Archive of posts tagged with "beatresearch"

February 21st, 2012

Beat Research Turns 8 and Goes Beast Mode

It’s a little astounding that this March marks 8 years of Beat Research. In celebration, we’ve managed to line up quite a month+ of very exciting guests, from locally beloved to internationally renowned. Indeed, the next 6 sessions will feature no fewer than 3 local DJs, 3 acts from NYC, and a couple exciting visitors from across the pond — Rotterdam and Oslo, to be exact.

If you’re a Greater Bostonian, get ready to mark your calendars & experiment with party music that will boggle your behind and make your mind wiggle. Without further ado, check the crew coming thru —

Tuesday, Feb 21: Teleseen

teleseen @ beat research

Tonight we’re happy to present the return of Teleseen, up from Brooklyn (and until very recently, Rio). Given his dubby priorities, the Goodlife‘s subby system should suit. Teleseen put out an EP last year, Mandrake, full of woozy thumpers, and his remix of Maga Bo’s “Ransom” is a fixture in my sets when I’m in search of a little uneasy skanking. Last time Teleseen came through town he was working up a version of what finally became available (to all) as “Embarak,” which is good, because it meant I could stop asking him for it. Should be a vibes —

Tuesday, Feb 28: Munchi & Oxycontinental

We’re very pleased to announce that Beat Research will be hosting the Boston premiere of mighty Munchi! If you aren’t familiar with the moombahton wunderkind from Rotterdam, well, you haven’t been reading this blog, for one (or three or four). And you’ve clearly found other holes to stick your head down. Because Munchi — and moombahton — have totally been blowing up, turbo-boosted by the likes of Diplo and Mad Decent, Skrillex, and MTViggy.

W&W is proud to be a longtime champion of the kid (if not quite as early as Quam), so I was happy to oblige when Munchi asked me to pen the release notes for his upcoming EP for Mad Decent (dropping any day now), which rounds up what have now become classics of the young genre. I’ve seen Munchi live before, and it promises to be a blast. And as a special bonus, helping to warm things up with us will be a fine local stoker of fire: Oxycontinental, the party personaje of Jamaica Plains’ own Ricardo Delima.

Here’s an old, odd fave from Munchi that I still work into sets from time to time —

Tuesday, March 6: Old Money Massive

I can’t quite believe that the following week we again have the honor of hosting the local debut of a well renowned crew, Old Money Massive, straight outta NYC by way of Jamaica and Guyana. Readers of this blog should definitely be familiar with Old Money’s grimey, edgy take on so-called “global bass.” I still count “African Kids” as the unofficial (and reluctant / ironic) anthem of global ghettotech — that’s the dark twin of global bass, if you’re tuning in late.

So I couldn’t be happier that Old Money will be coming up to Boston — but not on a dollar van, I don’t think — to throw down a live performance and a DJ-style set. These guys deserve a lot more props for the special sound and fury they’re developing down there. We’re thrilled to share our humble but bassful platform, to be sure. For a taste of what’s in store, check out their debut EP, No.1 Champion Sound, over at iTunes. Or check the latest latest, posted to Soundcloud just two days ago —

Tuesday, March 13: DJ Day-Glo

Shorty is an iPod dancer.

Now, even though we’re so lucky as to be able to give space to illustrious out-of-town acts, Beat Research always holds it down for up-and-comers and loco locals of all sorts. On March 13, DJ Flack and I will be joined by a former student in Flack’s Beat Research class at MassArt: Kara Stokowsky, aka DJ Day-Glo, a JP-based multimedia artist whose work, according to her UNFINISHED WEBSITE, “tackles feminism, pop culture, memetics, religion, and technology with a fast-paced glitch aesthetic.” I suspect her current tumblr is a better indication of what you might hear than her slightly sparse and outdated Soundcloud. But do browse around, or just come on by.

Tues, March 20: DJ Super Squirrel

On March 20, we’ve got Cambridge’s own DJ Super Squirrel, an ethnomusicolleague and, in her own words, “Paper-writer, tiny-dancer, jargon-user, eight-armed DJ.” Her recent “Scamphall” mix — a little like a GirlTalk cookdown of upbeat reggae — has me looking forward to whatever else she might stew together that night:

Tuesday, March 27: Chief Boima

Finally, but hardly last, rounding out the month of March is none other than chief rocka Chief Boima. A longtime friend of W&W and Beat Research (not to brag or anything), Boima has really been picking things up since he relocated from the Bay to BK, including beginning grad studies at the New School, writing provocative and thoughtful pieces for Africa Is a Country and Cluster Mag, DJing all around town, and now, as of today, releasing his second album through Dutty Artz, African in New York. I’ve been playing Boima’s hip-hop remixes of African dance jams and African dance remixes of hip-hop jams for some years now, and it’s always a delight to hear the man doing it himself in the mix.

And while this may cap things off for Beat Research in March, it’s only the beginning of what is shaping up to be an exceptional year. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to put our thing and our friends on each week, and grateful for all the support, especially — when it comes down to it — to the people who put their bodies in the club and their feet on the floor. Happy 8 — here’s to many more!

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February 6th, 2012

Old Electrical Boxes & Other Rituals

We’ve got another promising Boston premiere this week (that’s Tuesday 2/7) at Beat Research.

Ekip Ritual is an ongoing collaboration between “nordestino” electro-percussion wiz, Kiddid, and Brazilian reggae/alt-pop vocalist Massarock. Drawing on soundsystem culture, Afro-Brazilian rhythms, and pop music sensibilities, the duo ride the “global bass” wave with aplomb.

Listen, say, to “Caixas Elétrica Antigas” (that’s “Electrical Boxes Old” according to Google), an apt title given the vintage gleam on the percussion that propels it:

Another strong offering, “Arroxa na Ecuridão,” shows that the vintage-contempo combo goes well beyond gimmickry —

Indeed, Kiddid has been going pretty deep into some of these sounds recently. Much of what you hear in the tracks above — despite an uncanny resemblance to time-honored beat-boxes — are sounds and (virtual) instruments he made himself. A longstanding passion and more recently a vocation, Kidid has been working for Puremagnetik for the past year, designing instruments for Live, Logic, and Kontakt, including his first big project, released last month: modeled after the Yamaha DX7, the DeeEx offers access to some classic-sounding 80s-esque synthesis. Apparently, he’s also just finished a project using the Operator and Analog synths and his designs are being considered for inclusion in Ableton Live 9.

As someone who’s been using Kiddid’s killer tracks as secret weapons for years now, none of that last paragraph comes as a surprise. But it sure whets my appetite for tomorrow’s show! Yours too? If so, you know where to find us —

Good Life Bar
28 Kingston St.
Boston
9pm-1am
FREE

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January 30th, 2012

El Gran Fidelito

Estoy muymuy emocionado about tomorrow nights guest(s) at Beat Research.

EL GRAN FIDEL

Dorchester’s own Trizlam, no stranger to BR, will be accompanied by his very own picó — or piquito anyway — a mini-replica of one of the Colombian Caribbean coast’s classically souped-up soundsystems, one of the very outfits that developed the local genre known as champeta by rinsing rare Cuban-by-way-of-Congo soukous sides. This is an amazing story expertly told and framed by mi colega estimada, Deborah Pacini Hernandez, in this classic 1996 article.

But Triz offers a nice narrative of his own over on his blog. Exploring the specific story of El Gran Fidel, Triz appends an important chapter to champeta’s story by discussing the mini-picó replica movement as both a reverent and nostalgic memorializing of the golden days. Allow me to cull a bit —

El Gran Fidel is one of Colombia’s foundational sound systems — referred to as picós from the English phrase ‘pick-up’ — taking its place in the pantheon of Barranquilla’s immortalized picós alongside other heavyweights of the seventies and eighties like El Timbalero, El Coreano and El Rojo.

Originally owned and operated by Jaime Alvarez, El Fidel became known as ‘El Ministro de La Salsa’ dictating sounds and selections at verbenas and casetas (outdor soundsystem events) around the city. The aesthetic of the picó was decidedly militaristic — drawing on the imagery and reputation of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. The original artwork portrays a powerful Fidel, victoriously riding a camel across the front of the speaker box, with figures or mascots from other picós reaching up, attempting to hold him back or rise up to his level. The image at once conveys the potency of the picó, and references the well-known photographs of Cuban Revolutionaries riding into Havana in 1959 amidst throngs of onlookers and supporters. Curiously, the illustrations also draw heavily on orientalist symbology — Fidel rides a camel (not a vehicle of choice in either Cuba or Colombia) from a desert environment containing arabesque architecture and distinctly middle-eastern features, into a more familiar tropical/Caribbean terrain with palm trees, blue sky, and mountains on the horizon.

Arguably, El Fidel — along with its contemporaries — occupies a ‘golden-oldies’ style nostalgic space in Barranquilla’s current day musical geography. The physical and sonic qualities of picotero culture have evolved significantly through the nineties and into the twenty-first century. Tube amps, intricate illustrations and coveted Congolese records have in large part been replaced by larger speaker sets, drum machines, live mc’s and modernized champeta music and dance styles. Still, there remains a veneration and respect for the older traditions that is alive and well among many in Barranquilla who continue to admire the music and culture of yesteryear.

Among these veteran picoteros, vinyl enthusiasts, and melomanos, a space has been carved out for the celebration of this historical culture. A number of estaderos (outdoor bars/music venues) around the city feature replicas of the golden-era picós, including the legendary venue La Troja, where patrons dance to the sounds of vintage salsa records lovingly selected from the club’s cherished collection of Lps and 45s. Replica picós have also become something of a hobby for fans, as events, clubs and associations dedicated to building and playing them have popped up around the region.

In addition to this history, Triz adds the details of how he and his novia colombiana commissioned a replica of their own and managed to actually get the strange object all the way to Boston —

During our stay in Barranquilla, Carlota and myself had the crazy idea of commissioning a replica picó that we would bring back to the states. After meeting many members of ASOREPIK, and visiting various events, we were deep enough under the spell of these multi-colored sound systems to undertake the process of transporting one across many miles of ocean to have a small taste of Colombia in cold, drab Boston. ASOREPIK member and carpenter by trade, Edilberto De La Hoz is a Soledad native responsible for building many of the picó replicas in the area. Being a devotee of El Gran Fidel, with a beautiful replica of his own, it was only right that we decided on El Fidel for the picó to have him build for us. So with our fingers crossed that shipping a decorated speaker box to Boston would be possible, we made arrangements for the creation of our own El Fidel (picós are something of a curiosity in most of Colombia, not being widely known outside of the Caribbean coast—one can only imagine the response of US customs to this strange object adorned with a painting of Fidel Castro).

After some pretty difficult last minute maneuvering we were able to pack away the finished product and ship it off just before getting on a plane back to Bogota and eventually to Boston. A few weeks later our improvised padded box arrived at my doorstep with only minor damage—El Gran Fidel had reached its destination. Mounting the speakers themselves into the box was not quite as easy as I had envisioned, but within a short time the picó was up and running. And that is the story of how El Gran Fidel made its way from a yard in Soledad, Atlantico, to an apartment in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

So, we’re very excited to be able to host the local premiere of El Gran Fidel(ito) tomorrow night, which, in addition to the booming system at the Good Life, should make for quite the listening & vibing experience. Unseasonably, Boston hasn’t been all that cold and drab lately, but a small taste of Colombia is always welcome. Cereza on top, Triz will no doubt be reaching deep into his cumbia crates for the occasion. (See here for previous mixes.) Material culture meets vibrational force downtown, baby!

ps — As it happens, just this weekend Gervase (formerly of Heatwave fame) pointed to an excellent mix of “African music via the Caribbean coast of Colombia.” Check out “Terapia Africana Mix (a selection of pico african hits)” over Muzzicaltrips to whet your appetite some more.

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December 13th, 2011

Find Us In Da Clob

Clob LosAngeles Graffiti Art

So super siked about Beat Research 2nite! We’ve got not one but two local luminaries, Ivanna Bergese (aka DJ Philomena) and Pete DevNull, two of my all-time favoritest lovers of music and dance and total stalwarts and supporters of so many scenes here that they really do each deserve an award.

In lieu of that, though, the least we can do is turnout to hear them the way they do for us. I’ll be there, but that’s my “job” (a labor of love if ever). Here’s hoping, if you’re local, that you too can join us in our little basement lab with the booming system. Should be a vibes.

To approach my own level of anticipation, go check out Pete’s Clob Music mix for Dis Magazine if you missed it the first time around —

Dev/Null – Clob Music by DISmagazine

Or try this —

45house-meets-jungle-meets-??? mix June 2011 by DevNull-DJ

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November 28th, 2011

Atropical Base

This week at Beat Research — now every TUESDAY at Good Life in downtown Boston — we’re enthused to host none other than NYC-based Dutty bredrin (and local alumnus!), Atropolis. Hailing from / representing Queens, Atropolis co-hosts regular parties (and expeditions) as part of Cumba Mela while pumping out remixes that get to the essence of the “New York tropical” sound — to my ears and hips, a contemporary reckoning with the city’s always-already Afrodiasporic soundscape, and as such, a beacon for “tropical” scenes in other transcolonial cities around the world.

Here are a few, if you missed em:

Atropolis’s Remix’s by Atropolis

In our redoubtable opinion here at W&W, Atropolis released one of the best albums of the year with his eponymous effort on Dutty Artz this spring. His tracks have been seeping into my sets for a minute now, so I’m really looking forward to hearing a full set of Adam’s distinct approach to world party music. For a taste, check his mix for Cluster Mag from earlier in the year:

Atropolis – Mix 001 by Cluster Mag

Oh yeah, dude teaches at Dubspot too, so you know he’s a Beat Researcher at heart. Proof in pudding, here’s one of his latest (ft. Brooklyn Shanti), h/t to the boys at Gen Bass:

Thornato-Barcelona ft. Brooklyn Shanti (Atropolis RMX) by Atropolis

We’re thrilled to have the open-eared & big-hearted beats of Atropolis in our underground dance lab this week. Hope u can join us!

Beat Research
ft. Atropolis!
Good Life Bar
28 Kingston Street
Boston
9pm-1am
FREE

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November 15th, 2011

B’Town to R’Dam

First, tonight’s (TUESDAY’S) Beat Research is a special session featuring three button-pushing beatsmiths:

Hailing from Toronto, Doldrums comes to town during a tour taking him around the US and over to Europe. Omnivorous in his sampling, and known to release VHS-only mixtapes, Doldrums — who often adds video collage and his own voice to the proceedings — has named his “preferred sources” as “mainstream R&B, classical music, future shock, bollywood, richwave and clip-clop.”

Appearing alongside Doldrums are two Boston-based beat-head transplants. TimeWharp hails from Atlanta but now makes Boston his home for cooking up warm sonic stew over crackling hot boom-bap, and Avila Santo, who lists his location as “Boston California,” channels the sound of Flying Lotus’s Los Angeles with his own take on neck-snapping rhythms and sticky synth lines.

Second, I’m happy to announce that I’m headed back to Rotterdam later this week to upgrade my Dutch club talk to a keynote and play co-panelist with the likes of Marfox and Munchi (who I do hope delivers on that whole Tropical Gabber thing)!

Munchi – Rotterdam (Preview) by Munchi

In my talk, among other things, I’m hoping to connect the following two videos, toward which, if any dear readers are quick with Dutch to English, do help me to understand precisely how the judges discuss dancehall’s shortcomings in the Got Talent clip (aside from the English bit, which is plenty telling).

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October 26th, 2011

Beat Research Relaunch!

BEAT RESEARCH RELAUNCHED!

It’s been quite a year for Beat Research. At the same time that we struggled to maintain our modest but ambitious weekly, we’ve also had what feels like one of our best years yet. Even during the summer, when Cambridge seems to clear out, full-on dance parties would erupt on the regular, which is no small thing on a Monday night in this town.

Then, right after one of our best nights of the year — when Mungo’s Hi-Fi rocked the joint earlier this month — rumors started to fly about the Enormous Room closing the following weekend. So while we weren’t aware that the night before had been our last jam in that not-so-enormous room, we were content to have gone out with a bang. And we were delighted to find a spot for last week’s interim bash with Venus X and Hatsune Miku, which was a standout session in its own right. Experimental party music at its best. (A few attendees called it their favorite BR of all time; I can understand why.)

Given that things have been going well, Tony Flack and I are stoked to announce that we’ve found a new home for our night — and a new night of the week too, incidentally. Beginning on Nov 8, we’ll be in residency every Tuesday night at the Good Life, smack in the heart of downtown Boston. If you haven’t been there, it’s very close to the Downtown Crossing T stop and just a couple blocks from South Station / Occupy Boston (in case any Occupiers are looking for a drink and a little bass therapy). We look forward to being closer to our Boston brethren & sistren — and to really representing (it’s all too common to claim Boston without being in Boston) — and we sure hope our core crew from Cambridge, Somerville, and elsewhere across the dutty water will be up for the trek. We aim to make it worthwhile.

For those who’ve been there, you know that the Good Life has a SERIOUS sound system. I’ve seen (& heard & felt) some real bass materialists there, from Kode9 to Mad Professor to the Bug — just last month I caught a wicked subwoofer massage c/o Kingdom — and I can report from personal vibrational experience (PVE, henceforth) that Beat Research’s bass bias will assume a new prominence starting soon.

I’m also thrilled to report that we’re getting the Beat Research gang together for the relaunch event on Nov 8. Co-founder of the night and longtime torch-bearer for bouncy Boston, the mighty DJ C, will be coming back from Chicago to bust a champagne-bottle of a set against our Old Ironsides of a party. I’ll be mixing the metaphors and letting the bartenders mix the drinks. I’ll also be playing some tracks of course, as will the venerable Dr.Flackett.

Here’s the story in press-release-ese —

Beat Research began weekly explorations of experimental party music in March 2004 at the Enormous Room in Central Square. The brainchild of multimedia artists Jake Trussell (DJ C) and Antony Flackett (DJ Flack), who teaches a hands-on class at MassArt by the same name, Beat Research provided a new base for the genre-bending sets the two had been playing since throwing parties with the Toneburst Collective in the late 90s. Bridging parochial club divides, Flack and C would overlay dub and jungle, hip-hop and dubstep, dancehall and bhangra and beats from all over. After co-hosting the residency for 3+ years, in 2007 DJ C moved to Chicago while musicologist and blogger Wayne Marshall (Wayne & Wax) returned to Cambridge, bringing his big Caribbeanist ears, YouTube dragnet, and love of “musically-expressed ideas about music” to the mix.

In its 7.5 year run at the Enormous Room, Beat Research played host to some of the best and brightest DJs and producers of underground bass music in the world, gave a number of young Boston luminaries their first gig, and presented an utterly motley collection of tech-addled live PAs. The long list of special guests includes Scuba, DJ Rupture, Kingdom, edIT, Mungo’s Hi-Fi, Uproot Andy, and thereminist Pamelia Kurstin. Consistently topping local polls, Beat Research has been hard to beat for anyone seeking out extraordinary sounds early in the week, and its hosts pride themselves on offering a free weekly session for discerning dancers and enthusiastic head-nodders.

Wayne & Flack were as surprised as anyone when the Enormous Room suddenly shut down in early October, but they are thrilled to relocate the weekly festivities to the Good Life in downtown Boston beginning on November 8–and every Tuesday thereafter. Moving across the Charles seems like the right move for a night that has been putting Boston’s bounce on the map.

And we’ve got a helluva first month lined up. After DJ C on the 8th, we’ve got a trio of off-kilter beatsmiths doing live PAs: Toronto’s Doldrums will be joined by recent Boston transplants Time Wharp (via Atlanta) and Avila Santo (Los Angeles). On Nov 22, we’ve got the one and only Paul Dailey, a native Bostonian who’s been a stalwart force on the house/techno scene for decades and who can throw down a mean electro-funk set to boot (dude’s got crates). And to round out the month, on Nov 29 we’re excited to present NYC’s Atropolis, who released one of my favorite albums of the year (on Dutty Artz), and whose tracks I’ve been weaving in and out of the Beat Research mix for a minute.

December is already filling up with exciting guests, local and beyond, but that’s enough hype for now.

Real quick, tho, here are the basics; help us spread the word —

BEAT RESEARCH
every TUESDAY at Good Life
28 Kingston St, Boston MA
9-1, 21+, FREE

And when you get a chance, do check the subtle but slick site redesign c/o Grand Webmaster Flack.

Long live Beat Research!

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October 14th, 2011

Ghe20 G0th1k Meets Hatsune Miku Uptown in Cambridge

A little more about this Monday’s special edition of Beat Research

I’m thrilled to report that Venus’s partner-in-rave, $hayne (pic’d above), will be joining her on the trip. That means we’re gonna be treated to a tag-team/4-handed Ghe20 Goth1k performance the likes of which Greater Boston has not yet been party to. So get ready, and get to the club by 11, knamean.

(When I told Venus she wouldn’t be playing in the middle of the night, as she’s used to, she sounded happily surprised! Oh yeah, and just in case you’re on autopilot, this is happening at the Middlesex, not the Enormous Room [RIP].)

If you want a taste of what you might expect, look no further than the live mixtape (and, yes, it’s worth noting that it’s live — see next paragraph) they just cooked up for Opening Ceremony

OC Mixtape Series #3: GHE20 G0TH1K – The Cruelest Intentions Live Mixtape by OpeningCeremony

Ok, look a little further — you’ll hardly be disappointed — and do yourself a favor by starting with Venus’s appearance this past Monday on DJ /Rupture’s radio show, Mudd Up!. (Kudos to Sñr Clayton, btw, on that Wire cover!) I was emailing with Jace today, as it happens, and he offered some off-the-cuff thoughts on Venus’s DJing that really encapsulate what’s so special, and daring, about her approach —

seeing Venus reminded me of how so many DJs just surf the wave of ‘new jams’ and dont really fuck with the form itself. Whereas its so fresh and refreshing to experience Venus going for it, really working the CD-js in a percussive way, pulling and pushing sound around to create a thing in and of itself

Also, apparently Ghe20 G0th1k are gonna drop an “Official Mixtape” via Jim Jones & co on Monday?!! Dipset revolution indeed.

Now don’t get me wrong, as those in the know will know, this won’t be the first time Ghe20 G0th1k graces a Cambridge club. Indeed, it was at Rizzla & co’s Nu Life party where I first met Venus, having been tasked with sourcing a couple CDJs for the occasion. Of course, these days, Venus is tweet-lobbying Pioneer to donate 20 pairs for a next wave of rad gal DJs. But big-up Rizzla for balance-beaming across the bleeding edge, no small achievement in this little town that, better or worse, I’ll always call home.

As Hatsune Miku’s team thinks of ways to translate the incredible phenomenon she represents for US audiences/co-producers, I could hardly think of a better partner for the virtual idol. Venus seems to think folks here are ready for the kind of plastic pop culture we can mold and form into our own shapes, and, as it happens, so does Ian Condry, the cultural anthropologist in MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program who is responsible for bringing Miku’s team to Cambridge next week (as part of the Cool Japan project). Ian, who wrote his first book about hip-hop in Japan, has recently completed a second book, this time about anime and collaborative creativity.

As he wrote in response to seeing a Hatsune Miku concert this past summer, Ian’s study of anime has led him “to see virtual characters as platforms of generative creativity in their own right.” Taking this a step further into the realm of invitational and reconfigurable culture, Hatsune Miku “demonstrates that there are likely to be many more kinds of platforms out there, waiting to created, built upon, shared, distributed, remixed and extended.”

Allow me to quote Ian’s blogpost for MIT’s Center for Civic Media in some length, especially since, among other things, it offers such a fine summary of what makes the Miku phenomenon so phenomenal–

Everyone was cheering, but at what? There was no one there, on stage, at the center of our attention, just a virtual avatar. And of what? Of whom? Of us.

Miku shows that pop culture, like politics, often appears premised on a leader on stage (or projected on a screen), but impact, and often creativity itself, whatever that means, emerges from broader, distributed collective actions. Miku hints at a world of untapped possibility, a model of crowd-sourced mobilization, and an instructive instance of a media platform that is part software technology (Vocaloid) part cultural idea (the character Miku).

Miku began as a voice on a music synthesizer software package called Vocaloid, created and sold by Yamaha starting in 2004. Vocaloid lets you make music by specifying instruments to play, like Garage Band, but with the added feature that you can write lyrics with melody as well. A separate company, Crypton Future Entertainment, released the Miku voice add-on in 2007, along with a cartoon image and biographical features (16 years old, height, weight, etc.).

Importantly, Crypton decided not to assert copyright control over the image, thus freeing up the character to have a life of her own, or rather, lives of our own. It’s as if we could all write songs for Lady Gaga, and she would perform them for us. Does it matter that Miku’s not real? How “real” is Lady Gaga anyway?

Fans responded by posting hundreds of thousands of music videos online, with a variety of shared costumes and images (e.g., a green onion / leek). In the years since, Miku’s star rose thanks to the energy of the fans amplified through uploading and commenting on the Japanese video-sharing site Nico Nico Dôga. So-called “Nicodo” is like YouTube except user comments scroll by as you watch a video, thus adding an additional layer of participatory viewing.

Nowadays, top MikuP (“producers”) sell their work online, and karaoke spots in Japan let you download and sing along with favorite Miku songs. Crypton has a site online for facilitating collaboration and licensing through a system, Piapro, which they say mimics Creative Commons. Fan work sells through other channels as well. In November 2010, I was one of 7000 attendees at a sold-out fan convention in Ikebukuro, Tokyo shopping from 500 fan groups who gathered to sell Vocaloid-related music, posters, DVDs, illustration books, video games, jewelry and more (see http://ketto.com/tvm/).

Given such fan excitement, it is small wonder that big business wanted in on the act. From 2009, Sega created video games for Miku under the Project Diva title, both for handheld devices and for arcades. Toyota is now using Miku for a series of ads as well, and they even showed a commercial prior to Miku’s Los Angeles debut (drawing some boos, but probably more good will). Ultimately, however, Miku is animated by the energy of fans, and that’s why watching Miku’s steps into commercialization will be interesting.

Miku reinforces some of the lessons for civic media that we’ve heard before: people need to feel a genuine openness to participate; sharing and dialogue are key to building a community; free culture is more generative than controlled-IP systems; cooptation and commercialization are always risks, especially as popularity increases.

But Miku offers a particular schema of distributed creativity, different than both Wikipedia and human celebrities. Miku lacks a back-story. She has no pre-defined personality. She doesn’t exist in a singular made-up fantasy world. This Wikicelebrity makes old-fashioned human celebs look like appliances, when the future is platforms.

Might this provide alternative ways of thinking about democracy and participation as well? If the social realities outside leaders themselves are what generate action and popularity, then questions of media should turn less on representational content, and more on the nature of platforms, how open they are, what forms of creativity they allow.

I’m getting a good feeling about this. Do help us make next Monday the first of many incredible meetings between Venus and Miku. Glowsticks optional.

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October 10th, 2011

And the Beat Goes On…

Beat Research is sad to announce that after 7.5 years of hosting our experimental party music, the Enormous Room is closing its doors. DJ Flack and I were pretty surprised when the rumors started circulating last Tuesday that this past weekend would be the club’s last, but we felt like we went out with a bang with last week’s visit from Mungo’s Hi-Fi, even if we didn’t realize it was a farewell party at the time.

Grateful as we feel toward our longtime home, we’re not feeling much like mourning the past. Rather, we’re excited about the future of Beat Research, which is looking bright. Although we’re not ready quite yet to confirm the details on our new location, we’re psyched to report that we’ll be holding a special interim bash at the nearby Middlesex Lounge next Monday (10/17), in conjunction with friends from MIT/Japan and NYC!

Come join us at 10pm on 10/17 for a chance to dance with Japan’s leading virtual idol, Hatsune Miku, a software-based singer whose biggest fans are also her songwriters! Some of Miku’s creators, visiting from Japan, will be on hand to discuss the phenomenon and to demonstrate a prototype projection method for her live concerts. Here’s a taste of what that looks like (but be sure to browse YouTube or Niconico for hundreds of amazing “crowdsourced” videos)–

To make things even more insane, we’ve invited one of Miku’s fans from NYC, the indomitable Venus X, to come join us and play her signature mix of warped, underground sounds (which I’d love to see Miku dance along with). I’ve been wanting to invite Venus to be our guest for a while now, and when I saw her tweet about Miku, I couldn’t resist making this dream come true.

If you’re not hip to Venus, try googling Ghe20 G0Th1k to find out why she’s being sought out by Shakira, retweeted by Drake, and dropping science on DJ /Rupture’s radio show (2nite!), while presiding over one of the most exciting parties in Gotham. Or just come join us at the Middlesex next Monday and have your mindbody blown.

Plus, the pairing couldn’t be more perfect what with Venus’s latest hair adventures. But don’t get twisted, this trill cannot be duplicated


Good bye, Enormous Room. Long live Beat Research!

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September 29th, 2011

Beat Research, Humungo Edition!

Mungo's Sound
Mungo’s Sound (which will not, alas, be in attendance this Monday)

Permit me to dub the description of my partner Beat Research, the estimable Mr.Flackett

Yes the heavy heavy sounds of Mungo’s Hi Fi will be coming through BR for a special last minute stop while on tour from Scotland. The world-renowned producer is also the brains behind the venerable Scotch Bonnet record label- where modern electronic sounds collide with traditional dub reggae vibes. He has never been to Boston so lets show him what Boston is made of- We’ll be bringing some extra bass for the occasion, you bring your skanking shoes.

Speaking of “what Boston is made of” the early set (9-11pm) features %100 Boston made material in all kinds of styles and genres, courtesy of beat scholars Pacey Foster and Brian Coleman. Not just killer DJs- Pace wrote the Boston chapter of Hip-hop in America: A regional guide, and Brian, who compiled Check the Technique after years of interviewing hip-hop artists, was one of the first DJs to play undergournd hip-hop over Boston’s airwaves through groundbreaking radio shows like “School Beats” on WZBC (with the late Tim Haslett).

Should be one helluva session, folks.

colourshieldcolourshieldcolourshield

Here’s the latest from Scotch Bonnet —

Mungo’s Hi Fi – Bogle 12″ by mungoshifi

As usual, the details:

Enormous Room
Central Square
567 Mass Ave
Cambridge
9pm-1am
FREEEEE

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September 26th, 2011

Brinksmanship

2nite at Beat Research!

Somerville DJ Brinkley Sound makes his club debut after a long tenure spinning both punk and disco shows on left of the dial radio station WHRB, and making noise with local bands including The Sinister Turns and Hedge Fund.

In homage to his namesake, John R. Brinkley, founder of the nation’s most audaciously powerful “border blaster” radio stations, Brinkley Sound will bring a mixed and re-mixed bag of pan-American party-starting beats, with a nod to the sample-heavy sounds of New Jersey club music. Somewhere between hardcore punk and ‘ardkore rave, this is music for all-night dancing and all-night whosampled.com checking alike.


For a taste of the sui generis sound DJ Brinkley Sound has been developing, check his soundcloud for tracks that draw on juke, dancehall, clubb music, punk, and other forms of #blackswag, e.g. —

Rise Above (WBPLZ #blackswag rmx) by Brinkley Sound

Overboard Riddim (props to Messr. Crâne) by Brinkley Sound

Ooh Baby by Brinkley Sound

As it happens, Mr. Brinkley (aka Dan Thorn) took a class with me last spring and wrote a really great paper on the “Aural History of Jersey Club Music,” including trenchant observations on SoundCloud ecologies and the remarkable social life of the “bedspring” sample (which you might hear turn up in a track or two of his own). I’ve been pushing Dan to make a mini-mega-mix of the bedspring thing, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a brief bit from his term paper, which I’ve been encouraging him to publish somewhere officialish (editors, holler):

From Atlanta to Baltimore to Newark (with detours into the Caribbean), the “Some Cut” sample is a prime example of Jersey club’s status as a unique subcultural genre that nonetheless transcends regional sonic signifiers. While the sample itself is heard as a unique feature of Jersey club, it also points to the music’s place in musical dialogue with many other localized dance music genres. By reusing “Some Cut” in novel ways, as a rhythmic element or as a subtle thematic comment, Jersey club producers have localized the song to a new context of use while adding value for future producers (who can now use the sample in the same or different ways), fulfilling Henry Jenkins’ requirements for “spreadable” media. Like Jenkins argues about this type of participatory media, Jersey club’s use of sampling emphasizes the agency of actors typically recognized as simply ‘consumers’ of music (in this case, high school students releasing music noncommercially) to change the meaning of media without overruling its previous definitions.

Despite the relatively linear timeline behind “Some Cut”’s deployment as a staple of Jersey club remixes, the genre as a whole can be only poorly understood by such a genealogical model, which requires distinction to be made between singular, original “texts” and subsequent adaptations. Rather, Jersey club remixes are what Jonathan Gray has called “paratexts”—materials that exist “outside of, alongside, and intrinsically part of the text.” Jersey club DJs rarely if ever remix existing club tracks; rather, they go back to the source material and create their own iteration, often within the same time frame as the first remix. It is therefore impossible to authoritatively say that any one Jersey remix of, say, Lloyd’s “Lay Down” is the exemplary text against which all others are adulterated versions—a fact that club blogs have admitted when simultaneously posting several remixes of the same source material by different DJs. If, as Devereaux has argued, Baltimore club music is an expression of an inclusive urban identity, Jersey club might be understood as an expression of an inclusive digital identity, an example of music as social life where the online production, reception and discussion of club tracks is inseparable from their production and reception in New Jersey and elsewhere. The social aspect of Jersey club must be understood as thoroughly as its musical features, in what Georgina Born has theorized as a “constellation of mediations—sonic, but also social, material and technological, discursive, corporeal and temporal—that together constitute what ‘music’ and musical experience are held to be.”

Jersey club producers turn the most ubiquitous of the pop songs forced upon listeners worldwide into raw material for remixes that present those songs for what they ultimately are—bursts of possibly interesting sounds competing for one’s attention among a multitude of others. Their remixing practice can therefore be understood as a decommodification of music acting alongside and against music’s commodification in the form of CDs, MP3s and other formats. The music increasingly takes the form of noncommercial, Creative Commons-licensed tracks for free download on SoundCloud, which demonstrate not only their young producers’ skill with media production technology (one form of ‘media literacy’) but also their canny ability to approach pop music as a means for acts of individual creativity, without being intimidated by the professional aura that rearguard critics like Andrew Keen mistake for a sign of a work’s quality.

Yeah, kid got an A.

Also, he had this to say about Dubbel Dutch’s great Screw Jersey mix from a little while back —

Screwing (Jersey) club is a pretty clever idea, since many club tracks sample vocals from slower pop/hip-hop songs without changing the pitch – the end result is music at close to the same tempo as a fair amount of the sample material, but this time with all the vox in that distinctive screw range. It’s an interesting way to hear the songs again (I especially liked hearing “Obsessed” after this process) and I guess it couldn’t have worked so well if club music pitched its vocal samples to match the tempo.

Expect to hear all of this and more tonight at Enormous Room as Dan takes us to the Brink.

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Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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