Posts by Mike Sugarman

Them Ol’ U.S. Blues: The Grateful Dead’s America

Them Ol’ U.S. Blues: The Grateful Dead’s America

So there I was an hour or two before sunrise this July 4, watching a fellow partier twirl a glorious cape. About a four-foot square, the cape featured a massive stealie (The Grateful Dead’s widely emblazoned skull-and-lightning logo) done up in pink and silver lamé with all manner of tasteful, multi-colored stitching. I’d later see the partier, Elby, twirling it on the dancefloor in the basement as her partner spun some exqui- site house music. Together, Elby and the DJ simultaneously celebrated two consummately American musics which—as the jam band scene has influenced the EDM festival phenomenon, by way of Camp Bisco and Electric Forest—seem to intersect now more than ever.

Elby had unveiled her cape after I divulged to her that I was lucky enough to grab a ticket for the Grateful Dead show later that day, the second of the band’s three-show farewell run. It felt like these were the most talked-about rock shows in Chicago this year, and it was even a big enough national event that the July 3 show was prefaced with a video message, on the stadium’s jumbotron, of Barack Obama praising the band. If one thing became clear during that July 4 show I attended—when the band would sing their odes to this great land, such as “U.S. Blues” and “Liberty,” while fireworks shot off and images of a skel- eton Uncle Sam shone on the big screen—it was that The Grateful Dead is America’s band, perhaps the most American band.

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Check Out Modular Sets from Members of Forma, Grasshopper, Telecult Powers

Check Out Modular Sets from Members of Forma, Grasshopper, Telecult Powers

In what has turned into the most plesant of traditions, Long Distance Poison synthesist and Modular Solstice/Equinox organizer Nathan Cearley has shared recordings from his most recent seasonal synth showcase at Bushwick's Silent Barn. The most recent edition, celebrating the spring equinox, featured sets from regulars such as Mark Dwinell of Forma, Jesse DeRosa of Grasshopper (alongside Konrad Kamm), and Mister Matthews of Telecult Powers (alongside Bhob Rainey and bandmate Witchbeam) as well as less regulars like Joe Bastardo (with Mickey O'Hara and Seamus Williams of Lean) and Dave Doyen (of Roped Off).

Holly Herndon Announces Platform

Holly Herndon Announces Platform

Following up 2012's Movement, Holly Herndon has announced a new full-length album, joint released on 4AD and RVNG Intl. With intentions similar to those put to work on her fantastic single from last year,"Home,", Herndon will continue to use the new album, Platform, as a means of bringing techniques of contemporary classical music into a more populist idiom, with the label press release hinting at a fascination with trance. "Interference" is the first track that has been shared from the album, and it, much like "Home," features a video by Metahaven.

Platform is out May 19 on RVNG Intl and 4AD. Be sure to check out our profile of Herndon and "Home."

Weird Magic Launches Label, Shares Compilation with Traxman, Huerco S.

Weird Magic Launches Label, Shares Compilation with Traxman, Huerco S.

Brooklyn party promotor and tastemaker Weird Magic (run by photographer Erez Avissar) has announced the launch of its appropriately-hued record label, Purple Trax. The announcement was trumpeted with the release of a compilation called Purple Trax Vol. 1, which features original work by all sorts of far out heads, including Traxman, Huerco S., Via App, Mutual Dreaming's Aurora Halal, and Teengirl Fantasy's Logan Takahashi. As Resident Advisor reports, a Kickstarter is currently underway to help fund the label and press Purple Trax Vol. 1 to vinyl.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign and stream the compilation.

Vektroid Returns with Magic Fades Remix

Vektroid Returns with Magic Fades Remix

After two years of radio silence, vaporwave innovator and the artist formally known as Macintosh Plus (and New Dreams Ltd. among many other monikers) has returned with a confident, extended remix of a track off the new Magic Fades album on 1080p, Push Thru. With the subtlest inflections of trap and android in a timewarp vocal manipulations, Vektroid's remix of "Ecco" shows that despite a period of inactivity, the well for this artist has far from run dry.

The Push Thru remix album, featuring work by Karmelloz and Jeremiah Meece of the The-Drum, is available as a free download on 1080p's Bandcamp.

RVNG Announces New FRKWYS with Ariel Kalma, Robert A.A. Lowe

RVNG Announces New FRKWYS with Ariel Kalma, Robert A.A. Lowe

Continuing a label tradition of bringing together two musical universes to forge jams so deep that they bore into magma, RVNG Intl. has announced the next installement of its FRKWYS series: a collaboration between recent reissue subject Ariel Kalma and Chicago synthesist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (known for his Lichens project). FRKWYS Volume 12: We Know Each Other Somehow was recorded at Kalma's current abode on the east coast of Australia and sees the merging of two distinct approaches of avant-garde electronic music, with Kalma informed by the tape techniques of his past work and employment at the famed GRM workshop in France, and Lowe wielding his modular and digitally manipulating vocals. As was the case with the FRKWYS collaboration between The Congos and Duppy Gun, a documentary was made about the collaboration called Sunshine Soup. RVNG has a video for one of the shorter album cuts, "Mille Voix," featuring mirrored visuals crafted to hyponotize.

We Know Each Other Somehow is out April 14 on RVNG Intl.

AdHoc Issue 4 Is Here

AdHoc Issue 4 Is Here

We are very excited to announce the newest issue of our digital zine, featuring a previously unpublished essay by Brian Eno and articles on John Carpenter's Lost Themes, D'Angelo's revelations about social movements of today and yesterday, safe spaces in hardcore punk and DIY, Form A Log, and the Fantastic Planet original sountrack. Throughout the issue, Keith Rankin reviews his old visual art. 

Buy Issue 4 for a dollar or subscribe.

We are standing at the edge of something, but what? Last year was one of widespread protest in America, be it by outraged citizens rallying in the names of Mike Brown and Eric Garner or fast food workers striking in the name of a living wage. Such are reactions to our country’s increasingly bellicose approach to law enforcement and a so-called “economic recovery” that leaves our country’s lower and middle classes in the dust. Scarred by George W. Bush’s antagonism against his populace and Obama’s first-term tepidity, we millennials seem to be growing more aware of our collective voice by the day, of an imperative to actualize a better society. What will that society be? Well, time will tell.


D’Angelo released a new album at the end of last year, striking a chord with his socially conscious-- also furious, articulate-- throwback R&B. In this issue’s close-up on Black Messiah, Julia Selinger keenly links the record to black protest music made in similarly tumultuous historical moments, drawing a line from the Vietnam War era to today. It is crucial to keep in mind, though, that while both the Vietnam-era and present-day America are marked equally by corruption and oppression, it’s hard to look to the earlier era for blueprints for positive social change or metrics of successful progressive revolution.


After all, the longest lasting revolution in the post-Vietnam era is a socially conservative, economically neoliberal one, initially led by Ronald Reagan. Watch Paul Thomas Anderson’s stellar Inherent Vice for a look at the late Vietnam era: a time that little resembles our own either visually or tonally, short of ravenous chiefing. In Inherent Vice, a dream is dying, idealism is diffusing. Yet Black Messiah is marked by a pragmatism—an attitude that is equal parts “can do” and “how to”—and hopefully it is this very pragmatism that will see the triumph of our generation’s struggle. In both Selinger’s piece and Beth Tolmach’s on safe spaces, a uniquely millennial sensibility pervades: there is one way to make our world better, and it comes from people acting. Consider it the “do it” part of “do it yourself.”

GFOTY Shares New Mix

GFOTY Shares New Mix

Micromix maven and high-concept Instagram troll GFOTY has shared a mix entitled Cake Mix (eh? ehhh?). The PC Music affiliate made waves last year for sharing the incredibly irritating Secret Mix which everyone liked because it is good. Here is the new thing.

Ben Bennett Smiles for YouTube, for Hours

Ben Bennett Smiles for YouTube, for Hours

Columbus, Ohio improvisor and performing experimenter Ben Bennett has taken up a curious hobby: sitting cross-legged in front of a webcam and livetreaming himself smiling for hours at a time. Known in the past for his use of extended technique on a variety of implements-- the page explaining his 2012 LP Spoilage on experimedia lists "various drums to a wheelbarrow, pizza cutter, and 'the narrow part of a balloon'"-- with videos of performances showing him blowing into a PVC pipe while stripped down to his skivies and crawling around while inside of a box.

Bennett is currently embarking his 26th live stream of "Sitting and Smiling." You can donate to him, contact him, or watch previous session on his website.

Stream Pan•American's Sketch for Winter II: Rue Corridor

Stream Pan•American's Sketch for Winter II: Rue Corridor

Through both his duo Labradford and his solo work as Pan•American, Mark Nelson was key in helping define the aesthetic of Chicago ambient label, Kranky: high-brow, hi-fi, and shades of melancholic. Time has seen Nelson develop his Pan•American project with a bit more emphasis on beats, sometimes inviting Locrian's Steven Hess to drum and sometimes, such as the case with Rue Corridor, implementing low-key, on-the-grid electronic rhythmic elements which, for all intents and purposes, may read to many as techno influence. Rue Corridor is the second edition in the Sketch for Winter series issued by Geographic North (co-run by AdHoc contributor Bobby Power), which was initiated by a Christmas album by A Sunny Day In Glasgow.

Sketch for Winter II: Rue Corridor is out now on Geographic North.