Black Friday Boogie: The Exclusive with "Filmation Generation's" Andy Mangels

It's the kind of conversation that can only play out on Black Friday, sequel to what this year became know as Black Thursday, the day we used to call Thanksgiving…

It's the kind of lesson that can only play out on Black Friday, a day that in the past was considered to be the unofficial starting bell to Xmas, and that has this year become the sequel to Black Thursday, a day that old-timers like myself once referred to as Thanksgiving. It's the kind of lesson that can only play one day in the year, today, Black Friday, as I prepare for my Skype with Andy Mangels (my first Skype interview; truth be told Skype will just break your heart--putting you in a place where you watch all those gigs of data fly by, only to get you to a place where you're ok with watching all those gigs of data fly by; something dies inside when you think of that in terms of '90s interview what with its Yahoo! sideshow and its AOL carousel, but it's also something that you probably no longer remember not wanting to see die). The simple lesson of Black Friday is this; there's a difference between wealth and glut.

Wealth isn't what the GOP assumed the strike against its most recent Presidential Nominee would be. It isn't a measure of the money you have in the bank. But is how you made bank. It is the skills you developed to earn the material and monetary and experiential moments you've engaged in on your trip forward through life. It is sharing in Walt Whitman or in Edgar Allan Poe. It is Jay-Z's new album as much for Jay-Z himself, as for the loyal fans. And in a very real sense it is the emotional and psychological yield that comes from decades of fans engaging with Lou Scheimer's life's work--Filmation.

"My big hope is really of course is that [Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation] will have a success beyond just a niche market. But really what I wanted to do with the book, and what Lou wanted to do with me with the book was to talk honestly about how television changed and adapted over the years, what role Filmation played in that honestly, and what were the successes, what were the failures, things like that", Andy says over the digital wasteland that is the 21st century on Skype.

There's a strangely energetic turn to Andy Mangels' voice. Himself an accomplished popculture historian, Andy brings a seasoned optimism and a practicable creative insight to the book he coauthors with Lou Scheimer. As Andy's voice crackles into life over the ghostland of Skype's VOIP engine, some strange and distant, almost primordial, energy kicks in. There's diffuse hesitancy rather than an specific hesitation, that's the perfectionist in Andy measuring that what he says is accurate, as much as on the fly wanting to ensure his meaning is as accessible as it can be. But there's also a kind of hopefulness mixed in--a sort of second wind for the spirit of popculture. With just his tone, Andy speaks volumes about the nature of the Lou Scheimer project.

Left to Right (Caricature): Hal Sutherland, Lou Scheimer, Norm Prescott (with Ira Epstein in inset) (caricature by Eddie Friedman)

"The hope with the book is that it will actually, both entertain the audience who reads it, because there're some fantastic stories that are told within the book. But also that it will really give them a sense as to how did television animation, how did Saturday morning television develop… how did the syndicated animation market develop…how did we get from Point A at the beginning of television where they were only utilizing theatrical cartoons repackaged for television, to the point in the late '80s where Filmation ended where every single day there were 20 or 30 original series on, to Cartoon Network.

"All of those things are discussed in the book, the hows and the whys. We talk about the various animation strikes and why those happened, and what effect CGI had on the industry--Filmation was one of the first companies if not the first to actually utilize CGI in a cartoon, that was Flash Gordon. The hope is that this will really put into context Filmation's place in history, but also, on a larger level, put into context the entire history of television animation. And it's why the book is so big, I mean, it's a big book, and it's very dense…"

As the conversation unfolds, we begin to unwind. It's easy to talk to Andy; his passion for the project as clearly visible as his mastery of craft is in writing the book. But if there's one theme we return to, time and again, a theme that neither of us mention by name, it's that of wealth versus glut. It's the same theme that Bill Gibson responds to in his most recent trilogy, that began with 2002's Pattern Recognition and ended with 2010's Zero History.

What Gibson struggled with was the idea of complexity. It's clear enough as a theme in Zero History when Cayce and Hollis talk about the economic and social complexity required to make "simple" denim from the 1920s. But it's also apparent the earlier volume, Spook Country's surveillance and self-surveillance dramas, and in Pattern Recognition's protagonist chasing down a viral video. Gibson's grand idea for this most recent trilogy is a radical inversion of traditional scifi. It's the idea that given social complexity of the present, it's not only more interesting but perhaps even more appropriate, perhaps even more honest to be writing scifi set in the present. Gibson's already mentioned that between situations like the AIDS pandemic, the Mayan calendar terminating, climate change and economic collapse that the actual 21st century is far stranger than any 21st century imagined in literature.

Talking with Andy now, this reads very much like a wrestling with the idea of glut, a moment when wealth grows so complex and so abstracted, it loses all accessibility. And if anything, what Andy says next defines how Filmation and how Lou's life's work manage to escape that cage of far-too-much.

To Be Continued…

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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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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