Chemical Brothers – Star Guitar video: Cleverly Hypnotic

In addition to their world-sized beats, The Chemical Brothers are generally known for their world class videos. I stumbled across this video to Star Guitar from the duo’s 2002 release Come With Us while perusing the ol’ Google Video/YouTube library this afternoon and was quickly fascinated.

It was directed by noted film dude Michel Gondry, who’s done some impressive work, including intriguing videos for Bjork, Beck, Radiohead and many other musicians, as well as numerous innovative television commercials. But he’s also responsible for pioneering “bullet time” cinematography, so negative points there.

Of course, the concept of synchronizing visuals with the rhythm of music isn’t exactly new, but the execution here is clever. Though by the end of minute three, you’ve pretty much gotten the point and are ready to move on.

Star Guitar is an awesome song and the video is pretty cool, so enjoy it:

star guitar at itunes store

come with us at amazon

It’s the Orpheus Express and we’re heading right down to Hades, ladies


One cold night, during the very cold December of 2000, I found myself at the original Handle Bar myspace warning in downtown Pensacola. Dilapidated doesn’t even begin to describe the place, but its rundown condition gave it the perfect character to be a favored destination for the town’s surprisingly robust hipster set, until it burned down in 2001. don’t worry, the handle bar was rebuilt in a new larger building in the same location that’s actually a much better music venue.

The venue was, and continues to be, an iconoclastic home to PBR drinkers and is one of the handful of places in town where independent, unsigned and local musicians can perform their music. On this particular winter’s night, I and a friend from high school (as well as some of her friends) were in attendance of this band who were touring in support of their debut album. Their name was Japanic, a strong enough band name, though I had never heard of them. That night, I wasn’t all that interested in live music, as I was enjoying a mellow hang out with friends. So I was a bit irked when the band started playing and my companions started moving away from the corner Gauntlet machine and toward the stage. Though, the performance space was so small that it was only a matter of steps from the arcade to the stage.

The band rocked pretty well, a quintet producing a kind of keyboard/synth-laden funk rock, like if The Breeders were new wave and danceable with perhaps a hint of Pink Floyd sprinkled into the delivery.

At one point during the set, while the band was breakin’ it down, Tex, the singer, hopped down from the stage and started dancing among the 20 or so gathered people. He also happened to be dancing right next to me. The beat was infectious, and so was the fun he seemed to be having. But I can’t dance, at all. So I upheld the dignity of us both by maintaining my “stoic music appreciation” headbob-and-stare.

All in all it was a very good show, but as is the case with so many upstart bands, I expected to never hear of them again. Thus, it came as quite a surprise that, a week later, I was riding with another friend and discovered Red Book, Japanic’s album, while flipping through the CDs in her car. She was bummed when told her that they’d been in town and she had missed the show, but she let me borrow the CD, a favor for which I am infinitely grateful.

After that, the rest is history. I never did hear anything more of Japanic. At this point, it’s incredibly hard to dig up info about the band, but Space City Rock’s Houston Band Graveyard tells me that the group broke up sometime in 2003, after releasing a second album titled Social Disease. i’ll have to track down a copy of that.

Still, these six years later, that short-lived band continues to fascinate me.


Presented for your enjoyment, Japanic’s signature tune: Orpheus Express, which sounds like the funnest damn trip to hell and back there ever was:


Download a live version of Orpheus Express, found on Austin’s KVRX’s “Unlimited Bandwidth” Local Live Vol. 6.

Red Book at Amazon
The Social Disease at Amazon

Pinwheel Herman: My foot in the door of the postrock scene

At pretty much the first listen, a live version of this song got me hooked on Mouse on Mars, the German team with the heart of gold that expands minds while keeping the beat. In the summer of 2000, this song was the catalyst away from my college-era exploration of club and trance style electronic music, leading me toward the so-called postrock and “intelligent dance music” of the late 90s. From there it was an all downhill run into musical hipsterdom.

Without further ado, tunequest presents Pinwheel Herman, from the incomprehensibly-titled album Niun Niggung. Go nuts.


Hooray to 8000: Roni Size makes a Tunequest milestone

In celebration of numbers that end in sequential zeros, I present the 8000th song played on the tunequest: Breakbeat Era’s sex change from the 1999 album Ultra-Obscene. This achievement comes as part of my Roni Size weekend.

I spent a good portion of yesterday listening to his sprawling 2 and half hour double disc New Forms. That was the record, along with The Chemical Brothers’ Dig Your Own Hole, that turned me onto electronic music when it used to be the “next big thing” (ie 1997).

Breakbeat Era, an experimental side-project of Size’s, is actually a bit of a disappointment compared to New Forms. It’s an attempt to infuse his trademark drum-n-bass with a pop sensibility be incorporating vocals and structure on top of the tracks.

On the whole, the results rank as decent, but the song New Forms from the album of the same name uses a similar philosophy to much greater effect.

Didot 3 – At long last, I’ve found it!

lithops didot

There's a particular electronic song that’s so invigorating that it just keeps popping into my head every so often, at random, without warning or prompting. The problem is that I’ve never quite been able remember what song it is, or who performed it. I can hear it note for note, but every time I think i've come close to identifying it, it slips away. I've long suspected that it was e*vax or esem, but a exhaustive searching of the library failed to reveal it.

But, this morning, out of nowhere, voila! comes that same pulsing, driving beat, over-lapped with the dirtiest grinding wahwah flange that I’ve been search for. Suddenly pounding my ears was Didot 3, the third song on the album Didot, by Lithops, aka Jan Werner who is one half of the one of the few bands whose t-shirt I’m still willing to wear Mouse on Mars.

At last, this particular tunequest is over!

Didot is a very good example of what I call is “listenable experimental electronic music”. A lot of “experimental” music shies away from traditional songcraft and musical appeal. Didot, on the other hand, uses fairly straight-forward arrangements, which despite being composed of harsh electronic sounds, makes it fairly enjoyable to listen to and keeps it from falling into the realm of “difficult but rewarding.”

Give Didot 3 a listen:


This album is very hard to come by. So if you find it, get it.

Golden Shower – Video Computer System: Pixelated Nostalgia

Despite its, um, colorful name, Golden Shower is a Brazilian outfit that produces some excellent electronic music, all of it heavily inspired by the sounds of the 1980s. For something that will blow the mind of any child of that decade, watch the award-winning video (2000 MTV Brasil Video Music Awards) for Video Computer System, then download the song itself.

The video is a tribute to the classic games of the Atari gaming system and the song is actually composed of beeps, boops and other sounds sampled from various gaming titles. The premise is that a protagonist must make his way to a G.S. concert while overcoming typical obstacles from the Atari gaming world including Frogger, Pitfall, Missile Command, Pac Man and others.

At one point, he gets killed, but it’s ok, he’s got another life. Also, the video features some pixelated “bullet time,” which is an interesting concept.

Golden Shower has never released an album in its ten year history, nor is it what is normally called a “band.” It’s more of an art and culture project and all its materials are downloadable. Check it out, I say.

Golden Shower – Video Computer System Atari

Roni Size: a cause & cure for hyperventilation

Back in the day, Roni Size’s / Reprazant’s Brown Paper Bag and the accompanying video on MTV’s AMP remember AMP? were just the mind-blowing thing a musically-experimental shiftless college student needed to expand his horizons. I credit both Brown Paper Bag and The Chemical Brothers’ Dig Your Own Hole with diverting my attention away from rock and focusing it toward the burgeoning electronic scene.

Considering the state of rock throughout 1997 and 1998 and where it has gone since, those acts may have saved me from much musical mediocrity, for which i am eternally grateful.

To this day, the sweet wobbly guitar riff that drives Brown Paper Bag, as well as the pulsing beats and the interjection of some subtly smooth rap continue to make this song compelling, even as my interest in straight-ahead drum and bass is on the decline.

From the album New Forms. Hear the song for yourself and enjoy the awesome video:

Roni Size/Reprazent – Brown Paper Bag