Song Review: Matt Lange Nails Remix of NIN’s “Discipline” [Free Download]

Matt Lange has released a dark, downtempo, and altogether incredible remix of Nine Inch Nails‘s “Discipline.” If you’re a fan of NIN, and Lange’s signature broody, moody production style, this is something you can’t miss. Luckily for you, it’s a free download from his Soundcloud page.

The original is a straightforward rock song off the band’s 2008 album The Slip, propelled by a catchy riff and drum beat. Under Lange’s touch, the song is transformed into a subtle, melancholy meditation that builds from a spare and etherial start into an aggressive and defiant climax, in a fitting tribute to a band known similar song structures. The production is stunning – and of the caliber you’d expect from this talented Anjunabeats producer. The overall sound recalls his Counterstrike Global Offensive music kit, which he recently uploaded to his Soundcloud page.

With his “Discipline” remix, Lange integrates all of the elements that make NIN great – from the overall depressed-yet-determined mood to the glitchy effects – with skill, style, and creativity, while making the production uniquely his own. I was certifiably obsessed with Nine Inch Nails for a good four years, so I feel pretty qualified in saying that this is a high-quality remix that pays tribute to the band in a very faithful way.

What really makes it stand out, though, is the way it carefully builds to a powerful climax in the tradition of the best of NIN songs (see: “Somewhat Damaged,” “Just Like You Imagined,” and “The Becoming“). The high dynamic range lures us closer to the speakers during the quiet moments, forcing us to listen closely as the song gathers strength like a tropical storm. At 4:25, that hurricane makes landfall when Lange drops on us a metal-inspired, deliciously overcrompressed glitch riff that could have been taken straight from “The Great Destroyer” (or “Demon Seed,” or…). Lange rides out the fully unleashed tapestry of sound he’s built while weaving in yet more noise, tension, and glitch, until there’s just nowhere else to go, and the song cuts out. I love that he lets you go right at the point of most intensity, with no time for mental decompression. It’s a refreshing choice in the DJ mix-driven world of dance music that demands lengthy, sometimes lifeless, song intros and outros.

The track is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share-Alike license, meaning that you are free to remix or otherwise modify the track as long as you don’t sell it and you release the resulting work under an identical license. (You can thank Reznor for choosing to release The Slip under such a license in the first place.) It’s because of these terms that Matt can offer the song as a free download. I’ve embedded the file from SoundCloud above, but if you decide to download it, do head over to Matt’s page and give him a follow. And check out another of my favorite Matt Lange tracks below – his remix of Versa‘s “Illusion.”

Show Review: Madeon’s Adventure Tour Debut at the Warfield

On Friday night, Madeon kicked off his Adventure Tour with a highly-anticipated show at the Warfield in San Francisco, with SF natives The M Machine joining him as openers. In fact, there was so much pre-show buzz that the venue was moved from the Regency Ballroom to the Warfield in order to meet demand, according to the promoters. It was an interesting change, as the two venues are very different spaces, but in the end a welcome one, as the tiered, theater-style seating allowed much of the audience a great view of the show.

The M Machine: Hometown Heroes, Hampered as Openers

The M Machine took the stage a few minutes before 9 PM. During their hour-long set, the duo (until recently, a trio) played their best songs from their Just Like EP, including “Just Like,” “Don’t Speak,” and “Pluck Pluck,” plus some of their classic material from Metropolis parts I & II. Most of these got the remix treatment, though they did play the lush and funky “Immigrants” in its full, original glory. Among the non-M Machine tracks they played was Valentino Khan‘s “Deep Down Low.”

The show was held at the Warfield, a theater space, instead of the Regency Ballroom.

The show was held at the Warfield, a theater space, instead of the Regency Ballroom.

I had been excited to catch the guys at a rare hometown show, albeit as openers. When I saw them play at Ruby Skye on the 4th of July of last year, the audience had been sparse but passionate, freeing them to play a weird and impressively hard-hitting set. That same atmosphere did not carry over to the proscenium stage of the Warfield, unfortunately. While a certain portion of the crowd was definitely into it — even chanting “M Machine! M Machine!” at one point — the majority of people bobbed along to Eric and Swardy‘s unique brand of house music half-heartedly while waiting for Madeon to come on. Swardy seemed to acknowledge the lackluster reception at the end of the set, saying, “I know it’s early…” in a way that seemed to be part admonishment, part apology.

Madeon: His Own Secret Weapon

After a brief break to clear The M Machine’s gear, Madeon took to the stage in a leather jacket, unleashing his massive energy

Madeon's Adventure Tour rig invokes Daft Punk and Porter Robinson

Madeon’s Adventure Tour rig invokes Daft Punk and Porter Robinson

on the audience to the sounds of “You’re On” (feat. Kyan). He’s a tiny guy (and still not even drinking age!) which makes his incredible stage presence and clear enthusiasm all the more striking. Part of a DJ’s job is to lead the audience in energy, and even with a light show as elaborate as Madeon’s, if the DJ isn’t into it, the audience won’t be either. But from the second Madeon, a.k.a. Hugo Leclercq, strode on stage, it was clear that he was there with us and for us, just as excited for his tour’s debut as we were. Just moments into the show he was taking power stances, throwing his arms up into the air, leading the audience in rounds of clapping, and even throwing his arms out to the side in classic Armin van Buuren style. His intensity was on the level of the greatest of live DJs like Seven Lions and Skrillex, and like Skrillex inside his mothership, Madeon served as the beating human heart of the epic stage rig, from which all the energy in the room ultimately flowed.

Touring Under the Influence (of Daft Punk and Porter Robinson)

For the tour, which supports his brand new, #1 albumAdventure, Madeon has built a stage rig to rival the most famous setups of EDM stars like Feed Me and Sub Focus. The stage itself, all angles with diamond structure surrounding the DJ, seems to invoke Daft Punk‘s unparalleled Alive 2007 rig. In fact, it’s clear that Daft Punk is this fellow French producer’s biggest artistic influence, from his funky electro-house sound, to the live triggering that makes up the backbone of his show. There was a moment where I was sure he was going to drop “Robot Rock,” and, as the video below makes clear, some of the lighting effects on his rig seemed to be a direct homage to the androids’ Alive tour (compare to footage of Daft Punk’s live “Television Rules the Nation/Crescendolls” mashup).

The rig also strongly resembles Porter Robinson‘s Worlds setup (another influence and a close friend of Madeon’s). The main difference here is that Worlds is an artistic statement in which Porter strives to distance himself from his electro-house past, while Madeon fully embraces his sonic origins with the Adventure Tour, bringing you a stunning spectacle that is ultimately all about dance music.

A Stage Show for the Ages

IMG_8987The stage rig included what seemed to be a couple of laptops, three midi controllers (including the Novation Launchpad that helped launched his fame with his “Pop Culture” Youtube video), a keyboard, and a microphone. Madeon performs with the midi controllers tipped towards the audience, which is an awesome touch. It of course helps show off the undeniable technical ability that sets him apart from “button pusher” DJs, but I also like that it celebrates the small, beautiful wonder of midi controllers themselves: you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on building fancy stage setups, but at the end of the day, most of what’s coming out of the speakers is reproducible on that one tiny, light-up device.

Welcome to the Madeon Show

The song selection was almost all Madeo and included plenty of live exclusives. One of the age-old criticisms of DJs is that, unlike instrumentalists, they’re not creating anything onstage – just reproducing things. Madeon knocks down that criticism handily, crafting one-off remixes of his tracks using his midi controllers as a canvas. He went most wild with “Technicolor,” leaving aside the melody of the recorded version to improvise the lead onstage.

Song selections included “You’re On,” “Cut the Kid,” “Imperium,” “The City,” “Raise Your Weapon,” “Pay No Mind,” and “Finale.” (I was secretly hoping to hear him drop some Lady Gaga, whose recent album ARTPOP he contributed to but alas, it was not so.) The audience cheered loudly when he dropped “Pop Culture” itself in a deftly reproduced live mashup.

Madeon kicked off his Adventure Tour at the Warfield in San Francisco on April 10th

Madeon kicked off his Adventure Tour at the Warfield in San Francisco on April 10th

One of the best surprises of the night was when he brought the energy down low, turned to the keyboard, and started to sing over the smooth tones of a Rhodes to “Home.” It was a special moment, even if I couldn’t make out the lyrics due to a buzzing crowd.

A Show for the Ages

Madeon brought his A-game for the first night of the Adventure Tour, and I’m confident that his passion will continue to make this show come alive for all audiences over the coming months. It had everything you want in a live show: great music, spectacular visuals, high energy, and an excited crowd, plus live creations and exclusives. The tickets for this show got pricey ($52 for the most expensive seats), but if you can scrounge up the cash, I highly, highly recommend going for the experience. You will not regret it.

Below is the Snapchat story I took during the night, including The M Machine’s and Madeon’s performances. If you want to catch these stories as they happen, follow me on Snapchat at theedmist.

Show Review: Max Graham at Audio SF | March 21, 2015

The light wall at Audio.

The light wall at Audio.

Back in December, Max Graham played a 5 hour set at Audio in San Francisco. Though I was excited for the show, I ended up passing on it, for one reason or another.

That was a mistake.

For weeks afterward, I watched on Twitter as he and the attendees of that show glowed about the incredible atmosphere that blossomed that night. Max went so far as to immortalize that evening in his profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter. (He posted part of his set from that performance as episode 185 of his weekly show, Cycles Radio.)

Max Graham at Audio.

Max Graham at Audio.

When it was announced that he was coming around to do it all over again, I made it my mission to attend.

Max’s set on Friday totally lived up to my high expectations. While the music selection was, of course, excellent (more on that in a bit), I think a big part of the magic came from the club itself. Audio is arguably the best venue in San Francisco. It’s small in an intimate way, gorgeously decorated with a truly sublime wall of lights that pulses behind the DJ, and a crowd that tends towards more discerning music fans, rather than casual clubbers (perhaps attributable to the excellent roster of performers they bring in). The audio quality is also fantastic, as it rocks a Funktion-One sound system. In short, it’s an environment perfectly suited for just the sort of dreamy techno and house that Max Graham specializes in.

When I arrived at 11, the dancefloor was full and grooving, though happily not crowded. The crowd swelled gradually until about 1, but for the most part kept its relaxed and respectful character. All night, Max kept the tunes deep and smooth, fostering a dreamy, friendly vibe that made time flow by like water in a hot shower.

IMG_8652_2I go to a lot of shows to hear songs that I know; I came to see Max for the opposite reason – to get lost in the beat without wondering about the artist name, song title, or other trivia that I’m always half-thinking about when I go out. In fact, I could only name a handful of songs that he played, most of which came later in the night. (I made a deliberate effort to keep off of Shazam, although I caved a couple of times. Some songs you just have to pocket so you can relive them later.) At one point, I was surprised to hear Andrew Bayer‘s “Bullet Catch” slinking into the set, since its harder set-opening sound didn’t match with the sound Max had been crafting all night. However, he merely plucked out the beautiful piano breakdown, mixing out before the song ramped back up into high-energy territory. Other tracks I recognized included a remix of an old Above & Beyond track, “No One On Earth,” and a couple selections from Cycles 6. New to me was “Trommer Og Bass” by Andre Bratten, which I thought recalled Shiba San‘s huge tune from last year, “Okay.” The beat practically set the room on fire.

For a deep set, it had more drops than I was expecting. Max spiced up some of the builds by playing around with the high pass filter, creating an effect not unlike sticking your thumb over the speaker of your iPhone. It’s kind of a cheesy tactic, so I prefer to see it done sparingly, but the audience was definitely feeling it.

Max Graham at Audio.

All in all, it was an excellent night full of smooth and entrancing beats. Max himself compared the atmosphere to “a living room house party 👌👌.” If dark and groovy house music is your jam, you won’t want to miss this man the next time he returns to San Francisco – which doubtless won’t be too long.

Update, March 29th: Max posted the first two hours of his set from this night on Soundcloud, so in case you missed out, you can experience some of the magic for yourself.

Show Review: Above & Beyond at Bill Graham Civic Center | March 14, 2015

Above & Beyond at Bill Graham Civic Center. Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

Above & Beyond at Bill Graham Civic Center. Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

There’s one element that makes an Above & Beyond show more than just an EDM concert.

Community.

Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

Newcomers and veterans alike will attest that the energy at an Above & Beyond concert is unlike any other. Friendship, compassion, and goodwill all combine into a sort of gravity that pulls the crowd together.

This is true on most nights, but on Saturday, I found it especially so.

Jono Grant, one third of Above & Beyond, revealed two weeks ago that his sister had died very suddenly. He pulled out of the North American tour temporarily to go back to the UK. During his time there, he helmed a poignant episode of ABGT (#121), dedicating two songs to his sister: Above & Beyond’s own “Good for Me,” and London Grammar’s “If You Wait.”

On Saturday, Jono was back in the US, along with Paavo Siljamäki, to man the decks for the second night of San Francisco performances on the We Are All We Need Tour. The venue was Bill Graham Civic Center, the massive performance space just next to city hall, often graced by acts as large as Skrillex, Bassnectar, and Hardwell.

Anjunabeats newcomer 16 Bit Lolitas served as the first opener, warming up the crowd with his cool and relaxed sound. The vibe was, of course, the total opposite of the second opener, Seven Lions, who laid out a blazing hot set as if he himself were the headliner. Kicking things off with his emotional remix of Velvetine’s gorgeous classic, “The Great Divide,” Seven Lions, a.k.a. Jeff Montalvo, weaved together eclectic tracks that ranged in style from his signature melodic dubstep to big room EDM, drum & bass, and even psytrance. (That last one came in the form of his divisive one-off, “Lucy.”) I personally find his melodic dubstep sound more appealing than the patchwork of styles that he favors in the large settings where I’ve seen him perform, so I came away somewhat disappointed. Even so, watching him live is always a treat. There’s no denying the sheer intensity Jeff brings to the decks, his leonine mane swinging as he enthusiastically headbangs to each monster track he throws down.

Above & Beyond at Bill Graham Civic Center. Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

Above & Beyond dropping “Sticky Fingers” toward the beginning of their set. Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

Above & Beyond took the stage to the opening track on their new album, “Quieter is Louder,” which soon morphed into the dark and powerful “Sticky Fingers.” Their set was a predictable rundown of Anjunabeats stalwarts and newcomers, with the necessary hat tips to Ilan Bluestone and Jerome Isma-Ae (“Tension” vs. “A Thing Called Love“), Andrew Bayer (a new track from his Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep EP), and Mat Zo (“Pyramid Scheme“) – although, I was surprised not to hear any Myon & Shane 54 productions all night. Other tracks from the new album included “Blue Sky Action” (the “push the button” track), “Out of Time,” “Peace of Mind,” “Counting Down the Days,” “Hello,” “All Over the World,” and, of course, the titular “We’re All We Need.” I was hoping to hear them drop the Tony McGuinness-voiced “Excuses,” but no dice there.

Above & Beyond at Bill Graham Civic Center. Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

Paavo Siljamäki and Jono Grant of Above & Beyond. Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

The community feel was in full effect at all times. As usual, the boys kept the atmosphere intimate through through typed messages onscreen, sharing memories of the first time they came to SF – then well into their OceanLab phase – along with more generic, uplifting messages such as “You are all we need;” “This moment is all there is;” “This is your year;” etc. During the encore performance, they played the club mix of “Good for Me,” touchingly dedicated to Jono’s sister, Charlotte. (On last week’s ABGT, he had said that the track summed up his relationship with her perfectly.) Finally, they ended with the closer track on their new album, “Treasure.” The lyrics – “Treasure is measured in units of love, which means you may find you are rich beyond your wildest dreams” – although terribly cheesy, were nevertheless a nice note to end on. It’s a different sentiment, but just as impactful as the longtime unofficial motto of Group Therapy sessions: “life is made of small moments like these.”

Above & Beyond at Bill Graham Civic Center. Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

And, it wouldn’t be a proper Above & Beyond concert if I couldn’t say that I made new friends at the show, with whom I expect to share many more small moments and little treasures for years to come. ✋

Above & Beyond at Bill Graham Civic Center. Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.

“We Are All We Need.” Photo credit: Drew Ressler/rukes.com.