Monday, November 23, 2009

Gabriel & Dresden's final DJ set at WMC 2008

If you know anything about dance/house music from the past decade, you’ve probably heard of Gabriel & Dresden. They won dozens of IDMA’s from 2005-2008, releasing a couple dozen #1 hits on the Billboard Dance charts, either as their own releases, or as remixes for other top artists such as Armin van Buuren, the Killers, Jewel, Way Out West, Madonna, Markus Shulz, Rachal Starr, Paul Oakenfold, New Order, Tiesto, Annie Lennox, Nalin & Kane, Sarah McLachlan, Coldplay, Deborah Cox, and Britney Spears. Well, maybe not all of those didn’t make it to number one, but many of them definitely did. Their music has helped define a generation of dance floor fans.

G&D’s last official show together happened at the Winter Music Conference (WMC) in Miami in 2008, at The Pawn Shop. Dave Dresden recently released a recording of that set, which is the whole point of this post. You can download it here in a minute.

I was really disappointed to hear that they had stopped collaborating together. Their last live show together outside of WMC was (to the best of my knowledge) a night at Pacha in NYC. I was actually supposed to videotape that show, because I was working on producing a short video promo for them. On the flights there, I got delayed by a snowstorm in Toronto and missed my connection by about two minutes, so I didn’t actually make it down to that show. Needless to say, it was one of the most disappointing moments of my life. At the time, I thought that I could make it up at a future show. In retrospect, it was one of those opportunities that you never get to have a second time.

Perhaps it is better that they started working independently? Both are incredibly talented, and I'm pretty confident that after a bit of experimenting and reassessment, both of their careers will benefit from the new direction. There is no doubt that their work as a team was incredible, but like anything, change is inevitable, and people who embrace change can benefit. My take on their partnership was that Josh was always a strong producer first and foremost, and Dave’s strength was always as being a superb DJ who could read a dance floor. But that would be a gross over-simplification - in the past twelve months, Dave has already charged head-first into churning out dance-floor anthems, and Josh Gabriel has been confidently exploring his own space both as a DJ and producer.

Dave is now working on a new collaborative project with Mikael Johnston (formerly of the California trance/house group Mephisto Odyssey). Already, they’ve done some major remixes for Nadia Ali, BT, JD Webb, The Crystal Method, and Lily Allen. Their remix of Lily Allen’s “The Fear” is great, and I’ve really been enjoying that remix for some time since I first heard it on one of Dave’s monthly promo mixes. Here’s a link to the video:
Embedding has been disabled for that video, so you won’t be able to watch it directly through this blog post, but you can check it out on the YouTube page. Also, if you're reading this on my Facebook feed, remember that Facebook doesn't import embedded videos so you'd have to click on the direct links anyway.

Here’s a link to the Dresden & Johnston remix of “Love Story.” If you are trying to figure out where you’ve heard Nadia Ali’s voice before, it was probably when she was the lead vocalist for iiO, with dance hits earlier this decade like “Rapture” and “The End.”

Nadia Ali, “Love Story” (Dresden & Johnston Official Vocal Remix)

Direct link to video:

Josh has also been very busy lately. I believe that he relocated from California to Amsterdam this year, to continue his work with Different Pieces and other projects. Here’s a link to one of his releases from earlier this year:

Josh Gabriel present Winter Kills, “Deep Down”

Direct link to video:

Anyway, although I am very excited about their new independent careers and the tracks that they'll both be producing, I'll have to admit that it's nice to listen to another of their sets from back in the day. I was lucky enough to have seen them performing in several venues in 2006-2008: Phoenix, Boston, Edmonton & New York. But of course, their last set at The Pawn Shop will go down in the history books.

It's a big one. Four hours, 600 megs. You can also find a copy of this set permanently archived on the "mix downloads" page on my website, along with a number of Josh & Dave's individual and combined sets. That page can be found here:

Enjoy ...

ETA: And here's a partial track listing, or what's been identified so far:

01. Donald Glaude & DJ Dan - Stick'em (Original Mix)
02. John Acquavida feat. Oliver Giacomotto - Sofa King (Fresco Remix)
03. Catz 'n Dogs - A Chicken Affair (Vinyl Version)
04. Francis Preve - Caboose (Original Mix)
05. System 7 - Space Bird (Dubfire's Deep Space Remix)
06. Faithless - Kind of Peace (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)
07. ID
08. James Holden - A Break In The Clouds (Beat Tool)
09. Josh Gabriel - Azora (Original Mix)
10. Gabriel & Dresden - Like An Enemy
11. Dirty South - Let It Go (Axwell Remix)
12. ID
13. Josh Gabriel - River
14. Junkie XL - Stratosphere
15. Deadmau5 - Not Exactly (Dave Dresden Remix)
16. Gabriel & Dresden - New Path (Dave Aude Remix)
17. ID
18. Sander van Doorn - Sushi (Edit?)
19. Rachel Starr - Till There Was You (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)
20. JF presents Smokecream - Retox (Wendel Kos Remix)
21. Sia - The Girl You Lost To Cocaine (Sander van Doorn Remix)
22. Josh Gabriel - Crosstalk
23. Just Jack - Writer's Block (Remix)
24. ID
25. Gabriel & Dresden - Tracking Treasure Down (Remix)
26. Mescalkid - Magic
27. Depeche Mode - Little 15 (Gabriel & Dresden Remix?)
28. ID
29. Jude Sebastian - Rubberman (Miles Dyson Remix) (Krafty Kuts Re-Rub)
30. Gabriel & Dresden - Mass Repeat
31. ID
32. Marco V. - Sessions (Robbie Rivera Remix)
33. Gareth Emery - More Than Anything (Christopher Norman Dub Remix)
34. The Killers - Read My Mind (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)
35. ID
36. ID w/ Motorcycle - As The Rush Comes (Acapella)
37. ID w/ Paul van Dyk - Let Go (Acapella) w/ Gabriel & Dresden - Let It Go (Acapella)
38. Josh Gabriel - Summit
39. Josh Gabriel - Tone Program
40. ID
41. 68 Beats - Replay The Night (Gabriel & Dresden Remix)
42. Big Bug & Bastard Beat - TI 1.0
43. Martin Eyerer feat. Namito - Quipa (Etienne de Crecy Remix)
44. Eric Prydz - Pjanoo
45. ID

Monday, November 9, 2009

Allen & Heath Xone 4D Mixer

I just fell in love, for the second time.

I got a new piece of equipment today, the Allen & Heath Xone 4D mixer. Check it out:

Let me preface by clarifying a few thoughts on mixers. DJ's always seem to have a favorite mixer. As do any real audio engineers or producers. I also have a favorite, the Pioneer DJM-600. And why not - it's an industry standard, and there is a reason for that. It's easy to use, well-built, has good effects, and is fairly versatile in terms of outputs, etc. I can use it in pitch black conditions, simply by feel and familiarity. However, I have also been a fan of the Allen & Heath mixers, because the sound quality has always seemed to be slightly better to me (more noticeable in bigger sound systems).

Do you like more than one type of cheese? Or more than one type of ice cream? Then you can appreciate more than one type of mixer.

So anyway, I was kind of excited to get a Xone 4d, but it took a month for it to arrive because I live in such a backwater town in Atlantic Canada, so some of the excitement was subject to deflationary pressures during the past several weeks. However, the mixer arrived today. And once again, after unpacking the beast, I'm all revv'd up with no place to go.

At this point, if you're not a DJ or audiophile, you may as well just give up on the rest of this post. It doesn't get any better. Scroll to the bottom, take a quick look at the other pretty picture, then surf to Spankwire or something more exciting (and be careful, that site is not office-friendly). But for those of you who like the technical specs on high-end audio equipment, stick around and check this out. Basically, the 4D is a combination audio mixer and MIDI controller. Specifically:

- Start with the audio specs of a Xone 92 (almost). Add 105 MIDI controls.
- 96/24 20-channel USB 2.0 sound card.
- Only four channels, but all triple input (line/phono/soundcard). And with the decline in popularity of tech 12's, four is enough.
- 3-band EQ's (not double-mids), a slight compromise.
- Two SFX sends.
- BPM counter, although you can always put a piece of duct tape over that. Of course, admittedly, it can probably be useful when merging with Ableton.
- 105 basic MIDI controllers, HOWEVER, they are shiftable, giving 227 total. I haven't figured out yet where the extra 17 come from. But it has everything from faders to rotaries to switches to jog wheels. And by the way, I'll admit that no DJ in their right mind probably needs more than 105 controls, except maybe the nutbars like Deadmau5 (and I mean that in a completely appreciative manner). And I bet that Nic Fanciulli could make this thing sing, except I assume that he plays mostly on CDJ's.
- Integration between some of the mixer controls and MIDI, which I think must be where the other 17 MIDI triggers come from.
- Inherent ASIO driver for USB communication, naturally.
- And most importantly, UV Paint!! Ok, I'm showing my geekiness here:

And all this for slightly less than the price of a failed marriage ...

Late Note, March 20th, 2013: I've just put together a very detailed and comprehensive YouTube video about this mixer:

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Video of DJ Colette in Moncton

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of playing at a show with DJ Colette of Chicago. Colette is, without question, one of the most enjoyable DJ's and producers out there when it comes to house music. Not only does she have a number of huge hits of her own, but she actually performs them live during her shows, singing over instrumental versions and over other tracks.

Colette has quite a few tracks out there, although you'd probably know her best for her albums Hypnotized (2005) and Push (2007), or for being featured on the recent JJ Flores & Steve Smooth track, "Stay." From number one best-sellers at various points on Beatport and iTunes, to featured spots in Motorola commercials and movies such as "The Devil Wears Prada," you'll quickly see that her music has just about universal appeal.

Anyway, check out this video on YouTube which features excerpts from five of her recent vocal releases. All footage was taken at her show in Moncton, New Brunswick, on August 21st, 2009:

If you're reading this on Facebook, it doesn't automatically embed the video in the post, so you have to click on this link to see it:

Special Thanks to DJ Sonny D and to the promoters & management at l'Osmose Club for setting this all up!

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