Take it from Josh

Highgate would like to introduce to you and welcome, one Mr. Josh LaClair, former Pure Popper, and current Franklin County resident, into the fold, as it were. You can expect semi-regular music reviews, mixtapes, and rants, and to start things off on the right foot Josh has compiled a dance mix for your headphones, as well as provided a track by track rundown so you can read while you listen. What more could you ask for on such a dreary Wednesday?

No, i don't sell weed.

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1) “Live at the Sahara Tahoe, 1973” - Farben

Farben is one of the aliases of Jan Jelinek, a microhouse juggernaut from Germany, and this remains his finest moment. The beat that courses through the track is remarkably complex, but not so much that it confines you to headphones on the couch. Jelinek has been sadly underappreciated for years, and if you’re feeling it, you’d do well to track down Texstar, which kicks off with this and has eight others almost as good.

2) “Phantom, Pt. 1” - Justice

I couldn’t possibly put together a dance mix and not include “Phantom,” the best song from my favorite album of 2007. While others like “Stress,” “Waters of Nazareth,” or “D.A.N.C.E.” (see Tanner’s mix) are probably more suitable, I completely lose it every time the brain-melting midsection segues into the song’s brutal climax. I almost asked JB to throw mattresses (mattri?) on the sidewalk, just in case anyone decided to catapult out the frickin’ window. I’m only half joking.

3) “Reverberation” - 13th Floor Elevators

Mama always said, “Josh, a dance party just isn’t a dance party without the electric jug.” Yes, ma’am. (It’s best not to argue with a former nun.)

4) “Go Check” - Ms. John Soda

While Morr Music’s usually noted for its breed of gorgeous electropop lullabies, Ms. John Soda didn’t seem too concerned with these constraints. This one’s a flat-out scorcher compared to anything on The Notwist’s Neon Golden, with crisp, treated guitars, bongos, and tambourines. And that refrain

5) “Everday” - The Field

Another one of my favorites from this year. The first half sounds like a saunter through the slot machine section of Mohegan Sun under the influence, and just when you think it can’t possibly sound any more crazysexycool, it blows wide open at the 2:38 mark. Absolutely majestic.

6) “24 Track Loop” - This Heat

Many consider this song to be the birthplace of jungle, and given that This Heat unleashed it in ’78, it really does sound about 20 years ahead of the game. Really, only about half of it is danceable, but it just felt so naughty to toss a cut from This Heat into the mix. Hey, just be thankful the Excepter track I was planning on got nixed at the last minute.

7) “Enrico” - IsolĂ©e

It was rough trying to choose a track from Wearemonster because, really, the whole thing’s so consistently awesome and danceable. I’ve found in situations like these, however, it’s best for everyone to just go with the one sporting the tripped-out staccato vocals. So that is what I did. You’re welcome.

8) “Caramel” - Cluster

It’s funny how so much of today’s IDM can be traced back to Cluster’s indisputable masterpiece, Zuckerzeit, and yet this is one of two songs on the album that’s even remotely danceable. Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing these guys, the guitar sounds should sound vaguely familiar (cough-cough, Another Green World, cough-cough, Berlin-era Bowie), and yeah, you can wobble to it.

9) “La Rock 01” - Vitalic

This is another one that could conceivably send partygoers through the window. I’ve rocked this one on many occasions in the past couple of years, and like “My Friend Dario,” it places my jaw squarely on the ground every time. Ooh, fun-little-side-story time! During a cross country trip in the summer of 2005, my wife, daughter, friends and I spent the night in a sketchy mill town in the middle of Wyoming. I thought it might enjoyable to blare OK Cowboy through the downtown area and study the locals’ habits. After about the third spin through, shaking fists and expletives provided a clear indication that we were no longer welcome in that settlement. This really was quite a shame, because their McDonald’s had the best Big Macs I’ve ever tasted--so fresh, and I think they put a little extra salt on them or something. Anyway…

10) Government Center” - Modern Lovers

“We gotta rock-a rock-a rock-a nonstop tonight, uh huh, at the Government Center!” JB used to be a contractor for The Man, and I currently work for The Man at the esteemed Vermont Service Center in St. Albans, so this doubles as a party pleaser and homage of sorts. And yes, I realize Richman isn’t alluding to that government center, but both our little hearts just go pitter-patter, pitter-patter every time the word is even mentioned. Right, JB?

11) “Music to Interrogate By” – Jan Jelinek Avec Les Exposures

Ah, more Jelinek! I chose this one because it displays his adeptness at burying what’s typically way out front and allowing tiny clicks and scrapes to dominate the mix. It’s initially a little disorienting, but that’s what makes his sound so distinctive. I’d be surprised if after hearing this and the Farben track, you aren’t scrambling to locate his entire back catalog. If this is the case, his other moniker is Gramm. Start with Texstar, and then go for loop-finding-jazz-records (released under Jan Jelinek), Texstar’s impeccably serene counterpart.

12) “Shiny Metal Rods” - Aphex Twin

I’ve always found it interesting that this fits so perfectly amidst the otherwise placid tracks on Selected Ambient Works, Volume II. With a layer cake of static and distortion that slice through the air and intensify with each passing loop, it might sound better in a spooky abandoned warehouse than at 12 Clarke Street. I figure it’s close enough to the Old North End, though…

13) “Hendrix With Ko” - Manitoba/Caribou

Honestly, has there ever been a more perfect amalgam of all that was right with late-‘60s psychedelia? Colossal drum breaks, Koushik’s breezy vocals, perfectly nuanced instruments drenched in reverb, handclaps, and an air unrestrained exuberance all swirling around, pounding on every happy button I have. Like, wow.

14) “Internal Wrangler” – Clinic

Nothin’ like a little deranged surf-rock stuffed with sinister vocals about “sunny weather” and “filth machines” to keep the party going. Internal Wrangler was busted out for many of the impromptu two-person dance parties at my friend Melissa’s old apartment. The title track was always the highlight for me, not necessarily because it’s the most upbeat, but because it sounds curiously like bubbles circa Super Mario Brothers, World 2-2. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I chose this with the sincere hope that I could get a roomful of hipsters pretending to swim away from jellyfish. That’d be a good thing. Yeah, that’d be a real good thing.

15) “Baby Interphase” - Biosphere

Norwegian electronica guru Geir Jenssen has spent much of his 15-year career conjuring images of the frozen tundras and eerie isolation of his homeland in the Arctic Circle. Many don’t realize, however, that he started out by creating killer ambient house tracks, most notably on 1992’s Microgravity. This song has a menacing undercurrent with a sci-fi vibe, and I figured it’d be a nice follow-up to the equally creepy “Internal Wrangler.”

16) “Green Cosmos” - Deerhoof

Bongo drums + synth-organ stabs + music box melody + junkyard percussion + funky-ass guitar + Satomi = Wheeeeeee!

17) “Hold On, Baby” - Ike and Tina Turner

I love Phil Spector’s production on this, and given that Tina’s practically begging you to shout “You…know…they’re trying to tear us apart, you know they’re trying to break our hearts!” along with her, I thought it was a mighty fun way to end the mix.


Herb said...

Thanks, Josh!

jay said...

Damn...really nice mix! Welcome to blogland Josh!

casey said...

Hi Josh.

I miss our furious e-mail back-and-forths.

Glad you're on the Highgate team. (Don't worry Tanner -- I won't poach him!)

josh said...

Hey guys--thanks for readin'!

Me too, Casey! :( Let's resume immediately, shall we? I remain in an 8x8 cubicle surrounded by folks who are incapable of having a Perfect Prescription vs. Playing With Fire debate. I mean, FRICK! I'm pretty sure I have your e-mail address saved somewhere, but if I can't find it, I'll send you mine in a myspace message. LET'S DO THIS!!!

Faith! said...

Oh yay! I'm totally pumped! Only, ah, 8 more hours until I can listen to fantastic stuff. Good job Josh!