Cafe Disco

Fans of The Office love the show for the jaw clenching moments of missed social cues and over the top irreverence. Ironically, the greatest perpetrator is the boss himself. Self-centered and clueless, Michael Scott gives us a million reasons to roll our eyes.

Despite his antics, Michael is able to gain the loyalty of his subordinates. While his corporate peers try to wrangle profits, Michael focuses his attention on birthday celebrations and recreational non sequitors, like Cafe Disco.

In Season 5 Michael uses a vacant space directly beneath Dunder Mifflin to play disco and iron out his awkward dance moves. He outfits the space with an espresso machine and a set of portable speakers. When the new receptionist goes looking for Michael, she finds him caffeinated and flailing.

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With shots of espresso and Everybody Dance Now blaring through an air-vac, Michael tries to lure the rest of his co-workers out of their desk chairs, but despite a few tapping toes, they’re hesitant to cut loose. Just as Michael is on the verge of giving up, his caffeine buzz lapsing, he hears the muffled tones of a disco beat and rushes downstairs to see Cafe Disco in full swing.

Anyone who’s sat stoically in a dry meeting has at one time or another, fantasized about Cafe Disco. Maybe not exactly to Michael’s specs — espresso and dance music — but a brief reprieve from the safe harbors of marinating on a few action items, for something more fabulous.

Which got me going on a Cafe Disco playlist featuring a track from a Nightmares on Wax Boiler Room set, a Deliceuse Musique premier and a little something jacked from WalterCronkTight’s DJ playlist.


Just Let Go of Your Shoulders

I haven’t even finished Svend Brinkmann’s Stand Firm and yet his ideas have become a driving force in my day to day routine over the last few weeks. It’s his awareness of the present moment that’s moved me – or my days, depending on how you look at it – and his recognition that, “anything that could happen in your life, could happen today.”

Since shopping that phrase around, a crescendo of events has piled up, some positive, some negative, but most assuredly all happening in the current moment – the razor sharp now.

Which, without a doubt, is a good place to be. To celebrate I got a playlist going to take you into the weekend. We’ve got a bit of Tahoe (h/t Waltercronktight), a recent Bangers and Mash addition, and a Soundcloud classic that’s been bouncing around forever but never made it into a post.

The Disappearing Act

In 2014 a young British producer and DJ released his first EP, 1992 EP. Then in 2015, he released another, 1000 EP, doubling down on a hypnotic, buzzing electronic sound that uses coiling synths and bluesy guitar tones to drive listeners towards an auditory cliff.

Ben Khan’s in your face, screeching style seemed to emanate from nowhere. There was no public figure – just a bare bones Soundcloud page and cryptic Tumblr. His aesthetic, a kaleidoscope of colors and a reverence for sharp, symmetrical patterns was captivatingly futuristic. This was music for flying cars.

Then he disappeared.

We haven’t heard anything from Ben Khan Since his last release, Blade (Tidal Wave of Love), which debuted on Soundcloud on August 4, 2015In an age where people stockpile social media accounts, Khan has barely left a footprint. A shell of a Facebook profile remains – the last post is from August 4, 2015.

Before Ben Khan there was Jai Paul, a young British DJ, known for minimalist album art and a distilled brand of electronic music – bloated synths chewing over clapping drum loops. Despite only two official singles, one interview and a leaked album, he reached peak indie fame. Pitchfork listed Jai Paul’s Jasmine (Demo) as #32 on their list of the 200 best tracks of the decade so far (2010-2014).

Jai Paul keeps a low profile, surfacing now and then. Recently he announced the founding of the Paul Institute, a mysterious creative endeavor that says it’s interested in everyone from, “event planners to coders.” Jai Paul’s last official release? April 3 2013.

Several users on Reddit have accused Ben Khan of copying Jai Paul, both sonically, and for averting the public eye. As soon as Jai Paul resurfaces so will Ben Khan, jokes a commenter. With so much crossover, you can’t help but fudge the truth a bit in hopes you have the trappings of a conspiracy theory that would make Alex Jones wiggle with excitment.

What’s keeping them quiet? Are Ben Khan and Jai Paul crippled by the stifling expectation that mounts with creative success? The yips. Writer’s block. It has many names and takes many forms. Or is their reasoning more clairvoyant? Maybe they realize that against the backdrop of our current reality, a time when marketing feels like our species newest evolutionary adaptation, disappearing is more interesting than avid self promotion. In the absence of talk, we have what equates to a precious metal.

Whether or not Ben Khan or Jai Paul release music is obviously up to them. All we can do is wait, and in the meantime watch as their music seeps into the blogosphere, trickling into new releases, like Isaac Delusion’s Isabella, who’s languid guitar sounds eerily similar to a Ben Khan riff.



Just For Kicks – An Interview with Perry Gershkow

Once in awhile, a perfectly good surf film gets ruined by a shit soundtrack. Fortunately, Perry Gershkow, a San Francisco based filmmaker, has eerily similar music taste to The Aftmth, and his recent film, Just For Kicks, features artists like Future Islands, Ruby Haunt, and Avid Dancer.

I’m always curious, do the visuals come first? Or does a specific sound inspire a director’s eye? We were lucky enough to ask Gershkow a few questions about how he struck such a harmonious chord.

Watch Just For Kicks here.

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For a project like Just For Kicks, what’s your process for selecting music?

Without the right music, surf films would be boring to watch, even to the surfer’s eye. For each section of every surf film, it’s important to find the mood you want to go with.  When you figure out what sort of mood you want your audience to be in while watching this section, then that’s where you can start finding music. With so much music out there, I wanted something that would create emotion as well as something that would get people excited.

You chose two Ruby Haunt songs. When did you first hear them? Why do you think their music works so well here?

Luckily, my buddy Victor Pakpour is in the band Ruby Haunt. He’s also a fellow filmmaker and a damn good one. His music possesses an emotion that I really think works for the parts I’ve been putting together, especially for this film.  I used some of their music in my last film, and people really enjoyed it. They came out with some new tracks this past year so I immediately was drawn to using their music again.

How do you discover new music?

Discovering new music is definitely a tricky hobby.  There are so many different kinds of music out in the world that it can be tough to narrow it down to something I can use for my films.  For me, I have a certain sound that I go for.  Being in the industry for a while, I’ve been able to make friends with people in really good bands.  For instance, two of the songs in the film are from a good friend Sara Damert, who scored these two songs for the film.  She has a very unique voice, which I think is crucial to have for originality.

D-Man’s 2017

It occurred to me in 2017 that experiencing music is much different than hearing it. Let’s imagine you’re at work and you give Discover Weekly a go. A carousel of data-driven reccomendations is wheeled out and you’re presented billboard climbers and diamonds in the rough – all with some potential (at least algorithmic potential) of resonating with your current state.

The reality is that most of the sounds slide right off you, disappearing back into the internet from whence they came. But some songs produce a type of friction – a sudden awareness that pulls you into the moment.

It’s kind of like Tinder. You may be compelled to believe that there are thousands of potential matches, but there’s really only a handful of people willing to meet in person and even fewer who want to connect on a deeper level.

We want to write about those second dates. The solid matches. The songs that make you experience music as an active force. The tunes you play again and again, as if by listening once more, you may get to the bottom of what’s important.

In the spirit of experience, here are a few songs that defined my 2017.


Chris Stapleton – Tennessee Whiskey


Despite my best efforts, I can’t get into country. Once, while visiting my brother in Montana I got close, enjoying how the sharp Southern drawl made wheel lines seem like religious labor. What could be more important than driving to feed the cows? Then, I’d hear pop country (the genre Wheeler Walker has used to shit-talk his way to fame) and would return a skeptic.

Which is all to say I didn’t expect to like Chris Stapleton, a soft-spoken Southerner who seems to inhabit a different musical universe than Luke Bryan or Florida Georgia Line. Like any country star, Chris Stapleton loves to sing about whiskey bottles and desert winds, but unlike his counterparts, he seems to bridge a transcendental gap, crafting music that can ring from the inside of honkey tonk bars to a gridlocked work commute.

Beach Fossils – Be Nothing


You always had something

You wish you had nothing

Still a loosely defined genre, indietronica blends two disparate worlds, running an electronic current through the traditional live band set up. Imagine long hair swaying over delay peddles, downtrodden beats, and the celebration of total melancholy. Give in and there’s relief – a weightlessness or what I imagine a sensory deprivation pool to feel like.

Of course there’s a limit to so much reverb, a line that Washed Out pushes, sometimes approaching numbness. Where Beach Fossils excels is the rush of the bridge, as the song builds to a crucial guitar solo, forty seconds of intense exhilaration – a shot of adrenaline to pull us out of our stupor.

Shagabond – Sweet Magma / Kraak & Smaak – Stumble (feat. Parcels)

2017 was a hell of a year for Soundcloud. In July multiple news outlets reported that a shutdown of the music streaming service seemed imminent. Money was drying up and when you stopped to think about it, who owns a Soundcloud Pro account anyways?

Then, an emotional response surfaced, as bloggers and users ran through their lists of remixes, mashups, and bootleg tunes that only Soundcloud could produce. Anticipating the shutdown, a few engineers rushed to archive everything. I got ready to mourn my “like” tab on Soundcloud – a nostalgic tour de force of electronic misfits.

Soundcloud was saved and appears (for the moment) to be stable. Out of the turmoil, one thing became apparent, Soundcloud is valued more than it’s bottom line may indicate, and it’s still a treasure trove of galaxy hop and other futuristic sounds.

ODESZA – Higher Ground


A few weeks after ODESZA’s new album, A Moment Apart, debuted, I still hadn’t listened. I felt like maybe I was over their brand of music. Since hearing How Did I Get Here almost five years ago, the masses had taken notice, followed by sellout shows in Berkeley and major commercial spots with top-notch brands.

That and Anthony Fantano, “the internet’s busiest music nerd,” waved off the album with a single Tweet.

When I finally did listen, I was struck by the odd sensation of parting the seas on some degree of musical snobbery. I was aware of a public persona and a private one. There was me, the music blogger, and me, the listener – both with their own agendas. One thinks about music, and the other simply enjoys it.

ODESZA’s classic refrain, a chattering, metallic rhythm section that powers their music like a locomotive train, made me realize that you should never turn your back on guilty pleasures. They’re too much fun.


Breaking Down the Aux Cord

Anyone who’s casually made a song recommendation, or is suddenly tossed the aux cord in a car full of people, is familiar with the feeling of panic when it dawns on you that maybe you’ve misread your audience.

It’s usually the lack of reaction that’s the tip off – an awkward silence permeating the car and the space between verse and chorus. You’re suddenly aware of how god damn annoying the singer’s voice is, but it’s too late. Your copilot stares straight ahead, motionless and tense, and you grip the wheel to focus on the next turn, analyzing road signs and tree trunks – anything to distract you from the urge to unplug.

What did you expect playing Odesza’s new album in a car full of Leon Bridge acolytes? You should have done your homework, or at least listened to that voice in your head telling you to go with the folksy band out of Chicago, Whitney.


Your biggest mistake was plugging in with a group of people you don’t know that well. Who’s the tastemaker here? You need to know who will be the first person to complain and break the spell. You’re looking for a musical home base, a mutual jumping off point, like everyone agreeing that surf pop is BACK. But you’re driving blind. Not literally of course. But you have no raw data, no opportunity to stalk these people on Spotify to see what playlists they wander through.

You consider throwing up a softball. Something like This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody). Everyone loves that song. But you worry that you can only rely on nostalgia so many times before your constituents feel like puppets, propped up by familiar melodies.


What you really want to do is to connect everyone. Start with something sturdy, a song that’s easy to build on. Then, like an old man feeding pigeons, toss breadcrumbs in every direction – one to the copilot, one to the couple packed in the back, and then circle around to the tastemaker. Pull the group together and then start working towards the fringe, blending genres and weaving in offshoots. Pioneer new territory, not far off course, but dangerously close to the edge.

But the silence is paralyzing. You get the urge to unplug. Any second now the copilot is going to turn down the music. But, then again, redemption could be just a song away.