Daft Punk Announces New Album (With Preview!)

Word came through this morning that despite the popular belief that Daft Punk’s last several years were devoted to writing the soundtrack to Disney’s Tron, the Frenchmen have also managed to use that time to write a whole new album which, according to Virgin Records, is due out toward the end of 2011.It’s been nearly six years since Human After All was released, and there’s no doubt that a lot has changed since then. Will this new album succeed in escaping the confines of an over-saturated genre which, ironically, they themselves played a significant roll in creating? Only time will tell, but if this leaked preview track is any indication, I like to think they’ve got this one in the bag.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Daft Punk – Illumination

Stop Telling Me What to Do!

Has anyone ever considered how weird it is that by choosing to take part in a particular musical/physical scene, certain genre’s of music (and sometimes even individual artists) are automatically selected for you as “acceptable listening material” while others become “blacklisted?” Check this out.


You just put a quarter in one of those Zoltar fortune-telling machines, and I’m about to pull the last five years of your life out of thin air. The year is 2005, and if the 2010 version of you were to travel back in time and inform old you that in five years you’d be listening to music that’s made almost entirely on a computer, the ghost of Christmas past would likely be heading home with broken nose. You are a firm believer that all good music is centered around a guitar in some way shape or form. That’s not to say that you’re morally opposed to synthesizers in a band’s lineup, but electronics can only compliment guitars and drums, not replace them altogether. Your collection of music includes a couple of electronic musicians here and there, though to be fair, most of them are the ones that are talented enough to prevent you from ever considering how their music is made.

You may permit the occasional M83, The Album Leaf, or perhaps you’re younger than that and are more keen on the untamable shrieking of the Blood Brothers. But mostly you’re attracted to bands like Bloc Party, Midnight Juggernauts, and VHS or Beta. Bands that are rather talented and trick you into forgetting they’re electronic at all. Long story short: while you may be able to pull it off on rare occasions, the majority of the time you wouldn’t be caught dead listening to anything more than The Faint for fear of being associated with (shudder) techno.

Then 2006 comes around and suddenly Daft Punk is okay. What’s the deal with that? They’re completely electronic, and there’s no getting around it, but for some reason, everyone you know has their discography, and it is not cool to make fun of them for it, nor is it cool for you to point out the fact that Homework was released in 1999. Nope, you’re supposed to eat your words and act like all three albums were released that very year. So what do you do? You accept it for what it is: Daft Punk = cool. Infected Mushroom = still not cool. Titanic theme song techno remix = definitely not cool. You’ve officially added all of Daft Punk’s albums to your collection. Other than that, not much has changed. You’re still wearing your hair like the dude from AFI (a haircut that would later make it’s way into the electronic music scene in the form of DJ Paparazzi), and you still can’t tell me what a four on the floor beat is. But here’s where the line really starts to blur.

Late 2006- Early 2007: The year your one friend who happened to know about the Hype Machine at the time discovered __________ (insert either MSTRKRFT or Justice in the blank). Now, this kid was always a little strange with his music taste, so when he hands you one of his two earbuds and plays you (Easy Love / Waters of Nazareth), you’re reluctant at first. That is, you know it sounds good, and you know it’s fresh, but at the same time, you’ve spent years defining yourself as one of those guys that respects music too much to sink down to the level of electronica, and you’re not about to just up and say you like it. You decide that “sounds interesting” is the appropriate response, and you put it on the back burner, intending to forget about it. But it haunts you. Every time you finish an album and consider the ever present “what should I listen to next?” enigma, your mind jumps to that “The Looks/Cross” torrent you downloaded a week ago. Is it the right time? Are you feeling confident enough in your musical masculinity? Eventually you cave, and you give them album a once over to get it out of your system–except your plans change, and somehow, it makes it into your daily rotation, and before you know it you’re listening to an entirely electronic album just as much as you listen to everything else. What’s going on? You’re not allowed to like this. You try even harder to convince yourself that you don’t like it, but it’s impossibly clear that you do, and there’s nothing you’re going to be able to do to change it. This feels even worse than that time you got caught telling your shampoo bottle to “Move bitch, get out da way.” The stone cold realization hits you: You’re going to have to change scenes, because (and trust me, there’s definitely no pun intended here) the “scenesters” just aren’t going to accept the person you’ve become.

Before you know it, your Misfits shirts have gone out the window, and you’ve replaced them with graphic tees depicting mostly naked women. (And it’s okay because the look is “artsy” and “in good taste.”) You’ve discovered house music, and with each new album you acquire your pants become a little bit more colorful. (I’d say they got tighter too, but that wouldn’t be fair to those who had already maxed out the slim cap by stringing dental floss through their leggings.) Suddenly, you find your music collection is growing as though it had invested in Google. By the time another year has gone by, not only has your music collection doubled in size, but you also find that listening to Avenged Sevenfold just doesn’t seem appropriate anymore. Even further, you now find yourself slightly repulsed by those who haven’t managed to follow the same path you did, and you’re constantly asking yourself how they can be satisfied listening to the monotonous drone of same-sounding guitars, when there’s a world of unlimited potential for sound into which they haven’t even considered wandering. However, the one thing you don’t consider, and likely still haven’t considered even now as were moving through 2010, is the impact that your transition into the hipster scene has had on your perception of music in general.

So Now What?

So here we are now. We’ve arrived in the present, and are now faced with a new set of rules. Give me an artist, and I’ll give you a number between 1 and 10, indicating how acceptable it is for a member of the hipster scene to listen to them/him/her (1 being completely unacceptable).

Daft Punk: 10
Slipknot: 1
Laidback Luke: 10
Sigur Ros: 9
Green Day: 3
Oasis: 7 (They’re not electronic, but they’re one of those bands that is, for some reason, accepted as remixable.)
Massive Attack: 7 (Electronic, but not so hipster-y. Minus three.)
Royksopp: 9
Paul Van Dyk/Oakenfold: 5 (Electronic but dated; better left for outsiders and the uninformed.)
Rusko: 9 (So-called purists would likely protest)
The Bloody Beetroots: 8 (Used to be a ten, but they’ve since been rejected by the mainstream opposition.)
The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s: 8 (For the same reason as Oasis. though to be fair, remixes are more acceptable than originals.)

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. The big picture themes are nothing more than:

A) Electronic dance music is always okay, unless it’s trance, drum ‘n’ bass, or was produced before 2006.
B) Rock is sometimes okay, depending on what the people in the band look like, and how remixable their material is.
C) Classics are allowed, assuming you either remix the tunes, or use them tastefully.
D) Metal, and all it’s derivatives, is never allowed, unless you make it with synthesizers and call it dubstep.
E) Dubstep is okay, unless it sounds too much like metal.
F) Punk is okay if it incorporates some kind of electronic component.
G) Hip-hop is treated like a controlled substance. It essentially boils down to circumstance, and depends on how far-removed from electronic dance music it is. Artist intelligence is also a contributing factor.
H) Classical is okay, as long as you listen with confidence.
I) Most everything else is neither acceptable nor unacceptable, but if you get too into any of it, it’s just weird.

So that’s how it works. By reading this blog, you’re defining yourself as a hipster, and as such, your music of choice is not, in fact, music of choice at all. It’s chosen for you. And just like so many of us were missing out on electronic music when we were busy convincing ourselves that it wasn’t okay, who’s to say we aren’t still missing out on a world of fantastic music by allowing our hard drive’s to be brain washed by the momentum of expectations? I won’t stand for it!

Today, for the sake of liking good music for good music, we’re bending all the rules and listening to all the tunes we technically shouldn’t touch with a ten-foot poking stick. And who knows, maybe tomorrow, we’ll still be doing it.

Spor – Aztec
[It’s Drum N Bass, and I don’t care]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Me Gusta – Megadrive
[It’s Hip-Hop, and I don’t care]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Flux Pavilion – Got 2 Know
[It’s trancy, and I don’t care]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Rusko – Da Cali Anthem
[It’s both massively mainstream and poorly produced, and I don’t care]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Studio and the Stage

Dance Music Live

 

You know that awful feeling you get when you finally score tickets to see your favorite band perform and, after months of listening to their album in hopeful anciticpation, their live show just totally sucks? I’m sure you do; we’ve all been there at some point or another. The guitarists misses the chord, the lead singer can’t hit the right notes. Go to enough concerts and you’re bound to leave a few of them unsatisfied. The letdown of a live show is one of the worst feelings in the world. If you’ve ever stood at a concert thinking “I wish I had stayed home and listened to this in my room,” then the artist has, in some sense, failed.

Live DJing

The cliché “I heard they suck live” translates to “the band isn’t talented, their producer is.” But the expression takes on a new meaning with electronic musicians because most of them are producers. Even the musical acts that aren’t strictly DJs but still have an electronic feel to them, think Animal Collective or LCD Soundsystem, still do a lot of the production work themselves. Every musican leads a double life: the studio where he makes the music, and the stage where he performs it.

Both are important in different ways, and there’s obviously a difference between being a great live performer and a studio wizard. Live shows combine lights and visuals; there’s a lot more to a concert than just the music. The context of a performance can have a huge effect on the experience, too. But great musicians still have to be great performers above all else. And the best musicians are doubly talented at both producing and performing. The line is becoming blurry, thanks to software like Ableton Live that allows both in-house production and live performance. But the old adage is still true: live shows prove who’s really got talent. At a time when record sales are falling, concerts are especially important.

It’s funny to think of the Bloody Beetroots wearing their masks alone in the studio, or Daft Punk working on the new album from inside the Pyramid. But both of those groups are as popular for what they do in front of an audience as for what they do alone in the studio. Sure, they make great stuff behind the scenes. But let’s not forget about the live show.

 

Laidback Luke

Laidback Luke

Here’s a great example of an artist who knows how to work the studio and the stage. It’s hard to “put on a show” as a DJ, unless your name is Steve Aoki and you spend most of your time standing and screaming into a microphone. Laidback Luke stands out as one of the premiere producers and performers working today. The Netherlands native has really taken off in the last couple years. His success is well-earned. He’s ridiculously talented at making original songs and remixes; and he performs with an energy you won’t find many other places. Listen to some of Laidback Luke’s stuff below. Then do yourself a favor and go see him live.

 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MSTRKRFT – Heartbreaker (Laidback Luke Remix) UhOhDisco.com

 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Major Lazer – Pon De Floor (Laidback Luke Remix) UhOhDisco.com

Perhaps Our Compass is Broken?

Over the past four years since the mass popularization (so to speak) of modern dance music took place, we’ve been a part of an extremely dynamic and evolving industry. In fact, I do believe that the major contributor to the success of the genre was the plethora of new ideas and sounds found lurking around every corner, seemingly having something with which to cater to everyone’s own personal taste. Artists like MSTRKRFT and their (now nearly classic) album “The Looks” drew public attention through their ability to build electronic, dance music with strong rock influences, while at the same time Ed Banger, Dim Mak, and even just Daft Punk toured the world to show people that the term “electronic” can simply be about the party, and that it does not always have to be associated with “trance” and “rave.”

ed banger dim mak

Indeed, over several years, this little disco genre grew out of it’s status as an underrepresented and disrespected fad and began to earn itself a name, each day garnering a wealth of newfound believers. And the best part about it was the fact that everyone who chose to participate was able to build off of something someone before him had already done, and to keep us all moving forward. Boys Noize‘s debut album, for example, taught the world that a loss of bit depth is not necessarily a loss of quality; Oi Oi Oi was full of beautifully destroyed, and often times disgusting sounds that, when combined with an appropriate beat, came together seamlessly. And it certainly was not just Alex doing the work. For a while, it seemed like every new album release was a revolution in itself, and that dance music itself had become untamable.

boys noize power

Unfortunately, this “booming prosperity” (if I may) seems to have changed as of late. And while I’ve heard from many different people on many occasions that, “everything has been done, and it’s all just boring now,” this isn’t what I mean in the slightest. Rather, it seems that all the artists that we’ve grown fond of over the years have continued to provide a steady stream of great quality, creative compositions, but that they’ve somehow lost the ability to build off of and be influenced by other artists, and have become stuck making music in the exact same vein as all of their past work. To put it concisely, it’s almost as if the creativity and originality is still working strong, but that we’ve lost our compass, and with it, our sense of musical direction. Thus, for the last several months, we’ve been stuck wandering in circles like a line of ants with a stick strewn across its path. Sure, the music still sounds great, but where is it–and where are we–going as a collective?

Fake Blood Fix Your Accent

If anyone feels compelled to share thoughts, ideas, or even music, I’m confident that the rest of us would welcome your ideas with open arms.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Fake Blood – Think I Like It

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Felix Da Housecat – Kickdrum

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Boys Noize – Kontact Me (Removed as per request)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Boys Noize – Gax (Removed as per request)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Boys Noize – Nerve (Removed as per request)

To Norway and Back on a Tangent

So, would you rather sacrifice your vision or your hearing?

I’m sure the question’s been presented to all of us at some point in our lives (granted many of you are far less bizarre than I, and have likely managed to avoid the inquiry upon graduating the fourth grade), but in all honesty, have you ever been able to answer it? I mean, yes, there is the possibility that you happened to stumble upon this page at random, in which case your answer is likely an immediate, “I’d sacrifice my hearing, no contest,” and in fact, this is likely a good thing, seeing as the prevention of Soulja Boy’s voice from emerging from any form of speaker is always a win for humanity. However, for the rest of us (especially those of us who aren’t consoled by fast cars and football), it’s hard to imagine living life without either one.

Photo Contest

camera

I can’t quite recall what got me thinking about all this, but I’ve been thinking nonetheless, and in doing so, I slowly became aware of a fundamental flaw in this lowly old website: Seeing as the disco scene is built around music and dance, I foolishly made the assumption that the best way to make a connection into this world was to share music, and though I wasn’t entirely wrong to do so, I had failed to address the many other fundamentals that make our nights out complete. Sure, Daft Punk does an incredible performance, but what would it be if they did the whole thing in pure darkness? They would lose the sparkle that transforms a simple collection of songs into an experience. Clearly, music alone is a mere slice of the pie we call disco, and as such, I have decided that UhOhDisco shall no longer lack the ingredients necessary to facilitate such an experience, and will, from this point onward, cater both to those who lack the support of a worthwhile tune, as well as to those who could use a visual compliment to complete their experience.

Children of the blogs: Photos @ UhOhDisco is born, and with it, I hope to bring the spirit of photography and the energy of the moment to UhOhDisco. I encourage you to check it out by following the link at the top of this page, or by clicking here.

Binärpilot

In all my enthusiasm, I do tend to get carried away sometimes, and what better remedy for a particularly disorienting tangent than a soberingly original artist?

binarpilot

He works out of Norway under the alias Binärpilot, and seeing as his sound is clearly inspired by more than just the collection of standard influences that have come to make less admirable artists produce bleak and uninteresting music, it would be among the most epic of fails in history to try and fit him into any currently existent genre. Where most artists manage to define their particular approach to music within the realm of a single track or two, Binarpilot keeps himself apart from his music, and though he certainly has a characteristic style, his sound and overall direction refuses to be in the least bit predictable. If I had to guess, I would likely go for something along the lines of 80’s hit single meets Aphex twin, however the drastic changes from track to track continue to thrust me into a state of pleasurable confusion.

Don’t you worry about this first one. I assure you, he hasn’t worsened the bedroom producer awful Daft Punk remix epidemic.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Daft Punk – Aerodynamic (Binarpilot Remix)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Binarpilot – Tokyomatrix 3000

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Binarpilot – Bend

What’s With All These English Speakers?

There’s a certain aspect of the indie electronic scene that I’ve never been able to understand: Why is it that (in a large number of cases), the country that an artist comes from has almost nothing to do with the language in which they do their work? For a genre of music that holds some serious power in a huge number of countries around the world, it seems we’ve developed an overabundance of English speakers. I mean, obviously, there’s some sense in a British, Canadian, or American artist putting out an English record, but look at Daft Punk, Justice, Digitalism, and The Bloody Beetroots; All huge names from non-English speaking countries, and yet all of their albums, lyrics, websites, and promos are done in English.



In a certain respect, I suppose there is a bit of sense in the concept of “appealing to a larger audience”, but who’s to say that English speakers would not buy it if they couldn’t understand it? Justice doesn’t seem to have much trouble making their way throughout the rest of the European countries. And I realize that some of your minds are likely filling up with fury at the fact that I would think to complain about having so much music written for me to listen to, but personally, I feel that though it is indeed nice to hear and understand words in my native tongue, that I have lost a part of music that’s even more important to me.

Think about it this way. Musicians (and don’t hold me to this, because I’m sure there are several significant exceptions), do not become musicians because of their overflowing need to deliver their poetry; They would otherwise simply have become poets. Musicians become musicians because they want to create, feel, understand, and live for the music, and as such, I don’t believe lyrics need to be understood for the message in a song to be delivered. Sigur Ros, for example, chooses to make use of their native Icelandic, a language spoken by less than 300,000 people worldwide, for most of their music, and this has allowed us as listeners to devote attention to the emotion in their vocalist’s voice, without the worry of being distracted by his words. Needless to say, the success of the band has, in no way, been hindered by the choice.

I suppose my goal here was to address this matter, rather than to provide an explanation. Considering I don’t have any real evidence with which to draw conclusions, I’d be delighted to hear from anyone who’s got anything to say on the subject, however, before you go commenting, I should leave you with my latest discovery to ponder…

Familjen

I’m entirely thrilled that a simple stroke of luck put me in touch with Familjen, a curious producer and vocalist from Stockholm, Sweden. His work, though it makes use of the expected driving kick drum like so many these days have come to know, captures a style that I believe its fair to say has not been heard before. His tracks develop in a fashion that could be considered highly simplistic, and yet the huge amount of invisible detail in them gives them a bit of a spark that moves them into an unusually satisfying dimension. The best part about it, however: His vocals (and just about everything else for that matter) happen to be composed entirely in Swedish.

Quality beats, indeed.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Familjen – Det Snurrar I Min Skalle