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Electric Independence

This column is called Electric Independence because by and large it's all about electronic music, most of which is released on small and not-so-small independent labels. If you're into the stuff that's written about here then you probably like to think...
Κείμενο Piers Martin

Matias Aguayo



This column is called Electric Independence because by and large it’s all about electronic music, most of which is released on small and not-so-small independent labels. If you’re into the stuff that’s written about here then you probably like to think of yourself as someone who’s independent and open-minded and doesn’t follow the crowd, which you undoubtedly are. Hopefully you find what’s written here informative and useful. Maybe this is the page you always skip in Vice because there are hardly any jokes in it and it could be more vulgar and it’s full of music you don’t give a shit about, and you’re like, why is there a whole page dedicated to European electronic disco in this magazine and not a specialist music column about hardcore or pop or Americana? Then again, perhaps you’ve been turned on to some interesting records and artists over the last three years that you wouldn’t normally have known about. This—writing about music—is a kind of journalism, certainly, and in some ways it’s just as valid as proper news journalism because it’s still reporting on things that are happening, only most of the time it’s done from the comfort of your home. If you can make a living writing about music or supplying lifestyle pieces without needing to take another job then you can consider yourself lucky. (I’ve just written about 200 words and earned £20. How about that?) Also, if you do this work, you shouldn’t question what you do too much because you’ll go mad. Just get on with it and have as much fun as possible. Over the years, doing this, you find that the boundaries between work and play disappear and you can’t switch off because you can’t find the switch any more, can’t remember what it even looked like. There are plenty of perks, though, like a free social life, international travel, meeting amazing people and being sent stacks of records, most of which are terrible. You’d imagine that being exposed to so much new music would widen your taste but because you’re spoilt for choice, what happens is you become fussier, your taste refined. For example, I know that whole Get Physical / Poker Flat electro-house scene is crazily popular right now and Dirt Crew or M.A.N.D.Y. will probably have a Top 40 hit soon, but because I’m not into it, that stuff doesn’t move me, I’d rather not write about it. That gets enough attention as it is. Trouble is, the more you write about music you like, the more you end up repeating yourself. That's called “style”. Anyway, the best thing that happened this month, besides discovering that Tesco’s Sicilian Red (the most drinkable £2.99 supermarket red) has gone screwtop, was finally listening to the Matias Aguayo album, Are You Really Lost. This is one of the more stimulating and romantic records Kompakt have released in a long time, made by one of the guys who was in Closer Musik, the minimal pop duo who split up at the end of 2003 having released one great LP, After Love. The other chap, Dirk Leyens, put out his dramatic “Wellen” EP earlier this year, but it’s Aguayo’s moody masterpiece that suggests this Berlin-based Chilean had the lion’s share of the talent in their partnership, or maybe he was being held back creatively. Either way, with its lilting tempo, deviant soft-pop songs like “Well” and “De Papel” and a few skewed disco-not-disco numbers, this is the album Depeche Mode should have released instead of that overwrought goth cliché. Another excellent album from Berlin is Enemy Love by Louderbach, out on London’s Underline label, who in the summer released the incredible “Wanda’s Wig Wax” 12-inch, a deliriously funky minimal four-tracker featuring Jay Haze, Magda and Louderbach. Louderbach is one of Troy Pierce’s alter egos – as if he needs another name: he’s called Troy, for god’s sake. What’s wrong with that? He’s the Canadian dude whose Minus Records output as Slacknoise and Run Stop Restore has curdled heads and drilled dancefloors for a couple of years now, and with Enemy Love he carries on in that slinky minimal fashion, stopping and starting, rolling and flowing, bringing a poppy, pulsing buoyancy to a style of techno that can seem rather austere and academic, like Richie Hawtin’s latest DE9 mix thing (yawn). Say, when is Hawtin going to release a record that’s as gay as his hairstyle? Everyone’s ready. I mean, (apparently) Ricardo Villalobos did that insane “For Disco Play – 485 U” Philip Glass-sampling cosmic disco 12-inch circulating recently so perhaps it’s only a matter of time. Also upcoming on Underline is a killer EP of vicious industrial minimalism by Vivianne Projects called “Strangers”, that definitely deserves a mention. Finally, and most impressive of all, is the staggering new single by AM/PM, “Also”. AM/PM is this lovely Swiss guy named Radovan Scasascia who lives in a warehouse on Old Street. He runs the Dreck label and releases those OCD-disco edits as Secondo. I listened to his debut AM/PM album The Ends I & II on holiday in September and as much as I enjoyed it, I wished it had a bit more bite. Somehow he read my mind. Like The Ends, “Also” is constructed using the endings of countless records, and it’s the first 12-minute track, the exquisite, symphonic “No Matter Where”, that does all the damage. This beauty sighs and soars, heaves and moans while the beat lollops beneath, gluing the elements together. Experience it through a first-class soundsystem and it’ll surely destroy you. PIERS MARTIN