In 2010, I recorded a series of online broadcasts for net pirates & djs entitled the cydonia.sessions. Each set followed a thematic resonance through strains of techno, house, and electro, capturing the way in which I tend to construct and deconstruct sets around fragmented motifs and recurring signatures of sound. The sets were recorded by a third-party server; some came out alright, others had unfortunate gaps of several seconds that led to frustratingly incomplete recordings. The cydonia.sessions were also designed as tests of my Traktor Scratch platform, which I configured as a digital vinyl system that required manual beatmatching. With the Traktor Scratch (Pro) software combined with my Technics SL1200s and the Mackie d4.Pro mixer, all the parameters of techno-turntablism are still at play. The main difference is that the source of the music has shifted from the vinyl medium itself to digital files on the laptop. Vinyl has been divorced from its recording content, becoming a pure form, an instrument for performativity. Instead of selecting and manipulating analog vinyl, I work with digital vinyl, which offers similar tactile methods of control and play. Indeed this is all it is: a control/playback component of the turntable-mixer assemblage. Part of me appreciates this. Yet, the effect is not the same: the laptop screen is distracting, and I miss the aesthetics of crate-digging records and flipping on and off the vinyl. I don’t close my eyes as much. These are all things to be overcome, as I can no longer purchase vinyl where I live. DJ record stores — like movie theatres, indie book sellers, and movie rental outlets — are a thing of the past. Objects that combined content with functionality are obsolete; today’s objects channel content from elsewhere (a laptop, cloud, distributed network) while their form serves to manipulate this delocalized content. “Thick” objects have become “empty” containers. By splitting content from form, digital vinyl has opened up other possibilities (such as liberating the wear and tear of vinyl from the degradation of the music itself), even as it forms part of a trend of dismantling public space (I miss the Thursday nights at Bassix, when new vinyl would arrive; all the city’s DJs would be there, hunting through the fresh wax). With digital integration, I have certainly taken advantage of the effects and looping possibilities of Traktor with the addition of the X1 controller. I’ve often worked with effects in the mix, and Traktor’s selection is superb, with the X1 offering well-designed handling that bridges turntablism with performative remixing. The cydonia.sessions capture a few of the results, as well as forays into my ever growing digital collection of music.
This is a mix to drink absynthe too. Living in Whistler is an exercise in musical & cultural isolation. I should’ve realised that trying to play music such as this in a “dude? where’s my skis?” culture was a lost cause. Even as I held down a residency at the Savage Beagle (in Whistler Village), attracting European djs & househeads (and filling the upstairs bar with head-nodding patrons), I couldn’t convince management (nor other local DJs/promoters) that what I was doing was worthwhile—or even popular elsewhere. “It’s hot in Berlin!” I would say—but it would matter not. Whistler is not the place for risk-taking mixing, subtlety, or experimental approaches to dancefloor semantics. So I present to you my manifesto of house music, mixed with abandon, and without precision.
This mix dives deep into minimal house & abstract rhythms. The psychedelic, drifting effects of ketaminimal, held for long, drawn out mixes, warps the head. I can dance to shit like this for hours.
This was the first mix I released where I used a Digital Vinyl System (Traktor Scratch). All manual beatmatching, and no prepared records.
This mix gathers a few strains of my becomings as a DJ, namely minimalist strains of deep house and dub techno dating back to the mid’90s. Though my mixtapes from the late ’90s were hard as nails, I began by djing deep house @ Sugar Refinery (RIP), with Robby Luv Dub as my adopted mentor. I often mixed deep house with dub techno at the post-rave Sunday sessions and loft parties of the era. This mix touches upon a few of those records, though keeping this side of the techno aesthetic (a retro deep house mix is still to come). Still vinyl, still unprepared.
A two-part recording hammered out with longtime collaborator DJ Construct, over a long night of molasses beats, retro-new-wave, and modern deep techno and electro… nothing prepared, all improvised, with thick malts in the glass.
In honour of the events we’ve played together, I’ve posted a selection of images from the 2002 series at Video-In.
The second existential journey into ø, the state of nothingness, barred & slashed, desire denied, but throughout, with strange & redeeming forays into minimalist house, taking cues from Detroit’s unswerving faith in the redemption of techno. With vinyl from Hardwax. No prepared records.
Thrown down shortly after abandoning Montréal in the retreat to Whistler, BC, Tiergarten Years & Dreams reflects upon the passage of time through sound, with wax selected from the vaults of Hardwax, Berlin. As usual, no prepared records, all on vinyl, letting the flow find its own rhythm.
Yet another strange mix from 2006, this one collected the cut-and-paste microhouse aesthetic — doubles of minimal house, plenty of Perlon & Telegraph, as well as Logistic & Playhouse — that I began exploring at the tri.phonic series during the summer of 2003, and continued on with the UpgradeMTL series of media-arts events, both curated @ SAT.
Recorded in Montréal, gazing across at Patati Patata, to the traffic of St. Laurent and the remnants of bronchitis… this set is evocative of what I was spinning at Montréal loft parties that summer (though only part of that summer’s style, as I would play for 3-5 hours on average). Kompakt deep techno, acid house and the strains of what was to become known as mnml are heartily present.
Photo is from the Full Pleine Moon Party of 13th April 2006, held down the street on St. Laurent, high atop the Duluth skyscraper (thanks @ MM). This was a good night — packed and sweaty, dancing until sunrise, playing all night with Colin the Mole if memory serves me right.
Recorded live for BURN.FM, on a hot balcony in the old Arab quarter of Barcelona, with a scarcely functioning setup and no monitors… nonetheless, everyone danced and drank absynthe and smoked the gifts of Morocco to dub techno. On the way home, I barely avoided a knife fight, making my way through winding streets in the dark heat. Thanks to Olivier Schulbaum for the fine evening.
Recorded live at Coffee 4 House, July 2001, Vancouver, on the occasion of olo j. milkman’s second-ever showing of work. This mix aimed to demonstrate the underlying connections between rhythm & machinic improvisation, evident since the break of the 20th century with musique concrète, modernist minimalism, and of course, variants of minimal techno, house, and electro… all in a west-side coffeehouse.