Speaking in Code

Lately, underground dance music has assumed a new role in the world.

Internet distribution has flung trax all over, and allowed for artists and scenes to collaborate and communicate with each other at an accelerated pace -- and at longer distances.

It has also become more sophisticated. Generic trance sounds and pre-programmed samples are kept at a distance as they relate to the more careful production done today. It gets deeper and more effecting. It's no longer trapped in warehouses and headphones, but also played in chic hotel bars, plaza squares and primetime commercials.

All types of listeners are interested now, as well. Consider the indie rock kids who've turned dancefloor enthusiasts, the Europeans born post-Kraftwerk or beat producers sampling late disco synths, &c.

The real point to the documentary has yet to come into sharp focus, but broadly it is:

who is making this music?
who is listening to this music?

We wanted to see how big the scene really is. And, well, it's pretty flippin big... as in practically worldwide.

Speaking in Code is designed to map the scene through narrative, characters, music and of course, devine footage. We've already talked to multiple artists, journalists and fans. We want to talk to many more.

Our director: Amy Lee Grill, an experimental filmmaker who runs Emerson College Television. This is her first feature-length documentary. Astounding angles, stills and perspective. I can assure you the movie will look like none other.

Our Director of Photography: Scott Sans, young film savant, has a mastery of light and motion... and is working freelance all over the USA. Literally.

Co-producers: Me, David Day and Philip Sherburne a writer and editor extraordinaire.

He most recently put together this piece for Slate magazine. Class act.

This is one minute of the 30 hours we've filmed so far. More To Come.

Download this link to your desktop, open quicktime and play.

If that doesn't work for mac users, here is a link to another location for the file.


Mr. Jonson

The new face of undergound dance music are characters like Mathew Jonson, a kid from British Columbia and a music genius who seemed to be able to pick up anything and play it. Well, it seems he found some electronic gear quite early on. What he does and what he does it with are equally remarkable. sQuare productions heard this cut laced throughout his live sets at Mutek.

"Return of the Zombie Bikers" is his latest 10+ minute development. The endearing morse code sound (a la "rocker" and the rest) through the first three minutes of the track meets a bass doppelganger around 3:39. Then M.J. kicks it into the dub bin. Put it on in the club and note the exits.

You will get a peek at Jonson in action when our 1-minute web teaser for "Speaking in Code" shows up here... yeah, that's hype. Believe it.

For now, Mathew Jonson's latest slab:

(The volume knob goes clockwise, s.t.g.):

Mathew Jonson - "Return of the Zombie Bikers"


We Are Monster

Dance music has, for generations, been misrepresented as repetitive, callous party music. These days, undergound dance music is developing at a pace so rapid, so effusive, that 10 years from now, we will consider it a kind of golden age.

There are a multitude of reasons, but in general it is the result of people growing up. Techno and house heads have been integrated into society, yet keep tuned to the progressive sound of electronic music and its advancement through technology.

Music and technology fit together like art and science, one mirroring the other. There were always better drums, better lutes, better trumpets. Electronics amplified this relationship and now there isn't a track you hear that hasn't been maintained on technological avenues. And as artists become more equipped and familiar with technology, the music gets better.

Isolee is the latest example. His release, which is enthusiastically rumoured to appear on a US label sometime soon, takes this whole process to a new level. We Are Monster is impeccable. Dance music that shifts like dunes. A propulsive sound that crests and spills like tides... The analogies are natural because the music itself is natural, no longer hemmed in by technology but in fact quite the opposite. It's the combination of programming and creativity that lets the sound move like a cloud -- always there, always different.

We'll write more about this as sQuare productions continues to film our electronic music documentary (working title: Speaking In Code). Demo reels have been edited, we have a title sequence &c. It's all rudimentary, but an idea and look is taking a sharp focus. .MOV posts to come.

In the meantime, enjoy a track from one of the greatest albums of the naughties, and a lock on many top 10 lists in the world: Isolee's We Are Monster. Coming soon to a store/download shop/city/place of business near you. Worth every penny.

Gloriously psychedelic dance music.

Isolee - "Enrico"