Category Archives: techno

82 Year Old DJ Sumirock’s Solid

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Let’s face it: at 82, society thinks you’re washed up. Why, you’d be considered lucky if you could knit a scarf and walk to the corner store without falling down. You are old and for the most part invisible, a useless relic of a vibrantly youthful past. Or so they would have us believe.

ENTER DJ SUMIROCK

This senior, seriously funky Japanese citizen is making jaws drop around the world. At an age where most people want the music turned down, she’s turning it up! Sumiko Iwamuro started spinning in her 70’s after her husband passed away and now has a monthly club residency in Tokyo’s infamous red light district. On top of that, she still works as a full-time cook at a Chinese resto which she has been doing for 60 years. I bet she makes a mean teriyaki!

According to CGTN, Iwamuro said, “My setlist is based on music that I feel like dancing to. I’m physically very strong. I stand all day in the kitchen, ride my bicycle home, walk my dog for half an hour so I don’t have a lot of free time. I can deejay at this age because I’m very healthy and I’m very lucky to have a place to work.”

Does this sound like an “old person?” Definitely not! An elderly lady with a taste for techno and dark glasses – most defo!

Kudos to DJ Sumirock for showing us that as long as you have health, you’re never too old to pursue your dream. In a world intent on discarding the elderly and invalidating women especially as we approach middle age, Sumiko Iwamuro defies the narrow minded stupidity of youth obsessed society. As I observe her on the decks, I admire her relaxed approach, calm focus and pure enjoyment, not to mention her sexy outfit!

DJ Sumirock, I hope you get to play in New York someday. You are a brave soul, a true inspiration and I know you will do a fantastic job. Domo arigato!

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

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Possible 90’s Rave Revival?

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angel alanis flyer

Could this event mark a possible revival of the 90’s rave scene (in spirit at least?).

That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on this flyer – at a café in Kensington Market of all places. I was pleasantly surprised to see underground soldier Angel Alanis headlining. “Chi’s Revenge,” a hi-energy breakbeat infused number is one of his most recognizable offerings off the noteworthy album, Reverse Polarities. Although he is known primarily for techno, this track remains one of my all-time favourites because it exemplifies Alanis’ versatility and playfulness.

I wonder whether Paul Walker is the same British dude who used to have that dope store on Richmond St. I believe. I don’t recall the name (if someone remembers, holla back!) but it was a fantastic hub of activity staffed by DJ’s spinning live music selling mix tapes, clothing, accessories, albums and tickets to all the upcoming events. Walker used to play killer hard house and progressive back in the day; I still have a Liquid Adrenaline tape featuring a set of his. If it’s you Paul, welcome back!

In this digital age of smartphones and facebook, the promoters had the audacity to include an info line number. Wtf…AND pre- 2000 ticket prices! I called the number and sure enough, there was a pre-recorded blurb complete with background music. It ended with the traditional, “Stay tuned for more info;” no details given about the location (til the night of). I’m beginning to feel slightly rebellious now…look out world!

With the enticing prospect of laser shows, dry ice and projections, this event is obviously targeted towards ol skool ravers. It’ll probably attract a lot of newbies too, judging from the teeny tiny fb logo near the bottom of the flyer. Yes, Fusion Entertainment is banking on 90’s nostalgia but they’re keeping it current too. Smart business move.

Honestly, there isn’t much that really excites me about Toronto’s party scene anymore. Don’t believe me? Check out NOW magazine’s cover feature this week: Fight for Your Right to Party. Reading about the pathetic state of Toronto’s nightlife was rather depressing but I see it as part of a cycle. Everything eventually comes to an end, whether it’s a behemoth club veteran like The Guvernment or gay central stronghold Fly. It’s really up to the people to rise up and carve out a new definition for Toronto’s party identity. So far, it looks like Fusion Entertainment might be leading the way. Sometimes you have to take a step back to make a giant leap forward. If these guys are genuine, and don’t plan on doing bullshit like shutting off cold water, then this might be a good way to get Toronto’s nightscene off its ailing ass and back into the game.

I must confess my expectations for this event are not high; rather, they are carefully measured with a healthy dose of skepticism. But then again, that’s what happens when you’ve touched the outskirts of infinity, only to come down a little too soon.

Copyright © 2014 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Jeff Mills Live with Montpellier Orchestra

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This has got to be one of  the most innovative collaborations in music history. Techno wizard Jeff Mills performing live with Montpellier Orchestra in 2005 at the base of Pont du Gard bridge, France. The perfect marriage of classical and electronic music, this amazing collaboration demonstrates the versatility of techno and the sheer brilliance of Mills’ compositions.  From his humble beginnings as an aspiring DJ from Detroit to having his tunes conducted by Alain Altinoglu, Jeff has certainly come a long way in his career. It’s a real treat to hear classics such as “The Bells” and “Sonic Destroyer” performed live by an 80 piece orchestra to an enthusiastic crowd of ravers and music aficionados alike. I can’t say it enough – JEFF MILLS IS GENIUS! 

 

Full Moon Rising @ Cherry Beach

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What better way to celebrate Canada Day than a rave at Cherry Beach! Still reeling from the aftermath of Pride, I cooled off at a pool party before heading down. I’d heard how much it had changed from the good ol’ daze when people would just show up and start raving in the woods on the east side of the beach. It was strictly through word of mouth, never advertised and all you had to do was come prepared to party well into the wee hours. No dress code, ID, or cover charge required. It was absolutely glorious and too good to last. Due to a thoughtless act of naïve journalism about “Toronto’s best kept party secret” by a NOW magazine writer, cops swooped down and killed the last CB party of the summer in 2006. I was told that since that time, the event had been moved to a different location in the same vicinity, wristbands were required and they were now charging $5. Not to mention sketchies galore. So of course, I had lowered my expectations long before I even set foot on the shore. Boy was I in for a surprise! Hundreds of party peeps were chilling out on the beach, grooving to the bombastic sounds of Rollin’ Cash, LeeLee Mishi, Zum One, Machinelf and more. Everyone was laughing, dancing, have a good time. Sizzling samba satisfied the senses courtesy of CB stalwarts, Samba Elegua, with firespinners scorching the shit out of the scene at nightfall.

 It was reassuring to see some familiar faces from the rave and psy-trance community, though we were outnumbered by clubbers and 905-ers somewhat lacking in party etiquette. And there was a bodacious full moon to boot. A full moon party on Canada Day at Cherry Beach? Long weekends don’t get much better than that! Wading in warm water while prog techno bounced and the moon beamed was therapeutic to say the least. At times, the loud pop of fireworks going off made me wonder whether some stoned dandy might not end up losing a finger or 2. The Rave Gods were definitely on duty that night, ensuring that all Ecstaticans remained safe and sound. “This is the best I’ve seen in a while,” exclaimed one attendee. “There’s a lot less sketch than usual.” Sheesh… Maybe frumpy security personnel dressed in black, marching through beach blanket posses whilst wielding flashlights like they’re in a friggin club might have something to do with it. An acquaintance of mine ended up having her knapsack stolen, which really sucked. So if you’re planning to check out Cherry Beach in the near future, watch your belongings! Beach blanket bonanza in effect every Sunday ‘til the end of summer, weather permitting. For the latest updates on CB, follow the Promise lads  on Twitter @cherrybeach. Peace out >>>

 

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Honey Dijon, Stacey Pullen and Carlo Lio @ Pride

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Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

DIRTY DISCO DELIVERS

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Dirty Disco kicked off on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon with a mouthwatering line-up of local and international talent featuring the likes of Don Berns (aka Dr. Trance), Robb G, Deko-ze, Adam K, Jelo and more. It was a real treat watching Dr. Trance strut onstage in a Superman suit, while “Superheroes Can’t Be Gays” played in the background. The grand-daddy of T dot’s rave scene then proceeded to drop some dirty ol skool classics from waayyy back in tha day. Larry Tee from London, England, delivered with a floorthumping set while Adam K rocked the crowd at nightfall.

Although Dirty Disco was sponsored by T-D, it was freakin annoying to see their logo flashing repeatedly across the screen behind the DJ’s for up to half an hour during some of the performances. It really irks me to see the corporate world pimping underground culture to promote their interests. Like ravers really need to be subjected to their shitty subliminal messages. And don’t get me started about Rogers trying to cultivate some swag off of Digital Dreams. Next time, it would be wonderful if Dirty Disco’s organizers could grow a backbone and curb T-D’s advertising so it doesn’t detract from the performances, seen? Usually, Dirty Disco is on the main day of Pride (Sunday), but it got shifted to Saturday, apparently as a result of Digital Dreams, which meant it was considerably less packed than the rollicking blockos of DD’s past. Aside from the piggybacking parasitic antics of corporate sponsors, it was good times, especially with guest star appearances by ol skool vets like Uncle Steve, Jeff, Paul, and Greg. Happy Pride Beautiful People!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Ladies First starring Denise Benson, Nicole Moudaber, Madame Zu, Hellen Angelucci

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For the longest while, disc jockeying has been the virtually exclusive domain of men. It’s a man’s, man’s world I tell ya. In the 90’s, it was extremely rare to see a woman on the decks. Since then, significant strides have been made as female DJ’s are becoming more prominent. There’s still a lot of progress to be made though. The dance music industry is fiercely competitive, and so we find the world of DJs is still very much a boys’ club. Don’t get me wrong – I have mad love for all the men holding down the fort, but let’s face it; female DJ’s generally receive less recognition for their contributions. For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate this posting to female DJ’s. Nothing can stop the Return of the Divine Feminine – not even the pope. I guess the Holy See failed to realize if you ban a book on sexuality written by a nun, it’ll only encourage more people to read it. Booyah. So my dear Benedict, if you’ve somehow managed to stumble across this article whilst surfing for kiddie porn, tune in – you  might be enlightened…

DENISE BENSON

In my humble opinion, Denise Benson is a legend. This Toronto resident has been DJ’ing for over twenty years. Surviving that long in the biz takes brains and some serious ladyballs. I have fond memories of her hosting CKLN’s Mental Chatter, where she spun a variety of eclectic music ranging from electro, ambient, synth pop, rock, indie and trip hop. Benson lasted an incredible 20 years on CKLN, where she volunteered her time and expertise to bring fresh, interesting vibes to thousands of listeners. Her live sets at Andy Poolhall, alongside Andrew Allsgood used to be da bomb on a Friday night. To some extent, Denise was also involved in the 90’s rave scene. I remember her spinning in the parking lot of The Guvernment, back when they used to have those wicked Sunday sessions on the roof. Come June 23rd, Benson will be celebrating 5 years of Cherry Bomb, an all female DJ showcase which she started several years ago with her partner in crime, Cozmic Cat. This queer friendly event will be going down (no pun intended :)) at Andy Poolhall, just in time for Pride Toronto.  

NICOLE MOUDABER

This rising star recently wowed Adam Beyer with her demo so fantastically that he tweeted praises. Nicole Moudaber’s tracks have been included in mixes by Carl Cox and Digweed, and have been picked up by Drumcode, Kling Klong, Waveform Recordings and other forward thinking independent labels. My personal fave is her funky remix of Carl Cox’s Chemistry, which won an award at the Miami Winter Music Conference for “Best Minimal / Techno Track.” Nicole spins techno with an edge like a flaming shot of Sambuca, but unlike other men, Moudaber has no moustache to burn. With the bouncy feel good flavour of “Chocolate Love” and the aesthetically pleasing “Toe Cleavage,” Nicole is obviously a very talented producer with a discerning ear and superb mixing skills. She originally started off as a raver in early 90’s NYC before becoming a promoter for the scene in Beirut and at Turnmills in London. And if that wasn’t enough, she also ran a record label (Southeast Recordings) before she decided to try her hand at DJ’ing. Needless to say, that was a career move in the right direction. Since then, she has earned accolades from industry heavyweights such as Pete Tong and Danny Tenaglia, among others.  Carl Cox once described her as “the most underrated DJ of 2009.” Her recent appearance at Electric Daisy Carnival in NYC should put this talented, beautiful lady firmly in the spotlight – where she belongs.

MADAM ZU

Anyone who’s been lucky enough to hear Madam Zu spin in the 90’s knows this lady is effing hardcore. Famous for her no holds barred hard house/ techno setlists, Madam Zu was still going strong up until 2006. An active participant in U.K. rave culture since the early 90’s, she has earned distinction as a music journalist and producer, famously collaborating with John Does on classic rave anthem, “Red Pill.” She doesn’t seem to be active on the decks at the moment, but it would be great to see her resume her wallbanging sessions in the near future.

HELLEN ANGELUCCI

Not much is really known about this mystery lady…accessing her bio link nearly crashed my damn computer, but whoever you are, Hellen, you rock!!!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

Deko-ze spins Donna Summer @ Guvernment

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Guvernment’s Glow Party was disappointing to say the least. To be honest, I had lowered expectations for this event, judging from the horror stories I’d heard about The Guvernment’s slide into the abyss of commercial drudgery over the years. The days when proper raves actually occurred on their premises were looong gone. Now it’s all about $$ and newjacks sorely lacking in party etiquette…but I won’t waste a whole lot of space bewailing the loss of Toronto’s foremost underground juggernaut. Just as I was about to pronounce the entire thing a write off (what with cheesy techno and commercial dubstep), something rank and nasty ripped through the airwaves, reeking of da underground. Instantly, I was affected with a serious case of happy feet, as I  bounced around gleefully.

I looked towards the stage, wondering who was playing this hardcore shit…and saw the buffed out torso of the one and only Deko-ze, looking like the Amazing Circus Flea. But of course!!! Who else could it possibly be? As if to prove me right, Deko-ze dropped a searing remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and it was over. All the hassle and hideous behaviour I endured throughout the night was redeemed by this act of grace. Thank God we still have DJ’s like Deko-ze in Toronto. All is not lost!

Green Velvet Rocks the Boat @ Beats Ahoy

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 Footage and photos by Frankenräver

          On May 27th, some lucky party people boarded the River Gambler and set forth on Beats Ahoy courtesy of Activate-Footwork. Green Velvet presiding over the decks. Manzone and Strong, Addy, The Junkies, Evan G, Jonathan Rosa and Robb G were also in attendance. Despite the tantalizing lineup, Beats Ahoy was not packed, perhaps due to the rather exorbitant ticket price ($50), considering we’re in a recession and all.  

However, the draconian antics of Fortress Security was a disgrace to mature partygoers. The security bitches practically raped the contents of my purse, turning up condoms, ditching my stash AND my gummy bears in the bin and trying to prevent me from bringing peanuts on board (tha nerve!!!). Fortunately, her supervisor said I could bring snacks onboard as long as they were sealed. My friend was then subjected to an excessively stringent 10 minute search, during which they chucked his hand lotion. Apparently they weren’t satisfied they couldn’t find anything suspicious on a black man, so they made him remove his baseball cap twice. Quite frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t make him strip right down to his socks. Conclusion: having to work security on a Sunday sucks ass, so why not make things difficult for the peeps who are having fun? In the future, Footwork should consider hiring a far more courteous security team, if they care anything about ensuring a positive experience for patrons.       

The crowd was a refreshingly wonderful contrast compared to the commercially drab Glow party debacle at The Guvernment the night before. Peeps who know how to party, with love and respect, looking out for one another – PLUR in effect. It was great seeing some graduates from the Class of ’99 reprazentin. Kudos to the male security guard for not giving me a hard time as I barfed ginger ale over the side of the boat. And when Green Velvet came on, well…it was smooth sailing all the way. He even joked about the weather, saying everytime he comes to Toronto, they say it’s going to rain but it never does. As a matter of fact, the weather held up beautifully all day long. Of course GV made a huge splash when he performed his hit, “La La Land”, with the boat rocking wildly as enthusiastic ravers jumped up and down, really getting into the swing of things. Evan G and others kept things going on the lower deck, though not much action was happening down there. My baby powder would’ve been perfect to get some footwork happening on the concrete floor. Thank God I forgot to bring it, else Fortress Security might have thought I was trying to smuggle meth on board and trashed it. Green Velvet was the perfect gentleman; surprisingly humble, approachable and kind. “Hi, my name is Curtis”, he said as I introduced myself. He willingly posed for pictures and chatted with adoring fans. After five hours, the River Gambler returned to harbour and the party was over. Upon the suggestion of my friends, I went to the bin and lo and behold – my stash was sitting there, waiting for me.  I didn’t have to look far. There is justice in the universe after all.  

 

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

The Magick of Kraftwerk

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Summer’s almost here and with DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival) just around the corner, fans of electronica are shifting into high gear. Amidst all the hype,  one salient fact should be remembered. Without the pioneering antics of some funky dudes from Düsseldorf, DEMF would not exist. Plain and simple! Kraftwerk are the bonafide godparents of electronica / modern pop music, influencing artists such as Gary Numan, Franz Ferdinand, Joy Division and Bjork. Their futuristic sounds inspired American DJ’s Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson (aka The Belleville Three), to create a new form of music that would be the foundation of rave culture. Detroit’s industrial backdrop combined with Kraftwerk’s machinistic precision proved to be the perfect marriage between European metronomics and Afro-American rhythmic sensibilities. Ultimately, this resulted in the creation of techno. You can hear Kraftwerk’s influence clearly on Cybotron’s “Cosmic Cars”, and most famously, Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” which contains an interpolation of Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europe Express” and “Numbers.” Their influence on hip-hop and electro is undeniable, yet in spite of all this, Kraftwerk’s legacy seems to be largely unrecognized by today’s generation of listeners.

 

Kraftwerk’s journey began in Düsseldorf in the late 1960’s when Florian Schneider met Ralf Hütter at The Robert-Schumann-Hochschule; a college for music studies at university level. Both musicians initiated an avant-garde experiment where they pushed the boundaries of music, subsequently opening up new frontiers (“krautrock” being one of them). In this incredible footage taken from a live WDR TV performance of “Ruckzuck” in 1970, you can hear unmistakeable elements of minimal, trance and rock. With Schneider blasting staccato stabs on flute, Klaus Dinger holding it down on kit and Hütter rocking the organ, Kraftwerk chugs along like a futuristic funky locomotive. Providing glimpses of a musical genre 20 years ahead of its time makes for a somewhat discombobulated studio audience (though you could see some hippies actually getting into it like, “I don’t know what this is but it sounds good yah!”). Then at 2:29, Kraftwerk shifts gears into some kling klang, rocked out synth experimental jiffy, playfully tweaking dynamics, resulting in sounds eerily reminiscent of a vocoder which was to become their trademark (3:53). And the zoned out expression of the couple chewing gum at the end – priceless!

 

Fast forward 30 years later to an age where the average North American household has 2 computers. Have these guys become moded, outdated even with their newfangled experimental wizardry? Hell no! Kraftwerk’s genius is ubiquitous even in hip-hop. How many of you know that Jay-Z sampled “Man Machine” for his hit, “Sunshine.”

 

Even Chris Martin from Coldplay couldn’t resist sampling “Computer Love” for “Talk” on his album X&Y. But Kraftwerk didn’t hand it to him on a platter. No sirree. Martin wrote them a letter, requesting permission which was forwarded to the notoriously reclusive group through their lawyers. Then he sat on his hands and waited a couple of weeks, until he received a written reply which simply said, “Yes.”  

The first track I recall from Kraftwerk is “Numbers.” Hearing that tune on an electro mixtape my uncle gave me really flipped my gourd. I’d never encountered anything like it before; mysterious, playful and downright funky. To my adolescent ears, it sounded like a Speak & Spell having an epileptic seizure. Robotic voices counting in multiple languages proved to be a headtrip, as I would rewind and listen repeatedly with the biggest smile on my face. At the time I didn’t know who Kraftwerk was, but I knew this was important. Little did I know that I would end up hearing that same song being played at a rave years later. “Computer World” is a must in any music lover’s collection, as one can trace the evolution of electronica from this landmark album. It’s also an eerily accurate prediction of the world we live in now where “business…numbers…money…people” are all part of the ruthless cycle of capitalization. Keep in mind Kraftwerk was creating this kind of music in the 70’s, when the majority of people didn’t have computers (or even know what they were). So you see, this power plant of artistic innovation from Germany must be given the utmost respect for their peerless contributions to modern music. Lang lebe Kraftwerk!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.