Posts Tagged ‘marsen jules’


March 7, 2012

Hello. I’ve decided to blatantly copy a feature from Pitchfork that I enjoy called 5-10-15-20, in which they ask artists to talk about the music they loved at five year intervals in their lives. So without further ado, off I go into my musical past…


Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is golden. I remember having a synchronized zombie stomp dance with my sister and we would always end up skipping the record player because we jumped around too much. I remember thinking “Billie” was a strange name for a girl, and I spent hours reading the lyrics and staring at the drawing of Paul McCartney and Michael fighting over the girl. I remember being terrified of the “Thriller” video and my Dad would laugh like Vincent Price and scare me more. In short, I was swept up in Michael mania — and it was like it was Halloween all the time, with this album and Ray Parker Jr’s “Ghostbusters” on heavy rotation on the radio as well.

Fave song: “Baby Be Mine

AGE 10

Oh man, the days of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, C & C Music Factory, Tone-Loc, Young MC, Kid N Play, “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, and of course the budding superstar of young Will Smith. I still own “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper” on cassette and consider it a classic in golden age hip hop. The Fresh Prince’s career as a rapper was quickly dwarfed by his hit TV show, but who can argue that “Summertime” still ain’t one hell of a jam? Word.

AGE 15

Wow, a lot sure changed in between the ages of 10 and 15. In those five years I went through an N.W.A. phase, that my parents nipped in the bud by taking away all my rap tapes and buying me a brand new CD player and a bunch of Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull CD’s. I abandoned rap for classic rock and moved from Zeppelin to Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins during the “grunge explosion”. Yet, by the time I was 15 I was starting to search for more “underground” bands. I found Clutch and Monster Magnet and fell in love with their angst and grooves. I would also discover Pavement and Eric’s Trip as well and begin a long love affair with “lo-fi indie rock” too. But, if I have to pick one, it’s got to be “Superjudge” by Monster Magnet. Stoner rock at its finest, Monster Magnet were with me the first time I smoked weed and my head expanded to sounds I never knew existed.

AGE 20

Again, so much music was consumed in this five year span. I was heavily into the post-rock scene via Slint, June of 44, Polvo, Seam, Versus, Trans Am, Gastr Del Sol, The Sea and Cake, and Tortoise. I also started getting into jazz and for some reason had an unhealthy obsession with Jamiroquai for a good two years. What can I say? I love to dance. But “TNT” by Tortoise is the perfect choice for this time period, as it sums up everything that was awesome about post-rock while teetering on the verge of electronica…which is where my musical progression would go in the next 5 years.

AGE 25

It took me a long time to get into electronic music, but when I did it became my entire world. I pretty much stopped listening to anything with guitars. This was an age of discovery for me — from Warp Records “leftfield IDM” stuff to Ninja Tune style breaks ‘n beats to minimal techno to smooth house. It was incredible, how a 4/4 beat could take me anywhere if I just closed my eyes and started dancing. Drugs may have helped the cause and helped my ears hear things in a different way, but once I did it felt odd that I wasn’t able to before. This is a hard one to choose, as I was deeply in love with Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Plastikman, Theorem, Theo Parrish, and Vladislav Delay to name just a few. I also got heavily into dub reggae and fell back into hip hop during these years. Outkast! But I think the album that sums it all up at the age of 25 has gotta be “One Word Extinguisher” by Prefuse 73. Guillermo Scott Herren was like a god to me back then — he seemed so fresh, so versatile, so prolific — he was hip hop, electronica, techno, and pop all at once! And all of his various guises: Savath and Savalas, Delarosa and Asora, and Ahmad Szabo, let alone Prefuse! Yep, that shit was tops. Too bad he was never able to recreate that energy again…

AGE 30

Oh yes, a return to basics. At the time I was still listening to a lot of electronic music, but also a lot of ambient stuff like Marsen Jules, Gas, Loscil, and Donato Wharton. I was also falling in love with some mysterious dude named Burial, and a young kid named Peter Broderick. But it was my man Morrissey and The Smiths who brought it all full circle. A return to rock and roll. And nowadays, I listen to everything, there’s no genre exclusivity. I’m a goddamn sponge. Here’s looking forward to the next five years. That was fun. Peace.

But seriously, how could I not mention TOOL?

Marsen Jules Trio at MUTEK

June 9, 2010

4 June 2010

Ambient neo-classicist hero, Marsen Jules, made his North American debut at this year’s MUTEK festival in Montreal. Accompanied by twin brothers Anwar and Jan Phillip Alam on violin and piano, Jules had the large crowd enraptured as his emotive and glacial soundscapes swirled and pulsed in the airy Monument-National Theatre.

Marsen Jules is my favourite of all composers in the ever expanding genre of modern classical/ambient music. The opening track on Herbstlaub, “Fanes D’Automne” is the most played track on my iTunes, and his music has sailed me off to sweet dreams many a night, as well as, welcomed the dawn with me on many a morn. So you can imagine how stoked I was to finally experience his music in a live setting. And what a performance it was. Choice of venue had a lot to do with it, and the Monument-National was perfect, providing a large theatre space with phenomenal acoustics. The visuals by VJ Nicolai Konstatinovic were an excellent addition to the concert — showcasing abstract imagery in uber-vivid colour, as well as calming footage of hovering birds and a beautiful steady shot of a local swimming hole somewhere in what I imagined to be a small village in rural France.

It was great to see him do his thing live. Using his computer, a mixing tablet, two glasses of water, two drum cymbals, chimes, and the twin brothers on strings and keys, Jules was able to create a stirring live rendition of his work. Overall, his performance was the highlight of the festival for me, and further proof as to why I think he’s one of the best musicians in the genre.

Unfortunately, the rain stopped me from going to see him play at the Picnic Electronik under his dub-oriented krill.minima guise, but still a great time was had. Check out the remastered version of his first album Yara right now.

Pop Ambient 2010 (Kompakt)

February 14, 2010

Kompakt Records kicks off the new year with the tenth installment in its annual Pop Ambient series — a decade of densely layered drones, tones, and sounds, showcasing the best artists making music in modern classical and ambient genres. The compilation is curated each year by label head and music legend, Wolfgang Voigt (aka Gas), and has basically been a staple in my morning and late evening playlists for an entire decade.

The musical discoveries I have made because of this yearly comp are unparalleled — over the years the series has acted as a who’s who in forward thinking electronic compositions that aren’t concerned with beats, bass, or the dancefloor. Artists like Marsen Jules, Klimek, Andrew Thomas, Markus Guentner, Donnacha Costello, Triola, and Thomas Fehlmann have all been mainstays throughout the decade long series, and all artists I respect and adore.

The opening track for the 2010 edition starts with quite possibly the best Marsen Jules track I have ever heard. The aptly titled “The Sound of One Lip Kissing” sweeps from right to left channel and builds around a single dark and reverberating chord that is accompanied by the hesitant tinkle of piano to amazing effect. Brock Van Whey is welcomed into the Pop Ambient family this year and lulls listeners with two beautiful tracks under his bvdub moniker. “Lest You Forget” follows the opening track and offers a sense of air and light, after Marsen Jules’ somewhat ominous beginning. Van Whey also closes the album with the sprawling “Will You Know Where to Find Me”. It features haunting vocals and rich delay that peacefully dissipates as the 17-minute track comes to an end, leaving you calmed and happily brooding.

Kompakt’s own Dettinger, returns with “Therefore”, his first new song in nearly a decade — a smooth and droney track that features a slight hi-hat shuffle buried deep in the mix. Label head, Wolfgang Voigt also shows up with the excellent “Zither und Horn”, which sounds like nothing I’ve heard from him before. It’s a pastoral and string-based track that feels more traditionally “song-like” in its composition, and much different than his work as Gas. Offerings from DJ Koze, The Orb, and Jürgen Paape are equally as strong, and overall, this is another sterling edition to an already fantastic oeuvre of ambient music.

Check out ten years of the smooove stuff. Peace.