NFOP Recommends: Five Years of Shameless/Limitless

10 Dec 2013 — Henning Lahmann

Our friends of Shameless/Limitless have been ever-reliable mainstays of the Berlin scene for much longer now than we have been, and we can confirm that their parties and shows have never disappointed in the five years of the organisation's existence. Looking at the line-up the folks have compiled for their five-year anniversary celebration which is happening at Urban Spree this Friday, December 13, it is now hard to see why: they got more taste than fits into a single club. They will once again try nonetheless, and we highly recommend you become part of it when they'll welcome NFOP bud Touchy Mob, Domino newbie Jaakko Eino Kalevi, and Femminielli Noir, our long-standing favourite Bernadino Femminielli's latest project. The night will be completed – or, rather ennobled – by DJ sets of luminaries such as Junior Boys' Matt Didemus, Molly Nilsson, Friendboy, Moon Wheel, Vero Manchego, and S/L themselves. What can we say: be there.

Check out the Facebook event page for more details.

 

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Playlist: Les Transmusicales des Rennes Festival

03 Dec 2013 — Tonje Thilesen

Ahead of the Transmusicales Des Rennes festival, kicking off on Thursday in Rennes, France, we've compiled a playlist featuring our favorite pre-discoveries, with an exception from the more internationally acclaimed names such as of London Grammar, FYFE, A Tribe Called Red and Daughn Gibson. This year sets focus on a particularly large amount of underground acts, morphing different sub-genres in electronic and world music into a delightful mix, and we're obviously quite eager to go down there ourselves and (hopefully) dig up some new discoveries. Listen below, and read more about the festival over here

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NFOP Recommends: Two Years of Creamcake

29 Nov 2013 — Henning Lahmann

This website's favourite local purveyors of sophisticated, genre-bending and convention-defying pop cultural deconstruction and reappropriation Anja and Larry aka the masterminds of Creamcake have brought their baby through its first two years of existence, and like proud aunts and uncles we're gonna bring cream and cake to Kreuzberg's Südblock this Saturday to celebrate their birthday, and with us and everyone else will be the great UK talent SOPHIE of Numbers fame, responsible for one of this summer's true dancefloor smash hits, plus appearances by NFOP fav Tokyo Hands, A.G.Cook, Sick Girls' Kepler, h00dumentary & DJ SkypeBlack Cracker & Nedalot, and Dario & Giorgiolina. The magic starts at 11pm, and we highly recommend you celebrate with us together.

Check out the event page on Facebook for more details.

 

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Interview: Aïsha Devi / Danse Noire

15 Nov 2013 — Henning Lahmann

Tomorrow on Saturday, November 16, it's finally happening: together with our friends at Urban Mutations, we're proud to present and host a night at Kreuzberg's Chesters to showcase one of Europe's most exciting new underground dance labels, Geneva-based imprint Danse Noire. Featuring live performances by label founder Aïsha Devi and DN alumni Vaghe Stelle plus Lorenzo Senni aka Stargate as a very special guest, you may expect hours and hours of finest forward-thinking electronic exploration. 

To learn a bit more about Danse Noire and the ideas behind this amazing project, we talked to Aïsha Devi via email before she's arriving in town tomorrow. Read the interview after the break, and check out some tracks off of Devi's Aura 4 Everyone EP, released on DN earlier this year.

For more event details, check out Resident Advisor or Facebook.

 

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When did you start Danse Noire?

I had fantasies about a collective platform for a while, I also wanted an other angle on music than my own solo production, a wider vision. So I started the label with my boyfriend and my best friend about a year and a half ago and some other friends joined us in the love circle. We found the name exactly a year ago, while driving back from a show in Turin. The whole trip was hazy and mystic, the name Danse Noire came to us. Things have been pretty intense ever since.

What did make you want to start a label in the first place?

Having a total autonomy and a subversive medium to feed.

What do you want to achieve with the label? What is the concept behind it? It feels like there’s a very distinct idea that characterises DN.

As the whole society is generated by materialistic capitalization, I think the revolution will be spiritual. The label is an experimental terrain for alternate languages, consciousness, activism and magic explorations. Music should return to its fundamental and ritual function. The music I'm appealed to put out is not a functional product but the result of an illumination. 

Aside from the releases, we've been running label showcases and parties. Clubs and raves are the new temples. There's an entertainment side to it, fun is fun but I like the gathering as a possibility to reach transcendence, collectively.

How do you find your artists, and where?

We're truffle pigs, yo. We do hours and hours of Soundcloud and Bandcamp subterranean digging and we also do have some magic friends-connections operating.

Is it easy to run a label from a rather small place like Geneva? How is the music scene in the city? Or is location irrelevant today?

In terms of livability of a label, location tends to have less and less impact. Our communication and audience is rather emerging out of Switzerland, but dealing with your direct environment is a nice challenge too. I feel Geneva is in a bit of a luxury era, avant-garde and non strictly danceable music is struggling out here, Danse Noire is also a reaction to this statism, we don't correspond to the local scene and we have that cool underdog position.

Exporting the label worldwide is awesome but i also like the reverse idea of bringing an alternative here, transforming Swiss media's prejudices about digital culture, curate events and build up a new scenery.

What is the reason behind the decision to abandon your moniker Kate Wax in favour of your given name?

Sometime you feel like what you've created has a story of its own and has reached some limits. I wanted to start the label and produce music as instinctively as I breathe, and I breathe as Aïsha Devi. I reunited with myself, I'm one. I feel like a virgin.

What’s up next, for your own music as well as for Danse Noire?

I'm working on my new album at the moment and we are readying three or four releases for early next year. I'm really excited about this, spectrum extension at its maximum, exploration 2.0.

Recap: Maria Minerva + Cherushii Live in Missoula, Montana

06 Nov 2013 — Evelyn Malinowski

On their US mini-tour this autumn, Maria Minerva, with glittery techno act Cherushii, stopped in Missoula, Montana to play our town's best alternative music venue, the Ole Beck VFW Post #209, a couple days short of Halloween.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, or VFW, is a national club that plants community centers throughout the U.S, aimed for veterans but open to the public. They are specified by their post number coordinates. Los Angeles's has several including #9793, Chicago a few like #2024 and #1284, Seattle #9430 and #2289 Rainier Post, and Missoula's Ole Beck #209. Typically, any VFW post will be hosting country music bands and two-step dancing, cover bands, or Bingo. Rarely, especially out west, does a VFW see or hear the likes of Detroit techno or experimental pop.

Maria Minerva, a Not Not Fun all-star, whose amount of released work is not short of prolific, is a spectable before any audience: packed or hollow, fashionable or earth toned. Maria's post-grad disco, inticing videography, and striking stage presence are in many ways intellectually detached from and ahead of sober performance reception and music listening. With a warm up act like Cherushii, aka Chelsea Faith, a San Francisco producer who just released her Queen of Cups EP on 100% Silk, we are looking at a pair of powerful, professional, and unique figures from a new wave of techno and dance musicianship: the exciting female takeover, of sorts.

Missoula, Montana, however, is not a component of techno. It is not generally heard of, sees little of the global dance scene, and inconveniently bares a shortage of bank chains such as CitiBank and Chase Bank, to which Maria and Chelsea needed to pay visits, respectively. No, Sir. Missoula is a twee, country and folk, indie rock city, with fleeting movements of hip-hop and reggae. People here are generally open-minded to electronic music, at that, any music; however, electronica is, like so many other places in the States, peripheral and not a priority. This was exemplified by Maria and Chelsea's local opening support from Modality, an all-male psychedelic math-rock outfit who attracted most of the crowd, and left with most of the crowd. Modality served as something outstanding for the mini-tour, since most of the other local support in Portland and Seattle was from bedroom-synth girl bands, Chelsea told me.

How, you might wonder, does Missoula get acts such as Maria Minerva booked at a place like the VFW?

As of about four years ago, the so-called “saturated” music scene in Missoula wound up making Post #209 on W. Main Street a main hub. Shawna Lee and Tom Helgerson (of SHAHS) are widely responsible for this collaboration, and have seen a lot of success as well as frequent bookings. "The VFW crowd loves music. Our regulars are very loyal to the music seen. They buy merch and drinks for the bands and often times offer a place to crash," Shawna wrote me. Both ends of the spectrum, the veterans and the musicians, usually leave after a show with a sense of coalescence and a lot of Pabst Blue RIbbon in their gut.

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Missoula

In order to get a feel for the VFW community, Shawna gave me a couple of issues of the VFW magazine, throughout which I encountered several ads for slip-free shower systems, compensation lawsuits, and hearing aids, such as TV Ears, an eco-friendly auditory enhancement device for those who have suffered some hearing loss. With TV Ears, you can listen to the television broadcasts better, without blowing your spouse away with volume.

Shawna says that Post #209 is trying to get younger veterans to come in more often as a lot of the regulars, World War II veterans, are sadly becoming too frail to go out and hit up the bar. A community magazine catering to the generation that not only saw Europe in apocalyptic confusion but also fueled the home electronic appliances of convenience-boom echoes what Lynn Spiegel called bringing your training home with you; that is, surrounding oneself with instruments that remind a veteran of the gear they were trained to use for surveillance and protection at the war front (Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America, 1992). In the American household in 1952, the stereo, television, and ice machine were of the man's domain. The women, on the other hand, had their cooking appliances, mixers, can openers, electric knives. Mix these realms together and we get a materialistic veil among or on top of a place of unrest and inability to share and cope with parts of fighting in a war, or waiting for your betrothed to return home the same young man.

For Klaus Theweleit, the Freikorps men of World War I were especially encouraged to leave women behind and embrace male companionship and militaristic machinery in order to correctly display devotion to the fatherland. Theweleit famously makes several cases where men, preoccupied with surviving the war and gaining the unswerving promise from their sweatheart, later in life and happily married to the same woman, hesitate with enumerating their spouses' attributes, behaviors during the separation, even their names: "Denial of women is only natural, and therefore worthy .... The men one meets [on the front] don't need women" (Male Fantasies, Vol. 1, 1987, pp. 33-35).

Something Theweleit neglects to establish is that, specifically for the German Freikorps of WWI, women are indeed necessary because they fulfill the role of the damsel who needs to be left behind, a part of the process of surrendering romantic love for male companionship and effeciency with machinery.

There is absolutely no accusation that the members of VFW #209 or any post were in such marital situations, nor attached to mechanical gear reminiscent of what they used in their branch of the military. With all due respect, this an observation that, traditionally, machines belong to the man of the house, and this is a plausible reason.

Maria Minerva is known for her singing and sampling, using a "basic" but impressive array of equipment. Cherushii's setup is double the size of Maria's, with a fascinating assortment of drum machines and glowing mixers – and, no, not the handheld mixer for making batter. These girls, as are many women prevalent in the global techno scene of the moment, are very much in charge of their gear, and their gear is devoted to them. Maria's voice and relentless looping samples are a bit like can openers for the preserved mind that predicts certain things from women's music, and Cherushii's beats are a little like electric knives, the handles of which glow warm milky neon colors. In this case, instead of consuming some kind of entree, we are consumed by dance.

The show had an embarrassingly slim audience, perhaps because it started so late on a Tuesday night. While Modailty took some extra time to set up and sound check, Cherushii and Maria promptly played after the local opener, keeping the motivation and rhythm going. Nobody there apart from a few of us was accustomed to live electronica or the girls' recorded work. Still, they owned it. Cherushii went for a "quieter set," which was very auspicious and focused, and Maria chanted and swayed the way we've seen her impressively do so before at Berghain Kantine, Unsound, Chez Jackie, and more, all under the turned-off electric Bingo sign.

At the end of the night, as Maria and I were sitting at the bar talking, a young guy started asking Maria about her equipment. He was nice, genuinely inquisitive, and meant no harm; nonetheless, in my mind, his inquiry naively furthered the problematic tradition of machines belonging to men, not to mention the paradox of professional female techno musicians playing at the VFW. He said he had some of the same gear, asked her whether she tried some of the newer versions, before we said we had to get going. He didn't say anything about the music or performers. He just wanted to assert something about the gear she uses that he recognized.

Such a showcase not only sifts out issues like gender in music, but also conveys the beauty and usefulness of contrast. Maria Minerva at the VFW in Montana hits several different layers of cultural criticism. In the recap I did on Seattle's Decibel Festival, I asked whether the problem of disproportionate male-female ratio in electronica, and all of the music industry, stems from a subconscious cultural enjoyment of continuing to see boys operate toys. Maria and Chelsea's gig at the VFW coincidentally helps address or at least undermine the tradition and tabooed history, as well as America's militaristic personality. Altogether, it can perhaps now be seen that, in search of an efficient way of readdressing the issue of gender in techno, concurring with women's dominance over their gear is a healthy step. Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire were uninterrupted masters (mistresses?) of their machines, straight through the decades of television and rock-n-roll, in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

If guitars are the rock-n-roll toys for boys, shouldn't the Oramics machine, the Wobbulator, and various mixers be the girls'? Should we focus more on women's historical relationship with technology, and highlight their massive non-lyrical contribution to electronica, or treat it as undiffereniated? Or does this further the gap? Should we listen for feminine qualities in music produced by women and celebrate them, or should we consider the sensitive and outworn context of who better knows how to operate and maintain machines? While some say that gender in techno boils down to the beats, bass, and the emulation of violence, it seems that, on the visual level, it quite accessibly resides at the sound board.

Maria Minerva is expected to release a new album on Not Not Fun in 2014. Cherushii's Queen of Cups EP is out now on 100% Silk.

Win Tickets for CTM Presents Orchestra of Spheres & High Wolf at Urban Spree

05 Nov 2013 — Henning Lahmann

At rather short notice, we'd like to highly recommend another night in Berlin this week that is surely not to be missed if you happen to be one of the experimentally inclined. Our friends of CTM Festival present live performances of New Zealand-based quartet Orchestra of Spheres and French prince of drone and Not Not Fun affiliate High Wolf at Urban Spree on the day after tomorrow, November 7. The night promises to be loaded with synth-heavy sonic otherness on the edge of mind-altering spheres (and in fact we're really into High Wolf's recent NNF release Kairos:Chronos, a piece of music that we expect to translate stupendously to a live interpretation).

If you want to win 1x2 guest list spots for Thursday's event, write something nice into the Facebook comment section below before Thursday, 12pm. Otherwise, get tickets for the even over here. For more info, check out the event page on Facebook.

Full line-up:

08:00pm DJ Mobiletti Giradischi
09:30pm High Wolf
11:00pm Orchestra of Spheres
12:00am DJ Falko Teichmann

 

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Win Tickets for TOYS with Christian Löffler & Touchy Mob at Prince Charles

31 Oct 2013 — Henning Lahmann

On a quick note, as it's Halloween, we're giving out the treats again: After last month's successful night at Loftus Hall, the fine folks from TOYS are having another showcase tonight, October 31, this time at Prince Charles. Showcasing NFOP favourite Touchy Mob (with a guitar-supported DJ set) and dance eminence Christian Löffler performing live, plus CutOff!CutOff! (live) and resident Asa 808 on the decks, the line-up will without doubt make your night whether you're in a spooky mood or not. Check out some music below and use the Facebook comment box below to win 1x2 guest list spots for the event. Write something nice before 3pm and make sure we can reach you via Facebook.

Check out the event pages on Resident Advisor and Facebook for further details.

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Festival Recap: Decibel 10

14 Oct 2013 — Evelyn Malinowski

After a breezy week, one full music dedication and Seattle friendliness, it is safe to say that this year's Decibel was a success. The festival has proven it has crafted a tradition of exceeding its own expectations (by nature of growing, one could say).

During the closing Optical event at the Triple Door, Sean Horton, the festival's director, took some time to introduce himself and honor as well as reminisce with his staff, calling them the dB family. He asked any present staff to go up onto the stage and give a brief testimonial. Everyone had pride and confidence in their words. In the shadow of an unfortunate cancellation of Oren Ambarchi's anticipated performance, Horton announced that Nosaj Thing agreed to impromptu premiere his upcoming ambient EP, almost as a token of appreciation for the festival and what Horton and staff try to accomplish.

Giving recognition where it's due, it should be mentioned that the festival's showcases were notably consistent about the following: great sound per venue, and enthusiastic crowds full of men.

At most of the showcases that Kelsie or I attended, we found ourselves surrounded by men, young men, and seldom saw a young girl standing alone, of course before her boyfriend rushed back to her side with a fresh PBR tallboy and a thankful kiss.

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There was a strong majority of male artists in dB's program. Granted, we see Lorde immediately once opening the website. Among female producers on the festival line-up, 99 percent of them are associated with feminine vocals. This is agreeably no new discovery. Yes, perhaps the line-up at this year's dB can be seen as a reduction of all of electronic/techno's male-female disproportion; be that as it may, there is no reason to continue to feed into this disproportion, to unabashedly promote a week long dance party hosted by male DJs, and to not acknowledge in some way such a striking unbalance.

The most impressive and accessible electronic music being produced right now comes from Americans such as, for concise example, Laurel Halo, Holly Herndon, or Katie Gately, who easily may not have been available for traveling to Seattle during the festival.

Ikonika's set at the Hyperdub showcase is the only set by a female producer who didn't primarily occupy the feminie vocal realm, and she was probably the strongest set that I saw. There was just dancing and dominance over her technology. The hyperlinked footage is old but quite true to the vibe of her recent set in Seattle.

On a larger scale, dB is the Northwest's response to the call of the global dance and techno community. It does us the favor of bringing not only artists but also individuals passionate about electronic music from all over the world to the vicinity, as it latently points out the sore fact that there is little interest in booking female artists. Is no one taking this issue seriously? Female:pressure does.

Amy Grill's 2009 documentary Speaking in Code asked Wolfgang Voigt why he thinks there are so few female artists in the techno scene. While this entire part of the interview is found in the special features on the DVD and cut from the main film, his answer was, "girls in techno, you know, they just have such a small space, you know... It is just a boy's business."

What makes techno such a "boy's business?" Does hetero-normative society still candidly love seeing men operate machinery, even if it is machinery used to mobilize diverse crowds into utopian musical experiences? Is it because of men's robot fantasies, their escapism from manliness, or something about the drugs? The dream of a future utopia implied by techno surely does not have an overwhelmingly male audience and artist registry. We are more in the future now than we were last year, or, technologically speaking, ten years ago. These criticisms and questions, including the ones also asserted by Berlin's Perspectives Festival that took place earlier in September, nag at the focal point of not only the music scene but also the persistent social behavior of placing the man at the top, or in the middle.

Thus, unfortunately, and despite its success, dB has put a sour taste in some of our mouths.

Earlier this year, No Fear of Pop assessed the weak ratio of male-female DJs and producers associated with Berlin's CTM Festival. After some careful consideration and a little reaching out, it was inferred that the disproportion is perpetuated by an unawareness of the behavior, and that there is a need for "progressive booking." It's like if you eat with your mouth open: you probably won't realize you eat loudly until a friend points it out to you. That said, let's start pointing it out more without pointing fingers, calling bookers or journalists or fans out on their mis- or oversteps, even if they are well-intentioned, and give them some extra perspective that they are promoting an inaccurate representation of a music scene which is actually inherently diverse and expansive. Hopefully next year, dB will more carefully consider the fact that their festival provokes political priorities as there is a general air of change in the North American hemisphere these days.