Category Archives: Entertainment

Kraftwerk in Los Angeles, CA for 2014 Tour, 8 shows

Kraftwerk LiveThe perception of music and its unification with our senses is a well-studied area. I remember being 8 years old, using a pair of (vintage) Technics headphones as a microphone to record all kinds of random noises. “Headphones as a microphone?” you may ask yourself. Well, by using the left side of the membrane as a microphone, it is actually possible. In some way, I figured this out and started recording my own beatboxing sessions and voice-overs.

Spontaneously, along with my daily karaoke sessions sitting on the floor next to my family’s rack-mounted Technics HiFi setup, I soon found tapes (Compact Cassette) with music. Kraftwerk, Yanni, Depeche Mode. Mind was blown. Away. “Sweet music”, I thought. And that was it.

Kraftwerk started my musical journey which led me into the depths of electronic music, experimental music and sound modulation. So it would be a bit of an understatement to say that I’m an avid EDM fan. I dedicated my entire youth to electronic music and soundscaping. And all of it is thanks to one single band. A band that influenced me so much. And my admiration is far and beyond what words can explain.

I’ve recorded a bunch of covers on various Kraftwerk songs. This track is a remix of “The Robots” played on a Yamaha PSR-2000. “We’re the Robots” (Oriental Downbeat remix).

Kraftwerk GIF

Kraftwerk is back!

The band will perform at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA on March 18-21, 2014.

Kraftwerk – The Catalogue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 is a chronological exploration of their sonic and visual experiments, showcasing eight classic master works from across their celebrated repertoire with spectacular 3D visualizations and effects.

Kraftwerk’s technological innovation and minimalism resonates deeply throughout modern music. Their albums have had a worldwide influence across a wide range of music genres.

Kraftwerk’s technological innovation and minimalism resonates deeply throughout modern music. Their albums have had a worldwide influence across a wide range of music genres. With their visions of the future, Kraftwerk created the soundtrack for the digital age of the 21st century.

Combining sound and images, the performances showcase 40 years of musical and technical innovation, including new improvisations, 3-D projections and animation. Commencing with Autobahn, each performance covers one of Kraftwerk’s groundbreaking studio albums in full and appear in order of their release — Autobahn (1974), Radio-Activity (1975), Trans Europe Express (1977), The Man-Machine (1978), Computer World (1981), Techno Pop (1986), The Mix (1991) and Tour de France (2003) — alongside additional compositions from their back catalog.

  • 1 Autobahn (1974), Tuesday, March 18, 7:30 PM
  • 2 Radio-Activity (1975), Tuesday, March 18, 10:30 PM
  • 3 Trans Europe Express (1977), Wednesday, March 19, at 7:30 PM
  • 4 The Man-Machine (1978), Wednesday, March 19, at 10:30 PM
  • 5 Computer World (1981), Thursday, March 20, at 7:30 PM
  • 6 Techno Pop (1986), Thursday, March 20, 10:30 PM
  • 7 The Mix (1991), Friday, March 21, 7:30 PM
  • 8 Tour de France (2003), March 21, 10:30 PM

The tickets are not for sale, but you can register for the chance to get access to the tickets on December 11 when they start selling them.

It is possible to buy up to four (4) tickets in total, across the eight shows.

This show will be my second time attending a live concert with Kraftwerk. My previous concert was in Malmoe, Sweden (on Saturday 19 May, 2001) when Karl Bartos was on his tour. His single “15 Minutes of Fame” came out the previous year, in 2000, and he was promoted his new music. The 2014 Los Angeles concerts will be Kraftwerk’s first L.A. dates since 2005.

Dawn of Midi on Radiolab: Evolution of Trance-Minimal-Ethnic

Dawn of Midi

Today, I was listening through my podcasts, and started listening to the latest episode of Radiolab, titled Dawn of Midi. The title instantly caught my eyes, as Midi, to me, only can mean one thing. Musical Instrument Digital Interface. The language of digital music communication that allow musical devices to communicate with each other.

The host of Radiolab, Jad Abumrad, being a musician and composer himself, started off saying “So I am going to put my music hat on”. And from there, I knew that the show would be one of those great Radiolab episodes. The rate of excitement increased when Jad started to explain what Midi is, to his co-host.

Dawn of Midi is a band consisting of three friends, Aakaash Israni, Amino Belyamani, and Qasim Naqvi. And below are short excerpts from the show that I tried to transcribe:

Jad starts off introducing the band and what music they were listening to and what inspired them:

They were also listening to different kinds of music, like electronic music, stuff like Aphex Twin, also one of them get into Trance, not Techno Trance, but like a lot of stuff from Africa. West African music, but also music from Morocco. These were musical traditions that have a totally different approach to rhythm.

“Quantum States of Time”

Jad explains Dawn of Midi’s music to his co-host.

What you have in a lot of that music, are these vertical stacks of rhythms, like almost multiple time flows existing simultaneously, in the same moment. [..] They are playing different beats. Pulling each other, in some sense. If I listen in and pick out the different lines, I get lost in the intricacies of their rhythms. If I listen out, I can just nod my head to it for 45 minutes, but if I listen in I am like, Jesus God, what is the bass player doing, I have no idea what beat he is on. It is interesting to me the way of the patterns of interior, they kinda’ mess with your ear, they could also be on their own cycle, falling in and out of phase but when you pull out, listening the whole music together, you’re like ‘oh yea, I can nod my head to this.’

I had not heard about Dawn of Midi prior to listening to this episode of Radiolab. A lot of these areas of music, that relate to the complexity of Ostinato-type music, originate from the Sub-Saharan regions. I have written about this in my studies on Oriental Music and the theory of quarter tones. Very interesting how these guys have evolved the same type of monotonous, minimalistic ethnic-ish music into an art form with so few musical components.

Check out Dawn of Midi’s new album Dysnomia

Spotify updating iOS app, launching Mobile Radio for ‘Freemium’ & Premium users

Better late than never.  Swedish music streaming service Spotify has updated its iOS app with a new feature that allow users to generate and build radio stations by using artists, songs, albums or simply the playlists provided by Spotify (more than 28 genres and lists). In the past, only paying Premium users were able to play music in the mobile app, hence the Radio feature will allow unlimited streaming for non-paying users.

And as most Radio-esque streaming applications, you will only be limited to a certain number of song skips which cope with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the guidelines for limitations on free music streaming. The app will therefor limit freemium users to 6 (six) song skips per hour while Premium customers get unlimited skips. Wouldn’t be fair to limit the loyal customers, would it.

It is for now only available on iOS, and Android should hopefully be expecting to see the update soon enough. The feature only works in US for non-paying users, although Premium users outside of the United States will also be able to use the feature. The only difference would be the advertisements that abruptly hinder the listening, but it’s still worth it if you’re not spending the $9.99/month. And if you choose to do so, offline mode will be available as well as ad-free listening.

You will be able to thumbs up and thumbs down each individual song that is playing in the “radio station” that was created. Any ‘thumbs up’ will consequently add the song to a new music playlist (non-radio) called Liked from Radio which feature all your “liked” songs. I noticed the new playlist on my desktop app, although it was synchronized to the mobile app as well. Interestingly, the thumb rating algorithm which is based on a technology from Echo Nest only applies to the current playlist that it was rated within. Such feature will limit the creation of an overall rating profile for your account, unlike other music streaming services which will collect and analyze your ratings into one definite profile. Spotify’s approach is actually really good. Especially if you’re sharing your account with other family members or friends; each person will be able to create their own playlist style with the thumb rating for their personal radio stations, yet limiting Spotify algorithms to only operate within the playlist, much like a collateral music sandbox. In other words, whatever you like and dislike (thumbs up and thumbs down) will result in a customization for that specific radio station only.

I am not sure whether the rating algorithm is as advanced and accurate as Pandora’s more straightforward approach, but time will tell. The main difference is the human interaction that takes place through the Pandora application, whereas Spotify to a great extent relies on the social graph to change the song picks in the radio. As of date, there is no rating system in the native desktop application (version It would be safe to say that we are due to see a similar rating feature within the desktop application also. Spotify is slowly rolling out the Echo Nest integration in the Mobile Radio and Artist Radio which means that the user thumb analysis will get better as time goes. ‘Echo Nestified’ songs will show up with an Echo Nest logo next to the artist artwork up to four seconds before it disappears.

The Dictator ‘Admiral General Aladeen’ features Oriental Music Soundtrack

Sacha Baron Cohen in 'The Dictator' at the World Premiere

Introduction to Oriental Music in North Africa

The northern part of Africa – the southern coast of the Mediterranean – with its desert and mountain surroundings is quite distinct from the rest of Africa. The region has been called ‘island of the west’ and ‘place of the sun’s setting’ by early Arab writers that saw the land as a divergent from rest of Africa, both ethnically and culturally. The four countries of the ‘Maghrib’ (North Africa) are Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. They cover an area half the size of United States of America. I have explained the musical history in these areas in the past through my papers on oriental music and theories.

The most important impression of North Africa is the rich ethnic tapestry of complex and multifaceted musical history. It also include Spanish Muslims, more known as the “Andalusians” that moved to North African cities in the wake of Christian reconquests and particularly after the expulsion of 1609. The Spanish influences have enriched and vitalized many musical genres in the region. Similarly, the Maltese and Sicilians have historically also lived in close contact with North Africans through laborers and seafaring people that crossed the Mediterranean waters during the era of Aghlabite hegamony from 9th to 11th century.

(Note that Andalusian music of the Maghreb does not refer to the modern Spanish province of Andalucia, but to Al-Andalus, a medieval Muslim state.)

The Dictator – Music from the Motion Picture

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the music in Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest blockbuster (I’d like to coin the new term ‘mockomedy’ for this type of flick). The first track of the 40 minute long movie soundtrack is a cover on Dr Dre’s ‘ The Next Episode‘ (listen) which features Aladeen, Mr Tibbz and Aiwa (Um, (un)known artists!?). The second track, ‘Ila Nzour Nebra‘  (listenby Jalal Hamdaoui is an Moroccan song from the 80’s by Reda Bouchnak more known as a member of the Bouchnak brothers where he played bass and sang the chorus lines. They’re one of the pioneering bands in classic Raï music that evolved oriental and contemporary music, such as Spanish (see above), Ma’luf, Al-Andalus and Malhun. The youngest band member, Hamid Bouchnak which was the lead singer, drummer and keyboard player is actively producing in the industry as of date.

A few other famous covers include ‘Everybody Hurts‘ originally by REM, but now sung by the Tunisian MC Rai. A few other more familiar cover songs included in the soundtrack is the old Dolly Parton song ‘9 to 5‘ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let Get It On‘.

‘Goulou L’Mama’ has a middle eastern beat that goes along the same line as ‘Ila Nzour Nebra’ which reminds me of Pop music fused with modern Raï. Interestingly, the word Raï means opinion, something the dictator is constantly portraying through something much compared to an absurd visual leitmotif in a fictional cartoon. The music is just a mirror of the movie. It spans from meh, great and terrible. The two lacking cornerstones (musical training and tradition) in the “modern-day” raï (post-1980’s) caused impromptu and improvisational clichés from reggae, pop, rock and other musical genres. That’s basically what has been characterized as Cheb Raï, thus many artists calling themselves Cheb (Khaled, Mami, Khada, Zahouani etc). Nevertheless, the culmination of raï is flimsily represented in Mr Cohen’s motion picture soundtrack, and I am glad that he went extreme with the intertextuality of so many musical genres and dispersed the artistic norms. But the most important question remains: What will be Sacha Baron Cohen’s next project?

Listen to the songs from ‘The Dictator’ either on Amazon or through the following direct link on Spotify.

Chromeo doing a ‘Business Casual’ South America tour in May

Chromeo 'Business Casual' tour flyerMy favorite electrofunk duo is jamming their way through the South American territory on the ‘Business Casual Tour’ which started off on May 11 in São Paulo at Sónar a.k.a the “International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art”. Last time I wrote about Chromeo, they had just got back in the studio after a 18 month long tour around the globe, where they had nearly 50 tour dates.

On May 12 they played at Circo Voador in Rio de Janeiro followed by a few days of recreational slacking and hunting for Brazilian Caquis ‘Persimmon’ (see photo proof below). The ‘Tenderoni’ stage legs were there as well, of course!  The duo has since played in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile. The tour ends with a gig in Bogota, Colombia on May 19th. Dave-1 and P-Thugg have shared a few photos from the tour on Instagram (along with a bunch of fan photos). Below are a few pictures that I have randomly Statigram’d for your pleasure. Let us see what’s going on When The Night Falls. Heh.


Make sure to check out their albums ‘Business Casual‘ and ‘Fancy Footwork‘. They’re awesome!