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Genius Category Archive

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thank You (For Writin’ This Book)

posted by on October 27 at 2:13 PM

Composing a biography of the notoriously elusive and reclusive Sly Stone has to be one of the most difficult tasks a scribe can tackle. But Jeff Kaliss managed to get face time with the soul/funk/rock legend who composed a couple of dozen songs that penetrated the charts with incomparable dynamics, fascinating rhythms, and indelible melodies. Kaliss’ I Want to Take You Higher: The Life and Times of Sly & the Family Stone is about as comprehensive a look at one of the most talented and tragic figures in popular music. (I’m 60 pages into it right now, but hope to have a full review completed soon.)

Kaliss put in a lot of legwork for this bio, interviewing record-biz figures, band members from the Family Stone and the Viscaynes (Sly’s pre-Family Stone outfit), and documenting the early years of Sylvester Stewart’s life and his family lineage.

Rich Freedman of the Bay Area-based Times-Herald interviewed Kaliss, and the following passage surprised, with its J.D. Salinger-like sense of a genius working in seclusion, generating great quantities of work that nobody’s seen or heard for decades.

Sly continues to write and, eventually, produce and perform, Kaliss said, adding that the Grammy winner has "loads" of music left in him.

"He keeps doing it. He stays up to 3, 4 in the morning just writing," Kaliss said. "He's been doing that all along. But we haven't gotten to hear much of it yet. Even when he's stayed hidden, he's kept going."

One has to wonder: Wouldn’t a label kill to release some new Sly Stone material? Or why doesn’t Sly release it himself? Or have Prince do the honors? Could it be that… this new music isn’t very good? Hmmm…

Now please enjoy one of the greatest pieces of music ever conceived. “Stand” possesses one of the most satisfying, gradual builds in pop-music history and the final minute of it represents the most electrifying, despair-obliterating coda ever.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

James Pants Live on KEXP Sept. 12

posted by on September 11 at 11:18 AM

Stones Throw recording artist James Pants will be performing live at noon in KEXP’s studios as a prelude to Saturday night’s Stranger Genius Awards at the Moore Theatre (it’s free!). The Spokane-based electro/hiphop producer/DJ/remixer is an old-school renovator who knows how to put smiles on faces and bodies on dance floors. See you there.

James Pants on XLR8R TV

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Daedelus at the Stranger’s Genius Awards

posted by on September 3 at 11:58 AM

The Stranger Genius Awards scored a real coup by booking Daedelus (Alfred Weisberg Roberts to his accountant). Since 2001, the LA producer’s risen through the IDM/subterranean-hiphop ranks with a prolific stream of releases on excellent labels like Phthalo, Plug Research, Mush, Eastern Developments, and now Ninja Tune for his new Love to Make Music To (album title of the year). Love is Daedelus’ most accessible work yet and it reflects his affection for dance music from the early-’90s, when fun and innovation often went hand in hand (and foot in foot).

But in a live setting, Daedelus is unpredictable, and he could spring any number of styles at you. In a Data Breaker column from 2005, I described Daedelus’ music as “kooky sonic roller coasters” that amount to “court-jester surrealism,” and his performances are as entertaining as those terms suggest.

Daedelus received some internet buzz from his pro-“Obama” track/video and he graces the cover of the current issue of XLR8R, but he’s been grindin’ for years and has a back catalog bursting with gems. Get ready for a (non)serious quirk-out on the dance floor.

The Stranger’s 6th Annual Genius Awards take place Sat. Sept. 13 at Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 9 pm. For more info on the Stranger Genius Awards, go here.

Daedelus’ “Fairweather Friends” [possibly NSFW]

Daedelus live on the Dublab rooftop