Ambient / deep house DJ Will Long to release “Long Trax 2” on March 16th.



As much as is said of our current times being new lows, where things have changed for the worse and we’re unsure of the future, it’s worth returning to study the past to understand how steadily low we remain.

“Nothing’s changed,” says a younger Barack Obama in a sample for the opening track to Long Trax 2, the second album from Tokyo-based, America musician, writer, and photographer Will Long, out March16th on Smalltown Supersound. The album will be released as three separate 12” singles, in addition to CD and digital.

Long Trax 2 follows Long’s deep house debut, Long Trax, released in 2016 on 2016 on DJ Sprinkles’ (Terre ThaemlitzComatonse Recordings. Receiving a 4.2 rating, Long Trax was praised by ResidentAdvisor and described as a “meditative listen.”

It’s follow-up, Long Trax 2, presents as an ongoing criticism of cultural stasis, conveyed via minimal synthesizers, sampler, and rhythm machine. Dance floors are widely perceived by the masses as safe zones, but few can imagine how to apply notions of safety and equality to other aspects of society. We shouldn’t need clubs to hide from our fears and differences in the outside world. Looking ahead, we should look not so optimistically upon what we have accomplished, but with urgency and empathy upon what we haven’t.

Since 2005, Long has produced ambient music under the name Celer, and is a member of the pop music band Oh, Yoko with Miko. He curates and manages the label Two Acorns, and is also involved with the Normal Cookie and Bun Tapes labels.
Stream “Nothing’s Changed” —

Pre-order Will Long’s Long Trax 2 —

Download hi-res images & album art for Will Long —

(original artwork for Long Trax 2 by Tsuji Aiko)

Artist Site | Soundcloud | Smalltown Supersound

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Top live shows of 2017: #’s 20 – 16

We’ve reached the top 20 live shows I saw this year.  Read on to see who made the cut.

#20 – A Tribe Called Quest – Pitchfork Music Festival – Chicago, IL July 15th.

It was one of their first performances without Phife Dawg, and they paid him many great tributes during it.  ATCQ also came to preach and teach, and Q-Tip was absolutely fierce on the mic.  The whole crowd was with them the entire time.

#19 – Cut Copy – Mamby on the Beach – Chicago, IL June 25th.

Cut Copy were easily the best band we saw on Day 2 of Mamby on the Beach.  They played an energetic set that had the whole beach crowd jumping before it was even halfway done.

#18 – Will Clarke – Mamby on the Beach – Chicago, IL June 24th.

Speaking of great Mamby sets, DJ Will Clarke‘s was our favorite DJ set by far.  He seemed to be having a great time behind the decks and inspired me to dust off my digital turntables.

#17 – Nicolas Jaar – Pitchfork Music Festival – Chicago, IL July 16th.

We ended our Pitchfork experience with Nicolas Jaar, and it was a lovely, trippy way to end the festival.  He created a neat soundscape that drifted and swirled around the crowd like a warm fog.

#16 – Derrick Carter – Pitchfork Music Festival – Chicago, IL July 16th.

If you need a boost to start your final day of a big music festival, go see Chicago house music DJ legend Derrick Carter.  His set in the early hours of the last day of Pitchfork was outstanding.  Everyone worked up an early sweat and enough energy to make it through the rest of the day.  He put on a clinic.

Who’s in the top 15?  Come back tomorrow to see.

Keep your mind open.

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2017: Day Three recap

Day three of the Pitchfork Music Festival started out a bit chilly as the Windy City was living up to its nickname, but we soon got our sweaty groove on thanks to a great set by Chicago house music legend and pioneer Derrick Carter.

Derrick Carter dropping beats like an Olympic power lifter dropping a barbell.

For those of you who weren’t dancing during his set, please see a doctor because something is wrong with you.  He put on a house music clinic.  It was a great way to start the day.

We also heard a bit of Colin Stetson‘s set.  He plays this wild, droning, hypnotizing saxophone music that is difficult to describe but quite mesmerizing.  We had plenty of time before Ride‘s set, so we met up with my college pal and his husband again before heading off to do a little shopping and eating.

Ride put on a good set of shoegaze that was a great switch from all the hip hop, electro, and funk we heard during the festival.  Unfortunately, they had a shortened set due to some early technical difficulties, but they played new and old material and blasted all of us with the final song of their set.  It was a loud, distorted, fuzzed-out assault.  “I needed that,” said one man next to me by the time they were done.

Ride melting faces in a killer finale.

Ride did a signing at the record fair afterwards, and I scored a signed copy of their newest album, Weather Diaries (review coming soon).  They were happy to meet everybody, and I’m happy to report they had a long line of fans there.

Mandy caught Jamilla Woods‘ set, which she enjoyed very much, after she’d been moved from the Blue Stage to the Green Stage due to the Avalanches cancelling their performance.  According to their Twitter feed, a family member one of the band members had some sort of dire medical emergency.  My college pal came to the festival mainly to see them, so he was more than annoyed they weren’t playing.  He and his husband learned via a Google search that the Avalanches are about as finicky as Morrissey when it comes to performing.

Thankfully, Nicolas Jaar put on an excellent set of his experimental electro / trance music that was both psychedelic and dance-inspiring at the same time.  At about the halfway point of his set, a guy in front of me turned to his friends and said, “This is the best set I’ve seen all weekend.” and then left.

Chilean DJ Nicolas Jaar creating intricate beats on the fly.

We split after that, beating the crowds and stopping to meet artist Jay Ryan so we could get one of his posters.  He does really neat and cute art for a lot of bands and other projects.  We already had a Bob Mould tour poster of his hanging in our living room, and now Mandy has a “It’s Time to Read” poster that will go in her office featuring bears, cats, and a wooly mammoth reading books.

I walked out with a new pair of sunglasses and CD’s by Screaming FemalesVacation, Waxahatchee, Tycho, Priests, Slowdive, She-Devils, Ride, and Wavves, and even a cassette by a band called Diagonal.  I’ll have reviews of all this stuff in the coming months.

All in all, the Pitchfork Music Festival was a good time.  We’d go back if the lineup was good and we could stay close to the festival.  As it’s been for the last few festivals I’ve attended, VIP tickets don’t look worth the money.  It’s not as laid back as a Levitation festival, but still fun.  It also could’ve used a little more rock, in my opinion, but it was worth the trip.

Keep your mind open.

That’s my pal, Chris, on the far right and his husband, Darin, on the far left. Chris and I hadn’t seen each other since 1993.

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Pitchfork Music Festival artist spotlight: Derrick Carter

Chicago house music legend Derrick Carter will be playing a set to a hometown crowd at the Pitchfork Music Festival July 16th.  Mr. Carter has moved the genre of house back into popularity again and built a big following in Europe.  He  uses samples well and always has the sickest beats.  I’m sure he’ll put a bit of extra mustard and relish on his set in front of a lot of fellow Chicagoans.

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Mamby on the Beach 2017 recap.

I had never attended an electronic-themed music festival before my wife and I went to Chicago’s Mamby on the Beach at Oakwood Beach this year.  They’ve been running this festival for a few years now, and I’ve been meaning to get to it since it’s practically in my back yard.  This was also the first time I’d been to a beach in a long while.

The weather was good, although the wind did whip across the beach and adjoining park now and then.  This was especially cold on Sunday night, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

One of the first things we discovered upon entering the festival is that large bottles of sunscreen aren’t allowed inside it.  “You can put some on before you come in,” said the man checking our bags.  He let me keep a small keychain bottle of it, but they were apparently worried I might be smuggling drugs or booze in my new bottle of SPF 30 lotion.  Heaven forbid I try to take sunscreen to a music festival on a beach.

We cheered up when we saw the “Silent Disco.”  It’s a clever idea.  Everyone gets a pair of wireless headphones and the DJ’s set is live streamed to them.

It looks weird at first, because it appears to be a bunch of people dancing to nothing.

It looks like a bunch of people suffering from dementia, but it’s actually a fun dance party.

I like the idea, as did a lot of others.  I thought I might have to try this when I get my DJ skills up enough to do such a thing.

We arrived early enough on Saturday to catch most of Ravyn Lenae‘s set at the Beach Stage.  It was an adjustment to go from our usual “dancing in clubs” to “dancing on sand,” but we managed well.  Ms. Lenae had a fun time performing in front of a hometown crowd and put down a nice R&B set.  Her cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” was delightful.

Rayvn Lenae

We headed to the MixMag Tent to see British DJ Will Clarke after that.  He had a great set and seemed to be having a good time.  It was inspiring for me, as my digital turntables have gone ignored for months while I’m finishing a book on disaster movies.  I later Tweeted that his set inspired me to dust them off.  He replied, “Do it.”

After a nice snack of Leghorn chicken sandwiches and free Vitamin Water, we went to see electro trio Marian Hill play at the Beach Stage.  They turned out to be the best band we saw all day on Saturday.  They were funky, sexy, and even a bit trippy at times.

Marian Hill

Crowd favorites Miike Snow were on after them, and they had a lot of us singing and jumping as the night got cooler and more people got higher.  For the record, other people must have been allowed to bring in more than sunscreen because there was a lot of weed being blown at this festival, more than some of the Levitation festivals I’ve attended and those are psychedelic rock shows.  We had to move to different places in the crowd multiple times to escape so much MJ smoke.

Miike Snow

We ended Saturday by checking out part of Tchami‘s “future house” set at the MixMag Tent.  It was big, bright, and booming.


It was also packed.  The crowd couldn’t fit under the tent and extended well beyond it onto the beach.

So…much…house music!

We got back to our Air BNB place tired, sandy, and a bit sunburned, but ready for Sunday.  We spent most of Sunday morning and early afternoon at Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade with friends, but then headed back to the beach in time to see STRFKR play a fun set of dance rock that came complete with dancing and crowd-surfing astronauts.


We had time for some steamed chicken buns and turducken sausages before moving to the Park Stage for the first time all weekend to see Thundercat play a wild jazz fusion set that left some people confused and others (like me) wowed by the virtuosity of it.

Thundercat on the loose!

We zipped back to the Beach Stage to see Cut Copy, who delivered the best rock set of the whole weekend.  They came to kick ass and apply sunscreen, but they were denied the sunscreen.  The whole crowd was bumping, and beach balls and rolls of toilet paper (“I feel bad for anyone who ends up sad in one of the port-a-potties,” said my wife) flew in every direction.

Cut Copy

We ended the night, and the festival, with Flying Lotus.  I’d been keen on seeing him for a while, and it was worth the wait.  The sun had set and the temperature had dropped at least ten degrees from the start of the festival into the low 60’s by the time he started his set.  Mandy was wrapped in a blanket and a lot of us were huddled in the crowd like penguins trying to stay warm off each other’s body heat.

It was a great set, full of stunning 3-D visuals and great mixes of both dance tracks and deep trip-hop stuff.  One beautiful moment was when he mixed in Angelo Badalamenti’s theme to Twin Peaks.

Is this Laura Palmer’s eye?

The whole set was a mind trip.  I wish I would’ve had 3-D glasses, but when I mentioned to a guy behind me how the visuals were 3-D he said something along the lines of, “I’m glad I’m not seeing it in 3-D. That would probably freak me out.”

It was a good time.  Mandy summed up a lot of the crowd well.  “It looks like a lot of people missing Greek culture over summer,” she said.  Don’t get me wrong.  We didn’t run into any douchebags.  We did bump into a lot of trashed people, however.  One woman was sobbing as we all left the venue.  I stopped to make sure she was okay.  She hugged me, told me I was “a good soul,” and then disappeared into the crowd.

Will we go back?  We might, if the dates work out and the lineup is good.  I sure wouldn’t turn down a press pass!

My Mamby game is strong.

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Mamby on the Beach artist spotlight: Todd Terje

Todd Terje (real name: Terje Olsen) is a Norwegian house music producer and DJ who is known for his bright, shimmering dance anthems.  He’s said in the past that he makes music because he likes to dance, and that’s good enough motivation for me to dig his work.  He and his backing band, the Olsens, will be performing at Mamby on the Beach June 25th in what I’m sure will be a perfect summer music set.

Keep your mind open.

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Mamby on the Beach artist spotlight: Green Velvet

Green Velvet is one of several monikers held by Chicago house / trance / industrial DJ Curtis Jones.  He walked away from a career as a chemical engineer to pursue his love of house music and beat production, and the world is better for it.  Some of his cuts are legendary mid-1990’s dance club essentials, and his upcoming performance at Mamby on the Beach in his hometown on June 25th will be one of the highlights of the festival.

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Mamby on the Beach artist spotlight: Latmun

Joe Bradley, otherwise known as Latmun, blends house music with trance techno into big tracks that can shake the rafters.  He hails from Nottingham, UK, and will soon be spinning at Chicago’s Mamby on the Beach festival June 25th.  I’m sure his set will be bold, loud, and beautiful.

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Mamby on the Beach artist spotlight: DJ Heather

Hailing from Chicago by way of Brooklyn, DJ Heather is a legend in the Chicago house music scene.  She began in hip hop, but soon discovered her true voice in house music.  She’s been filling dance floors from Chicago to the UK ever since.  She’ll be spinning in the MixMag tent at Mamby on the Beach June 25th.

Keep your mind open.

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