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Do what you like: Akira Kosemura

I know 22tracks was started by Vincent Reinders and he can do what he wants to, but I have always had a problem with his relax playlist. Mainly, the name. It sounds so pornographically utilitarian to me. “Relax” is not a musical genre, like “soul” or “rock” is. You might as well call the electro playlist “jump up and down”. Besides, I can perfectly well decide for myself what I’m going to while listening to your playlist, thank you very much. I may not be in the mood for (or have time for!) relaxing, but still want to listen to “Grassland” by Akira Kosemura, you know? In fact, I suggest you do just that, whatever your current (in)activities. The song is #nowplaying on, yes, 22tracks’ relax playlist.

There’s not a lot I can tell you about Kosemura, as both his official website and his MySpace are mostly in Japanese. But “Grassland” is the title track of his fourth solo album, he was born in 1985 and he is from Tokyo. So there’s that. I’d love to give a shout-out to the drummer on “Grassland” but I don’t know who it is. Kosemura is a pianist, but I’m not sure he is an awesome drummer as well.

There’s also this “Grassland” video by Shin Kikushi, which would be relaxing to watch if only someone were to slow it down a bit.


Drunk girls keep swinging: LCD Soundsystem

We love ourselves some LCD Soundsystem here at 22tracks. Last October, for a short while, we inadvertently found ourselves to be the only place on the web to play “Bye Bye Bayou”, LCD’s one-off single for Record Store Day. Traffic went through the roof. I guess the same thing happened yesterday to the American website One Thirty BPM, who premiered the New York band’s brand new single “Drunk Girls”. A day later, the site is still down. The song’s audio went up on YouTube as well, and from there you know 22tracks would not be far behind. “Drunk Girls” is #nowplaying on the pop playlist. And guess what, on the rock playlist we have another LCD track #nowplaying called “Oh You (Christmas Blues)”, which is taken from the Greenberg soundtrack. LCD singer/producer James Murphy has a bunch of solo songs on there, too, one of which – you’ve guessed it! – is also #nowplaying on the pop playlist.

Like I said, we love ourselves some LCD Soundsystem here at 22tracks.

“Drunk Girls” is the first single to be taken from LCD’s still-untitled third album, due for release in the third week of May. It sounds like it’s destined to soundtrack wild parties for months to come, which can only be a good thing. It also sounds like it may have been inspired by these two rock ‘n roll classics. Have a listen and see what you think.

First, The Velvet Underground‘s “White Light/White Heat” from 1967:


Second, from 1979, “Boys Keep Swinging” by David Bowie:


Muthoni’s agenda, no longer hidden

Last Monday saw the launch of 22tracks’ twenty-second playlist, Africa. It’s a co-production with Africa Unsigned, a new web initiative to help finance recording projects from aspiring African artists. Whether you want to invest in the musical future of this dynamic continent or not, there’s some great music to listen out for. One of my favourite tracks #nowplaying on the Africa playlist is “Mikono Kwenye Hewa” by Kenyan singer Muthoni the Drummer Queen. To my ears, its rhythm sounds like beats broken on the surf of the Indian Ocean. “They exchange the names,” she sings, “And they play the games with a poker face / And they make a pact on their undone act.” It’s a tale of sexual politics many people can identify with, regardless of location.

Muthoni, according to her bio on Africa Unsigned, sings in English, Swahili and Kikuyu, Kenya’s three main languages. “Mikono Kwenye Hewa” and “Round Off” (also on the playlist!) are taken from her 2009 album The Human Condition and the title translates as “distractions and hidden agendas”. She is looking to raise $ 10,000, which should be possible, right? Read how it works here.

Convinced yet? Here’s another Muthoni song:


Launched: Africa Unsigned

Yesterday we launched the utterly amazing Africa Unsigned genre. A selection of 22 tracks from up and coming artists hailing from Kenya, Senegal, Mali, Zimbabwe and South Africa were hand picked by a music panel consisting of music experts like Baaba Maal, Tony Allen, and Damon Albarn (Gorillaz, Blur). Together with 22tracks music fans from all over the world are able to listen to this selection of artists in an easy way, pick their favorite(s) and chip in a minimum of $1 dollar for the recording of a professional EP. The EP is distributed to the fans who backed the artist and sold on all major online stores (incl. Amazon & iTunes). All generated net income from music sales is shared equally between the artist and music fans who supported the artist.

The website is a joint initiative by producers, artists, music promoters and managers based in West, East and South Africa, who believe in the future of African music. The website aims to unlock the underexposed source of African music talent to the world. The music panel selected a blend of traditional styles and New African Sounds. Talented African musicians and a global team of passionate music promoters are unleashing the New African Sound.

Listen to the Africa Unsigned genre and help these artists achieve their goal, a professional EP, by clicking on the ‘homepage’ icon to chip in at their profile on Africa Unsigned. Enjoy the music!

If u want Deadboy

Some playlists on 22tracks adhere more strictly to genre boundaries than others. Our techno playlist is pretty freestyle, with old tracks as well as new ones and records ranging from deep-house to disco. But let’s not nitpick. Yes, Deadboy‘s “If U Want Me”, #nowplaying right there, is kind of a UK garage tune. And no, it’s not available in any (download) shop just yet. It’s also pretty great, plaintive techno soul (!) for a new decade. The vocal sample sounds like something straight out of a ten year old 2-step record, with a seriously wonky organ playing against a staccato Nineties house synth melody – on top of a seriously funky bassline.

“If U Want Me” is the second single from London producer Deadboy, who started making records in the mid-Noughties, when he “was getting really into 2 step, and early grime stuff like Jon E Cash, the Wiley eski tunes, El-B and Horsepower and stuff like that, then early dubstep stuff from Digital Mystikz, Slaughter Mob and the like. At the same time,” he told Fact Magazine back in January, “I was listening to a lot of other stuff like Detroit techno, dancehall, dub, r&b, house and trying to incorporate those elements as well. Later on I got into bassline and then the UK funky stuff and chucked that in there as well, but my main love and influence is garage.”

It seems like Deadboy himself isn’t much of a genre purist, either.

The one-sided 12-inch of “If U Want Me” was apparently supposed to come out last week on the new Numbers label (AKA Dress 2 Sweat, Stuffrecords and Wireblock joing forces), with the release thwarted by pressing plant issues according to someone on this web forum. Let’s hope this one gets out there quickly. If u want it right now, however, you know where to go.

Deadboy’s debut single, from last December:


Renkas @NONrecords & Nova @VAgEgASTEN

Something new, something fun. Enjoy 180 minutes of raw unedited footage from the very first 22tracks live webcast we just did (19th of March | 20:00 – 23:00 CET). Tunes served by Renkas from NON Records and Nova from VAgEgASTEN. When and who next time? Nobody (yet) knows… Stay updated via our Facebook Fanpage or Twitter account.

Yelle: party wiz ze Crookers

One of my favourite albums right now is Tons of Friends, the long awaited debut album from Milan duo Crookers. As that title implies, it’s hardly only producers Phra and Bot you’ll hear on the record. They’ve brought – that’s right! – tons of friends to the party, two of whom are English dance producer Switch and French pop singer Yelle. Both show up on “Cooler Couleur”, which is now playing on 22tracks’ pop playlist. To add to the festivities, a Junkie XL remix of the same track is #nowplaying on the electro playlist.

Crookers came to prominence a couple of years ago with a sound heavily indebted to the fidget-house of UK producers like Dave Taylor AKA Switch and Jesse Rose. There’s hardly any of that left on Tons of Friends, a smart mash-up of pop, dubstep, R&B, dancehall and house music. Switch co-produced six of the album’s tracks with his two Italian fans, including “Cooler Couleur”, which has Big Summer Smash written all over it. The reggae skank in the track is an unlikely sample from “Bullets”, 2007 single by English folk pop band Tunng:


Junkie XL‘s remix could’ve easily fitted in 22tracks’ disco playlist. In fact, I’ll probably slip it in there as well with my next update. The Dutch producer has made some impressive inroads into cosmic disco territory lately. His forthcoming Fairlight EP is equal parts ridiculous and sublime, just as it should be. More of that later. For now, enjoy this party wiz ze Crookers.

All of which leaves us Yelle, just in time to brighten your day with this 2008 video for “Je Veux te Voir”:

The biggest disco ball: Hard Ton

If you’re as much into the new disco movement as I am, you may also have noticed something is missing. Something that has been an integral part of disco music since its very start in the early-to-mid Seventies. That’s right: gayness. Where are all the gay people amongst the earnest, beard-stroking straight disco afficionados (yes, people like me) of the 21st century century? Reclaim your dancefloor! One flamboyantly gay disco producer and singer making excellent records right now is Hard Ton. His new single “Flawless” is #nowplaying on 22tracks’ disco playlist and is a record I very much look forward to spinning during Foxes & Wolves, this Thursday at Amsterdam’s Melkweg club.

“I’m the biggest disco ball” sings Hard Ton on “Flawless”. An obvious precursor to the Italian performer is the late American drag queen, singer and actor Divine, who scored an Dutch Top Three single with “Shoot Your Shot” in 1983. This is a performance from the same year, at Manchester’s infamous Haçienda venue:


There’s no video for “Flawless”, but Hard Ton has another single out at the moment, and that one has. Brace youself for “Earthquake”:


Good people: Stephen McGregor

I must assume that DJ WaxFiend is really into the “Bad People” riddim, as four different versions are all #nowplaying at 22tracks’ dancehall playlist, which is updated by the Jamrock selectah. You can see where he is coming from, because “Bad People” is a highly charged production that stresses rhythm without sacrificing melody and even has some commercial potential. I mean, is it really so far-fetched to see someone like, say, Jason Derülo topping the charts with another one of his übercatchy pop-R&B songs laid on top of it? Whether it is or isn’t, it is unlikely anyone would ever top the energy levels that Elephant Man brings to his take on “Bad People”, titled “Run Dem Way”.

The track has been produced by Stephen McGregor, nicknamed “Di Genius” since he’s been churning out hit riddims from age fifteen. He is now twenty years old. The Jamaican musician is a son of reggae legend Freddie McGregor (“Big Ship”, “Push Come to Shove”, “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely”), himself a very precocious singer when he joined vocal group The Clarendonians as a pre-teen in the Sixties! You could say, then, that music runs through the veins of the McGregor family. Stephen’s brother and sister are reggae/dancehall stars Chino and Shema. The fact that all three had early access to their father’s studio facilities (and Big Ship record label) probably helped, too.

McGregor senior on Top of the Pops in 1987:


French DJ Selekta Seabass mixing up eleven different versions of “Bad People” on YouTube:


Who you are: Virgo

Amsterdam record label (and store! remember those?) Rush Hour has been very active in the compilation business lately. After double CD retrospectives on American house and disco producers Rick Wade, Daniel Wang and Anthony “Shake” Shakir, now comes a very welcome reissue of Virgo’s untitled album from 1989. Originally released on the short-lived UK label Radical, Virgo, re-released this week, really is a lost treasure of timeless Chicago house music that will appeal to any fan of true school US house and techno music. “Do You Know Who You Are” is #nowplaying on 22tracks’ techno playlist.

Do you know who Virgo are? There’s reason for being confused, because there were two Chicago house Virgos during the 1980s. The original Virgo consisted of legendary producers Marshall Jefferson, Adonis and Vince Lawrence. When teenagers Merwyn Sanders and Eric Lewis a.k.a. M.E. brought their demo to Trax Records boss Larry Sherman, he thought it would be a good idea to release “Do You Know Who You Are?” under the name Virgo Four, to capitalise on the name of the other Virgo, also signed to Trax. The single was then licensed to Radical, and released as Virgo in Europe. To confuse matters further, a second E.P. was released by Trax under the original name M.E., all four tracks of which turned up on the album. Which was another Virgo release. And only came out in the UK. Confused? I told you you would be.

Eric Lewis is a maths teacher these days, and Merwyn Sanders works as a production designer. They still make music together. Read an extensive 2009 interview with Sanders over at Gridface.

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