godZ and Me

Valerie MacEwan

Me and godZ -- fraternal twins of different mothers -- we have tried to curtail the anger within and, despite all odds against us, we feel we have made a positive impact.

Godzilla: we can all relate to his rage.
By Valerie MacEwan

Me and godZ. Who would have thought we'd both still be hanging out together after all this time? Back in the early '70s, while I learned the finer points of substance abuse during my college years, godZ was there with Minya, teaching a young boy on the run all about courage in his 1971 classic Godzilla's Revenge aka, "Godzilla's Leverage". Then in 1972, as I visited LA for the first time, godZ fought the Smog Monster. The parallels and the consequences cannot be ignored. Me and godZ. We've shared a cabinet of laughs, a silverware drawer of tears, a hope chest of dreams, and a filing cabinet chock full of fun. It all began in 1954. Here are just a few highlights of the days of our lives:

Godzilla, a godzillasaurus, born in 1954, a type of dinosaur mutated by atomic testing.
Valerie MacEwan, a mammal, born in 1954, the same year the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) became the center of a nation-wide controversy as a result of Oppenheimer's suspension (1953) as a consultant to the commission on the alleged grounds that he was a security risk.

Godzilla had an off-again, on-again relationship with Mothra.
MacEwan had an adversarial juvenile relationship with Mother.

Godzilla's adversary: Destroyer, a creature created by the mutative effect of the Oxygen Destroyer on sea life.
MacEwan's adversary: Pfiesteria, The toxic dinoflagellate, Pfiesteria piscicida, which has been implicated as the primary causative agent of major fish kills and fish disease events in North Carolina estuaries, coastal areas, and aquaculture operations. Pfiesteria and closely related toxic species ("Pfiesteria-like complex") have also been confirmed in fish kill/disease areas and aquaculture facilities outside North Carolina from the mid-Atlantic to the Gulf Coast. Fish kills caused by P. Piscicida usually occur in the warmest part of the year, and often precede low dissolved oxygen levels in the estuaries.

Godzilla's fear: Gaborah — either an imaginary creation of a young Japanese boy or a ogre-like monster of unknown origin.
MacEwan's fear: Scairtitty People — either an imaginary creation of her older brother, John, or the evil monsters that live in open cabinets and come out at night to poke their long fingernails into the arms of innocent, sleeping children. Related to but not part of the alligator under the bed scairtitty animal group.

Godzilla's skin color is generally considered a grayish-brown hue, but color varies depending on the movie.
MacEwan's skin color is generally considered Caucasian pale but varies according to season and beach accessibility.

Godzilla toys, produced by American toy manufacturer, Trendmasters, include everything from action figures to play sets to sponges.
MacEwan, American verbiage manufacturer, makes action figures out of sandwich meat and uses avocados as sponges.

And the parallels in our lives continue throughout the years . . .

Godzilla: The Son of Godzilla fought Gimantis, a preying mantis mutated by radiation. Godzilla returns to the island, same year, to help his son destroy the mutated insects. (1967)
MacEwan, albeit on a slightly different timeline, but who cares: The Son of Bush Uno, G.W. Bush, fights Saddam Hussein, A despot mutated by deep-hole living.

Death Ghidorah appearing in the first of the new Mothra movies (1978), has three perfectly normal heads.
Deb Goodwin lives next door to MacEwan (1978), has three perfectly monstrous Schnauzers.

King Kong vs. Godzilla, after King Kong swims out to sea, you hear Godzilla's roar, then Kong's roar. The screen goes black and then "The End" appears in Japanese (1963).
On a slightly different timeline (but . . . ibid): George W. Bush vs. Iraq, after Saddam Hussein swims out to sea, you hear Dick Cheney and Haliburton's roar, then Hussein's roar. The screen goes black and "The End" appears in Sanskrit.

Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956). Nuclear testing awakens the monster and only one scientist can stop Godzilla's rampage through Japan. The enduring theme of Godzilla is the monster's anger management problem when it is awakened.
MacEwan, King of the Toddlers (1956). When awakened from a nap, only one mother can stop the miniature human's rampage as the two-year-old leads a full frontal assault on the family heirlooms, utilizing all weapons within her reach — including crayons, markers, glue, and scissors. When awakened, the toddler must be contained within a four-foot square jail-like structure located in the den.

Godzilla graduates from Smog Monster Preparatory School (1972) and has to defend Japan from the Smog Monster created by rampant pollution.
MacEwan graduates from high school (1972) and then attends the Republican National Convention in Miami, Florida and tries, unsuccessfully, to save the US from the Nixon toxins.

Godzilla: The United Nation Godzilla Countermeasures Center (UNCC) creates a robot that they hope will end the threat of Godzilla and the newly discovered Rodan in 1993.
MacEwan watches as the United Nations (UN) and the Democratic Party (1993) create an army that they hope will end the threat of Baby Bush GW. Unfortunately, neither the UNCC nor the Bush administration can destroy their enemies successfully.

Godzilla: Time travelers tamper with the past and King Ghidorah is created to decimate Japan. Japan's only hope is Godzilla (1998).
MacEwan The police department is out of control and chaos begins with the records department. The evidence room's only hope is MacEwan (1998).

Godzilla vs. King Kong: Godzilla is freed from his imprisonment in an iceberg and encounters a recently escaped King Kong. The two monsters battle in Tokyo (1963).
MacEwan vs. Older Sister: MacEwan is freed from constant bickering when Older Sister goes to University of Arkansas and battles with parents over becoming a Tri-Delt (1963)

Godzilla vs. The Bionic Monster: A mechanical Godzilla is constructed by aliens to destroy the real Godzilla and his ally, King Seesar (1977)
MacEwan: MacEwan constructs first off-spring, the She-Child Janer, who rises up and conquers the minds of all who wander into her path (1977). Spawn of She-Child expected to hit theaters in September 2004.

Not everyone is born to greatness. Few succeed traversing the universe and truly making a difference. Me and godZ — fraternal twins of different mothers — we have tried to curtail the anger within and, despite all odds against us, we feel we have made a positive impact. In some small way, may our legacy be that we continued to strive to maintain some semblance of decency and that mankind suffered neither from our footprints left on this earth nor our waves upon the oceans.

Me from the ass end of the Great Dismal Swamp. My brother, godZ, from under the sea.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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