stonji (Germany)

Originally published on Fat Planet.

For as long as there has been scientific study and for as long as there has been art, the two disciplines have made for curious bedfellows. Over the centuries, they have been both repelled and attracted to one another – often at the same time – and in each instance, the results are inevitably fascinating. The legacy of crossovers between music and science is just as complex, particularly over the last few decades as electronic music has pushed its way to the cutting edge of sound. Much to the distaste of many die-hard analogue heads, music has evolved well beyond the simple use of one’s own brain and fingers, and has quickly adapted to include the use of the processor, of deep algorithms and of vast landscapes of programming code. Arguably, the appliance of science – whether we’re conscious of it or not – has become the defacto standard for music composition in the 21st century.

Enter Jens Doering – software engineer, audiobook director, sound designer and, yes, a musician of some renown; from his solo work as e.stonji, to collaborations with Hans Platzgumer (as hp.stonji and e.gum); and other work such as convertible, reejk lynur, jerry lusion and new productions with vocalist Berna Celik. On the eve of his latest full album release, ‘Particles’ (released on Kitty-Yo), Jens’ engineering and audio design background grants him a uniquely intense perspective on the synthesis between art and science.

“For me there is a deep beauty in structures that you can make visible through geometry, or that you can calculate in maths” he says, via email from his home in Elchingen, Germany. “I think that technology and the arts are more closely related now than in any other previous decade. There are already some specific programming languages that can help to find the bridge between art and maths, and if you want to go beyond what any application can do, you just need to program your own application. That’s where you need to be an engineer in order to be an artist.”

However, his life as an engineer germinated from an artistic seed, and a pure idea of music that only Jens could envisage. “When I started writing, I was just looking for a possibility to make music without having to look for band members who had exactly the same ideas as I did. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who would have liked to produce this kind of music that I had in mind. So I knew that a traditional way of making music (i.e. guitar, bass, drums, vocals) wouldn’t work for me. It was at that point that I started to experiment with a synthesizer, including a sequencer that could save up to ten songs. The disadvantage of this synth was to not being able to export your song. When I had finished ten songs, I had to delete one of them in order to start another one… Later however, the Atari and other synths came along and so on. and so on.. and so on… and so on….”

Traditionalists are quick to denounce an over-reliance on mathematics in music, often claiming that the net result of jettisoning ‘organic’ instrumentation leads to a lack of soul or warmth within the sound. Of course, as time marches on, this view is becoming increasingly marginalised, but it remains a bone of contention within music communities all around the world. You would be right in thinking that Jens has a great deal to say on this subject.

“I think it’s not difficult to retain soul in any way, as there are always human beings who operate the artificial environment. I think there are different ways to use technology for creating music. You can use technology to express yourself in an emotional way, and the result can be very soulful, but you can also use a more experimental – or let’s say scientific way – to explore things. For example, Mozart was one of the first composers who brought maths into composition (algorithmic composition). He wrote a piece, where you had to throw the dice to know how to play the piece. This was the beginning of computer music, in a way.

“I don’t think that electronic music has no soul. I think there is a lot of electronic music out there which isn’t very soulful, but it’s the same with music on organic instruments. You need to learn using the computer as a musical instrument in the same way as you need to learn playing a guitar…

“For me, soul is the most important thing to happen in music. I hope you can feel that while listening to ‘Particles’. It’s more about a reflection on emotions, and some of the tracks should work on a dancefloor. The name ‘Particles’ has been taken from the scientific context, because it’s so fascinating to zoom in to the smallest possible things and to get to limits – like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle – or to zoom out into extremely large scales. So everything, myself included, consists of a large amount of particles. In the digital world, you find particles in form of bits, bytes, dots, milliseconds, 128th in the music measure (beats) and so on. Hence, the album name particles is a very suggestive title, open to all kinds of interpretations, and I just wanted it that way.”

As if to prove the point, Jens has often drafted the most challenging instrument of all – the voice – into a number of projects. Standouts include the tight electro-funk of last year’s e:gum project (on Klein) and new work with vocalist Berna Celik. “The voice is a beautiful instrument. In most of the cases, the voice is a stronger stylistically than the synthesizer. But the voice is not necessarily needed to bring about a sense of soul into electronic music – this can also be done with digital instruments. I work with Berna as she has a very strong and soulful voice. She is a good friend as well, and her lyrics and melodies are always a great inspiration for me.”

With so many parallel projects seeming on the go at the same time, it’s easy to get lost inside the e.stonji universe: the grunge pop of Jerry Lusion (“guitar and grunge music”), his work with Platzgumer across hp.stonji and e:gum (“a very rare and special friendship and collaboration”) and his work as an Audiobook producer. He knows that this schizophrenic genre hopping confuses most people, but he retains the important belief that we need to expose many dimensions of our own personalities at any one time. It’s the latter work, in the Audiobook realm, that undoubtedly leads Jens into a multiplicity of creative alleys.

“It’s a very interesting field. It’s like doing a remix, but you don’t have any song to remix – you just have speech, and there is much space for interpretation. This provides a lot of freedom, and is a good way to experiment. You can also put in real sounds like footsteps in a staircase, bees, water etc. which opens your mind in such a way that makes you see pictures, just by listening. This is a beautiful process. Most audiobooks you get in the shops are just readings – somebody with a deep strong voice reads the whole book. I don’t know what this means, but I don’t like that at all. So for me, an audiobook is much more fascinating when it has music and, even more though, if it is a melting pot of speech, music, field recordings and sound effects.”

After the release of ‘Particles’, we can expect a follow-up to e:gum’s 2006 debut and continuing work with Platzgumer on additional projects. “There are a lot of totally different aspects I would love to explore in music”, he says, “It’s just a matter of time”. And you can almost hear his brain building the blueprint for the e.stonji time machine right about now.

more: estonji.com

Interview: Modeselektor (Germany)

Originally published on Fat Planet.

with a guest list that includes ttc, maximo park, paul st hillaire and mr thom yorke, expectations were going to be sky-high for modeselektor‘s new album ‘happy birthday’. for the last two weeks, it’s been on high rotation on the fat planet stereo and i’m relieved to say that, much like m.i.a.‘s killer ‘kala’, the hype is more than justified. this sophomore release retains all of the punch, kick and bass we’ve come to love from the berlin duo, but with a remarkable upswing of confidence and energy that headbutts us from the first beat of ‘godspeed’ right through to the album’s conclusion. and thus, in the space of just two albums, modeselektor have rewarded our faith and pole-vaulted a legion of wannabes to join the major leagues of electronic music.

this week, the response to fat planet’s email interview with modeselektor’s sebastian szary landed in our in-box. contrary to any notion that building such a heavy guest roster was all pre-ordained in a blue electro sky, szary points out that the net result was simply another instance when the gods of chance dealt a damn good hand. “we didn’t really have a direction when we started”, he says, “but we had a feeling for what we wanted to do. we just listened to our guts, and then ‘happy birthday’ somehow became the continuation of ‘hello mum!’. only two songs existed as live tracks, the others evolved in the studio. many ideas had been ripe for a long time, whereas some emerged spontaneously.”.

‘happy birthday’ hits stores next month and yet the sleeve ink is barely dry on their previous release, the recent ‘boogy bytes vol.3’ mix cd. featuring an impressive roster of heavyweights such as spank rock, skream, burial, mr.oizo, james holden and ttc, the compilation was the perfect precursor to the ‘selektor heading back into the studio. “we really needed this mix cd”, reckons szary, “at the end of the last year, we were pretty tired from all the touring and needed some weeks off! during that time we decided to make the mix cd. it’s very comforting to listen to music other than ones own, we almost lost the ability to listen to music. if you’re playing 120 gigs a year, you don’t have the opportunity to sit at home and put on a record so often. and we don’t like ipods so much.”

the mix closed with the now seminal radiohead track ‘idioteque’, a sly tip of the hat to thom yorke’s guest appearance on ‘happy birthday’. yorke has repeatedly worn his modeselektor fan hat in public, the recent ‘eraser’ b-side ‘iluvya’ playing out as something of a tribute to the berlin duo. and it’s quite a trip for szary. “looking at our new cover now and reading his name on the track list feels quite unreal.” and as for thom in person? “he’s a congenial musician and the singer of a pretty congenial band…” and that’s as far as he’ll go for now.

the album was recorded in berlin and released through ellen allien‘s b-pitch control label, home to the likes of paul kalkbrenner, sacscha funke, feadz and many exquisite electronic releases from allien herself. “ellen’s very spontaneous, ambitious, headstrong and sometimes inconsiderate! that’s what we love about her! she never gave us any instructions and always gave us free hands… but actually, quite often she didn’t have much of a choice.”

but with so much being written about berlin, and so many absurd claims being made about its status as the home of european electronic music, we’re led to wonder what like must be like for modeselektor, living inside the giant hype bubble? “light and shade lie very close together” according to szary, “but to name a single city as a center for electronic music is quite dubious. berlin is like a collecting pond for artists from all over the world. it has the charm of an classy old lady who’s had one drink too many! we can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

the naming of ‘happy birthday’ is designed to celebrate the fact that both szary and his comrade, gernot bronsert, are about to become fathers for the first time (“i’m looking forward to welcoming the little new modeselektors!”). but if we imagine that modeselektor are going to mellow out and settle down, we can slap that thought down straight away – 2008 will see modeslektor back on tour and (for local readers) returning once again to australian shores: “we’re looking forward to this – we love australia! i think next year we’ll come over there for some rooburgers!”.

more: modeselektor.com

Fat Planet – Lindstrom (Norway) Interview

August 2007 saw the release of Norwegian producer Lindstrom‘s contribution to the ‘Late Night Tales‘ series, pulling together a selection of some of his favourite tunes that document the wee small hours. Previous contributors include Four Tet, Air and The Flaming Lips, so he’s amongst extremely fine company. The album came off the back of a couple of hugely successful years for Lindstrom – from the out-of-control breakthrough track ‘I Feel Space’, to the growth of his label ‘Feedelity‘ and the recent media buzz around his alleged position of the head of the ‘cosmic disco‘ genre. Hear what Hans-Peter had to say on some of these topics by listening to the Fat Planet interview, originally broadcast on FBi Radio on 18th July.

Fat Planet – Jimi Tenor (Finland)

DOWNLOAD: jimi tenor & rhythm taxi – moon goddess (live)

many moons ago i was introduced to the music of jimi tenor, the lounge lethario of finland. the album, seemingly presented on a gold lame platter, was ‘sahkomies’ and featured tracks that once heard, could never be forgotten. ‘travellin dem spaceways’ was one such song – a future jazz excursion into hidden galaxies that fired hitherto unknown triggers lurking withing the depths of the imagination. the other was the bright lounge techno of ‘take me baby’ – a track that wore a hard, poker face, complimented with a pair of bright orange knickers in the downstairs department.

tenor was making tech-lounge and space jazz at a time shortly prior to an explosion of clubs playing ‘ironic lounge music’. my problem with the latter wasn’t that i failed to see the inherent humour, it was simply that most of the music being made or being played was shockingly bad. tenor was therefore something of a breath of clean, scandanavian air – whilst adorning himself with the usual trappings of lounge iconography, he still made exceptionally good music and forged most of his albums in a cauldron of dark humour.

given his gift for steering his sofa on the right side of the credibility, it was somewhat unsurprising that warp records signed him for three albums in the mid-late 90s. since then, tenor has been weaving between electro jazz and funk and projects such as the impostor orchestra – an orchestral album that married an imaginary soundtrack with a collection of jingles for an interplanetary space station.

this year, tenor has dropped two albums with an african theme: ‘joystone’, a collaboration with west african trio kabu kabu, and ‘live in berlin’, a live, afrobeat rendering of his back catalogue, accompanied by rhythm taxi – former members of fela kuti’s band, ripped from the diaspora. recorded during the 2004 ‘beyond the stars’ tour, the results of this second release are typically tenor – a playful fusion of unlikely genres, guaranteed to induce involuntary movement in all the right places.

‘live in berlin’ is released today as a digital download from germany’s kitty-yo – also home to tenor’s previous releases ‘beyond the stars’ and ‘higher planes’. ‘joystone’ is released next week by sahko, licenced outside mainland europe to ubiquity. view the wonderfully odd ‘tenor in the jungle’ video clip below:

Villa Diamante (Argentina)

DOWNLOAD: VILLA DIAMANTE & MARIANA BARAJ unknown

more argentian excellence, this time from the blackside inc label, home to “strictly black music” and artists such as daleduro, loder, lucas luisao and arkd. villa diamante, the alias for producer diego balacio, has been dj-ing for the last three years and has already firmly established himself for this blend of hip hop, techno and his own mashups. his web site features a sweet range of blends that pair many of his fellow countrymen with international faces – for example, el remolon (see yesterday’s post) gets mashed with beyonce and jay z, gustavo cerati meets de la soul, ratatat vs alfonso el pintor and so forth.

the real revelation however is diamante’s track from the label compilation ‘blackside allstars vol.1’ – six tracks that mix drum’n’bass, dubstep, screwed ragga (courtesy of an oro11 remix) and diamante’s piece, simply titled ‘unknown’. this beautiful track (also a mash as far as i can tell) takes its cue direct from a dubstep / ragga tangent and then drops a vocal that sounds as is if it’s been ripped from the middle of the kalahari desert. the singer is mariana baraj, an argentinian vocalist and percussionist who works in an area she deems as ‘folklorica’ – variations on traditional, regional folk songs; which once again comes to the fore in this track.

you can also find the track and sixteen more on villa diamante’s new free-to-download album, ‘bailando se entiende la gente’. the formula is simple – the sources are part-american, part-argentinean, so whilst some of them appear familiar to a broader global audience, many will be falling on fresh ears. this combination works like a charm, especially on a track such as this one, blending producer daleduro (who also provides additional production across the release) with fellow argentinean mc, princesa; adding a healthy dash of missy’s ‘work it’ for extra spice:

DOWNLOAD: VILLA DIAMANTE daleduro vs pincesa vs missy elliott

take the plunge, and download the whole album for free here:

DOWNLOAD: VILLA DIAMANTE bailando se entiende la gente

tracklisting:

01. Villa Diamante – Mariana Baraj vs Unknown whitelabel track
02.Villa Diamante – Daleduro vs Princesa vs Missy Elliott
03.Daleduro vs Villa Diamante – Lil Mama vs Beastie Boys
04.Villa Diamante – Gustavo Cerati vs De La Soul
05. La Mala Rodriguez feat Arianna Puello & Princesa (Diamante edit)
06.Villa Diamante – El Remol??n vs Beyonce & Jay Z
07.Villa Diamante – Fauna vs Black Eyed Peas
08.Piedras – Quiero Pare (diamante edit)
09.Sonido Martines vs Villa Diamante – Destellos vs Skee Lo
10.Daleduro vs Villa Diamante – Shaggy vs Rizmo
11.Villa Diamante vs Gaby Bex (Coolie Dance riddim)
12.Villa Diamante – Fergie vs Fauna
13.Villa Diamante – Alfonso el Pintor vs Ratatat
14.Villa Diamante – Tremor vs Bus
15.Villa Diamante – Mariana Baraj vs Q tip
16.Villa Diamante – Cerati/Melero vs Fabolous
17. Aldo Benitez – Giro de Volante (demo) (Diamante edit)

myspace.com/villadiamante

El Remolon (Argentina)

Originally posted on Fat Planet.

mp3: EL REMOLON cumbia bichera

mp3: EL REMOLON cumbia bichera (tremor mix)

originally from colombia, cumbia has spread far and wide over the centuries, permeating deeply throughout central and south america. contemporary strains can be heard throughout pop, hip hop and reggaeton, but it’s also now infiltrating into more experimental waters as artists weave the sound into electronica, techno and other club genres. not to be confused with the more pop-orientated ‘tecnocumbia’, this new strain of electronic cumbia is represented by a wide field of seemingly mostly argentinian artists such as axel krygier, daleduro, oro11 and el remolon.

el remolon, aka andres schteingart (also known as drole) cites his reference point as argentinian ‘shantytown cumbia’ or ‘cumbia villera’, a subgenre born in buenos aries and popularised throughout the 90s. in el remolon’s hands, it’s mutated into a new hybrid that balances traditional rhythms with electro, dub, reggaeton and minimal tech. the cumbia bichera e.p. (available to download at the peublo nuevo netlabel) features four original tracks in this vein alongside five remixes – four of the title track alone. in his work as drole, schteingart plays more heavily on a clean minimal tip – you can download his latest ep at germany’s tropic netlabel.

Mico (Japan)

Originally posted on Fat Planet.

DOWNLOAD: MICO phenomena of the mind

DOWNLOAD: MICO black words

‘four women no cry vol.2’ is the sequel to 2005’s original compilation of new female electronic artists, brought to us by the ever-excellent german label, monika. at the heart of this series is the search for a broader definition of ‘women in electronica’ – a search that not only seeks to expand on demographic perceptions, but simultaneously also strives to transcend geographical borders. in this selection, we travel to barcelona (for iris), berlin (monotekktoni), the u.s. via austria (dorit chrysler) and, finally, to japan for mico.

meiko shizumu was born in the shadow of mount fuji and, since relocating to london, has soundtracked manga movies and built-up an impressive back catalogue of projects – as well as collabs with coldcut, to rococo rot‘s robert lippock and monika stablemate, barbara morgenstern. her solo debut ‘phenomena of the mind’ is due to drop shortly, and you can download a near-album’s worth of pre-emptive material at miCo.uk.com. boomkat recently described mico as sitting “somewhere between tujiko noriko and m.i.a.” and whilst it’s certainly more of the former and less of the latter, it’s hopefully enough to lull you into mico’s grasp.

more info on the monika comp and it’s predecesor at monika-enterprise.de. you can also avoid the shipping wait by grabbing the comp as a hi-bitrate mp3 download from the aforementioned boomkat.

African Underground: Depths Of Dakar (Senegal)

Originally posted on Fat Planet.

DOWNLOAD: SEN KUMPA niawal

some time ago, the u.s.-based label nomadic wax dropped ‘african underground vol.1 – hip hop senegal’ – the first, and to my mind still the only compilation of senegalese hip hop to hit international soil.

in order to capture the raw essence of local african hip hop, nomadic wax founder ben herson took to the road with a mobile studio and set up shop in towns and villages around the country. the result was a record that was rarely off the fat planet stereo. herson captured something that was unequivocally unique about african MCs – a dark, deep and overtly political strand of hip hop that once again proved the point that the genre remains the voice of musical protest around the world.

fast forward two years – ben and the nomads hit senegal once again for the follow up, ‘african underground: depths of dakar’, currently available to download from calabashmusic.com (although a retail release is also due may 15). thanks to nomadic wax, we have a special fat planet preview – the track ‘niawal’ by sen kumpa can be downloaded above. you can also check the video for this clip at brightcove.com.

the album is a companion to a fascinating online documentary series titled ‘democracy in dakar‘. when former oppostion leader abdoulaye wade came to power in 2000, many believed that the voices in the senegalese hip hop movement assisted greatly in his victory. in the absence of critical media and western blog culture, hip hop filled the vacuum – many groups specifically putting their voices behind wade’s election campaign. seven years later, those same voices come together in this documentary series to question wade’s effectiveness in the run-up to the next round of elections.

filmed over the last month in dakar, with videos posted weekly online at africanunderground.com, the series has a crucial real-time perspective – the latest episode, posted on monday, shows the reaction to the news that wade was returned to power last week with an unexpected, and allegedly dubious, 56% share of the vote. the absence of joy on the streets of dakar is profoundly disturbing and makes for compelling viewing.

view all the clips at africanunderground.com. for more information on nomadic wax projects and artists, head to nomadicwax.com. you can also read the ‘depths of dakar’ sleeve notes at african underground.

Fat Planet – Amon Tobin (Brazil) Interview

2007 saw the Australian release of Brazilian Amon Tobin’s studio album ‘The Foley Room’. as the title suggests, Tobin had worked to evolve from using vinyl sample sources to ‘found’ or ‘constructed’ sounds. It’s a huge testament to Tobin that the results remained defiantly accessible, and – unlike Herbert’s similar ‘Plate de Jour’ project – never fall into the realms of abstract sound art. The album, released through Ninja Tune, came with a documentary that documented the painstaking processes Tobin undertook in the construction of this record.

Tobin was in Sydney for a DJ show in January 2007, and I he joined me on the Fat Planet radio show to discuss ‘The Foley Room’ alongside his then recent soundtrack work on the Splinter Cell 3 video game.

Fat Planet – Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto) Interview

In January 2007, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Miho Hatori, formerly one half of the legendary Japanese band Cibo Matto, on the release of her debut solo album ‘Ecdysis’. Cibo Matto found success in the U.S. initially off the back of heavy rotation of their ‘Sugar Water’ clip, directed by Michel Gondry, which they backed up with two outstanding albums ‘Viva! La Woman’ and ‘Stereo Type A’ (the latter featuring an expanded Cibo Matto line-up with Sean Lennon on bass). My personal favourite Cibo Matto is seeing them on stage at ‘The Bronze’ in the season two opener of Buffy – a rare trans-pacific cultural crossover.

In the intervening years, Miho released a beautiful Brazilian collaboration with Smokey Hormel (‘Smokey and Miho’), dropped some vocals for the likes of Beastie Boys, Handsome Boy Modelling School and Blackalicious and also gave us the voice of Noodle in Gorillaz (re-listen to ’19-2000′ for some “shoe-shine” Miho goodness). There’s also a little curio that crops up on Ninja Tune’s ‘Urban Renewal Program’ compilation, a track titled ‘Night Light’ that sits alongside contributions from Tortoise, Prefuse 73, Mos Def and more.

The new album is, as expected, a thing of outstanding beauty – a more considered and organic version of Bjork‘s mid-career output, replete with a vast library of musical influences from around the world. The video clip (by Ishiura Masaru) is a dazzling accompaniment – an animated adventure, that could well be titled “Miho in the Underworld”; with a design style that calls to mind a cross between the twisted Charles Burns school of horror illustration and a psyched-out episode of Scooby Doo. Well worth 3:22 of your time.

Fat Planet – El Perro Del Mar (Sweden) Interview

Inspiration can strike at the most unlikely of moments. Sarah Assbring, aka El Perro Del Mar, broke years of “cold” and “empty” writers’ block, sitting on a beach in Spain, watching an “old salty sea dog” trot by. Somehow, in that moment of sunny, seaside bliss, the dog leant its name to a project that’s an inspired channelling of 1950s pop aesthetics, refracted through a dark, melancholic lens.

To label El Perro Del Mar a gloom-ridden project is to miss much of the point – underneath the dark and seemingly disparaging tones are rich undercurrents of humour and irony. No doubt inspired in part by her comrade and collaborator Jens Lekman, the ‘El Perro Del Mar’ album is replete with classic pop melodies and inspired lyricism – guaranteed to leave a twisted smile hanging on your lips all day long.

Listen below to the unedited Fat Planet interview with Sarah in which she goes into detail about her “quest” for the El Perro Del Mar sound, her qualms about facing a live audience, the vision for album number two and working with on Jens Lekman’s DVD project.

Sachiko Kanenobu (Japan)

Originally posted on Fat Planet.

DOWNLOAD: SACHIKO KANENOBU look up, the sky is beautiful

there’s a darker underbelly to having a radio show or a music blog – you have to kiss a fair few frogs to find your prince. that is, you have to plough through a great many unusable or irrelevant releases to find the music that will ultimately filter its way onto the main platform. a few weeks back, i had let my listening pile grow to ridiculous proportions and embarked on a foolhardy venture of trying to consume as many as i could on my sixty-minute drive to work. fifty-five minutes in and i was utterly despondent – nothing was hitting the mark for me and i was beginning to feel that either my critical faculties had abandoned me, or i was simply being too harsh on this glut of musical misadventures. then i loaded ‘misora’ by sachiko kanenobu and everything changed. i don’t know whether it was the aesthetic frustration, the lack of sleep or simply the rare, basic beauty of sachiko’s voice, but for the first time in such a long, long time, a piece of music had brought me to the brink of tears.

‘misora’ is a relic from a moment long gone, one of the first fruits of the burgeoning japanese folk music scene of the late sixties and early seventies. at the time, sachiko found herself working for takasihi inc, a local music promoter. the company’s love of local music, and the knowledge that no one else was likely to release such unorthodox music at that time, led to the birth of URC (underground record club). over the next few years, sachiko and her comrades at URC released a series of albums that remain pivotal touchstones for the era. standing tall amongst them is the self-titled release from happy end – regarded as of the most original japanese bands of their time, particularly as they were writing songs exclusively in japanese.

happy end’s songwriting duo, eiichi otaki and haruomi hosono, began working with sachiko on her own music. relations with boyfriend otaki soured to the point where they were unable to continue their collaboration, and it fell to hosono to arrange and produce much of the material that would become her debut, ‘misora’. hosono and otaki would later go on to found the seminal and hugely influential yellow magic orchestra with ryuichi sakamoto. recorded live in a matter of days, ‘misora’ is as pure as music can be – nothing but voice and acoustic guitar, with the barest hint of post-production sheen. it cuts through the gluttony of contemporary music production work with a gentle sway of the scythe.

a relationship with an american writer saw sachiko leave her native japan before ‘misora’ was released – without gigs or press to support, the album floundered and all but vanished. after a break of nine years, it was thanks to the support of a family friend, science fiction author philip k. dick, that sachiko returned to writing and recording (before his untimely death in 1982, dick had fully intended to produce ‘misora’s follow up). a series of one-off recordings and a collaboration with san francisco’s translator took sachiko through the 80s and early 90s. new solo albums surfaced in 1995 and 98, and as a new breed of japanese musicians began to cite ‘misora’ as an influence, her bare-boned debut finally received a long-overdue reissue in her home country.

this year, australia’s chapter music picked up the rights to reissue ‘misora’ for the first time outside of japan. this new release comes with extensive biographical liner notes, lyrics translated by sachiko and archive photography. sung entirely in japanese and spread across eleven tracks, ‘misora’ can single-handedly restore your faith in the beauty and simplicity of music. as a temporary escape from breaks and bleeps and basslines, a finer album you won’t find anywhere else this year.

buy ‘misora’ online at chaptermusic.com.au

Fat Planet – Juana Molina (Argentina)

Originally posted on Fat Planet.

mp3: JUANA MOLINA micael

some recent background text on juana molina described her as a “stealth artist”, deploying her true depth with such subtle maneouvers that it’s dangerously easy to dismiss her with a cursory listen. fortunately, her latest album ‘son’ sees her innovation brought to the fore, making her nigh on impossible to ignore.

rewinding through molina’s backstory, we find that catapulted out of her native argentina at the age of 12 – the family decamping to paris to escape the coup. on her return six years later, juana was determined to follow her fathers footsteps into music, however the cash required to live and learn was not quickly forthcoming. in an odd quirk of fate, she found herself stumbling into the television industry – the culmination of this trajectory being the central star of the sketch show ‘juana y sus hermanas’ (‘juana and her sisters’). the show was a phenomenal hit in the spanish-speaking world, so much so that street recognition was all too commonplace. the transition out of that world and into a credible career in music was not one that came easy – early audiences only appearing in the auditorium to insist that she replay her comedy routines.

her first three albums are a world apart from spanish sketch show comedy – in fact, she managed to pull off a move akin to jerry seinfeld recording an album of abstract, minimal electro, and getting a 9.9 from pitchfork for his troubles. album number two ‘seguendo’ earned a ‘best world music album’ gong from entertainment weekly, ‘tres cosas’ grabbed a top ten spot in the ny times albums of the year in 2004.

for album number four, juana has opted to further develop the style of production that she usually reserves for live performances – that of live sound loops. beginning with basic instrumentation and vocals, molina records short loops from that source, and upon that audio builds layer upon layer of new sounds. from this seemingly rudimentary basis, the most astonishing textures develop. mining seams ploughed by the likes of animal collective or bjork‘s ‘medulla’, ‘son’ leaves most comparisons in its considerable wake – and reserves a special clip around the ears for anyone daring to whisper the ‘folktronica’ tag. whilst this may be a land where the electronic and acoustic converge, the end product deviates so far from the previous maps of the territory that you’re hesitant to force it into any genre description whatsoever.

from such a rich collection, it’s hard to find one track that exemplifies the journey – ‘micael’, with its pots and pans percussion and odd argentinian skat, at least gives you a quick stab in the arm and hopefully urges you to investigate further. although it’s a truism for most good albums, ‘son’ is truly best served as a complete end-to-end listen; repeat three or four times over and it may well nudge its way into your own top tens for 2006.

‘son’ is available now through domino. more info and downloads from myspace/juanamolina. also highly recommend is last year’s ‘solvese quien pueda’ remix 12 with two mixes from label mate, four tet, and juana’s own eight minute rerub that clearly signposted the way into this new release.

Fat Planet – Annie (Norway) Interview

this fat planet podcast is taken from earlier this year when annie‘s anniemal album finally received an australian release. on the phone from norway, annie and i talked about finding inspiration in rave parties, metal, madonna and jap-pop; about how the album was nearly derailed following the death of collaborator tore andreas kroknes; and how pitchfork’s ‘single of the year’ award led to annie clocking up a guest list of over 7000 people in new york city.

to puff up the album release, annie rolled into sydney last week for a dj-set. sadly, i couldn’t make the dj gig, but by all accounts, annie should have left the decks well alone. ‘a series of train wrecks’ was one phrase being thrown around the morning after. there’s a downbeat review here. but i’m no hater, i love ‘anniemal’ – i just wish australia would get off the block quicker with such things.

DOWNLOAD: annie ‘chewing gum (fakeID remix)’

the above mp3 dropped onto the web this week – a bootleg re-rub of ‘chewing gum’ from bastard pop aficionado, fakeID. further web hunting reveals a couple of extra annie mp3 freebies. register at K7 and you’ll get the new track ‘the wedding’ from her dj kicks compilation (delve deeper into K7 to purchase a rare digital e.p. featuring a remix of this track from lindstrom). register again with 7 digital and you’ll cop the best of the three – the y$s productions remix of ‘always too late’, from the team who recently dropped mixes for m.i.a. and lady sovereign – ch-ching!

for your dollar, i advise a hunt for the patrick wolf remix of ‘always too late’ – of the many annie remixes around, this one bags the top spot.

Fat Planet – Filastine (U.S.) Interview

A ‘Fat Planet’ interview with Grey Filastine, originally broadcast on FBI Radio on 8th October 2006. Grey discusses his previous work with Tchkung! and his misadventures with the Infernal Noise Brigade, then bringing us up to speed with the genesis of Filastine and his audio travels around the world.

DOWNLOAD: FILASTINE judas goat (terror mix)

DOWNLOAD: FILASTINE figuig

regular readers will know i’m a fan of dj rupture (aka jace clayton) – undoubtedly at the forefront of marrying global sounds with radical contemporary production. think ‘afro house’ and then think of its exact polar opposite – and that’s where you’ll find rupture.

rupture‘s label soot has previously brought us egypt’s incomparable mutamassik as well as releases from japan’s ove naxxand jace’s own nettle project; and their next release comes from seattle-based solo producer filastine. having studied rhythms and worked with percussionists worldwide, filastine filters all those experiences into his new album ‘burn it’ (available now through boomkat).

short album samples on filastine’s site suggest that ‘burn it’ will deliver a diverse mix of hip hop, broken beat, ragga and deep electronic dub, all fused together with vocal samples and field recordings that represent an incredible diversity of music from around the world. note, once more, the term ‘world music’ does not apply.

the above remix of ‘judas goat’ kicks off with a feeling that you’re falling into a deep mantra, reflecting on bush’s ‘war on terror’ – and as you’re drifting through that elongated moment of discovery, filastine’s drops a mix of heavy dub (double-)basslines and eastern percussion and pipes. the original version of the track can be found on a recently released soot 7″, b/w a dubhop excursion with sweet french vocals (clip).

the second mp3 comes via comfort stand, described as a “community-driven label where all releases are free … striving to bring you recordings that we find interesting, compelling and downright enjoyable. everybody needs free music.” well said. the mp3 album is called ‘people doing strange things with electricity too‘ and is 25 tracks of artists that i’ve never heard of. i sense of morning-worth of downloading approaching.

more filastine: check out parts one and two of his mix as part of sonar calibrado (with maga bo), and this field recording entitled ‘mob destroys bank in argentina’.

Fat Planet – Skist (Japan)

Originally posted on Fat Planet.

DOWNLOAD: SKIST the last place

DOWNLOAD: SKIST return

last weekend i had the good fortune to spend some time in the company of tokyo-based duo, skist. we were both in newcastle for the annual ‘this is not art’ festival and ‘sound summit’ sessions. skist have since appeared in both sydney and melbourne and head to brisbane this saturday (7th october) to perform at fabrique 33 at the powerhouse.

skist – haruna ito and samm bennett – describe themselves as an “experimental song unit”; a description that only begins to penetrate the many layers at play. on their new album, ‘taking something somewhere’, the notion of ‘song’ is very much at the core, albeit in an abstracted form. whilst musically skist stretch purposefully into the future, haruna’s vocals exist as a series of precision-perfect postcards sent from somewhere out of time; it’s impossible to pin down any notion of reference. that said, the use of song as a distinct ‘moment’ certainly flows to eglantine gouzy from last week’s post, and i’m also tempted to cite the vocal constructs of lamb’s lou rhodes as a touch point.

rhythmically, you can lose yourself inside this release. ditching any tried and true method of mapping A to B, samm’s programming and instrumentation takes diversionary and circuitous routes; always side-stepping expectations, yet – unlike his glitch IDM counterparts – never losing the way. this has much to do with the warm marriage of pre-programmed beats, live electronic percussion (such as the wavedrum) and traditional acoustic drums. haruna then additionally offsets both her own poetic vocal performance and samm’s rhythms with waves of subtle electronic feedback – a contribution that may well be spun off into a distinct cd release at some point in the future.

you can find more info on skist at samm & haruna’s label site polarityrecords.net.

Eglantine Gouzy (France)

Originally posted on Fat Planet.

DOWNLOAD: EGLANTINE GOUZY cuckoo

DOWNLOAD: EGLANTINE GOUZY boa

DOWNLOAD: EGLANTINE GOUZY 12h12

parisian eglantine gouzy occupies a terrain that at first seems familiar, but after repeated listens it’s clear she’s sowing beautiful new structures in this apparently oft-visited arena. contemporary torch bearers for this style of warm, spacious, and at times abstract electronica include argentina’s juana molina and france’s camille (whose outstanding album ‘le fille’ has just received a long overdue local release in australia). like most comparisons, they are the map, not the territory – gouzy is in fact squatting somewhere off in the distance, ensconced in her own softly-whispered world of fairy tales and daydreams. we shouldn’t however dismiss her as some fey object of whimsy, quite the opposite. beneath the childlike exterior beats something altogether more alarming. simply spend 90 seconds with ‘cuckoo’ and buried somewhere therein you might find the same sense of unnerving dread that siouxsie sioux once conjoured on early banshees albums. and whilst ‘boa’, by contrast, skips along without a care in the world (with music-concrete percussive elements throughout), the melancholy electronica of ’12h12′ appears to offer us the same schizm between innocence and remorse.

these latter two tracks initially surfaced on fat cat’s online demo resource, and again last year as part of monika label’s ‘four women no cry’ project. in an effort to redress the balance in electronic music, the album represented four women from diverse regions – argentina’s rosario blefari, austria’s catarina pratter and tusia beridze (aka tba) from georgia in the former soviet union – all sharing a common audio agenda. i was reminded of this album last weekend when i stumbled across a ‘four women no cry’ remix e.p. in the iTunes store. entitled ‘landsleute remixes’, it pairs the four women with their local, male counterparts; dj ark‘s remix of gouzy’s ‘zone a’ being particularly effective. b.fleischmann, gustavo lamas and post industrial boys round out the remix duties.

eglantine gouzy’s debut album ‘boamaster’ is out now through ireland’s osaka recordings.

eglantine gouzy murdochspace