the american analog set, “updates”

The American Analog Set, Updates (EP, 2001)

amansetupdatesI remember a couple of American Analog Set records in college – they’d been pegged as the un-intellectual Stereolab from Texas – but for some reason I was taken with the album they released just before this EP, which was less droney and more warm indie. It’s possible they were the first band I saw in New York? maybe in September 2001? but that doesn’t seem quite right, I don’t think anything was happening that month. They headlined a show at the Bowery Ballroom where Interpol opened & you could tell by their fans that all was not going to be well in the coming decade. The date on this CD says 2001, but I feel like I probably bought it early in 2002; in the fall of 2001 I was too poor because I’d just moved to the city.

Certainly I associate this with a cold winter in Brooklyn; I don’t think that winter was much colder than most winters in New York, but the landlord hadn’t bothered to insulate the room that I was living in (which protruded into the back yard of the apartment), reasoning that it would be cheaper to give me a space heater. But that was the winter of twee/electronic crossover; there was the Notwist record & the first Ulrich Schnauss record (a CDR of the two of them back to back) and all the rest of the early Morr Music/City Centre Offices people – Isan, Lali Puna, Arovane, Static, Solvent. They sounded nice on a Discman as one trudged through snow to a job that was unbelievably terrible but seemingly inescapable: ineluctability was in the air. I was reading Thomas Bernhard and Hermann Broch.

(Discmen were everywhere in New York at that point; on the subway, it seemed like everyone had them. I remember being surprised; in Rome, it would have been very strange to wear headphones on the bus or the subway. Discmen had become extremely cheap; soon they’d be replaced by iPods, but at that point everyone carried around little books of CDs with them. I would have had a (restrained, tan) Invicta backpack at that point – I wonder what happened to it?)

This record, though: there are six tracks, two remixes each by the American Analog Set themselves (one presumes), Her Space Holiday, and Styrofoam. I would have bought this for the Styrofoam remixes, which I probably played over and over, just as I’d done with his A Short Album about Murder. Listened to now, the AmAnSet & HSH remixes sounds utterly unfamiliar. The first two sound unfinished. Her Space Holiday I never liked for some reason; maybe I was disdainful of them for not being German, not feeling like they came out of a tradition. But nothing grabs me about these tracks here; the originals are recognizable under layers of noise (the first) and faux hip-hop shifting to faux drum & bass (the second), but I don’t know that they’re especially nice as songs – I think I liked the sound of the originals rather than the songs themselves, maybe evidence of a change in how I was listening to music.

Listened to now, the Styrofoam remixes seem emo beyond all hope of redemption. On the first, looped melodramatic keyboards are layered with plastic crunchy drums & strategically placed noise while the original vocal floats serenely through; warm bass builds. At the time this was some sort of dream come true: German electronics meeting American indie pop. Dntel would do roughly the same thing a year later with a better vocalist and less Germans & turn into the Postal Service & then everything would be over, but this sounded fantastic over headphones walking through snow. Listened to over speakers now, it sounds a bit too much like they’re trying for the cinematic. The second is named “We’re Computerizing and We Just Don’t Need You Anymore (Styrofoam’s freezer burn mix)” which seems about right: glitched vocals, warm synthesizers. It’s a pop take on IDM, I guess, which seemed like a valid approach at the time: the Warp acts had run into a wall at about that point, and this seemed more palatable than Mille Plateaux-style clicks and cuts. Probably the clicks and cuts would sound friendlier now; probably some of that holds up better than this.

Things were generally less bleak after the winter of 2001/2. I lost touch with what the American Analog Set did some time after this, though I feel like I saw them do a show at the Knitting Factory a year or so later; by that time everybody else was doing the exact same thing & they weren’t so distinguished. Styrofoam went more indie (like the rest of the Morr Music stable) and it was roundly terrible and I stopped listening to him. Oh well.

gert wilden & orchestra, “schulmädchen report”

Gert Wilden & Orchestra, Schulmädchen Report (compilation, 1996)

schulmädchen reportI would have first heard this in the summer of 1997, I think, when I was, for reasons still unclear to me, the associate editor of Let’s Go Ireland 1998; probably my hearing this was the fault of Alex Speier – who might have become the Harry Crosby of the late-90s Let’s Go set after writing the masterpiece that is the Harvard Student Agencies Bartending Course (available at Google Books in mutilated fashion), though thankfully he seems to have turned into a successful sportswriter since then. As the cover suggests, this is a compilation of music from 1970s German porn films about schulmädchen; from the dubiously titled Crippled Dick Hot Wax, it fit in nicely with the wave of late-90s indie cosmopolitan exoticism (Pizzicato Five, Serge Gainsbourg, Ennio Morricone). The liner notes on this are minimal; one has no idea on how Mr. Wilden’s music fit into the history of German film music, if at all.

Though it seemed perfectly normal at the time, the Let’s Go office was an odd place to work, not least in that at that point in time everyone had their own computer with CD-player and speakers; as it was staffed by college students, everyone was constantly playing their music loudly, generally in counterpoint to everyone else’s. Schulmädchen Report soundtracked the Britain & Ireland pod for a good part of that summer, along with a Willie Nelson box set, the self-titled Blur album, a cassette tape of Irish drinking songs, and the new Oasis album, which Eric attempted to convince everyone was almost as good as their last one. There was very little variation in this diet  – no one’s taste matched at all, and those were the compromises that were worked out. Schulmädchen Report generally worked the best – the songs, cheerful to the last, vary in tone (the patriotic one, the rocking one, the Christmas one), and the disengaged worker could spend a long time speculating on what acrobatics might have been going on in the films these songs soundtracked. Nobody ever though to track the films down, but someone knew someone who had seen one once. Probably we played this once a day for most of the summer.

When Sam and Eric and I worked at Cognoscenti, did we listen to this? I don’t remember that, though it’s certainly possible. But the mood would have changed by then, I think; it wouldn’t have been summer, and this is a summer record. Records wear out, probably this had worn out.

The disc I have isn’t the original, which I seem to remember bequeathing to someone – a roommate? the Co-op? – I bought a second copy, presumably identical to the first, a few years later. It’s nice to hear. This would be a nice record to have in a car, maybe. No, actually: it’s too obviously a soundtrack & you’d feel foolish.

sleepwalking through august

  1. Shocking Pinks, “Dressed to Please (Echospace reduction)” (DFA)
  2. Sebbo, “Watamu Beach (Moritz von Oswald rework) (Desolat)
  3. Koss, “Negai” (Innervisions)
  4. Prosumer & Murat Tepeli, “Solid Mind” (Ostgut Tonträger)
  5. Cassy, “Somelightuntothenight” (Beatstreet)
  6. The KLF, “Wichita Lineman Was a Song I Once Heard” (KLF Communications)
  7. Ricardo Villalobos, “Dexter” (Playhouse)
  8. Depeche Mode, “Peace (Ben Klock remix)” (Mute)
  9. Carsten Jost, “Love” (Dial)

early july mix

  1. La Roux, “In for the Kill (Skream’s let’s get ravey mix)” (Polydor)
  2. Masha Qrella, “Pink Frost” (Morr Music)
  3. The Legends, “Over and Over” (Labrador)
  4. School of Seven Bells, “Face to Face on High Places (Jesu remix)” (Ghostly International)
  5. Teddybears, “Get Mama a House” (unknown)
  6. Meneo, “Okupa” (unknown)
  7. JJ, “Ecstasy” (Sincerely Yours)
  8. Cooly G, “Love Dub” (Hyperdub)
  9. Gus Gus, “Moss (feat. Daniel Ágúst)” (Pineapple Records)
  10. Phoenix, “Love like a Sunset (part 1)” (V2)
  11. Moon Unit, “Connections (Ewan Pearson slow NRG mix)” (Supersoul Recordings)
  12. Lars Bartkuhn, “Goodbye Dancing, Hello God (Arto Mwambé remix)” (Sonar Kollektiv)
  13. Joan Baez, “Silver Dagger” (Vanguard)
  14. Boards of Canada, “Whitewater” (Music70)
  15. Santiago Salazar, “Arcade (Stefan Goldmann remix)” (Macro)
  16. Richard Youngs, “A Storm of Light Ignites My Heart” (Sonic Oyster)
  17. Robert Wyatt, “P.L.A.” (Rough Trade)

off to california mix

  1. Yo La Tengo, “Sea Urchins” (Egon Records)
  2. Burial & Four Tet, “Wolf Cub” (Text Records)
  3. Efdemin, “Acid Bells (Martyn dark remix)” (Métisse)
  4. Stefan Goldmann, “Art of Sorrow” (Victoriaville)
  5. Mick Rubin, “Mauna Loa” (Musik Gewinnt Freunde)
  6. Cortney Tidwell, “Watusii” (Ever Records)
  7. Delphic, “Counterpoint” (R & S Records)
  8. Ada, “Fizzmann (Dee Pulse remix)” (Kompakt)
  9. Moderat, “Rusty Nails” (BPitch Control)
  10. Donnacha Costello, “Closing Circles” (Look Long)
  11. Tarwater, “Death and the Maiden” (Morr Music)
  12. Saint Etienne, “Manhattan” (Lakeshore Records)
  13. Robert Lippok, “Close” (Raster-Noton)

short late april mix

  1. UNKLE, “Trouble In Paradise (variation on a theme) (Carl Craig C2 remix)” (Surrender All)
  2. The Horrors, “Sea Within A Sea” (XL Recordings)
  3. Junior Boys, “Hazel (Ewan Pearson’s house mix)” (Domino)
  4. Nick Höppner, “Makeover” (Ostgut Tonträger)
  5. Tarwater, “Zimmermann” (Kitty-Yo)
  6. Kate Bush, “How to Be Invisible” (EMI)
  7. (excerpt from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr)
  8. UNKLE, “Hold My Hand (Innervisions Orchestra dub mix)” (Surrender All)
  9. Tony Lionni, “Sundance” (Mule Musiq)
  10. Golden Palominos, “These Days” (Restless Records)

early april, night, delays

  1. Tarwater, “Perfect Shadow” (Kitty-Yo)
  2. Telefon Tel Aviv, “Immolate Yourself” (BPitch Control)
  3. NSI., “12” (Sähkö)
  4. Kraftwerk, “Radioactivity” (Capitol Records)
  5. Static, “Headphones” (City Centre Offices)
  6. Stimming, “The Loneliness” (Diynamic Music)
  7. Zombi, “Sapphire (Escort remix)” (Throne of Blood)
  8. Pet Shop Boys, “More than a dream” (Parlophone)
  9. Gustavo Cerati, “Paracaídas” (BMG International)
  10. Christian Naujoks, “Off the Rose” (Dial)
  11. Alva Noto, “Haliod Xerrox Copy 1” (Raster-Noton)
  12. Phillip Sollmann, “Pyramid Drift” (Dial)
  13. Ulf Lohmann, “Because 4” (Kompakt)

early march swerving

  1. The Honeymoon Killers, “Ariane” (Crammed Discs)
  2. Röyksopp, “Happy Up Here” (Wall Of Sound)
  3. The Fall, “Hit The North (part 4)” (Beggars Banquet)
  4. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, “Stay Alive” (Slumberland)
  5. Asha Bhosle, “Piya Tu Ab To Aaja” (Nascente)
  6. Ben Klock, “Coney Island” (Ostgut Tonträger)
  7. Tony Allen, “Ole (a remix by Moritz von Oswald)” (Honest Jon’s Records)
  8. Boards of Canada, “Whitewater” (Music70)
  9. Nite Jewel, “Universal Mind” (Gloriette Records)
  10. Seventeen Evergreen, “Music Is the Wine (Joakim remix)” (Lucky Number)
  11. Yagya, “Rigning Fimm” (Sending Orbs)
  12. Heiko Voss, “I Think about You (Adolf Noise remix)” (Kompakt Pop)
  13. Coldcut, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes (feat. Robert Owens) (Henrik Schwarz remix)” (Ninja Tune)
  14. Lawrence, “Sunrise” (Mule Electronic)

blankets

  1. Mr. White, “You Don’t Answer (when I call)” (Black Market International)
  2. John Tejada, “The End of It All” (Palette Recordings)
  3. Christian Löffler, “A Hundred Lights” (Orphanear)
  4. Barbara Morgenstern, “Temptation” (Fractured Recordings)
  5. Georges Delerue & Jean-Luc Godard, excerpt from Le Mépris
  6. Businessman, “Dubby Games” (Balearic Biscuits)
  7. Röyksopp, “49 Percent (feat. Chelonis R. Jones) (Ewan Pearson glass half full mix)” (Wall Of Sound)
  8. Bis, “The European” (Chemikal Underground)
  9. Medio Mutante, “Another Land” (Cititrax)
  10. Gudrun Gut, “Move Me (Burger/Voigt mix)” (Monika)
  11. Ellen Allien, “Your Body Is My Body (Kiki’s body trip remix)” (BPitch Control)
  12. Round Two, “New Day (club vocal mix feat. Andy Caine)” (Main Street Records)
  13. Dot Allison, “Message personnel (Arab Strap remix)” (Heavenly)