Here is a fascinating interview with Moritz von Oswald. There are no eureka insights into the making of the classics, but watching von Oswald kicking back on a couch and playing records in a semi-academic environment feels like the most natural thing in the world, so much so that I had to constantly remind myself that he is one of techno's most celebrated recluses.
Interesting tidbits from the interview include the admission that their secretive personas were partly meant to be funny, as a way of making light of fame and celebrity. This was hardly a revolutionary concept in 1993, but I guess the joke really was on us because it was widely assumed that the anonymity of the Basic Channel label was the key to its allure (which it was), but nobody really considered the additional notion of releasing a series of records with completely illegible inner labels/credits/graphics just for shits and giggles. Also, von Oswald feels that the best place for listening to his tracks is a room like the one he was interviewed in. This coming from the man who set up his own mastering and record cutting studio because he wasn't satisfied with how his records sounded when cut at existing commercial studios. Hmmmm ... (yeah I know, audiophile standards are one thing, a proper listening environment is something totally different) ... but anyhow, hooray for home listening!
2. TV on the Radio, "Dear Science". Yet another thoroughly mediocre offering from the much-praised TVOTR, who are well on their way to be the most undeserved critical darlings in rock music since Radiohead. Except that Radiohead have made many memorable singles and a smattering of otherwise notable songs, whereas TVOTR have never created even the smallest morsel of music that I felt compelled to hum to myself five minutes after I heard it. In some strange way they are the anti-Radiohead, in that Radiohead have always been a terrible idea in theory (wimpy sub-Floydian mope rock, millennium angst, electronica/jam rock hybrids, etc.) but tend to find a way to make those ideas work, whereas TVOTR are a good idea in theory (walls of sound, like an impeccably produced Flaming Lips minus all of that band's goofy and embarrassing druggy dream sequence tendencies) but their music always falls flat.
3. Madchester ahoy ... did you know that the Charlatans UK and James released new albums this year? And that they're both pretty good, particularly James' "Hey Ma"? Sure, they went overboard, Bono-style, with the album's anti-war political pestering. "Of Monsters and Heroes and Men" was written with raised cigarette lighters in mind, and "Whiteboy" might conjure up memories of 1990 student discos that you'd hoped you'd long since forgotten about. Sometimes, music can be a bit daft but can still push all the right buttons.