Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Prototype - Cascade (Cutline remix)

Gotta let this get known to many people. Here's some dose of drumstep. The original is already big. But this remix is even bigger.


Added on 5 June: This tune is now available at Beatport as part of the compilation album.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My 22.5-hour "Easter" holiday

As I worked everyday during the four days of the Easter holiday, I think I deserve to do the following in the middle of a week.

Wed 27 April

15:30 Leave office early, heading to Cityterminalen (Stockholm Central Bus Terminal)

16:00 After struggling with the ticket machine that doesn't easily accept my credit card, manage to hop on a coach to Skavsta Airport just in time.

17:30 After more than a hour of sleep, the coach finally arrives at Airport. Queue in front of the Ryanair check-in counter even though I don't have any luggage to check-in. Non-European citizens are required to have the boarding card stamped by the Ryanair staff before going to the security check point.

17:40 Have an early dinner of Ceaser's salad that I took away from Hantverkargatan 14 Specerie. Restaurants at Stockholm airports are unbearable.

18:35 A Ryanair flight to London Gatwick takes off on time. During the two hour journey, read the latest issue of Monocle magazine.

20:00 The flight arrives in Gatwick on time with fanfare (you know what I mean if you've flied with Ryanair).

20:20 After struggling with the ticket machine that doesn't accept my UK bank card, just miss Gatwick Express to London Victoria.

20:30 With a takeaway cup of Caffe Nero's caffe latte, get on board to the next Gatwick Express train.

20:35 The train departs.

21:05 The train arrives at London Victoria station.

21:10 Top-up the Oyster card and head to Oxford Circus by tube.

21:30 Arrive at my friend's 30th birthday party at Aqua Nueva Spanish restaurant. Feel overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the restaurant which my London friend says is nothing special. That is the moment I realize I've become a country-bumpkin by living in Stockholm for more than three years.

22:00 Cannot really keep up with the speed of the conversation by Londoners, realizing that I've been spoiled by Swedish people's reserved way of communication.

23:45 Leave the restaurant and head to London Bridge by tube.

Thu 28 April

00:05 Arrive at Cable nightclub, chosen as the Best Club of 2011 by Time Out magazine. Told that they don't accept a credit card. That is the moment I realize I've been spoiled by Swedish ubiquitous acceptance of credit cards.

00:15 After walking back and forth to the nearest cash point, finally get into the nightclub. The legendary drum & bass producer LTJ Bukem is on the deck at a club night named Swerve, featuring smooth drum & bass aka liquid funk.

01:00 After getting used to a London nightclub atmosphere that I totally forgot about and finishing the purification of my body with the sound of drum & bass, start dancing. Bukem's DJ play is not my kind of taste, but some tunes just make me dance.

01:55 Fabio takes over. This is the moment that I am after by flying all the way to London. And his DJ play never disappoints me. Smooth and sexy with occasional funky or reggae-ish smasher tunes, one of which just makes me dance crazy while other people seem put off by complicated rhythms.

03:15 The Swerve party still goes on after the scheduled end time of 3 am. Don't want to leave, but have to in order to catch a coach to Stansted Airport.

03:20 Get on a night bus that is supposed to go to the coach stop, which actually doesn't.

03:35 Get off the bus and hail a cab and ask if the driver knows where the coach stop is. He says, "Have you never used a cab?" Yes, London cab drivers are the only service that England can be proud of to the whole world. Nowhere in the world can you find such a reliable taxi.

03:45 Just five minutes before the departure time, arrive at the coach stop. Get on the coach. Put ear plugs and eye masks. Immediately fall asleep.

04:40 Arrive at Stansted Airport. Queue in front of the Ryanair check-in counter even though I don't have any luggage to check-in. Non-European citizens are required to have the boarding card stamped by the Ryanair staff before going to the security check point.

05:25 Buy a box of smoked salmon and crayfish salad and a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice at Pret in the waiting lounge after passing the security check point.

05:35 Arrive at the boarding gate for the Ryanair flight to Stockholm Skavsta. Start eating my breakfast while passengers start boarding (which means the queue just moves from one gate to another gate).

05:40 Finish breakfast. Jump the queue with the Priority Q.

06:05 The flight departs on time. With ear plugs and eye masks, fall asleep immediately.

09:15 The flight arrives at Stockholm Skavsta on time with fanfare.

09:20 Get on the airport coach to central Stockholm. Put ear plugs and eye masks and fall asleep immediately.

11:00 Arrive at central Stockholm.

11:15 On the way home, stop by at Mellqvist Kaffebar to have an early lunch and whole coffee beans. Reconfirm that they serve the best coffee in Stockholm. Toasted sandwiches are also good.

12:00 Arrive at home. Take a shower.

12:30 Check my work email. Reply if necessary.

13:30 Leave home.

14:00 Arrive back in office.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Acid Black Cherry "Koi Hitoyo"

This is a cover version of the song that I liked when I was 12 years old. The melody and the lyrics still move my emotion. The original is too cheesy to listen due to its poor accompaniment. So I prefer this version though this promo is cheesy...

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Future of Credit Unions

This is mind-blowing. Can you imagine that this building is a credit union branch?

The Sugamo Shinkin Bank's Shimura branch in a suburb of Tokyo, designed by Emmanuel Moureaux and opened last month, perhaps represents the future of credit union branches.


Even the interior of the branch is unexpected for a credit union.

Notice ATM machines on the left

Some of the other branches of Sugamo Shinkin Bank are also designed by this architect, judging from her own website.

(The photos in this post are all linked from Excite Ism.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Alicia Keys "Unthinkable" (Lenzman dnb remix)

  Alicia Keys - UnThinkable (Lenzman Drum'n'Bass) by Crisu Pissu

This beautiful remix of Alicia Keys will probably never ever be released... And I must say this remix is better than the original.

Added, 28 May 2011: You can download a 320kbps MP3 file of this track here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Magasin 3

Part III of my "Rediscover Stockholm Spring 2011" campaign targets at Magasin 3, Stockholm's reputedly best contemporary art gallery. I always wanted to visit this place, but every time I had an opportunity, Magasin 3 was closed (like this) or I caught cold due to cold winter. Finally I manage to arrive today.

I planned to have lunch at a cafe nominated for Gulddraken 2011 award nearby which turns out to be closed over the weekend. Yes, it's Stockholm.

The entrance of Magasin 3 is perplexing at first glance:


It turns out both of these two doors are the lifts which take you to the first floor on which Magasin 3 gallery spaces are located. And the left lift is a big one, looking like the one for lifting stuff, not people. This is a nice prelude to the world of contemporary art.

The first thing I do is to have lunch. Cafes and restaurants in museums and galleries are not particularly impressive in this (self-claimed) capital city of Scandinavia. And so I avoid having coffee. But a baguette sandwich and a Sicilian lemonade imported from southwest England are both pretty good. Another pleasant surprise.

This weekend Magasin 3 hosts a contemporary dance performance. I imagined it would be performed in the middle of art gallery with art works in the background. No. It takes place in an empty gallery space, which is a bit disappointing. But the dance itself is of high quality. With no music in the background, two female dancers, one of them looking boyish, the other wearing a rather nerdy sweatshirt (even though she looks very beautiful), interact with each other by body movements as if they were one person and his/her own self, trying to identify with each other. After lots of trial and error for about 10 minutes, they finally get connected. I've never watched contemporary dance as seriously as I do today. But I like it.

The exhibition features the best pieces of work collected by Magasin 3 and its associated partners throughout Europe in the past decade or so. The way the curator puts these pieces together in the gallery space is sometimes nerve-disturbing, which is great as the role of a gallery is to add value to art works with the way they display. After being exposed to contemporary art during my five years of life in London, I think I have more discerning senses in contemporary art than the average person. And I can tell you many works are pretty good. My favorite is a video installation which shows the artist obstructing a queue of several lorries from moving forward at night for about 10 minutes (Person Obstructing A Line Of Containers, by Santiago Sierra). Lorry drivers, of course, get frustrated, honking a horn repeatedly and flashing the light, which becomes a kind of sound and visual art. A giant heap of black confetti (Sans titre (Le Terril), by St├ęphane Thidet) creates a sense of uneasiness, because it looks like a heap of coal, suggesting something heavy, but each piece of the heap is a very tiny piece of paper, unnerving your commonsense. Another video installation showing street demonstrators in Albania carrying mirrors instead of protest banners (The Landscape Is Changing, by Mircea Cantor) also distorts your commonsense as you start wondering what these demonstrators try to demonstrate. Do they protest against what the city looks like (which mirrors reflect) or do they actually support what the mirrors reflect?

But other works are more disturbing. One video installation (Barbed Hola, by Sigalit Landau) shows the artist herself, naked and standing on an Israeli beach, playing a hola-hoop with the barbed wired hoop... Another video installation (History of the Main Complain, by William Kentridge) is a black-and-white (and red) animation made of a series of hand-drawing cartoons, showing a person is beaten up or hit by a car. An animal-looking sculpture (Animal, by Peter Fischli & David Weiss) has an ass hole (literally) through which you can peak into this animal's stomach (which is completely empty), and this behavior itself starts making you feel uneasy (Why am I looking into an ass hole only to find nothing?).

You can see the images of all the works in the exhibition, including those mentioned above.

Overall, the exhibition is of great quality. But I got mentally tired when I got home. There is a tendency for contemporary art exhibition in Stockholm to get gloomy, perhaps because ordinary people in this country are more or less happy.

The building that houses Magasin 3

Saturday, April 16, 2011

DJ Fresh - Future Jungle EP

DJ Fresh has been a very productive and successful producer of drum & bass music in the past decade. Such an artist could have become conservative, sticking to his own style that is known to be successful. However, Fresh keeps reinventing himself, and his latest release, Future Jungle EP, pushes the frontier of drum & bass even further. In particular, the tracks entitled Ice Cream and Arkanoid are the new kind of sound that cross-breads jungle and dubstep and lets it grow under the parenthood of the early 1990s rave music. Listen to the official teaser:

  Fresh - Ice Cream - Future Jungle EP by RAM Records

  Fresh - Arkanoid - Future Jungle EP by RAM Records

If you love this sound, click here to purchase the EP (or each single track) as high-quality MP3 files at Beatport. (Beatport is my favorite music download site for club music.) It's on sale at iTune, too.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Outlook Festival 2011

This bass music festival in Croatia on 1-4 September seems like a bomb. They focus on club music that features the bass sound: reggae, dub, drum & bass, dubstep, hiphop and the like. It's held on the beach. And the festival takes place in a country that's exotic enough to most of us. I might be going.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Snickarbacken 7

As the second instalment of my Rediscovering Stockholm in Spring 2011 campaign (the first one was the Sven-Harry's art museum), I visited Snickarbacken 7, another new addition to Stockholm.

Entrance

It is a concept store that houses a shop selling clothes, furniture, and other items, an art gallery, and a cafe, occupying a high-ceiling ground floor of the 19th century building with church-like vaults in Gothic style.

Frankly speaking, the exhibition at the art gallery (Galleriet S7) was disappointing. It occupies the best part of the space, the church-like vaults, but the narrow, long shape of the gallery space appears to backfire; you cannot appreciate the work from a distance. A video installation which keeps showing two hands without any movement at all was set up at the rear of the vault space, which can be seen from a distance (and indeed from the entrance). But this video installation doesn't seem to benefit from such a long-distance viewing.

The store appeared interesting. On the shelf is the kind of stuff I usually don't see in other retail shops in Stockholm. (But as a foreigner who needs to move to a new apartment at least once in every year due to the notorious rent control, I don't feel like buying a new piece of furniture.)

The vaults
The cafe (Kaffeverket) is probably the best attraction of Snickarbacken 7. I enjoyed apple-ginger juice with mint leaves. A cup of cafe macchiato was not too bad, which is a rarity in Stockholm. A toasted sandwich of jamon serrano, manchego, and paprika paste sauce on levain bread was okay, though . With nice background music in good quality of sound, the stone floor intentionally left rough, and the vaults on the roof, the atmosphere is cozy. Perhaps due to its location (slightly off the main shopping area), it's not packed around noon on Saturday. Another plus in a city with all the good cafes being particularly busy over the weekend.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Lars Kleen at Sven-Harrys Art Museum

I visited the Sven-Harrys Art Museum, the latest addition to Stockholm's landscape. From outside the museum building looks a bit tacky with its golden panels. Once I get inside, however, the atmosphere is more modest and minimalistic. White walls are typical of art museums these days, but the wooden, rather than concrete, floors reflect a sense of Scandinavian roots.

The museum's opening exhibition features a Swedish artist named Lars Kleen. There are two massive sculptures on display on the ground floor, which at first glance look like an industrial architecture using disused materials like metal bars, wires, ropes, veneer boards. A fad in contemporary art these days is the recycling. So far nothing surprising.

When a museum clerk slightly pushed the second gigantic structure with his leg, I saw the structure swinging. I realized what I see is no "nothing surprising". I started investigating how the sculpture is assembled. A few minute's study revealed that 75 percent of this massive structure is actually hanging by just four ropes from the central part.

Displayed on the way upstairs are two miniature sculptures, both of which again consist of one part suspended by another part. I started feeling some sort of dangerous dependency.

And the last sculpture on the upstairs floor is this:

(The photo is taken from vastrasicklao.se.)

I sat down on the bench and looked this up for a while. It looks impossible. The center of gravity of this structure looks so high. It's not hanged from anywhere. It's just standing. And the thin legs of the house-looking structure, which seems to me a sort of Shinmei-zukuri (Japan's oldest architectural style used for shinto shrine such as Ise Jingu), touch the lower part with tiny pieces of wood in between. How can this be supported?

And for no reason (or perhaps for obvious reasons) I started thinking about the massive earthquake and tsunami that destroyed many coastal towns and nuclear power plants in Japan three weeks ago. I started seeing Japan in this structure. For whatever trick it may be, something unthinkable is realized with human creativity. But its basis looks so fragile. If the 20-meter tsunami wave hits this structure, it will break down for sure, no matter how ingenious the way to construct it is. And what's worse, we don't know why this is possible, just like we don't really know what radioactive radiation really does to human health. Without knowing its exact mechanism, our life heavily relies on it. The electricity to Tokyo this coming summer will be expected to be severely under supplied.

I wondered if I should ask why this structure actually is standing. Perhaps leaving it unknown is the whole point of this art. But I couldn't resist. The museum clerk told me it's a sheer act of balance. Still I cannot really believe it.

I imagined what if the artist used brand-new materials to make this, instead of recycled ones. I would feel just impressed and perhaps praise the skill of the artist and human creativity in general. The use of rubbish to construct this act of balance is probably crucial here. The museum clerk said some visitors, especially men, felt like doing something similar by themselves, by collecting rubbish. (That's quite Swedish a way of reaction, by the way.) This episode even makes it scary. People think, "Well, I can do it."

It's a well-thought-out installation. I tip my hat to the artist and the museum curators who pick his works as the opening exhibition.

I now have one more favorite place in Stockholm.