Tag Archives: nattymari

Recommended: Ron Hardly – The House Sound of Chicago

If this man ever stops cranking out music, I’ll have to assume that he’s either
a.) dead
b.) lost several limbs
c.) dead of blood loss related to removal of several limbs
d.) nearing triple-digits in age and taking a well-deserved sabbatical.

Introducing Ron Hardly, whom several of you already know as Nattymari. Paying homage both in name and in primal, hammering house track(s) to Chicago house DJ, Ron Hardy, The House Sound of Chicago is 5 tracks(x) worth of old fashioned, bare bones, strobelit, straight-up house.

Briefly, Ron Hardy was one the founding fathers of house music, taking over The Warehouse after Frankie Knuckles left in 1982(!). (Just to give you some idea how far back house goes… Back far enough that Hardy made his own reel-to-reel edits and then, you know, played them back on a reel-to-reel as part of the mix. He also was one of the first DJs to seriously fuck with the EQs when DJing, bottoming out the bass to drown the high end or dropping the low end to ride the treble. And he devised his own method of playing records backwards, which involved rotating the needle upside down and dropping the wax on a cylinder that allowed the record to rest on the needle. So, shove that in yer noise-hole, everybody who’s ever said “DJs just play other peoples’ records. I don’t see what the big deal is.”)

To set the scene for Ron HardLy’s work, here’s the original Ron Hardly behind the decks (including the inverted one) and reel-to-reel working his magic. (The reversal happens at the 3:20 mark).


And here’s one more, which leads off with the mechanized, minimal banging that we’ll see tribute being paid to below:


Back to Ron “Nattymari/CurtCrackrach/NetNanny4.0/theaGitator/toomanytolist” Hardly.

The title says it all. Hardly gives off the same sweat-pouring-down-the-walls vibe that Hardy exuded during his sets, relying on a mixture of deep, soulful house and brutal, simplistic beats, the latter of which is sometimes dismissed by critics as “track-y.” As in, more a “DJ tool” than an actual “song.”

The pioneers of house, however, had their hands full producing even simplistic, “track-y” shit. Early drum machines were anything but precise, requiring the operator’s full attention to crank out anything resembling an unwavering 4/4 beat. Cobbling together a rudimentary drum track often meant several hours of dicking with presets and hoping nothing would wobble out of alignment.

Case in point: DJ Sneak’s anecdote about the genesis of his classic house track You Can’t Hide from Your Bud:

“One day in 1997, Sneak promised his friend and fellow Chicago DJ Derrick Carter a new 12-inch for Carter’s label Classic, then spent hours fruitlessly laboring over a basic, bustling four-four beat. Finally, Sneak gave in and smoked the J he’d had stashed for later in the day. When he came back inside, he carelessly dropped the needle onto a Teddy Pendergrass LP, heard the word “Well . . . ,” and realized, “That’s the sample, right there.” He threaded Pendergrass’s 20-year-old disco hit “You Can’t Hide From Yourself” through a low-pass filter to give it the effect of going in and out of aural focus, creating one of the definitive Chicago house singles. “An hour later,” he says, “I called Derrick and played it over the phone: ‘I’ve got your track.'”

Nattymari/Ron Hardly has never been shy about his preference for music to work out “wrong,” so despite today’s handy toolboxes and their metronome-like precision, he’s paying homage to the “basic, bustling four-four beats,” the track-y result of dozens of man-hours.  And track-y or not, it makes the house move:


While the whole EP is worth a listen, the standouts are tracks 2-4, each one of them a simultaneous throwdown/throwback, enjoyable on their own terms, but even more so with a little history behind them. For an artist best know for destruction and distension of other peoples’ beats, it’s a bit of a blast to hear him deploy something at full speed.

Check out the full EP at Aural Sects. While you’re there, admire the fully stocked digital shelves and pick up something for the kids. (I recommend the Thoed Myndez, the Nattymari:Obliterated and the Aparition. This is not to disparage the other artists on the roster, but for every album I listen to on the back nine, another release [or two] has been uploaded to take its place. [OK, here’s a couple more: DJ Deathray and the mammoth, 61-track Icepunk compilation.]

/s/CLT

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Recommended: The Cult of Mr. Light – For a New Conception of Time

I was given a copy of this album a few hours before its release by Revolving Door Records label head ƸC†OPL∆SM. It seems odd to say “given” considering the album is freely available at Bandcamp, with the emphasis on FREEly, but nonetheless I was given a few hours’ head start with the tunes. Of course, life being life, I was unable to take advantage of the advance copy, but here’s where I pay back that favor, but not before I head off on a bit of tangent.

There are a lot of netlabels and a lot of artists on those netlabels, all of whom seem to be generating hundreds of hours of music per year. At this point, my Facebook feed resembles a firehose of multicolored, symbol-laden, provocatively dressed avatars, each cranking out link after link to their stuff, their labelmates’ stuff, the stuff they listen to when not making music, the stuff they’re intending to remix/rap on/obliterate, etc. Just between ƸC†OPL∆SM (Sam Hatzaras), Nattymari (Dafydd McKaharay), Joe Royster ( Co-founder – Aural Sects netlabel; spf5Ø), Mike TXTBK, Matt Supa Solley (Sortahuman), Party Trash, Mikey Shad-do (Baku Shad-do netlabel) and the Amdiscs label, there’s more music being foisted upon the public than any one human being could reasonably be expected to listen to.

You know that old complaint about how piracy has taken away the incentive to create because nobody can make money with music anymore? Well, that’s obviously complete bullshit. This may mean those who were used to getting paid (back in the day) have lost the will, but sweet goddamn christ, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anyone who’s been creating without the expectation of getting paid. If anything, this whole internet thing has turned them into some sort of compulsive creators and we, the people on the receiving end, are the beneficiaries of a leveled playing field, even if that means that we’ll constantly be swimming upstream against a torrent (or with torrents – piracy joke lol) of incoming music, knowing we’ll always be at least a foot under metaphoric water.

Go, just go and click this link for an example of what I’m talking about. This is the Aural Sects netlabel. Click on that link. I’m not even asking. DO IT. Click and gaze in wonderment at the almost-literal wall of album covers. Each of those represents, at the very least, two tracks to listen to. Many of those are full albums. Some are the internet equivalent of double albums. By the time you’ve finished gazing at that and reading this sentence, Royster and his conspirators will likely have uploaded another 15-track compilation and a couple of EPs and is, even as we “speak,” dumping the links into my Facebook firehose. (Abbreviated hereafter in this set of parentheses only as “FaceHose” for maximum comic effect.)

I wish all these guys (and girls) the best. Holy shit. They’re amazing. The counterargument (often delivered by the same people that think no one will create without incentives) is that if it’s for free and there’s that much of it, it must be about 90% shit. It’s a terrible argument, based more on leftover physical label elitism than on any, you know, research. Not only that, but this “counterargument” fails to take into account a little thing called “subjectivity.” One person’s 90% shit is another person’s 90% gold. Even if it is 90% shit (and it definitely isn’t), at the prices they’re charging, you can afford to bin 9 out 10 songs. You’re not going to be out of much, if anything, other than time.

That’s where I hit the wall: time. There’s no way to keep up with it all. I’ve downloaded several albums, dumped them into the mp3 player and am now making my way through them at my own pace, which is roughly 1/100th of the speed that it’s being generated. There’s some amazing stuff, some merely good stuff, a lot of average stuff and a few absolute clunkers. But all that statement means is that it’s exactly like any other genre distributed in any other fashion. Just because there’s no limited edition vinyl and radio airplay and etc. does not mean the quality of the music is any more or any less than anything else out there. The ratio of bad-to-good is no different with these netlabels as it is with other, more “acceptable” labes, whether it’s Fat Possum or Sub Pop or 4AD or Sony.

So, you have this constant onslaught of NEW STUFF.  And if you’re going to deal with it, you going to need some filters. I’m one. Other blogs are. I’m a clogged filter though, time having filled most of the holes with two jobs, a house and a family to take care of. Consequently, there’s a backlog of dozens (quite possibly hundreds) of songs I want to write about and even more albums that I’d like to review, all trapped in my filter, unable to make it further in my position as your filter. If I could limit myself to 30 words and a something-out-of-5 rating system, I might be making some progress. But when I like something, I want people to know why I like it. And if that’s not enough, I want people to understand the how of why I like it, if that makes sense, which takes even more time, because there will be pictures and links and digressions and inside jokes.

This is how I do it. “Be a music writer. It’ll be easy. You like music, right? The shit practically writes itself and there’s plenty of music out there. Easy. LOLOLOLOL. [Laughter trails off leaving only an uncomfortably manic gleam in my eye as it watches my FB wall fill up YET AGAIN.]”

But, getting back to the recommended album at hand. I was specifically given this to listen to. I had some time free up and I listened. And I was blown away.

I’m not sure why I expected less. Maybe it’s the numbing effect of running into a scrolling wall of creative effort every time I log into the Feeb. Maybe it’s the fact that between Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Youtube, these artists I’m in contact with are adding to their CVs pretty much around the clock and while they’re keeping the hose going, I can only dip in periodically and hope to come up with a winner. Maybe it’s the feeling that, while I expected it to be a good listen based on the pedigree (thus making it full of Things I Like), I didn’t expect it to be as great as it is.

Keep in mind: without Hatzaras singling me out, it would have been caught up in the firehose/loop that I’m praising/complaining about at great length. It would have scrolled by and fallen off the radar, ending up far away from my ears. Which would have been a real shame, because it’s a solid, inventive album that goes far beyond the scene that surrounds it.

The Cult of Mr. Light (Alexein P Oris and Phelyx Lambert) have crafted a stellar album and you don’t have to be tuned in to witch house, drag, icepunk, seapunk, juke, or any of a million other microgenres (each one full of unstoppable creative bastards, all attaching their own feed lines to my INCOMING FB scroll) to enjoy it. You just have to like music.

It’s essentially genre-less. Electronica, except with huge doses of acoustic guitar. Ambient, except with moments of tense propulsion. Industrial, except more prone to borrow from Italo-horror soundtracks and late-70s sci-fi-obsessed disco. It’s hardly everything to all people but it is definitely not for genre divisionists or electronica acolytes only.

Firing it up, I was hit with the first of many unexpectations: acoustic guitar. The reptilian brain recoils slightly, wondering a bit about whether this album might just be someone’s pretensions masquerading as music. (The “reptilian brain” is borrowed from someone, but I can’t remember who. P.J. O’Rourke? David Foster Wallace? Help me out here. [Use the comment thread.]) “I didn’t sign on for THIS.” I tuned down my internal dialogue and went browsing elsewhere as the track unfolded pleasantly before veering down a very dark alleyway in which lurked David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, waiting to beat me up for my drug money and abuse me with violent sexual imagery. The reptile brain subsides.

And then thrills. Track 2, Phone Calls from God is straight up electronics, a 2-1/2 minute ominous set of oscillations, leading into another surprise left turn with Space Fanfare (see above), which finds the complementary tones of Italo-horror soundtracks and retro-futuristic space disco (Goblin vs. Gianni Rossi, basically).

Many, many more highlights follow. Neon Island is the sound of a waking dream. And not a good one. Hallucinogenic and eerie without having to resort to the cliché of doom-laden chords from the “heavy” end of the keyboard. Tribute to Glauber Rocha brings back the acoustic guitar, resulting in something almost pretty enough to play in mixed company, but still spiked with surface tension. Assassins is Middle Eastern pop falling apart on a faulty reel-to-reel, menaced by various electronic devices.

Then there’s Interzone, which really deserves a post of its own. Electronica-space-rock that scorches the earth while heading for the stars, sounding like Hawkwind with a headful of steam and a welcome sense of focus. Without resorting to a guitar-heavy sound, The Cult of Mr. Light manage to erect something that could very possibly kick out the jams, motherfuckers, if given a little shove. Or less profanely, the ultra-tight retrolectro sound of Giorgio Moroder producing Palermo Disko Machine under the influence of a fistful of amphetamines. I’ve played this one repeatedly and respectfully suggest you do the same.

The final track is an extended coda, surpassing the 10-minute mark without requiring you to a.) zone out or b.) muscle through it. There’s an underlying theme that never goes away, but does get fucked about with in a rather amiable fashion. It unwinds and recoils reflexively, circling itself and unveiling new twists every few minutes.

In summation: a fucking brilliant album and one that makes me wonder just how much other truly great shit I’m missing by being unable to keep up with my FB feed. Probably lots, if I’m honest. Which is my loss, and consequently, yours as well. But I’m trying. To everyone I pointed out way, way back in the introductory paragraphs, I’ll get to you. Really, I will. It may not be timely, but it will be… eventual… I guess. Go and download For A New Conception of Time. You won’t regret it.

/s/CLT

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The Best of 2K11: THOED MYNDEZ – THOED MYNDEZ

Witch house/drag was never meant to be discovered, much less go mainstream. Artists associated with the scene shrouded their faces (often literally) and chose unicode-laden, google-breaking names in an effort to keep this underground from becoming the next dubstep, or whatever.

But scenes, as scenes often do, fall apart, often as much from internal pressure as much as from unwanted outside examination. The witch house label, more of an in-joke than an actual genre, is being left behind and many of the relentlessly productive artists are continuing to push forward, leaving the scene for the tail end of the bandwagon. Even the catch-all term “drag” fails to pin down anything more than a penchant for pitch shifting, leaving many of these artists free to make their own rules and craft their own genres.

THOED MYNDEZ features two artists who have orbited the witch house/drag explosion (and resulting implosion), often overlapping small areas of the scene’s imaginary Venn diagram without ever seeming to fit the construct enough to wear the label comfortably. THOED MYNDEZ is Nattymari, a dub and DJ Screw acolyte whose Youtube channel currently hosts over 200 of his tracks/videos, and Party Trash, another productive-as-hell artist who has released 9 albums and EPs in little over a year, in addition to several collaborative projects.

This witch-house-but-not tag-team cranks out an inordinate amount of oppressive noise. Sure, there’s some touches that bring the witch into the backyard, if not into the house proper at times and, yes, the love for DJ Screw shifts the vocal samples into sizzurp territory now and then, but the overall EP bears more resemblance to early industrial tape experiments and the faulty analogue equipment of hundreds of electronic forefathers.

There’s also brief glimpses of buried beauty scattered among the sonic wreckage. The title track opens with a few cracks of tonal daylight before the darkness sets in, sounding for all the world like a Last Rights bonus track, right down to the metric tonnage of doom-laden chords and interspersed aural damagers.

DAILY ROUTINE also features some brighter keyboard work, but with an underlying bad vibe, giving it the feel of a John Carpenter soundtrack cut, the sort of intermediate piece that supports the scenes between the horror. There’s nothing particularly comforting about the fact that NO ONE IS DYING RIGHT THIS MINUTE because odds are, it won’t be long ’til it happens again. And again. And again.

[Not included on the album, but well worth a watch/listen.]

But for the most part, THOED MYNDEZ is a batch of brown acid. Dangerous shards of noise rain down on a bed of distorted drums and pulverizing sub-bass, occasionally punctuated by punch-drunk, pitch-shifted vocal samples. It’s disorienting and uninviting, but in the best “no one gives a shit about yer precious genres and self-imposed limitations” sort of way.

Download full EP here.

/s/CLT

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Statement of Intent v.1

The best version isn’t always the original version.

[Alternately: YOUR MUSIC HAS BEEN BROKEN. YOU CAN HAVE IT BACK NOW.]

/s/CLT

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