MDOC* (elements, US), Dara (breakbeat science, US)
thoughts of pavel murnikov
"It's Dara, Woo Hoo!" excitedly exclaimed one of our Elements acquaintances as we were getting ourselves ready for the night with help of a little vodka. Woo Hoo indeed. What a show, and Dara wasn't the only one to thank.
MDOC did the opening set, and he started with fervor, taking no prisoners, getting the crowd primed for the guest. The crowd piled on slowly, but by 12:30, the place was packed. MDOC did an opener that was more like a feature set, one of his best for sure, no doubt because he didn't have to set expectations low for an unworthy guest, because tonight, we would be entertained by Dara, one of DnB's top producers/DJs.
Dara did not let us down. Laying down a selection of familiar and novel, yet mostly hard tracks, he had the audience frenzied from the very start. And this audience played a large part in making this evening such a success. The crowd was extremely friendly, making eye contact, smiling, making gestures, and interacting with each other. Most age groups were represented from high school kids to dinosaurs like yours truly and eddie. There was a palpable chemistry between Dara and his fans, and this connection electrified the room and amplified the bass and the drums in our hearts and souls.
I really enjoy seeing local and up and coming talent at Elements, but I have to admit that nothing can beat a seasoned DJ/producer such as Dara (or Storm or Perfect Combination) at creating a truly memorable night.
I'm overworked. I'm exhausted. You don't even want to know what my to-do list looks like. I owe this site several
new sections for the grace period on reviews I have had. It's not funny how long it is going to take me to catch up.
You would not want to be me. Well, for many reasons, I suppose.
But nothing could stop me from again coming back to mention J Majik's show. Crook played Influx Datum's 'Take My'
early on, which I found to be a very comptetent opener. His set was a nice precursor to what followed, and his
track selection was much closer aligned to my tastes than MDOC's last set (though, no DJ's taste could be closer to
mine than Lenore's, I gather).
J Majik is not only a very able producer of solid D'n'B tracks, but he is also a fine, fine DJ. Like PC last week,
his style was no-frills, just straight D'n'B mixing goodness. And like PC, his track selection was uncompromising
and unerringly energetic. He even threw a couple of surprises at us, managing to place Capoeira at just the right
place that it could work as a high-energy, low-carb meal for the soul. He also had a really good time, it appeared,
taking crowd input and throwing up his hands with us on the tracks we liked most. I yelled so much I went hoarse.
Of note, WillB was with us as a guest today, and to my delighted surprise, even he felt J Majik's energy and was down
in the pit, moshing with me and pavel. I would say, an excellent time was had by all. Go see J Majik when you can,
and be sure to arrive *early*, because he packs the place quick, and keeps them there all night long.
Despite the complete absence of even a single topless girl, this night easily lived up to its inflated hype and sky reaching expectations. Interested? Read on...
Anticipation of this week's event was running high for several reasons: Firstly, somehow I never managed to get a good sense of Crook's track selection, besides remembering that I liked it, and tonight was our chance to get in early and catch one of his opening sets in its entirety. Secondly, the guest for this night was one of the most respected producers/DJs on the DnB scene, J Magic. Thirdly, we had invited a coworker and friend of ours, Will, to come check out the show with us. Additionally, last week's show rocked so hard, I couldn't walk for two days afterward. It is with such weight on our shoulders that we approached the Phoenix on this cold and rainy Thursday, after having sampled two bottles of red wine, one Italian and one Spanish.
As we cautiously made our way through the door, Crook welcomed us with Influx Datum's "Take My", making us feel right at home. While spending some time showing our guest around the place and introducing him to our Vodka ritual, we missed a part of Crook's set, but as soon as we were ready we got back into attentive mood and proceeded to take notes on his track selection. He played many of our favorites, a few unfamiliar tracks, mostly staying within the boundaries of "darkstep", "futurestep", and "jazzy" DnB subgenres. One track that particularly stuck in my mind "See the Light" by Dom vs. Calyx, where a baritone male voice repeats "See the light. See the light. See the light", creating an eerie, spooky atmosphere. The Phonix was nearly full capacity by the middle of Crook's set, and he was clearly feeding on the audience's energy, making eye contact with people, smiling, and otherwise being a good entertainer. Crook had the fans frenzied by the time J Magic stepped up to the controls, creating a real mosh pit, the likes of which I do not remember ever seeing at the Phoenix.
J Magic impressed me off the bat with how easily he maintained the crowd's energy, elevated by Crook's set. He started off with an extremely rapidly changing collection of tunes, letting each one play for no more than a minute. His set was really all over the place in terms of track selection, with the more notable selections being Good Girl and Capoeira, which got the crowd absolutely wild. As a performer, J Magic exuded total confidence at the controls, effortlessly converting his thoughts into speaker membrane convulsions. He was attentive with the fans, making plenty of eye contact and gestures of connection with his audience. His mix was unrelenting, slowing down only when tracks themselves had a quiet moment. I was very surprised that he did not play any of his own tracks (at least none that I know). I spent more time looking at the fellow dancers instead of the DJ because the audience was particularly friendly tonight. Most of the regulars were present, some of them even willing to accept Eddie and myself into the clique. Looking back and forth, it was difficult to find a single person not dancing, not having a good time. In a particular instance, after another one of my frequent trips to the water pitcher, I returned to find Eddie seriously grooving with a couple of other people in front of the DJ; they were rocking big time, energetically getting down to the floor and back up, waving their arms in tandem, and yelling their lungs out; I just had to stand and watch...
Now let me say a few words about the wine. We sampled two bottles today, one was an old favorite, Salice Salentino, and the other was a Spanish red the name of which we did not record and probably shouldn't even try to recollect, considering the disproportionate number of self-praise statements and stickers adorning this remarkably unremarkable liquid. My lingering cold prevented me from experiencing the full gamut of sensations transmitted by these beverages; nonetheless my (and I can speak for Eddie here as well) favorable attitude toward Salentino was only reinforced, while the other wine seemed flat and acid in comparison. Salentino feels like a shining rainbow in one's mouth, an experience full of color and optimism. While I cannot adequately describe all the intonations of flavor that it conveys, the pleasure I acquired from experiencing all the permutations of its taste can be identified as sensational and powerful.
In the end, I was really glad that such magnate as J Magic came down to play at our quaint venue, and equally as glad that so many people showed up to give him props. He is a true master of his craft.
I knew I had to step back in the ring to mention this show. I had never heard of Perfect Combination before
tonight (or rather, before the flyer for tonight), and so I had no idea what to expect. Lenore played a far more
aggressive opening set than in her last appearance, and already had me and the rest of the audience pretty tired and
excited by the time PC came on stage. So, to devolve into a little blow-by-blow: PC gets on the decks, and winds them
down. Then he grabs the mic and starts saying some stuff and then announces he's going to beat box! And you know
what? He *rocked*. Perhaps it was a combination of Lenore's nice opening set, and my excited anticipation that
tonight was going to be the first awesome show in several weeks, and the fact that I'd had an amaretto sour, one of
my favorite sissy drinks... but the beat boxing got my adrenaline flowing in rivers. So when PC laid down some of
the heaviest beats to hit Elements in months, with no slowdowns, no holds barred, no kid gloves, for 90 minutes
straight, I was all over the place, and exhausted myself to such a degree that the whole next day was spent in a kind
of fog. Perfect Combination combined no-nonsense track switches with uncanny track selection, matching the desires
of our Elements audience to experience something hardcore after the last few weeks of low-key (and low-audience)
stylings. At the end of the show, he said an awesome goodbye, praising his luck that he could get paid for having
this much fun, and encouraging us, and *especially Lenore*, to go produce some D'n'B tracks. Which I took to heart,
and soon my D'n'B tracks I'm producing will have a home on this site. To sum: always see Perfect Combination,
whenever possible, even if you have to drive several dozens of miles to do so.
The wine will hopefully be posted by pavel. It was a rich, fruity Merlot, with an undeniable cherry taste that sank
nicely into the tongue. Once the palette was saturated by the taste, the wine rested in a somewhat sour, but
pleasantly smooth taste. Not as caramelly as last week's Merlot, but with the same light, silky texture. Very nice.
Bug pavel to post the details! Yeah! Woo.
As Eddie has politely noted, I've been procrastinating writing this review for quite some time. The reason is quite simple: I was enjoying the show so much that I forgot to take notes. While expecting a rather sedate night with Crook and an average guest, I was taken by surprise by Lenore's out-of-this-world opening and Perfect Combination's perfectly rocking set. I really hate writing reviews that don't give any negative points (areas for improvement, so to speak), but this has to be one of them. I'll be rather short.
Lenore's impressive points were her slow yet catchy opening that had me dancing by the second song, a good mix with plenty of familiar tracks and a good combination of dark and happy tunes.
Perfect Combination took over with mastery, suprizing the crowd with a little beat box, which he performed masterfully, and then exhausting the audience with a relentless mix containing many faves and many soon to be faves. PC is the perfect entertainer. From the moment he arrived, he took a position in front of the crowd, observing, noting, connecting. While at the controls, he was one of us. He was his own audience as much as any one of us was, and we felt at once as individuals and as one interconnected whole.
Speaking of the audience, the crowd was extra friendly this night, although there were few familiar faces. Apparently PC blesses Elements with his dope skillz rather frequently; be sure not to miss him on his next visit. How good was he? I could barely move for the next three days; that's how good.
The wine? Ah the wine... The wine didn't hold a candle to the show, although it did get us primed. Unfortunatly, I don't even remember what it was although I think I still have the bottle. Stay tuned, if you are that curious.
6 November 2003
MDOC* (elements, US), TROOPS (LEVEL 7, BOSTON)
thoughts of pavel
When Eddie arrived, we were out and away
The road to Cambridge in front of us lay;
It wasn't too long before found we a spot
On our traditional dark parking lot.
We tasted the wine and were quick on our feet
Being at Phoenix so early was sweet.
The place was still empty; no DJ's in sight
I thought that for now, chill out we just might.
Then MDOC showed up and without aplomb,
He started to drop the proverbial bomb.
His set he began with a rather fast beat
To dance no one wanted so early, so quick.
I stood and I watched as one after the other,
The audience members started to gather.
The dance floor they crowded and the frenzy began;
Dancing like mad, women and men.
Pairs were grinding without regard,
Elbowing people and bumping a lot.
MDOC played some clubby, repetitive tracks;
I kept waiting for faves, but was out of luck.
The guest took controls at a quarter past twelve
Into hard beats he immediately delved.
He played heavy jungle, not real drum and bass,
Showing great skill at vacating the place.
Eddie and I stayed 'till the end
Trying so hard our wills had to bend;
But anticlimactic the ending turned out
Leaving me bored and without any doubt
That this DJ was off or was just a beginner
He will need lots of work to turn into a winner.
Now let me tell you about the wine
Vendange Merlot, One Plus Ninety Nine.
I found the juice very easy to drink
With light subtle flavor reminiscent of pink.
No frills table red, I thought this one was
Smooth and refreshing, not acrid and coarse.
30 October 2003
Lenore* (elements, US), Landspeed (wavestep, Boston USA)
thoughts of pavel
If you've ever wanted to see the morphing of a restaurant into a nightclub, go to Phoenix Landing around 10:30pm. At this time, it's still full of tables, people finishing up their meals, and no sign of the DJ booth. The transformation is quite spectacular, as within fifteen minutes, the dance floor gains its spaciousness, the sound system comes online thunderously yet effortlessly converting shallow vinyl grooves into reverberating and gut shaking sound waves, and the DJ gets busy expressing herself with the help of two spinning black platters.
It is this singular occurrence that Eddie and I observed during our visit, made especially interesting due to all the creepy Halloween decorations that had to be strategically positioned to be visible but not disturbed by the crazy dancers and by the penetrating sound waves. We purposely got to the place early in an attempt to make our evening seem longer through catching Lenore's set in its entirety.
Lenore started with some rather slow, bassy tracks that had little rhythm. I would classify these tracks as heavy jungle. The dancefloor was packed with guys who made energetic attempts at dancing, but fizzled rather quickly. Several songs into the set, the crowd in front of the DJ switched from predominately male to predominately female, and I was still waiting for the right track to start dancing. The right track came in the form of Suicide by Kosheen (a tamer mix than I am used to but still good), which was followed, if my memory serves me correctly, by Krust's Warhead, which is an old favorite of mine. Thus, the night had begun. The rest of Lenore's set was a flurry of familiar and new, fast and slow, mostly rhythmical DnB.
By the time Landspeed appeared at the decks, I was utterly exhausted. At first it seemed like he would continue Lenore's energy, but he let her last track run itself to the end, and followed with a very slow tune full of unpredictable break beats. Most dancers very quickly retired, leaving just a few of us on the floor, including Eddie, a guy who seemed to be Landspeed's friend, and yours truly. We did our best to dance to the funky rhythm, having a little fun experimenting with different moves, but getting tired of the intellectual exercise within a few track's time.
I climbed onto the bench adjoining the DJ station and watched in amazement as within the span of less than a half an hour, the club emptied of it casual as well as regular attendees until there were no more than ten people left, counting Eddie, myself, and the DJs. On the occasion of Halloween, several people came wearing outlandish costumes, and those were the only people to stay awaiting the judgment of the unannounced "costume contest."
Because we got to Phoenix ridiculously early, the night seemed equally ridiculously long. After seeing one person after another attempting to dance to the funky mix, but eventually leaving, I got tired of standing on the sidelines and entered the floor to flaunt my (in all likelihood rather unattractive and dorky) stuff. It was very weird being the only one dancing, in fact being practically the only one in the whole club. It brought back memories of going to Circle, another grass roots night in Somerville. It used to take place in an old bank building with a large central hall. Without any alcohol, the focus was purely on music. The hall was fairly well lit, making it easy to see the dancers as well as the people standing around watching. The large area gave each dancer a huge amount of space and created a vacuous effect so similar to this night at the Phoenix. To my delight, about an hour into his set, Landspeed started picking up the tempo (not literally, as all of his tunes seemed to hover in the 175 BPM range), encouraging his friend, Eddie, and a perky Genie to start dancing. Imagine this scene: three guys - Eddie, I, and a dark skinned and jet black curly haired stud - and a girl in a Genie outfit, dancing on a rather brightly lit dance floor, while the five other people in the club, DJ Lenore among them, stand to the side watching the group; it was an intimate (and intimidating) experience indeed.
My impression of the night: getting to the Phoenix early was a huge plus, and it was the key to my enjoying Landspeed's set despite the unfortunate departure of most other audience members. Landspeed's set seemed not to be what the audience was expecting, though it may just have been that it was Halloween, and the peeps had other places to go. On this night Lenore truly shone and made up for Landspeed's slow start.
Now, a bit about the wine. The juice of the night was Bordeaux Superieur, 2000 from Chateau Damase. At $13, this was one of the lowest priced Bordeaux's, as most of them seem to run into the hundreds. The taste of this wine is very simple for a red; tangy, dry, and rather watery. In fact, other than this wine's tanginess, this wine is more similar to white wines in its characteristics than to reds. It could be sipped in fairly large gulps with little fanfair or aftertaste. If you are looking for a lighter tasting red whine, this one is for you.
The Phoenix Landing was an old merchant ship moored in the entertainment wing of the Neu Bostonian space outpost, circling Earth in a distant orbit. Our ascent and docking with Neu Bostonian was uneventful, and we quickly proceeded to sample the wine, which happened to be Lagaria Pinot Grigio, 2002. Smoother than other Grigio's I've tasted, this one was particularly mild and fresh. I enjoyed a refreshing break from several weeks of tasting red wines, remarking how much more straightforward it was. This beverage revealed its exact nature with little fuss. A light natural carbonation made if feel like a refreshment rather than a pompous wine. I highly recommend this Pinot Grigio as a cocktail hour wine or as a drink with a white meat or fish dinner.
The entertainment wing of Neu Bostonian isn't particularly clean or pleasant, and we quickly and cautiously made our way into the Phoenix Landing's entry hatch. The familiar bouncer greeted us, and when we entered we saw the house DJ, Crook, of the Nomelus race, busy keeping the crowd on its feet. One pair of Henuvelan females was so excited by the reverberations of the monstrous sound system, that they initiated a mating ritual, interrupted only when a male of their race approached and cast a threatening eye upon one of them. Crook, oblivious to this incident, continued with his exercise, doing his best to penetrate the ship's every nook and cranny with the deep rolling base of the thunderous mix. Because the Nomelutians have a very similar physiology to that of humans, with a pair of arms, legs, eyes, and ears, Crook's set involved just two turntables. Crook always manages to do with two hands what few DJs can do with three of even four. Although not as entertaining to watch as the Cripulans, with their hundred flexible tentacles, spinning fifteen records at a time, his mixes are always great with a variety of familiar and unfamiliar, slow and fast tunes, to keep the audiences entertained. I regretted not getting to the Phoenix earlier because we entered during a particularly juicy section of the mix, and by the time I got into the groove, Crook's set was winding down.
However good Crook was this night, the audience gathered here to see the special guest, Mathematics, from the Neu Yarka. Mathematics belongs to a race of curious creatures Mintaka, who consist of three individuals, usually attached at abdomens and heads, but looking fairly human otherwise. The individuals stay connected most of the time, sharing thoughts, blood, and food. On this occasion Mathematics sent one individual to perform for us, while the other two remained behind to work on their latest masterpieces. Even when separated from one another by vast distances, the trio share thoughts and emotions, and therefore the distance separating them is irrelevant. Mintakas consider turntables to be an old pathetic technology, and Mathematics brought his modern data disk playback system (DPS) for this occasion. I must admit that although they might be modern by some races' standards, DPS DJs are particularly boring to watch because they lack the large spinning platters with physical styluses reading their contents. Mathematics played several of the trio's hot tunes as well as other tracks, never quite getting to the current top ten or so of DnB. The audience seemed to enjoy the performance, and other than the two points above, I find little to complain about. In fact, I was quite happy to be face to face with a galaxy renowned producer; his mixing was a pure bonus.
There wasn't much reason for us to stick around once the lights came on, revealing the hardships the Phoenix has endured during its years of service. We piled out into the dark cold passages of Neu Bostonian and quickly made our way back to our pod. As we were taxying away from the docking bay, I stared with awe at the outer hall of the Phoenix - its unremarkable appearance concealing so much inner character.
Though I cannot tell the difference between two Pinot Grigios, I can absolutely tell the difference between a Pinot
Grigio and an Austrailian white Riesling, which is what tonight brought in its bountiful darkness. This wine was
sweet, fruity, it tickled the tongue with either a light natural carbonation, or else the citrus bite of the tangy
wine. It was a wine I found easy to drink, better in slow sips. It would be a nice dessert wine, I thought, or
perhaps an accompaniment to a bready, sweet appetizer.
No mix this week because I am trying to get started on the website changes, and I'm trying to assimilate a *lot* of
new vinyl into my rotation.
Mathematics was pretty hyped up by the elements crew but I found his set somewhat average -- not that that's bad,
since an average drum'n'bass set at elements involves lots of hopping around and smiling and generally having a good
time. But in comparison to Storm or Entropy, he just didn't have any special quality, either in terms of connection
with the crowd, or in the particular tracks he picked. Perhaps this is the curse of djs who also produce. I will
leave a more detailed review in the capable hands of pavel until I can put together my dj review matrix.
More on this exciting future development, well, in the future! Hi Jenya!
16 October 2003
MDOC* (elements, US), Aria (Act Your Age)
thoughts of pavel
Marveling at the luck of finding a parking spot on the first attempt, we proceeded to get comfortable for our pre-Phoenix ritual. With a turn of the ignition key, I instructed the car to relax. Emitting a satisfied purr, the engine came to a halt, the headlights extinguished, and the music lost its bass 1 . Eddie exclaimed, "I want my bass!" but there was none to be had, lest we risk a dead battery.
Upon our arrival at the Phoenix Landing, we were greeted by a cheerful bald biker type bouncer wearing black shorts and a green jersey, who proceeded to rather politely inquire, "Are you guys here for the drums or for the bass?" An interesting question indeed; we pondered it for a while, recollecting our experience in the car, and finally decided that both components are of equal importance to us. It turned out to be the wrong answer, as the correct one would have sounded something like, "what? We're here for the Red Sox game!" Alas, so many things in this life become clear only in retrospect.
The game ended at 12:30 with a loss by Red Sox, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The somber fans calmly cleared our favorite hangout in the span of five minutes, leaving the whole place to no more than five fans of the bass and the drums, who presently cozily occupied the black wooden bench next to the giant speaker.
Aria and MDOC tag teamed from the late start of the evening, somehow managing to not pick up the pace to the point where it would be interesting. Over time, enough people showed up to create a resemblance of an audience, and several adventurous souls were even brave enough to strut their stuff on the nearly empty dance floor. With about a half an hour to go in their set, MDOC and Aria finally raised the heat, enticing Eddie and me to become rather courageous ourselves. Alas, just as I was getting drawn deeper and deeper into my dancing with the rhythm of the hungry drums and the groove of the dark insidious bass, the lights came on excitedly, interrupting my trance, and it was time to pile out into the cold unwelcoming reality of a moonless October night.
It would be unfair to review Aria's performance based on this dilapidated night's proceedings.
The wine for today's tasting was Pinot Grigio from Italy (see Eddie's review for exact name). Not having tasted a white in quite some time, the difference from reds struck me from my first sip. This wine had a very simple clear taste with barely any aftertaste. The aroma was reminiscent of juice freshly squeezed from green apples. The taste was so subtle in fact, that it only made sense to drink the wine in larger gulps in the absence of a meal. This was one of the smoothest tasting Grigios, and I would highly recommend it for any purpose where the deep and complicated nature of a red wine is undesirable, for instance with seafood.
____________________________________________________ **The subwoofer in my car is wired in such as way that it's only getting juice when the lights, and by extension the engine, are on. As soon as the engine (and the lights with it) is turned off, most of the bass disappears.
16 October 2003
MDOC* (elements, US), Aria (Act Your Age)
thoughts of eddie
I will take this opportunity to announce some changes to things on this site that are coming soon.
First off, I am going to cause the reviews to be on separate pages -- this long, rambling, hundred-plus kilobyte page
is not sitting well with me, nor with pavel's 56Kbps connection speeds! I think as a first cut, I am going to
divide the reviews by season.
Second off, I am going to finally start writing my 'becoming a dj in my own way' series. There will be a new icon
on the front page that will herald this addition in the coming week.
Last, I will stop writing reviews as often as I have been. I will share my thoughts on the night and the DJs and
the wines with pavel, and he will factor these in to his own reviews for the most part. The reason I am doing this
is two-fold. First, because there is too much content being devoted to describing the evenings, which have become
to some extent fairly normal and predictable. Where amazing things happen, you can expect to see my pen, poking
around where it doesn't really belong. Second, because I want to add more sections featuring other sorts of content
to the site, and my time commitments will not permit me to write such elaborate reviews as well as maintain other
content on the site, I will be branching out into the other content and leaving the reviews in equally capable hands.
These other sections will hopefully include not only my dj series, but also a section on each of my new mixes, which
will include a track list for the mix, as well as my thoughts about the mix. I hope to develop a note-sheet style
review, where I can 'grade' my mix as well as the mix of the djs I hear at the Phoenix (and elsewhere? Who knows!).
This week, I produced three mixes for the evening, and it is my belief that I am on the threshold of becoming an
intermediate level dj. This accomplishment comes far ahead of schedule, so I am pleased. Listen to this mixes,
where are in chronological order, mixed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and see what you think.
As you will note in pavel's review, this week's drum'n'bass festivities were largely superceded by the Sox/Yankees
playoff game, game 7, which the Sox lost in a kind of disappointing way. This did give me an opportunity to chat it
up with the bouncer, who was a Harley-riding, older, bald, bouncer looking dude who was far friendlier than you would
expect from his rather intimidating presentation. Really the night was worth it just to hang out with him for the
hour or so we did. The drum'n'bass aspect never got off the ground for me, and it would be wrong to evaluate
Aria's performance in the light of the collapsed evening. One good thing came of it: I got a chance to ask MDOC
about a track pavel was curious about, and it turned out to be a brand spanking new mix of Capoeira, and that was
kind of neat. Yet another unknown but loved tune from the past, identified (this was Brian Gee's Brazillian opener).
If you want dance vinyl, I will happily plug Planet X Records
of New Jersey. This store has been an *invaluable* resource both for my vinyl purchases and for research into the
music I'm starting to become knowledgeable about. First rate online store. They even sent me candy! Yum!
The wine's name is actually currently in pavel's possession, so actually he should update his review to reflect it.
I believe it was an Italian Pinot Grigio called Lagardia, of 2001. It was a very pleasant, dry and smooth wine, and
reminded me a lot of the Pinot Gris of a few weeks back. I confess a general lack of power to discern the Grigios
from one another -- chilled, all but the cheapest of these seem about the same to me.
09 October 2003
*Lenore (elements, US), Storm (metalheadz, UK)
thoughts of pavel
I am in such high awe of Storm's performance that I am going to forego the traditional soap opera episode of events that transpired on our way to the Phoenix. Suffice it so say that we got through our wine tasting and onto the club's floor in a rather ordinary manner (now go read Eddie's review to see if I am lying!). I must mention that I again heard Eddie's "scary" mix as well as a new mix he prepared for this week. Both are great, so go and check them out!
The wine for the night was Messapicus Copertino (DOC) Rosso Riserva, 1998. Upon the initial inspection, the bouquet of this Italian Red's aroma impressed me with its profound variety, brute clarity, and gentle classiness. The taste was slanted slightly toward pomegranate-like sourness, and the gamma of flavors that emerged as I let the wine caress my taste receptors was simply astounding. I was nearly floored by the subtle intonations of oak bark and sour cherry, but luckily the cushy leather of my Snaab's back seat was there to support me. The taste of the wine exuded a certain... cylindricity, hinting, no doubt, of its barrel aged heritage, where it caressed the fine oak for many years, acquiring its astonishing characteristics. I was deeply surprised by how much information such an innocuous looking red liquid can convey. Or maybe I was simply drunk. This is another great fine dinner wine, but don't drink it too fast. I order you! Listen to me! I command you! If you drink it too fast, I will come to your house and take it away!
... and later that night ...
Storm took the stage from Lenore with a delightful pause. Her face flushed with anticipation, and she carefully unwound her set
Something that impressed me right off the bat was Storm's demeanor, her stage presence.
Standing in front of the turntables, facing the audience, she was swaying from side to side with a huge grin on her face, tracking her gaze through the crowd, and making deliberate eye contact with each individual. Behaving as public speakers are taught to do (join Toastmasters!), she made me feel truly a part of the event. I am sure that most other people felt the same way, as the audience was absolutely ecstatic.
Her music selection was top notch. She played mostly hard D'n'B tracks with sharply contrasting mellow and pounding sections. Such tracks give the dancers plenty of time to relax and to build up the energy and anticipation for the next climax. Storm played my new favorite track, Good Girl by Dilinja at least twice; she played a Brazilian track I first heard at the Brian G performance, which has a dancy samba beat and a deep rolling reverberating bass line. She used none of the boring, repetitive houssy tracks that typically leave me standing on the dance floor, waiting for the next tune; you know, it's the tracks that sound like a broken record - the same thing, on and on and on. In fact, unlike during the previous nights, tonight I did not even attempt to start dancing. For the longest time I just stood on the side of the DJ booth observing DJ Lenore and DJ Storm at the controls. Storm's set, true to her name, practically swept me onto the dance floor and got me moving; I experienced none of the usual anxiety or forcefulness about my dancing. To continue my Sci-Fi metaphor from the past reviews, my disbelief was 100% suspended.
The last half hour of the set, Storm really pushed the boundaries of D'n'B dance, playing the same couple of tracks over and over, mixing between them in interesting ways, and otherwise having lots of fun. The only disappointment of the evening came when the lights came on and the sound waves receded back into the electronic void of the loudspeakers.
Storm has earned her place on my list of the best DJs I have had the fortune to experience at the Phoenix Landing. Her excellent track selection and skillful mixing were magnified by her incredible stage presence that exuded light and energy. She really impressed me, and I highly recommend seeing her - if you like D'n'B, you will not be disappointed.
09 October 2003
*Lenore (elements, US), Storm (metalheadz, UK)
thoughts of eddie
Hi Becky (our only existing subscriber)!
So, here's the thing. My mission tonight was to say something funny to Crook's girlfriend about something she did
last week. But as most good missions do, this one morphed and changed and finally became a different mission
altogether. But I'm ahead of myself.
Tonight pavel and I went back to our usual routine of getting together rather late, and *starting* the night with our
wine tasting. The wine, cited in pavel's review, was reminiscent of the Salice Salentino again, but this time,
avoided the sharp edge of last week's wine, and favored a dry, sweet taste that reminded me of raspberry. I was
getting over a cold and did not want to drink much, but I found myself compelled to try a second glass. I really
liked this wine -- I daresay I'm getting used to Italian reds. While pavel thought the wine was cylindrical, I found
it more of an octagon -- a spinning, red, octagon. Suffice it to say that I would adore drinking this wine with
either a steak or a light dessert, and wouldn't think twice about recommending it to a friend.
But this was only the introduction to what turned out to be a fantastically interesting night. Lenore was on deck
to warm us up, choosing a very rappy kind of set, shying away from her more melodic side. pavel was playing it very
cool, choosing to become the observer rather than the observed, and so I took the opportunity to start way at the
back of the room and see what the people in the nosebleed section did for fun. And the only thing I can say that
sets them apart from the rest of the crowd is: they were not dancing! So I quickly moved back towards my usual
spot, noting that pavel was bemusedly scanning the audience to see where I might turn up next.
Storm showed up and started snatching up the records she was going to play, apparently organizing them. When it was
time to move up, she did the classy thing (to my mind) of closing out Lenore's set with a noticeable break, and then
started laying down some aggressive tracks. At first, I wondered whether she was going to hook me, because even
though the audience was eating it up, I was distracted by how many backspin transitions and uncompromising tunes she
was presenting me with without any real warmup period. Part of it was that I kept on getting tangled up in the
technical details of what she was up to (the trying to become a DJ thing has its downsides!). Then, about 45 minutes
before her set closed out, she locked into an amazing groove that I want to try to discuss a bit.
First of all, gone were the backspin transitions -- now she was playing straight up. She also had started adding some
more melodic tunes in to break up the madness -- Dillinja's Good Girl was a great example mentioned by 2C, as was the
Brazillian tune. I was dancing by this time. But then, she really upped the stakes during the last few tracks when
she did something I find difficult to describe. What she appeared to be doing was, in the middle of one mix, she would
preview what she was going to play on the other deck. Then she's start playing that tune -- usually it was one that
was about to bring down the house. Then she'd stop that tune after about 16 beats and wait for the usual crowd
reaction: "PUT THAT ON! SPIN IT!" But then, it seemed like she would start with a *remix* of that song, and play
it through. And *then*, she blew my mind when during the remix, she'd preview, and then play, the song *she had just
played before this one!* I got so lost counting how many times she played part of or all of Good Girl and the other
track she was switching between. At one point, when the girl started singing again about not being a Good Girl, I
remember I was standing with my mouth wide open, my jaw on the floor. Again? I thought. But the amazing thing was,
in the midst of this technical tomfoolery, I was *completely hooked*. I couldn't have told you which way was up, but
I could tell you I was going to *dance*. Which I did, until the very, very end. Storm is a must-see for dancers and
DJs alike -- she has the ability to really hook you hard, and she has some technical skills that are just a pleasure
So here is the final chapter in a long evening. pavel and I were hanging back, observing the social scene of the
after-dance part of Drum n Bass night. So pavel keeps on trying to get me to go tell Storm she did a good job, and I
just wasn't feeling comfortable. So pavel says, go ask Lenore if she knows about that Take My Soul song (note to
resolve past notes: the 'do chicka do' song is Klute, Take a Breath, and the Take My Soul song is Influx Datum or
Influx UK, Take My). So I do. And she tells me, and we talk for about 5 minutes about which Mac PowerBook she
should buy (I completely forget how this came up) and how the Take My Soul song is one she always wants to play, but
can't always because it's a closer.
So, when she said that, I suddenly realized that the universe had smiled upon me. Why, you ask? Because if you look
back to my review of Lenore when she closed with that song, that was exactly the review when I went on a long
digression about DJ sets, the opening, the speeding up, the slowing down, and the close. And I said, way back then,
that Take My Soul was the lesson in closing, and Lenore was the teacher. But I never really thought that *anyone but
me would think of it that way*. I mean, I'm just a Poser DJ, right? Gentle reader, perhaps not. Maybe not.
After making an additional effort to say hi to the regulars pavel and I think are nice, we quickly bid the Phoenix
farewell, and slipped out into the night to review all of these details, and others.
What a cool night.
02 October 2003
*Lenore (elements, US), Crook (elements, US)
thoughts of pavel
After having had several amazing nights in a row, a more calm evening was bound to happen. As you will see below, the DJs did their jobs admirably, and the wine was among the best I've tried. However, something was missing this evening, a certain secret ingredient that I must have completely used up during the four prior D'n'B adventures. No matter how much I drank, I didn't get drunk. No matter how much music I took in, I wasn't absorbed by it. No matter how much I searched for a friendly soul in the crowd, I couldn't find anybody who would connect. Alas, a human being is not a constant force; I am but an animal in a state of flux, influenced by a myriad of events, sensations, and experiences that I float by in the relentless stream of time. Whatever the causes of this evening's lack of vigor, I will do my best to give you, my reader, an impartial review that you've come to expect from me.
The weekly mix was a concoction called "Scary" that put me in the mood for Halloween. I practically felt Goth again and had a strong urge to get to a Goth club, but alas, we were going to the Phoenix. Eddie is improving in leaps and bounds; his mixing skills are showing great progress, and his experiments are becoming more varied and clever. He was very eager to share his techniques with me during the mix, and I unfortunately didn't have as much chance as I'd like to appreciate the actual mix. As always, you can hear it for yourself by following the links on the left, and please be sure to let us know what you think.
Today we made another detour at Yuji's place where he had two new bottles of Sake on display, brought from Japan by a kind coworker. We tasted them warm, eighty degrees Celsius, according to Yuji. I didn't pay enough attention to remember what the brands were, but I could definitely tell the difference between the two, and I truly enjoying having the sake warm. I found that if I breathed out during my sip, the experience was particularly pleasant. Since, unfortunately, Yuji's apartment wasn't our final destination for the night, I had to cut my pleasure short and watch Eddie get drunk. It was a task he approached with his usual detemination.
Next stop was the traditional parking lot, where I attempted to catch up to Eddie in his unburdened state of drunkenness during the span of one song. Drinking two and a half glasses of the wonderful wine proved fairly easy, but somehow in the end, I felt more agitated than enlightened. As a result, I had to do my review later at home, based on a small amount left over from this rather challenging night.
Wine for this tasting was Tomaiolo Chianti 1997 Reserva, DOCG. The bitterness and acidity of this wine took me by surprise since the last Italian wine I tried was rather smooth. However, once past the initial bite, the wine has plenty of nice and calm character that pleases through and through. I had my leftovers with a baked salmon steak, and the wine complemented this semi-sweet dish wonderfully. I highly recommend this wine for slow sipping with a delicious dinner, but wouldn't use it again for a quick high.
A familiar bouncer greeted us at the gate, and Eddie and I both gave him a "cool" handshake.
Lenore and MDOC were tag teaming, playing some very unfamiliar tunes, mixing with their usual infallible mastery. They were experimenting with some new tracks, which in my agitated state seemed alien to me. I found it difficult to dance and waited for the star of the show, Crook.
Crook is the man of Elements; I believe he is one of the founders, if not THE founder. He is not robustious like MDOC and mot mysterious like Lenore; very down to earth. He impressed me with his calm skill, observant yet restrained. His mixing technique is exemplary; he has a record beat locked within ten seconds of placing in on a turntable, ready to give previews and long mix-ins. For the night's duration, Crook masterfully guided the expecting crowd through a wave after wave of high energy breaks followed by ambient troughs. I watched in awe as dancers effortlessly caught his rhythm and surfed his groove. I joined the dance floor on several occasions, and was nearly, nearly taken to that awesome place that I so much like to visit. I will be waiting with trepidation for another night with Crook in the starring role.
If you are thinking about visiting Elements, pick one of the Resident nights, and you will not be disappointed. I have seen them all in full set as well as opening for special guests, and all three of them have exemplary skill. Crook, Lenore, and MDOC, you rock!
02 October 2003
*Lenore (elements, US), Crook (elements, US)
thoughts of eddie
The amount of content spilling onto this site is insane. We have to start archiving and paginating and... well, we
need to get organized! Hope you like the new domain and new front page! We worked pretty hard on it. Send us your
Anyway, this week's drum and bass experience was out of the ordinary in several ways. It started with the usual
stop off for special drinks for me, Mr eddie, and the selection of my latest mix, which I themed as 'Scary.' Theming
the mix gives a kind of story to the mix that is lacking otherwise, because I do not have an audience to play to. I
play to my theme instead. Tonight, the mix felt really good -- I had finished it Tuesday night pretty late, and was
happy with it, but I had the usual post-mix jitters. Hearing it blasting in the Saab gave me a real rush, as the
memories of the tricks I tried flooded back, the visual impressions of my work room lit only by a Tiffany lamp
swam through my mind just behind my eyes. I cannot comment on the quality of the mix, but pavel surely has
illuminating things to say, as he generally does.
It veered towards the less ordinary when we stopped by Yuji's house to sample some more Sake. He had two on offer:
Hakkeisan (seisyu) and one other, Shimehari Tsuru (seisyu). Both were brought from the Niigata prefecture by the
generous Mieko. Thanks Mieko! Warmed, they were both amazingly tasty, with the Hekkeisan showing off its surprising
smoothness. Cooled, they became more thick and savory. We tasted them with a sushi appetizer of tuna and salmon, and
the effect was just delightful. I probably drank slightly more Sake than I ought to have, and I remember that leaving
Yuji's apartment and in the remaining ride to Phoenix, I was... animated! Yes, that's how I shall report it!
In the parking lot, in a more secluded spot than we have become used to, we sampled Tomaiolo Chianti 1997 Reserva,
DOCG. This wine surprised me in being more harsh than the Salice Salentino of last week, since it's year was somewhat
older and it received the high DOCG qualification. I cannot say I didn't like it, but it is true that my powers of
observation were to some extent minimized by the amount of Sake still wandering around my bloodstream. We chilled out
to the last song on my mix, Karmacoma, and headed into the Phoenix.
My favorite bouncer was bouncing, gave me a friendly handshake that I finally managed to return in a reasonably
no-an-idiot fashion. Had the traditional vodka shot with Mr pavel, and attempted to integrate myself into the
Lenore and MDOC were around, playing the warmup tunes. Of course, I will not bore you with further reviews of the
same DJs -- we know and love Lenore and MDOC, and even when they are playing mellow, and trying out new stuff as they
were tonight, they are beyond reproach.
The audience was thinner, as it was a Resident Spotlight night. Just as pavel reports that this week he didn't connect
with the people in the crowed, tonight I actually did, as Formerly-Blond-Haired Japanese guy's female friend gave me
a welcome wave, and Lenore waved at me too. I wonder what it is, that causes the tides of friendliness to vary so
much from week to week, or how they tend to randomly focus their attention. Perhaps the secret is that time is the
enemy of chaos, in a social setting -- it ends up creating order out of randomness, patterns out of mere accident.
Crook took the stage and did a fine job of keeping people moving. But like pavel, I did not dance much this time. I
had a happy feeling in my heart, but somehow, I was overstimulated, by the Sake, the wine, the mix, the visit with
Yuji, the strange incident with Crook's girlfriend... I liked Crook's set and his skills are fairly subtle. His
style is somewhere between Lenore's aloof performance style, and MDOC's more manic one. I'd like to see what he's
like when he's trying to go a little nuts, how he would play off the audience, how they would react to him. He looks
like he could command a good amount of charisma to his service, and make a really good show. I missed hearing some
of the tunes I have come to look forward to at the Phoenix. But, change is good, and I'm glad to hear new stuff, too.
A mellow night at the Phoenix, overall, with good tunes, and a really fun trip to Yuji's house to kick it off. That's
the executive summary. Stay tuned for next week, with Storm!
The evening started with a mix by eddie. This was the second mix in his Drive Mix series, and this one turned out significantly better. First of all, eddie fixed a technical problem that made the bass sound much more tight and palpable. With the help of our new subwoofer, the sound rivaled the Phoenix Landing system, albeit at a slightly lower volume. The mix itself showed good judgment in track selection, quality transitions with focus on maintaining rhythm, and energy that would get me dancing, if only I didn't have to steer the car at seventy miles per hour. If your mouth is now watering for a taste of this goodness, just click on the mixes link on the left and listen for yourself. I am going to put eddie on the spot for a minute. Ever since our first outing at a DJ show (Toneburst, featuring DJ C and Hrvatski, pix coming soon), eddie tried to find ways to engage himself in the craft of DJing. Recently, he plunged into it head first, acquiring the required equipment, software, and now slowly polishing his skill. I feel he has much to share with likeminded souls who would like to pursue the art but are either too busy, too lazy, or simply too confused to figure our how to get started. If get my way, we will soon publish a feature article on how to get started in this hobby/profession. Watch for it within the next month.
Tonight, we made a fairly major departure from our traditional routine. In fact, we made two departures. The first was to stop at our friend's apartment, which is roughly half-way to Cambridge, to sample some Sake. Our friend Yuji was born in Japan and moved to the USA in his twenties. He has plenty to teach us about Japanese culture, and especially the part of it we are most interested in - Japanese alcohol. We had two bottles of Sake for the evening's tasting. Unfortunately, not being able to speak three words of Japanese, I have no idea what they were; browse eddie's review for detailed information. I could tell the difference in taste, however. It was akin to a difference between good and bad vodka, one was much more smooth and polished and easy to drink than the other. The second departure from the norm was our taking Yuji to the show with us, which meant we had to share with him all our usual rituals, and to keep him in the loop at the club.
The regular parking lot was full and not showing any signs of life, giving us no hope that someone might make a spot available in a reasonable amount of time. After cruising around a few times, we docked in a dark alley away from the busy street and from the peering eyes of the friendly law enforcement officials. The wine of the occasion was Parallele "45" Cortes du Rhone (and a bunch of other French words) from Paul Jaboulet Aine, 2000, Red if you haven't guessed. I can use a single four-letter word to describe this wine: sour. Similarly to the reputation of French people (which is supported by friends who visit that lovely country), this wine lacks friendliness; quite snobby it is, in fact. Drinking it was akin to having a noose tightened around my tongue, and the only escape was to hastily swallow each sip. The beauty of this wine is that it can be consumed very quickly, reminding of unsweetened cranberry juice when drunk in this manner.
In the club, we initiated Yuji with a vodka shot and went off to reclaim our customary dwelling spot from two freaks presently occupying it, who showed up way too early and were now preparing to leave. The dance floor was more crowded than usual, but now that we almost feel like regulars (and trying to show Yuji that we are, in fact, regulars), we practically forced our way to the coveted location. MDOC was on the decks, and I was way too preoccupied in making sure that Yuji was having a good time to pay attention to his performance. All I know is that Yuji was enjoying himself, and so was I, which leads me to conclude that MDOC did his job.
There was a fair selection of regulars, but because the place was packed it was difficult to take exact attendance. Arnold, Boots, and Japanese Dude (no longer blonde), his GF, and the tanktop girl were all there 4sure. There appeared to be many people with regulars, just like Yuji was with us, which made them a little less friendly (ok, so the Japanese Dude was never very friendly).
We were waiting and waiting and waiting, and finally cause4concern took the stage. The two members of the band, group, crew, name your term, looked somewhat beaten up, aged more than they should be. They appeared to be playing to themselves rather than to the crowd. Although they spinned a selection of their own and other popular tracks, which had plenty of energy to keep us going, the mix sorely lacked the quiet times so eagerly awaited by the tired dancers. Having to stop and take a break during an awesome fast track is anticlimactic, and yet I found myself doing just that a few times during the set simply because I was exhausted. And with my daily exercise routine geared specifically toward making me a more resilient dancer, I don't think this is an unfair criticism. I deeply appreciate the contribution cause4concern make by producing their own (awesome, I must say) tracks, but I have to wonder why track producers, musicians, composers, think that they can be great DJs. DJ-ing is a real-time activity, where a good performer will read the crowd and cater the mix to the dancers' desires, instead of just playing a predetermined sequence of records. One DJ I tend to use as a benchmark is Judge Jules, whom I witnessed in person at Sona, Montreal and at Axis, Boston. He knew what the crowd wanted better than the crowd itself knew what it wanted, and he gave us doses of hard climaxes and sweet lulls exactly when we needed them.
Of course, despite my criticism, I enjoyed the evening immensely. I got exactly what I expect from a successful night at the Phoenix - becoming drenched in sweat from my dancing. The overcrowding distracted me somewhat, but the crowd was friendly for the most part, which made up for being bumped, pushed, shoved, and stepped on repeatedly throughout the night. As for cause4concern, I'd like to see them when they actually get some sleep for two nights prior to the show.
A new mix is up: it's kinda cool. Please listen to it if you have a chance.
Tonight was a special night in Drum'n'Bass land. pavel and I brought along our first interloper: Yuji. Welcome
Yuji! Let's talk about this very interesting (to me -- I always wonder who else thinks this is interesting) night.
The evening began when I arrived at pavel's place earlier than usual. After some amusing conversation about next
week's interloper (wouldn't be quite fair if I told you who that would be now, would it?), we headed to our usual
stop to grab my typical three Red Bulls and a Gatorade. Gulp. Almost all gone before we ever made it to Yuji's place.
The mix was already running on the tape deck, with pavel's recently added subwoofer adding a bit of extra punch to
the important parts (has a kind of ROUND sound to it, his stereo system...), and this got me in a very good mood.
At Yuji's, we began our wine tasting of the evening: Sake! Two sakes, to be exact. I brought along a junmai
dai ginjo (highest polished rice) out of Kyoto that bore the marks 'Kukon' (9 shots) and 'syo chiku bai' (pine,
bamboo, plum). This one was designated to be consumed at room
temperature. Yuji's friend from Japan had left him with a different sake, a junmai ginjo (second highest polished
rice) called 'Snowstorm' that was to be drunk cold. With an excellent
assortment of pickled Japanese-style vegetables, we began our tasting using traditional sake shot glasses.
I am not used to rice wine, so I am sure my observations will be somewhat juvenile. I tried the ginjo first, and
the taste was surprising to me: it had a very ricey smell, and the taste was almost like that of a very, very light
white wine. The aftertaste was grain and water, which was not unpleasant. Shortly thereafter, and a few appetizers
apart, I took a sip of the Kukon dai ginjo. Now this was amazing -- at room temperature, the dai ginjo tasted so
compared to the cold ginjo, that I almost thought I was drinking water. It had hardly any rice smell, and went down
with such a light, neutral feeling that I could not believe it had 15-16% alcohol content. I discovered that sake is
even harder to drink quickly than wine is -- at least if you are not used to it. All of my efforts to consume a
good amount of sake were apparently fairly mild: with Yuji drinking about as much as me, and pavel making a good
effort, we ended up with almost a half a bottle of each sake left-over! It was an experience not to be missed, so
perhaps I will bring the dai ginjo along on our next outing as an appetizer. I want to get more used to the sakes so
that I will be able to appreciate them fully.
You will notice I do not mention the rather feisty red wine pavel stowed in the car. We did partake, but the results
were... Let's just say that though I was slightly buzzed from the sake, I found my eyes squinting and my lips
puckering at this wine. Not to say that it was bad -- but as a follow-after for sake, it was disturbing!
Into the club we go. The doorman was not the dude I've been getting friendly with (who let us in for free last time!),
but some other dude, and once in, we engaged in our one-vodka-shot ritual, wherein Yuji happily joined and all were
merry. Onto the extremely crowded dance-floor we went, with people lining up still at the door, pushing the place to
capacity. MDOC was playing his usual groove, mixing in fairly deep, pounding new tracks with some light, housey
interludes, and finishing off with what by now can be called one of his Anthems. A good show, with some of his
scratching being practiced again (he did what I think was the very same scratch routine with the very same battle (?)
record that he had last time I heard him -- nothing new, but still quite good).
We managed to squeeze into our usual spot, and I was concerned that Yuji would not have a good time. But, to my
surprise, he was getting down just like the rest of us, and though he tired a bit quicker (his bedtime must be too
early!) and left a few minutes before pavel and I did, he appeared to have been having about as good a time as we old
And we old regulars were having a very good time indeed! Cause4Concern, a duo, were very good, laying down heavy
beats that never seemed to stop (though, I am starting to hear the transitions between songs now, and have started to
notice even the most minute of beat mixups). In fact, my only criticism of these guys was simply that they almost
never let up to slow things down. The beats just came rapid fire, sometimes sounding too similar from track to track
for my taste (I think they were spinning mostly their own stuff, which is impressive in itself). But aside from
nitpicks, they blew the audience away even though they had apparently just got in from abroad, and were working on
days with no sleep. They were an absolute must-see, and worth every inch of their big name.
Recently pavel and I wondered about whether drum'n'bass is just getting better every week, since we couldn't believe
that we were having so many good nights in a row. We debated whether it was a change in *us*, or rather, a change
in the actual quality of the shows. The jury is still out. Perhaps the next few weeks will be an opportunity to
get good data, since we didn't like Aria that much the first time, and he's coming up in 2.