Dreams of Saturday Night: Austin Bascom aka. Ax:us and Aba-cus

I am officially an old fart now! When I recently became aware that a deep-house revival was about to take off, my initial reaction was "What Revival? It just happened!" This "just happened" was of course ten years ago. Time to admit that I had locked my ass on the deep-house groove and that I pulled a "Patsy & Edina" ("Get your clothes from the dry-cleaner and it´s a `Revival`") in my ignorance to the passing of time.

By the end of the nineties quality deep-house productions became quite rare. Flagship labels like Guidance, Paper, Prescription and Naked closed shop or became increasingly irrelevant. Electroclash upped the tempo, the ante and -admittedly- the party. I was always more interested in minimal, which in its best moments was a continuation of the sound that I loved.

And now, with the rising demand for new deep-house output, some of the original producers are back with stunning new material (not that the stuff from ten years ago would sound in any way dated!).

Austin Bascom, a Canadian living in London, released some great stuff as Aba-cus and Ax:us on the creme-de-la-creme deep house labels.

He just did a remix for Canadian Jazz-Funk outfit King Sunshine. His "Abacus Rethink Dub" of their "Love your brother" is one of the finest, classic deep-house excursions I have heard in a long time. Perfect and timeless.

Listen on a good soundsystem:
Love Your Brother (Abacus Rethink Dub)

Enjoy classic "My Planet Rocks" by Ax:us. This mid-nineties track oozes with layers and layers of pristine synthesizer-brilliance:
My Planet Rocks

End (or begin) your journey with this blissed out remix of Chaser´s "Blue Planet"
Blue Planet (Abacus Remix)

Austin Bascom has relaunched his Re:Think Recordings label and with his "Love your Brother"-Remix he has set the bar incredibly high. Good times for old farts and many more dreams of saturday night...

The kitchen floor

Somehow I had these two songs in my head today which both had its protagonists lying and/or crying on the kitchen floor.

One is the prophetic You know I´m no good by Amy Winehouse. Her kitchen drama, which is also depicted as the closing scene of the video states:
"There´ll be none of him no more
I cry for you on the kitchen floor."
Shortly after we see her cowering with her back against the sink and later curling up in fetal position with a drink as her only friend. And all this on the kitchen floor.

The other, heartbreaking kitchen-floor moment that somehow sneaked into my mind is the climax of "Heart" by Stars. This very Prefab-Sprout-like popdrama has its self-delusional singer reclining with the words:

"You get back on the latest flight to paradise.
I found out from a note taped to the door.
I think I saw your airplane in the sky tonight
through my window lying on the kitchen floor."

I am pretty sure there are many more referrences to the mundane use of kitchen floors (and kitchens in itself) in pop-history. After all it seems that, besides finding moldy pieces of potato peels in unreachable places, the kitchen-floor is Pop-Esperanto for self-pity, inward reflection and heartache combined with early states of delirium tremens.

Photo "Untitled (lying on kitchen floor)", 1976 by Laurie Simmons


Wasted Sheet Music: Dot Matrix Printers as Musicmachines

I loved my dot-matrix-printer!
My parents hated it.
It´s piercing, scratching noises, and complex rhythms sounded as exotic as any Lex Baxter record and would wreck the nerves of those who could not hear it´s amazing capabilities.

This must be one of the reasons why the demise of this one-time futuristic, clunky piece of office-machinery is only lamented by very few people.

I had to smile when I recently (two years ago) was entertained by a lonely Epson dm-printer in the business center of a 5-Star Hotel in Bangkok. These things refuse to die!

Once seen as a quantum leap from the type-machine, today these huge boxes look like dinosaurs who simply were too slow and bulky to adapt to laser-printers and ink-jets.

The fact that they are practically free because they are considered as junk today makes it easier for Australian artist Sue Harding, who creates amazing concertos for up to four Dot-Matrix printers.

The concept is just brilliant! The harsh and complex sounds of the machines are so far away from the overly sound-designed products of today.

Harding conducts the printers by creating patterns, forms and senselss code on four amiga computers. Experimenting with different shades of gray she learnes how to "control" the pitch, tempo and interaction of the singing needles.

The source material, or "painting" is only secondary. The music that is created is an analog waste-product of a digital picture.

It would be interesting to find out how the sound would be affected, if the print-outs would be scanned and "re-played". Would we hear the equivalent of "tape-hiss"? Will the printers be sloppy or would we hear signs of spontaneous interpretations? How will a concert for four Epson printers differ from a selection of Panasonics?

I hope that Sue Harding will find enough old printers to answer all these questions.

Dot Matrix Music (Sue Harding)

Ukrainian artist Younnat has a less purist approach to the matrix printer. He uses it´s rhythms and mechanical twitches as a background for his ambient compositions.

Younnat: Dot Matrix Printer Etude

The real surprise is -of course- the way in which people present their old printers in small Youtube clips.
Another day, another strange obsession...


American Generation

Inspite of this:

There is still this:


I wish driving a car could always look like a back-projection.

We like to watch. We like being watched.

Photo by andi808


Jump La Jetee

Mark Romanek is the director of this 15 year-old promo for David Bowie´s "Jump they say".
It´s by far my favourite of all of his works. His heavy referrences to Ballard and "La Jetee" might have something to do with it.

I think in hindsight Romanek is one of the most influential image creators of the nineties. His style set the template for the naughties and some of his work (like this Bowie video) is only dated by the lack of big-budget-videos of today.

Romanek was always selling big products or big pop-stars. His ultra-polished, stark and futuristic images were often counterbalanced by ultra-polished, new-age (Madonna "Bedtime Stories"), horror (Nine Inch Nails) and grunge deluxe visuals (era-defining Lenny Kravitz´s "Are you gonna go my way")

Maybe it was "Scream", alledgedly the "most expensive" video of all time, or the anti-sceptic afro-retro of "Got ´til it´s gone" which finally brought him to the big screen with the strange "One hour photo".

He has since found it necessary to shoot a very un-inspired promo for Coldplay and he is in pre-production for another movie, while busy doing commercials like the spectacular "Acura" and the simplistic but effective "Apple"-spots.

Full clips of his work (music and commercials) can be seen on


In Transit

Some days of silence until I have moved myself to the "summer residence".
Flying tomorrow morning. The first days are usually very wild and I might not find time to post anything.
If anybody wants to visit me: For the next few weeks my office will be right next to Calaway Park.


Streets of My Town

Listen to the Streets of your Town!

Photos and Graphics by Koichiro Sogai

Living Up That Hill

The "Tolo House" is a holiday home with three bedrooms, a social bathroom, a living room, a dinning room, a small kitchen with a support washbasin, pantry, and even a small outdoor swimming pool.

Built by Alvaro Leite Siza in Lugar das Carvalhinhas, Portugal on a sharply inclined hill, this house, with its many cubic concrete blocks, looks more like a wet dream for stair-enthusiasts than a relaxing holiday home.

I love the bold blockiness and the very cool angles of the whole thing. The multiple terraces are great and the entrance is fantastic.

But I also sense a slightly bleak and oppressive atmosphere. This has nothing to do with the harsh look of the enforced concrete, though. It´s more the relatively small rooms and the half-buried character of the ascending blocks.

There is 180 m2 of living space and inhabitants of the Tolo house will certainly be recognized by their over-sized thighs.

Typical German Lunch



I just found YouTomb, a research project site that scans YouTube for videos that were taken down for alledged copyright violations or other reasons.

The FAQ explains more about their goal and the automated scan-process that YouTube utilizes to find copyright violating content.

For a moment I thought the site would actually show these videos, but they actually file them for different criteria to find out how the YouTube algorithm works.

Strangely enough the front page featured several foreign soccer-games (those fuckers are everywhere), some wrestling and on page two I found a "Little Rascals"-clip next to a bunch or arabic stuff.

Very interesting site! I am going to invest some time into it.

EDIT: Just saw that they re-moved a scene from Pink-Flamingos, entitled "Babs Johnson gets a special birthday gift" for "violation of terms"! It was online for nearly a year. Everybody who knows that scene will surely agree that it mild compared to the final scene, which was still viewable, the last time I checked.
Shock never gets old, doesn´t it?!

Making Magic

Published caption: Architect Randall Duell, sits before tractors carving Magic Mountains from contours of Valley of Valencia. Amusement park opens in spring.

Original title: Panoramic view of construction of Magic Mountain's Colossus roller coaster, Calif., 1978

Original title: PeopleMover tram entering Tomorrowland at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., 1967

Published caption: TIME FOR REFRESHMENTS-Prime Minister Nehru and his daughter, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, pause during whirlwind tour of Disneyland to sip some fruit juice. 1961

Title: Tower of the Four Winds mobile, created by Walt Disney for Pepsi Cola, sitting in yard of it's builder, Kelite Corporation, Calif., 1964

Published caption: SPACE GREETINGS-A spaceman and spacegirl get a smile and handshake from Vice-President Nixon as he tours the ultra-modern attractions on display. 1959

Title: Wayne King, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Bill Elliot at Big Band Festival at Disneyland (Calif.), 1964

All photos captions and titles: "The Los Angeles Times", published under creative commons licence by UCLA Library.
For larger view: Click pic!

Softcore Spirography

I don´t know how they did it, but my spiro-paper would always wear thin from the ink and the scratching pen. Of course I would also use multiple colours.
The Spirograph is still inspiring people to this day. I especially liked this idea.


From The Flagstones

At times I´ve seen you from the oriole

At times I´ve seen you from the balustrade

At times I´ve seen you from the flagstones.

It´s hard to find good live cuts from the Cocteau Twins. I remember seeing them opening for O.M.D. in 83 and it was a catastrophy.

When I heard "Head over Heels", their second and sound-defining album for the first time, I could hardly believe that this was the same band.
Their sound that seemed to explode with light from the inside caused many critics to fling bucketloads of hate upon them.
Germany´s most important music magazine at the time despised them with a passion, while less informed papers labeled them as a goth-band and Siouxsie-clones. Nothing could be further away from the truth.

Here they perform "From the Flagstones" at the Tube. Great minimal performance with a tape-machine, enigmatic guitar playing and Liz Fraser giving her Joe-Cocker-trapped-in-a-dove-performance.
Of course its close to impossible to recreate the glistening ultra-sound they created on their records, and if you have never heard them you will probably miss the purpose of this clip. Instead you can giggle at the mosh-pitters who do their thing to a slow 3/4 waltz!

When the Cocteaus disappeared from 4AD they also disappeared out of my life.
I only learned much later that they had to live through very troubling times between "Heaven or Las Vegas" and their american success of "Four Calendar Cafe".

Who would have thought that their stories would involve drug-addictions, hanging out with UZI owners in Harlem and child abuse. Was the spectacular, glistening sound and incredible vocalisation the effect of pure sublimination?

I can only recommend David Stubbs´great, honest and insightful article about the Cocteau Twins which was published in Uncut-Magazine.


The Mouth of Madness: Kinski Jesus Christ Saviour

If you´re a German actor with an ambition to become notorious outside your homecountry, it helps to be (or act) blond, very evil and very, very mad. In short: It helps if you are Klaus Kinski.

The opening sequence of Werner Herzog´s obscene but funny "Mein liebster Feind/My best fiend" shows Kinski on stage in one of his most legendary and disastrous performances. Nicknamed "The Jesus Show", it was Kinski´s most ambitious project.

He planned to do a world tour with him telling the story of Jesus Christ according to Klaus Kinski. The brilliantly and fiendishly titled "Kinski Jesus Christus Erlöser" imploded in an explosion of rage and ended right there during the first perfomance.

In leaving out any punctuation the German title is a twisted moebius-strip of meanings. "Kinski Jesus Christ Saviour", who is who and who is saving whom?

A few weeks ago "Jesus Christus Erlöser" had its debut at the Berlinale and is now released theatrically. The film is a documentary by Peter Geyer, who painstakingly assembled most of the existing footage of this particular evening in 1971.

Kinski had rented the "Deutschlandhalle", a huge stadium/arena to do his one man performance. Dressed in blue, lit by a white spot on a gigantic empty stage, he tried to tell his story of Jesus Christ, the revolutionary. Not the Jesus of organised religion. He only came so far before hecklers in the audience started to piss him off. And he was very easy to piss of!

It´s here where the film gets really interesting as it shows a passionate, temperamental artist who has worked hard to gain a reputation of being a raging lunatic.

The hippie audience, oblivious to anything but their worldview, obviously paid to see the mad Kinski they saw in the talksshows (keep in mind that this was before the Herzog films). So they continued to interrupt him and wanted to "discuss" with Kinski even before his performance had actually started! Audience participation at its worst!

They evoked the madman and he delivered in spades! Here is an edited clip, which is actually the opening of "My best fiend". I decided to use it because it is subtitled.

"Jesus Christus Erlöser" is 84 minutes of time travel into a world that doesn´t exist anymore. For starters we don´t have any personalities like Kinski and any actor who would rent a large auditorium to tell his Jesus story would probably make millions as a TV-evangelist. Oh, and nobody had photo-mobiles back then.

This is actually the first docmentary about Kinski that makes you feel for him!
Let´s face it: Herzog´s "My best fiend" is a freak-show! It´s a cowardly, post-mortem exploitation of the Kinski cliche. It answers more un-asked questions about the director than his subject. Of course it´s hilarious and entertaining, but at the same time it is hardly more than pure spectacle.

In Beyer´s film we get to see a man with a vision who is misguided by his ego and unable to switch off his act. (Why did he play before thousands of people when he only wanted to speak to a few?)

It is also a very telling document of the interaction between audience and performer. The generation of ´68 who tries to come to terms with the fascism of their parents, rears its ugly head when it tries to shout down something they don´t care to understand. Instead they want to see the clown dance, because they paid for it.
And outside, around this time, the RAF (Red Army Fraction) released their manifesto "Das Konzept Stadtguerilla" ("The Cityguerilla Concept"). A call to arms for both sides...


Re-Edit it in Broken English

"Broken English", the groundbreaking comeback album by broken voiced Marianne Faithfull would probably still cause some fuzz and scandal if it was released today. In the english speaking world "Why d´ya do it" was quite the upsetter with its obscene lyrics, while the Germans stumbled over the reported subject of the title track: dead terrorist Ulrike Meinhof!

The shock, which would be seen as utterly calculated today, was sugarcoated in the bitter-sweet interpretation of "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan". A hauntigly arpeggiated synhtie motive stutters over an insecure beat and merges with Marianne´s broken voice that sounds almost unreal in its fragility.
Although it sounds like the Kraftwerk robots suffering from severe depression after being subjected to too many Fassbinder films, "Lucy Jordan" became a worldwide hit and the album went platinum.

Later Faithfull would do much less original things, such as singing the umpteenth interpretations of Brecht/Weill songs, working with Jarvis Cocker and playing God in "Ab Fab".

Somehow "Island Records" hat a knack for producing monumental records for female artists which would stand the test of time, despite a mainstream new-wave sound. (See Grace Jones´ "Nightclubbing" two years later).

Actually, one half of "Broken English" is fairly conventional 70s rock with a few synths thrown in. However, the other half delivers a sound that takes on Suicide and anticipates Joy Division with its earth-shattering sequencers, and hollow post-disco grooves.
Her cover of Lennon´s "Working Class Hero" sounds like a top-ten hit straight out of "1984" and "Witches´ Song" is pure folk-tronica.

After 29 years, "Lucy Jordan" has become a standard, but "Broken English" still sounds amazing and fresh with its relentless dub-like bassline. No cover version ever bettered it (Winston Tong came close) and the new (inofficial?) re-edit by Baron von Luxxury can only tighten it up with some razer-sharp edits.

Broken English: Baron von Luxxury slow touch remix

Speaking of re-edits: Somehow this relic of the pre-digital era enjoys a shadow existence next to the remix. Probably still infatuated with old Razormaid-mixes, splice-cuts and self-made pause-button mixes, these re-edits are mainly interested in keeping the basic elements of a song intact. Re-edits are toying around with the full song instead of extracting elements from a multi-track.

La Decima Vittima