Backyard: Ali Berger & Sun Rad Release Analog Jams In Cassette Format

The cassette tape is currently in the midst of a resurgence in many underground music scenes. Everyone hopped the vinyl bandwagon over the past several years, to the tune of exhausted manufacturing plants, steep minimum pressing requirements, and hyper-extended waiting lists. But if the kids are still clamoring for a good product in limited, hard copy analogue format, what other options are there really?  

A select few important Boston releases saw the light of day exclusively on cassette this year, including Soul Clap’s annual Dancing on the Charles compilation. The most recent being local producers Ali Berger and Sun Rad, which just hit the streets earlier this month. Released by RSVPTapes, a regional outlet solely geared towards the C-90 format, this untitled compilation highlights recent studio outtakes and jam sessions by both artists.

Berger takes control of side one with seven songs of drastically varying length. Largely staying underneath the radar in recent months to focus extensively on finding his own sound, Berger’s output here is a display of his continued exploration of analog synthesizers and other unorthodox hardware. His avoidance of obvious sample use and computer-based sequencers forces Berger to focus on the performance and overall vibe of each track, rather than pristine sonics and paint-by-number arrangements. I like this approach, and it’s rarely observed in modern dance music to this degree of execution.

One of Berger’s musical traits is to write entire songs devoted to specific sounds on his drum machines, or as a dedication to classic sounds of yesteryear. Three tracks on this compilation do just that: “Toms of Life”, where pitched tom-tom drums pull double-duty for both rhythm and lead, “Acid Love”, which contains no shortage of squeaky solos and seamless 303’s, and “RX5 Zipper”, made almost entirely with sounds from a highly-underrated 80s-era drum machine from Yamaha. Another highlight also includes a relentless ten-minute techno piece titled “Furnace (Walk)”, which is the closest you’ll get to legally visiting an abandoned Detroit warehouse in the middle of the night from the comfort of your living room.

The four tracks on Sun Rad’s side are jam-based and analog in nature as well. The main difference being while Berger’s are mostly dry and unprocessed, Sun Rad applies liberal amounts of distortion to just about everything. These longer tracks vary wildly in tempo and style; while the opener “Last Leaf Pt. 1” sports laid-back dancehall vibes, “Camus” is an uptempo affair that doesn’t sound out of place in a techno set. The closing suite “Screw (Pts. 1 & 2)” has perhaps the most interesting sound design of the lot; a well-crafted balance of eerie harmonics and saturated atmospheric sounds abbreviated by a drastic midpoint tempo change. 

RSVP is hosting two official parties for this release. The first is a closing party for Salem Heritage Days this afternoon, featuring both Berger and Sun Rad alongside a slew of others. The second goes is the next SCANNERS at Deep Thoughts in Jamaica Plain on August 21st, which will feature DJ Won’t and Radio Skotvoid along with Berger and Sun Rad. More info on both of these events in the link.

You can pick up your limited (20 copies only!) cassette copy of this release on the RSVP Bandcamp page. Or if you prefer, digital versions are also available for purchase here as well. 


Beat Box: Free Akai S950-Processed Roland TR-808 Sample Pack

Last month I released sample packs on 7/07 and 7/27 honoring Roland’s legendary mid-80s drum machines. I ran all the samples through Akai’s S950 sampler for added gritty texture and posted the hits and Ableton drum racks for mass consumption.

Now it’s 8/08, so it’s only obvious what the next step is for this series. Roland’s TR-808 needs very little introduction; it’s likely the most used (and abused) old school drum machine in history.

Thanks to MO7S of Monism Music we managed to get a clean recording of every sound from his original TR-808. This includes a very large variety of tone, decay, and tune settings for the kick, snare, conga, tom, cymbal, and open hat. Similar to the other packs from last month, I then ran everything through the S950, saved the hits in separate folders and created an Ableton collected folder with each sound set up as drum racks.

I’m very happy with the positive feedback this series has gotten so far, which can only mean one thing: mark your calendar for 9/09!

Link to the individual hits & Ableton drum racks: 


Cool Free Stuff: Alex Summerhill-Chaos (Techno)

Brooding techno freebie by Norwegian artist Alex Summerhill. “Chaos” is loaded with all the rough-and-ready soundscapes we know and love in techno: abrasive TR-909 percussion, minor seventh stabs, a gliding two-octave bassline and of course the obligatory obscure movie sample (loaded with delay and reverb of course). Despite what the name might imply, “Chaos” is actually a pretty straightforward piece with ample breakdown bandwidth to make this a fun record to play out. Check it out below.


Let's Boogie! Upcoming Boston Events For August 2015

Upcoming Events 

Make it New (Boddika) @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.6.15
Elements (Jaybee) @ Phoenix Landing :: Cambridge MA :: 8.6.15
Dusk Till Done Boat Cruise (Chris Luzz, Ryan Obermiller, Patrick Barry & Johnny Vaz) @ Rowe’s Wharf :: Boston MA :: 8.6.15
Dyro @ Royale :: Boston MA :: 8.7.15
Viceroy @ A-Con @ Bijou :: Boston MA :: 8.7.15
Bladerunners @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.7.15
La Boum (DJ Manu) @ Milky Way :: Jamaica Plain MA :: 8.7.15
Camino, Latrell James & Rayel @ Wonderbar :: Allston MA :: 8.7.15
Shake! (Doctor Jeep, Bakir, Citron & Fens) @ Goodlife :: Boston MA :: 8.7.15
Kon @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.8.15
Beatangers & Hot Pot @ Prime :: Boston MA :: 8.8.15
Chas Bronz & Jaminic @ Black Lobster :: Salem MA :: 8.8.15
Community Links Presents Miss I @ TBD :: Boston MA :: 8.8.15
Fehrplay Boat Party @ Rowe’s Wharf :: Boston MA :: 8.8.15
Heroes (Chris Ewen) @ Brighton Music Hall :: Allston MA :: 8.8.15
Dusk Till Done (Will Monotone, SITH & Keith Mattar) @ TBD :: Boston MA :: 8.8.15
Deep Format (Daniel Merlino, Ksar & Lost & Found) @ Candibar :: Boston MA :: 8.8.15
Some Like it Hott (Bruno, Caseroc & Randy Deshaies) @ Lilypad :: Somerville MA :: 8.8.15
Offbeat Showcase (Adam Hyjek, Igor Stelea & Cost Carma) @ 49 Social :: Boston MA :: 8.8.15
Soulelujah (DJ Tarik Thornton, Claude Money & Ty Jesso) @ ZuZu :: Cambridge MA :: 8.8.15
United Sounds of House Music (Bruno, Jesse Cardoso, Leo Alarcon & KC Hallet) @ Milky Way :: Jamaica Plain MA :: 8.8.15
Sonic Beating & Circle Present A Homegrown Dance Party (Jeff Mission, Keith Mattar, Fig, Ammon EP & more) @ Marsh Post #442 :: Cambridge MA :: 8.8.15
Jamie XX @ Royale :: Boston MA :: 8.9.15
Inner Sanctum @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.9.15
Bass Foundation (DJ Voltran & Kerry Q) @ Wonderbar :: Allston MA :: 8.9.15
HOME (DJ Justice, Leo Alarcon, DJ Bruno & Househead Pete) @ Machine :: Boston MA :: 8.9.15
S.C.E.N.E. Sunset Hangout (Ali Berger, Sun Rad, Best Defense, Ded Boyz & more) @ Salem Willows :: Salem MA :: 8.9.15
Vault (Bob Diesel) @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.11.15
Wednesday’s Wax (DJ Dayglow) @ Foundation Room :: Boston MA :: 8.12.15
Elements (Doc Scott) @ Phoenix Landing :: Cambridge MA :: 8.13.15
Oscar G @ Bijou :: Boston MA :: 8.14.15
Breeazy @ Royale :: Boston MA :: 8.14.15
Frank White @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.14.15
Drown (Leon Switch) @ 49 Social :: Boston MA :: 8.14.15
PVRPLE (DJ Princess Cut) @ Goodlife :: Boston MA :: 8.14.15
Chaos D, Pantan, DizNinja, DreaM & Kawaiifx @ Wonderbar :: Allston MA :: 8.14.15
Micetro, Brrio, Dusty Digital, Kidd Drunkadelic & Light Foot Productions @ Foundation Room :: Boston MA :: 8.14.15
Durkin @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.15.15
ERATO (T.C.C. & DJ Safire) @ Club Bohemia :: Cambridge MA :: 8.15.15
Outdoor Dance party (Savuth & M.O.T.H.) @ Jeep Jones Park :: Roxbury MA :: 8.15.15
Veritae (John Arnold, John Barera, Audioprophecy & Anton M) @ 49 Social :: Boston MA :: 8.15.15
Deep Sea Music Festival (Bamboora, Dude-N-Guy & Voltran) @ Rowe’s Wharf :: Boston MA :: 8.15.15
The Wave @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.16.15
KNTRL (AlexXxan & Howie D Rivet) @ ZuZu :: Cambridge MA :: 8.19.15
Sober Rob & Manitee @ Middle East :: Cambridge MA :: 8.20.15
Make it New (Jackmaster) @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.20.15
Elements (New England Junglists Takeover) @ Phoenix Landing :: Cambridge MA :: 8.20.15
Bamboora @ Royale :: Boston MA :: 8.21.15
Brek.One @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.21.15
Unity (Househead Pete) @ Goodlife :: Boston MA :: 8.21.15
Binary (B3RAO, Mikey Maags & Convoi) @ Wonderbar :: Boston MA :: 8.21.15
Dusk Till Done (Blueshift, John Arnold, Patrick Barry & Sudo) @ TBD :: Boston MA :: 8.21.15
Scanners (Ali Berger, Sun Rad, Radio Skotvoid & DJ Won’t) @ Deep Thoughts :: Jamaica Plain MA :: 8.21.15
Kon @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.22.15
Kryder Boat Cruise @ Rowe’s Wharf :: Boston MA :: 8.22.15
Reggae Bashment on the High Seas @ 63 Rogers St :: Gloucester MA :: 8.22.15
Sweet Shop (Jamie 3:26, David Paglia & Alfredo) @ Goodlife :: Boston MA :: 8.22.15
Elements of Sound Takeover (Austin Diogo, Dimitri Diogo, Wil Trahan, Bruno Limma & John Bruno Store) @ 49 Social :: Boston MA :: 8.22.15
Drunken Doja Monkey, Skytree, Matt Carey & Apel @ Wonderbar :: Allston MA :: 8.25.15
Vibe Boston (Dinoblunt, Mung Bandit & Craig Rumble) @ 49 Social :: Boston MA :: 8.27.15
Viral Sound, G-Nome Project, The Hornitz & Tweed @ Middle East :: Cambridge MA :: 8.27.15
Make it New (Maxxi Soundsystem & Samo Soundboy) @ Middlesex :: Cambridge MA :: 8.27.15
Borgeous @ Royale :: Boston MA :: 8.28.15
Social Studies (DJ Pierre) @ Goodlife :: Boston MA :: 8.28.15
DRAW (Total Freedom) @ TBD :: Boston MA :: 8.29.15
Fresh Produce (DJ Kool Herc) @ Goodlife :: Boston MA :: 8.29.15
Bass on the Bay II (1WAYTKT, Jaminic & Golden Girls) @ 10-82nd St :: Newburyport MA :: 8.29.15

Past Events 


Cool Free Stuff: Her Epiphany-Lost (Bass)

“Lost” is a recent track by Sydney-based artist Her Epiphany that straddles the fine line between trap, dubstep, and bass music. Borrowing various elements from each style and tying it all together with a highly melodic arpeggio, “Lost” explores a great deal of instrumental interplay across its compact timespan. The percussion never stays in place for too long; constant rhythmic change-ups and the endless swapping in and out of different sounds make this piece anything but static. A balance between short and long notes on the synths also help distinguish the different sections. Her Epiphany does a particularly nice job of working with silence as a rhythmic tool and to imply the start of a new section. Check it out below. 


Cool Free Stuff: Justin Jay & Chris Lorenzo-Storm (House)

Los Angeles-based producer Justin Jay just put out a free track courtesy of Black Butter Records. “Storm” (featuring Chris Lorenzo) instantly struck my attention with its highly prominent use of the amen break at 125 bpm, something rarely attempted in house music nowadays. With some diligent EQ work, Jay manages to keep the classic break tamed in the background, leaving plenty of breathing room for some vocals and a reece bassline. As the harmonics of the reece really start to open up midway through, you almost have to wonder what Storm would sound like pitched up a bit to a breakbeat speed! Thunder claps in the breakdown play on the track’s obvious theme, and help tie the piece together. Nice work here.


Cool Free Stuff: Dan Milnar-Surfing (Deep House)

Nice free house track from German producer Dan Mlinar. “Surfing” is the perfect beach accompaniment, with its soaring synth sounds and splashy hi-hat programming mirroring the ocean. A bit of a hypnotic piece, Surfing is relatively anti-climatic, opting to focus on the interplay between the pads, synth riffs and the three-note bassline as it evolves over the course of it’s seven-and-a-half minute duration. This one’s got summer written all over it, but without the mosquito bites and sunburn. Check it below.


Beat Box: Free Akai S950-Processed Roland TR-707 Sample Pack

Following in the footsteps of the 7/07 pack I uploaded earlier this month, I’m sharing with you more one-shots from my Roland TR8. This time it’s the TR-727 expansion pack, just in time for 7/27! Like the last time, I’ve run every hit through my Akai S950 to add some gritty textures to the formula.

The TR-727 is sort of the lost dog of the Roland classic drum machine series. Released in conjunction with the TR-707 in 1985, the TR-727 had the same functionality as its brother yet focused entirely on Latin percussion.

Included in this pack are the majority of the sounds from the 727, including bongos, congas, agogos, cabasas, quijadas, whistles, and the star chime. There are around 25 different combinations of tune and decay settings for each. The streamable file above can be downloaded as-is, but be sure to grab the link below as well. This includes a ZIP file with all the individual hits in folders, as well as a collected Ableton project with all the hits converted to drum racks.

Be on the lookout for 8/08 and 9/09…I shouldn’t have to explain things much further!

Here is the link to the individual hits & Ableton drum racks.


Ticket Giveaway! Elements Presents Aphrodite @ Phoenix Landing, 7.30.15

One of the most prolific producers in drum and bass in the 1990s was Aphrodite. A guy who marched to his own beat and often operated on a parallel path to the rest of the UK scene, his production resume from that era is easily a mile-and-a-half long. From his early rave anthem “Some Justice” (under his Urban Shakedown alias) to his jungle collaborations with Tony B (Amazon II) and Micky Finn (Urban Shakedown), Aphrodite had no shortage of projects to keep him busy by the latter half of the decade. 


People perhaps know Aphrodite best from his remix work, much of it as part of Urban Takeover. He had his hand at penning official remixes from everyone to the Jungle Brothers to Luniz, Fatboy Slim, Nine Inch Nails, Alabama 3, and Apollo 440. 

He also helped define the sound of early jump-up drum and bass, being one of the first to use prominent and modulated basslines in tracks like “Badass” (which, for better or for worse, has manifested itself into an entirely different breed of bass music which some appreciate more than others). Aphrodite also followed in the footsteps of DJ Hype in his ability to seamlessly fuse hip hop into both his productions and DJ sets, leading to his legendary Urban Jungle mix series. Two full-length albums soon followed.

Aphrodite has largely been on hiatus over the past decade, spending most of his efforts on repressing and re-issuing some of the plentiful releases in his back catalogue. But that has since changed, and he’s back to touring full time and producing!

Aphrodite is touching down at Elements at the Phoenix Landing (512 Mass Ave, Cambridge) this Thursday, his first appearance in Boston since 1998. Expect a plethora of peeps to come out of the woodwork for it. It will be interesting to hear what direction he takes his set and whether he chooses to focus on classics or upfront things…hopefully both.

And thanks to Elements, I’m giving away a free pair of tix to this jam. All you need to do is “like” Elements and Beantown Boogiedown on Facebook, and leave your name and email in the comments section below. I draw the winner this Thursday. Good luck peeps!

Facebook event page


Beat Box: Free Akai S950-Processed Roland TR-707 Sample Pack

In honor of 7/07, I’m sharing with you guys some one-shots from the TR-707 expansion module from my TR8 drum machine. But as TR-707 samples are already quite ubiquitous, I decided to make these ones unique by running them through my Akai S950 sampler.

The S950 was a fixture in early 90s hip hop, jungle and house music. Because it’s a 12-bit sampler, it adds a bit of unique grit to the sound that no software has ever quite been able to emulate as of yet.

I recorded every sound from the 707 (kicks, snares, toms, claps, hats, rimshot & crash) with around 25 different combinations of tune and decay settings for each. The streamable file above can be downloaded as-is, but be sure to grab this link to download the files as well. This includes a ZIP file with all the individual hits in folders, as well as a collected Ableton project with all the hits converted to drum racks.

I’m going to be making more S950-processed packs on 7/27, 8/08, and 9/09 honoring those respective drum machines as well so watch this space!