Phutureprimitive – from Dub to Dubstep

March 7, 2012

Phutureprimitive (aka DJ Rain) has been a favorite of mine since his debut album “Sub Conscious” came out on Waveform Records in 2004. It features a dark psy-ambient dub style that invites the listener on a journey filled with reverb, echoes, and deep pulsing bass. It could be called electronic dub (as in the dub that comes from reggae), but it would be inaccurate to call it dubstep or even “bass music” (a more generic term for dubstep and similar styles). Compare his tune “Rites Of Passage” on that album with a dub remix of Grace Jones’ more recent offering “Corporate Cannibal”:

Phutureprimitive – Rites Of Passage

Grace Jones – Corporate Cannibal (Ivor Guest Dub)

Aside from differences in the actual bass instrument (electric bass vs. synthesizer), the two tracks have a similar feel in the bass, the drums, and the heavy reverb/delay (echo) on everything else.

Fast forward to 2011, when Phutureprimitive releases his second full-length album, Kinetic. In the seven intervening years, the world of electronic dance music has embraced dubstep and made it popular. DJ Rain has obviously been paying attention. Check out the difference in the way the bass moves and it’s more aggressive “acid” sound, and the “two-step” drum style (both key dubstep ingredients) in Kinetic’s title track, which still features the signature Phutureprimitive psy-ambient landscape:

Phutureprimitive – Kinetic

Phutureprimitive will be opening for Shpongle in Pittsburgh at Mr. Small’s Theatre on Thursday, March 29.

-DJ Firefly

Got It Covered: “Paper Planes” (M.I.A. vs. The Clientele)

February 23, 2012

The best cover songs put a new spin on a song without rendering it entirely unrecognizable. Sometimes they are better than the original, sometimes not — while covering a song invites comparison, why not enjoy both?Here’s a song for you to consider from angles both recognizable and unfamiliar.

Now hold up a minute. I know that to mention M.I.A. — especially on the wide world of the internet — is to provoke an immediate war of opinions  Her music and her public persona (ahem) are polarizing: She’s either avant-garde or an annoyance. However, I propose a compromise in the form of a cover song that replaces M.I.A.’s boldness with an otherworldly vibe.

Those who find M.I.A.’s music to be unpalatable are invited to skip the following video. The rest of you: For purposes of comparison, here is the track “Paper Planes” from her 2007 release Kala. It is highly likely that you have heard it before, as it received heavy airplay in addition to appearing in the film Slumdog Millionaire.  Classic rock fans haunted by a sense of familiarity might also identify the sample from The Clash’s song “Straight to Hell.”

As a part of the A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series, British band The Clientele opted to cover “Paper Planes.”  The ethereal, somewhat breathy music of The Clientele makes this an odd choice, and the diversity of styles produces a truly strange cover song. M.I.A.’s gunshot and cash register sound effects are replaced by tambourine and xylophone hits, while The Clash sample is transformed into a fluttering violin intro.

In this reimagining of “Paper Planes,” what was formerly a gunshot-riddled, hip hop-inflected jam becomes sunny and slightly psychedelic. Whether you love the original or took pleasure in skipping it in the section above, The Clientele’s cover takes it in an unexpected direction. The best part is that instead of forcing you to choose between two like versions of the song, the cover builds upon the original to create an entirely new experience.

Too Evil to Have a Human Name

February 16, 2012

The Black Sabbath reunion has become not much of a reunion due to drummer Bill Ward pulling out because of problems with the contract he was offered. Not sure if I’m going to care about the new album or tour anymore. Can they write new songs and still capture the heavy swing that was so important without their drummer?

This is classic Black Sabbath, which no reunion can capture — especially without Bill Ward on drums:

In Pittsburgh there are some concerts and releases coming up that everyone should support:

A number of album release concerts: Fist Fight in the Parking Lot on February 25 at the 31st Street Pub, Invader on March 10 at the Smiling Moose, and Vulture on March 31 at the 31st Street Pub.

The Pittsburgh band Dream Death, who released a number of demos in the mid ’80s and one full length called Journey into Mystery, are reuniting and playing with epic doom metal band Argus April 21at the 31st Street Pub. Their sound was very Celtic Frost doomy thrash:

On Saturday, February 25 at The Shop in Bloomfield you can check out Winter’s Wake 2012 with a long lineup that starts at 2:30 p.m.:


I’ve been enjoying this track by the band Vitandus and look forward to their new EP Macabre Incarnate which will be released at Winter’s Wake. Listen to “Macabre Incarnate” here.

Until next time…

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