[a]pendics.shuffle: The name jumped off the screen during some late-night online record shopping. One day I'll share about the site itself, as I'm on there often - but admittedly I'm very protective of the outfit: For selfish reasons of course: The spot's usually got wicked underground electronic tunes (on vinyl, CD and hi-rez downloads via FLAC & .WAV). I don't wanna see it over-exposed, under-staffed, and bought by some huge conglomerate who'll churn it into another nightmare cookie-cutter online music shopping experience. Ironically, that scenario, and the thought process behind trying to avoid it, is similar to the way I feel about that style of music. "EDM" or electronic dance music, has always been more than a uber-hip acronym to me and many friends who's connection to the music is beyond artist names and album titles. I started going to raves in the early-nineties in Brooklyn. Those events are now infamous amongst electronic devotees: Brooklyn S.T.O.R.M rave. You couldn't buy a ticket to S.T.O.R.M Rave at Tickmaster, or on Eventbrite (well, to be fair, Eventbrite didn't exist yet, along with the rest of the internet). These were true raves: Illegal parties, with map-points: Check-points in the city that eventually lead to the underground party. Or, if you happened to be a bunch of Nu Jacks that weekend, you mighta' been lead astray, and barely made it to the event before it was shut-down. But you never made that mistake again. These happenings were organized and executed through an organically constructed underground network known then as S.U.N: the Storm Underground Network. There was even a zine dedicated to the underground electronic scene back then entitled Under One Sky that DJ Heather Heart published. I was honored to have a couple of short-stories that I submitted (about certain parties of course) published in that cool little book that Heather ran. When I think about it: Those might've been my first published works! Life is a trip. As a matter of fact, along with holding down the newsletter-styled magazine, Heather Hart was (and still is) an incredibly gifted DJ, confessed music addict, and member of the original Groove Records crew (w/ Frankie Bones and Adam X): They were the driving force behind S.T.O.RM Rave. The music was different stylistically from [a]pendics.shuffle, but the drive; the momentum, the atmospheric landscapes, and the nasty, twistin' burnin' synths and stabs that got my blood-pumping all knock to the same beats that've echoed throughout the times of those early warehouse parties into the present.
Aware Sequence Found Life is an electronic journey. It plays like a live DJ set almost, and usually, when a DJ is locked-into the crowd, they end up telling a story together. It's a reciprocal process. The DJ minds the crowd, checks their collective pulse, and takes the dance-floor on a journey with them if they're dialed-in to the vibe of the crowd. If they read the people on the dance-floor, both DJ and dancers take that journey together. For me, I know a DJ is on when I can't seem to tear myself from the dance-floor no matter how much my middle-aged body starts to hurt. Well, [a]pendics.shuffle has captured that energy on this LP. And I've often said here at OccupyHifi that I don't believe in coincidence: That everything seems to happen for a reason. The last few weeks have been beyond anything I can describe here (family drama stuff, friends, blah blah blah - who gives a shit) and I needed some kinda' escape. I'm way too damn broke for Ibiza, and I don't have the luxury of goin' out clubbin' much these days (oh the life of a freelancer) so by the time the pounding kicks of "Sunburned Tears" hit, I had a feelin' I was in for a helluva good ride. The record is also sequenced so damn well, and that's an unfortunate rarity these days, as a crappy sequence can kill the vibe of an LP instantly. No such fear here. I listened from beginning to end my first time around with Aware Sequence Found Life and I can't even remember the last time that happened with a new electronic release. I was craving something drivy, but I also wanted some sonic/compositional variety, which is another unfortunate rarity today. [a]pendics.shuffle not only delivered the goods, but he managed to do something very, very few artists can do all these years later: He certainly gave my a first-class ticket to that escape I've been needing, and, in addition transported me back to those dirty warehouses of the early nineties. Again, I'm not drawing parallels stylistically - rather the vibe of the record is what I'm referring to. What my friends in the dance scene used to call "peaks and valleys." We loved house music, but we also needed a switch-up now and then. When I was DJing that was one of my primary goals: Take the crowd on a journey (cuz hey, it's house music right) and gave em a surprise now and then - but keep em' groovin'. I can't wait to see this man play live. I have a distinct feeling I'm going to clear a portion of that dance floor as I stomp my troubles away. Doing that: Taking everything from the previous week: The good, the bad, the frustrating, and even the joy; and taking those feelings out onto the dance-floor with me, with the intention of dancing my ass of until I worked em' outta my system. I gotta say (and no, I haven't trued Yoga): There aren't too many things I can think of that've felt as rejuvenating and cleansing as a full night of dancing full-throttle. Sure, I was one huge soar muscle when I finally got home. But it was worth it. Aware Sequence Found Life is a record that I'm gonna be bumpin' for quite some time. I'm sure a couple of friends are sick of it already. Me? I like the LP the more spins I give it. It's also has a distinct advantage: Taking me back to those early rave days - that's somethin' special. I wish I could summarize that for you - but then again: If I could so easily do so, how special were those times?
It's difficult to encapsulate all the reasons soulful underground electronic grabs me so deeply. But a huge part of the whole experience are the memories from various raves, warehouse or outlaw parties (planned quickly, almost ninja-like, and illegal) that I carry with me during listening sessions. Whether via cans or loudspeakers, as long as the delivery mechanism is resolving and dynamic (much like the memories it triggers) I find myself more easily transported to another time and place while listening to underground (non-commercial) electronic dance music than other styles and genres. Now, I'm not sayin' I can't be transfixed by the cosmic sonics of Pink Floyd (on the contrary rather, I love that freakin' band), or the rugged and vulnerable Americana that's virtually painted by the almost visual, yet brilliantly simple song-writing style of Levon Helm and The Band. All kinds of music can act as time machines for me when I'm fully enmeshed in the listening experience. I believe, when it comes to experiencing electronic dance music (or, a.k.a the dreaded "EDM" acronym, now inescapable) without doing so intentionally, my connection to the music is profoundly personal because of so many cherished memories within the culture that evolved along-side the music itself. I was lucky to be there with my crew of lifelong friends in the early nineties during the days of S.U.N: the STORM Underground Network. Collectively, we experienced what many consider the birth (or, perhaps more accurately: The re-birth) of American rave culture. It was so fresh, so new and exciting; the weekends were all about: Where's the fuckin' party, who's got the hotline number (call-in services with the up-coming party intel: Location, DJ line-up, things like that), who's comin', and when do we leave! One particular memory that always comes to mind when trying to explain the magic in the air back then: The same crew that threw those now-legendary Brooklyn S.T.O.R.M Raves put together a party under the Whitestone Bridge in New York called Back to Basics. The rave lasted from sometime late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon (uh huh) as most of the best ones did. This always meant, of course providing it was an outdoor-party, (and Back to Basics, was one of my all-time favorites) that we got to dance our asses off to the sunrise together. I don't mind sayin': Some of those mornings were religious experiences. I imagine it sounds bit redundant to call those moments glorious, but they sure as hell were to me. And, like we often hear from devotees of other underground scenes that were once small enough to remain community-driven, but also just big enough to sustain themselves for awhile: If there's money to be made exploiting the passion (and, in most cases, the associated fashion - rhyme completely unintentional BTW) that drives those scenes, and that can lead to greater numbers/attendance/potential for commerce at larger events; eventually a corporate entity (and most cases, numerous corporate entities) are gonna want a piece of that action. Think gentrification: Things get alot cleaner, and like I said before: You end up with more commerce. Basically, corporate America comes-in, and turns to the same playbook that's worked for them for years: Get rid of the little folks, the salt-of-the-Earth-types, the kinda' people who give anywhere they settle a sense of community and culture. After they've done all that, they make sure to tear down the places that gave the area its individuality, the very things that made it stand out from the rest. And when they're done with their giant cookie-cutter, they make sure to make ample room for all the superficial materialistic crap that some people need in order to feel whole in todays consumer-culture. They wanna feel cool, or perhaps fill a void they've yet to identify within themselves. In summation: Peeps with money come in, suck the soul right outta the joint, gloss it up and sell it off block-by-block. And who buys? People seeking a nice, safe, wonderfully clean environment where bland equals comfort. Sorry, but I say: Fuck that. I wanna dance on a warehouse floor now and then and kick up dust. I long for those nights that bled into sunrises and Sunday afternoons stacked with mimosas and slammin' beats. We all felt like we were a part of something, something bigger than ourselves. It was tribal, it was raw, and it was muthafuckin' spectacular! Something that always stuck with me about those parties: We had some serious gangsters up in there sometimes, and it's not like there was an allocated budget for security or anything like that. But honestly, those cats were the best when it came to taking care of their fellow party-goers! They always made sure we got our water and party favors: Anything we needed. I sometimes thought to myself, "ya know, tomorrow this guy would probably jack me for the tiny bit o' money I have left"! But at the raves, we all worked together in order to transform our environment into a situation that eventually gave birth to P.L.U.R: Peace, Love, Unity, Respect. That was the tag for the underground electronic scene. Even that's been commercialized and homogenized to death. Those feelings reflect my personal experiences and the communal aspect of rave culture. It's tribalistic. When we're all goin' for it on the dance floor; we are, whether we like it or not, engaged in an active, on-going collective experience. Some of the early warehouse parties ended-up so packed we would all dance while leaning on each other: Moving like an ocean of legs and arms and torsos and shoulders. Our skin was burnt, our feet were killin' us, but we were in the light. How could I possibly describe the feeling of dancing to techno under the White Stone Bridge during sunrise with pure MDMA (a.k.a Ecstasy) coursing through our veins? I'm not nearly that elevated of a scribe quite yet. But I can say this much: [a]pendics.shuffle's Aware Sequence Found Life instantly transported me back to those most-glorious times of my life. We couldn't wait for the next party, and those happenings also provided a collective release, and a necessary one I believe. Listening to [a]pendics.shuffle's Aware Sequence Found Life, I close my eyes and in no time at all I'm back at those parties. This is some powerful stuff he's composed. It's an epic electronic journey: Packed with those "peaks and valleys" we always craved so desperately, while enmeshed in lush, dynamic soundscapes. It's basically what a great night out dancing always meant to me before the scene exploded . It provides a much-needed escape, as fleeting as that may be (after all, isn't everything): Aware Sequence Found Life has, on many occasions, pulled me from the every-day monotony of house-hold necessities, work-related action item lists, and those damn adult responsibilities. Because every now and then I gotta unplug and find a way to shut off the world. Sure, mediation works great. Nothin' wrong with silence, and I know more than a few of my friends would like nothing more than silence when my motor-mouth is around. Me? Since I bought Aware Sequence Found Life; all I gotta do is put on my cans, crank up the system, hit play, and sit back. Unfortunately, I don't get to set my iPhone to "Do Not Disturb" nearly as much as I should these days. Because, as my Pops says: "It's always somethin'"! However, when I got [a]pendics.shuffle's Aware Sequence Found Life thumpin' - not only does that mean Do Not Disturb: It also means do-so at your own peril! It's just been far too long since I've had a new release catch me the way this LP has. The other night, I sat down at the Sonic Satori Personal Audio Lab to do some listening and jot-down some prose for this column. Third-track in, I said "screw this shit": I'm kickin' back and losin' myself in this. I needed it. Thanks to [a]pendics.shuffle for givin' me what I've been needing most lately: A break from reality. I've gone on some amazing journeys with Aware Sequence Found Life. Highly recommend it!
Just do as Hunter S. said: "Buy the ticket, take the ride". I don't think you'll regret it. The LP just started again actually, just as I got to the end of this column! The funny thing is: I think this might say more about my love for this album than all the pretty words above: I don't give a shit: I'm stickin' it out til' the end again! After all, the sun's about to come up, and I got some woes to dance away...